Why I'm Moving
To Peru

Why I'm Moving <br>To Peru

Maybe I’m hoping Peru is my version of people going to India to find themselves.

I do have a return ticket, so technically my eight months away may not ring with the same permanence as a one-way ticket. This I know is true, I would rather go now and find out for sure, than to spend the rest of my life wondering what-if.

Rain has been relentless this weekend, yet somehow I managed to drag myself out of hibernation and socialise. I also finally emptied my storage unit, which really just means that all ‘my stuff’ is now in my parents’ garage. Does it mean that after almost two years, I’ve officially moved back in? Useful things I’ve found in my plastic bins include: Thick and wooly socks, a scarf, two reams of blank A4 paper and the instruction manual to my GoPro Hero4. The real work starts when I start sorting them out - wish me luck!

By the way, have you watched the movie, Call Me By Your Name, from the book by André Aciman? I need to read the book, but what a beautiful story. At the core of the storyline is a love story, though maybe not in the way you would assume it to play out. It didn’t end with a ‘happy ending’ for the lovers, and I would have been disappointed if it did. You see, even though the main character was left rejected and heartbroken, I admired him for being able to talk about how he felt. Ironically, even as a writer, telling someone how I feel about them while they’re still in my life isn’t easy. Talking in front of a large crowd won’t phase me, but each time I stared into their eyes, words escape me.

Oh, Be Brave Little One. Be Brave.

Oh, Be Brave Little One. Be Brave.

I’m going to set the scene for you…

I’m smiling as I write this. Lunch was a few hours ago, but I feel like my food baby will stick around until tomorrow. I can hear the clanger of cutlery so dinner must be soon, I smell noodles, not sure I want to eat just yet though. So, I write.

It’s a few hours until my 35th birthday, last year I spent the majority of it travelling over the Tasman Sea as I made my way to Melbourne. My book was almost finished, in fact I added another chapter. The truth is that we never really know great sadness, or happiness, until we get there. Then another moment comes along that may surpass it - what seemed like the end of the world (or the giddiest of heights), well, isn’t forever.

I’m trying to live in the moment, for the best moments are now.

# 59 Don't Forget Your Roots

My relationship changed with my parents this past year - I’m grateful because I feel my separation became a catalyst to a more honest connection with them both, with my Mum especially. We don’t have to agree on everything, yet I’m not as quick to judge their perspective, or feel resentful that they may not agree with some of my life choices.

Being the child of migrant parents, born in the Philippines but raised overseas, I’m an awkward split of a generation. Even though I have spent most of my life in New Zealand, I’m still proudly Filipino. I don’t know what it is about us, but we are raised to be patriotic to the motherland. I don’t think I have met a Filipino who isn’t proud to be one.

As a child, I both respected and feared my parents. The repercussions of stepping out of line as an Asian kid is different to some cultures. You don’t just disrespect them - it has a ripple effect on your extended family too. To feel that my family were disappointed in me instilled a guilt far greater than I could ever impose on myself.

A big part of my upbringing is Westernised, and I guess that’s where my Mum and I have clashed in the past. As I got older, I learned to see and understand her point of view and how she has carried the burden of expectation of our culture, and our roles as mothers and nurturers. During those first weeks of moving back home, there were times I felt she was always in my personal space - asking where I was going, if I had eaten, what my schedule was. At first it was a point of contention between us because all I wanted to be was alone.

Pinoy ako - always have been, always will be.

 

I must have been a real cow back then - but she couldn’t give up. Someone had to save me from my own darkness. There’s no doubt in my mind that my parents love me unconditionally - even though we’ve had countless arguments, home was always a safe place to fall. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how different I would be if I couldn’t trust them like that. I have friends who don’t feel the same way about theirs and that’s sad. We always need someone in our corner to be help us tackle the sucker punches life throws at us.

They say that women who have a good relationship with their fathers have a higher chance of having healthy, loving relationships as adults. I remember when we first moved to Whakatane in my high school years, my Dad and I used to go fishing during mackerel season. We fished at a local wharf about fifteen minutes from home and would usually leave before sunrise. The mackerel came closest to the shore at dawn. There with our yellow rod, he and I would fish. OK, he fished and I was his assistant - not a very good one either because I didn’t want to get that fishy smell on my hands. Still, it was cool to hang out. Some mornings we got lucky and caught a decent sized fish. Other days we came up empty, so he would just buy us breakfast and take it home to share with my Mum.

My Dad and I haven’t fished in years, and I wonder what we would talk about now if we did. Something we do share is our love of singing, and no one loves karaoke more than us Asians. They own the latest Magic Sing (it’s a large microphone with built-in karaoke software that you plug into your TV) and a turn on it is as common as offering a visitor a hot drink. If I sleep in on a Saturday morning, I could be waking up to the smell of toast and be serenaded by Frank Sinatra at the same time.

In my meditation evenings (which I realised that I haven’t been to in weeks), we are taught to ‘ground’ ourselves. Grounding is a term used to describe that feeling of connection to the Earth, to keep you steady and safe wherever your mind may take you. I guess it’s the same as knowing your roots - by giving us a strong foundation to lead soul-enriched lives.

As an adult I finally understand why knowing my culture (or re-discovering my appreciation for it) is important moving forward. It explains a lot about who I am and what I value, my quirks and what I offer this world.

Pinoy ako - always have been, always will be.

# 57 A Wedding In The Vines

It’s been almost a year of retrospective reflection, and I’m sort of over it.

Emotional release can manifest itself in weird ways - on the day the house settled, instead of celebrating, I was flat out on the floor with stomach pains. It felt like a combination of aching muscles and def con five period cramps. If you’re a male and obviously have no idea what period cramps feel like - just think bad food poisoning queasiness, someone trying to pump you up like an air mattress and an MMA fighter trying to perform a submission on your reproductive bits. Yes all at the same time, because you know, women love to multi-task.

It took me four days to fully recover.

Where am I at these days? This weekend I went to a family friend’s wedding out of town. Strictly formal. Ironically it’s also the day before what would have been my sixth wedding anniversary - well if I was still married of course! A few weeks ago I was feeling apprehensive about it, but then I also realised it’s a good way for me to create happier memories instead of being sad around that time of year.

It seems single women are quite savage when it comes to fruit! I didn’t win, putting it down to my lack of experience having to compete for a guy’s banana.
— fivefootronna

 

As I sat down at my table for the reception, my apprehension soon faded as we began to introduce ourselves. The table was from the bride’s family - an aunt, cousins and her brother. Great banter soon flowed as we talked about life in New Zealand, my accent and what we were going to have for each course.

When it came to the traditional garter and bouquet toss - well it wasn’t at all traditional. The bachelors had to dance and the groom even did a cameo Gangnam Style lesson for the rhythmically-shy men. The single women however, yes including me, danced around the eligible bachelor and fight for a banana between his knees. That poor banana. It seems single women are quite savage when it comes to fruit! I didn’t win, putting it down to my lack of experience having to compete for a guy’s banana.

Did I meet anyone? Actually I met lots of people - but you’re asking romantically, right? Sure, I met someone cute and we got on really well. Nothing really came from it, but it was just nice to meet new people.

I’m currently at a cross-roads and ask myself where I want to be a year from now. What can I do today that takes me closer to designing the life I love? How do I change my thinking to discard my limiting beliefs that measure my success based on such narrow terms? Many of us are already leading incredible lives, yet we force, yes force, maybe even torture ourselves, because we have been conditioned to think that winning has finite possibilities.

If I didn’t apply my limiting beliefs today - what can I do? The Universe listens, you just have to be clear when you ask. In the past I’ve felt like I was building up my karma savings plan or something, then BOOM, use it in one magical moment. Yet we all know karma doesn’t work like that. We don’t measure the good we do in the world like it’s a commodity - not being a jerk should be on everyone’s CV.

I have been guilty of measuring my wins based on what I have experienced before. Trying to walk one path because it’s safe, or it’s what we think works, takes away the magic of discovering a better way of winning.

The wedding was beautiful, and the company was great. I had a wonderful time just being myself, and not having to explain my backstory kept my spirits up. We choose our experiences based on our attitudes, and being single in your thirties doesn’t have to be this depressing phase in your life.

Both the bride and groom were married previously, and they didn’t let it shy away from love. In fact, they have learned from their past and it has made them appreciate each other even more. Love, the second time around can be just as fulfilling, eloquent, and soul-enriching.

I’m now quite happily single, and have learned to value myself and what I bring to this world. To give my love to a man in the future isn’t to fill a part of me that is missing, but simply to enhance what is already whole. I’m not looking for a knight in shining armour - I don’t need saving, and neither will he. Oh but I do hope he’s tall enough to reach the top shelf at the supermarket.

Another milestone ticked off - I’ve survived my first wedding as a single woman in my thirties. I reckon I rocked it as my parents’ plus one! My life has changed so much from a year ago and that’s OK because change means growth. Growth means I’m not stuck, it’s my impatience that makes me feel like I am!

P.S. My March Comfort Zone challenge is to meet men the old fashioned way! That means that for at least this month I can't set up dates - I will leave that to my friends, workmates and family. I trust that I have a great circle and they wouldn't set me up with horrible people! All are blind dates too. Haha. Scary I know, but hey, I haven't had much luck on my own, so why not try something different? It's almost part way through the month and still haven't been on any dates, so will keep you posted if I do.

# 46 When We Were Young

Moving house is different to moving things into storage - moving into a house is exciting and though it can be hard work, you see the rewards in the short-term. When you have a storage unit, it feels like you’ve been put on hold at a call centre, and they have the same some play over and over again. Two ways to look at what it feels like to move on, both is the process of change, but one certainly feels better than the other.

Back at the old house I found photos, yes printed photos! There were some funny ones, like my Year 12 high school ball photo, or my 17th birthday in Paris, getting my portrait drawn at the famous artist square down the hill from Sacre Couer at the Monmatre. These were the days before social media, which makes you think how long before a generation won’t know what it means to hold and flick through a photo album, let alone taking a roll of film to be developed.

As I sorted through which ones I wanted to keep, a familiar yellow envelope fell to the floor. I knew it was there, and I asked myself, as I did when I found it a few months ago, whether or not to keep it. I took the letter out from the worn yellow envelope, and studied his familiar scrawl. The letter was typed nine years ago, written by my ex-husband before I left New Zealand. I was 24 and set out on my Asian OE, travelling through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and working in China for three months. It was an incredible time of my life, and during this time I was also very much in love. I was also newly engaged.

The language he used to describe how he felt about me was very different from our text conversations these days, which is mostly a necessity to get the house on the market. You’re probably wondering why I kept it, and if he was reading this, would also be asking the same question. Some people reminisce to feel, for my marriage at least, reminisce to learn.

When we were young, we were best friends and lovers. Now that I’m older, I look back on that love, not in pain or regret, but with honesty. Like that letter, we set out on our journey together with genuine intentions, and as the years rolled by, that love didn’t evolve with us.
— fivefootronna

I wanted to read it one more time, to remember what it was like when we were young. To see how different we were. We did do most of what he wrote about - move in together, get married, buy a house. The one we couldn’t tick off was to be ‘together forever’. I came home earlier than  planned, after five months I was back in his arms. At the time I thought the reason I came home was for him, but now, looking back I realised it wasn’t.

I came home because I knew that the longer I stayed, I would soon begin to find my feet, and living in a foreign land would no longer feel foreign. When was the tipping point before I could call China home, no matter how temporary? Would I soon give in to my natural wanderlust and not come back at all? He put a ring on it, but deep down, I knew this was a point of contention with our life together, even if he didn’t see it then. How long would he have waited for me to satisfy my craving to travel.

Back then there were so many places I wanted to see, and still do, and letting me go meant I no longer had to choose. I was never really going to be a stay at home wife, and I guess he saw that over the years, he just didn’t know how to tell me. He saw what I didn’t want to see in myself, and in a screwed-up way, helped me to recognise the woman I was supposed to be all along.

When we were young, we were best friends and lovers. Now that I’m older, I look back on that love, not in pain or regret, but with honesty. Like that letter, we set out on our journey together with genuine intentions, and as the years rolled by, that love didn’t evolve with us.

We didn’t quite make it to forever, but at least in our own way we’re both happy.

 

# 45 The Stone and The Balloon

I knew I took the wrong bus, but I didn’t care. My head hit the pillow at 5am on Sunday morning, and I was up at 9am. It was a sunny day in Auckland, a long weekend, so I felt I should at least see some of the city. Not sightseeing, just be somewhere outside of the motel walls. Cas and I had driven up to Auckland on Saturday morning, and I get lost a lot. A wrong turn took us somewhere into Pyes Pa, but we eventually headed back into the right direction, adding a few more kilometres to the journey.

Sometimes getting lost is good for me. In my day-to-day where I spend the majority the time organising, planning, being in control - it’s the not being in control, and not caring has the greatest appeal. Eventually this bus took me back to where I needed to go, it was just the long way round.

On the Saturday night we watched the teens division of a dance competition called ‘Grounded’, presented by Triple8Funk. It’s new to Auckland, and the concept was brought to life last year in Melbourne. The concept is to have the competition within a theatrical format, with the main criteria as creativity. Last year’s theme in Melbourne was ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’, and this year it’s ‘Prop Masters’. How can a choreographer tell their story using their assigned prop?

The Sunday night competition were for the adults and pros. Not only was the skill level incredible, each piece was thought provoking, and some felt like an intricate social commentary. As time goes by, we wonder if there is anything new to discover, a new perspective on the familiar, and the answer is yes. Creativity is only stale when we stop evolving, when we stop pushing boundaries, when we keep old thoughts and ideas about ourselves as our safety barrier - a comfortable, worn out blanket. It serves its purpose, just. Creativity stops when we stop learning.

The idea of the stone and balloon piece came to me in two stages: Sitting in the theatre during the Saturday night competition, and on the bus killing time. It revolves around a bad habit of mine that I’m trying to overcome...hitting the snooze button.

That person that wakes up in the morning, hits the snooze button, begging for one more minute of sleep. But to sleep one minute more, means a minute less of the rest of your life, where you can be living instead of dreaming…
— fivefootronna

The stone represents the anchors of comfort, living in the same town, hanging out with the same people, staying in the same job. As for the balloon and string, it represents trying to overcome fear and the struggle to change. This helium balloon only has a finite amount of gas because time is limited. What are the anchors in your life, why are you settling for a bit of happiness, instead of being happy? I don’t want to give away the ending, but I know it will be thought provoking for many.

Someone asked me how you can love one person for many years, then one day wake up and not feel that same love for them? One conclusion I came to is that throughout our lives, we are continually evolving. Our priorities, our measure of success and happiness, they change too. Learning to adapt that love, to give it space and energy to move and grow with us, that’s what helps relationships stay together. Human connections aren’t stationary or rigid, and sometimes it outgrows even our own perceived expectations, of ourselves and our significant others.

Like the helium balloon tied to the rock, the elation of euphorical love is finite. There will be a time when that honeymoon period ends and we have to adapt that love, evolve it, as our lives change. At times it may feel heavy, and we may feel that the rock that once anchored us, is now a burden. Do we cut the string before we can no longer fly?

I’m learning how to undo bad habits, and doing my best to pick up better ones along the way.

P.S. I’ve been single six months this week, and the book is four chapters along. A few friends have had a sneak-peek and the feedback is that they understand my voice, which has given me the encouragement to keep going. There are so many raw ideas that just to be moulded into paragraphs, and that just takes time. So I will make time.

# 44 See You On The Other Side

I’ve reached the dreaded plateau, I am sitting comfortably between 62-63 kilos, and getting there is already a positive place for me. Six months ago, and for many years, I had to use a knee support for my right knee whenever I did physical activity (due to a dislocated knee when I was 17). It limited what I chose to do, and was a convenient excuse to stay comfortable. Comfortably numb? Maybe.

When I joined the gym, I set three goals: 1) To gain strength and stamina, 2) To live a better lifestyle and 3) To strengthen my quads so that I could dance without my knee support. Six months on, I have managed to keep my weight down and my knee is grateful. I can safely squat forty kilos, which I am pretty proud of. Also, I have been able to give up fizzy drinks, and don’t find myself as bloated. Sugar is still in my life, but as they say, lasting change takes time, and I’m still learning about my emotional triggers.

I can see some old habits creeping back in - late night dinners due to late nights at the studio, forgetting to eat, and guilting myself to doing more than what my body can handle. A few months back, I wrote how I would wake up around 5am, and it frustrated me as I struggled to get back to sleep. I decided to accept it as I figured my body must be waking me up for a reason, so these days I just go to the gym in the morning. Turns out there are some early risers in Whakatane too.

Looking in the mirror, it’s so easy to pick out the flaws, the extra jiggle. What changes are others seeing that I’m not? I don’t hate my body, but why don’t I see clearly the gains that others are excited about? Why, why, why!

OK I had to giggle at that, because that’s the ego talking, and like my booty, it can be pretty big. I’m currently reading two books, one of them being ‘The Secret’, and ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F&*k’. People probably assume I flick through cookbooks or drool over food photos all day, but there’s some lesson in those books that’s probably going to help me in the future, I just don’t know it yet.

I’m currently creating a new vision board, with goals I want to achieve before the year is out, and some for next year too. Mum and Dad are heading home to the Philippines for Christmas, and I’m still undecided where JC and I will spend Christmas. I don’t really want to leave her in a kennel during my break, so we’re going to find somewhere awesome together.

Tonight I’m going to meet up with our real estate agent to get the house on the market, and I’m genuinely excited about it. I’ve reached a place where I see that it will be home to new faces, and will create memories of their own. I will miss the morning Lockwood hallway creek, waking up to sunshine as the bedroom is north facing, heat pressing in the shed and of course, cooking in my kitchen. I dreamt a figure that I want it to sell for, now it's up to me to let the Universe to make it happen. I am grateful it was once my home, and I am walking away with love.

“A change will do you good”, yes Sheryl Crowe, yes indeed.

# 38 I Dreamed A Dream

I don’t remember dreaming much these last few months, so I’ve missed my subconscious reflections. Everything had been feeling stuck lately, and last night's dream helped me understand what I had been doing, and how to work my way back to the light.

This is just a fragment of my dream last night:

“As I walked to the door of what must have been my apartment, I caught the sight of a man holding a chainsaw. I knew he was looking for me and I ran towards the old, creaky, pale yellow door. In my head I could hear him start the chainsaw, but was he? The first door had three locks, and in time I managed to lock five doors, leading deeper into the apartment. As I was about to run to another room and perhaps lock another door, I saw a window with no glass,replaced instead with rotting wood planks. I wanted to panic, but what could I do? Light shone through the gaps. I ran further into another room and my dream morphed into another place.
I was exploring a market in a basement, a stall selling electronic gadgets. I was looking at the cameras, but they were high up and I couldn't reach. So I levitated, which didn't surprise the father and daughter at the counter. In fact I saved them the trouble of having to teach me to use the hydraulic platform. There was another side room full of cameras, and I levitated with ease, looking at the mostly outdated models. I left not buying anything, but felt proud how I had mastered my ability to levitate in enclosed spaces.”

There's a lot to be said about state of my mind to dream like this. What am I running away from that it takes five doors to feel almost safe? I know flying in dreams means wanting to break free, but how can I break free when I am locking myself away? For all I knew that man could have been using the chainsaw to chop down a tree, so why did I assume I was in danger? Good people do bad things, just as bad people can do good things. How do we decide who we can trust?

People want to love us, but by locking ourselves away, puts a wall up. In that apartment, before I ran into another room, I saw the fragmented light. Through those broken planks I felt the warmth of the outside reaching out to me. I didn’t block it out because I knew that if I didn't have the strength to unlock all those doors, then I will just have to break out. That window that made me anxious about him getting in, actually showed me a way out.

Am I running away from men? Maybe.

I woke up today ready to tackle one of the biggest steps in moving on - packing up the house and get it ready to sell. To say goodbye to a big reminder of who I was, and the first to discovering who I will become. I will have my box of tissues with me, but I hope I won’t need it.

I understand now why it all happened, and why it happened this way. Most importantly, I realised why I have to let go.

Letting go won’t drown me in sadness, it’s going to help me to fly.
— fivefootronna

Ronna Funtelar Thacker is a writer, foodie and dance studio owner.
A self-confessed eternal optimist and lover of crispy M&Ms, she shares her adventures and life learnings to connect, inspire and nurture self-love.

# 32 Thinking Out Loud

It's always 3am somewhere in the world, right? It seems I'm a woman of the world, because my body loves to wake up at 3am.

Last night I went to a political campaign launch for our upcoming local elections. I felt rather adult turning up to such an event, and even wore heels. Then I saw the eclairs and turned into a nine year old drooling over chocolate cake at a birthday party.

I struck up a conversation with a woman in her 60s - she had chosen to leave a loveless marriage, yet she feels like she's the one being ‘punished’ for wanting to be happy. That one choice took away the family home, the holidays, financial security and to some extent, even though she didn't miss him, the warped version of companionship.

She meditated, extensively. The theory of ‘letting go’ is ingrained in her thinking, but admitted it was a struggle to see her friends enjoying, living, the life she so desperately craved. In her pursuit of happiness, she found loneliness and fear. Where to from here, how much more does she need to learn before it felt like she would get a break? Perhaps it wasn't about letting go, it was more seeing that the ideology of ‘fairness’ is self serving.

Self serving, yes I said it. I just think trying to qualify what is ‘fair’ is subjective, and biased based on how it affects each party. That's just how I see it, doesn't mean it's right.

She had to take a phone call and our conversation was interrupted. By the time she returned, she had to leave the campaign launch and I didn't even get her name. I would have loved to hear more of her story, if she asked, I would have offered this advice.

Yes, you deserve to be happy, and you shouldn't feel guilty for wanting that

I heard her say, “Deep down I don't feel I deserve to be happy.” There it was, her stumbling block. Why did she feel like she had to settle for a lesser version of true happiness? Her husband may have also been unhappy, but he didn't leave. That's her gift to him, it may seem like a cruel twist of fate, but by no longer being together, opened up the doors to their own versions of a more fulfilled existence. Right now she sees the reality of her material existence, and it’s sh*t, but that's her ego talking. Who I saw was a woman that was so close to being free. All it takes is self-love, forgiveness and time.

Forgiveness, or the act of forgiveness takes persistent action

Her world was her family, more so her children. She did feel a lot of guilt for leaving, and held on to the marriage a lot longer than she should have. Maybe she needs to start by forgiving herself.

Forgiveness, or the act of forgiveness takes persistent action. I started by realising that this ‘moment’ in my life, and the emotions I felt, were temporary - a mini-chapter in my story. The labels that come with it, the stigma, they will fall away, and it's up to me how long they stick, if they do at all. Persistent action.

By making the decision to forgive, we choose happiness over ego. It no longer matters who is right or wrong, but simply that you are moving on. Trying to lay blame just keep you swimming in that toxic thinking, we make those choices everyday.

Most days I am excited about how my life has the potential of a blank canvas. Some days it's daunting, the starting over part. Then I get tired and get too much in my head. I know the hardest part has already passed, so after I get through that episode, I smile.

The best advice given to me by a friend was this: Forgive, release, let go.

Forgive the person, situation, even yourself. Accept that the past is only a constant heartache if you try to change it. Life lessons can harden you, or it can make you better.

Release the emotions, ALL of it, if you're sad, let the tears come. Angry? Go run it off.

Let go, don't let it define YOU. You are not a situation, or the emotions you feel. However, you can allow it to CHANGE you into a better version of yourself.

A better version of myself, yes indeed. Today may feel like growing pains, but each day gets easier and the ‘not so good days’ visit less and less.

I am like the arrow, shoot me forth and I will go.


Ronna Funtelar Thacker is a writer, foodie and dance studio owner.
A self-confessed eternal optimist and lover of crispy M&Ms, she shares her adventures and life learnings to connect, inspire and nurture self-love.

# 19 If you want to be treated like a queen, treat him like a king

A trip out to Bulusan, Philippines during our honeymoon in 2011.

A trip out to Bulusan, Philippines during our honeymoon in 2011.

My husband, Morgan, and I will be married five years on March 12. We've been together eleven years and our relationship has been one huge learning curve for me. During our time together we've endured a five months apart when I travelled and lived in Asia, moving in together, getting married, starting up the studio, buying a house, three dogs, and the highs and lows of living with creative person. I've crashed and burned at least twice in our relationship, and each time I saw an inner strength in him, and me, that we didn't see in our day to day lives.

This post isn't going to talk about a lot of the personal stuff, because I respect him too much for that. Instead I want to talk about what he's taught me, about relationships and how to treat myself better. What I'm about to write isn't new, a lot of it is common sense, but it's what's helped me when times got tough. 

1) He is not a possession

Jealousy comes in many forms, and I admit I've been guilty of it. Lately though I've let it get the best of me, and he's paid for it. To be honest, he wasn't guilty of anything, it was my own insecurity rearing its ugly head. You know that saying, "People don't argue about the real issues, they argue about the symptoms of those issues." Couples arguing about money - trust. Jealous about spending time with other people - loneliness." 

Morgan is a really awesome guy, socially he gets on with most people and he's genuinely kind and likes to help people. He's also patient, and he helps ground me when I need it most. I also know that he has his own mind, and trying to control him will slowly, but surely, crush the wonderful man I love. He builds me up, and I need to do the same for him.

2) Establish the deal breakers, work out the rest as you go

There's a few things that annoy me, and I'm sure there's plenty I do that he's just been too nice to say anything about. We choose our battles, because at the end of the day we don't have to agree on everything. As long as we have the same deal breakers, that's what counts.

Early on in our relationship, even before we moved in together, we had THE talk. I don't understand why people shy away from it, I mean it's not something you discuss on the first date, but if you plan to enter into a long-term relationship, don't be naive about it. Love, feeling and being in love is amazing, but you need to learn and understand who the other person is. It's as much to protect you, and the other person. To me, love doesn't keep you in a relationship - trust, respect and wanting to bring out the best in that person does.

3) Screw those romantic movies, because it won't always be pretty

Romantic movies screw up our idea of what 'love' is, and distract us from what it's like to be in a healthy, loving relationship. What I've learned most in the last eleven years is that the good kind of love shows the ugly side of us, and you work through it. We accept each other's flaws and meltdowns, as well as cherish the incredible highs of making amazing memories together.

When I have kids someday, I will do my best to pass on these life lessons - to be kind, forgiving, and see beyond the imperfections.