7 to 40: My Best Friend, My Soul Mate

It is now one week away from my 40th Wedding Anniversary.  This is a big deal for me.  Sure, the 50th Anniversaries are always the really special ones.  But, to me, we have almost made it to 40.  We are on the final stretch…one week to go.

According to various reports, only about 10% of all marriages make it to 40 years.  It drops to 5.5% for a 50 year marriage. Apparently, the national average for marriage length is 8.2 years and the divorce rate in the U.S. is somewhere in the area of about 41%.  That is pretty amazing to me as most of those people got married because they loved their spouse and cared about him/her.

Fun with Julianne

I would love to take the time to dig into Census Data and other Social Data and find out things such as divorce rates or marriage longevity for couples with children and couples without children.  But, alas, I don’t really have the time for that.

Our life has many rainbows together

So, all I can really do is assess why Julianne and I have made it 40 years.  I believe that love and commitment to each other were the prime drivers.  The willingness to give and take is another.  Of course, raising our children and being an example to them was important as well. We have two daughters that have managed 14 years of marriage and are beating the odds as well.

Julianne with her “No-uh” face

But, bottom line for me, is that my spouse is also my best friend.  She is my soul mate.  I truly do and always have loved this special person.  Does this mean that our relationship is always hunky-dory?  Absolutely not!  Does this mean that we don’t have disagreements and things that tug us in different directions?  No way!  Certainly, we have had numerous times in our relationship that we could have called it quits, for one reason or another.  But, we haven’t.  Our friendship is a much stronger bond than that.

Fun being with each other

As we have grown older, there are segments of our individual lives that have grown apart.  I think it is only natural. Our individual interests and pursuits tend to blossom after the children have left.  Though there are many common pursuits as well, these sometimes falter for one reason or another.  But the familial ties bind us strongly.  We both love and cherish our children.  We both adore our grandchildren.  And we both love to be around each other.

Visiting Pittsburgh on a recent trip to visit her sister

I am humbled by my sweet wife’s willingness to hang in there with me, despite my foibles, faults and even failures.  I have strived to be there for her and take care of her as well as I can. She has done the same for me.

Julianne and David – Nov 4, 2018

Honestly, forty years ago I was not sure if we would make it this far.  I most certainly hoped we would.  But, it is difficult to see the future and all of the challenges, frustrations and disappointments that lie in the dark shadows waiting to leap onto an unwary couple. During those times, we had to hold each other tightly and get through the storms.  And we did. Over and over.  Because we loved, and still love, each other.

Riding the storms of societal change

Its not over.  It continues forward.  I love and adore my sweet Julianne.  She is an inspiration.  She brings me joy.  She is my best friend. She is my soul mate.

David and Julianne – on our 25th anniversary

9 to 40: Discovering the “Garden of Youth”

As I mentioned in my previous post, Julianne is a learner.  She strives to excel and, most of the time, succeeds. It seems like years that she has been searching for her “fountain of youth.”  We have both struggled with our weight throughout this 40 years together, but, I am certain, Julianne has ultimately succeeded in her battle.

Fighting weight issues is a massive challenge for all that attempt it.  Most don’t ever really get there.  It requires dedication, planning, gumption,fortitude, desire and struggle to get there.  And, of all the people I know that have struggled to get there, Julianne is really the only one that has truly succeeded.

I can remember her years ago studying the Macrobiotic Diet, probably as a result of our time living in Japan.  The macrobiotic diet is a pescetarian diet (sometimes vegetarian or vegan) fixed on ideas about types of food drawn from Zen Buddhism.  I think at the time she tried, it was too difficult.

Dr. John McDougall

After struggling with other diets, Julianne ultimately discovered Dr. John McDougall, an outspoken proponent of the consumption of a whole foods plant-based diet (WFPB), especially advocating low-fat, starchy foods, like potatoes.  She studied his concepts intently and eventually was led to watch videos such as the famous documentary Forks Over Knives, which was based on the book of the same name, which ultimately became a number bestseller on the New York Times list.  The book (and film) suggests the adoption of a plant-based diet that helps people regain control of their health and their lives.

Forks Over Knives was on of Julianne’s catalysts for change
Jane Birch – Author of Discovering the Word of Wisdom

Julianne then became friends with an LDS proponent of WFPB named Jane Birch. She is the author of a book titled Discovering the Word of Wisdom.  She then pursued her efforts and, after a while had great success such that she was featured on Jane’s website. (see Julianne’s story here).  I think that this is where Julianne “discovered” what I am referring to as her “Garden of Youth.”

Discovering the Word of Wisdom
Julianne in her “youthful” 2019 look

 Julianne began digging into this Garden of Youth more and more.  The learner in her kicked in full-bore.  As an employee of the University of Kentucky, she could take classes and, in one of her classes she had to do a report.  In doing so, she found a disturbing article by Michael Moss titled “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food.”  This article, published in the New York Times in Feb. 2013, revealed how the giant food manufacturers were intentionally making food addictive.

 

Julianne visiting with T.Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, a major publication suggesting a plant-based lifestyle

From there she focused on food addiction and realized her addictions, which drove her even deeper to overcome them.  Unlike most of us, including me, that are afraid to admit food addiction and/or are not willing to accept or take it one, Julianne dove in full force. She committed herself to change based on her research, evidence, and, by this time, experience.

Julianne and Chef AJ In 2019

She then found Chef AJ, who runs the Ultimate Weight Loss group, another program she loves. She has learned a lot from Chef AJ and her program really sent Julianne to the next level.

As Julianne’s husband of nearly 40 years, I have done all I can to support her efforts (short of jumping on board the WFPB train completely) to help her succeed. I really have.  I am proud of her fabulous success.  Since starting WFPB sometime in 2017, she has lost nearly 100 pounds.  She actually weighs less than she did as a 19 year old when we married in 1979. She looks 15 years younger than her actual age.  She is vibrant, active and happy.  She loves her journey and the many friends with similar mindsets that she has made.

Julianne with plant-based guru and author Rip Esselstyn, who also just set world swimming records for someone over 50

Ironically, in our 40 years of marriage, the past two have probably been the hardest for me.  In my life journey, I am still, admittedly, not willing to jump into WFPB, though I have seen first hand what the benefits are as I have seen the great progress of my strong and successful wife. Indeed, there are many who are in my same boat.  Perhaps its our lizard-brain, or our food addictions.  Much of the foods she prepares are wonderful, but I still find myself craving the meat and cheese and oil.

For those of you that may not know…Julianne’s dietary lifestyle is a radical change from how most of the rest of us eat. She eats no meat, fish, dairy products, poultry.  That’s a given in a plant-based diet (notice, I am NOT using the word Vegan here). But, she has taken many steps further — no processed foods, no sugar, no honey, no bread, no oils.  Her downfall and biggest temptation?  Tortilla chips and salsa.

Julianne Before and After… on the left was early 2017. On the right late 2018

Her mantra is “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”  She has discovered her “Garden of Youth” and you can see it.  I am proud of her success and honored to be her husband…despite my own weaknesses.  Not many of us are privileged to be with such a strong and amazing person!

Julianne 1979
Julianne 2019 – looks better than ever!!

53 to 40: Ms. Determination

One of Julianne’s more impressive qualities is her quiet determination. I have watched her tackle all kinds of tasks and goals over the years and she has always had the chutzpah to accomplish them. Has she been perfect at accomplishing her objectives?  No, but who is?  But, she has always had the gumption to push through.

I probably can provide a billion examples of how she has tackled a project or a goal and then has worked her way through, solving the challenges, overcoming the obstacles and getting there.

One of Julianne’s earliest Photofabrique creations

One of the unique examples of this comes from her desire to create a process to make a type of fabric art, which she first called “Photo Fabrications” and then later coined “Photofabrique.” She had a concept in mind…make quilted fabric art out of photos and make them look realistic, like a photo.  To accomplish this she first came up with ideas on how to break the photo down.  This required her to learn how to use a software product called Photoshop.  Back when she first started doing this, Photoshop was still a fairly new software product.  So, she learned it and learned how to make five layers from a photo. After many many tries, she finally came up with the concept that worked.

 

Julianne portrait in fabric

With the success in doing this, and while working as a quilt specialist at Quilter’s Square, others wanted to learn the process.  Though she wouldn’t teach the pattern making, she began making the patterns and teaching classes.  For a few years she taught classes in numerous states, as far away as Montana, and many in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee.  It became a venture for her and then introduced more challenges.  She had to devise quicker methods.  Her determination to do so helped her to learn techniques in Photoshop that would ultimately turn her pattern-making into a “scan and run an applet” type of thing. Her process evolved over a number of years.  It was amazing to see her scale this mountain.

Julianne teaching her technique in a class in Tennessee

Her use of a National Geographic photographer (Steven McCurry) piece that she turned into a photofabrique piece.

Showing off a Marilyn Monroe

When her sister Maren visited on year, Julianne began to learn yoga.  Once again, it was a challenge, but she was soon taking yoga classes and still, on occasion, does them today.  It was hard for her, but she took on the challenge and learned.

Julianne Learning Yoga

Another big challenge for Julianne was learning Japanese.  We lived in Japan as a family from 1987-1991.  During that time, Julianne focused on learning to speak the language.  By the time we left, she was able to converse freely and, nearly 28 years later she can still speak quite a bit.  She never quit and it has stuck with her.

With the family in Oita, Japan in 1988

Learning the language and the culture of Japan in 1988

There will be more posts in the next couple of weeks covering other areas where Julianne has shown gumption, determination and guts in accomplishing her objectives. She most certainly knows how to look at the mountain from below and scale it!