The following is the transcript for this podcast episode.:
Jodi: Hi, Janine. Thank you for joining me this episode to share your first date story.
Janine: Jodi, it’s so great to be here. Thank you.
Jodi: I am really excited to delve into your story today. Before we do that though, I’d love it if you would share a bit about yourself, so that listeners get a sense of who you are.
Janine: Thank you, Jodi.
It’s exciting to be here as well. I am in my mid-fifties, I had the gift and the burden of a quarter century marriage that I chose to leave after a certain point, when I decided that the ways that I wanted to grow and be in this world, took me away from who I was and the commitments that I made. At the beginning when I was a young person and didn’t know myself very well, we had the incredible gift of a very large community and a beautiful young daughter who was now in college and thriving.
And I had left my marriage to begin in a whirlwind adventure of dating. And that continued for eight years. And I had reached the point where I had had a remarkable career, significant impact in the world and the gift of several decades of self-development. And I found myself wondering, will I ever find the person that can meet me where I am now?
And who can grow with me for the next 40 years as I become the things I can’t even possibly imagine and dream of?
Jodi: Thank you for sharing that. Now you said you spent eight years dating prior to the date we’re going to discuss, I presume.
Jodi: How were you feeling about dating after those eight years had transpired?
Janine: I love that question and I felt so many different ways during different parts of that experience. I remember when I left my marriage, I spent several months coming to grips with the enormity of the change that I had brought, and then got very curious, after a quarter century of being with one person, what it would be like to meet and date other people.
And so being a very analytical person, I created a spreadsheet and embarked on 80 dates over the next year and a half, and was very methodical about it and really felt like a cultural anthropologist at that time. I had had the gift of many of my personal needs being met in marriage. I felt like I had been partnered.
So when I left my marriage, I felt like I was coming, not from a place of scarcity, but from a place of curiosity and excitement.
And so I went on all kinds of dates with people that I would never consider going out with more than maybe twice, maybe three times, just because I was trying to have the sense of what it’s like to be so many different ways of being human.
I got to try on for a night or for an hour, or when things really didn’t go well for 30 minutes, what it was like to be another human for just a little bit. And I could picture myself, what would my life be like if I were with this kind of person?
And it was a wonderful process of self-discovery. And it allowed me to feel like I was experiencing the world in a whole new way
One of the roles of dating is to explore who we are and also to find people who can mirror the things that we are wanting to grow and to become. It’s a way of cultivating our sense of self in relationship with someone else.
It was probably the beginning of COVID when I reached a point of thinking, is dating, making sense for me anymore? Does this really serve me? What are the ways that I abandoned myself when I go out with someone more than a couple of times and recognize very early on that this is not a partnership that will last even a medium amount of time? Why devote my energies, my very precious life energies, towards something that won’t truly fulfill me?
And so I had reached a point in the summer of COVID and all of the challenges that, that time that I was thinking, I would probably not be partnered for the rest of my life and recognized the joy and the richness of what my life was and decided to devote myself to simply making the best of the life that I did have, but being available now and then for dates. So that’s what proceeded this.
Jodi: You experienced all different types of interactions with different types of men that enriched your life experience. You spoke about abandoning yourself, or “not abandoning myself” is what you said, by spending time with men who were not the right fit for you.
Why did you look at it in that light?
Janine: It was quite intentional. As we frequently find in this extended life journey of self-examination the same ideas and issues and patterns keep arising time and time again, no matter how much work we do, no matter how skillful we become, no matter how many tools we have in our toolkit, it’s still the same material that we work with just in different circumstances, in different manners.
And so I probably first heard that phrase, “What are the ways that you abandon yourself in relationship?” maybe a decade, two decades earlier. And it didn’t land so solidly the first dozen or two dozen times that I was asked these questions. And then at a certain point, we really began to work very closely with the material that still arises.
So I, like many people, I had little affirmations on my mirror and they were the qualities that I wanted to embody in my moment to moment existence. “Joyful, fully alive and vibrant, kind, loving, wise,” and at the bottom, the longest one was the phrase “Never abandoned myself.” And so when we embark on journeys to really discover who we are to become aware of what our true nature.
It’s this shedding of things that don’t serve that really fall by the wayside. So I was quite intentional about that.
Jodi: Clearly. I love that you had all those affirmations on your mirror. What a great way to start your day, looking at all of that and in taking it all in and trying to consume all of those positive aspirations and into every day that you live. That’s tremendous.
Janine: It is a practice that’s available to all of us. And I feel grateful to be so much closer to a moment, a moment, moment by moment, appreciation of where I placed my attention, where I devote my energies, the people I surround myself with and the ways that I shaped my thoughts so that my experiences become what it is that I seek.
Jodi: As you started to discuss the eight years that you spent in the dating world prior to this date we’re about to get into, you mentioned that you had created a spreadsheet. I’m intrigued! Was that spreadsheet just use to track the names and contact information of the men that you met? Or were there….
Janine: You know that’s not true. (Laughter)
Jodi: I know that was not true. (Laughter) Okay then, let’s get into it. What else? What other parameters?
Janine: Jodi, that would be a bunch of stickies on a bathroom mirror. (Laughter) On a spreadsheet, you need a lot more columns than that.
Jodi: Okay. Let’s talk about the different parameters that you had added into that spreadsheet. Please share that with me and all the listeners.
Janine: I went about this because I knew that it would require consistent methodical effort. It’s a numbers game, finding the right person that matches all of the parameters that you seek. And so it was a way of just like any large project that we undertake in our professional lives or big tasks that we do personally, there were many steps to it.
And so, using this tool of tracking who am I going help with? What are the things that matter? The people that they name like a child? Where they’re from, all of those things, you know, it’s kind to be able to, if you are going to see someone again, to be able to pick up the conversation where you left off, even if you’re seeing several people, in consecutive dates and I was very efficient in my process.
So I would generally save dating day for a certain day of the week. And then I would go generally on three or four first dates, half an hour. I was not going to devote more time to it than that. You can get a good sense of if there’s an energetic fit or just even a general orientation to life in similar ways.
I would make the choice at 30 minutes and I’m abandoning myself by devoting another 30 minutes. And if I was, I would be very clear and I would simply say, “Thank you so much for making time for me today. I’ve enjoyed our chat and I need to be moving on now.”
My perception of it is, after having had more than a hundred dates, that I had a lot of clarity about the kind of person that I would want to see a second time or third time or a fourth time.
And that I had devoted 20 years to understanding myself and how I want to move in the world. And I had a lot of clarity about that, and I still do
Jodi: The date that we are going to now get into happen during the pandemic. Where were you in your life prior to the time when this date took place?
Janine: I had recently come to the conclusion that I would not be dating any, if at all. And every few weeks…I still had all of my three or four dating apps that I would look at.
I did go on a handful of dates during the first few months of COVID, socially distanced, outdoor hiking, very far away on the other side of the path, but had really come to a place of, I want to say comfort, but I’m also recognizing there’s elements of resignation and of acceptance and determination to lead a full and rich life, but probably letting this piece of my life go because the qualities that I hope to find in someone mirroring the things that I love and treasure about myself were probably just going to be. Too tall of an order.
Jodi: That means that you had gotten to this place because you had accepted and fully embraced the love you have for yourself and that you are enough.
Janine:. Yes, yes. It’s such a great revelation and such an important place to arrive. And, you know, sadly for many of us, it happens later in life. I, one of the unusual aspects of my life is that I’m a twin.
So I like to say, not only am I an extrovert, but that I’ve been partnered since the first cell of my existence. And so, I had believed that partnership was necessary in a normal function of the life that I wanted to live. And I had reached the point, recognizing that I didn’t want to abandon myself in relationship anymore, and that I was willing to let that go.
Jodi: But you didn’t.
Janine: I didn’t. I hung in there a little bit longer. (Laughter)
Jodi: Okay. Let’s proceed then with the story. So COVID….so it’s early months. COVID is raging.
Janine: Yes. COVID is raging that summer. I’m just very isolated at this point. And I’m in a region of the country that took it very seriously. So we were very consistently isolated.
So every few weeks I would open up my apps and just take a look. And on this particular day, I opened up one of the apps and there was an image of someone I literally like gasped. (Laughter)
And then I read the profile and I was so amazed to just be met and so many different parts of my career, my intellectual life and my education and my activities and my spiritual life. And so he had sent a message. He found me and he said, “Well, I don’t know if this is going to work, but I’m going to give it a shot. Tell me how you’re doing today.”
And he said that because he was in a different part of the country. And I didn’t notice that I just looked at the image and the profile and it was like, how can I not respond? And so I wrote back “The universe must know something that we don’t, because I’m responding. I’m great. How are you?”
Jodi: I was quite a response. And this is Kevin who you were responding to, correct?
Janine: Yes. Yes.
Jodi: What did he do? Did he immediately write back.
Janine: Absolutely. We started texting in the app, morning and night until we arranged….well, the next day he said, let’s talk. And at that, at that point, I said, “Hey, let’s go for a hike.”
And he said, “Well, I don’t know if I’m going to make that. I’m a little bit far away.” And then I finally realized he was an airplane ride away.
And so, at this point I thought, “Well, okay, maybe I’m going to find my partner in another part of the country. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
So I said, “Let’s go for a hike and I’ll meet you at the top of the mountain, near my house. And you can pick where you’re going to be.”
Jodi: Clever! That’s really clever!
Janine: It was so much fun! And it was a sunrise chat. So I got, got to the top of the mountain and the sun was rising and it was a beautiful hike and he was on the beach. And so we ended up talking for two and a half hours that first morning, and it was just an incredible beginning.
Jodi: You sat there on the mountain top and he sat there on the beach with your phones and decent cell coverage?
Jodi: And you just talked? Did you actually see one another or was it a phone conversation?
Janine: I am so annoyed about this part because of course, you know, I am originally from the south, so I, you know, put myself together. Um, and I thought we were doing a Zoom call and then, you know, ego doesn’t exist just for the, the female part of, of the world when I said, okay, let’s zoom.
And he’s like, wait a minute. I didn’t know. Um, I can’t do video. I’m not ready. (Laughter)
Jodi: Oh, it must’ve been such a disappointment for you.
Janine: I still can remember it. I was really disappointed, but you know, you let these things go right and focus on what matters.
Jodi: What happened next?
Janine: I spent the next week talking on the phone, doing zoom calls. And I was, um, at the end of that first week, I told him, “Hey, it’s, COVID. I’ve decided to rent a camper van and to climb in the van with my college-aged daughter. And we’re going to be gone for the next three weeks. And we’re going to travel all over the Pacific Northwest and all the way to the upper Midwest. So I’m going to be gone and out of cell reception for three weeks and I will catch you when I get home.”
And he said, “That sounds awesome.” And then I was gone the first two days on the road having an incredible adventure with my daughter. But I realized, “Oh, I really want to talk to him.” And so I called that first night, we were in the middle of the forest, outside a highway in the middle of the woods in Oregon trying to find cell reception.
And I was so happy to talk to him. And eventually what happened is we were talking almost every day and it was this unending series of me trying to find cell reception in Safeway parking lots in some weird town in the middle of nowhere. And it was just wonderful.
Jodi: What were you missing?
Janine: The intimacy, the connection, the ways that he saw things similarly and radically differently and the stories that he shared. But most of all, he’s just remarkably socially, emotionally intelligent, and his level of vulnerability and honesty and realness just felt like we were creating a real connection.
And that I could very early on reveal myself the things that mattered to me, my hurts and pains, my joys, my delights, all from a place of just real intimacy. And it happened pretty much from the second phone call.
Jodi: Wow! He was so vulnerable with you. And, and so emotionally intelligence that you decided you could trust this man, right away.
Janine: Absolutely. Yes. And by this time I had been on more than a hundred dates and he had done the same amount of work in his life, so that by the time we found one another, there was nothing, but the ability to be our real selves without defenses, without hiding, without fear, just curiosity and delight ever unfolding layers.
Jodi: He had been married before and had kids?
Janine: Yes. He also had, yes. He also had a quarter century marriage and we each have a daughter in college. So very similar in that way. Remarkably, strangely similar, a lot
Jodi: A lot of similarities, as you say, a lot of alignment.
Janine: Yes. Yes. And so there were the practical similarities of similar socioeconomic levels, similar education levels, similar career attainment levels, similar approaches to both, achieving and engaging in the world and also deep inner work.
And that combination is very uncommon. We were very excited to see that in someone else. And that was very motivating.
Jodi: Your daughter had a front row seat literally right in the camper van, as this was all unfolding. What was she saying to you? And what were her observations about Kevin and about you as this romance was beginning from afar.
Janine: What a perceptive question. I so appreciate that. And it really is. The difference between her experience and her engagement with me and Kevin’s daughter’s experience and her engagement with him are really interesting contrasts and very much who they each are individually.
I would just try to go and have my experience on the phone alone. And every so often she would make some ride comment, “Gee Mom, you are really needing to get out and make a lot of phone calls.” And I’m like, yes, I am. (Laughter)
And at the same time I was getting, um, videos of him dancing with his daughter in the kitchen, having dance party. And then, she’s like waving to me and then sending it to me. It’s beautiful because there’s space for each of them to be who they are in their relationship with their parent. And he and his daughter are very close, enabled to share all of these things.
And my daughter and I are very close, but there’s an element of privacy around our dating lives that we don’t share that much. And so we talk about that a lot as well of, “I want this.” She’ll say “I want this part of my life to be private,” and I want her to be who she wants to be. So it was really sweet, but, I got tired of trying to find privacy and Safeway parking lots. (Laughter)
Jodi: You eventually took the calls in the camper van?
Janine: Eventually, but here’s the funny part of this story. My daughter and I were gone for three weeks. And on the second week that we were gone, Kevin said as I was telling him the adventures that we were having and all of them amazing experiences that we were having, he said, “Oh my gosh, this sounds like so much fun. I totally want to do this with you one day.”
And I said, “Okay, let’s do it now.” And he said, “Okay.” And so before we got off the phone, we made plans that he would rent a camper van for a month. And that a week after I returned home from my adventure with my daughter, he would drive up or we would get in the camper van and we would go away for a month. And I called it “The Fish or Cut Bait Tour.”
And we both agreed. We know each other ourselves really well. We feel like there is remarkable potential in this relationship and a lot of really unusual synchronicities in the paths of our lives and coming together with a person like this deserves devotion and attention and focus.
And so we knew we could get along for a month if it didn’t work out romantically, but we wanted to step into making a commitment to see, is there something really here? And we’re going to give it the time and the intention that it deserves to really figure it out.
So to me, “fish or cut bait” really means clarity about who I am, what my intentions are, how I want to move in the world and who I want to be with as I do that.
I don’t have any frustration or last straw experience around that phrase. But rather, how am I going to get to where I want to be and how can I do it efficiently, cleanly and with loving kindness?
Jodi: The answer to that question in this circumstance was, have Kevin rent a camper van and take a road trip together for a month! (Laughter)
So you did, but before we get to that, I’m curious…time had to transpire between that decision and he actually showing up with the camper van. What was going through your head during that time and through your body? Were you anxious? Excited?
Janine: Oh gosh, no, I wasn’t anxious. I was excited. But a really important practice for me is not to anticipate, but to rather to be in the present moment.
So I had happiness that that was going to happen in the future, but I was just really focused on being in my trip with my daughter. And so would reserve the times to be excited or talking about it when I was on the phone with Kevin, calling from the middle of the woods or the Safeway parking lot.
So I had also a lot of peace and a lot of curiosity of, “Oh, I wonder what’s going to happen?” But not anxiety. I think that I have such a sense of self. I knew that if things didn’t go well, that I would have the ability to get out of the situation.
I grew up in the south and we have this idea, um, that my mom shared with me, which is “Always have your mad money.”
So if you’re going on a date, you always want to be able to get out of the date on your own without relying on anyone else so that you call the shots. So when I was growing up, that meant, having money to get to a payphone and make the phone call to say, mom, come get me.
Jodi: You needed a dime at that time, maybe a quarter? (Laughter)
Jodi: Now we don’t even have pay phones. You can’t even do that! (Laughter)
Janine: So I had my metaphorical mad money, right? If we ended up at the edge of the Grand Canyon and we just couldn’t take it anymore, I knew I could get home and didn’t need any help doing that and had the ability to make that choice without rancor, without disappointment, without anything, but just clarity of like, “Oh, this isn’t working.” So I didn’t have any anxiety. I just had a lot of autonomy.
Jodi: You and your daughter conclude your road trip together. You get home. You probably unpack. Clean up a bit. The week passes. Take us through ….
Janine: No, the week does not pass, Jodi.
Jodi: It doesn’t pass? Okay.
Janine: No. (Laughter)
Jodi: A plot twist!
Janine: I get home on Wednesday. And we talked the night that I get home. The plan was that he was going to take us away for a romantic weekend. And after three days we would come back and then we would get in the car to go pick up the camper van.
But I did not want to wait for that time. I said, “I want you to drive up here now.” So the next morning he got in the car and he made the 10 hour drive.
Jodi: What happened when he arrived at your house?
Janine: Well, as he tells it, he was driving into the driveway and he had been pondering for a couple of hours what would happen when he got there. Would we hug, would we kiss? Would we be awkward or weird? And that was what was playing out in his mind as he was driving down the freeway.
I didn’t have any of that experience. I was having my full workday. I was working and could see the end of the driveway down the road. And when he pulled in, I just hopped up and got all excited and went running out the door in my bare feet and running down the driveway. And he pulled over the car halfway up the driveway and put it in Park and jumped out and we just started hugging and kissing. (Laughter)
Jodi: It’s straight out of a movie! I can see it right now. Wow! What a moment you two shared!
Janine: Yeah, it was really, yeah. From the first moment of our being together, physically and energetically, which is….I believe that the truest expression of our human existence is like how it feels to stand next to someone, the comfort, the excitement, the curiosity, the delight, the appreciation, the miraculous disbelief. It was all just in that moment. It was remarkable!
Jodi: What happened next?
Janine: Well, it was actually a time….we live in a part of the country, which is basically half of the country these days, where there were extensive fires. And so our plans for the romantic getaway moved from one location, a couple of hours away to us just being in my home.
And we spent the next three days just getting to know one another. Talking all night long, just sharing everything. And I think, maybe the most moving part of this experience for me was towards the end of the first evening…I have had the experience throughout my life of periodically hearing a very strong voice in my head.
And it almost always was a message for someone else. A pregnancy that was coming. A move to another country. A message about what they were thinking. And they rarely came for me. It was almost always around physical injury or an illness, very remarkable experiences, like telling someone they’re pregnant and they find out the next day that they’re pregnant.
And this voice that evening spoke to me repeatedly. And maybe your listeners can perceive, I live in my heart, but I also really live in my mind. And so being logical, being thoughtful, being critical in my analysis, being rational, are ways of living that are important to me and this voice kept coming and it just wasn’t very rational.
And so I just chalked the voice up to my yearning, or my hope, or my excitement and my amazement at this remarkable human.
And as I’m telling the story, I’m becoming emotional because I’m just remembering the enormity of this experience. Because when the voice spoke the fourth time, I felt like I couldn’t ignore the voice anymore.
And I said to him, “I’ve heard this message four times now and I can’t ignore it anymore. Will you marry me?”
Janine: Yeah. But that’s not the amazing part of the story. The amazing part is that he stood there and this look of mystery and amazement came over his face and he said, you don’t know, but the first decade of my life I spent teaching tens of thousands of people, how to listen to the voice of intuition in their minds and to live, responding to that voice.
And I’ve written multiple books about this. And because you’ve asked in this way, I say “Yes.”
Jodi: He said, “Yes.”
Janine: And that was a moment in time. What was truly incredible is the way that level of connection and clarity of intention and commitment to truly believing this is meant to be…how it transformed that next month of exploration and “fish or cut bait” into, no we’re together. This is how we do this together.
And so since that time, our relationship has just been remarkably easy, fruitful, delightful, amazing, collaborative, and just a real miracle.
Jodi: What an extraordinary story!
Janine: Yeah, the best part of it is that, uh, in a week it will be a year since we met. And since that time, that day 356 days ago, we’ve only been apart five days. And we have woven our own lives together. Our families’ lives together. Our extended communities lives together and now we are beginning to work together.
And so we actually were really embarrassed and shy and hesitant to share the story of our meeting and our first month together for many months, because we know it’s so over the top. It seems like the actions of people who don’t know themselves well, who respond to that “falling in love moment” and completely lose themselves in it.
And it was just the opposite. Psychologist speak of this time at the beginning of relationships, this intense bonding and the exclusion of other things it’s called “limerence.”
And it’s studied in relationships understood as this really serious bonding time, but also not a lot of logic or rationality to it. And the experience that we shared feels both deeply rational and profoundly miraculous.
Jodi: Have the two of you gotten married?
Janine: No, we have not done that. But we have asked one another to marry more than 500 times and every time one of us asks we pause and we reflect, and then we make the choice. And every time we have said, “Yes.”
Jodi: You are consistently then reaffirming your commitment to one another. By asking an answering that question repeatedly.
Janine: Yes, we consider ourselves life partners. We joke that we’re on the 40 year plan. (Laughter) We’ve made a solid and firm commitment that we will be together for 40 years.
And we are planning to marry, but we want the pieces of our lives that remain unsettled some business issues to fall into place. So that there’s clarity.
Maybe it was irrational in the beginning and rational in, in the subsequent month. But yeah, we’re committed and we’re partners, we’re life partners.
Jodi: How long would you say that your first date with Kevin lasted?
Janine: I find myself moved to tears that, you know, we bring, especially in this culture, like this set of stories and projections and hopes and dreams for the first date. All of what we hope for our romantic lives are just crushed on this one concept of the first date.
It’s a heavy load. And yet when I touch into, like the sense of possibility and the hope and the dreams and the belief of what can be made in many ways, that quality is still very present in our hour to hour existence together.
We many days hug many times and frequently say things like “You are my miracle,” or “Thank you for finding me” or “Thank you for not giving up” or “Thank you for believing,” because that’s what brought us together.
Jodi: That’s beautiful. And you were brought together during an extraordinarily challenging time for everyone in this country and around the world. A dark time.
Jodi: But such light came into your life.
Janine: You know, this is the reality of the human existence. That life can be beautiful and tragic and hopeful and crushing and amazing and painful all at the same time. I feel so grateful to have had the experience of deep connection, intimacy, partnership, wise, beautiful friendship, delight, and knowing at the same time that it is a period of deep struggle for many of isolation, for many of hopelessness, for many and of loss. And so being able to hold the light in my life and be present for the darkness is the path of being human.
Jodi: You stated that so fabulously and what you just said is true, in my opinion.
Janine: Yes. And this is the gift of being present to our feelings and our emotions and allowing them to express themselves. Any emotion that we experience will not last, whether it’s intense joy, a sense of connection, a sense of despair, a sense of sadness. If we allow that emotion, it will eventually transform into another experience.
Our lives as humans move from moment to moment. And so, being able to witness and hold the complexity of all of these emotions and experience at the same time is simply a path that allows us to be most human.
Jodi: Early in our conversation, you stated that you had come to the point where you’d embraced a future as an independent woman. Not long thereafter, you met a man who is now your life partner.
Continuing as that independent woman would have given you a very meaningful existence, no doubt. But Kevin came into your world and the two of you are now a strong partnership and loving partnership from everything that you have shared.
What practical advice do you have for the women listening to us who can relate to where you were with your journey before you met Kevin?
Janine: It’s hubris to believe that I have advice for a particular person, yet having said that, what I learned about myself may resonate for others, which is this. I am amazing! I am precious! I deserve to live the life that I wish for and that compromising what I want, need and can have, is only abandoning myself. And if I choose to abandon myself, how can I expect anyone else not to?
Jodi: Very sage advice. Thank you. Thank you Janine, for coming on the show to share your really remarkable tale of coming together with Kevin, as you did, getting engaged a few hours after the two of you met in person for the first time and then proceeding on together for almost a year to form the strong bonds and the loving partnership that the two of you are creating together.
Janine: Yes. Thank you for the opportunity for me to share this. I know the work that you do is helping so many and in times of loneliness or wistfulness, having a friend to help guide us really helps us turn towards the light. So thank you for your work.
Jodi: I’m really touched by that. Thank you. Thank you so much.