“The most important thing in this world is to learn to give out love, and let it come in.” – Morrie Schwartz

Love is a strange and beautiful thing.

I always thought I knew what love meant. I grew up hearing the words all the time. It was on TV, in books and magazines, and people all around were saying it. I thought I knew how to love. I mean, I told my teddy bear that I loved him because he kept me safe at night. I told my sister that I loved her, only if she was nice to me and would play the games that I wanted.

But if I didn’t get that new limited edition beanie baby, I felt differently for my parents. If my friends at school didn’t give me the birthday presents I wanted, I felt differently for them.

I seemed to only love the people and things that would give me something in return and that would allow life to go on the way that I wanted it to.

I never truly felt love, a love that was unconditional and all encompassing, until I met the Monkey Husband.

Everyone always tells me that Neil is the happiest man they have ever met. He greets everyone with open arms, with a smile so big you can practically count all of his teeth.

A few weeks ago I walked into Neil’s office and he looked sullen, the smile usually spread across his face missing. He looked into my eyes and just collapsed into my arms, clearly distraught. I could feel his sadness before I even heard the tears, from the way he put his entire body weight on me as if he needed help just standing, and the way he gripped me so tight like a child does with her mom on the first day of school.

We were rejected occupancy from the city of Regina pending further construction. We were left with contact numbers with no answering machines and a lot of unknown. Throughout our entire relationship Neil has always told me that his number one purpose in life was to give us the life of our dreams. And in his eyes, at that moment, he had failed.

You see, Neil is a very successful, hard working entrepreneur. As business owners we have the ultimate freedom void of schedules and commitments outside of free will.

After resigning from the Regina Fire Department Neil dove head first into the business with an unwavering vengeance. Entrepreneur life isn’t all that it is eluded to be. Yes, freedom rings, but so does the challenge of managing a new way of making money to support our family.

But somehow, we did it. We have built up our brand with pride. We have full consulting rosters and wiating lists for our group training classes. We have honest, hardworking UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE staff. And in the midst of all that, we found a way to open an almost 8000st/ft facility.

It didn’t come easy though.

We accomplished all of this, even if it meant opening up our home. Even if it meant forgoing our social life. Even if it meant working all day and night and surviving on only two hours of sleep. Even if it meant tears and days where we all we wanted to do was curl into a ball and cry.

There is never a day that goes by where my husband doesn’t tell me “I love you” before going to bed. It’s with this unconditional love that keeps him going strong, and that keeps him smiling every day no matter how tough things can be.

I was blind to this until that day I saw Neil at his most vulnerable point. Looking at him, bent over in my arms like a child, I realized that unconditional love does not come easy; it is something learned and practiced.

It is through the toughest times, the happiest times, and overcoming obstacles in life that you discover new ways of loving.

I did that day as I held the Monkey Husband, my hero, in my arms. I discovered just how to finally let the love come in that my husband had been giving me for many years, and not question or find a reason for it.

My husband has taught me that to love unconditionally is to love with absolutely no boundaries. Even when it hurts, his love is never failing; it stays limitless, never changing.

There are times in our lives when loving someone else seems nearly impossible because of the difficult situations that we find ourselves in. There are times when we say harsh things to people we love just because things aren’t going our way, or because they made us unhappy.

In these situations, we find ourselves putting provisions on love. We attach it to how others are acting, and whether they reciprocate the feelings we give to them. We attach it to the circumstances and emotions that go on in a single moment.

We find ourselves holding back, fearful of being hurt, afraid to sacrifice a piece of ourselves. But what if we looked beyond all this and just loved?

Love because you’re grateful for the things someone has done for you. Love because someone needs you, needs a friend to lean on during their struggles. Love even when it is difficult, even when your mind tells you that you shouldn’t.

Love by looking beyond people’s faults, struggles, and whatever pain and hardships that life may bring.

This unconditional love is something that can so easily be given if we recognize it, and that can change someone else’s life completely.

When we love and treat each other with the utmost care and attention, the little things that bother us seem far less overwhelming.

What would the world be like if we stopped looking to get something in return, and just loved unconditionally, for the happiness and inner peace it brings us all? Sunshine, bunnies and rainbows – that is what it would look like.

With love from the Trench kitchen,