People thought I was crazy when I fell hopelessly in love with a man in another state. I had a whole life, a career, elderly parents, and children, all living within an easy drive in Southern California.
Living here was part of my identity, it’s what I knew, and yet every time I envisioned a life with this man, the subliminal question whispered… “could I relinquish my present life and create something new?
Isn’t that the arc of every fairy tale? The woman meets the man who will sweep her off her feet, conquer her problems, and lead her to his kingdom… to a better life.
But I already had a better life. I loved my home, my friends, my community, my job. I was living my “best life.”
But I missed being someone’s partner.
I had a great first marriage… at least for most of the 26 years. The downward spiral happened after the sudden loss of our 16-year-old son.
Some marriages grow stronger in the face of that kind of tragedy. Ours, as beautiful as it was, could not survive.
We became two separate people sharing the unimaginable trauma of losing our firstborn son.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” — Viktor Frankl, Holocaust Survivor, and author, “Man’s Search for Meaning”
I never wanted to believe the divorce was forever.
I’d convinced myself that once we got through the grieving process, we’d be able to look at each other and not feel the intense sorrow, but recall happy stories of how it once was.
I prayed for another shot at renewing our vows and living happily ever after.
But it wasn’t to be. Just a few years later, he died of a sudden heart attack.
Sometimes one love story has to end for another to begin.
When you look back at your life, can you see intersections when chance and circumstances came together?
I’m certain this happened to me… a destiny planned long ago.
I believe our lives are on a continuum, with time being the only thing that moves us forward to pre-existing events in the future. They might not be events you could dream of or plan for, because our thoughts are limited to only what we know at the time.
Oprah said she could never have dreamed big enough to have imagined all that her life is today. There was a master plan, no doubt, but where did that plan originate?
Can you fathom that? Imagine your past, present, and future all on the same continuum, so that you can draw from your past to influence the future… and you may not even be aware of it at all!
Could love be part of a plan that originated long ago?
In 2010, I hit a milestone every parent experiences when their children graduate into the next part of their lives.
I had an empty castle, and for months I loved waking up in solitude.
As time went on, I began noticing happy couples everywhere. I felt a tinge of missing something, and that’s all it took for me to cross the threshold of desire.
I wanted to fall in love again.
“You don’t have to do this life alone. We are biologically hardwired to be in connection with other people.” -Brené Brown on CBS 60 Minutes
I believe so strongly in the power of intentional thinking, I crafted a plan for creating the love of my life. You might think it odd to plan for love, but your thoughts are creating your life all the time.
The more you think about love, the more you attract it. The more you look at love as your destiny, it becomes your fuel, the very thing you need to expand it.
You awaken awareness.
"The future influences the present just as much as the past." — Friedrich Nietzsche
In 2010, a man reached out to me on Social Media. It was a private message that could have been one of those weird guys… the ones that steal profile photos of handsome men and stalk single women.
I looked at his profile and noticed we had numerous friends in common (from long ago). Then, I looked at his comments on posts, and his photos to see his animals were the focus of his life. No kids, no ex-wife, owned his own company… a self-sufficient man.
And he lived a safe distance away in Arizona, so what was the harm if I responded?
At the time, I had a talk radio show on KNRY in Northern California. The show, Passion By Design, was a weekly discussion on living life intentionally, purposefully, and beautifully. My co-host and I had a topic coming up highlighting food, wine, and the romance of the restaurant industry.
How convenient that this man owned a company featuring uniquely designed tableware for the hotel and restaurant industry. You know those little wavy taco holders in the famous chain restaurant that starts with a C and serves every kind of cheesecake imaginable? Yep. His company designed those.
It was a perfect match! Inviting him as a call-in guest was the ideal rationale for taking our relationship a tiny step further.
As hard as I tried to imagine, I couldn’t picture the sound of his voice. We’d only conversed through messages and texting. He was always insightful, captivating, and respectful… a window to the man he was. I could feel that and didn’t want my mind to wander a little further into the possibility of something more.
We were just friends who lived 456 miles apart. Right? We shared a love of food and wine. That was our common interest. Nothing more.
In writing this, I listened to the replay of that interview last night. It was so obvious. Everything I was feeling went through the airwaves… on the continuum of where this relationship was headed.
A few months later, he asked if I’d meet him in Napa. He wanted to take me to Bouchon… one of Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants.
Damn him… He used food as his lure… my trigger to no return.
He sent me a plane ticket and made reservations to stay at the Wine Country Inn. I didn’t even hesitate.
From the moment I got off the plane, I was in deep, and I knew it. I wasn’t even afraid of what might happen in the suite he’d reserved. Him on the couch? Me in the bed?
Wait a minute… I wasn’t 16 anymore. I could decide how I wanted to handle it. I could even have sex with him on the first date if I wanted.
We arrived at our suite, so French with its bright yellow décor, a cozy fireplace, and a spa on the deck. You could smell the grapes on the vines outside our doors.
As soon as the bellman closed the door, our desire was undeniable. I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man.
But this wasn’t the first time we’d met.
Do you believe in destiny?
Decades before, I’d flown to New York to begin a world tour with a musical show.
He was there when I landed. I was 16, he was 20. We were in two different casts of the same show, but we had a chance meeting that day. It was just a few moments in time, but he remembered me all these years later, enough to message me on social media.
Think about that continuum… he was there in the very beginning, but the universe was waiting for the right moment.
We never spoke, and I didn’t recall meeting him at all. We laugh about it now, but it meant something that he clearly remembered seeing me in a green dress with my long red hair, Irish white skin, and a spray of freckles across my face.
It was a big bang moment that sent a message across the universe of time… a message that this chance meeting should be tucked away for another time… the future I couldn’t have ever imagined.
But how could it possibly work? We lived in two states.
The logistics didn’t make sense. Was I supposed to leave my career and begin anew in Arizona, or was he supposed to relocate his business to California?
A two-state marriage challenged tradition. Common practice says we should live together and become one.
But when two people connect in the second act of their lives, they have a whole past backstage. Not just experiences, but houses full of things, and businesses, and children, and circles of friends.
I introduced him to my family and friends, and they’d say, You’ve got an extraordinary man, but how are you going to make this work?
But we married anyway.
We chose to write our own unique love story. Our lives blending not as one, but two strong and mighty individuals with histories we’re proud of.
We alternate between states. It’s a 6 1/2 hour drive that gives us time to catch up on podcasts and phone calls. While we can’t always be physically together, we are in constant connection, with texts, phone calls, Zoom cocktail hours, and even love notes through the mail now and then.
Is it easy? No. Is it fulfilling? Yes… and worth every bit of it. People think it’s like dating, but we think of it as a glorious love affair that spans time and space. Our continuum of love is forever entwined.
We have several years of marriage now, and we’ve proven that two states are no boundary for love. The chance meeting long ago opened the door to something more beautiful than I ever could have imagined in this second act of life.
Friends will say… “Sandy, you’re so lucky to have such love.” Yes, I am. And so is the man I love.
I recently said to a woman who wanted to invite love back into her life after reading my article on Manifesting the Love of My Life. I told her to remember… you are the gift. Be open to the possibility of love entering your life from avenues you never expect.
Call it what you choose… God, the Universe, the Creator… remember it has had YOU in mind for love since the day you were born. The first sound of your voice was a cry to nestle in loving arms.
We are made for love.
Life might not have always been easy, but you evolved, you’re resilient, and you are magnificent because of it.
If you’re waiting for love to find you, make space for it. Claim it. Celebrate it.
Smile when you see a couple holding hands. Acknowledge other people’s anniversaries. Watch romantic movies that make you cry. Write silly love poems in your journal. Keep your eyes and your heart wide open.
When you do that… you’re inviting love into your life.
What do you have to do to deserve love in your second act? Love yourself first, then be aware, awake, and ready to follow your destiny to love and be loved.
This article was originally posted on Medium, P.S. I Love You.