Succulent Wild Love

Posted on in Healthy Living by Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy

The Ultimate Joyful Solution


Can you really have the best of being single with the best of being in a relationship?

Do you ever wonder how you could find and be in a relationship that’s full of ease and joy and love? One where you really get to be you? Where you are truly happy by yourself and happy to see your partner? I have always wondered that, but I never thought it was possible. Here’s how my match—Dr. John Waddell—and I transformed the odds and created our own way of loving.

From Soulfully Single to Succulent Wild Love

I’ve always been a wonderful independent loner. In my book Succulent Wild Woman, I wrote about how much I loved being soulfully single. I even married myself and promised never to leave me. But after a decade of devoting myself to learning how to really love me, I finally admitted that I did also want to find another person to love and be loved by. I realized I wanted more than a marriage. I wanted a “more-iage.”

I wanted the best of being single with the best of being in a relationship.

I wondered if it was possible to be autonomous—what I call “succulent”—and still be fully yourself—wild and free—and really be loved by another at the same time. To be joined with another and still feel like you have the best of both worlds. I’m happy to say now that I know it is.

I first wrote my secret love wish on a secret tiny note and locked it away in a secret love box. I wanted the best of both worlds: I wanted to love and adore someone who also loved and adored me just as I am.

Little did I know I was creating my very first Joyful Solution.

I was scared I would fail at love even though I was a successful author, friend, and BE-ing. So I went on a Covert Love Operation and asked my closest friends to be my Love Mentors. They reflected back to me how and why I’m lovable even when my Inner Critics were telling me I wasn’t.

I love me, picture with heart

After listing all the reasons I didn’t think I could find someone to love me as my very independent self, one Love Mentor said to me, “It sounds like you’re scared of love.” And I said, “Of course I’m scared of love!” (I thought everybody was.) And she replied softly, “I’m not.” I realized I had even more work to do, so I continued with my exquisite self-care practices tending to my Inner Critics, my Inner Feelings, and listening to my Inner Wise Self.

Following all that inner work and self-acceptance, I met John on a cruise and almost right away, he told me he was qualified to adore me. It was my secret love note come true! I knew in that moment I was going to marry him.

What I wished for, John was offering. He was not only qualified to adore me, he offered to see me as “self-lovingly separate with beautiful boundaries.” This blew me away. It meant I really could have the best of both worlds: being soulfully single and in a relationship. It meant mutual respect and not having to try to be what I described as a “good girlfriend.”

John had been in a 10-year marriage where the honeymoon never ended. When John’s wife passed away, he practiced self-care as well and was determined to create a great love again. When we began our relationship, he told me he would see me as perfect and that any way he failed to do so would be his responsibility. I liked the sound of that but had no idea how to reciprocate it. What he meant was he would see me as “perfect inside,” not in a perfectionistic or egoistic way. He would see me as perfect just as I am and do his own inside work to handle his own feelings when it appeared otherwise.

Best of all, he offered me a no-compromise relationship made of Joyful Solutions where everybody wins and gets what they want. I was never good at compromise, and I thought maybe I could be good at Joyful Solutions.

Joyful Solutions

A Joyful Solution goes beyond compromise and sacrifice because it allows you to know right away that you will get what you want by finding the essence of that desire. Once you find that essence, you go wide in thinking up creative solutions that are usually better than when you thought you would have to give something up or let the other person have their way.

One of our first Joyful Solutions when John moved in with me in San Francisco was whose car to keep. We have a very small garage and sparse street parking, so it didn’t make sense to keep both my Mini Cooper and John’s convertible. The Mini was easier to park and had more space for carrying stuff. But John loved the idea of driving around California with the wind in his hair, feeling free.

It was a struggle until we decided to create a new Joyful Solution. The essence of what John loved about his convertible was the open air. So he decided to sell his car and buy a scooter that provided that same airy freedom he desired. It was easy to park and went beyond one of us having to give up something for the other.

Succulent Wild Love

After our first year together, John and I realized we had created something very special in the way we relate to each other. We both were feeling more love than ever before and wanted to share that with the world. So we decided to marry my three practices of self-care—the Inner Critics, Inner Feelings, and Inner Wise Self-Care Systems—with John’s three philosophies of Joyful Solutions, respecting each other’s Beautiful Boundaries, and seeing each other as Perfect.

Our coauthored book, Succulent Wild Love: Six Powerful Habits for Feeling More Love More Often, is a whole new philosophy of love and relationships for everyone, including loving yourself perhaps more deeply than you ever have.

I am happy to say the six habits come alive in our living love laboratory where we practice them—and fail at them—every day. We share micro-truths in the book about ourselves and our feelings, with examples of how you could do the same. We see our love relationship as the Ultimate Joyful Solution, and we want you to know that you are enough just as you are and you too can feel more love more often.

My Worst Fear Coming True

Another reason I used to push love away was my fear of finally finding love and having them die on me. Or that I would have to take care of someone should they get sick. Ironically, the day after we finished the book, John was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

We are now living our six habits of Succulent Wild love in very new circumstances, feeling even more love and practicing the principles in the face of this most challenging diagnosis.

I am actually grateful to John’s cancer because it woke both of us up to new levels and new depths of love that I didn’t think I’d ever experience in my life. I am honored to care for him—even though I did a lot of caregiving for others and never wanted to again. After all, I thought I’d picked a healthy guy since John had never been sick a day in his life. I am experiencing more love than I ever thought possible, and I had no idea I was capable of giving love and caring in this way.

Joyful Solutions in the Face of Illness

It’s easy to love someone when they’re healthy, but we love that we’re living the book in these new and challenging ways. We do a lot of micro-truthtelling so we’re not building up grudges and resentment as we navigate John’s path to healing. We practice Love Translations—another Awareness Practice in the book, where we choose to interpret each other’s actions from a place of love rather than blame. I am happy to say that unconditional love is being lived through this experience, as difficult as it is.

I have a whole new perspective on life and love these days. I’ve realized I can create new perspectives about anything—any communication, any conversation, any confrontation—because nothing can feel as bad as first hearing my beloved partner John’s cancer diagnosis.

And John is not “fighting” the cancer. Rather, he has chosen a mindset and a heartset to see this event as a teacher and as a profound guide he can use to shift his life. And that, I believe, is the real Ultimate Joyful Solution.

SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) and Dr. John Waddell are the authors of Succulent Wild Love. SARK is a best-selling author and artist, with 16 titles in print. Dr. John has been helping individuals and couples lead happier lives for over 30 years through his clinical psychology practice and metaphysical teachings. Based on the book Succulent Wild Love,

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