What if you focused on your partner … only? We’ll find out on this edition of Frank Relationships.
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: IMAGINE NEVER BEING AWAY FROM YOUR PARTNER (“THE KISSING TOUR”)
Guests: Tara Myers, Mike Myers
Date: February 22, 2014
Frank: What if you focused on your partner… only? That’s right, nothing else. We’ll find out what happens on this edition of Frank Relationships.
Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid, fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility and my wife, father, mothers-both my mothers, we went over to her school and took her lunch and hung out with her.
Latonya: I saw the picture
Frank: You saw the picture?
Latonya: I was like, “Hey.”
Frank: It was gorgeous, wasn’t it? It was beautiful. Yeah, we did it for the baby girl, yes. Her friends came in and my daughter likes spicy food, so I went and got spicy food and then brought it to her, the jerk chicken, brought it to her, enjoyed it with her. Yes, it was wonderful.
Latonya: That’s right, you’re supposed to romance your girls, so they’ll know how to receive it later.
Frank: What can I say? Yes, you’re daggone right. Yes. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com. You can also download the podcast of this and other archive shows on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.
Once again, I’m joined by my co-host, the Rev Coach, Latonya. What’s up co-pilot?
Latonya: In the house. I want some of that juice you got, boy. You’re on top of the world.
Frank: I’m working it this morning. I’m trying. And we got a new feature. The new feature is, we got the spouse in the house and I might let her get on the microphone. I’m going to ask her “what you got to say” and then I’m going to run it through my programmer and my processor and see if it’s okay to put on the radio and then I might let it-
Latonya: I think she’s responsible for the juice.
Frank: You think? That might be right. That might be right. I have to think about that and-
Latonya: Fist bump.
Frank: And again, I might let her talk. But I’m talking smack. I’m going to let her talk and if I don’t, she’s going to have something to say anyway. So, the spouse in the house will talk.
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Yep, it’s a lot more than a break-up book, How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship guides you through every stage of your romantic partnerships, helping you have the tough, important conversations that most couples avoid and whether you’re beginning a whirlwind romance, seeking to improve your marriage or looking to gracefully separate from your partner or talking to your teenager about relationships, this is the book for you, now available at franklove.com or at Amazon.
Today’s guest are so in love with each other, that they exited their six-figure careers and 3,000 square foot homes to live on a very modest budget and journal their lives one kiss at a time. Their goal is to live big, kiss often and spread love around the world.
Sometimes experience has been accelerating and overwhelming, other times it’s been absolutely crazy. In their blog, kissingtour.com, they speak frankly about issues, such as why they believe and public kissing have become taboo and the ups and downs they’ve experienced along the way. They are focused on one another and that is absolutely all. They are the bloggers, simply known as Tara and Mike and they’re going to tell us all about their kissing tour. Welcome to the show.
Mike: Thank you, Frank.
Tara: Thank you for having us.
Frank: How are you guys?
Mike: Very good, very good.
Frank: How did you meet?
Mike: We get that question quite a bit Frank and we were actually-
Frank: I’m going to tell you, that’s a soft ball. If you think I’m just starting off, with the hard question, no you’re mistaken, that’s the one everybody asks, so I’m asking it, but-
Mike: Yes, we’re ready for the hard questions.
Latonya: You might need to kiss in between the questions.
Frank: Alright, put your gloves on.
Mike: This is such an important question. Tara and I have this very unique history together. It’s funny, when we first met and started talking, we had these occurrences and these coincidences between us that were inexplicable and it was funny, because we both thought-we’re 10 years apart. I’m 46 and Tara’s 36 and when we met I was 42 and you were 32. Yeah, we would have these inexplicable ties to each other.
Remember, we didn’t grow up together, we lived in different states, but I always say, we share a brain, possibly as childhood and definitely a heart. It was interesting, because when Tara and I first started talking, she would tell me things about her childhood and I said, “You know Tara, I remember my childhood and I can remember you.
I can remember sitting in a tree house, playing with you over summers and I can almost, Frank, describe the tree house for Tara in detail and there was no possible way we were ever in this tree house together and we have those strange connections where we seem like we had a childhood together and I’ve known Tara for years and that’s the strange coincidence that’s just occurred in our lives. When people ask us, how did you meet? We’re really hesitant to answer it, because we feel like we’ve met years and years and years ago.
Frank: Okay. So, you’re hesitant, are you going to answer?
Mike: Well, we’re runners. We’ve met both when we were out running together. We spent miles and miles and miles running side by side together and just developed this really, really strong friendship. When you do athletic events together with people, you build a real good camaraderie anyway, but over our conversations that were just deep and heart felt, we developed this friendship together that’s just been amazing.
Frank: Tell me about a general run between the two of you all. You get out and do you do three miles, 10 miles, five miles every day, twice a week. What you got?
Tara: So Frank, all of the above. It’s interesting. Currently, we like to challenge ourselves in different ways and we were recently inspired by an article we read about a gentleman named “The Raven” in Miami, who for the past 30 some years has been running eight miles every single morning on Miami beach and he is in the United States Running Streak Association. So, right after the holidays, we decided that sounds like something we want to be in and you have to actually log a minimum of one mile every single day for a year before you can even precede and apply for this “membership.”
Frank: And how do you log a mile?
Tara: Pardon me?
Frank: How do you log it? You write it down? Is there a cell phone app or something?
Tara: Yep, yep. We write it down. We actually do use a cell phone app and so the minimum is a mile and some days we run many more. But we’ve run 24 miles together from the South side of Chicago all the way to Evanston. We’ve run-
Frank: What? Are you serious? I have said this on the show before, Lakeshore Drive is one of the most beautiful-
Frank: Sights to see.
Latonya: It is.
Frank: And to run Lakeshore Drive from the Southside to Evanston and let’s hope that may be you’re doing it during sunset, sunlight. Wow.
Latonya: No snow and ice, right?
Mike: Yeah. No, no snow but you get to kiss the whole way, so we stopped about every five miles and took a beautiful kiss and we logged it.
Latonya: Okay, but before you talk about kissing, we can’t let you off the hook about how you met. I get that you were running, but I see that you were previously married. Both of you were previously married, right?
Tara: We both were, yes. And so the cold hard facts, is that we met in Los Vegas Nevada where we both lived for several years prior to moving to Chicago. We met in 2010 and we had work interests that were similar, so we were both runners. Our work lives crossed, so that’s when we actually met.
Frank: Okay and you lived in Vegas, I assume, both of you with your spouses?
Mike: That’s correct, yes, yes.
Frank: Got you.
Latonya: There’s no judgment here at Frank Relationships with us asking the question, you know, because we know love can happen like that. So, that’s why we want to hear how it is that you connected, even though you were already connected.
Mike: Yeah, and I think that’s the important thing for listeners, is when we were married and neither of us were looking for other relationships. That wasn’t in our minds.
We, we developed this friendship and the reason I mentioned the tree house and childhood theory is that we have this deep connection as friends that was so closely related in such a deep friendship, we immediately looked at each other and thought, “How can we not be together. How can we not live the rest of our lives together?”
Mike: What are we going to do? Our ex-spouses aren’t here and we don’t want to get into that, but we weren’t tremendously happy in our marriages, but we weren’t out looking for anything.
Frank: Well what-
Mike: So, when you develop a friendship with somebody, and especially Tara and I’s on a level almost as if we were separated at birth and the discussions and the deep conversations that we have and the openness that we have and all of the commonalities that we have with each other is an extremely hard discussion on, “What do we do now?”
Latonya: Mike, I get it Mike.
Mike: This is my dearest friend. What am I going to do now?
Frank: Well, what did you do?
Tara: One of the other things that’s important for us to mention, we like to tell people and it sounds stranger than fiction is that we actually knew we were so connected that we vowed to spend the rest of our lives together before we ever even held hands. And that is the absolutely truth and people look at us with wide eyes and we’ve had all kinds of reactions, but it was just an amazing set of circumstances that brought us together and we had to just follow the omens as we say.
Frank: Any children with your previous spouse?
Mike: Yes, I have three children. Two adult children and one that is still a teenager.
Frank: And what did your spouses have to say? Well I guess to some degree, it’s fair to say you all broke up in your previous relationship, because you wanted to be connected with this one? Is that fair to say?
Mike: It is. When we decided-I knew at least I’m not going to speak for Tara, but I knew in my relationship that at some point it wasn’t what I wanted to be in a long-term anyway, but I was willing to stay and work through that over a long periods of time. And I think people get in those situations. When divorces are hard, I think if you talk to anybody that’s ever had a divorce, if you sit down with them quietly at some point they will tell you, divorces are devastating.
Frank: I can attest.
Mike: Difficult, horrible situations.
Latonya: Yeah, you’re talking to two people who have experienced it, but I also have experienced the divorce that’s not so devastating.
Mike: Some of them can possibly be okay and that would be wonderful if both can come to the agreements that separation is of the best. That wasn’t the case in mine. It is very hard and there’s a lot of sacrifices and there’s a lot of damage and there’s a tremendous amount of impact and it is scary. It is hard, but in the end you can’t fight that momentum of love. I’ve looked at it this way, if someone was to tell you today that you only had so much time to live and “What would you do with your life, how would you change it? What changes would you make?”
For us, it was not just in being together for the rest of our lives as friends. I mean just this deep friendship, but also quitting our jobs to be together. We didn’t just sacrifice and get divorces. We quit jobs. We moved together and live now a simple life, so we can spend every moment together, because there’s no way we are going to repeat the mistakes that we’ve made in the past.
Latonya: That’s a great segue, because I want to know whether lessons from your previous relationships and maybe not lessons, but what type of agreements did you all make with one another to have the type of relationship maybe you envision?
Tara: Sure, it’s a question again that we get a lot and I don’t know if it’s so much a result of the past relationships, because there were for both Mike and myself, a lot of successes and challenges with those relationships and we grew from those and we have the life together that we have today, because of those experiences. But one of the main things that we knew-
Frank: Very nice.
Tara: That we wanted to kind of set straight right from the beginning is that we wanted to lessen our distractions and when we say that, we’re talking tangible and intangible. So, we both had sprawling 3000 square foot houses in Los Vegas, Nevada, overflowing with responsibilities and stuff and clothes and yards and furnishings and everything that goes with it.
Frank: Was there a pet? Were there pets?
Tara: Pets too, multiple pets. Obligations, digital media and on and on and on and it’s the suburban life that the media tells you, you are supposed to live-
Tara: And thrive in.
Frank: And all the debt that comes with it.
Tara: And all the debt and all the headaches that come with it and all of the stress and so, we made a concerted deliberate effort when we came together to completely live the anti-life, so to speak. So, we actually shed all of that. At one time we counted between the two of us, we had over 80 pieces of furniture. We now have about five to six. We live in 450 square feet. We have no cars. We have very tiny wardrobes. We each have 100 personal items, no television, one plate, a set of silverware each.
Frank: One plate?
Tara: And all of those things-one plate.
Frank: I love it.
Tara: We share a platter.
Frank: Is this Ethiopian-style?
Mike: No, in fact one of our things we’ll talk about, I’m sure we’ll get to it later too, is we dine, we don’t eat. When we sit down to have dinner, we just don’t take our food and sit on the couch or hurriedly eat our food together, we dine. We light a candle, we have a flower. We get dressed for our dinner. We cook together, we plate our meals and it goes into one platter. We use each our own fork, but we share that meal together. And all these things independently may sound a little odd.
Latonya: No, not at all.
Mike: You put them all together, our entire day is spent from the minute we wake up-and we sleep on a twin matt, really, it’s not even a twin bed. We sleep so close together purposely, not because we have to, but because we do it on purpose.
We quit our jobs to be together everyday. We eat breakfast together every morning. We work out everyday together. We run miles together. We do kissing tours together. That’s our life now. Our life is kissing and being in love and we’ve orchestrated our entire life now around our love. And even when we dine, and eat at night, we dine instead of eating. Those are the changes that we made in our life that are so graphically different than our past life.
Frank: Mike, I want to ask you a question that could be perceived as loaded, but I assure you it’s not.
Frank: You talked about your children and you talked about the “sacrifice” that you’ve made and the things that you walked away from, somebody listening is going to ask, “What about your children?” How do you answer that?
Mike: Good question. In every divorce the one person must vacate the home in every divorce.
Frank: At least one person.
Frank: It could be both.
Mike: At least one person, right. So, in my case the two adults-and I had one child that was off to college and one child that was an adult, but living at home still and I had one teenager that was at home and when I sat down with them-
Frank: Color those. Color those ages for me. The adult child living at home was how old, about?
Mike: I had one in college that was 22, one at home that was 21 and then the teenager, 15.
Frank: Got you, okay.
Mike: Of course, none of this was a welcomed result. None of them seen it coming. I didn’t see this coming. None of them were happy about the situation. It was a tremendous amount of anger. Frank, it took years to-and I communicate with my children the same way I communicate with you, very open. I talk about life a lot. I’m not afraid to discuss my feelings with my children either and I was very upfront with them about how I felt, what was happening, why this was occurring to me and how the future may be going forward.
Not an exciting moment for the kids. I can tell you it was very, very difficult. I thought at times, almost tragic. Very, very concerning and we went through a tremendous amount of pain with the children. It’s still not completely over. I don’t know that it ever will be and I’ll probably carry that kind of guilt with me personally for years.
The children are a big part of the decision, but in the end, we think about this, if love is the right thing, if love truly is a path for people, for humans to go down and I think I’m on the right path now, I am able to give more love and more time and the right kind of love to my children now than I was before.
The path that I was in before was extremely unhealthy for me. I know had I still been down that path before, unhappy, gaining weight, away from my children, distracted, drinking, off in the corner, not paying attention to the family-that is not a healthy situation. I know that.
Latonya: Mike, did you express that to them Mike? Did you express that to your children?
Mike: Oh, yes. Absolutely and I think that’s the big thing. They’ve seen it, they see their dad. They know that their dad’s going down the wrong path and now today, it’s totally different.
Frank: Very nice.
Mike: I’m healthy, great lifestyle, in love, happy, not drinking, eating well, spending a tremendous amount of time with them. We live in a tremendous amount of city when they come and visit now and it’s a positive environment now.
Latonya: And so how do you explain leaving, when it’s time to leave, when it’s time to separate, given that it was so tragic and so difficult? How did you all handle the leaving?
Mike: Yeah and that’s the part probably that I’m hesitant to talk about. Those are very private discussions with my children, even to this day, very private discussions with them about those wounds that are still open. Still, I think any time a family has a divorce and the one member makes the decision to get the divorce, those wounds take a long time to heal. Those are still relatively open for me-
Latonya: Yeah and that’s-
Mike: And so I rather not discuss that topic.
Latonya: You don’t have to discuss your personal one, but we have listeners who you may be able to offer at least two or three nuggets of how you might suggest they could handle that type of discussion, because it seems like your marriage and your lifestyle, is a ministry. I’m a minister, I’m a life coach and I know that there are times when I have to even stretch myself to share through the discomfort, because I understand that is not about me. So, I’m not pressing you, but I do want to see if there are some nuggets that you can neutralize out of your story that maybe someone else can hear and then take it away and say, “Oh, maybe I can do it like that.” Would you agree, Frank?
Mike: I think where it starts is the parent needs to understand the adult and love is something that needs to be taught to children. If you’re not expressing it at home, if it’s not obviously in the environment in the home, you’re not with your spousal all the time, you don’t kiss openly in front of the kids, you don’t hug openly in front of the kids, you don’t talk about love openly in front of the kids, then they’re not going to know about love.
All they’re going to know about love is what’s from the television set. So, when it comes down to the point where you’re unhappy in your marriage, they’re not going to know what an unhappy marriage is or a happy marriage is, because all they’re going to know is what they see on TV or what they see between you and the spouse.
When you sit down with a child and you need to have a frank discussion with them to talk about what love is about and what happiness is about-and you have to have those discussions with your children, so they understand what love is and what love is not. You have to be open.
I tried to be as positive as I could to set up the situation going forward, because I had faith that in going forward I was going to be in the right mind frame, the right rind set to make good decisions. And I think kids are worried that they’re going to be abandoned, that the fallout of this divorce leaves them in vacate water and they need to understand that it doesn’t, that many people get divorces.
Going forward from that point of the decision to get a divorce, we have to stay together, it’s about the children and the love, not about the divorce itself. Really, a divorce is just a separation of that contract of marriage, but that’s too hard of a concept for kids to understand.
That’s where I think you’re at, is having open positive discussion with the kids, let them know that what love is, that we can continue to have a wholesome family relationship going forward. Don’t get caught up in the drama. Typically, there is tremendous amount of drama around some divorces.
Mike: And that change in life comes regularly. This is not the only thing in a child’s life that is going to probably be dramatic.
Latonya: Right, exactly.
Mike: This is just one thing and they have to be prepared to handle change through life in a positive way, because it will come at you.
Mike: There’ll be tragedy in your life, you’ll lose loved ones, you’ll lose jobs, there will be wars. There will be all kinds of-
Frank: They may even divorce.
Mike: I’m sorry?
Frank: They may even divorce.
Mike: They may even divorce and Frank, think about that.
Mike: This is a lesson. What we’re trying to do now is change the way the world sees love. If I could inspire one person to change the way their love is and not get a divorce at some stage in their life, we are successful.
Latonya: Yeah, I heard several nuggets. See Mike, you had them in you. I heard “displayed love,” which sounds like, “Be affectionate, don’t be afraid to be affectionate, to create an environment of love.” I heard “discuss what love is openly with your children.” A lot of people don’t do that. They don’t really discuss it. They let the external feed the family values about what love is. And then I also heard, “assure your presence,” meaning that you’re not leaving them, that you are still in their life. And then the last nugget that just came out so organically is, “to use the change as a lesson.” So, listen see, I just gave you some nuggets that you can share.
Frank: He gave you some nuggets. Yeah, that you gave him back.
Latonya: Yeah, I gave them back.
Latonya: So that when he hears the question again-
Frank: He’s ready to roll.
Latonya: He won’t have to say, “I’m uncomfortable.”
Frank: Damn Rev Coach-
Latonya: That was a coaching. That was a coaching tip.
Frank: Asked me that same thing
Mike: Thanks for the coaching.
Latonya: Thank you for sharing.
Frank: Mike, what do you do when the kids come visit, how do you all deal with eating, seeing that you only have one plate?
Mike: That is a great question. We actually have two platters, one large and one medium, because not all of our meals are big meals, sometimes they’re small. We actually have two plates, two platters and we actually have one set of silverware for individuals that come and stay with us. But the important thing is, that today when my kids come and visit me today, we don’t change the way we behave.
So, if they’re going to sit down at dinner with us, they get dressed in a jacket and nice clothes and they sit down at dinner and we light a candle and we have a flower. They help us cook, they help us cut the food and prep it. They help us plate it and they help us clean up afterward. They are part of the equation-
Frank: Very nice.
Mike: And I think that is also a very important lesson in people’s family affairs. At home what tended to happen in the past was you kind of ate wherever you ate. There might be a person in every room watching a TV and nobody sat together anymore. Nobody was in one room together anymore. Nobody was eating together anymore. That breaks a family apart over the long haul, when everybody has their own room to go to, to watch TV. People can eat at different times or they can sit on the couch and not eat with the family or when they come home, they get dressed in sweat pants and kind of just sit around the house.
Frank: Do the kids get bored?
Mike: They don’t dress for dinner.
Frank: Do the kids get bored seeing that you don’t have a television?
Mike: No, so we do things.
Frank: Okay, alright.
Mike: We wear those kids out. We live in Chicago and when our people come and visit we’re out every day. But today Frank, we were supposed to be in Chicago talking to you. We’re actually in New York City. We got invited to come out to talk to some people. We actually packed our stuff up, which is only a couple items and three hours later, we were at Midway Airport and we’re actually speaking to you in New York City today.
We move about and we go do things and that’s also part of life. Get out and do things and it doesn’t have to cost money. You can do things that are very inexpensive.
Frank: Now Mike, I got to tell you I-how to put this, I really don’t want to talk to you anymore. I want to talk to Tara.
Latonya: Right, I was thinking the same thing, Frank. I wanted to hear her voice and I wanted to hear her take on the divorce and-
Frank: Tara, weigh-in. Alright, how are you doing?
Tara: Hi, guys.
Frank: With the children? Do you feel close? Has it been a struggle? Has it been, you know? Just weigh-in or answer something else. Can I hear your wonderful voice, please?
Tara: Absolutely. No, thank you for asking, I’m 36 years old and I was previously married for 11 years. Never had children of my own, that just wasn’t part of my life and so, when Mike and I got married, being a “stepmother” was a really big change for me.
It’s been a positive change. It’s been really fun. In no way do I try and replace the mothering role. I just like the opportunity to be friends with them when we visit them or they visit us. I’m, most importantly, I’m their dad’s wife and so I just play that role and include them and treat them as adults and we just have a great time together. So, it couldn’t be more positive.
Frank: Now how much age difference between you and the oldest?
Tara: Let’s see, I’m going to be 37 and the oldest just turned 22, so 15 years-
Frank: Got you.
Tara: If I did my math correctly.
Frank: Okay, okay. I thought the oldest was 22 when her or his parents divorced, but he or she is 22 now. Okay, got it.
Latonya: Okay, so-
Tara: Yeah, she’s 22 now.
Latonya: So Tara, I can relate. I’m actually a new stepmom again and I don’t like that term, stepmom. Have you all thought of something creative to call it, because right now, I’m working with instamom? What about you?
Tara: So, we call it Tara, because that’s my name. I really don’t like labels. And labels come with a whole set of expectations and baggage and what the media makes them up to be, so I’m Tara. I am their dad’s best friend. The term wife is even kind of awkward for us, because-
Tara: Our relationship is so different than that would suggest.
Latonya; Say more, say more, say more about why wife too. What other things have you all kind of thrown to the wayside? I love it.
Tara: Well, here’s the interesting thing. When we go out people feel the need to come up and talk to us and address us and give us these unsolicited comments and feedback and it’s really been interesting.
People in the grocery store, people in the subway wherever we might be traveling and the remark is often, “You two look so happy,” and then they say, “Are you married,” as if happiness couldn’t possibly be the result of marriage. And so that always kind of strikes us as odd, because it seems that the way the world works, is that there’s this big build up to the big white wedding and there’s a bachelor party and a bachelorette party and a ton of money spent and then it turns immediately to the old ball and chain and we hate that. And so, for us our marriage, our actual wedding was, it was a beautiful, wonderful special event in of itself, we could do a whole show on that, but our entire life together is what’s important, so we try to emphasize that far beyond the husband-wife traditional roles. So, that’s kind of the same reason why I just said, we don’t really have a label for what I am when it comes to the kids. I’m just Tara.
Frank: Tara, speaking of ball and chain, the spouse in the house has a question.
Hasanna: I do. Hello, how are you?
Frank: Hello, how are you?
Hasanna: I’m great, thank you.
Frank: There’s a pretty woman sitting next to me and I happen to be married to her. Alright, go.
Hasanna: A very lucky guy.
Mike: She sounds beautiful.
Tara: Good morning.
Hasanna: Good morning, and I do want to say for LaTonya and the listeners, yes, I am responsible for Frank’s juice this morning. But Mike and Tara, I’m really interested to know from you guys, I know you guys are very intimate, very close all the time and as a married woman, space matters in a relationship for me-for me that is, so do you guys ever get on each other’s nerves?
Tara: No, so it’s interesting. It’s one of the things that Mike and I-we’re actually working on a book right now and it’s something that I’m currently working on writing this concept in. In my previous life as I like to call it, I was not overly affectionate, I did not like hearts, I did not like pink. I really was kind of the anti-love person. That just was not a comfortable area for me and I have done a bit of a 180 when it comes to this. I was one of the women who I had, I think, a 2700 square foot house and I had my area where I went to sit and write, my area where I went to sit and read. I went and did recreational shopping by myself and now those things couldn’t be more unappealing to me.
The day that I exited my job in Chicago, when Mike and I had made the decision that we wanted to be together full-time, I walked out of the door-
Frank: You care to share what that profession was?
Tara: Pardon me?
Frank: Not where you worked. Care to share what profession you were in?
Tara: Oh sure. I was the National Brand Director for the YMCA of the USA.
Tara: And a career with the YMCA previous to that in Southern Nevada, so I was very proud of that career. I really believe in what the YMCA does, but quite frankly, I believe in what Mike and I are doing more. And so, that’s why I made the decision to leave what was my dream job, which was an unbelievable opportunity for me, but I knew that all arrows were pointing in the direction of pursue being with Mike full time, pursue journaling my life one kiss at a time with him on kissing tour.
So, since that day, when I walked out of Wacker Drive, out of that high rise and Mike was standing across the street waiting for me, we have not left each other’s side, except to use the restroom facilities and one time when we were on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland and we were volunteering for a race and we were race marshals and they put us a half a mile apart in the rain. Those are the only two times in the past five or six months that I can recall ever being apart. And so, we’re just attached at the hip and it seems ridiculous, but we can’t get enough of each other and we love each other more every single day. He is my sidekick, my twin, my buddy, my long lost friend.
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You’re listening to Frank Relationships; we’re talking with Tara and Mike. A loving couple, bloggers and authors of the up coming book, Pink Chair, No Underwear: Our Big Bold Love Story, due to be released May, 2014. Tara and Mike, please tell our listeners how they can find you.
Tara: Well, you can find us online, obviously at kissingtour.com, where we journal our life one kiss at a time. Instagram, we’re at kissing tour, where all of our photos are posted and then also on Twitter. Our handle is kissing tour.
Frank: Did you guys ever consider staying with your spouses and being together. Kind of a–
Hasanna: I knew that was coming.
Frank: A poly-type relationship.
Hasanna: I knew it was coming.
Frank: Well, it’s here.
Mike: Absolutely not.
Mike: The hard part for us was the overwhelming friendship that we had and it’s hard to explain how deep our friendship was. It was one of those things that I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Tara and I wanted to be close friends with Tara and we had that innate connection from even our past that we just couldn’t explain. But we kept having these weird occurrences that would keep driving us forward with our relationship and the more we talked and the more we talked about life, the more I wanted to spend every moment with Tara. And once you have that in your mind and that’s where you’re at in your life, there’s no way then I can hide that from my spouse. I couldn’t do something like that.
Frank: I’m not talking about hiding it. So, why do you think your friendship as you’re calling it, demanded exclusivity? They could be around each other. Did you ever consider saying to your previous wife, “Look, I have this incredible connection with this woman that I really want to be around and I want to be around you too,” and seeing kind of where that would take you?
Mike: No, our devotion, that friendship was so deep that we knew that we wanted to spend every moment together and our relationships both of them, although we weren’t out looking to replace those relationships, those relationships that we had before were not healthy relationships. At least mine was not a healthy relationship. No, that had never crossed our mind to even try to do that.
Frank: Would either of you say that there’s any level of friendship existing today with your previous spouse?
Tara: We made a transition and we made a lot of deliberate decisions in our lives to move forward. And so what we like to really do and this is with all do respect, is to focus on where we are now moving forward as a couple and not look backward. That doesn’t have good energy around it for anyone and we think it’s most respectful to those past relationships to really take these media opportunities that we have to talk about spreading love and journaling our love and moving forward in that way, because there are so many important things to talk about in that regard.
Frank: I’ll definitely not ask another question about that and I’m fine with that. The one thing that I do want to add to what you just said is, if there was friendship with a past spouse that is a way of spreading love to our listeners now. To be able to say that there is friendship, that “even though we made this tough decision, we have created a scenario in a situation where there is love and friendship going forward with our past spouse.” That is a powerful message to share with our audience, but we can drop it right there, no problem.
Tara: No, we completely agree with you and everybody’s situation is absolutely different. Our situation is not set up that way, so we completely agree to that that can be healthy for some people and if it is, wonderful. That’s fantastic.
Latonya: I have a question Tara. I hear a little reluctance, this is the second time I hear a little reluctance to talk on certain topics and I wonder when you write your book, could it be therapeutic for you all to really consider those, because there are people out here struggling with these very same things and you have such a campaign for love-
Frank: And a gift.
Latonya: And a gift and such a remarkable story-
Frank: However, deep you go.
Latonya: Yeah, like how do you get your healing done on those topics that you have a little resistance or reluctance to talk about and be a catalyst for healing?
Tara: That’s an awesome question and the way that I would answer that, is that Mike and I have not stopped talking with each other since the moment we met. So, we are each other’s cheerleader, guru, spiritual advisor, coach and therapist and we keep those conversations and those healing opportunities completely discrete and between us. And so we made a concerted effort when we started kissing tour to make it about us and our mission of spreading love going forward and not to profit ,so to speak, or to disrespect those prior marriages. That’s just how we’ve chosen to handle it.
Mike: It has, however, and I think it’s important-it has been cathartic to journal our life and write the book. We don’t have a television. We talked about that, so people might say, “What do you do all day?” Our days are very busy doing the things we’re doing with kissing tour and of course we exercise and of course we manage our diet and those kinds of things. But then in the evening, we have a lot of spare time together and we talk every evening.
We live in a 450 square foot studio apartment in Chicago and we built this little area. We have two pink tufted chairs we sit in and a small blue couch that we have and that’s all of our furniture and it’s a very small area-very close, very warm. We call it our KHQ, our Kissing Headquarters and that’s where we sit and we have long discussions about life, extremely open; about our past, about how we felt about things. Did we manage it right? How we’re going to go forward? What is the right thing to do? What are the positive things that are looking at us?
I could take every situation that’s happened in our life, even the last week and draw up negatives for it, but we choose to have a positive attitude and we focus on a set of values that really drive us forward and it’s helped me heal. I don’t think it’s over. I think it takes a long time for that process to heal, but I wouldn’t have a more profound partner in my life than Tara to help me get that done.
Frank: Very nice. How many outfits do each of you all have?
Tara: So, it funny that this just came up, because we were on the road for about three months. We went from Puerto Rico to Texas to Pennsylvania to Ireland, Sweden, Italy, London and we were all over the place and we traveled with just a North Base expedition bag each and we’re not sponsored by them, but I’m just sitting here looking at the North Base bag, so I had to mention that. It came to mind. And we watched our clothes so many times. They’re practically disintegrated now, so we actually just redid our wardrobe. And our rule is, we don’t add to things that we own, we only replace them.
Part of our brand is our color pallet and with our website and with our business cards and so forth. And two of those colors that we feel really represent us, are bright blue and bright pink. We each have a very small wardrobe, all seasons that consists of just blue and pink clothing so that when we get dressed we always match. We don’t have to ask the other person what-
Frank: What color are you wearing?
Tara: What he or she is wearing?
Tara: It doesn’t matter what’s in the wash and we can actually get dressed blindly and we walk out and we always have some kind of semblance of style.
Latonya: That’s nice. That’s nice.
Tara: I actually have 20 items in my wardrobe. Everything from a tweed blazer to two pair of pants, one pair of jeans, a couple button-down shirts that sort of thing, but 20 items in total.
Frank: That includes your under garments?
Tara: I have four pair of underwear.
Frank: I love it.
Latonya: I mean like, you have it down to a science.
Latonya: I know you all want to get to the kissing tour, but I have to ask, you mentioned North Face casually about sponsorship. So you’ve monetized your love story in a way, right? Is that how you have been able to sustain your life, even as minimalist as it is?
Tara: No, we have not made one single dime from this. We’ll be completely honest. Not one single penny. The way that we are surviving is that when we came together, we did a very careful analysis of our assets, our debts and we evaluated all of that and we came up with some really creative ways to live far below our means, to pay off our debts and to have an amazing lifestyle on what some people would consider below proverty level. So, it came down to little tiny things like, we only have one set one cell phone plan. We’re talking to you right now free on Google Voice.
So, we completely eliminated a cell phone plan. I was paying almost $80 a month to get my hair cut. I’ve since gone to a barber and I pay about $20 and he does a phenomenal job. Mike shaves his head, so we stopped drinking alcohol out. That was a huge budget killer.
Frank: But you got a little stash at home?
Latonya: Yeah, right you keep a little something in the cabinet at home, right?
Tara: Well, of course.
Latonya: I want to hear the fun and juicy stuff too, you know.
Tara: We travel on points. We have a companion pass on an airline that we use and we make all of our purchases on a credit card. We travel on points and we’ve reached a certain level where-
Mike: We pay the credit card off in three months.
Tara: We paid the credit card off and Mike travels for free. So, we’re kind of travel hacks when it comes to that. But we evaluate every little thing we spend money on and that’s what enables us to live this way.
Mike: Frank, we have a strategic plan just like a business would. So, any business that wants to be successful long-term and grow and be innovative and creative will have a business plan. A strategic plan to get them there and we have a strategic plan for us. We have a mission statement, value statement. Uur values are actually tattooed on our ribs.
We take this very seriously and we have a financial plan and we meet every three months, almost like a retreat, like you would in business and we actually close the door, keep everything quiet and we go over our strategic plan with a whiteboard and sticky notes and markers and we work hard to make sure that we can live in about-$2400 to $3000 a month is about what we spend in our life.
Frank: Very nice. You guys have quite a story.
Frank: It’s a joy to have you guys on the show.
Latonya: Yeah, I didn’t expect to learn all this.
Tara: Thank you.
Latonya: With the kissing tour, I was really not sure about this conversation.
Frank: What about children for you guys? Do you see children in your future?
Mike: No, we don’t, actually. Do you want to come in on it?
Tara: Sure, Mike mentioned, he’s 46 and I’m 36 and we are past the age of what we think is appropriate for having kids so we have some different goals that we want to achieve.
We like to say that kissing tour is our baby and right now we’re really focused on Mike’s three kids and so it’s actually the perfect set up for us. We couldn’t be happier in that regard, the way life has turned out.
Frank: And Tara, did you ever want children?
Tara: Having children was never part of my life or my life plan, which is why I made a deliberate decision not to have kids in my previous marriage. But the way sometimes life goes, that they say, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans and it couldn’t be a more welcome addition to my life. I never thought I would enjoy it so much, so it’s been really kind of neat having a teenager and adult stepchildren and friends. They’ve taught me a lot.
Latonya: And friends. What do your friends think about your lifestyle?
Frank: And do you have any friends and I don’t ask that as though it would be bad if you didn’t?
Tara: I like the way you phrased the question. So we have countless acquaintances. Many, many all over the world and they are all special to us for different reasons. We like to talk about the people that come into our life, so that’s just been a really fulfilling part of our life.
We each have a very tight knit circle of friends, a handful between us that we keep very close to us, our confidants. They are the inner circle friends and they have been nothing but absolutely supportive of our relationship, our journey in life. They’re intrigued by it. It’s required some explaining, but they quickly come around and we’re very humble that a lot of them have been inspired by it too. It’s a pretty neat thing that we have. We’re really grateful.
Latonya: And what about any friends that may have duplicated or tried to duplicate or implement some of the lessons from your love?
Frank: Or anyone else? You got any stories of people saying, “Hey we’ve tried that,” and whatever?
Tara: Yes, we have seen some examples in our own families and our own friendship circles, but more interestingly we have received a lot of emails and we’re starting to receive messages through Instagram of people that we do not know. We just got one this morning from a young couple, 19 and 21 years old. They’re in Dublin as I speak and they sent us a message and they said, “Mike and Tara, you have inspired us in the way we live,” and they sent us this long message about how they are framing up their relationship and their life together, because of the photos they’ve seen of us.
We’ve conversed back and forth with them and we have many examples of that, that almost bring us to tears, because we then know that we are having this impact far beyond what we thought when we came up with our simple concept of kissing tour in 2012.
Frank: You all have arguments, fuss, fight? Get mad at each other?
Mike: No, no we don’t and I know that sounds very odd and people have asked us that also before and we’ve always told them, “No, we don’t,” and they’re like, “Come on you got to have disagreements,” and we simply don’t. Tara and I have an extremely unique relationship which allows us to spend every moment together. Last night-I guess it was yesterday morning when I woke up, I thought, “You know Tara, I don’t have any idea what’s going to happen to us today.” And every time I go to bed at night, I think, “Wow, what a day,” but that’s our goal.
One of our values is to wow each other every day. That’s one of our goals. One of my goals and Tara’s goal is to wow each other every day and when you have that attitude every day to wow your partner, it allows very little to no room for any negativity. And so we are both open. Neither of us dominate each other. There is no dominating person that leads the couple. We both are an equal mix and when we have something to discuss, we just discuss it and we talk about it and we come up with these answers neutrally.
But the thing that’s always a little bit odd is, I know what Tara is thinking, that’s our connected we are. I can finish her sentences, like we’re identical twins. It’s strange that’s how deep our friendship is and that’s one of the reasons we had to be together is the connection was so bizarre. I can actually read her mind on occasion. I actually can finish her sentences and so that’s a very unique friendship that we have.
Frank: I’m going to dribble for a minute or two and hopefully relay my question as I do whatever I’m about to do. But do you think that you are setting yourself up for an inability to be able to disagree? So, in other words, if you don’t agree now, do you believe that there will be a time where you disagree or where there could be something that one wants to do that the other doesn’t want to do? And ultimately, if that occurs that you won’t have, you won’t feel the room to say it in your relationship or that you won’t feel as though you will be accepted by your partner? How do you wrap your mind around that dynamic?
Tara: So, that’s a really good question and the way that we answer the previous question may have been a little bit misleading, and so I want to add a little bit of clarity to that. When we have discussions we have very open candid, everything-on-the-table, his and her opinions discussions. We hold nothing back, so it’s not that one person says something and the other person says, “Oh I completely agree. Sounds good.”
We overanalyze to death and we respect each other’s opinions so much that there is no heated discussion, it’s just adult conversation. And so, by the time we finish our conversations, we’re both completely exhausted from talking and we arrive at the best possible solution, using both of our ideas together. That said, we also have set up our life so that there is no room for distractions. There’s nowhere in our apartment to go hide. It’s 450 square feet.
Frank: An efficiency, a studio?
Tara: A studio and the other thing about it, you had mentioned if one person wants to do one thing and the other maybe doesn’t. We don’t necessarily look at life that way. We both have a really fun game spirit. We like to say “we’re game” and if you’re game, it doesn’t matter if you’re going to go run in the park or on the treadmill, you’re just game. The treadmill will be there tomorrow. The park will be there tomorrow. You can have pad thai tonight, you can have Mexican tomorrow. So, it’s just this shared spirit of gameness and curiosity about the world that really drives us.
Frank: Very nice. You got anything else co-pilot?
Latonya: I’m listening deeply.
Latonya: I want to hear more about the kissing tour soon.
Frank: Let’s hear about the kissing tour.
Tara: Alright, so the kissing tour is my favorite thing to start talking about. This was a fun thing that happened to us. We were in Washington D.C. in 2012 and we got off the train and we were going to spend one hour touring our nation’s capital. We did not have a map and so as we’re walking toward the capital from the train station, we said to each other, “Boy we could really use a map of all the landmarks.” And this is no joke, but as we’re walking in a completely litter free zone with pristine landscaping and flowers around us, there on the ground was the laminated map of the National Monument.
So, we kind of laughed, picked it up, because some other tourist had discarded it and we made our way through town. Our very first stop was the capital and as we watched other couples, kind of stand rigidly and pose for photos like brothers and sisters, we thought, “Well that’s not very fun, that doesn’t look very passionate,” so we preceded to kiss in front of the capital. And we kissed in front of the Smithsonian and we kissed in front of the Washington Monument and all the while, tourists started clapping and cheering and they were screaming, “Kick your foot in the air.” And they were taking our photo, even a seven year old boy and we just felt this really powerful energy around what we were doing and that night we went back to Baltimore, we had dinner and when we were sitting on a barstool-we like to say we conceived kissingtour.com on a barstool, because we came up with the idea to journal our life one kiss at a time. We bought the URL right there from my phone and the next morning we went back, mapped out the website and we’ve been at it ever since
Latonya: So, you do have internet?
Tara: Oh yes, we have internet. That is key to us. If we went without it-
Frank: They got Google Voice, of course they got internet.
Latonya: Yes, duh.
Frank: Go on.
Mike: There are a couple of things that we have and one of them is internet. We decided not to have a TV, because we just don’t like the distraction of a television. We decided not to have a vehicle, because of part of our financial plan. But we do have WiFi and the internet keeps us connected. It allows us to journal our life one kiss at a time on kissing tour. One of the things that I personally like about kissing tour is, I want to be able to look back and hopefully Tara and I can stay alive long enough to add these photos in.
We kiss regularly and we probably posted a couple hundred photos so far. Obviously we have many, many more, but if you can imagine when you look back over 10, 15, 20 years, 30, 40 years of marriage, I hope and we’re able to see us kissing and how we aged and when I take that last breath or Tara takes that last breath, hopefully we’re there to capture that last kiss. We want to be able to look back over all those kisses that we’ve had and all those memories and experiences that we had and see us age and see where we are at and how beautiful and wonderful that would be for us.
This is a very personal thing for us, kissingtour.com. It’s journaling our life one kiss at a time. But we also have the secondary idea now to spread love around the world and try to inspire the world to change the way they see love. So, we’re doing a combination of things, but kissing tour is largely our personal journal.
Latonya: Have you been on any TV shows, talk shows that type of thing yet?
Tara: We have not yet. We have a potential opportunity here in New York City and we take every opportunity that comes our way. But we know that we will really start to ramp that up once we release our book and our website is currently being redesigned. We’re really excited about that, because by popular demand, we had to step it up a little bit beyond what our artistic capabilities would allow. So we’re really excited about that. It’s one of those things too, it’s a bit of a snow ball effect. We’re starting to have a lot more media attention.
Tara: We receive invitations to do public kisses. So, we’re suddenly becoming known as the kissers and it’s really quite inspiring for us as well.
Latonya: So that was a setup question to ask. As you expand and I’m sure that sponsors will come and that type of thing, will your lifestyle change?
Mike: Well, I was going to answer that.
Tara: Go ahead.
Mike: Because we talked about that-
Latonya: Oh wow, you’re biting at the chomp to answer.
Mike: Yeah, that was something I thought about and we have talked about that and we do not want our lifestyle to change. It is very important that we maintain-this is part of our strategic plan, that regardless of what finances we have, in order for us to be successful, we must continue to live the way we’re living. Be together, live in 450 square feet, sleep on a mat.
We don’t want a California king bed. We don’t want a car. We don’t want 60 inch televisions. We don’t want a large square foot homes where we have man caves and libraries and sitting rooms. We don’t want those things. So, we have plenty of money already and we have to watch our pennies, because these things are expensive. Even going out to dinner, we don’t go out that often. We don’t want that lifestyle to change. So, the money is a manmade thing.
Mike: It is not a natural thing in life and we try to focus on the natural things of life: our diet, the way we spend our time together, the warmth and the energy in our relationship and we’ll control the other manmade things. That doesn’t need to control us.
Frank: My last question is, “Do you have any take-home message,” but before I throw that one at you, I’m curious about your food budget.
Tara: Good, because we talk about this all the time. We live in Chicago and it’s very tempting, because there are restaurants and bars and street vendors and amazing food everywhere.
Latonya: Yes, it is.
Tara: Wonderful. We have chosen a vegetarian lifestyle for our own wellness purposes, but that can also be expensive if you’re going out all the time. Our food budget for ourselves is $400 per month.
Tara: That includes breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Frank: A hundred bucks a week.
Tara: That includes going out, that includes when we’re traveling. So, we actually, every single day, write down what we spend to the penny. We monitor it that closely so that we can make our decisions for the next day and the week going forward based on that, because we know that it’s the small decisions that we make every single day that will lead to our long-term success. We’re pretty disciplined about it.
Mike: Think about this, most people will spend eight to 10 hours a day heavily invested in their time and their energy and their sweat into another organization’s success.
Mike: So instead, Tara and I-it may sound like a lot, well you have to write down everything you own, it sounds like tedious. But we spend all of our time, energy and sweat in doing those types of things so that we can live this way. You can invest your energy and time into making another organization great, but we’ve chosen to spend our time and energy into making our little organization, our little relationship great and that’s been the difference.
We focus on things and spend a lot of time working on it and you can live on a $400 a month food budget, if you are totally detailed and spend a lot of time on it. We happen to have a lot of time to do that, so that’s something to think about too, the amount of time and energy that people have. When you go to work everyday and you come home, you’re pretty much, “I’m going to make whatever I have, because there’s no time to really spend doing what we’re doing.”
Frank: The show is supposed to be over, but I got another question. To add to what you just said, many of us, we spend those eight to 10 hours, we go to a job and we think what we get from that job is going to help us, it’s going to contribute to our home life, when really you can just contribute in some way like you said, you can contribute just directly those eight to 10 hours right at home.
Mike: Yeah, two things: going to work costs money.
Mike: Owning a vehicle costs money: insurance, gas, repair, oil change, car payments, registration. Just owning the vehicle alone to get to work and get back to work, costs money. Eating lunch out at work costs money. All the different things costs more money. There are good things about having employment.
One of our major, one of our major costs is health care. We have to provide for our own health care insurance and that is one of our expenses that is higher than our food budget, frankly and that’s one of those expenses that’s covered by an employer. But happiness, I believe, is not to build by trying to get to the next thing. “If I just had a nicer car, if I just had that car I’d be happy. Boy, if I just had that house down the street, that bigger house, that my neighbor has, I’d be happy. If I just had that sweater or another sweater or another pair of shoes, I’d be happy.” Those things never make you happy. Those things will never make you happy.
The promotion’s not going to make you happy. The new office isn’t going to make you happy. The new job is not going to make you happy. That’s not where happiness is at least for us and we’ve found that happiness is being together everyday. And if that means we got to quit our jobs and figure out a way to be together everyday, then we’ll do it and we did it and we wouldn’t trade a minute.
Frank: You had a savings though. What do you suggest for people who do not have a savings?
Tara: Start saving, stop spending. For us, the thing that we know and we talk about all the time is that it is not about making more, it is about spending less and you can reverse the trend very quickly if you get out of that cycle.
Frank: You’ve been listening to Frank Relationships and we’ve been talking with Tara and Mike, a loving couple on a kissing tour. They are bloggers and authors of the upcoming book, Pink Chair, No Underwear: Our Big Bold Love Story, due to be released May, 2014. One more time Tara and Mike, please tell our listeners how they can find you.
Tara: Kissingtour.com, on Twitter @kissingtour and on Instagram at kissingtour.
Frank: Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed nuggets for divorce and discussing it with children, wowing each other everyday and eliminating distractions and excess expenses. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had discussing how to prioritize love, marriage and kissing.
As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that’ll help you create a relationship that’s as loving and accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook.com/relationshipflove, on Twitter @mrfranklove or franklove.com.
On behalf of my producer, Phileta Legette, my engineer, Jeff Newman, keep rising. This is Frank Love.
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