Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chuck and Denise: We Clicked from the Beginning

September 29, 2014. That's when this whole Chuck and Denise thing started. Chuck took notice when I posted this cartoon on a Facebook page for older single adults to which we both belonged. 

My accompanying comment was something like, "And this, folks, is the reason why I am willing to give online dating and long-distance relationships a chance." 

The comic generated a little conversation among the regulars of the bunch, but I noticed a comment from someone I'd never noticed before. Who was this Chuck Bennorth? He must have been new because I'd never seen him online before.  He wanted to know how the long-distance relationship thing was working for me. We took our conversation to a private chat.

I nearly blew it by mentioning I finally had a third date to look forward to...a first for me. He assumed it was serious, but I was just excited to be having a third date.

HE nearly blew it by posting a joke on his Facebook page about smoking:

"This electronic cigarette is a waste of money. It melts every time I light it."

He was a smoker? I kept stalking checking out his profile. He didn't LOOK like a smoker. (Don't ask. I have no idea what a smoker LOOKS like either. I just know that I don't like the smell of cigarette smoke.) I loved his profile picture, but couldn't really see his face, so I looked further, and found pictures of a very handsome man with silver hair and a warm smile. Yes, I was impressed.

Love his boyish charm.
So handsome in a suit.

We started chatting on Facebook about photography, dating, and our kids. I will be the first to admit that I was intrigued by his profile picture. Immediately, I could tell he was handsome, creative, and a photographer. What I learned in a very short time is how compassionate and gentle he is. Then I searched his profile page, and the first thing I noticed were the interactions he had with his friends and family. Everyone was so warm and kind. There was friendly banter and good-natured teasing. And I finally asked directly about the smoking. Big sigh of relief. He doesn't smoke, or drink, even.  

Within a couple of days of meeting Chuck online, I dropped out of the online dating world. I cancelled my date for the weekend. Both of us left the singles group on Facebook. I just knew that I needed to trust my instincts with this one. He was a keeper, and I didn't want to take a chance of losing him.       

Every possible opportunity, Chuck and I were chatting, texting, and Skyping. The first weekend available to us, we Skyped nearly every waking moment. When we weren't Skyping, we were talking on the cell phone while we took our cameras for walks in our respective neighborhoods. While I baked cookies for Bridger's homecoming group, Chuck cleaned out his closet. We wrote poetry together, and for each other. We talked late into the night, and resumed our Skyping session early the next morning. 

Honestly, I knew he was the man I had dreamed of ever since I was a little girl. He wants to love, honor, and protect me, but he's not stuffy about it, and he makes me laugh. I mean, he makes me throw my head back and laugh, and I get to be who I am without apology or excuse. Chuck was willing to invest his time, resources, and energy in getting to know me. For once in my life, I got it right. No more unrequited love. No more trying to prove I'm worthy of someone's attention. We both believe we have found our lifelong dreams come true in each other. 
Chuck says when I canceled that third date, and posted this little camera with the word "SMILE" on his Facebook page, he knew I was really interested in him. He says he had been flirting and trying to get my attention from the beginning. He told me he'd been looking for me all of his life. (Well, not the first year. He says he was busy eating and sleeping then, but after that...) 

This is the first time I have ever felt like I was loved as much as I was loving. It is an amazing feeling to be desired, cherished, and loved, just as I am. No matter what, we know our hearts are home, and we have found our soft spots to land when the life gets tough. 

This summer, my friend Tonia bought this bumper sticker for me: "Everything in your life has led to this moment." I can see how true that phrase is now. I had certain lessons I had to learn, certain tasks I had to do, and certain people I had to meet. Every heartache, every tear, every trial has all been worth it, and I would endure everything again, if I could be assured my journey would bring me to this place in time with this wonderful man. 

As I approach the winter of 2014, it is with a happy heart and a smile on my face. Winter has never looked so inviting and warm. The future is full of promise and love. I couldn't be happier.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Double Nickel's Worth of Facts about Chuck

This blog post features a guest blogger, my fian├že. Many of you have been curious about this man who has won my heart. I present to you, my best friend and future husband, in his own words, on the celebration of his 55th birthday.

A Double Nickel's Worth 

of Facts about Chuck

written by Chuck, October 2014 

Photo by Denise

1.  I live in the town I was born in. I was born in Delnor Hospital in Saint Charles, Illinois. I was raised out east in Wheaton, 20 minutes from here, spent time in the south in Warrenville, 15 minutes from here, and now have been back in St. Charles for the past 24 years. 

2.  I have had only two fields of work, if you don't count cutting grass. I worked in tennis in high school and college and in I.T. (information technology) since then. 
3.  I was raised in a family of three sons and have a family of three sons. Never spent any time in the Barbie aisle. 
The Bennorth Boys: Matt, Chris, and Zack

4. I had hoped to become a professional tennis player, then a tennis instructor. I was never even close on the player side, though I was the head instructor for the park district for 2 summers. 

Note from Denise: I would have had the biggest crush on the boy on the far left when I was 16 in 1977.

5. I don't acquire a taste for any special food. If I don't like it, it stays that way, even if I have never tried it. 
6. I thoroughly enjoy photography. It is a hobby that became a passion that I started about 14 years ago, near as I can figure. 
Chuck in the Great Smoky Mountains

7. I have been to the local Renaissance Faire at least once a summer for the past 17 years. And many more times than that in the past few summers, as my photography desires grew. 
Photo by Chuck

8. I really enjoy instrumental music, especially classical music. Songs that i know the words for that are played with no singing do not count as instrumentals. 
9. I enjoy watching movies. Particularly good dramas that can really draw me in or witty comedies. Dumb and Dumber does not qualify as a witty comedy. 
10. I am a big reader and have been since my pre-teens. Many times I will have two books going on at once. 
11. I am not a goal-oriented person. There are not things that I set out to accomplish in life, but I enjoy seeing where each new day will take me. 
12. While I don't set goals, I very much look forward to things that are coming up. Plans and events are fun for me. 
13. I enjoy exercise and physical activity, but prefer it to come as part of something else. Pick up games, walks with the camera, hiking, etc. 
14. I am very competitive. It is always fun to try to do better than myself or another. 
15. I like making a game out of many things. Taking out the recycle plastic bottles, boring; seeing if I can toss them into the recycle bin from across the garage, much more fun. (See item 14)
16. Sudoku on my iPhone is not as much fun anymore because they have a timer on it. Because of item 14, I can't just enjoy completing the game, I have to complete it quickly according to the timer. 
17. I see the world in mental pictures due to my passion of photography. I often will look at something, and think about how it would look as a photo. 
Photo by Chuck
18. I love to laugh and make others laugh. 
19. Love is not a word that I apply to many things. I don't love a car, or pizza, or dessert. I save that word for those very special to me, or to a few select other things in life. See item 18
20. I am attracted to poetry where the poet is writing of things personal in their life. I like the depth of emotion and openness that can be found there. 
21. When I write poetry, it is nearly always as a form of self-expression, a way of expressing my feelings or emotions. 
22. I adapt quickly to new situations. Once I find the new parameters, I accept them as my new reality. My job has a 90 mile round trip commute each day. Once I started that job, the commute was just part of my new life, not a frustration or bother. 
23. I am a man of routines. I settle into routines of things in my life, and am pretty good with most of them day after day. Though I do look forward to breaks like weekends and vacations. 
24. I usually wear size extra-large shirts and sweatshirts. I could be close to large, but like the extra shoulder and arm room. 
25. I am a thinker about things. I do not do much by impulse, but think things over and analyze them before doing them, especially in purchases. 
26. I don't like attention drawn to myself, but do like to be recognized for things I have done. The battle of my shyness versus my desire to be respected. 
27. My middle brother and I are very different inside but similar enough outside that my mom even confused us at my son's wedding. 
28. I love being a dad. That special, unconditional love relationship with my sons is very special to me. 
29. Chris and I share time very athletically. He is the one person I don't mind losing to, though I have never let him beat me. Any time he does, and there are many times, he has earned it. 
30. I enjoy the simple things of life. I don't need the latest, fanciest, newest. I don't keep up with the latest shows, movies, etc. 
31. I am not much of a TV watcher. There are a few shows that I have watched on Netflix, but my TV, for the most part, remains off, and I am content with that. 
32. There is a soft side to me. Seeing people hurt or seeing people caring for others and giving of themselves for others is very tender for me. 
33. I throw myself into things I want to accomplish. Once it is on my mental list, I work hard at completing it. 
34. Matt and I connect intellectually. Discussions of movies, life and things are what he and I do best. He is the most like me in the area of responsibility and making the right choice. 
35. Zack and I have the silliest fun of the three. Little fun games can keep us entertained and provide fun as we are together. 
36. I get headaches at times. I have found that taking a migraine formula Excedrin, and resting on the couch will relax it. And it is a good time for me to relax, and write about 55 facts about me. 
37. I was divorced 15 plus years ago. I assumed then that I would marry again soon, but just never did. It took me all these years to find the one that I am meant to be with. Thank you, Denise, for choosing me, and for saying yes. 
Mingo Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, October 24, 2014
Photo by some unknown tourist. We thank you.

38. I use very little caffeine. On a bad day at work, I will have the energy boost of a few M&Ms, but generally if I am tired, I will just take a quick power nap 
39. I can read books and watch movies over and over. If I like the characters, I can go back again to revisit them. 
40. I do enjoy sports and watching them. I just don't set aside the time to do that. I would rather be doing other things. I follow some pro teams but rarely college, because I can keep track of the athletes in the pros. The college teams change too much year after year. 
41. I am not a perfectionist. I work in terms of better and improvement, rather than perfection. 
42. I have learned that I enjoy travel and photography. I really enjoy seeing the beauty of nature and settings from around the country.  
Great Smoky Mountains, October 2014 (Photo by Chuck)

43. I like to relate to places and things. I find things, places, etc. that I am comfortable with and enjoy and then am willing to include in my world. The Smoky Mountains and San Diego are two such places. 
44. I enjoy deep and meaningful conversations, getting to really know someone. That is one thing that I really appreciate about Denise, her openness to talk with me about everything. 
45. I became a Christian in my early twenties. Understanding God's desire to be personal and real in my life was amazing and I wanted that. 
46. When it comes to home and garden, I don't have a vision to what could be relative to changes and improvements. I see and try to keep up with things, but don't often see where something could be. 
47. Blue is my favorite color. All different shades of it. 
48. I like American, Italian and Mexican food the most. My favorite restaurant is Front Street Cocina. I get the ground beef chimichanga nearly every time. I like many other dishes as well, but I go with the favorites. 
49. I eat 5 smaller meals each day, spreading the food out instead of three larger ones. Part of this is spending out the carbs due to type 2 diabetes. 
50. I snack too much when at work at my desk. It is situation and location basses snacking. If I am working from home or not working, I snack much much less. 
51. While I am 55 on the outside, I still feel like I am a young adult on the inside. This can cause problems athletically, when my inside age calls on my outside body to do something. 
52. I am learning to slow down and enjoy the simple, do little or nothing moments, to appreciate the beauty around me and the warmth of the sun. 
53. Little things can be very special to me, the special things that are part of a relationship or celebration. Denise and I share many of those. She is the other half of me. 
Photo of Denise by Chuck

I had a 54 in mind when I was typing 53. I wonder what it was. 
54. Being respected is very important to me. In my work, photography, opinions, writing, life. I want to live worthy of other's respect. 
55. I am humbled and amazed at the way others care for me, think of me, encourage me. They see things in me that I don't. The kindness that is shown me by others touches me very deeply.

Did you know Chuck has a blog of his own? Check it out HERE!

If you're wondering how I met this wonderful specimen of a man, you can read about how "We Clicked from the Beginning."

Ten of my favorite Randomocity blog posts featuring Chuck can be found below:

With This Ring, I Thee Wed

The Bachelor Takes a Wife

Good Morning, Beautiful

Country Mouse, City Mouse

He Calls Me Little Mouse

My Brave Little Toaster

I Fell in Love with His Words

Sworn to Secrecy

What Rhymes with 'Olonoscopy?

The Male Version of Myself

Thursday, November 6, 2014

As We Approach Our Big Day

Counting sleeps, we measure the time,
the incredibly slow ticking of the clock,
and turning of the calendar until
we are together again.
Until my birthday,
until a holiday,
until a weekend,
until Christmas Eve,
until our wedding.
They are all special events
leading to the moment 
we begin our life
as husband and wife.

The big day is big, 
but only because it is the day
we officially become one.

How grateful I am that
the small details seem 
to be taking care of themselves.
I never want to lose sight
of what is most important.
It's not the rings, not the dress,
not the suit, not the tie,
not the minister, not the venue.
It is you. It is I. It is us.

Our marriage is the most important
promise we will make.
We are committing
our devotion, our faithfulness,
our time, our bodies, 
our resources, our hearts,
our respect, and our love
to each other

It has never been about the wedding.
It will always be about the sacred bond
between us.
I never want to forget
that your happiness is my priority,
and your love is my greatest blessing.

As we approach our big day,
I pray for peace of mind,
that I will remember that it is not WHAT 
is most important, but WHO.
It's never the things, the events, the details.
It is always the people who are the heart
of the special times.

I'm so glad that you are mine, 
and I am yours.
That is where I want to center my thoughts
and focus on the beginning of our forever.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Was There Time Before Us?


Before there was us...
Was there ever a time before we were one?
If so, my heart doesn't want to remember it.
Forever started the day you came into my life,
quietly and unobtrusively. 
All of a sudden you were there,
and just noticing your presence made me smile.

I don't want daylight to end
because sleep seems like such 
a wasteful way to spend time since you appeared.
I don't want to miss a moment 
with you in it, and I fight sleep 
until it overtakes me, and the last thing
I remember when I wake up
is hearing your soft voice as 
my eyelids fluttered over my eyes,
and finally shut out the light.

Now that there is an us,
we measure time in sleeps 
until we are together again,
and we measure time not at all 
when our hearts and bodies come together,
for counting minutes then seems 
to make time fly too quickly.

If only time could stand still when we are one,
and speed up in its flight when we are apart.
If only...

To wish for anything more than what we have
is an exercise in futility.
So tonight, I am grateful for 
your love, your devotion, and the promise
of a future together with you.