Trail Mix :: No. 21
Talking about divorce, a book club you need to join, a delightful little neighborhood, & more!
Hello To You,
I always like to start with this: Welcome to the Trail Mix Weekly-ish Letters, a snack for us curious and ambitious folks, seeking to create adventures we love in all avenues of our lives.
Below you’ll find a colorful assortment of goodness to keep you fueled and inspired for your many explorations- my top 5 favorite reads, listens, resources, & other interesting tidbits, plus an exclusive peek into my personal journey each week- The Mini-Memoir.
The words and resources are meant to be picked through (like a handful of trail mix), no need to feel overwhelmed, just take what stands out to you, sounds interesting, or feels relevant to your next steps.
Then, leave (or pass on) the rest!
First, we’ll start with some intimate details from the trenches of life.
What The Divorce Lawyer Said.
I listened to a divorce lawyer this week. His unique perspective definitely made me think. I’ll link the podcast in the list below. But one idea, in particular, he mentioned really stuck with me afterward.
He talked about the importance of couples sharing behind-the-scenes, day-to-day footage of their relationship with other interested couples.
In other words, we’re all dying to hear MORE STORIES.
For 13 years, I’ve been wishing for this.
For someone, anyone, to tell me how their marriage really works and what actually goes on when they are alone together.
How often do they have sex? Is it on the schedule? Do they actually enjoy it?
Do they fight once a week? Every day? How do they fight?
Do they feel like they have chemistry together? Do they flirt with one another?
What do they have in common? Do they feel like they are one another’s best friends? Or just friendly roommates?
How do they share household responsibilities?
Do they still feel “in love” and how do they keep the fire burning for one another? Is the “fire” even necessary? Have they talked about divorce?
The list goes on and on and on, but at the root of all my question asking is a desire to know whether or not what we’re experiencing in our marriage is normal and to be expected.
My questions stem from a need for solidarity, to know I’m not alone, not crazy.
I’m not looking for answers or expert advice necessarily. I’m hunting for the real and raw and still unfolding stories.
My prying questions aren’t because I’m nosy, but because of a need to remember perfection isn’t possible.
When we offer up the pages of our lives to be read by others, we extend to them (and ourselves) a lifeline, an invitation to be held by this intricate web of interconnection we share as humans, instead of haunted by the nonsensical chaos all around us.
How could we keep our stories to ourselves?
Now let me tell you a story about my marriage…
1. We’re saying the “d” word.
Maybe we should close the door and whisper quietly in the bedroom or go away for a weekend and leave them with the grandparents. But that’s just not how real-life works, at least not in our life.
Most days, we don’t have the luxury of keeping things hidden from our kids. There are no dress rehearsals, every act is on stage. They are always watching. They hear us talk and quarrel in the kitchen or on a walk.
The word divorce flies off our lips on occasion, but it’s not a swear word in our house.
It doesn’t have to induce fear or shame. Talk of divorce is a sign of our aliveness and acknowledgement of the complexity of marriage, of life.
I mentioned last week, the brilliant work of Esther Perel. If you haven’t read her book Mating in Captivity, you need to, no matter your marital status. In it, she writes about how your first marriage will inevitably come to end. The big question then becomes, “Would you like to create a second one together?”
Divorce, in this context, is inevitable. It’s not that 50% of marriages will end in divorce, but 100%. Divorce is more nuanced than a mere legal separation.
This brings me to the second “d” word we’re also dropping lately around our house- desire.
Divorce doesn’t have to be a dirty word, a violent tearing apart of a family, or a traumatic, severed relationship. Divorce is more than a parting of ways, it is the beginning of changing, shifting, awakening desires, and people finally becoming comfortable with who they are and what they want.
It is for this reason, I will keep the door open, and with the heart of a poet who handles the paradoxes of life with elegance, I will show my children how I’m learning to dance with both divorce and desire.
I’ll wrap this up with a few words from the wise Esther Perel,
“And at the heart of sustaining desire in a committed relationship, I think, is the reconciliation of two fundamental human needs.
On the one hand, our need for security, for predictability, for safety, for dependability…All these anchoring, grounding experiences of our lives that we call home.
But we also have an equally strong need -- men and women -- for adventure, for novelty, for mystery, for risk, for danger, for the unknown, for the unexpected, surprise…
So reconciling our need for security and our need for adventure into one relationship, or what we today like to call a passionate marriage…”
(You can watch the 20-minute Ted Talk here.)
Relationships are complicated and the only way to ease the confusion we find within them is to share our stories more.
I dare you to be vulnerable and offer up your experiences as a light and comfort for us all. Talk to us about your marriage(s) and tell us about those times when divorce and desire showed up in your life.
2. Join us!
Brie Stoner is hosting a book club, For The Rest of Us, and I’m jazzed about it! The book we’re starting with is one I’ve been flipping through over the last many months. The first book we’ll be reading together is titled, Matter & Desire: An Erotic Ecology by Andreas Weber. It’s enriching and insightful and definitely not one for speed reading.
Also a note from Brie: You’re welcome to join the book club now or for another book, and you can subscribe and re-subscribe at any time!
3. What season are you in? (A Free Guide!)
I’d like to introduce you to the poetry of James Pearson. He’s a recent discovery of mine and I’m grateful to add his work to my collection of favorites! I haven’t always been a fan of poetry. It always felt over my head and I struggled to figure out the meaning. Then, I finally realized the purpose of poetry isn’t to give us clear and logical chapters, or a flowing storyline.
Traveling with the poets isn’t for the faint of heart, their words pierce and confound us with each turn; they don’t promise we’ll ever arrive anywhere. But like flickering lanterns, each line of prose lights up yet another step towards a world where we are all beloved seekers, longing to find our way together.
James so generously shared a free guide with us “The 4 Seasons of Belonging” which I encourage you to grab right this minute! Along with each of the 4 seasons, James includes a poem, an invitation, a capacity, and a practice.
I’ve found it incredibly helpful these past few years to be aware of and align with both the physical and the soul seasons swirling around and within me. Here’s a line I’m soaking in right now from his poem for Fall:
“Luxuriate fully in what you love because the winds come suddenly and the winter is long.”
4. Does Your Neighborhood Do Any Of These?
I’ve been doing in-depth interviews with local people in my city from each of the different neighborhoods, discovering what makes their street not just a street but a solid circle of relationships.
In sharing their stories and experiences, it’s my goal to infuse you with energy and hope to seek out places where you (and your family) can flourish!
Please do yourself a favor a read the latest interview with my friend Lindsey. I’ve NEVER heard of a neighborhood quite like hers.
Listening to all their quirky traditions throughout the year inspired me to rally my street over the next year and put some fun regular, simple celebrations on the calendar.
5. The Episode I Mentioned Above.
As promised here is the hour-long masterclass on love and relationships I listened to this week with 3 different experts each sharing their perspective. One of them was the divorce lawyer and author, James Sexton I mentioned above.
You can listen to the full episode here.
Well, dear readers, thank you for perusing this edition of Trail Mix Letters. Wherever you find yourself on this Thursday, whatever kind of adventures you’re embarking on these days, I hope my words here bring a smidgen of nourishment to your soul and put a little energy into your bones and more importantly you feel not alone on the path.
Traveling with you,
PS: I always love it when you respond to these letters, be it through a comment or DM on Instagram, I’m all about my words being a bridge to deeper conversations and friendship!