Steve and I met at a dance club in March of 1999. We dated for about six weeks before I called it off. Simply put, I wasn't ready for a new relationship. Steve was a great guy, but my mind wasn't in the right place.

The night I broke up with him started with a date. He knew something was coming, because earlier in the day I told him "we needed to talk." He picked me up at my college dorm, and we drove back to his house which took about 45 minutes. We ate pizza and watched a movie (You've Got Mail). On the drive home I broke up with him. He was crushed. He parked in front of my dorm to drop me off. As I was about to open the car door and leave, Steve told me that he loved me. He was truly afraid that he would never see me again, and had to tell me.

At the time, I thought he was nuts for loving me after a short six weeks. Who could love someone after only six week? I went from stranger to loved in six week. Nuts, right?  Now, I know better. Here we are, nearly 18 years later, and I realize how lucky I am to be married to a man who loves me as much as he does.

As I constantly say in my blog, something always triggers my posts. And this post was triggered by a recent cruise we took. It was our fifth Disney Cruise, and as usual it was a delight. For some reason I was hit with this overwhelming theme of love during this cruise.

Our cruise departed on Inauguration Day. I have to admit, I was glad to miss all the news for that week. I wanted to focus on family, togetherness, relaxation, sun...afterall, it was vacation! If you read my blog regularly, you know I was less than thrilled with the election results. I can't change the results of the election, but what I can do it focus on the good around me, the goodness in people, and the love in this world. Love trumps hate. This has been in the back of my mind consistently for the last number of months, and the combination of the new President and the cruise really just set the love theme.

The cruise started off great, and the weather was perfect the afternoon we boarded the ship.

I am a visual person - hence, my large eyes. I am always looking around me, and just taking it all in. I have a very visual memory. Ask me what you wore to an event 2 years ago, and I will tell you exactly, down to your shoes. This is all just elevated when I am around a lot of people...I am constantly looking around observing people.

What happens when you are on a cruise ship in the Caribbean? Swimming. Sun bathing. What do you wear when swimming or sun bathing? Bathing suits. Being the visual person I am, I look. Not in a judgmental way...just observing. My body, like most mothers, didn't come out of pregnancy the same way it went into it. Stretch marks. Stretched skin. Sagging stuff. Oh, and I love that my abdominal muscles split down the center when I was 20 something weeks pregnant. That was just lovely. All those years of sports, making for a strong core, down the tubes. A woman's body goes through the ringer during pregnancy and delivery. Why do we do it, sometimes over and over again? Love.

That love starts even before conception. You stop taking birth control pills months in advance of wanting to conceive. You start taking multi-vitamins with folic acid months in advance of wanting to conceive. You make sure your body is prepared as possible to welcome a fetus.

And then when you are expecting, you try to stay as healthy as possible. You don't drink or smoke or do drugs. You eat as healthy as possible. You realize that anything you do to/for your body will impact the child you are carrying. And all this before you ever met your little one. This is all a mother's love.

Back in the day, when I had more time on my hands, I was super fit. I played collegiate volleyball, which carried with me well past school. I worked out. I ate clean. I was strong. I was lean.
cruise, circa 2005. Before kids.
Just noticing this now...Steve was a CA at the time. How can you tell?
Notice the farmers tan on his left arm?! So funny

Now? I wear a one piece bathing suit.

I am still strong, and let's call it somewhat lean. I am not nearly as fit as I once was. Yes, I could devote more time to get my body back into the shape it once was, but my priority isn't to look like a supermodel in a bikini. My priorities are wellness based. The numbers I am concerned with are no longer pounds on the scale, but rather my resting heart rate and the like. My priority is also to raise my children to understand the importance of a nutritious diet and a healthy active lifestyle. I am hyper aware of this because of my daughter. I want her to have high self-esteem and self-confidence. Especially when we live in a country where people are body shaming the very talented Lady Gaga. The woman is an amazing artist, yet some people choose to focus only on the way her body looks. I could write an entire post on this topic...

What am I getting at? A mother's body isn't the same as the 20-something body it was when you first met your husband. And guess what? It doesn't matter. Why? Because Steve still loves me despite any changes. He sees past any imperfection, and loves me for who I have become. This is true for many, if not most couples.

And the same goes in reverse, the love I have for him grows deeper every year despite any imperfections. Granted his body wasn't impacted from pregnancies. But, his job has taken a toll on him and I can see it on his face. Long days, dehydration, extreme focus, short rest, ect. But, this also shows how hard he works for us to keep us comfortable and happy. And why does he do it all? His love for us.

When I would look around this ship and see all the families...of all different shapes and sizes and colors... I saw so much love. I saw so many people enjoying one another, and enjoying life. You really could feel the love. Whether it be the mother snuggled up with her child on a chair on the pool deck, or the dad sitting by a stroller with a baby comfortably sleeping inside, or the grandparent watching with delight as their grandson enjoyed an ice cream cone. These little moments reminded me that despite any chatter around us, love is an incredible force that can overcome so much, and drown out so much bad.

Now, let me switch gears away from the passengers on the ship and discuss the crew members.  Dwight was an awesome bar server from Jamaica. The man works hard. He was super friendly and quick. He always had a smile on his face. He was great to chat with. He was awesome. He is also the father of two young children back home, and a husband to his wife of nine years. He works hard, and is away from home for months at a time, all to provide for his family. What a great sacrifice - to be away from family - all for love of his family. He is like many crew on the ship. He is providing for his family from the sea. He is missing holidays and birthdays and anniversaries. I think I may have it bad as a pilot for a missed anniversary, but at least I can celebrate two days later...ship crew may have to celebrate missed anniversaries six months later.

Truth be told, I was working on this post for over a week now because I had a hard time writing it. I usually have a direction with each post, and I was having a hard time with the conclusion on this post. I also am driven by the political environment right now, but I don't want to get political on this blog so I need to filter my thoughts. Not to mention, this post doesn't stick with my usual pilot wife theme. I guess what I am trying to get at is that there is so much love in the world. Sometimes it is obvious and shows easily, while other times you have to dig a little deeper for it since it doesn't always show with a hug or a kiss. And to see love, well, it warms your heart. Love lightens your days. Love make you feel special. Love is very powerful. Love is empowering. Being around so much love on the cruise was truly wonderful. It makes you realize, despite the news around you, that people are inherently good. Love strengthens the family bond. To have love is to have a full life.