My unwed husband and I (we decided on that term after hearing a Jack Johnson song that we love) just returned from a 25-day ski trip – driving – with our two dogs; an 8-month-old English Black Labrador (King) and a 6-year-old blond Shih Tzu (Bailey). I bet you can guess which one is mine 😉
I’ll be writing about traveling successfully with pups in a later article.
My unwed husband and I are committed, but not married, so unwed husband and unwed wife sounded a lot better than boyfriend or girlfriend. After all, we’ve known each other since high school, dated throughout (and a little after) college and then, well, life happened, and we went our separate ways. I married someone who I thought was funny, trustworthy and a good provider. Unwed husband married a small-town gal where he ended up living for four more years in order to run the family business. Something he didn’t count on…
I wanted to be the next Barbara Walters, so I moved to New York City and lived on a friend’s couch until I had enough money to get my own apartment, which happened when I went to work for CBS. Again, another story for another time. But relevant to this article about success.
The first leg of our ski adventure was an 11.5-hour drive to Salt Lake City where we stayed the night. I loved SLC, but I’m not Mormon and I like a glass of wine at night, so we primarily stuck to our boutique hotel. SLC is pretty clean and straight. I’m a little messy at times and while I’m religious, it’s really more of a spiritual connection, which doesn’t exactly fit with SLC. I remember a radio News Anchor I knew (when I was dating unwed husband early on), who had nine kids and encouraged me to come to church with his family. He thought I’d make the perfect Mormon. I guess I looked the part, but I love my New Jersey roots and my adventurous spirit. I think if I had taken his advice in my early 20s, I would have wanted to escape. We Aries love adventure and get antsy if we’re not doing, trying, learning something new often. And the thought of squeezing into a box was not for me.
After a night in Salt Lake, we headed to Grand Targhee ski resort, which was the perfect small mountain to get my ski legs back. I loved the blue groomed intermediate hills and a few challenging single black diamonds. We only skied there for a day as a stopover before hitting the big hill.
An hour from Grand Targhee is Jackson Hole Ski Resort in Teton Village, Wyoming. Jackson is the main town, but the resort is in Teton Village. We stayed in a cute one-bedroom VRBO condo about 5 minutes from the slopes.
This is my third year in a row skiing at Jackson Hole, and each time I go there I am convinced that it is the steepest mountain around. The blue runs are like blacks anywhere else I’ve skied. I was glad I had a day to prepare.
Some good friends of ours from Lake Tahoe planned their ski adventure so that part of it dovetailed with our stay in Jackson Hole, so we had the opportunity to ski and dine with them for four days and evenings.
And this is really where my story begins.
Gary and Karen are great skiers. Gary is a powder hound – no friend’s on powder days! Off he goes, whooping and hollering with joyful shouts of freedom and endless possibilities. Skiing is one of Gary’s definitions of success. Not just because of his fluid, effortless ability, but that he can, whenever he wants and wherever he wants. He is retired and is in the give-back chapter of his life, coaching men and women who are challenged with life. He was too and he understands.
Also, Gary is very curious, which makes him a great conversationalist. Because I too am curious about everyone and everything, we get along very well. Our talks are meaningful and easy. I really enjoy Gary.
Karen is older than Gary and is the kindest, most self-assured gal. She genuinely cares about unwed husband and me and asks all the right questions that someone who is a true friend would. We are lucky to have them in our lives.
One evening at dinner, Gary read unwed husband a paragraph he had written about their friendship and what it meant to Gary. We all cried. It was unexpected and authentic. I am inspired to do this with my children, certain family members, and friends who I love dearly. Just pop it on them. A short paragraph with meaningful stories, memories, moments and expressed feelings. Beautiful…
After that, Gary told us that he had been thinking about writing his second book. His first book was about surviving mental illness. Very deep, quite inspirational. He asked me and many others to write a quote for the book and mine made it in. If you are struggling with an unbalanced emotional or mental state, you might want to pick up a copy of Gary’s book. Love and Prozac. Here’s my quote on the back of the book.
After the proclamation of friendship, Gary continued.
“I want to write a book about what defines success. I am asking people the three things that define success for them.”
He asked us to think about it and would like to hear our answers over dinner the next evening.
During our drive home, unwed husband and I did talk about how we defined success. At first, we weren’t sure how Gary was qualified to write a book about success, but after more conversation, we realized that he had overcome so many obstacles in his life and that he is the ideal example of someone who is successful in his life now. He lives every day in the moment and wants to coach others who need help. He has taken certification courses, reads all about life and coaching and applies advice from his research and own life to benefit the lives of others. Karen supports him completely, which is a key part of success in life. If your spouse (or your unwed, significant other, partner, or whatever you want to call that special someone) does not support you, that can only point to trouble. Constructive feedback when asked is helpful, but criticism is not.
So… the next evening, I shared the three things that define success for me.
If we don’t love ourselves, then how can we love others?
An article about taking care of ourselves in The Harvard Business Review states:
Despite what we see on Instagram, self-care isn’t just about face masks and massages (although those are nice). It’s about spending your time, including your workday, in ways that prioritize the things and people you care about. Studies show that this kind of self-care makes us happier and more focused in our jobs.
I’ve always liked me. I used to think this sounded conceited. But it was never meant that way. I am a loving, giving person, and I accept myself exactly as I am. I am not perfect, I am not the most beautiful woman in the world, or the wealthiest when it comes to financial acumen. But I am enough for me. And I love my life. I love life in general really. I am curious, explorative and always up for something new and exciting. I also love to hunker down and nest at home, to read, meditate and share great conversation with unwed husband, my children, friends, acquaintances and the occasional stranger when the opportunity feels right.
Here’s an example: I love to ask people about their tattoos. Everyone has a story and when someone forever inks that story on their arm, leg or neck, there is an impactful reason for it. I’ve asked some pretty scary looking people about their tattoos and some unhappy ones too. Every time I ask, their face softens, and they tell me their story. Every story is beautiful.
This is my dad’s birthday. He died suddenly when I was 12.
I have always believed that fairies look out for me. This is my special fairy.
I love color. All colors. I think life is a big rainbow of color. His entire arm was covered with patches of every color I could think of.
Snakes have always scared me, so it’s my way of facing my fears.
I grew up in a very controlling and wealthy family. I never got to have a sleepover. Trust was a big issue. My mom was depressed and hid it from the world. I dropped out of college and finally broke free, changed my name and started to express who I am, not who someone else wanted me to be. It was tough at first, but counseling helped and now my family accepts me for who I am. I love my life now.
I can go on . . . the main message being, love yourself, with all your flaws and perfections. You are unique, special and have much to give to the world.
According to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing, there is a happiness-health connection.
to feel better and improve your health? Start by focusing on the things that
bring you happiness. Scientific evidence suggests that positive emotions can
help make life longer and healthier.
But fleeting positive emotions aren’t enough. Lowering your stress levels over a period of years with a positive outlook and relaxation techniques could reduce your risk of health problems.”
I would like to get even more basic than that. If we don’t feel well, we can’t enjoy anything in life, even the happiness we just experienced when we were feeling well. Having a fever of 104, a headache that won’t quit, a dire diagnosis or levels of oxygen teetering on organ failure, can ruin anyone’s life. How can we feel happy or successful when we fell like S&!%?
The last night we spent at dinner with our friends was the first night my unwed husband spent in the Emergency Room at Jackson Hole. He was coughing uncontrollably, spiked a fever close to 104 and had chills, a headache, and shortness of breath. Heart attack? Corona Virus? Flu? Well, I wasn’t about to let any more time go by. Off we went a 1:30 in the morning, despite his pleas to rest a while longer.
The staff gave him a breathing treatment, antibiotics, and fluids, an albuterol inhaler to open his lungs and back to the resort he went to rest. He didn’t ski at the next resort we went to (Steamboat), because he was healing. Unfortunately, the healing didn’t last more than a day. He just got sicker. This time we went to what I call an in-between facility. It’s not Urgent Care and it’s not a hospital Emergency Room. It’s simply a 24/7 Emergency Room, and that’s it. They can keep you for up to three days before transferring you. It felt like an emergency room with your own room and a team of doctors and nurses helping diagnose and treat. It was absolutely amazing.
Unwed hubby stayed overnight due to his borderline oxygen levels, positive testing for Flu A and his fever. They moved him to a room with a bigger bed, he was given fluids, a sleep aid, breathing treatments and antibiotics throughout the night… and rest.
As a mom, whenever my own kids got sick, I always gave them Pedialyte, Campbell’s chicken soup, water and rest, rest, rest. I don’t know if it’s what I learned from my mom and her mom, but it made sense to me. And so, I encouraged unwed hubby to rest. And he did. For the most part. He runs his own small company, so he worries a lot. And stress does not contribute to excellent health as the Harvard article shows.
So, I did my best to be the best helper I could, to do the things that he didn’t need to do like go to the store, figure out meals and walk the pups, and I encouraged him to rest. Even now that we are back from our month-long ski/pup adventure, he is still mending. But he is resting. And he has never valued his health more. So much so that he stops to have conversations instead of always being on his phone. The other evening while walking the pups we ran into some neighbors we hadn’t seen in a while. The four of us (and our two four-legged pups) stood there for a half-hour catching up. Unwed husband would normally need to get on to the next thing, but he lived in the moment and it was lovely to see. He also has been making more calls to pals he hasn’t spoken with in a while, he calls his family a lot and he does nice, unexpected things for me. He is appreciating life again and I can tell that he values his health above all.
So, yes, health is very important.
I ended up getting the cold/deep constant cough/congestion part of his sickness (not the full flu), and I too am on the mend. But I rest, a lot. If my body needs a nap, I take one. Stuff will get done. If I need a break, I take it. If I want to watch something funny to get my mind off stressful deadlines, I do that too. Health is not only physical, it’s mental, emotional and spiritual too. Leading a fully healthy life is at the top of my list. I hope you will put it at the top of yours so that you can enjoy this wonderful life we are given.
Having a purpose is paramount to success. And again, that success does not have to mean money. I love money. But when I am writing, which is my purpose; writing that helps others, entertains them or encourages them to live a fuller life, I am so very happy. The feeling of giving to others through my writing gives me a joy that is hard to explain. It is a warm feeling that permeates my being. It’s way better than stuff.
On my podcast, The MISOGI Method: Experience a New Comfort Zone, I interviewed Bestselling Author, Richard Leider, who believes that having a purpose makes us healthier, happier and living longer. He even has a Purpose Check-Up which you can answer for yourself.
I thank Gary for his deep questions about life, and I wish him well on his next book about success.
How do you define success in your life? You can reply to this article.
I wish you love of self, excellent health, and purpose in your life for now and always.