HAPPY HOLIDAYS! We hope that our Annual Patrick Family Holiday Letter finds everyone safe, happy, and prosperous this holiday season.
Wow, 2007 has been nothing short of adventurous here in the frenzied land of Kevin and Becky. On reflection of our past year, discovery seemed to be the theme of our adventures so we felt compelled to continue that theme throughout our annual letter. For us, discovery serves as the root of many emotions and changes in life. Such as the discovery of ones true love, the discovery of the loss of something or someone, the discovery of a piece of knowledge that can forever change your life, or the life of someone close to you. So instead of our usual ramblings about the many exciting events or the vacations we took this past year, as a special holiday gift from us to you we have decided to discuss topics a bit closer to our heart.
We were fortunate this year to experience many life changing discoveries both professionally and personally. In business, our greatest “ah-ha” moment occurred through truly discovering the entrepreneurial spirit, as well as, understanding the core of what business is all about. This led Kevin to joining a mastermind marketing group that has amazingly allowed him to become more focused in “working on the business” instead of in it day and night (thank goodness!).
However, our greatest and most impacting discoveries occurred in our personal life. Truly discovering the amount of work required to maintain a successful and healthy relationship was both exhilarating and frustrating for us over the past three years. Unfortunately for us (but I’m sure not surprisingly to most), the passion and excitement of achieving our career goals forced the focus on our relationship to take a back seat to our business. Shockingly to us both, we discovered that minor disagreements over trivial matters (such as Kevin leaving his not-so small shoes in the middle of the hallway for me to trip over on a daily basis, just for an example) can quickly erupt to a battleground of bitterness. So our greatest discovery this year was making a choice to find out why we were in this battleground, and how to stay away for at least another 50 years or so before the bitterness that has defeated many couples could begin to impact us too.
So this October, before Kevin knew what had hit him, we were both on a plane to Texas for a week to attend what we now affectionately refer to as “couple’s camp” (thanks Robin!). Yep, we were both determined to prove once and for all that the other was wrong, so Kevin went in with a laundry list of items to fix about me (I’m guessing his list was really very short!) and no doubt, I went in with an even longer list of items to fix about Kevin. Amazingly that was not the name of the game at couple’s camp, and apparently finger pointing is not a favorable way to resolve conflict (go figure!) However, what we discovered was that to fix troubles both in life and in marriage you really have to turn inward and face, forgive and fix your own problems (so at that point we both agreed to just blame everything on our parents! Only kidding, it’s not all their fault! ?), and that was the moment we realized that couple’s camp was actually going to be hard. So, needless to say…..about 5 minutes into camp, the instructor (who Kevin nicknamed Johnny Cash) immediately recognized that Kevin was going to be a handful (I’m sure many of you will find that difficult to believe!?), but soon after several “Dr. Phil like talking to’s” and one headlock later) “Johnny Cash” quickly had Kevin pouring out his feelings to a stranger who was the most inaudible, low-talker ever. (Poor Kev, I’ve never seen him look so uncomfortable, deer in headlights uncomfortable, but he lovingly managed to survive an entire week of what was probably the weirdest experience of his life.).
(quote from Kevin)….”As painful as this entire experience was for me, I feel 100% certain that Becky’s highlight of the year was to not only get a Patrick communicating effectively, but getting him to pay money to do it was nothing short of a miracle!”
Since attending couple’s camp, we’ve discovered that by using the mature tools we learned from “Johnny Cash”, the amount of disagreements we have has not actually declined; however, the difference is that we are now able to resolve conflict in a very peaceful and mature manner in only minutes rather than the days it would have previously taken. And since we’re no longer focused on trying to be the one who was “right”, thanks to a newly learned tool called “power listening”, we’ve learned to cherish our differences and to appreciate the perspectives of our different personality types. We’ve discovered that problems are nothing more than an opportunity for creativity. (How fascinating!) Because of this gift, Kevin and I have discovered an even deeper love and bond that allows us to faithfully believe that we are now better equipped to handle those difficult curves in the road that inevitably life will throw in the middle of the mostly straight and smooth path.
The lesson that is our gift to you is that judgment of others, reacting with anger or a cold turn of the shoulder is really our emotional response of someone’s action or behavior with your executive committee (the tiny voice in your head which is the sum of everyone that has influenced our perspective of the world). Wouldn’t the world be a better place if instead of getting mad at Kevin for his shoes, I went inward to understand what is triggering the emotion that typically would cause me to be mad at him about this? Maybe when I was a child my mother did not allow me to leave my shoes in the hallway for others to trip over (Barbara is perfect after all!). But does Kevin have to pay for this (after all just because my executive committee is telling me WRONG! WRONG! that doesn’t mean that Kevin doesn’t have a different perspective from his own executive committee)? Maybe by gaining a greater understanding of my emotional response to my executive committee, I can more acurately communicate this to Kevin allowing him to better understand me and provide him the opportunity to be a better husband. (P.S. If you already know this valuable nugget and didn’t tell us, Shame on You!?!) Though this is just one example, how do small events like this add up to affect your negative or positive view of the world? Negative reactions lead to negative views, while positive reactions lead to positive views. Think about this gift and find a way to implement it into your life, now, we promise you won’t regret it.
The journeys of our past year led us to discovering our choice to always, always, cultivate hope (even when I know deep down that I will never train Kevin to pick up his shoes, it just might not be possible for him, but then again there’s always hope ?!). Choosing hope means you keep trying, you keep working, and you keep discovering and experimenting. Choosing hope means you don’t give up or give in, it means a commitment of working hard to expand happiness together. It means you make thousand-mile journeys one step at a time, not knowing for sure if the ending destination will ever justify the monotonous means. It means you look for rare others who are models for success and allow their influence to impact your life for the better.
Our Holiday wish for you this season is to discover who is most important to you and to take action NOW to let them know it. So speaking of action, we would also like to thank everyone who has stood by us, supported us, and effortlessly worked to enrich our lives over the past few years. Your love and dedication mean everything. Thank you!
Happy Holidays & a very Happy New Year to you all!