A million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and man had not yet created fire, I was in a long-distance relationship with an adorable, kind, brilliant boyfriend. He was in Washington, DC, and I was in Boston. And every weekend, he would fly to me, I would fly to him. We would fly wherever the Thursday 5pm airline fire sale could put us in the same place at the same time for as little money possible.
When we weren’t together physically, we’d try to be together emotionally. We’d send notes through the mail. We’d talk on the phone — but only after 9pm when the long-distance rates dropped. We would actively save our ducats for the aforementioned fire sale. We had to do whatever we could to bridge the gap that separated our two hearts and our two beds.
All of this to say: long-distance relationships are hard.
Fast forward a couple of decades — that boyfriend turned into my husband (still adorable, kind, and brilliant, by the way) — and we’ve lived in the same house for 23 years. We share hopes, goals, dreams, and the same bed… but our two hearts are still often miles (and sometimes continents) apart.
We are still in a long-distance relationship.
And, in fact, I’m in a long-distance relationship with my children, my colleagues, my clients, and my friends as well.
What’s worse: I’m in a long-distance relationship with myself.
I travel over 150,000 miles per year. Don’t get me wrong: I love it. I’m never happier than when I have an airline ticket in one hand and a passport in the other. It allows me to see new places, meet new people, learn new things. I get to carry my message of empowerment and limitless possibility to communities around the globe. I am grateful to do important work that connects me my calling. Even better, it contributes to the kind of life I want to live. It provides the lifestyle I want to have, with the values I want to manifest into the world. But it takes its toll, not just on me, but on the people and the causes I hold dear.
But then, last week, my husband’s schedule allowed him to meet me at a gig in New York City, just to spend the night, and then fly home while I went off to my next thing. This week, I had a few spare hours between — time that I would normally fritter away answering unimportant email or mindless scrolling social media — but I got a much-needed massage to alleviate a weeks-old kink in my neck instead. Next month, a dreamy gig in Europe will coincide with my son’s school break, and I decided to take him with me. (Frequent flyer miles, FTW!)
This trifecta of happenstance opened up a whole new way of thinking in my life: I actually love the life that has given me all of the long-distance relationships, so maybe I should utilize some of the control that I have and start treating them (and honoring them) as such?
We think of long-distance relationships as hard because there is so much pressure for everything to be perfect for entire weekends together. But, what if we changed our mindset? What if we asked, “If I only have two nights a week to be with someone I love or to do something that I enjoy, how would I spend that time?” My guess is that answering unimportant emails and mindlessly scrolling social media wouldn’t be it.
So I laid down the challenge to myself for 2019. As I roll out my book launch and am home for a night, then gone for three, home again, gone for two, lather, rinse, repeat for the next 6-12 months: treat every relationship I hold dear — including the one with myself — as a long-distance relationship.
What does that mean?
It means that only those “I’d die without you in my life” relationships get prioritized. And, putting down the phone and being fully emotionally present when my schedule allows me to be physically present. It means showing up for people and causes that matter. And, politely excusing myself from the things that simply don’t.
And, It means treating myself to the same recovery, recharging, and renewing that I hold space and provide for others.
So, if you get a text, an email, an after 9pm long-distance call from me with some hare-brained idea to do something together, just remember: I’m all in. Are you?