June is a special month. Along with being Pride Month, June 28 is Pride Day. In June, we also celebrate Flag Day, Father’s Day, Juneteenth, and the Summer Solstice. Additionally, June is the month when many choose to wed. This is true for our family, as one of our twin daughters is getting married at the end of the month.

I’ve considered what words I want to express to my daughter and future son-in-law and have found it challenging to find the right ones: those that capture the nuances of living a life together. I’ve reflected on my marriage, with its many twists and turns, challenges, and moments of exquisite joys and unbearable sorrow. Through it all, we’ve come to a place of deeper love, more moments of serenity, and a profound sense of gratitude for being together.

I also reflected on the time when my husband and I were separated. As a declaration of self-love, I married myself by the ocean with a seal as my witness. We hear it said often: We can’t love another until we first love ourselves. Yet, how many of us truly love ourselves with all our warts, our imperfections, our too much, and our not enough? How many of us take a seat on the judgment train, placing ourselves in the very first car? As much as I wanted to believe that in that moment by the ocean, my declaration of self-love and the vows I made to myself would carry the day, I sometimes still find myself getting back on that judgment train. I know I’ve grown as an individual and as a partner, yet it hasn’t always looked pretty or been consistent. I believe the best that most of us can do is learn to love ourselves as we love others, most especially our life partners.

The Four Main Ingredients

Through the many decades of marriage (more than four now and counting), what I’ve learned is that we need four main ingredients to live a good life for ourselves and with those we love: ease, grace, and gratitude that I wrote about in Mosaic Heart, along with flow.

Ease is the ingredient that encourages us to live from a place of pause. To stop to breathe, to listen, to discern, to feel, to contemplate, to seek understanding. To consider that judgment separates and divides, even within ourselves, rather than allows us to build bridges. Ease allows us to manage the unexpected and challenging moments in our lives while discovering our inherent resilience, strength, and courage. Ease also gives us the opportunity to take into every fiber of our being those moments of pure bliss.

Grace is that special ingredient that offers us and others our “courteous goodwill.” This might mean showing compassion for ours or another’s circumstances. It can also mean opening our hearts to the inherent goodness within ourselves and others. It is like extending our heart and hand to another, knowing that no matter what has occurred or what one is struggling with, we are all born with the light of purity and goodness.

More recently, I’ve come to understand there is another essential ingredient, and that is flow. Allowing for the flow of life means we embrace the present without clinging to the past or anticipating and even fearing the future. Being in flow means that, while in the present, we contemplate our past to discern the path we want to manifest in the future. Being in flow doesn’t mean we do not make plans for our future or reflect on our past. However, being in flow lets us release that which has passed or has not yet occurred to make space for the multitude of gifts contained in each present moment.

Finally, gratitude is the ingredient that binds the others together. It is that essential element that helps us see we need it all: the easy and the difficult, the joy and the sorrow, the light and the dark. Without the all of life’s offerings, we cannot truly appreciate the gift of life itself. Daily, moment-to-moment gratitude offers us the perspective to embrace the many complexities and nuances of life to grow and expand our hearts and our capacity to love.

Message for Life’s Journey

Which brings me to my message to my daughter and her future husband, a message I believe is relevant for each and every one of us:

Love yourself and others with an open heart. Pause and reflect before speaking. Offer yourself and others your generosity of spirit. See your light and seek it in others. Know it is there even at the times when it may be overshadowed by a sense of wrongdoing and all the accompanying emotions that can come from that place of judgment. Allow yourself to be in the flow of life because life itself is meant to manifest more life. Know that you are worthy of love and you are here for a reason. So is everyone surrounding you. See your challenges as gifts and opportunities to discover more about yourself and each other. Give thanks for the gifts in your life daily, even those gifts that may be hard to understand or accept.

Ease and flow, grace and gratitude: seek to live from them daily, and daily you will find more reflected back to you.

Yes, life is a journey, one that is filled with many starts and stops, changes in direction, moments that take us to our knees, and experiences that lift us to the heavens. Embrace it all, knowing you have yourself and each other—always and forever.