5…6…7…Hold…by Ms. Coco

5…6…7…Hold…by Ms. Coco

In my last post I stated an exercise I wanted to incorporate into the Gentleman Farmer’s daily routine. We talk for five minutes uninterrupted about whatever is on our minds. Oftentimes we do this without having an actual timer. I think it’s pretty easy but sometimes the GF has trouble filling up his time. I chalk this up to men using less words to describe what’s important to them. However, we’ve done this for two weeks without missing a day. I think this definitely helps us to connect in ways we may not be aware. Case in point; the GF and I were working on what the Gottman Institute calls “love maps.” This love map is a series of questions that allows partners to see/realize where their partners are emotionally. One question asked was describe your partner’s day in great detail. We knew that about each other because we discussed our day hours before during our five minute exercise. We realize our stressors, cares, concerns, and accomplishments in those 10 minutes on a daily basis. 

Another update: salsa. Like the Gentlenan Farmer and I both stated, we’ve had a great time dancing. I more so have learned how my dancing impacts my partner’s thoughts and feelings about our relationship. I always think I have the best intentions and am displaying them in ways he can understand. However, that isn’t the case. We both have learned that we have to do more, be more, and act more in ways that we both understand to have a solid relationship. This came from our salsa classes! I’m staring my babe in the eyes, smiling and wishing he’d look back at me while he’s learning new steps and is concerned with leading us to be the best dancers we can possibly be. We are both learning to dance with each other but also I want to have the most fun with the person I’m with while doing justice to this very cultural dance. Whew! That’s hard sometimes. Emotions are high and the pressure is on! Haha. I want to be seen as the person I see myself as….including being a beautiful dancer. We’ll get there yet. We went to a dance showcase of other students from the Salsa Center. They did an amazing job and I see us up there soon! Why not?!?! 

Our trip to Cuba is next week! I’m excited to spend time with my sister and her boyfriend, two of my friends, and, of course, the Gentleman Farmer. The beach is my happy place and I hope we will have many sunny days ahead with lots of learning about the culture and people of Cuba. I imagine us dancing in the streets, going to the market, sunbathing, museums, food, and lots of fun! 

Wanna Dance? Of Course! By Ms. Coco

Wanna Dance? Of Course! By Ms. Coco

When the Gentleman Farmer and I discussed what our challenge should be this month we had different opinions. However, we decided to go with his of learning how to salsa. I know he likes to dance and I have never taken any dance classes at all, so once again this is new territory for me. I appreciate these experiences that we have together.

We went to two classes this week, and I must admit, it was a lot of fun! I am not shy on the dance floor, and I LOVE to dance! Salsa does not come naturally to me; I have a hard time listening to the beat sometimes. However, the GF is a great leader, and as long as I catch his signals, I can stumble my way through. I would love to be a great dancer. Also, our teacher is amazing. Visit The Salsa Center in Lexington if you have a chance!

I am also currently reading How To Be Married by Jo Piazza. The GF bought me this book because he said it sounds like something I would read – his assumption is accurate. In the last year, I read How To Be A Woman, How To Be A Person In The World, and How to Grow Anything – Food Gardening For Everyone (really a DVD, but, yah know), so this is right up my alley. In How To Be Married Piazza travels the earth asking advice from people from several countries. She also discusses the fact that marriage is not perfect and takes real work. As you may have realized by now, I am all for working on my relationships, personal – duh- and professional, to ensure success! In one country the advice given was to always dance with your spouse. If you’re able to dance, you should be able to communicate (I actually believe communication may be the most important link to a healthy marriage). We dance sometimes, but we can always incorporate more dancing, hand holding, and eye staring into our daily lives.

We can always talk more as well. There is one exercise that is brought up in the book about talking for five minutes each day uninterrupted. For example, the GF talks for five minutes about whatever he would like to discuss. It can be good, bad, ugly, or indifferent. I must listen to him and not respond but show nonverbal actions to encourage him to keep talking. Then we switch. This allows each person involved to discuss the important or nonimportant issues that may not be addressed because of distractions from our partners or not being fully engaged. Maybe we’ll try this tonight and report back our findings.

 

The Love We Share…By Ms. Coco

The Love We Share…By Ms. Coco

I am a thoughtful person, for good or for worse. I know that may get me in trouble sometimes…as some songs say, I overthink. However, we all do that sometimes. And since the Gentleman Farmer and I started this project six months ago – WOW – I think it’s a good time to do so. I spoke a little about this last month when we were determining our rituals, traditions, and special moments. So let’s get into what I have learned since starting this with my honey.

I have always known I can be stubborn. I like to get my way when I want it. I do not like when people tell me no, especially when it’s my man (and he rarely tells me no…but it still gives me a little pang in my heart). However, I have realized that this feeling is also something I see in the GF. If he asks me something, I attempt to do it when he asks. If he does not do the same, I am VERY impatient! In my mind, I am thinking of all of the requests he gives on a daily basis – which is many- and how quickly I respond. I also reflect on the years growing up with my mother. If she asked for something, she expected a response immediately. This trait apparently has been passed down to more than my household.

I also have realized no matter how well I believe the GF and me communicate, we sometimes are on opposite sides, and I have to be humble enough to fix the problem. Or at least begin to repair the issue. I shut down when there are problems most times. I do not want to say anything I will regret. I also need to gather thoughts. But at that moment my feelings are HURT! Within our relationship, I cannot shut down. And I won’t do that to him. He worries when I am not speaking to him, and I would never want to give him the thought that what is wrong is irreparable. Even when we are arguing – we have had a few of those – I still have to show him love in the way he receives it. For him, his love language is physical touch. He likes to hold my hand, touch my hair, or give me kisses when (I think) he thinks I am upset. At that moment the last thing I want to do is hold his hand, but I do because I still love him and I want to show him love always. I hope he does the same for me when he is upset. I need him to talk to me, listen to my concerns, and tell me what is going on since my love language is quality time.

One last thing I have realized over and over again is that the Gentleman Farmer loves me and will do anything to protect me, make me happy, and keep me safe. I adore him for all he is, pleasant or trying. We have done many things in the last year that have strengthened our love for each other, that have tested each other’s nerves, and that have affirmed – for me, at least – that he is the man I will love until the end of time. Of course, we have to decide on what our next steps in life are. Where will we live is something we’ve been contemplating for the last month or so. How will we keep our joint spaces neat enough that we won’t be irritated? How should our meals be prepared and seasoned (that’s all ME)? Where will our future children go to school (if our blessing is to have any)? Where will we feed Bates when we’re in other peoples’ homes? These are all questions that came up the past couple of months. We will get answers to them all. He gets All That I Got.

This month’s challenge is to create something together. Our first project is a menu board – I am always thinking of food. It will say “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalms 34:8. We’ll see how this turns out!

Mission Statements…by Ms. Coco

Mission Statements…by Ms. Coco

This month of rituals and traditions have shaped our relationship in a different way than I imagined. I believe the Gentleman Farmer and I have always observed various rituals and traditions but have never talked about why we do what we do.  I think it is always important to know why we do what we do, whether that is personally or together. The Gentleman Farmer and I have discussed this for the past couple of weeks. For example, each night we give each other a kiss before saying goodnight. I think that is important and it lets me know we care about each other and are acknowledging each other before bed. If we miss a night my feelings are slightly hurt. (Don’t judge…we all have our things.)

For the last week or so the GF and I have discussed writing a mission statment for our relationship. I listen to many podcasts and at least three of them last week mentioned mission statements within their relationships. The couples who discussed them relayed how this mission statment was a tradition or ritual based on where they were in their lives. One couple just got married, another just had their third child, and another had been together for two years. I thought this concept of creating a mission statment was great! It directly impacts the work I do on a daily basis with families, but also it is a great thing to do with my honey. This exercise is ongoing and flexible and can be modified whenever we need.

So we started with a few questions. What is the purpose of our relationship? What type of life do we want to live? What does being right and wrong mean to us? What legacy do we want to leave together? Where do we want to raise our future kids? I asked the GF many questions that I found on the internet. I started with Cooperative Extension websites first because I wanted to see research based information. Then I looked at other samples and websites. I am always curious to see great examples of how others showcase their real realtionships. The GF and I both have our faults but I do believe, and hope, that we care about our relationship enough that we will foster intimacy in various ways other than just the physical.

We haven’t actually written the mission statement yet. And like the couples in the podcasts, this is a working “document” if you will. Maybe one day we will share it with the world. I wouldn’t mind.

We did go to the Juneteenth celebration this weekend in Lexington. It was pretty interesting. We didn’t stay long enough to hear or see the other informational acts that day but it was in a park after an African-American jockey from the late 19th century. I also signed up to volunteer with a coalition in the city. I believe community is important and I am trying to join communities in which we share similar interests. We’ll see how this goes!

Our New And Old Thing…by Ms. Coco

Our New And Old Thing…by Ms. Coco

Well, the month of May has come to a close and the Gentleman Farmer and I have made it out alive! I never had a doubt whether our relationship would still be in tact after 31 days of cohabitation, I just wondered how our mental state would be…or more so, my own mental capability after this month’s challenge. I think it was much easier than I anticipated overall. The Gentleman Farmer would tell  you he is an excellent “roommate” and I would have to agree with him. He is courteous of others, he does his share of chores – even though we never verbally discussed chores this month – and he prepares breakfast more times than I do! I am not a huge fan of breakfast but I fully understand why we are more productive and healthier if we do. However, I am a pretty good “roommate” if I say so myself. I cook dinner most nights (that we are at my house), I have snacks that he prefers (and La Croix water), and he always has lunch for the next day! I realize all of this revolves around food…but hey, I know what I know! I think it was a tie for this challenge.

The month of June is when we discover, explore, and create traditions that will last a lifetime. We certainly already have a few rituals or traditions that we observe. The Gentleman Farmer prepares dinner on Sunday nights. We celebrate accomplishments! Not every family celebrate birthdays, holidays, graduations, or other milestones. However, we do this together and make a big deal of them, or at least I do and drag the GF along with me. June brings celebrations of African-American Music Month and the Juneteenth Celebration. I have grown up celebrating Juneteenth and would like to see how Lexington does so, if at all. We used to have community events at the park where I grew up. This included some type of learning program and lots of food. We usually celebrated other African-American holidays such as Black History Month and Kwanzaa. My mother was serious about her children learning the history of our people. She, and Nas (the rapper), always said “they” never teach you came from kings and queens. I am a Zimbabwean princess afterall…from the Shona tribe. 🙂

I look forward to starting and continuing traditions or rituals with the GF. He is my favorite person and I like being as spontaneous with him…or as predictable with him. All of these things set a strong foundation for how we choose to live our lives. And I like the way we are going. Every year I feel you should ask that person you like and love if you’re still going in the right direction. Since I asked him this a few months back I will have to ask another time…but for now we are both on the same page. I like that very much.

Boundaries and Such…by Ms. Coco

Boundaries and Such…by Ms. Coco

The Gentleman Farmer asked me a couple of weeks ago about personal boundaries and if we give each other enough space. At that moment I thought we did a pretty good job. Then when we went to North Carolina he decided to be the best person and clean out my car. Ha! I had no clue where he was for a few hours during our annual family cookout for Mother’s Day. I happened to wonder aloud, “Did the GF get lost on his way to the grocery store?” My hometown is small and there is really no way to get lost, especially with the usage of technology and GPS on the phone. My sister said, “Oh, he took your car to the car wash.” No problem there. Until he came back and he put all of my items in a bag. I tried really hard to not be aggravated. We made it all the way back to Kentucky before I expressed my frustration.

Now…please do not misunderstand me. I love this man. He is the best man I know. Even in that task of being helpful I should be grateful, and I am. However, there is a thing about knowing where your boundaries lay. And one of mine is that if you must use/move/clean anything of mine the items should be placed back where you find them. I don’t know why that is my thing; I just know that it is. This has occurred enough times in my life to know that I would be upset about it no matter who did it. One time my sister came to my house and moved all of my furniture in the house. I was very upset about it. I waited until she left to rearrange my furniture the way I had it. At that moment I was a young 23 year old and I wanted to live my life the way I chose and she interrupted that by moving furniture! It WAS serious! Haha.

After the Gentleman Farmer and I discussed the feelings I had about him cleaning my car he brought up a concern. He wondered how this would affect us living together. Anyone would be wondering the same, I suppose. However, when the GF and I decide to move in together, I am going to assume that we will both agree on where to place items. Once we decide TOGETHER then I will have no problem when it comes to the movement of items. However, the problem I have always had is that when my items are kept in other places within my home, my classroom, my office, or my car, others feel that where I kept items were not good enough and took it upon themselves to rearrange to the point where I could not find my things. That is my issue. The GF usually finds his stuff in the same place I got it from…even if he finds additional things there too. Haha. That is what I need to work on myself. Not leaving additional things for him to find. 🙂 He loves me anyway. And I love him more and more each day.

We Are Living…Single….OR Together? By Ms. Coco

We Are Living…Single….OR Together? By Ms. Coco

The month of May brings the Gentleman Farmer and myself living together. I must admit, I have never lived with anyone other than family. Well…I had suite-mates in college and the last person I lived with was my twin and that was a disaster! We were Resident Assistants in the same on-campus apartments and it was someone’s bright idea to have us living together. She complained about the bathroom being dirty while I complained that she would leave dishes in the sink overnight. We drove each other CRAZY! So after her I decided I didn’t need roommates to survive.

I am pretty sure I have scared the Gentleman Farmer with the fact that I haven’t lived with anyone for several years now. Or maybe not scared him but I am sure he has some concerns. I don’t really know what to expect so I can only say this will be some form of an adventure. I have very few concerns (usually I am joking if I say that I have any). I may only really care if I feel annoyed or am being annoying. I have realized since I moved to Kentucky that I get annoyed over certain things. Things like food (or lack thereof), phone calls, and tiredness brings crankiness. I only like a few things for breakfast and ideally I’d rather it be real food than junk.  I think it’s rude to talk on the phone if we’re in the car together. This goes for my friends as well. Haha. I get super annoyed when I haven’t been able to sleep well. I try really hard to not let my mood affect how I interact with the GF…but it doesn’t work in my — or his — favor all the time.

The Gentleman Farmer told me I shouldn’t be disappointed if things don’t stay the same. The real question is, who isn’t disappointed? Engaging conversations, pieces of cake or macaroons when I see him, or flowers when I least expect it are things I live for! Ha! However, I am well aware that I may not do the same things I did when we first started dating…well, hopefully I still do a lot of what I did when we started. So I can’t — and won’t — be upset if we gradually change, as long as we are changing for the better. I only hope and pray that we will continue to move in the same direction with the same purpose.

So since we have been in May for two weeks now it hasn’t been that strained. Like I mentioned previously, I was at a conference for a week. This past week hasn’t been that bad either — due to the Gentleman Farmer. I went to the greatest concert of my life — my boo Trey Songz! Haha! I have LOVED him since 2005 when he had the braids and the oversized t-shirts. ❤ ❤ ❤ I have been to SEVERAL of his concerts and this one was simply amazing! That was the good part. My oldest sister took my keys out of my pocketbook and I didn’t realize they didn’t find their way back into my purse until my other sister called. However, I was halfway back to KY by that time. So they were to be overnighted to me but you know mail is slow sometimes. So the GF was kind enough to allow me to borrow his car so that I may get to the many meetings I had scheduled this week. That was really no surprise — he’s done it before. However, I know that he was inconvenienced this week and I certainly appreciate his generosity. 🙂 Waking upan hour earlier each morning to get to work has driven me crazy. I am not used to doing it on a weekly basis and it has just solidified that I don’t want to drive an hour to work and back each day. However, waking up next to him each day has been so pleasant. When we decide where we should reside I definitely think we should take commute time into consideration.