Trouble in paradise?

Just when we all thought we had it all together….  As my friend and co-worker Angie is fond of saying:

“Wedding planning brings out the most in people.” 

(*wink wink*)

tulipsWell, over the last few weeks My Girl and I have certainly seen the *most* in each other– the most cranky, the most conflicted, the most unpredictable, the most outrageous… you get the idea.  Wedding planning can be stressful, even with the best attitude and purely good intentions. 

Try this simple little trick next time you and your sweetie are arguing over plans, big or small:

Sit across from each other knee-to-knee and eye-to-eye.  Hold hands (if you can manage it and neither of you has the propensity to slap the other).  Decide who will be the “Listener” and who will be the “Talker.”  And repeat after me.  Or rather– Listener repeat after the Talker.  It goes like this:

tulips close upThe Talker says what’s on their mind.  Keep it simple, keep it short, and pause often for the Listener to repeat. 

The Listener repeats *verbatim* what they heard and asks:

“Did I get that right?” 

If the Talker answers “yes,” the Listener asks:

“Is there more?” 

(If the Talker answers “no,” the Talker clarifies what was misheard and the Listener repeats and asks again.)

When the Talker has no more to say, the Listener summarizes and then asks:

“Is that a fair summary?” 

Then the Listener ** with compassion and empathy ** says:

(Pay close attention here people!)

angel mom“I can understand how that’s important to you, and why you feel that way.  I love you and I want you to be happy and feel good.”

See how simple that is? 

** Most often when there are conflicts in relationships, it’s because we all get triggered by things we aren’t quite consciously aware of.  And in the end, everyone just wants to be heard and accepted and loved. **

The Grateful Lesbian Bride’s Wedding Planning Tip #3:    Taking 10 minutes to pause, breathe, and “mirror” your sweetheart can go a long way towards happier wedding planning and a healthier future together.

abandon all doubt

For more information on the best tips and tricks for couples communication, see


Cast of Characters….

One thing that is very special about my life today and the planning of this grand old “Wedding of Gratitude” is the cast of characters.  Instead of choosing who will be part of the “bridal party”  this time around the bridal party has chosen me!

My Girl

My Girl.  The love of my life.  Enough said.

the grateful bride

Me.  The always Grateful Bride & humble writer.


Minnie.  My typical seven year old daughter, the Maid of Honor.  She has the most important job in a wedding, I’ve told her, because she gets to hold the bride’s flowers.  She says she’s going to wear a bathing suit under her dress and promptly jump right into the ocean at the end of the ceremony.

Big Guy

Big Guy.  My twelve year old son with autism, who will have an important role also.  Because he can be a bit easily distracted, his role may involve taking a walk down the beach in the middle of the ceremony… but hey, it’s all good in our family.

felix and sweetie

Felix & Sweetie.  Also affectionately referred to as “Chihuahua One” and “Chihuahua Two.”  Yes, there will be dogs at the wedding.  Somewhere.  Somehow.  Yippy, barky details to be announced…

dad and laurel 2

Dad & Laurel.  My dad (duh.) and his lovely wife.  My father has graciously agreed to dance me down the aisle on the big day.  What a sport, huh?

angel mom

Angel Mom.  My mother will be there, too, but chances are only a few of us will know for sure.  She was a pastor and her best friend in the ministry has promised to “channel her energy” from heaven while officiating at our ceremony.  There may be sudden gusts of wind & rain involved, but only if my mother is feeling dramatic.  And I’m sure if the weather is unpredictable, somehow we’ll end up with a big gay rainbow at the end of it.

dad and angel mom over the rainbow

The Grateful Lesbian Bride’s Wedding Planning Tip #2: 

All the ways your family & friends participate really are all good.  You don’t have to choose between people.  Simply invite those you love to take part and gently guide them to key roles based on their individual talents and the gifts they want to share.  Then enjoy the one-of-a-kind wedding results!

katja taking pictures

Top Ten Reasons I Love My Girl

Today is My Girl’s birthday! 

In honor of the beautiful, amazing, caring, generous, thoughtful, creative, super wonderful woman who has brought such immense joy into my life and the lives of my children, Big Guy and Minnie, I’m sharing one of my favorite pieces all about her.

Originally titled   “Dude, where are my preconceived notions? No, seriously, dude…”  

I present to you the…..


10.  She can use the word “dude” in context & appropriately in a clinical setting in her job as a physician.  As in: 

Young & healthy but nervous patient:  “Doc, you gotta help me, I think I’m having a heart attack!” 

My Girl:  “Dude, you are not having a heart attack.”

9.  She can get Minnie out of a snit faster than anyone I’ve ever known.  She never backs down from the Taurus bull horns until our baby bull daughter is smiling.  I don’t know exactly how that works, but I love it.

8.  She lets me take her picture (get your mind out of the gutter, this is a family show!) even though she hates being photographed.  How much does she love me?  She bought me a camera for Christmas.

7.  She can be tough as nails when she has to be, but when it comes to her chihuahuas she’s as sappy as the most sentimental mama. 

Her high pitched “doggie voice” is so sweet that even our geckos gaze lovingly when she talks to them.

6.  She says she’s shy, but I’ve never noticed.  … Okay, I’ll wait for that one to sink in– read it again… and…. did you get the word-behind-the-words?  … There you go.

5.  She lives deliberately, makes choices thoughtfully and solves problems ethically, for the good of the people she cares for. 

I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.

4.  She is impossible to place “in a box.”  To know My Girl is to abandon your preconceived notions, because she’ll just blow right through them anyway.  An ex-military flight surgeon who’s afraid of mice?  A tattooed chick with a motorcycle who drives her fancy SUV with her tiny dogs perched on her lap like Paris Hilton?  A critical care doc who can run codes in the ICU, but who cried at the preview of “Chimpanzee?” * 

Trying to capture her with a limited world view is like trying to measure the movement of an electron– the more you try, the more she’ll open your mind in the process!

(google “Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle“).

3.  She is committed to learning & growing, she is willing to try again.  And she’ll never give up on the people she loves.  Ever.

2.  Big Guy and Minnie both love her.  Not because she’s in a relationship with their mother.  But because she’s taken the time, had the patience and made the effort to get to know them, to find out the individual, beautiful people they are, and to build a connection with them on their terms.  If you know *anything* about raising kids with special needs especially, you’ll know what kind of person that makes My Girl.

and the number one reason I love My Girl:

1.  Her love and acceptance have brought a secure, peaceful feeling to my life that I’ve never known before, and when I think about our future together I just feel so darn HAPPY!

autism home rescue 052620123

*  Click here to find out how to help chimpanzees in honor of my girl

the preface to our story…

Don’t you just love when you think you know exactly the way your life is gonna go and then something unexpectedly wonderful happens that changes everything?  Well, that’s today’s theme.  Originally posted on my special needs mama blog over a year ago, here is the story of how My Girl and I began:

For much of my life I had a vision of how things were supposed to be.  Many of my challenges revolved around staying still long enough to allow the inside of me– my ideas and passions– to coordinate with the outside of me– my goals and projects.  It’s not that I wasn’t always open to allowing other people to be who they are, or I thought everyone should fit inside some sort of “box” or category.  It’s not even that I felt I should fit into one particular character or role.  It’s just that it has always been difficult for me to believe anything is possible, to give my genuine attention to my most sincere wishes.  I tend to limit possibilities by letting my logical, rational brain try to determine the “how” of things, instead of letting my heart be happy entertaining bigger dreams.  One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie “The Secret” about the Law of Attraction:

“Grass doesn’t struggle to grow.  It’s effortless, it’s just perfectly designed that way.”

Every time I can let go of preconceived notions about life and acknowledge there are greater forces at work in the universe and that I may be limiting myself by thinking that I actually *know* something about my future, miraculous things occur.  Enter true love, My Girl.

I graduated college, got married, bought a house, gave birth to a son.  I journeyed through special needs diagnosis, early intervention, special education with him.  I gave birth to a daughter and journeyed through the land of the typical and other health issues with her.  I survived, my marriage was steady for a while.  Then the storms came, our home shook, the pressures were too much and it all collapsed.

Everything I thought I had, everything I thought I wanted, lay in a crumbled heap.  Kind of like the way the living room used to look after a long, crazy day– a jumble of toys and couch cushions and snacks and socks and leftover dinner plates and unfinished projects.  Only instead of all that stuff, there were unrealized dreams and changed expectations, puddles of tears shed for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on…  Sure, I knew I was grieving the loss of visions and hopes of what family life would be like for me and my ex, I was grieving for what I would never experience with my son.  I was fine this way, just fine I told myself.

But somewhere in the back of my mind, a different life called to me and I had to redirect my thoughts and translate them into the here-and-now language of special needs mom.

My first marriage finally broke under the weight of that crumbled heap of emotions and anxieties and misunderstandings and betrayals, and I got divorced.  On the road to separation, I had to come to terms with the distinct possibility I would never find love again, that I might indeed remain a single parent for a long time.  I took a deep breath, accepted this possibility, and began to recover my life.  I created a safe space for myself and my children.  I moved some beloved pieces of my mother’s furniture into a new home.  And for the first time in a long time, I set my sights on intentionally creating *my* future and considering key elements that help me feel calm and happy.

I opened my mind to the possibility that my life could include a healthy, loving, cooperative relationship.

My best friend teases me that I have a “magic journal,” and whenever I write from my heart a vision of how I want my life to be, that vision becomes reality.  Such power, right?  Well believe me, if I knew how this magic journal thing actually works, I’d wield that power to do a lot more good in the world.  For now I’m content with marveling at the good luck I’m afforded when I get clarity through written words.

At the suggestion of a relationship book author, I wrote down my ideal day.  Pictures in my head of what happens, what my partner says to me, how the day looks, feels and sounds.  I made it vivid and fun, I wrote words that made me smile, I included basketball for some odd reason (which I don’t play except when it’s goofing around on the basketball court with my son).  Then I read it over and gave myself permission to sink into it and believe for a moment it was real.

I felt the joy of that day and I was thankful.

A couple weeks later, I met My Girl.  I’ve now lived my ideal day many times over.  She is beautiful, intelligent, accomplished in her profession, compassionate and warm.  She was captain of her high school basketball team (thanks, magic journal).

And I am so grateful for this new chance at true love.

autism home rescue 12231101

Do you have an extraordinary, out-of-the-box or just plain special love story?

Please share it with me via comment or email at

A beautiful, unique rainbow is always best.

Onward with the big, fat lesbian wedding planning journey

First thing to tackle:


I had a planning revelation this week over “colors.”  Yes, you read that right– a revelation.  I was perusing the website of the photographer I did NOT choose whose online survey insisted on the following information:

* What are your wedding colors?

* What will the bridesmaids be wearing?

* How many attendants will you have?

* Please specify the type of footwear every single person participating in your ceremony, your reception and your honeymoon will wear– and exactly what color each shoe will be.

Okay, so maybe that last part was a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.

Truth is, I don’t know my “colors.”

I really like blue and I hope to find a thrift-shop-gem of a cerulean blue dress in which to dance down the aisle.  Heck, I also like peach and rose, most browns, and certain shades of pink…  In fact, I’ve become sort of a “rainbow” gal lately– pun completely intended.  So all these color questions sent me straight into a mini-panic.

Had I already picked “my colors” by accident??

I had sent out some cards with save-the-date refrigerator magnets.  The magnets matched the colors in the picture I chose– dark red, gray, light blue.  But the cards were actually pink and brown with maybe a little gold somewhere in there… kind of a funky pattern… oh whatever, I don’t really remember.  I just thought they looked cool.

But should I have thought all this through?  Did my colors now have to be red and gray? And what about the reception decor?  The invitations?  The flowers?  Was everything supposed to match??

Just when I was about to call the amazing photographer I DID choose and insist on only black and white prints to save my sanity….

I remembered what my grandmother taught my mom:

“If you love it, buy it– it will go.”

Meaning if you’re trying to coordinate your living room in all browns and blues and cream, but you fall head-over-heels in LOVE with an orange afghan with purple flowers… well then, go ahead and bring that afghan home.  Because the simple truth is that the human eye isn’t always as good a judge as the human heart.  If you coordinate your “colors” with your heart, instead of trying to focus your eyes on what “should” match up according to some style magazine, you will never go wrong.

Kind of a neat life lesson, don’t ya think?

So here’s the Grateful Lesbian Bride’s Wedding Planning Tip #1:

If you love it, go with it and ignore anyone who asks about your “colors.”  Because in the end, a beautiful, unique rainbow is always best.

What if one day really could make all the difference?

What if one relationship could change the world?  What if love really is everything and with just a simple shared vision, two people could create something beyond all expectations?

When I met my beautiful girl nearly two years ago, I knew I’d finally found where I am supposed to be.  Yes, I had a sense of purpose before then.  I’d spent over a decade raising two children, and countless years more learning about myself and the world.  I am grateful for all my experiences, the challenges, joys and sorrows.  I have no regrets about anything that came before this time.

But there is something amazingly, wonderfully, refreshingly different about the new love I’ve found.  For the first time, all the parts of me– my strengths & rough spots, my deep desires & outer facade, my hopes & fears, my past & future– are perfectly aligned in this present moment.  I have nothing to hide, nothing to pretend.  Because I am finally home.

This is the gift my girl gives to me– the chance, through a true love partnership, to recover my lost parts and grow into the fully alive, joyful woman-at-peace I am meant to be.

I am so immensely grateful for this gift that when my girl proposed on October 19, 2012, I began to imagine the creation of a celebration as uniquely aligned with the world as we are together.  This blog is about my journey to find a way for our one ordinary wedding day to make an extraordinary difference.