What’s really important…

Last weekend I got a scare. Luckily it wasn’t a bad one but it did make me “adjust my perspective” about what is really important in my life.

I was home watching our littlest and watering the house plants when my partner called me. We usually text each other and she’d already texted saying she was on her way home with our ten year old, so I knew something must be wrong. I could hear Sav in the background crying when I answered the phone. My partner was upset too but she was doing a great job of keeping it together. She explained that they had just hit a deer with the car – smoke was pouring out from under the hood and the car was wrecked.

Everyone okay?A lesbian couple hugging, consoling each other

“Is everyone okay?” I asked. Leah assured me they were okay, just really shook up. She explained that not only had the accident scared Sav but since she is also a real animal lover, she couldn’t bear the thought of the deer being hurt. I asked her where they hit the deer. Luckily she was only five minutes from home. I told her I’d be right there. While I got the youngest ready and headed out the door, all I could think was, “I’m so glad everyone is okay…thank you…thank you…thank you…”

Perspective shifts

How often in life do we get caught up in being right, proving our point, holding grudges, or not giving forgiveness? What’s the real cost of letting our ego and negative emotions get in the way of being present and loving with our partners, family, and friends?

As I drove over to pick them up, I couldn’t help but think about the worst case scenario – what if they had been hurt? Did I hug them before they left the house? How had our day together been? Earlier in the day, Sav and I argued about her chores and she left the house angry at me. Leah was in a hurry to get to the cake decorating class she and Sav were taking together. I don’t remember if I even got a minute with her before she left.

Wake up calls

I call moments like these “wake up calls.” We get a lot of them in life – when we’re reminded of our own mortality or that of our loved ones. Unfortunately we often forget all too quickly the fear and regret these moments hold. Maybe for a day or so or even a week we hold our loved ones closer and vow to “never let them leave without a hug or a kiss.” We plan to avoid stupid fights, give forgiveness for a forgotten anniversary, or turn off the t.v. and enjoy each other’s company more. We think about things that make us feel happy, connected, and loved. We make earnest promises to live our lives more fully.

While we drove back home that night Leah talked about how lucky they were with Sav (who was still upset about the deer getting hurt). She talked about a high school friend who lost control of his car and died after hitting a deer. She wasn’t trying to scare Sav but to help her see how lucky they were and how lucky we all were to be together that night. The next day we each wrote on our family gratitude board our own version of the same thing – gratitude that everyone was okay. At our family meeting that night (postponed from Sunday because of the accident) we decided to create family member gratitude envelopes. Whenever we notice someone doing something nice we write a thank you note and stick it in their envelope. We open the envelopes at the end of the week and take turns reading our notes out loud. It gives us the warm fuzzies (I think that’s a technical term) to feel noticed and appreciated.

Moving forward

I’m not perfect. I’m just as guilty as anyone else of wanting to transform my life based on a brief glimpse of what could have been tragedy. I think we sometimes need it to jolt us out of our daily patterns, to remind us of what’s important and what’s not. I think we should take these moments – as scary as they may be – and be grateful. They give us the opportunity to adjust our perspective and make new choices going forward. For our family, we chose to appreciate each other more and because we’re system junkies, we created a system to do it. Our envelopes and regular family meetings are our regular appointments for gratitude. Because, as I’ve learned along the way, the only way I’m going to make a lasting change is to schedule it.

Will you wait?

Is there something you’ve been meaning to do? Have you been putting off something? Would you rather live in more love and gratitude, be more present, or stop fighting so much with your significant other? Will you wait for your next “wake up call” or decide now to make a change? If you’re ready to adjust your perspective and switch directions, now is the time to do it. Take a moment and decide what you would rather be doing, reflect on how best to make that happen, and take action. There really is no time like the present.

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About Christine Dunn-Cunningham

Christine Dunn-Cunningham specializes in helping lesbians and other members of the LGBT community create deeply connected, passionate relationships that last. She helps singles find their soul mates and couples communicate better, connect more deeply, and move past issues that plague their relationship. You can watch her video “5 Things Successful Couples Do to Create Extraordinary Relationships that Last for Decades” for free: Click Here to Watch the Video Now!