love stories

Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen Had to Fail at Marriage to Find True Love

By | Food for thought, love stories, marriage, profile, relationships, romantic

Ted Danson has had an unbelievable career in comedy. Despite the occasional miss, his roles on Cheers and The Good Place alone have solidified his status as a Hollywood legend. Similarly, his personal life has been a smash hit for the past 20-plus years. But that wasn’t always the case.

As Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen’s bumpy love story proves, sometimes you have to deal with your fair share of drama and heartbreak before being rewarded with unconditional love. 

Here’s what we can learn from Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen’s marriage:

Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen have enjoyed over two decades of wedded bliss, but when the pair first met on the set of Pontiac Moon in 1993, the outlook was anything but promising. That’s because they had both sworn off love for good.

Steenburgen had gotten divorced in 1990 and Danson was having zero luck in the romance department. Not only was he twice divorced, but his second marriage ended in scandal and a historic $30 million settlement

Everyone changes…

Ted Danson’s first shot at love came at a young age. In 1970, at the age of 23, he married actress Randy Gosch whom he had met at Carnegie Mellon University. As their respective careers began taking off, however, they found themselves on different paths and separated in 1975. 

People change with every experience they have and don’t always remain compatible.

It’s a lesson Danson would soon learn for a second time. Unphased by his divorce, Danson said “I do” to producer Cassandra Coates just two years later. Sadly, a major health scare would soon drive a wedge between them. 

And tragedy can change your relationship

The year was 1979 and Coates was giving birth to their first child, Kate, when she suffered a stroke that paralyzed her left side. Recovery was slow and painful, but Danson remained by her side, even sleeping on the hospital room floor for the first three weeks. Unfortunately, the trauma soon took its toll. 

Speaking candidly about their experience, Coates told People in 1982:

For the first month, I did nothing but cry. I gave Ted permission to leave me. I thought I was going to be a wipe-out the rest of my life.

Cassandra Coates, People Magazine

As she noted, they were still “adjusting to the fact that we aren’t the same people we were before this happened.” 

Not only was their intimacy gone — “You don’t think about your sex life when you’re paralyzed,” she told the outlet — but as they tried to find their new “normal,” tensions grew.

As Danson admitted, “There was a huge rift between us — a massive lack of trust” accompanied by a major “sense of sacrifice” on his part.

Sometimes you have to lose everything to find joy 

Despite all of the challenges they faced, Danson and Coates remained a team for the next decade, but their foundation would crumble in the early ‘90s.

Danson was accused of having an affair with co-star Whoopi Goldberg on the set of 1993’s Made in America and the media just couldn’t get enough. That’s when the actor’s life began spiraling out of control. 

His marriage fell apart, he was hit with a history-making $30 million divorce settlement, Cheers was officially over, Made in America was a flop and, when all was said and done, his new relationship with Goldberg just couldn’t withstand the pressure. The couple called it quits after only 18 months of dating, shortly after an embarrassing comedy routine in which Danson dressed up in blackface to roast his girlfriend.

“I was a mess-and-a-half,” Danson told AARP Magazine of that time in his life.

I thought, I’m incapable of being in a relationship. But I was working on myself.

Ted Danson, AARP Magazine

And that’s when the unexpected happened. As he noted, it’s “ironic how life works in those moments. Once you throw your arms up and surrender, a lot of times things come your way.”

True love comes when you least expect it…  

Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen
3/7/99 Los Angeles, CA. Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen at the 5th Annual Screen Actors Guild Award.

When Danson met Steenburgen on the set of Pontiac Moon in 1993, she was in a similar headspace to his. She was a newly single mother of two, having divorced Malcolm McDowell in 1990, and, like her co-star, she had all but given up on love.

“I announced to all my friends — not dramatically, but very seriously — that I was done with relationships,” she told Closer

That all changed one fateful day. The actors, who were tasked with playing a married couple, spent five hours shooting a canoe scene that would alter their lives forever. As Danson told the magazine, “We went out as friends and by the time we came back, we were in love.”

The timing of their encounter, which may have seemed odd at first, was actually perfect, as the pair had similar experiences to bond over.

As Danson explained, “We found each other when I was 45 and she was 40 — we had lived a bit.”

Both of us stared down some demons within ourselves, and it was lucky that we met then.

Ted Danson, Closer Weekly

They soon restored each other’s faith in love and were married in 1995.

True love gets stronger with age 

While Danson experienced his first three relationships crumble over time, with Steenburgen he learned a valuable lesson: True love gets stronger with age.

When faced with hardships, personal growth, and changing outlooks on life, true love doesn’t dissolve. Rather, it’s able to withstand anything you throw at it.

Which explains why the couple is as crazy in love today as they were when they first met. 

“I’m madly in love with Mary,” Danson proclaimed in 2017, gushing, “She’s a remarkable human being so I’m just incredibly blessed. It feels like heaven on Earth,” he continued. “If I were to die, I can say, I know what it’s like to be loved and to love.”

The feeling is mutual. “I’m ridiculously in love with him,” Steenburgen proclaimed in 2018. “I find him endlessly fascinating. He surprises me all the time and most of all he makes me laugh.” 

Ted and Mary’s biggest lesson:

It’s easy to have regrets or second-guess your choices in life, especially when the outcome isn’t the one you’d hoped for, but consider this: If you were to change even a single element of your past, your present might look very different.

This is a truth Danson is acutely aware of. As he told AARP Magazine, “If I corrected my mistakes — which are cringers — would I take them away if it were to alter anything about where I am now? No. Life is messy. The older I get, the more I realize it’s okay to be imperfect,” he noted. “Because you can still grow and make changes in your life.” 

Rather than pondering the what-ifs, use every experience, both good and bad, as an opportunity to learn. Treat failure as a chance to grow and better yourself and remember that your present is the result of everything that came before it, so there’s no time for regret. Instead, trust that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be or, at least, that you’re headed there.

More inspiring love stories:

How Oprah’s Advice Led Serena Williams To Alexis Ohanian, Her Perfect Match

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, love stories, marriage, stories

I’ve always seen Serena Williams as an inimitable, dominating force in the world of tennis. After all, she’s won 23 major singles titles—more than any man or woman in the Open Era of the sport–four Olympic gold medals, and the Women’s Tennis Association ranked her world No. 1 in singles eight times. 

It’s no wonder that love and romance haven’t always come easy to her. In case you’ve never noticed, those among us with the brightest lights tend to wane in our power when paired off.

Which is all the more reason to have a look at how she came to meet her husband, internet entrepreneur and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. My theory: when you find someone who also shines a light, they’re more apt to love and respect yours.

Serena Williams faced many obstacles

As anyone who pays attention knows, Serena Williams has faced consistent (and deeply problematic) body shaming throughout the years from those who feel her muscles and her power make her look masculine.

She’s addressed these upsetting comments many a time, ultimately choosing to stay empowered and ignore the haters, but not without difficulty. “It was hard for me,” she said to Harper’s Bazaar.

People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I’m strong. I was different to Venus [her sister]: She was thin and tall and beautiful, and I am strong and muscular—and beautiful, but, you know, it was just totally different.

Serena Williams to Harper’s Bazaar

This is the sad truth in the way the world currently views women who deviate from the norm either in looks or in personality traits. Strong may be sexy, but if a woman gets too strong (or shines too bright), her femininity is in question.

Serena’s strength is both physical but also an integral part of her personality, which has made her a source of inspiration to many. And no, it does not make her any less of a woman.

Another reason to listen to Oprah

There was a time when Williams believed she would never have both a successful career and a relationship. Before she met Ohanian, Williams is known to have dated Common, Drake, Grigor Dimitrov, and Brett Ratner among others, which she told Allure were “mostly great relationships.”

Yet—apparently not the relationship, am I right?

It’s a good thing she found a wise, fairy godmother figure in Oprah. The latter gave her a valuable piece of relationship advice.

Oprah said, ‘Never let anyone dim your light. That really stuck with me. It always was something that I could see in some relationships—my light would be dimmer.

Serena is indeed one of those people whose light shines very bright–even Beyonce cast her for the video of her famous song, “Sorry,” which is coincidentally about being unapologetic about leaving an undeserving partner.

“Now I feel like I can shine really bright and still do everything that I want to do,” Serena said. This is the kind of relationship everyone should strive for.

How Serena met Alexis

Serena and Alexis first met in 2015 at the Rome Cavalieri hotel where they were both staying. Alexis was hung over and sat down at a table next to Williams and her friends, oblivious to the fact that this annoyed her.

After trying and failing to provoke him into sitting elsewhere, Serena told her future husband, “We just don’t want you sitting there. We’re going to use that table.”

Yet somehow, in the course of the conversation that followed, Alexis was invited to sit with them. It was only then that he realized who Williams was. The rest, as they say, is history. 

They got engaged in 2016, and welcomed their baby girl Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. in 2017. Fun fact: Williams, whose incredible list of accomplishments obviously precedes her, often says that her greatest achievement of all is being a mom. The couple got married later in 2017, and these days, Williams says she feels supported—both on and off the court.

The couple’s beautiful daughter, Olympia, reportedly has her mother’s arms, something Williams is happy about. “I knew I was having a girl, because when I was playing tennis in the [2017 Australia Open], I didn’t have one day of morning sickness, no symptoms. Australia is really hot, some days can be over 40 degrees [Celsius], which is insane, but she never complained. I said to Alexis, ‘This is a girl. Only a woman can be this strong.” 

They both break boundaries together

Alexis, the one man who has been confident enough not to dim our protagonist’s brilliant light, began campaigning for paternity leave after Williams was bedridden due to birth complications.

He had to seriously step up and take care of his new family for several months. “To get to gender equality,” he says, “It’s essential that men take as much parental leave as women.” Fittingly, Alexis, like his wife Serena, continues to make his mark by flouting traditional standards whenever the occasion calls for it.

Look for someone who doesn’t dim your light

“Alexis doesn’t dim my light,” Williams says. “He doesn’t try to dim my light. He puts me in the light, even if I don’t want to be. He pushes me to further points I never thought about.”

The moral of the story: take Oprah’s advice. To be fair, it’s probably advice that’s you must already know intuitively. Judge a partner based on how they make you feel. Look for people who don’t dim your light, or who even bolster and strengthen you more. These are the relationships that will ultimately help you to grow and thrive as an ever-evolving human being.

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How Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton Navigated Divorce and Falling In Love As Coworkers

By | Food for thought, inspiring, love stories, stories

Sometimes, you meet a person at a time in your life where romance is the farthest thing from your mind. But then, before you know it, an undeniable bond has blossomed — organically. 

That’s exactly what happened when work brought Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani together. It was back in 2015 when they were both struggling in their personal lives and experiencing major heartbreak. They became friends and helped each other through the rough period . And soon enough, things began to change. Rather than questioning the unusual circumstances and imperfect timing, they rolled with the punches.

Here’s what we can learn from Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani’s relationship:  

When Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani first met back in 2014 on the set the The Voice, dating was not on their minds. That’s because Shelton was married to fellow country star Miranda Lambert and Stefani had just given birth to her third son, Apollo. As Shelton later told Billboard, he “never really got to know her, other than small talk.” 

The “Nobody but You” songstress skipped out on season 8 and Shelton was sure that would mark the end of their acquaintance. Boy, was he wrong!

Stefani returned for season 9, right in time to hear Shelton make a difficult announcement to his colleagues: he was calling it quits with Miranda Lambert after four years of marriage. 

I won’t forget that day. I looked over at Gwen — who I didn’t really know — and she had these huge tears in her eyes. I thought, ‘Wow, she feels super bad for me!’

Blake Shelton to Billboard

That wasn’t entirely true. Rather, it made her think of what she herself was secretly going through–she was getting ready to split from her husband of 13 years, Gavin Rossdale. Later that day, she asked to speak to her co-star privately.

“I thought it was going to be another one of those things-are-going-to-be-OK talks,” he recalled. “She didn’t tell me much, because we didn’t know each other at the time, but she said, ‘I’m going through something very similar to what you’re going through. I understand. And I hate it.’ That’s kind of how our friendship and bond started,” he continued. 

Soon enough, their shared experience turned into a solid foundation that has led to trust and an unshakeable bond. As Shelton recalled, “It went from that, to checking in on each other once a week through email — ‘This shit happened to me, what happened to you?’ — to maybe three times a week, then every day, to ‘Hey, here’s my phone number if you ever want to text.’ Next thing I know, I wake up and she’s all I care about, and I’m ­wondering if she feels the same about me.”

Seeking personal happiness is not selfish 

It wasn’t easy, but both Shelton and Stefani realized that sacrificing personal happiness for the sake of a relationship was not sustainable. Stefani opened up about her fear of failure and the embarrassment she felt before making one of the toughest decisions of her life. She told Glamour.

I had to work really hard at marriage, all the time, like everybody, but ours was extra hard, when you add that we’re from different countries, both of us being in music, and celebrity.[Marriage] was the one thing I didn’t want to fail at.

Even so, the No Doubt frontwoman decided to follow her heart and file for divorce in August 2015, just one month after Shelton and Lambert publicly announced their split. The couple said in a joint statement, “This is not the future we envisioned. And it is with heavy hearts that we move forward separately.” Marriage is supposed to be forever and divorce can feel like the biggest blow, but from failure comes strength.

It’s okay to reinvent yourself 

After months that felt like “hell” and “torture”, Stefani decided to stop dwelling on the past and start focusing on the future. “Sometimes to be woken up again in life, you need to go through some really bad, hard times,” she told Glamour. “I’m in such a new place. It’s all about the future for me. Not really just the future — but the moment right now.”

As she revealed, it was Shelton who played an integral role in changing her outlook. “Finding somebody who was going through the exact same experience? That was an inspiration,” she told the magazine.

He was a friend to me when I needed a friend. An unexpected gift. And that became an inspiration in the songwriting.

Gwen Stefani to Glamour

The feeling was mutual. “Gwen saved my life,” Blake told Billboard. “Who else on earth could understand going through a high-profile divorce from another musician? You can’t even imagine the similarities in our divorces.” 

Tune out the skeptics 

After months of speculation, the pair officially announced they were dating in November 2015 and almost immediately, they were faced with backlash and skepticism over whether their connection was genuine or not. Rather than letting the negativity impact their budding romance, they tuned out the world and focused on themselves. 

For those closest to the couple (the folks who really mattered), there was never any doubt about the authenticity of their love. And fellow The Voice judge Adam Levine can testify to it. “They found each other at really interesting times in their lives”, Adam told Howard Stern in 2017.

“It’s really beautiful,” Adam continued. “Because it’s in the public eye, a lot of people want to have their own bullsh*t opinions about it, but I’m there. I see it every day. I have a pretty unique perspective on it and it’s real, man.”

Embrace your differences 

In addition to helping build each other up when they were at their lowest, Shelton and Stefani were also able to build a strong connection by embracing their differences. As Shelton himself acknowledged, they “could not be, on paper, any more different.”

If you had told me that that’s who I’m gonna end up with, I would have thought you were crazy. But she became my closest ally.

Blake Shelton to Rolling Stone

Stefani’s not oblivious to the differences either. “It’s definitely two different cultures,” she told Glamour. “But there are many similarities, in things that we love and our ­morals. But it’s really fun when you can learn about so many new things and share those differences.”

They also have plenty in common, like their love of music. In fact, they’ve started working together in the studio. In 2016, the pair co-wrote and recorded “Go Ahead and Break My Heart” and in 2017, they followed that up with “You Make it Feel Like Christmas.” 

The other thing that unites them? Family. Although Shelton doesn’t have any children of his own, he’s fully embraced Stefani’s three sons (Kingston, Zuma, and Apollo) while remaining respectful of their father.

Stefani has called him “a good dad.” As Gwen told The Today’s Show. “He is a good dad, actually. He’s been helping me out a lot.” She added, “I literally get to the point where I’m like, ‘You gotta get home, I need some help.’ It’s hard. I’ve got three boys.”

What is next in their future? Well, marriage! The pair is ready to walk down the aisle and in March 2019 began the legal process to get Stefani’s first marriage annulled because “she very much wants the marriage to be recognized by the church.” 

In November 2019, the lovebirds proved critics wrong again, as they celebrated their four-year anniversary. “It’s kind of a blur. It still feels like it’s pretty new to me,” Shelton told People. “Four years isn’t forever, but man, it seems like it just happened in no time.” 

The importance of keeping an open mind

Things don’t always happen the way you expect them to, and that’s totally fine. Just because an outcome is different from the one you had envisioned or hoped for, it doesn’t mean that the experience attached to it was a failure.

Rather, it should be treated as an opportunity to grow and discover a strength you might not even have known you had. Strength that can be channeled into reaching for the stars and searching for your new happiness.

We can only do that if we keep an open mind going forward, instead of worrying about people’s perceptions and what

More inspiring celebrities:

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves’ 14-Year Romance Started With One-Sided Love

By | Food for thought, inspiring, love stories, marriage, stories

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves are one of Hollywood’s happiest (and most beautiful) couples and, rather fittingly, their love story reads like a rom-com script. 

While the Oscar winner was instantly smitten, the Brazilian model didn’t even recognize him at first. Alves wasn’t impressed by his movie star status and McConaughey had to put in some work to prove his worth.

As their attraction strengthened, it eventually gave way to a lifelong connection. But none of that would have ever happened, had they not been at the right place at the right time one fateful night in 2006… 

What we can learn from Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves’ relationship?

There are two sides to every story  

If there’s one thing that Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves’ first encounter proves, it’s that love at first sight can be one-sided. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

It was 2006 when McConaughey, who’s adamant that he’s “not a club guy,” was enjoying a guys’ night out at “Joan’s, a club on Sunset Boulevard.” He was “making margaritas at the table” when he first set eyes on her. And the way Matthew describes his first impression is nothing short of cinematic.

Out of the corner of my eye, this aqua green figure went sort of floating across the frame about 20 feet in front of me.

Matthew McConaughey to PeopleTV

As he tried to get the mystery figure’s attention by waving, it hit him: “This is not the kind of woman you call over across the room.” Making the wise decision to walk over instead, the actor invited the Brazilian beauty and her friends to join his table.

She eventually did, but it was clear she wasn’t starstruck. Deciding to keep it real, she spoke her native tongue, Portuguese, and immediately put him to the test.

McConaughey didn’t miss a beat. He responded in both Portuguese and Spanish and, as he joked with PeopleTV, “I understood Portuguese better than I’ve ever understood her in our nine years of dating!”

However, when you ask Camilla about that night, her take of their first meeting is completely different. As she recalled, “We met at Hyde, of all places. We had two interactions at the bar. The first interaction, I did not know who he was. At the time he had a really long beard, and he had this rasta hat. He was all covered up, and I didn’t really realize who he was,” she confessed.

It didn’t click until McConaughey’s pal, Lance Armstrong, intervened, albeit with an undesirable effect. “Lance came to talk to me,” she continued. “You knew they were always together, so I’m like, ‘OK, I’m outta here. I’m going to the other side of the room!’”

Timing is everything

As perfect as the couple’s love story may seem, it wasn’t their connection that made it a success. Rather, it was all about timing. As McConaughey explained in 2017, “It’s gotta be the right person but it has to be the right time.”

How many people in your past have you met where you go, ‘Ooh, if I would have actually been hanging out with them at the time I was ready, would they have been right?’ I don’t know the answer.

What he does know is that “it was the right time for [him].”

Part of that certainty came from the fact that he was itching to start a family, but he was by no means searching for love. A distinction he made clear during an interview with Cigar Aficionado: “The clock was ticking — I was about to be 40 and my plan was to be married and have kids by that age. But I didn’t want to play the game of starting to feel anxious because, with too much anxiety, you can’t find a mate. And then you make a hasty decision.”

Matthew assured PeopleTV that he was in no way unhappy with being single, which proves that love manages to find you when you are not looking.

“I was not looking,” he said. “I was very happily single. And healthily single, so I was not looking. I was sleeping well, I was spiritually sound, I was good with hanging with me.”

When you know, you know

That was certainly the case for Matthew McConaughey. As the actor told PeopleTV: “We went out on our first date three nights [after meeting at the club] and I knew then that the next night after that I wanted to go on another date. And the next night after that, I wanted to go on another date. And I’ve been wanting to go on a date with her for the last nine years. And not with anybody else.” 

Reminiscing about what made him feel so certain, he revealed it was “the self-respect she had for herself” and “the way [he] understood her and her relationship with family” and “the way she respected [him] but never took anything for granted.”

The feeling was mutual and, in July 2008, the lovebird had their first child, son Levi, then welcomed daughter Vida in January 2010. Son Livingston followed in December 2012.

They grew into marriage 

Deciding to do things their own way, McConaughey and Alves had two children before getting engaged on Christmas Day 2011 and saying “I do” the following June in a secret at-home ceremony in Austin. It wasn’t the conventional order of things, but there was a very specific reason for it. 

During an interview with People in 2012, Alves admitted to being surprised they got married at all.

I think it’s something that we evolved to,” she told the magazine. “I was never the girl that grew up saying I want to get married. I actually told my parents to not expect me to get married.

Camila continued, revealing how she was proven wrong: “The main thing for me is to make sure our home is peaceful, that it’s healthy, that the kids are good. I didn’t know how important [the wedding] was, and how really truly special it was, until I went through the ceremony.”

McConaughey further explained their thought process to GQ in 2014: “I had to get to the point where I saw it as more than just the thing to do. I wanted to really want to.”

He revealed that they “did a lot of reading and talked to a lot of people that had been divorced, a lot of people that had been happily married.”

They also spoke to their pastor, before finally reaching an understanding that marriage was “not a destination” but “the beginning of an adventure that [they] are taking together.”

They’re a team on all fronts 

Whether it’s something as simple as decorating or something as life-changing as raising kids, McConaughey and Alves are a team on all fronts.

For example, when they first got together, the actor decided to sell his home so they could buy a property together. Noting that they could have simply moved into his place, he told Esquire the reason behind his reasoning.

I thought, ‘I found the woman I want to do it with, the woman I want to make a family with, hopefully live our life out together, [so] she needs to have 50 percent of that’. I mean, it’s a lot easier for me to be at 100 percent. I’d always been 100 percent. It’s braver for me at 50 percent.

They’re also 50-50 when it comes to parenting and their outlook on life. As the actor once told People, “The main thing is that my wife and I, Camila, we have a similar moral bottom line.”

It’s the little things

Over the years, both McConaughey and Alves have repeatedly been asked about their secret to a successful union and, as it turns out, it’s the little things that really count. As Alves told Us Weekly, they do “a lot of staying at home, cooking together or getting a hotel room that is 10 minutes away from the house.”

It’s also imperative to love and appreciate one another for who you really are. As he told InStyle, Matthew elaborated, “neither one of us have really tried to change the other one…If anything, she pushes me to be more of myself and I hope I do the same for her.”

Yes, timing is everything but their relationship teaches us more

Matthew and Camila are proof that timing is an integral part to the success of any relationship. Once you feel ready for love, you need to be open to the possibilities. This does not mean that you need to be frantically searching.

When someone special does present themselves, remember to be true to yourself. Because when you find your perfect match, they’ll love the real you, without any question or doubt. So yes, timing is important but so is being true to yourself.

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From Opposite Sides of WWII, Their Love Defied All Odds

By | Food for thought, inspiring, love stories, stories

Dominic Clark always knew his grandparents had lived a full life, but he never knew the true extent of their love story. That is, until his wife Jenn surprised him with a published account of their love as a birthday present for his fortieth birthday. He then learned how truly magical and incredible their story was, and continued to be.

He was from the opposite side

His grandparents’ love story began only about a month after the war ended. His grandmother, Annaliese was swimming in the river near the German village where she was staying, and met his grandfather, Stanley.

It wasn’t love at first sight though! Stanley was a British soldier and she did not hesitate to give them a piece of her mind. After all, as an effect of the war, her home had just been requisitioned by British forces and her family had been left without food.

Anneliese had suffered a lot during the war. Her fiancé, a pilot in the Luftwaffe, had been shot down; another boyfriend was killed in 1944. She and her family lived through tons of bombings and death. It is no wonder that she had some reservations about the British soldier.

Regardless of the horrors of Nazi Germany, Annaliese had never been one to keep her mouth shut. She stood up to the authorities and made the best of a terrible situation by “decorating rooms with wild flowers or concocting novel meals from scant rations.”

Their love brought her old self back

Stanley instantly fell in love with Annaliese and as they spent day after day together, it was not long before the feelings were mutual. Before the trauma of the war, Annaliese had been a fun-loving and happy woman. Her relationship with Stanley brought her back to her old self.

On one of their first dates, Annaliese snuck out of her parents’ home against their wishes to change into a silky party dress. “I have always, ever since that night, liked to dress nicely for Stanley,” she remembered.

After Stanley’s regiment left in 1945 to make way for Russian occupiers, Annaliese had to decide if she would stay with her parents, or follow Stanley. He begged her to leave with him, but she could not leave her family. Annaliese begged her family to escape, but they wouldn’t leave their home.

In the end I chose to go without them.


She made a bold move for love

Annaliese left with nothing and headed for the British-controlled zone. Shortly after, she reconnected with Stanley and they soon got engaged. However, marriage between English and German citizens was not legal at that time, so they decided to settle in Lewisham after a small English ceremony. Both went on to have a happy life, building a successful business and raising two daughters.

“The sheer scale of their life does blow me away,” said grandson Dominic, who named his first daughter after Annaliese. He realized that the historical context and the war had taught valuable lessons to his grandparents.

They were wonderful grandparents. When you read everything they went through, I understand how much they made the most of their lives. I hadn’t realized what a deep love story theirs was. The war formed who they were.

Dominic Clarke to The Telegraph

We need to make the most of our lives and love

While we may not have lived through the same terrifying events that both Annaliese and Stanley experienced in their lifetime, we can still learn much from their resolution to make “the most of their lives.” That includes looking past their differences in order to appreciate each other as human beings rather than former enemies.

Dominic’s story reminds us that love is made up of grand, terrifying and courageous gestures, like Anneliese’s fearless decision to leave with Stanley, and also smaller, but no less significant ones.

The latter includes Dominic’s birthday present– a record of his grandparents’ incredible story. His wife Jenn “had dug out photos, spoken to family, found old tape recordings of his grandparents discussing their experiences, and sent them to family biographers Story Terrace.”

Dominic declared it to be the best day of his life. By commemorating his grandparents’ story, Jenn celebrated her own husband, and love, in the most thoughtful way possible.

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Why Whitney Houston’s Secret Bond With Robyn Crawford Was More Powerful Than Fame

By | Food for thought, heartwarming, love stories, stories

Over 7 years have passed since Whitney Houston’s tragic death. What has since been said about the once unstoppable star has mostly focused on her drug use, her abusive marriage to Bobby Brown, and perhaps most tragically, her 22-year-old daughter’s remarkably similar drug-induced death only three years following hers.

To Whitney’s longtime friend and personal assistant Robyn Crawford, it became increasingly important to paint a fuller, truer picture of the late pop diva. In November 2019, she finally broke her decades-long silence with the publication of her memoir, A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston.

“I’d come to the point where I felt the need to stand up for our friendship. And I felt an urgency to stand up and share the woman behind the incredible talent,” she told People. In her introduction to the memoir, Crawford further explains the motivations behind her decision to write their story.

In the nineteen years since I left Whitney’s company I have been pursued relentlessly to share my story. And since her death and that of her daughter, I have been saddened and frustrated by the way she and her legacy have been misrepresented.

The book has received a lot of attention for its many revelations, especially its disclosing of the romantic relationship between the two women, who met all the way back in 1980, when Houston was barely 17 years old and Crawford 19.

Robyn and Whitney refused to label their relationship

While many have gasped at the reveal of this romantic/sexual relationship between Crawford and Houston, it is but one element in a far more complex story. Robyn’s account is the story of two women who hid the original nature of their relationship for Houston’s entire life, often despite intense speculation.

Robyn details how she was harassed and even threatened with violence by Whitney’s family. Whitney went along with it, while in private, she would tell her, “Robyn, you know I love you immensely.”

Before you start resenting Whitney, it is important to understand that both women were raised in ‘God-fearing’ households, back when, as Robyn puts it, “you were either this, or you were that.”

Even in private, they resisted acknowledging what was really going on:

We never talked labels, like lesbian and gay. We just lived our lives, and I hoped it could go on that way for ever.

Robyn Crawford to People

Ultimately, their sexual relationship was short-lived, when, at the age of 19, Houston signed her first contract with Arista Records. In her book, Robyn describes how her friend handed her a Bible and told her they had to quit having sex, because “if they found out – because her career was taking off – they’d use it against us.”

Robyn went along with this, and the women’s friendship went on to span another two decades, largely because Whitney hired her as her assistant as soon as she could and the two moved in together. 

A story of romantic survival

Robyn admits it was incredibly challenging when Whitney started dating Jermaine Jackson in the mid-80s, then Eddie Murphy, and later Bobby Brown, whom she married.

According to Robyn, Brown would sometimes yell at her, and Whitney would take his side. “A lot of the physical stuff that Bobby did [to Whitney] was when I wasn’t there,” she reveals. She finally realized her friend’s public support of Brown was a survival mechanism.

Behind closed doors, she knew how he could behave. So if he’s out in the open creating a scene, you want to defuse it. And she didn’t like to embarrass people.

Robyn Crawford

Surprisingly, in 2016, Brown himself confirmed Whitney’s relationship with Robyn, alleging his former wife’s bisexuality in his own memoir, a label Houston denied throughout her lifetime.

He went on to say that her death could have been avoided with Robyn’s help: “I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today … She didn’t have close friends with her anymore.”

A terrible chapter in their life

Robyn Crawford’s memoir is an account of the larger than life story of an extraordinarily talented artist who found herself in the middle of an increasingly negative whirlwind of personalities and interests as she grew more successful. 

According to Crawford, when they met as teenagers, Houston had already used drugs and confided in her new friend about trying cocaine at 14-years-old. The two actually often did drugs together, but Robyn eventually tried to talk her into quitting.

In 1988, Robyn told Whitney’s mother, Cissy, that her daughter needed help for her drug addiction. She was ignored, probably due to the family’s hostility regarding her closeness with Houston.

“Whitney knew she needed to help herself and wanted to do that,” Crawford told BBC.

In 2001 she called a doctor to discuss rehab … And she said she was not someone who wanted to die. She was someone who wanted to live. She meant that.

Robyn Crawford to BBC

Unwavering friendship or one-sided love?

Despite Robyn’s overarching account of her and Whitney’s reciprocated and unshakeable bond—one in which they looked out for one another—the Houston family’s hostility towards her eventually saw her barred from business meetings.

In 1997, after years of touring with Whitney, she was shut out of a 10-date tour. Eventually, 20 years after the women’s first meeting, Robyn finally quit. When Whitney Houston passed away in 2012, Crawford was living in rural New Jersey with her wife, Lisa Hintlemann, and their two adopted children. She had not spoken to Houston in years. Her wife had encouraged her to seek therapy, which she did.

However, long after she got married and had children, Crawford still felt at times that she could get sucked back in. Part of her stated purpose in writing her memoir was to celebrate the original energy between her and her closest friend.

We were young, and fearless, and free. … I wanted to lift her legacy, give her respect and share the story of who she was before the fame, and in that, to embrace our friendship.

Robyn Crawford to People

Her book also includes little anecdotes that provide true Whitney-lovers with a rare glimpse of the way the star used to navigate the world. For instance, the superstar was a homebody, liked to sleep late, loved cereal, and was a sucker for swimming at the beach.

An authentic connection never really dies

While Robyn Crawford’s memoir is a step towards healing from the loss of her late friend and lover, it is also a celebration of their authentic connection that was unfortunately not allowed to flourish. Circumstances and individuals prevented the two women from living their truth and helping each other on their path.

This is why it is important to cherish the authentic relationships we have in our lives, the ones that are not based on superficial things like money or benefits. When we make space for people who genuinely want the best for us, we can only protect ourselves from the type of people who can be detrimental to our wellbeing.

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RuPaul and Georges Lebar Reveal the Open Secret to Their 25-Year Relationship

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, love stories, marriage, stories

RuPaul Andre Charles needs no introduction. The singer-songwriter and pop culture icon is a six-time Emmy winner who has brought drag performance into the mainstream with his show, RuPaul’s Drag Race.

But what many of his fans may not realize is that, as outlandish as RuPaul can be on TV, he’s actually got an incredibly stable (and understated) personal life. In fact, he has been in an unshakeable relationship with Australian rancher Georges LeBar for over 25 years.

Their secret? Playing by their own rules and doing so unapologetically.

Here’s what we can learn from RuPaul and Georges LeBar’s relationship:

RuPaul had absolutely zero doubts 

When RuPaul first saw the love of his life in a New York City nightclub in the 90s, he had absolutely zero doubts that he needed to talk to him.  

“I met Georges right on the dance floor at the Limelight disco at 6th Avenue and 21st Street on his birthday in 1994,” he recalled in a 2019 interview. The first thing that caught his eye was LeBar’s height — “He was 6’8” at 12-years-old,” the TV personality quipped — and as he watched him “dancing like a maniac,” he was pulled towards him. 

I had to go over and say, ‘Who are you?’ What are you doing?’ ‘Can I put my arms around you?’ Because I’m tall, I’ve never been able to put my arms around someone’s shoulders who was taller than me.

RuPaul to Vanity

Despite their 13-year age difference –RuPaul was 34 at the time while LeBar had just turned 21– there were no doubts on either side. What they had experienced was more than a dance floor fling — it was pure magic. Magic that would lead to a lifelong romance. 

They’re open about being open

RuPaul has always been true to himself and over the years, he’s spoken publicly about finding  the right relationship formula that works for him and LeBar, even if it may seem unconventional to some.

As the Emmy winner told The Guardian back in 2018, their winning formula is all about trust — and freedom. “If [LeBar] needs to do something else somewhere else, I’m fine with that,” he said.

“He and I know that on this planet where there are millions and millions of people, the person I have found on this planet that I like the very most is him. And I know that for him the person he loves the most on this planet is me. I know that; there’s no doubt in my mind.”

He further explained:

I love him too much to try to put shackles on him. Love is free.  

RuPaul to Vogue

LeBar has his own successful career

Rather than fostering any sort of jealousy or resentment towards his partner’s massive fame, LeBar is happy staying out of the spotlight and pursuing his own career. As RuPaul revealed in 2017, his husband “doesn’t care about show business at all.”

He could care less. Most of the time, he’s on the ranch.

Rupaul to Marie Claire

That ranch is a 60,000-acre property he manages, which spans across Wyoming and South Dakota and is the reason why they spend much of the year apart. “We see each other about every three weeks,” RuPaul, who works in Los Angeles, told Interview. He continued, “But, you know, we’re adults. We can handle it.” 

But while they’re each wholeheartedly pursuing their individual careers, they never forget to support one another’s passions. When RuPaul’s Drag Race took home the Emmy for Outstanding Reality Competition Program in 2019, LeBar was on-hand to cheer on his hubby. As RuPaul once noted, finding “someone you know is going to be looking out for your best interests, no matter what — that’s really key.”

They continue to play by their own rules

Asked about marriage in 2015, RuPaul told Buzzfeed: “I don’t stand on ceremony, I never want to conform to anything… I never want to be like everybody else.”

Based on that bold statement, it sure seemed like a walk down the aisle would never happen. Jump to 2017 and the couple said “I do” in a secret ceremony on the 23rd anniversary of their first encounter.

Explaining their change of heart, RuPaul admitted it was primarily a business decision, proclaiming, “that paper don’t mean nothing… if you’re devoted to a person, nothing’s going to change that.” 

We can all learn from their unconventional relationship

It’s that unfaltering devotion to one another, combined with their refusal to follow the status quo, that has resulted in over 25 years of bliss. They’ve made the decision to be with each other. “There isn’t a person on this planet I like being around more than him,” RuPaul told Interview — and to not let anything, or anyone, stand in their way. 

When building a strong foundation, it’s okay to shut out the rest of the world and decide what works best for you, even if it goes against the norm. Listen to each other, trust each other, and you’ll be able to rest assured that your relationship will withstand the test of time. 

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High School Sweethearts Get a Second Chance at Love When She Sees Him Front Row at Her Concert

By | Food for thought, heartbreak, love stories, marriage, news, stories

Lots of young lovers have connected over conversation and steaming cups of coffee. It’s the perfect first date for many couples, and the perfect breakup for one couple in particular.

In 1992, the Dunkin’ Donuts on Grafton Street in Worcester was the site of a conversation that led to years of broken hearts… and finally, a happy ending and even a wedding, years later.

But it took decades to get there.

Why did they get married at a coffee shop?

“It had to happen here,” the groom Jason T. Roy explained in an interview with the Telegram.

“We think it’s an absolute riot,” said his new wife singer and actress Valerie agreed. “Has anybody been married in Dunkin’ Donuts before? Maybe we’ll start a trend.”

Dunkin’ didn’t even close their doors to the public during the wedding, which took place over the December holidays at 1 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.

Guests lined up and cameras clicked as regular guests at the franchise stopped by to order donuts and coffee!

One customer was confused by what was happening in the middle of their coffee run: “A wedding?”

Yes, a wedding.

Why they broke up

The couple had originally met at a house party at the house of one of Valerie’s friends in Grafton. Jason was attending the party with a mutual friend of theirs.

“He walked into the room, and he said to me, ‘You have the most beautiful eyes,’” Valerie recalled. “We went out for a while… We were madly in love.”

But it wasn’t meant to be– at least not back then.

Jason is “very old school,”  and when they had that 1992 coffee date, he wanted to make a concrete plan for the future where they could both succeed.

His plan? Jason was going to join the Navy. “He would acquire skills and provide a good life for us with many opportunities,” said Valerie, while she focused on developing her career in the performing arts.

But it was too much, too soon for the young Valerie, who was less sure of what she wanted.

 “I felt like I didn’t know what to make of his decision,” Valerie said. “I was flattered and overwhelmed by his commitment, but equally felt he was placing a burden on himself in taking care of me.”

I said the wrong things. ‘Why are you putting so much pressure on yourself?’ I kind of crushed him. I felt awful. If he had said ‘Let’s elope’ … It was just the way he presented it.

Valerie’s uncertainty about commitment clashed with Jason’s regimented idea of what their life together would look like, and they felt they had no choice but to break up.

It was 25 years until they found each other again

Jason did join the Navy, and went on to get married and have three children. Meanwhile, Valerie focused on her career and was briefly married.

“We led two very different lives,” Valerie said. “I wouldn’t want to change a thing that happened. Jason has three beautiful children who he adores. I had a different way to give to the world through music.”

“Everything happens for reason,” Jason agreed.

But when people are meant to be, they ultimately do find each other again.

Jason and Valerie were finally reunited in February 0f 2018 when Valerie performed in a Valentine’s Day show in her hometown and there Jason was in the front row watching her performance!

He caught her eye from the front row

“I saw him sitting on the front row. I looked out almost like a deer in the headlights. I thought ‘Oh my goodness,’” Valerie said.

“When I got there I was shaking, I was so nervous,” Jason said.

Three months later, Valerie moved back home from Florida. Jason proposed to Valerie on New Year’s Eve, 2018 and they ultimately married at the same exact Dunkin’ Donuts where their relationship had ended years before.

What their love can teach us

 “When you’re 18 or 19 years old you don’t understand love until you’ve lived,” Jason said. “I think we’re going to appreciate each other more so much later in life because every day is a blessing. I can’t imagine my life without him. Something led me back.”

If something or someone is meant to be, they’ll find their way back to you. In fact, the time apart made have made you better suited to each other. Never give up hope and never stop trying!

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Viola Davis Envisioned Her Perfect Soulmate and Met Him 3 1/2 Weeks Later

By | Food for thought, inspiring, love stories, marriage, stories

It all started with a prayer and a little eavesdropping. Before Viola Davis became the Oscar-winning actress that we now know, she was an aspiring star who struggled in her beginnings. At the time, she was searching to find her footing in Los Angeles and feeling extremely lonely.

“I was the loneliest woman in the world,” she recalled in 2013. “Someone said, ‘You should just pray for a husband.’” And that’s exactly what she did.

“I said I wanted a big black man from the South who looked like a football player, who already had children, who maybe had been married before,” she continued. That prayer went a long way and soon manifested itself into reality. “Three and a half weeks later, I met my husband,” she revealed. 

Here’s what we can learn from Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s unbreakable relationship: 

He was ready, but she wasn’t

Davis might have been putting good vibes out into the universe, but she was still feeling alone. Luckily, she voiced her frustrations on the set of City of Angels, which is how her castmate and future husband, Julius Tennon, came to answer her prayers.

“I just overheard her talking to a girl in front of us, [saying], ‘I don’t like LA, I don’t know anybody here,’” Tennon recalled on an episode of OWN’s Black Love. Although he was dating someone at the time, he felt “kind of ready to meet somebody else,” and ended up giving her his card.

But Davis wasn’t as ready for love as she had initially thought. She was apprehensive and looking for excuses: “I didn’t call [him] because I had bad credit; I was struggling with driving in LA.”

It took her several weeks to take a chance and call Tennon. 

Their first date “terrified” her

The pair finally went on their first date a month after meeting and, once again, Davis found herself feeling scared. The date was like nothing Davis had experienced before and as she told Black Love, “I was terrified because he told me exactly who he was ― he was absolutely honest about his past.

His past included most of the criteria she had hoped for. Tennon was an actor, a former football player, and a single father raising two teenage sons from previous relationships.

He was also a total gentleman.

He brought me home and he just said, ‘You are a very beautiful and nice woman, and it was a pleasure spending time with you.’ And he shook my hand.

Viola Davis to Black Love

Twenty minutes later, he called to say he had a great time and to compliment her. And 20 minutes after that, he called again to add: “I just want to tell you I got home, and you are a beautiful woman. I’m about to go to sleep, and I just wanted to tell you to have a good night.”

He made her life better 

The pair fell in love and got married in 2003, then adopted their daughter, Genesis, in October 2011. Davis’ life exponentially improved. Not only did her career take off, but she no longer felt lonely.

After my first date with Julius, my life got better In every way. Anxiety went away. Fear went away. He just made my life better.

That’s something she doesn’t take for granted as, every year, she celebrates their partnership on Instagram, letting the world know just how blessed she feels. 

“My life got sweeter, richer the day I met you. I love you like a big ole dog!!!” she gushed in 2017. A year later, she added: “The best 15 years of my life!! You are my heart.”

When the couple celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary in 2019, she had even more touching words to share: “June 23rd, 2003 is when I married the greatest man!!! Thanks for loving me despite my bad credit! Look at how our life has grown. Love, love, love you Julius… with all my [heart].”

“It’s about the everyday.”

In 2016, People asked Davis to share her biggest secret to marital bliss and her advice was rather simple. “It’s about the everyday,” she said. Viola further explained:

I think that that’s what people forget when they fall in love with someone and it’s exciting. You have to get back to the everyday — the taking the garbage out, the cooking, the cleaning — and it’s something that I think really works with me and my husband.

Viola’s story is proof that we can all take a chance

Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s unbreakable relationship proves that you truly never know what’s around the corner. In just a few weeks, the Oscar winner went from feeling like the “loneliest woman in the world” to meeting the love of her life. 

While you can never be certain of what will happen next, you can help nudge things along with positive thoughts, or a prayer, like Viola did. However, what is most important is to remember to give new relationships a chance whenever they present themselves. You never know what might happen! 

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This Couple Bought the Restaurant Where They First Met 23 Years Ago

By | Food for thought, inspiring, love stories, stories

Couples rarely forget where their first meeting took place and how it changed their lives forever. Jordan and Jennifer Olsen’s story is proof of that.

Back in 1997, they first met at a Subway shop in Kaysville, Utah. For Jordan, it was an love at first sight.

“This sounds cheesy, but I peeked my head around the corner, saw the new girl making somebody a sandwich, and I was done for,” he said in an interview with MSN. “She was drop-dead gorgeous.”

At the time, they were teenagers and it took some time for the relationship to grow. Jordan spent months giving the “moon eyes” to Jennifer over six-inch sandwiches and foot-long heroes before he persuaded her to go out on a date with him.

Their date must have gone well because they got married four years later.

They made a big decision to honor their love

Two decades later, Jordan and Jennifer came up with a plan to do something special with the Subway where they first met: they decided to buy it.

It sounds crazy, but to us, it made perfect sense. We’ve always been really fond of that Subway where we met. And the sandwiches aren’t bad, either.

Jordan Olsen to MSN

It all started when the couple heard that the original owners had decided to retire and sell their franchise on Kaysville’s Main Street after more than 30 years in business. The Olsens instantly took out a small business loan and proceeded to acquire it.

A change in the couple’s dynamic

Of course, the acquisition entailed some changes. While Jennifer spent most of their married life raising their three children, it was now time for her to join the workforce again.

“I told Jennifer, ‘You can be the manager and I’ll show up to help whenever you need me,’ ” said Jordan, who runs a music school in nearby Layton.

Being a manager is also a convenient position, as it would still allow her the time to be a mother. “I could go to work early and be home in the afternoon when the kids came home from school,” said Jennifer.

Regulars witnessed their love flourish

Jordan and Jennifer’s relationship also had many witnesses, who saw them grow from workers to business owners. “We have regulars who have been coming here for years, and they’re all happy for us,” said Jordan.

Both still love making sandwiches for each other: a turkey, ham and bacon melt with Swiss and extra vinegar for Jordan, and roast beef and provolone on Italian with the works for Jennifer.

Working in the place where they first met has not weakened his love –quite the opposite. “I still steal a look at Jennifer and tell her that I’m smitten,” Jordan said. “Honestly, I feel like I’m the luckiest guy ever.”

Together is better

Jordan and Jennifer honored their relationship by making a big move. Years of marriage require a lot of work, such as Jennifer’s decision to dedicate herself to their children. Through mutual understanding, they have been able to commemorate their love and secure the ideal job for her.

Relationships demand work so it is important that we put in the effort to nurture them. When we do, we can accomplish great things as a team. It’s only a matter of never forgetting the starting point and helping each other along on the journey.

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