Can you believe Melissa and I are knocking on the door of our eighth anniversary? How was that eight years ago? Google Photo keeps reminding us of things that happened in 2013, and we’re both like, wow, look at all we didn’t know then. Right?

I didn’t know how brilliant I was being when I sat down on Melissa’s corner couch in Highland Park, showed her a picture of the Claddagh rings I’d bought on my iPhone, and said I thought getting married would be the best idea. Has this happened to you? You look back, and you’re like, I had no clue I was being that effing smart.

This year, I invite you to picture our lil home in Greensboro where we’ve locked arms in the pandemic toddler parenting trenches. We’re grateful that we’ve had jobs and enough sanity to keep the undies washed and the boys loved. Aaaand, here’s where I need to tell you what a bad-AHSS my wife is.

She listens. Like, seriously, she is interested in what’s going on in my mind and heart, and when I tell her about it, she meets me with understanding. We know this is a big deal.

She supports and trusts. Yesterday a friend sent me a job posting in a certain city very far from a beach, and I said, “You don’t wanna live there, do you?” And my ocean-loving wife said, “I want to live wherever we can be together.” I mean, come on, right?

We all had COVID in December, and we’re lucky that we came through. But Melissa’s been long hauling with tough symptoms. Her laser-like stubbornness has been this eff-you-COVID-I’m-gonna-take-care-of-my-boys engine. If I were feeling half as rough as she does, I’d be man-cold crying on the couch.

This year has been a time when old hurts have come up—you know, the ones you thought you checked off and are like, seriously, that again? And she’s been here in it with me.

So, she’s my official hero these days. See? Sometimes you don’t know how smart you are.

Which is the very reason why I’m humblebragging to you about my choice in life partner.

Because you are getting it right. If you think you are getting it wrong now, you are getting it right.

You know how I know? Because my choose-your-own-adventure blunders sent me careening into my dear friends’ back yard where I met Melissa. My choices were blind reactions to fear, pain, and wookin pa nub in ALL the wrong places.

You know I’m not suggesting you fling yourself onto life’s highway of dehydration and skinned knees in order to eventually find your true purpose—that interstate has a way of exiting you off at some interesting Shell stations already.

What I am saying is this: If lately the mean part of your brain has said, “I’m shitting the bed on this,” take it from a man who encounters toddler dookie on the daily–there’s soap and water for that.

Take a brisk walk sans-earbuds, listen to some birds doing whistle tones, and ask your in-your-heart-and-body self, “Am I doing the best I can do?”

If you hear a gentle yes, keep walking and go buy an ice cream.

If you get a nudge about a change that could bring satisfaction or relief, then go get that ice cream, and do a little something about that nudge.

A one-degree trajectory change makes the difference between your plane flying to London or Paris. Both are incredible cities, but you might not be feeling pain au chocolat this year.

Here’s the takeaway– God’s got it, and you’re going to come through.

I had no idea when I rolled up to hipster church in Pasadena in 2006 that I would meet ride-or-dies who’d save my life when it crumbled six years later and then introduce me to my wife and the mother of our scrumptious boys. You don’t know these things when you’re doot-da-dooing along.

If one of those nudges on your walk was to get your singular voice making sounds again, that’s what I (and Zoom) are here for!

Email me, and we’ll get you making free, joyful, genuine noises like a kid on the beach with a melt-down-your-wrist soft serve and your don’t-care belly out.

Because there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story that only you can share.