Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
An extract from ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran
When I met my husband I knew he was “the one.” I mean my friend had to whisper in my ear, “Gina, I think he likes you” for me to realize it, but I could feel this gravitational pull. He was the first person in my life that showed up with an aura that I could see. His atmosphere was surrounded in white and everything in my character said, “yes.”
We always dreamed. We always wanted more. We wanted to dig deeper, abolish our fears and find wild success…all with a fine line of humility and grace. Oh we did, and yet we have, but it came with many challenges and heart break.
The wedding date was set for June 24th, 2006 in the barn I dreamed of- it wasn’t exactly the perfect setting, but it was going to do. More people added to the list, family was not exactly in the most loving place and the expenses were rising. It caused friction in our relationship and that was it. We pulled the plug. I cried. Tears fell for about two weeks straight. What was everyone going to think? I sent save the dates out, my Monique Lhuillier was being altered. How would I withstand the embarrassment? I always made everything work.
Well, not this time.
We landed in therapy and have been growing ever since. Even our honeymoon, which we took independent of the stalled wedding, was a disaster! We missed our connecting flight to Athens. Stayed in London Heathrow airport for ten hours to catch the next flight. Arrived at 4am in Athens with zero luggage. Walked into our honeymoon suite to melted chocolate covered strawberries and champagne sitting in water. No clothes for two days spending most of our time searching stores. Best I could find- United Colors of Benetton. What I would’ve done for H & M. Ugh!
We somewhat recovered in Mykonos, but our bodies were fighting to adjust to the time change. We woke up late our first night, no food in sight. We sat at a restaurant that was closed, but they agreed to serve us alcohol. I’m sure I was complaining. I’m sure I was sulking in my pity party. Actually, I know I was. And just then I look up and a Greek man is smiling at me. I noticed him at the next table sitting with his large family and enjoying life. You could hear it in the tone. And here I was wondering why marriage was starting off on such shaky ground.
“Dance?” The Greek man asked. I looked at Joel who had a huge smile. “Go for it.” I got up and he walked me over to the table where his family was sitting. He pulled out a chair for me to step onto the table. Whoa, I wanted to run and something inside of me said, “fuck it.” The traditional Greek music turned up and away I twirled. The entire family was chanting for me with a quick cadence of clapping. Napkins were flying everywhere. The ladies had started a dancing train with Joel and all we could do was laugh with huge grins splayed across our faces. We had fun that night. Thank goodness.
Our ferry left for Santorini the next day. We were both so excited to see one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The winds were exceptionally bad so we had to re-route our trip to a stop in Syros (a local island) but were told we would be fine.
The winds picked up and everyone from our ferry rushed into the hotel we were sitting in. There was no ferry leaving today. We rushed to the next three hotels scrambling for a room.
We came across a dark alley of thirty men shouting at us to rent rooms in their home. OMG. Fear consumed me. I didn’t realize I flopped in such challenging situations! But what are you supposed to do when it’s your honeymoon and you just rented a room with bed mites? Ugh. I laid on the tile floor covered in my J.Crew tank tops.
The winds continued so we decided to just get on the ferry going back to Athens. We arrived at the airport hotel and lost it. A huge argument. Life just wasn’t working out for us. Was this a sign of our future? We left early and salvaged a night in London. I thought it could be fun to watch Phantom of The Opera in a cool London playhouse. We rushed and we purchased the last two seats! The show had started and we scooted in along the row right into an awkward corner. I sat down with a huge pillar obstructing my view. I truly thought I was going to lose it, and my poor husband looked at me trying to make it better—every single time.
“Love is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete.” -Plato
Ten years and, as anticipated, more challenges entered our marriage. But you know? I wouldn’t take one back. It empowered me to look at my shadows and the way I handled fear. It’s made me realize that true love is not found, it’s built. And when your therapist commends you on all the personal growth and the commitment? Well, you stay in it. “Most people come in with “your” problems after 25-30 years of marriage,” She said. “I’m glad you’re here now.”
So we thought, let’s go back to Greece and resurrect our trip. Let’s reconnect and have faith it will be different this time. And indeed it was. We arrived at Amanzoe in the middle of a gorgeous day in the Peloponnese region of Greece. As the car door swung open we were greeted by four beautiful smiles, “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Calderone. Welcome to Amanzoe.” They shook our hands and greeted us with love. As we walked up the staircase fit for a King and Queen I audibly gasped at the beauty of the grounds. It was breathtaking. In an instant I felt like Joel and I won. We triumphed the roadblocks of life individually and together as a couple. We dug deep into our souls to find health and heal the invisible wounds that have caused generational pain in our families. We made an agreement to not pass on that torment to our children. We wanted to heal together, we strive to find love, safety, and belonging.
And after ten solid years, we are on our way. The future looks bright. I know our hard work will benefit us and ultimately fill us with joy and happiness. It’s going to be so much better this time, I can feel it.♥
Our Vow Renewal
Joel & Gina,
You’ve had your dose of challenges the past decade, both individually and collectively, but each struggle has helped mold you into the individuals and unit that you are today. Now, as you feast your heart and eyes on the next decade ahead, it presents itself as the perfect time to let all of the negativity from the past go. Join hands and leap into the future with a strong and firm belief that all your dreams will come true, while family, health and happiness continue to serve as the foundation for what you cherish and find most important in your journey, together, through life.
I honor the way you protect and work hard for our family.
I promise to love you deeper each day.
I cherish the way we love and raise our children.
I trust that we will always find our way back to each other.
I give you my heart.
I appreciate how you’ve helped me become who I am.
I will love you forever and ever, amen.
I honor your passion to heal people who are in need and guide them to a happy healthy life.
I promise to never give up on us.
I cherish your heart, soul and style.
I trust that we will always find a way to make it work.
I give all of me to this relationship.
I appreciate your love and devotion to our family.