Sunday, August 2, 2020

PLANS FOR GROWTH

On Friday, I picked up a routine that I last followed in February, just before the shelter-in-place orders went into effect in California. Before that, I got together with friends every 6 weeks or so to discuss what we had originally called Couple Plan for Growth.  When my husband died, I changed my version to the Plan for Growth, and instead of sharing a couple plan, I talk about my plans for my own individual growth.
This began years ago when we went on a Values Weekend for couples.  We saw many important changes in the couples making the weekend, as they realized that the way they were living was not in alignment with their values.  I remember one couple in particular who decided to reverse his vasectomy and they went on to have more children.  
One of the offshoots of the weekend was pairing couples up to meet together every few weeks to discuss how they were living out the choices they made on the weekend, as well as continuing to evaluate their lives in light of their values. There were three areas to examine: their spirituality, their marriage, and their family. We were paired up with a couple whom we knew fairly well, but over the next 30 years, we got to know them even better.  We met regularly while we were still living in the Bay Area, and when we moved to Southern California, we still checked in with each other by phone, and met somewhat regularly either up north or down south.  One of the things we had all committed to was writing a love letter to our spouse every day and then discussing the feelings we shared.  When we reached the 25th anniversary of doing that, we went to Big Bear together for Labor Day weekend to celebrate.  It was the first time that the four of us had been on a vacation together without any of our children.  We had a great time with some deep sharing about our relationships, but one of the things we did which might have seemed silly for four adults was taking a cruise on a pirate ship around Big Bear Lake.  I suppose we're kids at heart--though we did have drinks on the cruise!
We introduced the Couple Plan for Growth to our new World Wide Marriage Encounter community and the last time we did it, we paired up with a couple who lives 5 minutes away from us, and we shared our journey with them every couple of months over dinner until my beloved husband died.  These friends have been wonderfully supportive as I've had to learn how to live life alone, and we continued getting together and sharing our plans until the quarantine shut down most personal interaction.  
But finally on Friday, after all three of us had been observing shelter in place regulations and wearing our masks when we had to go out, I went to their home for dinner--outside on the patio, at a safe distance, and we picked up the threads of our Plans for Growth.  I hope that I never take for granted all the parts of my life that vanished with Covid-19 and are beginning to come back, although in somewhat altered forms. We had blessings in abundance and never realized it, but I am grateful for every one of them now.

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