My life has changed a lot in the last 5 years, all for the better. In a sense, I am ripening each day, just like the tomatoes on my porch. My old green tomato life lived in a nice community garden but often felt isolated and lonely and bored. It took time and nurturing to be whole and happy, which then enabled me to find true love, my husband Mark.
I have always had great friendships and a supportive community. I tend to my relationships and get quite a bit of value knowing that I am a dependable, loving, supportive friend. I just always wanted to play that role in a healthy relationship with a life partner too. Often it led to me giving too much of myself from undeserving takers. Someone once told me “you have to kiss a lot of frogs” and I certainly had more than my share. I think I spent more time in the swamp than the garden. But eventually Mark came along and gave me stronger roots. And finally all of the time I put into being a better person and being truly happy and authentically myself paid off.
When I finally figured out that there was more to life than going out to bars and kissing frogs and shopping therapy (which is still a part of my repertoire, just not to the point where it puts me in the red), I set out to find true content. I wanted to grow and refine my life. I wanted to have the kind of world someone else would want to share in. I examined my hobbies and the things that made me happy. Having moved to a new city, I was rediscovering myself along with the new opportunities Chicago had to offer. I began to transform, to ripen.
I love to eat. As a vegetarian in Chicago (on a limited budget at the time) eating out wasn’t very fun (it is now that I have more to spend and know where to spend it). I found a local organic market with a weekly CSA box and started cooking a lot more than I ever had in the past. It has become a passion. I collect recipes every day from various sources. My concoctions aren’t always delicious, but I find such joy in creating them. Luckily for me, Mark is an adventurous eater.
I have a thing for wine. Its somewhere between a hobby and possibly alcoholism. It intrigues me. I don’t love it in a snobby expensive way. I love it in a social way, in a cataloguing sense, for the excitement of each unique taste, variety, region, or style. I sought out new wine shops and tastings and restaurant events. Its almost cultural for me. This exploration extends itself to craft brews as well, a passion that Mark shares.
I’m not super athletic but I enjoy a bike ride along the lakefront or a yoga class to start or end my day. I explored different studios and styles of yoga. I discovered pilates and kickboxing. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I rode my bike somewhere instead of drove. I felt strong and healthy and almost glowing. Most importantly, I felt balanced.
I found volunteer opportunities that were very fulfilling and allowed me to use my managerial skills. There is something about giving of yourself that is satisfying in a way regular work is not. Volunteering gave me a community of like-minded people to spend my time with and constructive projects to spend my time on.
When I met Mark, he easily fit into my nice little garden that I created around myself. He complimented it with his love of music and art and wordplay. He made everything so much easier and so much more fun. A partner to explore life with and laugh with and just be happy with. So the relationship began and has been evolving ever since. He tends to me, like his own personal tomato plant, helping me to grow and have the ripest, juiciest fruit I can produce in a beautiful garden that we take care of together.