Chapter One: There IS a Perfect Fit for You
Let us embark on a wonderful journey of hope.
Through breathtaking stories of romance, incredible love stories that have united or reunited people just like you, I am hopeful that you'll see your own life in a fresh new light, filled with renewed hope that your perfect love is not nearly as distant as you thought.
Through the Six Key Words to Successful Relationships that unfold in the stories of others, I believe that you will clearly see that you are on a path to finding your soul mate. Your soul mate may be already near. Perhaps you are already in a relationship that has not yet matured to soul mate status. But I am certain of this: in the grand design of your life, there is a perfect love for you.
How can I be certain?
I have spoken with hundreds of people, who, just like you, have asked "Is there someone out there for me?" People who found the answer said: "Yes."
I have also been in your shoes.
SQuire and Louise -- my shoes fit you
I had never said "I Love You" without some twinge of ignorance, way down deep.
"Do I really know what love is?" I asked myself.
"Am I in love, infatuation, or just a desire to be in love?"
On those rare occasions when I entertained the big question -- "Is this your soul mate?" -- my head was mute.
Married twice, twice divorced. That was pretty much the answer.
Yes, I was indeed ignorant about love.
Attending church alone on Sunday mornings, I tried unsuccessfully to submerge my envy for a loving couple who always sat three pews ahead of me. I watched the way they would position themselves, shoulders touching, turning, smiling at each other; and the way they seemed to communicate through a secret language of eyes and body known only to themselves. Through the crowd of departing parishioners I'd watch them leaving church holding hands, providing a wonderful model for their teenaged children, not to mention the rest of us.
That couple made me realize that even though I had been married most of my adult life, I had spent years imprisoned in loneliness. I deeply wanted what they had.
So do you.
Let me assure you: there is hope.
What I thought would never happen in my lifetime -- that I would be the prince who someday placed the slipper on the foot of Cinderella -- did happen! And when the perfect piece fell into place in the jigsaw puzzle of my life it arrived with a clarity comparable to every soul mate couple I have interviewed. One partner or the other almost always says, "That's the man [or the girl] I'm going to marry." They had found the one -- and they knew immediately.
When I found myself together with Louise -- thirty years after I'd serendipitously played a role in her getting into television -- I knew!
Even better, so did she!
The first time I ever saw Louise DuArt, she burst onstage at Madison Square Garden with a green face and a long nose with a wart on it.
"I've since had that removed," she now says, going for the joke. What should I expect? She's a comedienne.
But back then, Louise was Witchiepoo in the Kroffts'
H. R. Puf-n-stuf road show. She had that special stage presence that reached out and almost grabbed the audience by the lapels. She had the makings of a star!
Not long after that I was working with the Kroffts on a Saturday morning block of programs under my charge at ABC. We'd come up with the idea to create a rock group that would wrap around all of our shows. When it came to casting a comedienne, I offered, "What about the girl who played Witchiepoo?"
That was all I did. No big deal in my mind. But, from Louise's perspective, that was her first big break in TV.
Weeks later I met her for the first time, for a moment or two, at an advertiser function, and over the course of the next three decades briefly saw her at ABC affiliate events or backstage at Good Morning America. During each of those encounters she was married. So was I.
Several years passed.
My second marriage had broken up, and I was running a cable TV network in Washington, D.C. I had traveled to New York City to pick up my son, Grant, where he was living with his mother, to take him on a long anticipated, fun-filled weekend in Canada coinciding with a meeting I had scheduled in Toronto. But, at the last minute, the meeting was canceled. The trip had to be called off, and my son was upset.
"What do you say we stay in New York and take in a Broadway musical?" I said, trying to broker some enthusiasm.
I have learned that kids with developmental challenges, as Grant has, seem to universally enjoy music even if they are unable to read and write.
Grant's brightness was restored when I spotted a musical in The New York Times called Dreamstuff and exclaimed that the star -- Louise DuArt -- was an old friend.
"Hey, maybe we can meet her backstage!"
His gloom dissipated.
After the show Grant and I met with Louise and her manager, Howie Rapp, for a cappuccino. We jibber jabbered, catching up on intervening years. When I inquired about her husband, her reply startled me.
"He left me for another woman," she said.
"Oh. I'm...going through a transition, myself...." I stuttered, covering, as best I could, the skipping of my heart.
Perhaps my heart was just coming to realize what my mind had been denying in every previous encounter with Louise over the three previous decades. For, in retrospect, every time I'd run into her, I'd had this uplifting feeling -- the kind you have just after a thunderstorm, when the air is filled with ions -- soaring my spirits.
I was wondering what to make of those feelings, when a godwink became apparent. A sign of reassurance.
"What a godsend you came today," she said. "You just saw our last show. It closed."
"Really? Grant and I were supposed to be in Canada today," I quickly rejoined, "but our trip was canceled at the last minute."
We've since marveled at that godwink -- the divine timing that caused our paths to intersect on that day -- and how our lives continue to be monitored and mapped from above on a sort-of grand Global Positioning System that we have playfully renamed "God's Positioning System."
Later on, I found out that Louise had called her mother after our post-theater coffee, and said, "Today I met the man I'm going to marry."
A short while later, that's exactly what happened -- Louise and I were married -- soul mates cast in a fairy tale called "Happily Ever After."
Why did it take so long to find the perfect fit in the jigsaw puzzle of my life?
I have no idea. But Louise and I are clear about this truth we learned the hard way: that jamming together two pieces of a puzzle -- no matter how much we wanted them to fit, in a moment of desire, or out of a false sense of obligation, never resulted in true happiness.
As Louise and I look at our lives through the long lens of time, we have to admit that God has had a lot of patience with us -- and our choices. Perhaps it is only fair that we be expected to have patience with Him.
In the end, patience paid off.
Louise and I are perfect for each other.
And when the fit is perfect, life is perfect.
Don't expect it to be easy
We tend to forget that even in fairy tales, finding your perfect love is not easy. Cinderella had to clean a lot of chimneys and endure a lot of barbs from her stepsisters before she got to go to the ball. And even then, there was great uncertainty -- she had no idea whether anyone at the ball would give her a second glance, let alone the prince. The ball was followed by the uncertainty of not really knowing if she would ever connect with the prince again. After all, he never took her phone number or email address.
Patience -- that word you hated as a kid when your parents uttered it -- is something we really do have to call upon.
That is particularly true if your parents are still involved in your life, trying to hurry you along toward a relationship, as occurred in the following story.
The other Hillary and Bill
Hillary Kimmelman and Bill Solomon invited Hillary and Bill Clinton to their wedding. The president and first lady couldn't make it. Not in person, anyway.
But, let's start at the beginning.
When Hillary Kimmelman broke up with her boyfriend, her view of the future was clear: "I'm thirty-two. My life is over. I'm never going to find the perfect person."
Meanwhile, Bill Solomon had his share of dysfunctional relationships, also leaving him with a pessimistic outlook on the future.
They did not know each other.
They also did not know that forty years earlier their parents had been high school friends who had double-dated in Long Beach, Long Island. But when Hillary's father Larry, and Bill's mother Barbara, went off to college, they lost touch. Larry settled in Boston. Barbara remained on Long Island.
One day someone sent Hillary's father an article from the local Long Beach paper. It was a cooking column featuring a lady who raved about a salmon dish that she'd lovingly termed, "My son Bill's Salmon Recipe."
Larry smiled when he recognized the lady as Barbara Solomon, his high school friend. He tracked her down by phone and soon they were catching up on four decades in between. Larry and Barbara revealed that they were both still happily married, and each had grown children.
"I have a daughter who lives in New York," said Larry.
"My son Bill lives there, too," said Barbara.
"Ahhh, the son who's the salmon recipe," he laughed, recalling the newspaper article.
"Yes. He lives downtown, on Fifth Avenue."
"Really? So does Hillary."
"No kidding. What building?"
Well -- believe it or not -- they both lived at the same address. And while there was no way for them to know it at the time, their offspring had apartments in exactly the same location, on two different floors, seven stories apart.
Traditionally, a situation like this leaves parents with no other option: plot to get their two kids together.
"I have a Hillary and you have a Bill," observed Larry, kiddingly. "Maybe they'll marry and we can have the reception at the White House," an oblique reference to President Bill and Hillary Clinton.
But their children didn't.
Hillary Kimmelman accepted her mother's suggestion that she ought to meet the son of the former friend who lived in her building who had a salmon dish named after him -- in the same manner as she would accept a dirty diaper.
Bill Solomon accepted his mother's notion of dating the "beautiful" daughter of an old friend of hers who lived right there in his own building, with absolute horror. Dating someone his mother recommended, was too awful to imagine.
Another downside immediately crossed his mind. "Having a blind date with someone from my own building meant that my apartment would no longer be a safe haven," he observed.
In response to their parents they both did exactly what you would expect.
Weeks later Bill was Rollerblading in nearby Union Square when he ran into a former colleague. They chatted. And then went their separate ways.
Back at his apartment building Bill encountered the former colleague again. This time she was standing in the lobby. "What are you doing here?" he asked, surprised.
"My best friend from college lives here -- Hillary Kimmelman."
"What a weird coincidence. I was supposed to go on a blind date with her, but I never called her."
"Well, you should," she counseled, "She's great."
He began to wonder: should he, or shouldn't he?
Hillary's father, meanwhile, was pressing the issue. "Every time I call home, my father tortures me," she complained to a friend. "He asks, 'Has Bill-the-salmon called you yet?' "
Bill's mother was just as relentless.
Finally, Bill called Hillary and they had a surprisingly delightful conversation, discovering many mutual interests including skiing, tennis, and Rollerblading.
They made a date.
Hillary would travel seven floors down to Bill's fourth-floor apartment, then they'd go to dinner.
When the door opened, Hillary was pleasantly surprised: "He's absolutely adorable," she said to herself.
Bill was similarly stunned: "Wow, my mother was right -- she really is beautiful."
They were both a bit nervous.
Bill handed Hillary a glass of red wine. It slipped, spilling onto the carpet. Quickly mopping it up he thought to himself, "I don't have the heart to tell her -- I just had it installed today."
At a nice restaurant in the area, they placed their orders.
Hillary, struggling not to snicker, heard herself saying, "I can't believe it, he's ordering salmon!"
When they returned home, entering the same building, awkwardly looking at each other as one pushed the fourth floor, the other the eleventh, it seemed like a scene out of a Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan romantic comedy.
A few minutes after she got home, Hillary's phone rang. It was Bill. "I just wanted to see if you got home all right," he joked.
As Bill and Hillary began their courtship, they couldn't resist adding up the coincidences that had unfolded. In addition to their parents being childhood friends and their living in the same New York apartment building:
• They found that they had both worked for Ron Perelman companies -- Hillary for Revlon, Bill for the New World TV stations;
• Both had worked in the same office building, 575 Fifth Avenue;
• Bill, and Hillary's father, Larry, both went to Boston University;
• At BU, Larry had a roommate who transferred to the University of Miami, where he became the roommate of Bill's father, Jack Solomon;
• Bill had a roommate at BU who transferred to the University of Maryland and became the roommate of a man who later was a colleague of Hillary's;
• And, if that wasn't enough, Hillary's father and Bill's father shared the same birthday, June 10.
As their relationship began to grow, the coincidences never escaped them.
"We kept using the words 'destiny' and 'bashert'...Yiddish for 'intended one,'" says Hillary.
"But today we have come to expect coincidences," finishes Bill.
For their wedding, two years after they met, Hillary and Bill decided to invite the other Hillary and Bill -- the one's then residing in the White House. The wedding guests all loved having their pictures taken with both sets of Hillary and Bill -- albeit the president and first lady were only life-size cutouts.
One additional godwink completes the circle -- it connects Hillary and Bill to my wife and myself. Their story caught the attention of New York Times reporter Lois Smith Brady, who wrote it up for her popular "Vows" column in the Sunday paper. Coincidentally, Lois Smith Brady had also heard about my betrothal to Louise and profiled our wedding in her Times column.
Laughter -- a step to successful relationships
Throughout this book I have asked couples for their wisdom on the most important steps to a successful relationship. One that redundantly surfaces is laughter.
Bill and Hillary found that a sense of humor was a common thread to both pull them together, and to hold them together.
Laughter, they reminded me, is also an important tool to unveil during tense moments that invariably arise in relationships: if one partner or the other can muster some humor, emotional stress is relaxed, and the potential for disagreement dissipates.
Destiny doesn't come to you -- you must go for it
I believe that each of us has a destiny. It's like our DNA. It's there. We're born with it.
But I also believe that God has allowed you to have your hands on the steering wheel most of the way through life: you can go too fast, too slow, or recklessly drive off a cliff and never reach your intended destiny.
In my motivational speaking engagements I frequently hear myself repeating this premise:
"You cannot sit on your baggage, beside the road, waiting for your destiny to come to you. You must get up, get going, and leave your baggage behind. Go for what you believe to be your destiny, and look for all the signposts along the way -- the godwinks -- that are the messages of reassurance that you're on the right path."
Think about the outcome if the principals in the story that follows had not "gone for" what they believed to be their destiny.
Paula and Gary: the innkeeper's perfect pursuit
Paula was twenty-nine. She was the oldest daughter of a fine family from the tranquil suburbs of St. Louis, was schooled as a registered nurse, and subsequently met the man she would marry. In her wedding photos, she was a strikingly beautiful blond bride. Everything seemed perfect.
It was not.
The groom was a good man, but not a good husband for Paula. He was a man's man, the kind of guy who places higher priority on all-male golf outings and hanging out with the guys after work instead of nurturing his relationship with his wife.
Paula's dreams of finding Prince Charming diminished as the marriage dissolved.
She put her attention on another long-held dream -- owning a gift shop -- and concluded that she could combine her career ambitions with her summer vacation plans: someone referred her to a gift market wholesaler in Boston who could help her get set up in business, and she could schedule that meeting on her way home from her annual get-together with an old friend, Mary Jane, who had a home on the island of Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts.
Gary Conover was a dreamer, the kind who was sent home from school as a kid with a note that said he was a dreamer but made it sound like a bad word. Yet, when Gary put his mind to something, he pursued it. He finished it. And he did it right.
At the age of eleven, Gary surprised his parents when they saw what he'd done to his room: he'd redecorated and repainted it to look like a suite in an upscale inn.
He spent several post-schooling years as an insurance salesman in Philadelphia, met and married the girl of his dreams (he thought), and moved to the island of Martha's Vineyard, off the coast of Cape Cod, fifteen miles from Nantucket. He and his wife opened a small art shop in Edgartown, Massachusetts -- the Vineyard's oldest, most quaint community -- and began selling the works of local artists.
One of those, Ray Ellis, became one of the most prolific and famous artists in the country, further underscoring Gary's keen eye for things beautiful.
Always a visionary and a doer, Gary spotted a woefully dilapidated inn near the center of town that he envisioned could become both an inn and a more sizable art shop. He bought it, and commenced painstakingly authentic restoration to evolve a wonderfully charming old structure. It opened in 1972 as the newly renovated Charlotte Inn.
Gary and his wife had two handsome young boys. To outside observers perceiving that the Conovers were growing a model nuclear family while growing a business on Martha's Vineyard, everything was perfect.
It was not.
The marriage was never a perfect fit. They were like two pieces of that jigsaw puzzle who had jammed themselves together in a hopeful quest that, one day, they would somehow magically fit together, but never did.
The marriage dissolved.
Gary continued to work hard at running and expanding the inn. Over time, he began dating again. And to many fair ladies, he was the catch of catches: handsome, successful, and the owner of a charming inn on Martha's Vineyard, one of America's most desired destinations.
He believed in "perfect." His determination to achieve perfection in the presentation and accommodations of his inn was becoming legendary among leisure industry colleagues and the community.
But without perfect love, life was not perfect.
Paula traveled from St. Louis to Nantucket by plane, connecting through Boston. It was always good to see her old friend Mary Jane, who met her at the small island airport. They planned to spend three days on Nantucket, and then to do something they had talked about doing for three years running but never got around to: take a day-trip to Martha's Vineyard.
On the morning they were to leave for Martha's Vineyard, Mary Jane was called in to work at the last minute, yet insisted that Paula should go on to the Vineyard without her.
"No...I'll just wait till next year," said Paula.
"I insist," said Mary Jane. "I'll be good for you. And you must see Edgartown."
Mary Jane drove her to the Nantucket airport only to find that no flights were departing. The airport was fogged in. But before going back to Mary Jane's house, they decided to have breakfast at the airport coffee shop.
Gary Conover asked his son if he could borrow his car. It would be more fun, he thought, to drive his date to the Martha's Vineyard airport in a sports car. He needed to get her there for a 10 A.M. plane to Boston.
As Paula and Mary Jane finished breakfast, they received word that the fog had lifted. Paula's plane was leaving right away. Rushing to the gate, Mary Jane promised to pick Paula up when she returned to Nantucket later in the day.
"Have fun," she commanded, smiling and waving as Paula boarded the small plane.
When Paula arrived at Martha's Vineyard there were no cabs. She asked a man how to get to Edgartown.
"Well, because of the fog, cabs weren't waitin' around," drawled the man in a New England accent. Then lifting a nearby casement window, he shouted to a fellow standing beside his car outside the little terminal.
"Gary! Can you give this girl a ride to town?"
Turning back to Paula, he explained that on the island, people help each other out: "He's Gary Conover, an innkeeper in Edgartown."
Paula took one look at the handsome man dressed in khakis and a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves, standing next to a white Corvette convertible. "I could do worse," she quipped to herself.
Introductions made, Gary said he would be glad to give Paula a lift -- he was just seeing a friend off on the same plane that Paula had arrived on. (It was determined sometime later, that, by coincidence, the lady friend Gary was seeing off would take the exact same seat as the one Paula sat in, to arrive.)
As Gary chatted with Paula about Edgartown and Martha's Vineyard, exuding pride for the island, he became more and more captivated by her. He enjoyed her interest in his art shop and inn, and invited her for a ride in his Boston Whaler, a classic-looking boat, over to the Chappy Beach Club on adjacent Chappaquiddick Island. After an afternoon tour of the shops and the narrow streets of Edgartown, Gary invited Paula to see the Charlotte Inn.
Paula was impressed! "I could live in a place like this," she said with awe.
"Why don't you stay over, we have rooms available," said Gary. "I could show you up-island tomorrow. You should see the beautiful red clay cliffs of Gay Head."
"No...no. I have to be back in Nantucket tonight," said Paula. "My friend is meeting me at the airport."
"You could go back tomorrow," pressed Gary.
"You know, we have fog in the evening this time of year," said Gary, "Let me check the airport."
"Too bad," he said, almost smiling, "The airport is fogged in."
His heart had leaped when he'd called the airport to hear, "Sorry. All planes are grounded. A fog front has just come in."
As Paula examined the decor in her room, marveling at the detail that had gone into the selection and placement of every single item, mostly valuable antiques, she had a growing appreciation for the talents of the man into whose path she had been placed by the godwink of fog. She reflected on the day's nonstop conversation. How easy it was. How interested he was in what she had to say, her opinions. And...he seemed to like her sense of humor, too.
Through the years Gary Conover had developed a keen eye for the finer, beautiful things in life. He had spent years looking at paintings, at fine antiques, and other rare valuables. Long ago he had learned that when you see something of exceptional value, you must go for it. Doggedly. Don't wait. It may not be there when you come back.
Paula was neither a magnificent painting nor a priceless jewel, but she was a beautiful human being, a beautiful woman in whose company and by whose easy conversation he had been captivated for an entire day. From the moment that divinely engineered timing had placed him at the perfect place, at the perfect time, he was in love.
Paula called her friend Mary Jane on Nantucket. "We're fogged in. I have to stay the night," she said disappointedly, hoping it didn't sound transparent.
"Funny...it's clear as a bell here," exclaimed Mary Jane.
The next day Gary convinced Paula to remain on Martha's Vineyard for the whole day, and by midafternoon was again pressing her to stay -- "just one more day."
"No...no...I have to go," she protested. "I don't want to, but I have to."
She explained that she had to gather her baggage in Nantucket, and then to depart for her meeting with the gift wholesaler in Boston the following morning.
Sadly, Gary drove her to the airport. Seeing Paula's plane lift into the sky gave him a deeper feeling of loss than he had ever before experienced. He stood riveted, trying to keep the small plane in focus for as long as he could, until it disappeared into the clouds.
Paula arrived at her appointment in Boston the next morning, greeting Tony the gift-market wholesaler, quickly explaining her plan to start a gift shop back in St. Louis. He offered that they could talk in the office or, seeing it was lunchtime, they could continue to talk over lunch. He suggested a restaurant, but on the way out of the building, decided to take her to a different one.
At some point during lunch, the waitress came to the table and asked if her name was Paula.
"Yes," she replied, puzzled.
"There's a phone call for you."
"Did you tell anyone where we were going for lunch?" Paula quizzically asked Tony, as she got up to go to the phone.
Tony shook his head.
"Hi, Paula, this is Gary," said the voice on the phone.
"How...how in the world did you track me down?" gasped Paula.
Gary explained that he had been doing some detective work all morning long, checking one wholesaler after another, until he reached the desk of one secretary who confirmed that her boss was having lunch with a pretty blond lady, and may have taken her to one of several restaurants. He kept calling until he reached the right one.
Gary then began his entreaties to Paula that instead of returning to St. Louis, she should come back to Martha's Vineyard.
"No...no...I can't," said Paula, wearing an astonished smile. "I really must go back home...I have dogs...I have commitments I need to keep...."
Eventually convincing Gary that she had to stay the course, and that she really had to get back to her meeting, she returned to the table, apologetically explaining what had happened.
Paula rushed to the airport in order to catch her late-afternoon flight to St. Louis. Arriving at the gate just a few minutes before departure, she joined the line of people who were boarding. Something caught her attention. It was her name being spoken. She turned. The loudspeaker was saying her name, and telling her to pick up a courtesy phone. Fortunately, there was one right there on the wall next to where she was standing.
"Hi, Paula, it's Gary."
Breathless with surprise, and buoyant from his charm, Paula found herself repeating an all-too-familiar phrase: "No...no...I can't. I really do have to go back."
"Come back to Martha's Vineyard, just for the rest of the week," implored Gary. He explained that he had been calling the airport every ten minutes, telling them it was an emergency, and he had to reach her.
The man at the door of the plane was signaling Paula. All the other passengers had boarded the plane. "Are you coming?" he mouthed to her.
"Yes, just a minute," she mouthed back.
"You could catch another plane right back to the Vineyard," continued Gary.
"Are you coming, ma'am, or not?" the flight attendant was now insisting, having walked over to her, placing his face within inches of hers.
Paula paused. Perhaps a second. Maybe a millisecond.
"No. I am not coming!" she stated firmly...to the flight attendant.
Joy leaped within Gary's chest. "Here's what you do," he excitedly instructed. "Find your way to Butler Aviation -- those are private airplanes -- a plane will be there for you in forty-five minutes."
In forty-five minutes a chartered plane rolled to the Butler hangar. Paula expected to see a pilot deplane. Instead, she felt a tingle as she saw Gary Conover climb down. He hugged Paula, and helped her climb into the plane, heading back to Martha's Vineyard.
For three days, Gary and Paula talked. They spoke, with certainty, that they were meant for each other. That powerful unseen forces were executing a design for their lives that was truly meant to be.
"How much time do you need to wrap things up in St. Louis?" asked Gary.
"Two weeks," replied Paula.
"How about one," smiled Gary.
During that one week that she was reconstructing her entire life -- pulling up every thread of connection she had in St. Louis, to move to an island off the coast of Massachusetts -- Gary telephoned, several times every day.
When Paula overpacked her car for the drive to Massachusetts and had no room for her dog carriers, she broke down crying.
The phone rang. It was Gary.
"I don't have any room for my little dogs," she cried, "I don't know what to do. I have to bring them with me."
"Don't worry about a thing," said Gary, calmly. "Do you have someone who can take the dogs just for tonight?"
"Yes...," she said, softly holding back sniffles.
"Here's what you do. Take your dogs to your friend. Drive your car to the airport. Leave the car with valet parking.
Tell them that a man named Kincade will pick it up tomorrow. Go to the ticket counter. There are prepaid tickets there for you."
Gary explained that he would send one of his workers to St. Louis the next day, have him pick up the car, pick up the dogs, and drive Paula's car back to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and catch the car-ferry to Martha's Vineyard.
A few months later...
Like a romantic Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn movie where the fog lifts, the music swells, and two soul mates embrace, Gary and Paula came together as husband and wife in a small ceremony at one of the most idyllic spots on earth: the private quarters of their very own Charlotte Inn on Martha's Vineyard. As the bride and groom looked through charming small-paned windows into a magnificent English garden, traces of mist began to emerge, a reminder that the divine maker of all things perfect is the author of perfect love. He is also the creator of perfectly timed fog -- as godwinks.
Today, Paula looks back upon her decision with clarity: "I knew the moment I spoke those words to the flight attendant -- 'No, I'm not coming' -- that I was not just curtailing a trip to St. Louis. I was making a much bigger decision -- the right one -- for the rest of my life."
"It's amazing," says Gary, reflecting on twenty-two years of happy marriage, "In twenty-two years we've never had a single argument. We're together, running the inn, almost every moment of every day. Yet, when she goes to the grocery store, I miss her."
The difference between determination and desperation
Gary Conover was never desperate in going after what he believed to be his perfect mate. But once he saw her, and sensed that "she was the one," he was determined.
What can you learn from that?
When you pursue someone desperately, you give off scary signals. But when you are determined, you admirably demonstrate that you know what you want -- and you're going for it.
It's a fine line, I know.
It goes back to caveman times; men like the pursuit, and women like to be pursued. But before embarking on pursuit, you have to ask, "Does this person want to be pursued? Are they giving me any signals?"
Paula gave Gary positive signals that she cared for him, and would like to continue the relationship, but that, unfortunately, she had other obligations.
By correctly reading the signals, Gary remained determined, never crossed the line of desperation, and demonstrated sensitivity to Paula's concerns. By taking charge and providing her with support, he became her knight in shining armor.
My adult daughters Robin and Hilary thought I was over the top when I sat them down to watch the Robert Redford film based on the best selling book The Horse Whisperer, the story of a man who had a remarkable ability to tame wild horses. He employed a calm, determined approach and used psychology.
"Watch what Redford does when he wants to put a saddle on that wild stallion," I noted. "As the horse rears and snorts, Redford shows continued determination. Never desperation.
"Notice his patience. Imagine if he tried to grab the horse by a leg and hold on for dear life. What would happen? The horse would be last seen crossing the horizon, right?
"Instead, when the horse bolts away, Redford places himself into a lower position, and waits for the stallion to come to him. That's what happens, and before long, that horse is saddled.
"No different with men," I counseled.
My daughters' eyebrows raised slightly. But I think they got the message.
Denzel and Pauletta -- the match made in heaven
The first time Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson were in the same place at the same time was on the set of a seventies' film in New York in which they both had won parts. From a distance Pauletta curiously eyed the recent college graduate who'd been cast in the lead. Denzel was handsome and self-assured. But they had no scenes together. No conversation.
Six months passed before an opportunity arose for them to speak. By happenstance they both were invited to a party given by one of Pauletta's friends from Broadway. A conversation commenced and it was nonstop. Who knew they had so much in common?
Pauletta was charmed by Denzel's interest in what she had to say.
Denzel was taken with her engaging personality and attractiveness. "She was wearing purple with stripes," he remembers clearly.
That night a spark was ignited.
Not twenty-four hours later, an extraordinary godwink occurred.
Pauletta had friends who were appearing in a play at a small, out-of-the-way theater in Manhattan. She decided to attend.
Quite independently, Denzel heard about the same play. He also decided to attend, slipping into his seat at the last minute after the play had already begun. But imagine the surprise on both of their faces when the lights went up at intermission and they found that -- all along -- they had been seated right next to each other.
What did that godwink mean in their lives?
Years later Pauletta would say, "Our whole introduction to each other felt like it was set up by the heavens."
That night, their embryonic relationship moved up a step when Pauletta invited Denzel to join her friends after the show at a cast party downtown. As they departed the theater Pauletta started for the subway. With quiet bravado, Denzel stopped her.
"Let's take a cab," he said.
"Hummm. I like his style," thought Pauletta.
But recalling his growing panic as the cab ride seemed to go on and on -- well beyond his means to pay for it -- Denzel now laughs at himself. "I was burning a hole in that meter with my eyes. I kept asking, 'How far did you say that party was?' "
Eventually, Denzel came clean. He admitted he didn't have enough money to cover the fare.
"I thought: 'There goes my food money for the next week,'" laughs Pauletta. "But -- I still like his style."
That evening was the beginning of something big for both of them.
A few years later, they were married in Pauletta's hometown of Newton, South Carolina. Subsequently their four children have been raised in a household filled with love, where family comes first. Pauletta and Denzel have worked hard to minimize Hollywood pressures on their children -- growing up in a home where their Oscar-winning father endures the travails of celebrity and tabloid distortion.
The couple credits their faith for family stability.
"Just be honest, work hard, and have faith," Denzel counsels his kids. He adds, "I used to think that what I did for a living -- acting -- was my life, but when we had that first child, acting became making a living, the child was life."
In large part, their values were passed on to them by their own parents.
"Paulette grew up in one of those close-knit families," says Denzel. "The kind where everybody comes to the airport to see you off. They're there on the runway with the ice cooler, the collard greens, and the chicken and potato salad. And when it's time to leave, everybody's crying, waving at the plane till they can't see it anymore. It is something to see."
A strong spiritual foundation is surely a highly significant factor in Pauletta and Denzel's matrimonial success, but they also rely on mutual respect.
What does she admire the most about her husband? Pauletta easily answers: "The way we can talk to each other about anything, his intelligence, his special qualities as a father, and the way he can take a negative and turn it into a positive."
Just as quickly Denzel can list things he loves the most about his wife: "Her strength, her friendship, and the way we laugh together."
"Denzel and I are both spiritually based," says Pauletta, always mindful that it was a powerful godwink that had once placed them side by side in a darkened theater.
Build on the rock
Building a relationship on the rock-solid foundation of mutual faith is a theme you will hear over and over in the true stories of happiness that are in this book. There is a lot to be said for a couple like Pauletta and Denzel, who can rise above the temptations and pressures of Hollywood to have a model marriage.
Advising how to get to that place, they are unequivocal: their marriage works because it is not just between the two of them -- it is a commitment of three, with God in the middle. That was reaffirmed in 1995 when Pauletta and Denzel renewed their wedding vows in a ceremony that took place in South Africa, performed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Let me repeat: there IS a perfect fit for you
Take your mind back to childhood.
There you are, standing in the backyard, looking into a star-filled sky. You uttered "I wish I may, I wish I might..." and you believed that all your wishes could come true.
From that time on, every person in your life who decided they had the right to tell you what to do, said "Grow up."
Unfortunately, you listened.
You began to accept their notion of "reality" -- that wishes never really come true. Wishes were for "dreamers." And "dreamers" sounded so negative.
But let's bring that star-filled sky back into focus.
We do live in a perfect universe.
Scientists say there is such perfection in the way the earth, the sun, and the stars all fit together, that if one planet had been placed in the sky just a teeny bit differently, we wouldn't be here today.
Staying with the big picture, think about how almost all of life on earth is sustained by the perfect harmony of the seasons, the sun, and the cycles of life.
Now, zooming from the expanse of space, letting your mind's eye focus in on the image of a newborn child -- see those five little fingers and five tiny toes. Add five amazing senses, and you are looking at the creation of harmonious perfection.
That little person is you.
So listen to this: if perfection exists in that which is as large as the universe and as miniature as a baby's toe, why wouldn't it also be likely that God has created a perfect design for your life that includes a perfect soul mate?
In Yiddish they have a perfect word: bashert. It means "your intended one."
This is the simple truth of this book: your bashert is there, your intended one is right there in that pile of puzzle pieces called "My Life."
Make the right choices.
Don't jam yourself together with an imperfect match.
A man named Paul expressed the point this way: he said, "We don't know everything, and our prophecies are not complete. But what is perfect will someday appear, and what isn't perfect will then disappear."
That was written a few thousand years ago in the Bible.
Copyright © 2004 by SQuire Rushnell
There's no coincidence to coincidence
It's no coincidence you just opened this book.
It could be a godwink.
You see, every time a coincidence occurs, a prayer is answered, or something happens to make you say, "Wow! What are the odds of that happening?" you've received a godwink, a signpost along the path to your destiny -- a message of reassurance that you are never alone.
Why do I call it a godwink?
Remember when you were a kid sitting at the dining-room table and your mom, or dad, or grandma gave you a quiet communication -- a little wink?
What did that mean?
It probably meant, "Hey, kid, I'm thinking about you right now. I'm with you. Keep the faith."
Well, that's what a godwink is. Reassurance. It's tangible evidence that you're on a Global Positioning System of something up there that's bigger than all of us.
It's powerful stuff. Every coincidence you've ignored, shrugged off, repressed, or dismissed was a signpost of reassurance, carrying the same message to you. So don't ignore it.
The jigsaw puzzle of love
We all go through times when we seem to be swimming in a sea of uncertainty, particularly when it comes to love.
Haven't you found yourself glancing skyward, wondering, "Hey! Is anybody up there listening to me?"
Let's face it. Sometimes your life feels like a jigsaw puzzle dumped out on the dining-room table. You pick up one piece at a time and say, "I don't get it! Why doesn't this fit together?"
You ask, "What happened to that fairy tale in which I was supposed to have a starring role? Where is the love in my life?"
Here is what I'd like you to consider.
When you're doing a jigsaw puzzle it never enters your mind that it might not go together, does it? Of course not. You innately know that if you have the patience to keep working at it, the pieces will all go together.
For one thing, you believe in the picture on the box!
You have faith that, regardless of the degree of difficulty, all those little pieces are supposed to correspond perfectly. You know it's up to you to have the tenacity to keep at it. And when that puzzle is completed -- and seen from above -- you'll arrive at the not-too-astonishing conclusion that it was intended to fit together all along!
Now -- that is what you must believe about your life!
That your life is intended to fit together perfectly.
That all the right pieces are there in the pile.
That if you have faith in the outcome, the picture you've seen in your mind can be yours.
And that when your life is finally assembled, and seen from above, it will be perfect.
But, but, but -- you're saying: "Am I supposed to believe that my Prince Charming or Cinderella is in that pile of pieces called "My Life"?
Please listen, because this is the primary message of this book.
Within that jigsaw puzzle called "My Life," there is a perfect love for you! You are destined to have a soul mate relationship.
Trust me. The perfect relationship for you is there in the grand design for your life. You just need to have the faith and patience to find him or her.
I know -- you're looking around yourself right now, saying, "Wait a minute, relationships are disintegrating all around me. If what you say is true, why am I -- and half the people I know -- involved in failing relationships?"
Back to the jigsaw puzzle.
Did you ever pick up two pieces that seemed like they were a perfect match? You wanted them to be a fit? So then you jammed them together to try to get them to fit? In the end, regardless of how much you wanted them to go together, all you did by forcing them into place...was to injure each piece.
Have patience. Have faith. Have tenacity.
If you're just beginning a relationship, strongly resist the temptation to jam yourself into an imperfect match. They never fit.
If you are already in an uncertain relationship -- you still need patience. After you've dedicated enough time and commitment to be certain that you're not giving up too soon -- mindful that some relationships evolve to perfection more slowly -- remember that nowhere does it say that you were placed on this earth to be unhappy. You have the right to God-given happiness.
Copyright © 2004 by SQuire Rushnell