Antonio Banderas Didn’t Give Up On Love Despite Being In A Disastrous First Marriage

By | antonio banderas, dating, Food for thought, heartbreak, marriage, Motivation

Antonio Banderas is universally endeared as a charming, romantic Latin Lover, but in reality, he has been unlucky in love more often than not. 

In his forty years as an actor, he’s been married and divorced twice, with both of his marriages ending on drastically different outcomes. Everyone’s well-acquainted with his love for Melanie Griffith — their marital union lasted for nearly twenty years and produced a daughter, actress Stella del Carmen Banderas — but not many are aware of Antonio’s personal life prior to his move to the United States, namely, his ill-advised wedding with Ana Leza. 

The way their marriage panned out isn’t just a cautionary tale for anyone acting on their impulses and pinning their hopes on a whirlwind romance; it’s a lesson in not giving up on your heart, come hell or high water. Against all odds, Antonio’s failures don’t dissuade him from searching for The One; he continues to persevere in his quest to find love, even if it culminates in a great deal of pain, distrust, and heartbreak. 

Here’s what we can take away from Antonio Banderas’ journey with love:

Antonio had to pay a hefty fine for his first marriage with Ana Leza

In a Vanity Fair interview, Antonio opened up about his brash decision to marry Ana and why their relationship couldn’t go the distance. She was a fellow actress and his English tutor, who essentially instructed him on how he could develop his craft in mainstream cinema. “She helped me translate the script for ‘Los Reyes del Mambo,’ … it gave me a lot of confidence,” said Antonio, giving her her due credit for helping him establish a sustainable career in Hollywood. 

The Zorro lead said he wouldn’t have the acclaim he does today without Ana’s continuous support and direction. “Without her I would not have gotten the role,” he said. Ana backed up his statement by saying it was “imperative” to accompany him to the United States. He didn’t speak a word of English, so it felt natural to have Ana be this perpetual plus-one. They tied the knot in 1986 after just six months of dating. 

Antonio Banderas with Ana Leza

What the judge wants to know is how much are you going to pay your partner. They grab you by one foot, they shake you and, when [they get every last dollar], they leave you. That’s what they did with me

Antonio Banderas to Vanity Fair España

It wasn’t until Antonio came across Melanie Griffith on the set of Too Much that he realized he needed to break it off with Ana. He maintains he didn’t carry out an illicit affair with Melanie; instead, he waited to separate from Ana to pursue a serious partnership with Melanie. “It was very, very fast and very compulsive, but at the same time, we were tied at the time,” said Antonio, of how his infatuation for Melanie transformed into genuine love over the years. 

Unfortunately, the divorce with Ana wasn’t as seamless as he had been hoping. To put it simply, it was a nasty, expensive divorce battle in which the court ordered Antonio to pay alimony payments of 12,000 euros per month, awarded his €3.4 million home to Ana, and granted her lifetime rights of  50% of all the films he acted in over the duration of their marriage. Antonio bemoaned the process, calling it a “business” through and through. He doesn’t think he should’ve been mandated to fork over so many assets; in his view, the whole system is a scheme to bleed an actor dry. 

Yet he never stopped believing in the power of love

Though his marriage to Ana was, in many ways, doomed to collapse at some point or the other, it didn’t put a damper on his beautiful love story with Melanie Griffith. The two fell madly in love when they first met, and with their respective marriages declining, they couldn’t help but give in to the passion brewing between them. At the time, their getting together precipitated quite the controversy — Antonio was described as “abandoning” his wife of ten years for a sexy, on-set fling. 

However, in an interview published in 1995, the Spanish actor has no qualms about following his heart and exploring the love he felt powerfully for his co-star. “You just know there is something inside you that is stronger than yourself,” he told The Morning Call. Love is an abstract concept that will consume your focus without your permission and embolden you to make strange, the most unexpected, choices in life. Likewise, when he encountered Melanie, he couldn’t think straight. He had to make up his mind. 

Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas

Love is a very abstract feeling. I cannot even describe love. Who can describe love? It’s like describing life. You just know there is something inside you that is stronger than yourself. And you can’t stop it.

Antonio Banderas on The Morning Call

In an Entertainment Weekly interview published the same year, Antonio changed his stance a tiny bit and claimed his separation with Ana had “no connection” with his budding romance with Melanie. It’s futile to speculate whether or not Melanie’s arrival directly resulted in the breakdown of Antonio’s marriage since the situation transpired over twenty-five years ago. Additionally, as lovely as their partnership had been, Antonio and Melanie didn’t last, either. They announced their divorce in June 2014, noting they wanted to go their separate ways “in a loving and friendly manner.” Their parting of ways has been more than amicable: Antonio called Melanie his “best friend” and asserted he “will love her until the day I die.” Just because a marriage ended doesn’t mean it has to be ugly or heartless. People can still maintain their friendship, acknowledge their love, and preserve some level of togetherness. 

On the other hand, the act of divorce itself doesn’t have to signify failure or inadequacy. Sometimes, like Antonio, you act on a whim and do what you think is best for your future, unaware of any ramifications. He and Ana weren’t meant to be, but he never lost his ability to love and be loved in return. He welcomed his desire for Melanie with arms wide open and embraced the changes in his life. 

Keep your heart and your mind open

Today, Antonio may be a twice-divorced actor in his sixties in Hollywood, yet he doesn’t let an arbitrary label determine his success with love. He’s happily partnered up with Dutch investment banker Nicole Kimpel, who’s helping him recover from a heart attack he suffered four years ago. He’s a walking testament to the resilience of love and how it can strengthen a person from the inside out. 

Divorce can be a life-shattering phenomenon that can send individuals down a dark path full of insecurities, doubts, and disillusionment. But if you maintain a semblance of positivity and optimism, you will be able to crawl your way out. It’s about keeping your heart and mind open to possibilities, even if they don’t turn out as you hope or end up breaking your heart. If you don’t let love in, you’ll never know what it feels like. 

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Aaliyah’s Tragic Love Story With Damon Dash Will Teach You To Take Chances

By | aaliyah, dating, Food for thought, heartbreak, Inspiring Celebrities, Motivation, stories

Aaliyah’s been gone twenty years, but the footprint she’s left behind is unmistakable. 

The Princess of R&B, along with eight others, tragically passed away in an airplane crash over the Bahamas on August 25, 2001. It’s the kind of death that’s capable of decimating and devastating an entire culture, where no one recovers from the sudden loss of potential; where no one can process how a universally beloved figure, with countless media appearances to her name, can just cease to exist in a matter of few minutes. 

There’s something eerily personal about a celebrity’s passing. They might be dead, but their artistry still shines through, their work is still available to be cherished and adapted and celebrated an infinite number of times over. Similarly, Aaliyah’s death continues to draw out heartfelt tributes and nostalgic reactions, revealing bit by bit the woman who lived beneath the glamor and the chaos. 

To give an example: on the occasion of Aaliyah’s 20th death anniversary, her boyfriend at the time, Damon Dash, opened up about their unique love story, and in doing so, unearthed yet another magical piece about the artist. 

Aaliyah’s boyfriend opens up about their relationship

Damon Dash, a media tycoon, entrepreneur, film producer, and co-founder of Roc-A-Fella with Jay-Z and Kareem Burke, had been dating Aaliyah for about a year before she was killed in the airline accident.They met at a basketball game in the summer of 2000 before being introduced by their mutual accountant, Barry Klarberg.Though they took a liking to each other nearly immediately, they intended to maintain a friendship and nothing else. 

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Damon delves into their beginnings as a couple and excavates a side of Aaliyah many might not recall. At first, he and Aaliyah bonded over a book, Gary Zukav’s The Seat of the Soul, which they started reading together. The intellectual, thought-provoking conversions that emerged, as a result, solidified their connection for good. “From then on, we were sort of inseparable,” he told the outlet. Soon enough, sparks began to fly, and they decided they would give their budding romance a serious chance.

Our intention at first wasn’t even to be in love. We were just really good friends and we fell for real. It was almost an accident. 

Damon Dash on Entertainment Tonight

Damon couldn’t be more thankful about how they were able to forge an intimate and memorable relationship away from the prying eyes of the public. The 50-year-old also revealed they wanted to marry each other at one point but didn’t want to make the grave mistake of rushing down the aisle. That’s why they agreed upon a plan: they would cohabit for six months straight, “see if we can tolerate being around each other with no distractions,” and if they still loved each other at the end of the period, they would make it official. 

Unfortunately, the plan never came to fruition, and they weren’t able to tie the knot. 

He says she taught him how to love

Twenty years on, Damon has a number of regrets about his time with Aaliyah, one of which was that he didn’t get to make enough memories with her. They were both busy, ambitious people mired in a series of projects, so they didn’t have a lot of time to give to each other. She would be shooting a film in Australia, and he would be occupied with “companies to run” — their schedules kept clashing every step of the way. Nevertheless, Damon said, “We would have such a good time when we saw each other, it just always felt fresh.”

Of course, the moments they shared were irrevocably special, and he’ll always be in awe of the woman who changed his life. But, at the end of the day, when the love of your life is gone, nothing is enough, and you are left longing for their warm company every second. Aaliyah taught Damon how to love, how to live every day with passion, interest, and unending appreciation. Had it not been for her, he wouldn’t know how to acknowledge or recognize love in himself or others. 

I didn’t know what being in love was. I didn’t even understand what that feeling is and I was able to really achieve that with her. Now I know what it feels like, so I was able to identify it when it happened again. 

Damon Dash on Entertainment Tonight

As a tribute to Aaliyah or a result of her impact on him, he makes sure to spend every waking moment with people he genuinely loves. “I would only be around people I love,” he said. He doesn’t care to surround himself with people who don’t treasure him. He’s also begun to take account of his own feelings to the point it’s become the sole “currency” in how he navigates through this world. 

Damon also takes pleasure in the fact that he was the one who dated her until the very end. If someone else had been in his position, he would have been seething in envy, so he allows himself to feel grateful for the part he played in her life, and vice versa. “It’s almost amazing to me that I was the guy who was with Aaliyah. Like, I am almost a fan of myself,” he said. It’s ultimately an unfortunate situation, but this part does enable him to reflect on the past with a fresh perspective. 

Grief is a transformative process at its essence, so every person will come to grips with reality at their own pace, in their own time. For Damon, it comforts him to picture Aaliyah as an angel, someone watching over her loved ones in fierce protection and dedication. “They’re signs to me, it means she’s talking to me,” he said. 

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Dare to take chances and fall in love

Nobody really knows what will occur in the future, but if you want to keep the regrets as minimal as possible, don’t be afraid to take chances. There are a hundred ways you could get hurt, but at least you can tell yourself you showed up, you fell in love, and you risked your heart. There’s no bigger failure than not trying at all, so if you decide to take a chance, you’re opening yourself up to a world of possibilities. You never know if the person you share a profound connection with disappears the following day, so all you can do is give your everything, live in the moment, and follow your heart. 

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What Happened to Meg Ryan? The Vanishing Rom-Com Star

By | dennis quaid, Food for thought, heartbreak, Inspiring Celebrities, marriage, meg ryan, russell crowe, stories

Meg Ryan might be the quintessential star of the rom-com. 

She burst onto the scene as effervescent, charming Sally in the rom-com classic When Harry Mets Sally. She proceeded to follow up her breakout role with a string of other hits in the genre, including iconic 90s films like Sleepless in Seattle, French Kiss, You’ve Got Mail. Meg led the revival of the romantic comedy genre in a striking fashion, having drawn throngs of people to the movie theatres time and time again. 

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However, like many celebrities from the 90s, Meg’s fame didn’t last. At some point, she fell off the radar, and the mainstream media didn’t bat an eye. The question remains: what happened in Meg Ryan’s career or personal life that drove her to step back from the spotlight?

As usual, the answer isn’t black or white. Meg’s exit from the industry was both a choice and an outcome of social pressure and judgment. Here is the truth behind Meg Ryan’s bittersweet exit from the industry:

Did Meg Ryan cheat on Dennis Quaid?

Meg and actor Dennis Quaid were married through the nineties. They tied the knot on Valentine’s Day, 1991, and welcomed their only son Jack on April 24, 1992. By the late nineties, their marriage was on the rocks, and they were both seeing other people. 

Meg Ryan Dennis Quaid
(Warner Brothers/Getty Images)

In 1999, Meg began a relationship with actor Russell Crowe, who co-starred with her in the film Proof of Life. They were an item until 2001, but because Meg and Dennis hadn’t announced their split until June 2000, the press accused Meg of cheating on her longtime husband. 

At the time, Meg gave an interview to W Magazine, saying that she knew what it felt like to be the ‘Scarlet Woman’ — a reference to the book The Scarlet Letter where a woman was ostracized and shamed by society for having committed adultery. As it turns out, the customs hadn’t shifted all that much since the book’s original publication in 1850. The tabloids hounded Meg for impairing the “squeaky-clean persona” she’d built over the last ten years. They accused her of humiliating her family and for breaking her husband’s heart into a thousand little pieces. 

Only, none of the publications thought to ask themselves whether they had access to the complete picture. Simply put, Meg and Dennis weren’t content in their marriage anymore and were openly pursuing romances with other parties.  Dennis himself had several extramarital affairs but didn’t face the vitriol his wife did — a demonstration of double standards. He got off scot-free, leaving Meg to cope with the widespread scrutiny herself.

It’s a real gift when you know you can’t ever really manage an image or a story and you stop caring […] Divorce is hard. Love is hard. All those things were so personal. They weren’t for mass consumption.

Meg Ryan on The New York Times

Meg also explained that the “complexity of a life or marriage” could never be condensed in a news headline or tabloid feature. Most people seem to accept these stories at face value without considering their impact on the individuals concerned. Meg lived through pain and shame in the spotlight, knowing all too well that she wasn’t in the wrong for cozying up to Crowe. 

Meg Ryan Russell Crowe
(Arnaldo Magnani / Getty Images)

Meg felt “burned out” as an actress and felt “pressure” to look a certain way

Meg’s fall from grace over an ultimately false cheating allegation exhibits that misogyny and discrimination are well and alive in the entertainment industry. They extend beyond cheating scandals and public perception — they also affect how women are supposed to present themselves as they get older. 

The press’s treatment of Meg amidst the Russell Crowe romance made her feel disillusioned with movie stardom, but it was only the tip of the iceberg. Meg now found herself on the ‘wrong side of forty.’ As is wont to happen, the offers landing on her doorstep were becoming less and less appealing, and she didn’t feel like these roles were worth her time or interest. She said that the “same opportunities did not present themselves in [her] 40s that did in [her] 30s and 20s,” adding that she didn’t feel like she could bring anything to the table for these purported roles. 

The mother-of-two holds a lot of respect for women who choose to undertake roles at her age, but she herself felt like she had done as much as could — and as much as she wanted to — in the realm of acting.

I was burned out … didn’t feel like I knew enough anymore about myself or the world to reflect it as an actor. I felt isolated.

Meg Ryan on The New York Times

In the New York Times interview, Meg detailed how being an actor is akin to “burning through life experiences.” One moment, you’re a helicopter pilot; the next a journalist, after which you go on to play an alcoholic. Meg felt like she was living these “express-lane lives,” and sooner or later, realized that she needed to take time off to reevaluate her own aspirations. 

Meg Ryan
(Manuel Romano/NurPhoto/Getty)

There are very few dynamic roles for older women, and there’s an unimaginable pressure to look a certain way. This isn’t necessarily communicated to the actresses outright, but it’s evident nonetheless. That’s why a considerable number of women possibly turn to plastic surgery or unhealthy diet plans. They’re coerced into fitting into a mold that don’t want them in the first place. 

The pressure [to look a certain way] was implicit. How you look — there’s so much judgment. You can’t win or lose. That’s an annoying thing, and you deal with it.

Meg Ryan on The New York Times

Ultimately, Meg Ryan’s gotten “truer as a person” and is cherishing being in “first gear”

Though the blown-out-of-proportion adultery accusations and the ageism did have implications on Meg’s career, the talented entertainer used these difficult obstacles to find her true passion. Meg left behind her acting career to achieve peace, fulfillment, and growth. 

The horrifying media frenzy Meg experienced led her to reexamine her situation and carve out a new path. She wanted to slip out from under the overwhelming gaze of the paparazzi, so she turned down film roles of her own volition and began to consider a career as a writer or a producer. 

I didn’t have to care what people thought. I have gotten to do what I guess I secretly wanted to do. Be totally under the radar and live my life.

Meg Ryan via People

Meg’s directorial debut Ithaca was released in 2015, and she has a romantic comedy in the works. She’s busy raising her adopted daughter Daisy True and spending time with her adult son, Jack Quaid, an established actor. She’s adding more skills to her repertoire and is relishing being in the driver’s seat as a director and producer; she said in one interview, “When you’re an actor, you’re a cog. When you produce, you understand the other gears. I’m in first gear now.”

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She also said that she “got tired of waiting to be chosen,” so if the ideal roles weren’t going to come knocking, she would develop them herself. Meg was not taking orders any longer from an industry set on objectifying and discarding her. The scandals and the frustrations pushed her to take charge of her own life.

I felt like I got truer as a person. I’m more myself

Meg Ryan via Closer Weekly

Let life guide you where you want to go

Despite the hardships, Meg Ryan realized her true ambitions and acquired the tools she needed to make them a reality. Despite the media’s cruelty, no one forced Meg to leave acting — she made the conscious choice of following her heart. 

We all must examine what makes us happy. Are we doing everything we can to achieve our dreams? Sometimes, the unpleasant experiences will do their part in forcing us to wake up and face the music. Let life teach you where you’re meant to be. Don’t be afraid to make those tough decisions when the time comes.

8 Unconventional Strategies For Getting Over a Breakup

By | Food for thought, goalcast originals, heartbreak, How-To, inspiring, stories

Breakups suck. It’s a matter of fact, and sadly, there’s no way around the emotional servitude, hardship, or downright suffering that can sometimes go all hand-in-hand with the old heave-ho.

Whether you’re the one doing the breaking up or the inverse, whether you were more in lust than in love or vice versa, and whether you’d been together for 1 year or 15, breakups are challenging at the level of our very souls.

This means it can take special and unconventional tactics to properly and fully get yourself over the hump that is the post-breakup misery, and back into the world of the living again.

Here are my 8 unconventional strategies for getting over a breakup:

1. Listen to stories

Based on my personal experience, this advice was once tantamount to a Perfect Strangers marathon every night until I could feel my heart again. Watching one of my favorite childhood shows helped me to take breaks from my anxiety—and have a genuine laugh now and then.

You don’t need to love Balki to make this work—simply pick something that speaks too you specifically. It can be anything: a funny show, a touching movie, an angry album, or even a Stephen King novel.

Whatever it is, immerse yourself in the stories of other people, imaginary or not. You may also find solace in these narratives, as many can provide closure or comfort.

By inhabiting someone else’s story, even for a little time, we can process the emotions and find a way out at the same time as the characters. It’ll act as a mild numbing agent and there is nothing wrong with indulging in our favorite narratives.

2. Don’t delay the suffering

An important part of your journey towards moving on, requires to go through the suffering. I know, that sounds awfully unnecessary, but the fact remains: you are going through a breakup, and you’ll heal much faster if you acknowledge and accept the pain.

It doesn’t matter whether the pain comes from betrayal, or the was brought on by having to leave someone you love for your own sanity. While suffering is temporary, refusing to suffer only prolongs or delays the pain. If you want a quicker resolution, the best thing is to get started on the suffering.

3. Get creative

There is no denying that breakups create a spring of creative inspiration and it would be a shame not to take advantage of that energy.

Doom and despair are arguably the best fodder for truly resonant art. Just ask any Renaissance poet. Whether you’re a singer, writer, illustrator, knitter, cabinetmaker, sculptor, or none of the above, you can always find a way to translate your inner turmoil into art.

Even if it only happens in private, the creative process is inevitably therapeutic. And it is much harder to feel destructive when you get creative.

4. Nourish fantasies

Now may be the time, if you’re up for it, to reimagine yourself living on a tropical island, starting a new job, adopting a new persona, learning to salsa, dye your hair a new color or whatever else it is that strikes your fancy.

Indulge your fantasies and rediscover what it is that makes you tick. Chances are you’ll have at least a bit of fun, and you may even surprise yourself. Plus, you’ll be all the better acquainted with what you want from a future partner—should you choose to go down that line again. 

5. Be alone

I can’t stress this enough, and it’s all the more important if you’re afraid of being alone and you know it. While there are no hard and fast rules in love, some contemplative solo time will very likely and immeasurably benefit your heart and mind.

If you don’t believe me, you probably need it. In order to avoid acting out the same negative patterns from relationship to relationship (from the people we choose, to the problems we end up facing), it’s vital that you take time-outs now and then.

6. Get a haircut, clean your closet

Take advantage of this richly opportune moment to purge your surroundings of old, stale relationship reminders and conceptions of self.

Adopt a new look by trying a new hairdo or transforming your long tresses into a short, spiky cut. Hit a thrift store or a mall and get yourself a couple of things you’ve always wanted to wear but haven’t dared to in the past. In case you missed the memo, this is a great time to shed that which no longer serves you and reach out for the new.

7. Redecorate

If you’re dealing with an excess of nervous energy and aren’t yet ready to focus on re-creating your look, this one could be perfect for you. Shift your focus to changing the color of the walls in your bedroom, buying new sheets (this is a smart thing to do!), potting new plants, or reorganizing furniture. You may find it less painful and easier to eventually move on if your surroundings are at least a little bit altered.

8. Do what you gotta do, even if it’s not mentioned here

You’re you, and there’s nobody out there who understands the relationship you were a part of. That’s why breakups look different for everyone and requires different ways to move on. The essence of all the tips above is to allow room to cater to yourself in your journey towards recovery.

Sometimes, the stuff we need to do to get over a painful, aching loss is deeply personal and unique to us. Maybe you need to take up running, go on a road trip, see an acupuncturist, or learn to exhale under water. Whatever it is, listen to your heart and try the unconventional route.

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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!

More inspiring love stories:

How to Tell if It’s Too Soon to Move on From Your Breakup

By | Food for thought, heartbreak, introspective, mindset, personal essay, relationships

Breakups are incredibly complex and necessitate many layers of healing to fully, completely move on. When relationships matter– truly, deeply matter– there’s no off switch when you agree to call it quits. Love and memories still remain.

Throw intense emotions, a restructuring of your schedule, a loss of physical intimacy, possibly the loss of your ex’s friends and family into the mix and a one-size-fits-all answer to how soon is too soon to move on becomes almost impossible to figure out.

Moving on takes time

When you’re in the eye of the storm, feeling all the feelings, it’s understandable to seek a fixed and certain time limit on the grieving process.

I get it. I know the feeling. Being with your sadness is an act of courage. It’s natural to question how long the process might take. However, my intention is not to provide solid answers or a timeframe.

Instead, I wish to share a few tips that, in my personal and professional experience, have yielded a healthy approach to moving on.

What is “moving on” after a breakup?

I’m a lucky guy. I’ve fallen in love numerous times. Yet, break-ups never get easier. However, I’ve learned that regardless of what led to the end, if I valued and cared enough to establish a consistent, intimate relationship with someone, those feelings of love wouldn’t simply go away.

Perhaps this sounds obvious. But as years have gone by, I’d attempt to sanitize my feelings, as if moving on meant feeling completely indifferent towards my ex. Naturally, framing it this way led to lots of frustration because the love still remains.

My first full relationship ended 10 years ago. I still love her. Another relationship ended four years ago. I still love her. Another ended three years ago. I still love her. Another ended just under a year ago. I still love her too. See the recurring theme?

It’s a non-linear, illogical process

The difference is although I love my exes and want the best for them, I no longer crave to be close to them or wish to rekindle a romance.

Would I like them to be involved in my life to some degree? Perhaps. But I accept that this isn’t always practical. And I accept and have gratitude for the times we shared.

If love remains then what does moving on mean?

Well, firstly, moving on is a gradual process. It isn’t linear. It doesn’t make sense. I can have days following the breakup where I feel completely fine but then, experience a rough day years after it happened.

Matters of the heart aren’t logical. They’re completely absurd. Don’t waste too much time trying to work it all out. The importance is to allow yourself to feel.

However, over time, there’s less emotional charge to the memory of an ex. The love — a calm, soothing unconditional love — remains. But there’s no giddiness, ferocious sadness or grief at the loss of what once was. Instead, I find happy memories cause positive reflection.

Consequently, I notice storylines around “what could’ve been” settle in my mind. In the aftermath of all breakups, I struggle to see the reasoning. Even when I know it’s the end, part of me wants to plead and bargain, to just find a way because surely love is enough, right?

After some time, this bargaining fades and I reach the final stage of grief, which is acceptance.

What about meeting someone new?

For many people, including myself, the process of moving on may appear to be concluded when we meet someone new. A word of caution on this topic: meeting a new person after a relationship is a tricky territory.

It isn’t always a bad decision. But when meeting someone soon after a break-up, it takes a little soul searching to uncover our motives. Does it come from a genuine, healthy place?

The most important aspect of moving on is healing.

In the past, I’ve moved into new relationships to avoid feelings of pain. I’ve tried to fill the void by meeting someone new. This is an approach that avoids processing and acknowledging pain, and will cause issues to resurface down the line.

It must be said though, that it is entirely possible to grow and heal with someone else, if your new partner is understanding and accepting, and awareness is brought into the healing process.

That’s a far cry from falling into a new relationship and denying any aspect of pain that remains from a fresh breakup, essentially using the love and attention of someone else as a mechanism to enhance self-worth.

Developing a strong sense of self

I’ve previously written about the importance of retaining independence in romance and avoiding Cupid’s Timeline. If the relationship you’re leaving was healthy, then it’s entirely possible you’ll leave with a fuller, whole sense of self. However, codependent traits can seep into any relationship, even with the best intentions.

For example, after I’d done a lot of work around codependency, I met someone whose chemistry seemed to ignite the shadow part of myself I naively assumed I had healed. But I’d done the work away from relationships.

I was aware of certain tendencies. But it was only after meeting this person that these behaviors and emotional patterns got triggered. Therefore, I needed to confront them in as they occurred in real-time and not in meditation or reflection.

Break up the pattern

I learned that if there’s conflict in a relationship, I have a tendency to project my emotions onto my partner. I expect them to take joint responsibility, as if I were entitled to it. Healthy relationships are supportive, but my emotions are my responsibility. And unless I build and strengthen my ability to process them, the pattern will repeat over and over.

For example, let’s say I feel really sad after a breakup. A reflex of mine is to project my sadness onto a partner, for them to make me feel better. After losing my partner, I struggle to process this sadness on my own. Then, I meet someone new, and all of a sudden I feel better and the sadness eases.

Without consciousness, I can move from one relationship to the next as a mechanism to handle sadness without ever confronting it. Again, mutual support is essential in loving relationships. But if I always require someone else to process my sadness, anxiety and feelings of insecurity, I will always fall into codependent relationships. 

This can lead to addictive or poor decision-making when looking for future partners.

So how soon is too soon?

To conclude, there’s no definitive timeline for moving on. But it’s important to consider the key points of healing from a heartbreak. It is a process that involves forgiveness, processing grief, acceptance, and re-building independence.

Honesty with ourselves is required to really check in with how we feel about the loss of someone who, no doubt, has had a big impact on our lives.

I know how difficult it is to be with the pain. The impulse is to run, escape, find something to soothe. However, to really grow through a break-up, and move on in a healthy way, we have to sit with the pain, and learn from it. 

I’ll leave you with these words from Pema Chödrön in When Things Fall Apart:

Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape — all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.

Breakups suck, there’s no doubt. But if you have the courage to confront your pain, the process of moving on will act as a huge catalyst for your personal growth.

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Tina Turner Beat the Odds by Leaving Ike– and She’s Still Shining at Age 80

By | emotional health, Food for thought, heartbreak, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, musicians, self, tina turner

Whether it’s her enduringly poignant hit “What’s Love Got to Do with It?,” the subtle-not-so-subtle sense of raw sexuality and power mingling in “Private Dancer”, or the vulnerably joyful tone of her timeless classic “Simply the Best”, Tina Turner is best known for her strong and scintillating solo music career of the 1980s. 

Often dubbed the bonafide Queen of Rock ‘n Roll, Tina celebrated her 80th birthday, prompting a look back through the 8 (count them) decades of struggle, badassery, and success that make up her life thus far– including a career spanning 6 decades.

If there’s anything we can learn from the inimitable Tina Turner, it is that in spite of numerous personal tragedies, she has always bounced back stronger.

Tina’s life changed when she left Ike

Born Anna Mae Bullock, Tina Turner was the daughter of a Tennessee farm worker. She moved around a lot in the early days, and eventually found herself in St. Louis where she met bandleader Ike Turner in 1957 and entered into a musical duo– an long-infamous 16-year-long abusive marriage– with him.

Many of us will remember the very disturbing 1993 Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It, which documented her rise to fame under the constant threat of Ike Turner’s rage. The film was adapted from her 1987 memoir, I, Tina, in which she revealed in brutal detail the years of abuse, humiliation, and manipulation she went through during her marriage, including public beatings, infidelity, and a suicide attempt. 

When Tina was finally able to walk away, she barely had a cent to her name

Ike and Tina Turner Portrait
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Still, she managed to work her way back up, and launch an incredibly successful solo career in the 80s— even though she was a good 20 years older than most artists in the pop world. She rose to stardom in her 40s and 50s— as a woman, and an African American to boot, I might add.

Talk about beating the odds, to hell and back!

One might say that Tina’s relationship with Ike was the original hurdle she had to contend with to get to where she is today.

She was finally able to shine

The strength she had to leave an abusive relationship—in spite of the financial hardship and struggle that followed—remains a testament to her inspiring vitality.

And hey, unfortunately her story is still very relevant to women struggling to leave abusive partners, of which there are many.

Today, Tina says she no longer thinks much about Ike, who died of a drug overdose in 2007.

Tina’s true love helped heal her

If Tina’s an inspiration to those who believe they’re too old to rise into their true power, let her also be an inspiration to those who think it’s too late to find love.

She married her long-term love, German producer Erwin Bach (over 16 years her junior) in 2013 at the age of 74—which she details in her 2018 memoir My Love Story.

They had been romantically involved for 27 years before marrying. But, just three weeks after the wedding, she suffered a stroke and had to relearn how to walk. And that’s not all. She also got intestinal cancer, followed by kidney disease. 

Through it all, she’s found comfort in her Buddhist beliefs. That’s right, Tina’s been a blooming Buddhist since 1973. “In Buddhism you accept the life and the death. I was ready, I just thought it was my time,” she’s said.

But, it totally wasn’t, because her husband Bach donated one of his kidneys, and the transplant saved her life. Now, she’s not just alive, but thriving. How’s that for transcendent romance?

Her struggles weren’t over

Turner had two biological sons, Craig, who she gave birth to when she was only 18 (his biological father was Kings of Rhythm saxophonist Raymond Hill), and Ronnie (son of Ike Turner). She also adopted two of Ike Turner’s children, Ike Turner Jr. and Michael Turner, raising all 4 as her own. 

If all that already seems like a lot, consider Tina Turner’s most recent personal tragedy: her eldest son Craig took his own life just last year at the age of 59.

Taking to Twitter after it happened, Tina called it her “saddest moment as a mother.”

I still don’t know what took him to the edge.

Tina to the BBC in 2018

Turner told the BBC that his passing came as a total shock given that he’d just fallen in love and started a new job.

A poison that turned into medicine

Tina turner
(Photo by Ricky Vigil/GC Images)

These days, Tina Turner lives in Switzerland with her husband, and is currently enjoying her 10th year of retirement.

Back in 2000 she launched a farewell tour, but ended up taking to the stage again in 2008 at the age of 69 to celebrate her 50th anniversary in music. She gave it the type of energy that would have depleted someone half her age, and got through 90 shows. Her last performance took place in 2009 in front of a very lucky British audience.

If you don’t feel you’ll ever get enough Tina though, save your stress. Tina, The Tina Turner Musical is currently on Broadway. At the opening of the show, she told the crowd:

It’s like poison that turned to medicine… I can never be as happy as I am now.

“People think my life has been tough, but I think it’s been a wonderful journey,” she explained in 2018. “The older you get, the more you realize it’s not what happened, it’s how you deal with it.”

Ageing has been a blessing

On her very recent 80th birthday, Tina rightfully took to social media to celebrate her day.

“Yes, I’m 80″ she said. “How did I think I would be at 80? Not like this. How is this? Well, I look great, I feel good, I’ve gone through some very serious sicknesses that I’m overcoming.”

It’s like having a second chance at life. I’m happy to be an 80-year-old woman.

While another Tina tour seems hard to imagine at this point, with all she’s survived, it’s impossible to fully rule out the idea. I mean, if Tina Turner can keep following her life’s dream at age 80, we can do the same thing with the passion in our own lives.

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Here’s How to Survive a Holiday Breakup– and Thrive Instead

By | Food for thought, heartbreak, how-to guide, relationships, uplifting

It’s common knowledge that the holiday breakups are the most popular kind.

Known as the “turkey drop,” mid November to mid December tends to be when many couples decide to split. The holidays put people in a good mood, sure. But these extra jollies can make shaky couples even shakier.

But why during the holidays?

Life coach and certified sex therapist Jacqueline Mendez told OkCupid that “many couples break up during the holidays because the cracks that already exist in the relationship are magnified. There is a huge push for love, glee, and happy feelings and when a couple does not have the bandwidth to support this, it breaks.”

As well, many people observe their significant other up-close-and personal with their families, which can offer unflattering insight into problematic relationship dynamics.

Add to this the fact that loads of family time often removes the ability for couples who rely on sex for their bond, to well, bond. It ain’t an easy time of year.

How I handled it

Personally, I’ve found it’s easier to break up when the sky is blue and everyone’s showing a little more skin. But hey—who among us has a choice in the matter?

Truth be told, I too have been through a holiday heartbreak. It was crushing, sure, but also turned out to be a time for deep reflection, self-insight, and growing as a person. And, okay, you got me—maybe even kissing someone new at a drunken Christmas party.

Let’s face it: these are all the ingredients we need for moving onto bigger and better loves!

If you’re going through a holiday breakup, I feel you. Whether you’re the breaker or the breakee, it can be devastating. If you need a little help getting through it, consider the following.

Here 6 tips for surviving with your heart intact

1. Accept your state of mind

Nobody said it was easy, and you don’t need to put on a brave face. The sooner you accept that, the less stressful it will be, and the quicker you’ll start to heal.

If you can be kind to yourself, everything else will fall into place.

This means: making an effort to interact with loved ones, but it does not mean forcing yourself into doing things that make you want to puke.

Feel free to respect where you’re at, and bow out of any activities that are giving you the heebie jeebies (couples’ massages as a family, anyone?)

2. Know you’re not alone

During the holiday season, it can seem like everyone and their cocker spaniel has a fiancée or is swapping tongue under the mistletoe or by the menorah.

But in reality, close to half of all adults are single, and that includes just over half of those between 18-34.

So, remember: you’re really, truly not alone!

3. Don’t delay damage control

Depending on the exact timing of your breakup, you may want (need) to take care of certain logistical matters.

For instance, save yourself the trouble of having the same breakup explanation conversation 2000 times at your family’s holiday party by having a friend or parent spread the news on your behalf.

And, unnatural as it may seem, if you have to return your ex’s gifts, or cancel flights or reservations, get it over with immediately to avoid dragging out depressive feelings.

4. Be social (or at least stay active)

If you had a bunch of social plans with your ex, don’t replace them all with melancholic solo time.

Though, of course, some nurturing solo time is a-okay.

Make plans for coffee/dinner/drinks with good friends, join a yoga class, take up running, or simply make a point of doing things that make you feel good, like seeing a play, going to the movies, or taking long walks. 

5. Do things for others

A holiday breakup may just be one of the best times to focus your energies on others rather than yourself.

Volunteering at a charity or shelter can be an amazing way to give back.

Not only will you be helping others, but you’ll meet new people, and hey, your heart may even feel a bit more whole.

6. Stay off social media 

If you’re away from your support network over the holidays: get off– and stay off– social media!

“If someone is struggling through a breakup and fixated on their ex, staying actively engaged in the relationship through social media will make it harder to move forward and the recovery will take longer,” clinical psychologist Dr. Cortney Warren tells Bustle.

Go one step further and block or unfollow anyone who’s going to make you feel bad.

The bottom line is this:

Breakups are never easy, but they can be especially brutal during the holidays. Try treating yourself the way you’d treat a close friend going through something similar.

And ultimately, never fear, ‘cause a fresh new year is almost here– and with it comes new possibilities and even new love.

More proof you can get through your breakup:

Melissa Benoist Reveals How She Broke Free of Her Abusive Partner

By | actors, empowering, Food for thought, heartbreak, Inspiring Celebrities, melissa benoist, news, stories

Melissa Benoist plays the superheroic Supergirl on TV, but a new emotional video shows why she’s an inspiration in real life, too.

The star of Supergirl and Glee revealed she’d survived months of domestic abuse in a previous relationship via  a 14-minute Instagram video posted on Wednesday.

“I am a survivor of domestic violence, or IPV, intimate partner violence,” she said at the start of the video, mincing no words in sharing her scary but all-too-relatable story.

Melissa’s story

She met her abuser when she was just coming out of relationship and only interested in becoming friends, however, they quickly evolved into dating.

What followed was a “runway freight train” of an abusive relationship that began with emotional manipulation and jealousy.

“Work in general was a touchy subject,” Melissa recalled. “He didn’t want me ever kissing or even having flirtatious scenes with men, which was very hard for me to avoid, so I began turning down auditions, job offers, test deals and friendships, because I didn’t want to hurt him.”

Benoist never named the man who had been abusing her but said the physical violence began five months into their relationship, when her younger former partner threw a smoothie at her face.

It escalated from there

“I learned what it felt like to be pinned down and slapped repeatedly, punched so hard I felt the wind go out of me, dragged by my hair across pavement, head-butted, pinched until my skin broke, slammed against the wall so hard the drywall broke, choked,” Melissa confessed.

When she locked herself in rooms, she said, the door was broken down, and she learned not to value property or “myself.”

Still, she couldn’t break free of the relationship yet. “Deep down I never believed he would change, I just fooled myself into thinking I could help him. Someone had to let him know his behavior wasn’t okay, and who better than the one he was taking it out on?”

How she broke free

Things hit a breaking point when he threw an iPhone at Melissa’s face. That action tore her iris, ruptured her eyeball, and broke her nose.

Melissa and her partner lied to the police. She even had to cover up the truth with a silly anecdote explaining away the injury on Jimmy Fallon’s show. But something had shifted in Melissa, and she soon confided in a friend about what was going on.

“The more people I let in, the more I was bolstered,” she said. As she received more support and experienced positive, healthy bonds with other people, Melissa found the strength and courage to break away from that toxic relationship.

None of this is salacious news, it was my reality. What I went through caused a tectonic shift in my outlook on life.

Why she’s speaking out now

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women and one in four men have experienced some kind of violence from their partners; one in seven women and one in 25 men have been injured by their partners.

“I want those statistics to change, and I hope that telling my story will prevent more stories like this from happening,” Melissa explained. “If you are enduring what I went through and you see this, you might be able to find the tiny straw that will break the camel’s back.”

Melissa is determined to use this terrible time in her life can be used as a way to help others. Since she came forward, a conversation surrounding domestic abuse has been generated by fans and Melissa’s co-workers in support of her.

Supergirl co-creator Ali Adler wrote on Twitter: “If it can happen to #SUPERGIRL it can happen to anyone. So proud of @MelissaBenoist for speaking about her experience.”

The show’s executive producers Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter described her as a “hero” and “extraordinary woman” in a statement posted on Twitter.

Melissa’s story is a powerful reminder that you don’t need superpowers to effect change in your own life, or the lives of others. She’s also proof positive that surviving abuse doesn’t mean you are weak– in fact, she has shown true strength in breaking free and speaking out.

We should all do what Melissa did: become our own heroes.

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Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson’s Tragic Love Story Carries a Powerful Lesson

By | actors, challenging, Food for thought, heartbreak, Inspiring Celebrities, liam neeson, natasha richardson, profile, relationships

When Liam Neeson was cast in 2003’s Love, Actually as Daniel, a widower forced to cope with the loss of his wife while raising her young son, he could never have imagined how much life would imitate art.

In 2009, Neeson tragically experienced a similar storyline in real life when his wife of 15 years, actress Natasha Richardson, died in a freak skiing accident.

Neeson was suddenly left alone, raising their` two boys, Micheál and Daniel, and trying to wrap his head around the unbelievable loss of the love of his life. Here’s what their beautiful romance can teach us about love, loss, and the power of a truly unbreakable bond. 

Liam and Natasha’s love story teaches us:

Their connection was instant but incovenient

Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson first met when they were cast opposite each other in a Broadway rendition of Anna Christie in 1993.

The timing wasn’t exactly perfect, but their attraction was instant. Their chemistry on-stage was undeniable and garnered them plenty of critical acclaim — both were nominated for Tony awards — and endless headlines. 

Speaking about their life-changing connection, Neeson told 60 Minutes, “I’d never had that kind of an explosive chemistry situation with an actor, or actress.” He continued, “We had just this wonderful kind of dance — free dance on stage every night. She and I were like [Fred] Astaire and [Ginger] Rogers.”

It was anything but easy 

Due to Richardson’s relationship status at the time, the pair soon became the subject of numerous tabloid reports filled with rumors of an affair. It was anything but easy to navigate the mounting headlines, especially for Richardson. 

In an interview with Country Living, the late actress admitted, “It was not an easy time when I met Liam. Working with him, what happened between us, and that becoming public knowledge in conjunction with my marriage falling apart, was kind of bad timing.” 

Even so, she didn’t let the negativity spoil her desire. “I fell very much in love with him,” she revealed. She also didn’t allow Neeson’s reputation as a womanizer to stop her from following her heart. Rather, she told Country Living how she tried to find the bright side, saying, “I’m pleased that women fall in love with him because I know why.” 

Natasha went all in

According to the NY Daily News, a month or so after Anna Christie finished its theater run, Richardson’s four-year marriage officially ended, but that didn’t exactly pave the way for her and Neeson’s feelings to flourish. They still had some hurdles to overcome, as Neeson left her and flew off to Poland to shoot Schindler’s List.

Again, the actress didn’t allow the imperfections of their situation to faze her. When Neeson sent her a cheeky note for her 30th birthday that read, “You’re catching up with me. Lots of love,” she went for it. Putting her cards on the table, she quipped back:

This is like a letter from a buddy. What is our relationship? 

It was that simple comment that pushed Neeson to act, and act fast. No longer playing coy, he reciprocated her feelings in full and they were married in July 1994.

As the Taken star told the NY Daily News, “That was when I knew I really loved this person. I thought, ‘This is real and genuine and is something that has to be protected.’” 

Their happily-ever-after didn’t last forever

Neeson and Richardson enjoyed 15 years of wedded bliss, welcoming their first son, Micheál, in 1995 and, just 18 months later, their second son, Daniel. Then the unthinkable happened.

It was 2009 when Natasha Richardson traveled to Quebec’s Mont Tremblant mountain for a beginner’s skiing lesson. While there, she had a small fall, but a medical team gave her the all-clear.

Things quickly took a turn for the worse once she returned to her room and she was rushed to a Montreal hospital, as Neeson (who was on set in Toronto) rushed to be by her side. 

Liam didn’t open up about his tragic loss until years later.

In 2014, he remembered that day on 60 Minutes, saying, “I was told she was brain dead. And seeing this X-ray it was, like, ‘Wow.’”

He recalled their final moments together, noting, “She was on life support and stuff. And I went in to her and told her I loved her. Said, ‘Sweetie, you’re not coming back from this. You’ve banged your head. It’s – I don’t know if you can hear me, but that’s – this is what’s gone down. And we’re bringing ya back to New York. All your family and friends will come.’ And that was more or less it.”

Except it wasn’t. He still needed to make the hardest decision of all, but he knew he had to do what was best for his wife.

Neeson continued, “She and I had made a pact. If any of us got into a vegetative state that we’d pull the plug. So when I saw her and saw all these tubes and stuff, that was my immediate thought.”

“Her death was never real”

Can you ever truly recover from losing the love of your life? The answer is no, according to Neeson.

As he confessed in 2014, “Her death was never real. It still kind of isn’t. There’s periods now when I hear the door opening, especially the first couple of years… anytime I hear that door opening, I still think I’m going to hear her.”

So he found the coping mechanism that was best for him — work — and dove all in. According to People, Neeson made a whopping 34 films in just nine years following his love’s untimely death.

“I’m not good without work,” he told 60 Minutes. “I just don’t wallow too much. You know? And I just didn’t want to – especially for my boys – seem to be wallowing in sadness or depression.”

As he moves forward, however, he’s never forgotten her (or everything she taught him)… and he never will.

In 2016, Neeson got candid again, this time on Facebook, writing, “They say the hardest thing in the world is losing someone you love. My wife died unexpectedly. She brought me so much joy. She was my everything. Those 16 years of being her husband taught me how to love unconditionally.” 

What Liam has to teach us

He concluded with a valuable lesson that everyone should always remember: “We have to stop and be thankful for our spouses. Because, one day, when you look up from your phone, they won’t be there anymore. What I truly learned most of all is, live and love every day like it’s your last. Because, one day, it will be.”

That is as true as it gets.

The lessons we can learn from Liam and Natasha’s love don’t stop there either. Liam applied what Natasha taught him to both his work and his family life: loving his sons unconditionally and channeling his pain into positivity.

Even when love seems like it’s been lost forever, we can keep it alive by living our lives to the fullest.

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