Heart-shaped world

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My husband's been my hero since the moment I met him, but I never imagined he could be someone else's hero, too. True story: I almost lost him last week. He's a business aviation manager and pilot. Halfway around the world, the VIP Boeing 737 aircraft he was flying lost power on both engines immediately after takeoff. Miraculously, enough power remained that he managed to turn the plane around and land safely. All five agencies investigating the incident don't really know what to say to him; they told him they aren't used to speaking to a pilot after both engines fail on a two-engine aircraft. All they could say was, "Congratulations!"

The funny thing is, I knew something was up when it happened. I was driving to the set of a wedding show I'm working on and was compelled to pull over (yes, I signed Oprah's No Phone Zone pledge) to text him: "Can you please call me now?" Something I never, ever do. He called me right back and asked why I sent him that message. I told him I wasn't sure, but that I just really needed to hear his voice. "Something happened," he said, "but everyone is okay." By all accounts, it was a miracle. He saved the lives of his passengers and crew.

Working on the wedding project helped me get through that day; we were celebrating lifelong connections. Even though my husband and I are often thousands of miles away from each other, we are always connected. I believe it's the little things that count the most, the silly little rituals we do every day when we're in the same room that unite our hearts and minds when we're apart.

Get great ideas for daily rituals to show your love
Mom and child on computer

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Coffee and Cocktails, Our Daily Bookends
Our morning tradition starts with the daily agenda, over coffee, in mugs we have collected from our travels. When my husband leaves town, he always brings one of our mugs with him. Thanks to Skype, we can continue this tradition across the globe; if the time zone difference is really wide, it might mean he's drinking a glass of wine while we're drinking coffee, but it still counts. Our 3-year-old Ava wants coffee, too—not gonna happen—so I brew her the herb coffee or tea I drank when I was pregnant.

Cocktail hour is the evening debrief. We tell the story of our day—laugh, vent, chase each other around the kitchen, cook dinner. Again, if one of us is away, we can still connect on Skype, glass of wine (tea, lemonade, whatever) in hand! Sounds simple...and it is. But we start and end our day together, morning and night, always engaged, and that's the key.
Man with cell phone

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Text from the Heart
Whether just away at work or on the other side of the world, sometimes it feels the same. To keep connected, we exchange corny texts and pictures throughout the day. Like a photo of my leg, covered with some colorful stickers Ava was playing with—I was so distracted, I went to a business meeting still wearing them! And one afternoon, my husband was in Istanbul, and Ava tripped on the sidewalk. I sent him a snap of her injured toe, alongside my toe, and wrote, "These little piggies both need you." He happened to be shopping for my Mother's Day gift in an exotic market; our text inspired the purchase of matching embroidered slippers, wrapped up for mother and daughter.
Couple laughing

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Inside Jokes Are the Funniest
One morning, my husband was trying one of those infomercial hair trimmers, and disaster ensued: He shaved one of his eyebrows clean off. He opted to go two for two rather than go about his day lopsided. When he walked downstairs, I knew something was different, but honestly, I love him so much I was actually blind to it (luckily they grew back). Since then, it's a running joke—"Notice anything different about me?" We send each other cards and photos of people, and draw giant caterpillar eyebrows on them. Of course, it's funny only to us.

We have a friend, a dancer, who would tell us how her teacher used to repeat like a drill sergeant, "Stay tucked and lifted" to get the class to tighten their core and stand straight. Yes, "tucked and lifted" sounds like a plastic surgery procedure, but somehow it's become our power mantra! If one of us is having a tough day, we send a "tucked and lifted" message to each other; we've printed the phrase on napkins, engraved it on a watch. Our insider shorthand means: We are strong, all is well, we are loved.
Man with watermelon

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Shared Silliness Becomes Meaningful
As part of your daily health regimen, access your immature side wherever possible. When you love the one you're with, even something as mundane as a trip to the store can be hilarious. Once, by accident, my husband and I found ourselves in the self-checkout line at the grocery. If you've tried it, you know that a smooth departure is rare. Now it's a running contest: Who can master the self-checkout without summoning the store checker assigned to help all the underachievers who hold up the line—like me! Every time we hear the computer-voice saying, "Please put the product in the bag" or "Please swipe your card again," we break into pee-your-pants laughter. And a good laugh is worth the trip to the store, even if it's just for milk!

Silly gifts make the best and most original kind of family traditions. For some reason, pepper grinders always fail when they fall into in my husband's hands. We have no explanation for this phenomenon. As a result, we have a standing tradition of giving him pepper grinders as gifts. And today happens to be his birthday. Guess what he's getting? A chili pepper-shaped pepper grinder. He's going to love it!

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