The Love Series: It Begins with Friendship

Seven years ago, I met a guy who ended up being one of my best friends for the next three years. Talking to him with the pure intentions of just being friends made it so much easier to get along and literally talk about everything. To me, he was just a homeboy… to him I was like one of the guys– I like football, I can hang out with the best of them at concerts and in the down time, I love to go to the movies. He was a great person to hang out with.

Well, fast forward three years later, we were single and ready to mingle. We had already established a friendship that has withstood the test of times. But of course, when considering a relationship, one must weigh the pros and cons… will I ruin my friendship by dating someone and it not working out. Was it really worth that risk?

Honestly, it was worth me finding out if I could have happiness in a relatioship. Afterall, this friend of mines has always been honest with me, treated me with respect and has never shown me signs that he could be a Dr. Jeckyl, Mr. Hyde… but let’s be clear, I knew that for a fact because he had remained consistent over the YEARS! Sometimes we get about three MONTHS in and think that it will always be sunshine and roses. It takes years to build a foundation. And even if you approach someone and get into a relationship right away because you feel something for each other immediately… no matter how attracted to each other you are, and no matter the title, you are still in the friendship foundational stage. Its that stage that is the most important of them all.

Its friendship that helps you get over the little things that annoy you about your significant other. Its friendship that allows you to be able to argue and make up without holding on to grudges about what the other has said–Loving relationships begin with friendships. There are times where I can say to my husband, “as your friend…” and he understands what place that I am coming from. It’s that honest, let me shoot it to you straight place where hopefully he can receive what I am saying with love. Its your real friends afterall, that always have your back and never do anything intentional to hurt or harm you. It’s in the tougher times of marriage that you reflect on how it used to be when there was no pressure and if there are not that many times for you to reflect on, perhaps on this day, instead of expecting roses and commercial expressions of love– do something that will build your friendship with your partner.

Never would’ve thought that in random passing one day, seeing some random guy sit by a door I was exiting, not saying a single thing to him that day and eventually seeing him months later …would I have known that I had met the love of my life. One phone call of just laughing about life led to 3 years of catching up with each other being friends to 3 years of courting and now a year and a half of marriage. 7 years later, he is still my Valentine. And truthfully, every day is Valentine’s Day with this guy…

Whether you are married, in a committed relationship, single and ready to mingle… whatever you are looking for.. just remember it begins with friendship. So instead go out looking for friends and I bet you have better results in your choice of companions. Because how can you build a life with someone if you can’t even carry on a conversation with them?… such another topic for another day.

Happy Love Day!

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The Love Series: Something Sweet for your Sweetie

As you get ready for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I offer you this quick tutorial on how to make your own Chocolate Garnish… just to add a little something sweet for your sweetie if you plan to make breakfast or a special dessert *wink.

This post is brought to you by Chris Nease at Celebrations at Home

Here are 4 chocolate garnish ideas to get you started, and how to make them:
  • Write the word “love” on the side of your dessert plates.
  • Serve small cupcakes in an egg cup and top with a chocolate heart.
  • Chocolate & champagne are a classic combination. Hang an open ended heart on the side of the champagne flute.
  • Top off a chocolate liqueur cocktail or chocolate milk by floating a chocolate heart on the surface.
How to Make the chocolate garnish:
You will need:
chocolate discs for melting
small squirt bottle from the craft store or baking supply store
  • Begin by lining a baking sheet with wax paper.
  • Melt your chocolate discs according to package directions, either in the microwave or with a double boiler.
  • Pour or scoop melted chocolate into the squirt bottle.
  • “Draw” chocolate shapes onto the wax paper using the squirt bottle, and place in the freezer to set up.
  • When fully set, peel the wax paper away from the chocolate {as opposed to pulling the chocolate up off the wax, to avoid breakage}.
Tip: To write on the side of the plate, I placed the plate in the freezer first to chill it. This helps the chocolate firm up quicker.
Make more than you think you need….just in case ; )
{all photos by Celebrations At Home}
You can use this idea to create any simple shape. The hearts and “love” theme are great for so many occasions. You could also write “happy birthday” or “congratulations” or even write each person’s name on their own dessert plate!
Cheers!

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The Love Series: Your Time Is Precious

Sometimes it takes losing something or someone to put things into perspective. There is a shift that happens that brings everything that we were so careless about and so wishy washy and those things that we literally took for granted- back to being the main focus.
For me, this year, each month thus far there has been death too close to home. First, my Father-in-law passes away and then yesterday on her way to work, my coworker Torrean Rich (1983-2012) was killed in a fatal car accident when a Tractor Trailer ran into her driver’s side door.
Many times over the weekend we dread coming in to work. We spend some Sunday mornings praying for the crazy co-workers that get on our nerves to take a chill pill… well, Torrean was never on anyone’s “chill out” list. She was always seen walking back and forth, doing her job with a smile. Organizing the wonderful potluck celebrations so that we can have a fun time away from work things and literally enjoy each others company. Her car accident has literally shifted the foundation of everyone who knew her. Some of us had anxiety about driving to and from work. In the end, despite being emotional everyone is handling as best as expected. 
Staircase to Heaven (5x7 Unframed Original Fine Art Photograph)
If people realize that without a doubt, we have no idea when our last day on this earth is, then perhaps we would make some decisions in our relationships with purpose rather then random selecting of persons to just pass the time. Our time is valuable.
The persons whom we choose to connect our lives with together are there for reasons and seasons. The worst is to have someone around who is past their expiration date just because you do not want to be lonely. Or you want to force a man to be ready to marry you just because you have dated for what you think is long enough. If you connect with people, whether they be love interests, friendships, whomever, and you identified their purpose in your life then that alone will be more fulfilling. Because the only thing that sustains in this life here on Earth is LOVE.
Nobody ever said the road would be easy, but its Love that helps us get over these emotional times. Its Love that allows us to always see good in people no matter what they do…
In a private moment, days before she passed, Torrean spoke about how she wanted to settle down and get married and have children. Now, for Torrean, for no fault of her own except that it was God’s timing,  its too late to see marital bliss.. however, don’t waste YOUR precious days on persons not worthy of your precious time… you never know when your time will be up. So make it count.

Updated to say: just a few moments from writing this piece, Singer, Legend Whitney Houston passed away. Needless to say I was shocked to hear the news. It truly goes to show what I have said.. who you are connected to, affects you. Whitney Houston has a legacy in pop music that is unparalleled and yet in recent years we watched her relationship with her former Husband unravel on her reality T.V. series and throughout the news media. Praying for her daughter and her family and close friends… Rest in Peace Whitney Houston.

“Everyone falls in love sometimes. Sometimes it’s wrong, and sometimes its right. For every win, someone must fail.. there comes a point when, when we exhale... “
–Whitney Houston (lyrics to Shoop)

A Deep Breath (8x8 Unframed Original Fine Art Photograph)
Photos taken by Yvette Inufio Photography

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The Love Series: Marriage is NOT easy!

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This post is brought to you today by Guest Blogger, Kevin Fredericks.. You can find more of him at @kevonstage on Twitter and at KevOnStage.

I wanted to talk about being young and married, I’ll tell you from the jump this may not be what you expected it to be, but it will be from the heart. I’ve been married nearly 8 years to my lovely wife. We started dating at 16, engaged at 20, married at 21 and now I’m 28. 

My wife was the first girl who was not all over me, it was a challenge to get her attention, keep her attention and get her to date me. Once she said yes I never let her go. I never plan on letting her go either. One thing that being married has taught me is that it really is “growing old together” “going through life together”. When I married my wife her parents were happily married, mine were too. Both our families lived in Washington everyone was for us getting married (some thought we should wait, but weren’t against it) and a funny thing happened. Life changed. A couple years into our marriage my wife’s parents got divorced. After 20+ years they called it quits. It rocked everybody. You would think divorce would mess up little kids more the young adults, but my wife and her sisters ALL took the divorce hard. Everything they ever knew changed. Holidays, phone calls, everything. That divorce changed my marriage as well. Knowing that a couple you looked to for guidance could end their marriage changes your perception for how well yours could turn out. Doubt that never crept in was now blowing the door wide open. 
Then Life happened again. Our one kid became two and the house we bought just to start out for a few years now became our house for forever it seemed. The housing market crashed and we were stuck living somewhere for 5 years when all we wanted to do was live there a year may be two. 
Then life happened again. I got fired. I didn’t lose my job, I wasn’t laid off, I under performed and was shown the door. As a proud man that completely demoralized me. I was no longer the amazing super employee Kevin I was an out of work bum. At least that’s how I felt. My wife took a lot of pressure to be the primary breadwinner for almost a year and she never made me feel bad about it. I did enough of that on my own. 
Then life happened again. I got hired at a very respected company making more then I ever had. Things were starting to look up. Even my comedy game increased for the last couple months its been 3 or 4 shows a week up from 3 or 4 a month. Money flows in its all good. It seems. But the life of a public figure is straining on a family and a marriage. Boundaries have to be set, feelings are expressed, tears are shed mine and hers. It’s not easy and I think that is the point of this entire piece. MARRIAGE IS NOT EASY. 
It takes a lot of work, diligence, patience, care, and love to overcome the feelings of unhappiness, fear, doubt, and suspicion. It’s hard to live with someone period, even harder when that person is of the opposite sex. Raising kids doesn’t make it easier they are high maintenance they need time and love to survive and thrive. 
At the end of the day marriage is what you make it. Divorce is an easy escape but it won’t be mine. I am determined to love and cherish my wife until I take my last breath. Its difficult, impossible without God I think. Harder in this day and age then in the past. But it is worth it if you make it worth it. More then anything in life I want to go to heaven and have a wife and family that loves me as much as i love them.  I can do without the money, praise, pictures, videos and all that. I cannot do it without my wife. Love hard or don’t love at all. If you aren’t ready to grow with someone don’t marry them. Because growth has growing pains so does marriage. You don’t ease into different phases in life, life kicks you in the nuts and tries to knock your jaw off while you recover. You have to fight for love, fight for marriage, fight for what you believe in. 
I’m ready to do that. Are you?