I love a good love story, so I decided to share the improbable story of how I met my true companion a bit later in life. (Even though we’d met as kids when my search for baklava in a town we’d both just moved to landed me in his dad’s bakery!)
I get candid about my own struggles to find harmony in the realm of romance, in spite of most things in my life going pretty well.
I also talk about the dance of how how I made what I thought was an impossible list of characteristics I was looking for in a companion and vowed not to date anyone who didn’t meet them ALL, how my partner and I got to know each other when we were both a bit “gun-shy”, and a mystical moment when I first started to believe we could have something truly special together!
I also share three of the qualities that I believe comprise a great relationship, and what makes this one so different (and fulfilling) for me.
Thanks for listening to my stories, and please feel free to share yours with me—I’d love to hear what you’re dreaming of in love or a tale of how you met YOUR sweetie! Contact me at email@example.com or over on the ‘gram @kentuckycarla
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
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welcome to the what dreamers do podcast. i’m your host carla govan and appalachian musician flatfoot dancer, mama creative and dreamer from kentucky. i’m on a mission to inspire others to realize their dreams and live their most creative lives. grab your mason jar full of sweet tea or something a little stronger, and pull up a chair, because it’s time to get your dream off.
that’s what dreamers do. well, hello there dreamers. thank you for stopping in today and spending some time with me. this is my special episode in honor of valentine’s day, although i believe it is timely to talk about love the year around. but i’m going to talk about my own love story. because i haven’t always been so lucky in love. i’ve struggled a lot. and in recent years, things have gone a lot better for me in that department. and i think it’s helpful to share these stories with each other. and i’ll tell you more about that. but i’m going to start off with a quote by one of my all time favorite authors, tom robbins. i love tom robbins. he’s whimsical, he’s funny, he’s sexy, he’s insightful, he’s spiritual. and i found out when i read his autobiography recently that even though he lived, has lived on the west coast for a long time. he’s originally from deep in appalachia in north carolina. so maybe that’s part of why i found such commonality with him. but i love his books. i love every single one of them. i’ve read them all multiple times. and this is a quotation from jitterbug perfume, which you should run not walk if you haven’t read it. but it’s about valentine’s day. and he says, the only bubble in the flat champagne of february is valentine’s day. it was no accident that our ancestors panned valentine’s day on february shirt, he or she lucky enough to have a lover in frigid antsy february has caused for celebration indeed. so you may or may not be partnered up this valentine’s day. and either way, it’s okay. but one of the reasons i want to share this is because it’s sort of the story of how i really didn’t find the kind of love and the kind of relationship that i was looking for until i gave up. and i guess that’s maybe part of what they talk about what the experts in the gurus talk about when they say, you know, if you have an intention or desire or wish, something you want to manifest, you have to let it go. and it took me a long time to let it go. so backstory is i think i’ve always longed for a really connected partnership that had a wonderful friendship. and i think my grandparents even more, my parents were really kind of a touchstone for me seeing their relationship and the way they interacted. it was very spiritual, they worked in the garden, they played music, they laughed a lot. that’s one thing, they just they, they tickled each other all the time. not literally tickled. but that’s how we say it in eastern kentucky if you if you make somebody laugh, you know, you say i got tickled her, she tickled me today. so they had a really playful, humorous relationship. and it’s something i’ve always desired. and i know, you know, some people, it’s not as important to them, they can focus on career and other things. but for me, creating this really beautiful partnership is something that i’ve always really wanted. and although i found elements and aspects of it with different relationships i was in a really harmonious situation always kind of eluded me. and i’m not going into the flaws of, of anybody that i have ever been with, because i have plenty of faults on my own. and so this isn’t about pointing fingers. but just to say that, you know, i just i was never able to actualize what i had, in my mind what i had in my heart, this vision for relationship. and in fact, it was after i had gotten divorced, that i feel like i planted a lot of seeds for the current relationship that i’m in so i had gone through some really tough times if you’ve ever been divorced alone, i mean, just emotionally wrenching times those kinds of times when you’re crying and it’s the middle of the night and you’re in the bathroom, and just hoping for some kind of relief or redemption. it’s kind of a descent in the underworld, into the underworld sometimes when you go through a breakup, so that’s where i was, i went through some really hard times. and i tried to date some after that i went you know, i expect admitted with a different relationships and nothing was working out. and i finally got to this place where i was like, you know what? i am a really joyful person with a lot of energy. and i don’t have time to mess around.
so i give up, i give up.
if i never find that kind of partnership that i’ve been dreaming of, that i’ve held in my heart. it’s okay, i’m okay. i have friends, i have family, i’m going to be fine. and in fact, what i did is i sat down, and i made this list. i listed off all these really super specific nitpicky qualities and traits that i was looking for in somebody that i was with and it was this whole list. so just in the spirit of fun and transparency, i will share a little bit this list with you must be a world class communicator speaks words of kindness, love and appreciation communicates with supportive ness and diplomacy. even when upset, inspires me musically and plays music is happy and content, doing things solo and together, is familiar with spiritual principles is someone that i can perform with dance music, more likes to dance has all the major bases covered in terms of actualization, finances, career emotional intelligence, talent, kindness, friendship, health, fitness, human humanitarian worker for peace and justice, deep path, a spiritual seeking, introspective, aware, secure and self not threatened by my other relationships and interests, has his own successes and is glad about mine to genuinely enjoys my friends and powerful women in general, gracefully inhabits his body, excellent sense of humor, quirky, and playful and irreverent. it goes on and on. i made a really detailed list, you guys, it was fun to make. and while i was making it, i was just kind of laughing because like, this is ridiculous, this kind of person doesn’t exist. this is probably just fantasyland. but what i told myself is if i meet somebody, and they don’t possess all these qualities, not even going to give them the time of day, i’m not going to go out with them. nothing like that. oh, and the other one on there was must speak spanish. so anyway, i made my list, went about my business, doing all the things i do dancing and singing and raising my vegetables in my garden. and one of the things that i was reflecting on is something that my spiritual teacher told me a story that he told me a long time ago, over 20 years ago, and he’s somebody else who has a really beautiful relationship, a beautiful marriage, that probably instigated or planted the seeds of some of my couple goals, because the way they communicated, and the kindness and support that they showed each other always really inspired me to want to create something like that. anyway, a long time ago, he told me a story that was meant to be a metaphor about the things that we learn in our families of origin are the things that we learn when we’re small. and he told the story about learning a recipe that was passed down in your family. and it was a recipe for a cake. and so imagine that you have this recipe, and you’re baking a cake, and you bake it according to the recipe, and it falls flat. before you get out of the oven and you get out of the oven. and it it’s not just flat, it tastes bad. so you decide that the next cake you make is going to be much better. and you’re going to do everything right this time. so you you line up your ingredients, you get your recipe out, and you follow it to the letter you exactly like level off the teaspoons. and make sure that you use room temperature butter. if it says room temperature butter and you only put two small eggs and not too large eggs, you follow the recipe to the tee, and then your cake falls again. and you get it out of the oven and it tastes bad again. and no matter how many times you try to make that recipe again, following it to a tee.
it false and it tastes bad. and he said that’s kind of how we approach relationships or things that we try to create not just relationships, but maybe things in our career or actualizing our artistic dreams or relationships with friends or our children that we follow those recipes we’ve been given. and they turn out not like we wanted and then we keep them following the same recipe, and he said, sometimes you just have to go find a new recipe. so, sometimes friends, i’m here to tell you that is easier said than done. and you think you’ve started with a new recipe, and you go into it. and then here you go, your cakes falling again. and you realize, dang it, i reverted to the original recipe. so i guess in a way, you could say that me making that list me giving up and me deciding that if i couldn’t find somebody that i could share that set of qualities and characteristics and experiences with that i was perfectly happy being alone was my way of finding that new recipe. so i have my list. i’m doing the things i love. i’m working on the projects, like i mentioned to you. and i started working on a project i reached out to this band that i had seen called appalachian, that was playing a mix of appalachian and latin american music. and since one of my dreams since i was a teenager had been to create a theatrical show that was bilingual, that had music and dance, and storytelling from appalachia and from different latin american cultures, i thought they would be a great place to start. and as it turns out, one of the members of that band, yaniv, asos, had gone to school at the same school i went to for a while we had briefly crossed paths. i had met him briefly also, when we were kids in his dad’s bakery, and i went in there looking for some ballclub ah, and we just decided that we were going to get together, i went, i went to a couple rehearsals with the band. and everybody was really friendly. i loved them all of what they were doing, and we did decide to collaborate. and we started to work on this event called cornbread and tortillas. and this was eventually wound up being a full on theatrical show. but during the process of that i had occasion to hang out with jani. and so we got together for a couple of brainstorming sessions, idea development sessions with other members of the band. and then at some point, we just started getting together, here and there on our own just the two of us, but it wasn’t like dating. it was. we were hanging out, we were cooking, we were talking about music, we were playing music, we’re having awesome conversations, and getting to know each other in a really relaxed and really deep way. and building this really beautiful friendship. i really appreciated his friendship. now, of course, i do have eyes, and i had noticed that he was pretty cute. he was a nice looking guy. and i had of course, notice that he was really awesome and friendly and sweet. but we were both gun shy. you know, we had both been through a lot in our relationship lives. and i think we were just content to get to know each other. but one of the first times that i started to realize that something was really up was because of how you know the universe sends you those signs. i at least believe that not everybody believes that i i realized but i believe that the divine is always in conversation with us. whether it’s through the birds or through our dreams or through something a stranger says to us or through a book we mysteriously find in a thrift shop. as i record this episode, i have to tell you, there is a male redbirds sitting in a cedar tree outside my house in the backyard. and that speaking to me, i feel like he’s here to say yes, this is a good episode for you to be recording. so anyway, the scenario is i have this conference in louisville, where yanni lives that i’m going to be going to and we make arrangements to get together go for a walk or play a little music, still kind of in that window leading up to corn, bread and tortillas. and on the way out of town for the conference. i live in lexington, i stopped by a friend’s house. and i was chatting to her. and she knew i’d been hanging out with this guy and you know how girlfriends do just like so do you have a crush on him? and i was like, well, yeah, kind of. yeah, i mean, he’s really awesome, but i’m just taking it slow and, and i use this metaphor with her. i said, you know, i just feel like
i’ve been in relationships that were more like twinkies or cheetos. you know, they kind of taste good at the time, but then you just feel sort of bad afterwards. and i’m tired of junk food. i’m ready for health food. i don’t want twinkies. i want some brown rice and lentils in my life. and we had a chuckle you know, she knew what i meant. she knew what i was saying. and i left him and i went to louisville and i showed up at johnny’s house and knocked on his door and and i could smell food cooking just as soon as he opened the door, and he had me come in. and he said, hey, you know, i just cook some rice and lentils, some brown rice and lentils, if you want to have some supper, before we go for a walk. that was like, i couldn’t tell him, you know, i couldn’t tell him about this conversation i just had, we weren’t disclosing that level of detail to each other. but i was like, whoa. so that definitely seemed like a sign to me. and we kept hanging out, and it kept being really good. and, by golly, if he didn’t check off all those little boxes in that list, it was really beautiful. and by about the winter solstice, that’s when we really started dating, and we’ve been together for six years now. and it really has been one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences of my life to have this kind of relationship that i’ve always dreamed of which is very supportive, where we inspire each other where we grow together, and where the fundamental tone is just kindness and acceptance, and ease and peace and gratitude and grace. it’s really beautiful. so maybe some of you already know what i’m talking about, if you don’t, if you’ve had a hard time like i did, because i didn’t find this until after 40. maybe it’ll give you some hope. and no one thing that really did give me hope, during all the years i struggled is that i’ve always written custom songs on commission for people or not always. but starting in my 30s, i started doing that on a really regular basis. and it was at a time in my life when i was going through a lot of personal, you know, relationship difficulties. and just hearing the stories of people who loved each other enough to have songs commissioned for each other. hearing all these stories of love and devotion, and laughter and shared adventure. it really kept me going. and i had to write the songs about it. i wrote these so many love songs for people, which in retrospect, i feel kind of were like my spills. i think songs can be kind of like spills. because you know, you’re putting emotion into it and you’re saying certain words, you’re putting words together in an artful way. and then if you perform the song, you’re singing it over and over, which is another part of spills, i guess, based on my research from fairy tales, and movies about magic. anyway, i hope that you found some inspiration in that story. and i’m always happy to hear from you. so if you want to tell me share with me a story of how you met your partner, or if you want to share with me what you’re dreaming of your ideal relationship and have some girl talk. i’m here for that. i’m all yours. and i think i would like to leave you with three of the things that i think have characterized and that maybe also i have deliberately cultivated or that we have deliberately cultivated in our relationship that make it so beautiful. and you can tell me if you agree with these or not, because what i realized, and i’m gonna get real elo here, electric light orchestra. i love that band so much, but they have a song called it’s a living thing. and i really feel like love is almost like a living creature, especially the way it dwells between ourself in the beloved. it’s like a third party that’s there, like a witness. if you don’t know what i mean, go read some rumi poetry because he says it better than i can. but anyway, i’m going to speak to three things that i think comprise the relationship that i have currently with yanni that make it so beautiful, and fulfilling. so i’d say one of them is humility. and full transparency here guys, this has not always come easy for me, because i was always an overachiever, i always tried to excel academically and musically and, you know, sometimes.
it’s embarrassing to admit this. but there have been times when i’ve been kind of fool of myself, especially as a kid, you know, i was on academic team, and i really prided myself on being right. and for the first time in my life, i don’t really care. in this relationship, i don’t care about being right. i don’t care about having the last word i care more about keeping my heart connected to the heart of this other person, way more. i care about that way more than i care about being right, or having the last word or having the final say, or making my point be dominant. i could care less about any of that stuff. so i do believe that age also brings us a certain amount of humility. we no longer have the cocky self confidence of youth and life teaches us that, you know, we might not always know as much as we think. but there’s just something about the context of how this relationship has unfolded that has enabled me to connect with the quality of humility in a beautiful way. and, and to also deliberately try to cultivate it. because i believe it’s really helpful in feeling empathy for the path and the struggles, and the hopes and dreams and disappointments of another person that you witness when you’re in a deep intimate relationship. so humility. another one, i would say is courage. and it takes a special kind of courage, i think, to make yourself emotionally vulnerable. and sometimes i think i would fall into this category, people will have worldly courage, they would go hang gliding or scuba dive, or, you know, embark on a new bold adventure, or get on stage in front of 1000s of people. but then when it comes to revealing themselves, revealing their heart revealing their hopes, revealing their struggles, revealing their pain and their shame, and all the parts that we usually try to keep hidden and pretend like aren’t there. it’s a different story. so for me, learning to have the courage to allow myself to be really seen, has been, it’s been a revelation, it has been terrifying. and i have relied on several of my girlfriends to talk me down. and i’m freaking out, you know who you are, shout out. it’s not always easy to reveal yourself. but it allows the possibility of really being loved. because if you don’t show somebody fully who you are, those shadow parts of ourselves are, are important parts of us. and we can’t truly be known without revealing them. and if we’re not truly known, then we’re not truly loved. and so if you don’t reveal your whole self, and in a responsible way, i don’t mean just like, spew your darkness all over your partner, because they’re there. i mean, in a deliberate and conscious and intentional way. share your vulnerabilities. if you don’t do that, then it’s on you that you’d never really get to feel known and never really get to feel seen. so that’s been a revelation. and especially in the arena of for both of us, i think of sharing, like when we’re feeling insecure, when we’re feeling threatened, when some sort of
insecurity comes up for us, that’s almost for me, it’s almost embarrassing to admit, because a lot of times, most of the time, it doesn’t have any relationship whatsoever to reality. it could be some, you know, i saw some other woman that he’s chatting with at a party and i felt threatened and it was completely just me, and to admit it, you know, to say, okay, you know, i just, i felt kind of jealous, i was afraid that maybe you were interested in somebody else, or whatever. that’s just an example. i don’t know that that’s ever actually exactly happened. but just my point is being willing to admit these things that almost are embarrassingly juvenile when they come up, especially as full grown adults having a relationship. it’s scary, but it’s worth it. because i’ll tell you what, when you admit it, a lot of times, we wind up laughing about that stuff when we tell it to each other. but if you hold it inside, it gets bigger and it grows. and then it actually becomes a thing when it was not really a thing at all. so courage is important. and finally, i’m just gonna say these two words, appreciation and kindness. i know that’s two things. it’s not technically one, but to me, there’s sort of two sides of the same coin, regularly expressing what we appreciate about each other. we love each other little notes. we tell each other and that might sound sappy, but it’s so refreshing. it’s so healing. i never get tired of it. and i don’t think he ever gets tired of it. either. we talk about it. it’s like rocket fuel. just knowing that there’s somebody that not only has your back, but they’re cheering for you. they’re celebrating you, they’re appreciating you. they’re speaking words of kindness, they’re bringing you a cup of tea, because tea is my love language when you’re having a rough day, or just lightly resting their hand on your knee. and patting you because they can tell you’re tense about something. appreciation and kindness goes so far. and i know that’s a no brainer that should go without saying. but that has not always been brothers and sisters, the landscape of the relationships that i’ve been especially the partnerships, some of the partnerships that i’ve tried to be in so, so thank you for being here with me and letting me talk about love and letting me be vulnerable and share with you. one of the reasons i started this podcast was to make more and deeper connections with people who maybe know me first because of my music or my dancing. and it’s not always easy for me because i come from a background that’s a lot more reticent, a lot more. we’re not going to talk about our innermost emotional things out loud. and here i am doing it for for the purpose of broadcasting to all incendiary anybody little listen. but i want to be that person, i want to be expressive. i want to be loving, i want to share my love with the world. i want to express and speak words of appreciation, not just in my romantic partnership, but to my children, to my friends to random people i meet on the street who are wearing really cool hats. what have you, i want to be that person that grows with love and enthusiasm for my entire life. so that by the time i’m a little old woman, i’m just sharing my love and basically becoming the grainy to the whole world. so i love you. and happy valentine’s day. and and i invite you to hold the most loving vibration that you can with me as much as possible, in love with ourselves in love with our friends in love with our partners in love with our children in love with our pets, in love with this big beautiful planet that we live on, and that we can all dream a more loving future into existence for all beings. all that walk crosswind fly, because that’s what dreamers do.
thank you so much for joining me this week. if you want to make sure you never miss an episode, please hit subscribe wherever you’re listening now. or visit my website to get on my email list at www dot karla grover.com. when you sign up, you’ll instantly receive my milton mama digital care package, a bundle of music and videos to help you wring every drop of the heart of life. you’ll even find a dance lesson as well as my granny’s cornbread recipe with new booties being added all the time. i’ll see you next thursday on the wet dreamers do podcast
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