ODE TO ST. VALENTINE: My Favorite "IT COUPLES"
I often talk about how relationships are a major player when it comes to your overall health. You certainly can’t afford to take them for granted if you are indeed looking for an overall healthy life! Look, massaged kale and ketogenic eating will only get you so far. You can be fueled by all the probiotics and vitamins out there but with this life we are given, if there are things off your plate that are out of balance, you will never be! This is why it is important to forge and foster healthy relationships of all kind. This is why I make family and friends my number one because I know exactly how much they fuel me to live a happier, healthier lifestyle!
In honor of Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought I would spotlight some of the ‘It Couples’ in my life. These couples give me hope, fuel my aspirations, are stewards of the community, exude love and so much more...Basically, these are my #couplecrushes
I am posting a couple a day up to Valentine's Day, so keep checking back to see who is featured!! And let me know what “It Couple” you’re crushing on in the comments below!
Listen or read below about my It Couple #1, The Azuikes.
The Azuikes... Courtney and Acho.
Young, ambitious and socialites, in their own right, I would definitely call what Courtney and Acho Azuike have going, the model family! They are almost Michelle and Barack-esque in their own way, sans the political ambition (at least that I know of), these two are down-to-earth and yet, ambitious, and with it all they definitely set the bar of expectations high in every way, there is no doubt about that! When you see them, in person or via pictures you can't help but to smile. (I told you they were Obama-ish!) They are God fearing, young professionals with two children under five and they make this thing called life look amazing!
I have now known this pair for literally almost half of my life, shy of just one month! It is totally crazy when you think about it. We all met at the University of Texas, which of course seems like a lifetime ago!
Courtney was one of the first people I met as a freshman. She has since become one of my best friends. Truly, friend does her no justice as she is much more. She is the sister I never had. (Now, I do have a younger sister, so I guess that statement is not quite accurate!) Okay, she is the slightly, older (ha!) sister I never had, but sometimes secretly wished for. Well, God creates miracles because somehow the universe aligned and I got Courtney! I truly admire Courtney for her gratitude and caring spirit. She spreads a little nice wherever she goes and that, I would assume, is one of the qualities that piqued Acho’s interest. Have you ever had one of those friends that is hilarious but it is totally by mistake? With her knack for getting every quip and common saying wrong whenever she attempts to quote them, she keeps us in stitches for days! I have seen Courtney grow from co-ed, to wife and now mom and do it with what I would call effortless grace , yet still acknowledging the challenges that come with it all, which I think, endures people to her and makes her so relatable to others.
Acho himself is a truly amazing husband, father, businessman, and friend. Like the Rock of Gibraltar he never seems to quiver. Stoic, but still fun-loving, I mean, who gets that combo down? Only Acho! He is one of those people that doesn’t have to say much to get people into action. One quality that I adore about Acho is that he is a loving friend. I mean, everyone has that one friend you use for confession and look to for understanding. He is “that guy.” What is funny is that over the years, I see that he is that for most of his circle of friends and acquaintances, which truly speaks highly of his character.
To see these two together is truly inspiring. They ebb and flow perfectly in sync. They over communicate, which is why they have that ebb and flow thing down pact, I would suppose! What I most admire above all else-- they are friends; what I love most about their relationship is that it is truly pure. Pure love, pure reverence, pure friendship. This is not something that manifested itself as time went on. This was something that was there from the start.
What do I mean? Well, I distinctly remember when they first started dating. What stands out was that Acho was always so respectful of Courtney, a true gentleman, courting her with ice cream dates and never caught using profanity in her presence. I mean...insert big heart eyes! I may be biased, but how can you not just love these two? I think they should be at the top of everyone's "It Couple" list!
Here are the insider details about this young, up and coming duo!
Listen or read below about my It Couple #2, The Woods.
Kimberly and Embry. (Aunt Kim and Uncle Embry to me!)
I can’t say enough about this sporty, powerhouse couple...and not just because they are family, but because the are a great example of what family should be and represent. Now, why are they featured as one of my “it couples?” It is because when I think of them, I think of puzzle pieces that fit perfectly. They compliment each other so well it is almost scary!
I don’t think that my family truly, even after their 10 plus years of marriage, realizes how perfectly appointed these two are for each other. I, myself, got to see it first hand as I actually stayed with them a bit over six months during the first quarter-life crisis I had (LOL!) That of course is another story for another time! But here is what I know. There is nothing more intimate then seeing people in their true element, family or not, you don’t really know or have the ability to truly know people when you’re a spectator from afar. I am ever grateful that I had the ability to spend that time with them, not to mention my little cousin, Keysen, of course!
These two are my conscious. If not for them encouraging and inspiring, even when they didn’t know they were doing it, I would not have done and made certain major decisions in my adult life that have taken me down paths I could never imagine. My uncle Embry always whispering, “...forget them Colet, do it! Live your life.” Maybe one too many times more than he should, or my parents would have liked, but I love him for that! A constant encourager.
I absolutely love them, their reverence for God and the fact that they love family, but understand the fine balance of personalities that go along with that! What makes them click beside all the important things that should be at the forefront of one’s relationship? Sports! They are a sports-loving, active couple! Kim, a former collegiate basketball player, and Embry, a marathon-running, MS150 biking, Michael Phelps swimming, former model. Their house revolves around sporting seasons. The only downfall to this wedded bliss in my eyes? Aunt Kim supports the Red Raiders! I mean...as a Longhorn, you figure you will have foes, but never would you think it would be in your own family! But I guess we all have imperfections! And let me tell you, if Uncle Embry can love her, flaws and all, so can I!
Another reason that I consider them to be on top of my list is because of their parenting skills. To see how they have handled the challenge of parenting is mind blowing. Navigating not only parenthood, as parents do, but also facing the challenges of parenting a child who has what society considers a disability, it has been truly amazing to watch. I have watched them be my little cousins’ advocate and stand in the gap. I have watched them be trailblazers and make a way in there was no way, to keep Keysen on the same playing field (both literally, as he is an avid baseball player, would you expect anything less with these two, and figuratively) as other children. They never allow Keysen’s lack of hearing manifest as him being different from other children or treated any differently as a member of the family. Because I know first hand the amount of strength, persistence, financial commitment, prayer, and overall decision making they must do on a daily basis in order to provide the lifestyle and support that is needed, I consider them nothing short of amazing.
So cheers, to one of my favorite “It Couples”...Kim and Embry. Read below for some fun facts about the Woods and their relationship, and if you would like to learn more about hearing loss and how it affects children, you can start here!
Listen or read below about my It Couple #3, The Unclebachs.
It Couple 3: The Unclebachs
Darlene and Scott. The Unclebachs.
Confident, covered by grace, dynamic, whole-hearted, stewards of the community. These are the adjectives that come to mind when I think of Darlene and Scott Unclebach. Now, I can’t say that I have known the Unclebachs as long as the other couples on this list, I can’t even say that I am close to them as I am to others that are listed here. But what I do know and can say about this couple is that their presence, together or a part is powerful.
As an unmarried couple the beaux and I often discuss qualities that we admire in married couples and those things that we would like to one day carry into a marriage. And I must confess when this conversation arises, quite of the Unclebachs are a topic of discussion.
We met the Unclebachs through business and ended up attending the same church as them, a church where they are well-respected, well-recognized and beacons of His Kingdom. I mean, it just lights me up! And the thing is all of that translates to outside of the church and in the community, which is the true testament of their hearts. I mean, I completely swoon!
Darlene. Have you ever seen anyone that seems like they have this shining aura of light around them, almost as if you are gazing out over the most beautiful lake just as the sun rises to the perfect spot in the sky in order to reflect on the water in the most beautiful peaceful moment you could never capture on your smartphone? Sounds dramatic, huh? But, that is the best way to convey to you the spirit that surrounds Darlene Unclebach. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room? If not, you should have a chat with Darlene. She will speak life into you and make you feel that you can conquer the world once you leave. Adoring wife, beautiful spirit inside and out, amazing mother and friend.
Scott... so, Scott, I have to say that he is his partners’ mirror. When you see Scott and he speaks he will make your day, but make you feel as by seeing you and being able to say hi, you have made his day! I mean, think about that… he has what the beaux and I like to call the “Chick-fil-A” affect. You know, it’s always their pleasure, regardless the task. That’s Scott. He is compassionate in his actions and with this tongue. Every word he speak has meaning. You know, we can fall into the trap of pomp and circumstance when it comes to everyday pleasantries; they tend to lack meaning and thought. The “good mornings” and “how are yous?” We just say them because that's the thing to do. Not Scott! If he asks you how you are doing, or tells you good morning, that is truly what he means and with his words comes stewardship. He is always willing to serve in whatever way he can, helping to expand your landscape when and where he can. Scott walks the an heir of confidence sans the arrogance that can typically be attached with that type of confidence. This confidence, I don’t know, may come with the understanding of the value that he brings to the world and may have something to do with the lady that stands right beside him!
So, let’s think about this and put it in perspective. All the greatness of those two together are like when Marvel Comics combine their superhero powers for the good of the universe. Is it really a wonder why they had to be on my “It Couple” list or why they are an official #couplecrush of the beaux and mine? Exactly!
Read below to get the sweetest details on the Unclebachs and maybe you can catch them in action whenever they speak at The Family of Choice class when they talk about great relationships. I mean, because who better to speak on the subject?!
Listen or read below about my It Couple #4, The Agbahiwes.
It Couple 4: The Agbahiwes
Krystal and Sylvester...
Dramatic pause. I mean, it’s only appropriate that we give these to the reverence that they deserve! Because, I mean, they are Krystal and I will just be honest... there are no need for formalities, so...Sly! It is only appropriate because they are Krystal and Sly after all!
Truth be told I could probably write a short novel about these two and our friendship, but for the sake of time, I will keep it to the most important factors. Well, really, the only one that matters--their total amazingness! Krystal and Sly are complete trendsetters, that do it their way and leave a little stamp of Agbahiwe wherever they go and the best part about that? You get to see it all through Sylvester’s lens, as he is an amazing professional photographer! Something that he actually does for fun, but by the look of it is turning into a total digital-visual capturing modern day Monet! Let me tell you about these two.
Krystal, as it happens, is my beloved sorority sister, which of course is a special bond in and of itself. Our sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc.,for over the past 100 years, has been built on service to the community. What I am proud to say, is that Krystal, though she may not show this side to many people, is a true mirror of service that our organization holds dear and true, and not just the kind of service, where you get a photo-op and bounce! Or, are trying to meet some quota, or make yourself feel better about a lack of something else. Let’s be honest, we all know people like that. But not Krystal! She will never tell you or boast about her good deeds. She is compassionate and giving, whether that be purchasing entire Christmas lists of toys for family members who could not afford them or starting an organization that held yearly workshops to empower young women from the community that she grew up. I can say first hand that my family and I have been on the receiving end of Krystal’s kind-heartedness. When my grandparents, whom I held extremely dear to me, took ill, Krystal was always there to give willingly her counsel, as she is in the medical profession. She held a special place in my grandfather’s heart, as he would always ask for “his nurse” and wanted to run every diagnose or treatment plan by Krystal, even though she worked nowhere in the vicinity of his doctors’ offices or hospitals! And let me tell you, for those who knew my grandfather, would know that this was indeed him singing high praises of her! See, what I love about Krystal, is that she is not a “needy” friend, and I would think that Sylvester would say the same of her as a partner. She gives you the right amount of counsel and space and somehow knows the exact moment that you need her most...and then as if by magic, she is there.
Krystal is known for her fashion-forward style and ability to be ahead of the trends, which I so love about her! A girl after my own heart! Whether it be the newest adornment, fashion-forward sequined wedding gown that looked as if it came out of a couture house in Paris, much too exclusive to be displayed on the common runways of New York Fashion Week, or simply her knack for hand-written acknowledgments, something we both share an affinity for, she is truly someone to be watched, and to be honest, most do… then attempt, in unfortunate lack of success, to mirror her.
Now, let’s talk about Sylvester. I mean a true friend, I must say! I have chatted about that fact in regard to Sylvester before right here on the blog, in the video called, Jackass Friend and your health (trust me, well-worth the watch), though, at first I don’t think he thought the same! Sylvester is extremely intelligent, ambitious and also a trendsetter in his own right. Just as his wife, during their nuptials was spotted in a tuxedo combination that was later scene on the red carpet of the Grammy’s months later! But, that all seems superficial to the other qualities that Sly holds. His attention for detail goes much further than clothes, he lends that same steady eye and focus to all that he endeavors, from his career, holding a doctorate in pharmacy, to his family, both immediate and otherwise, and to practically anything he touches. I mean, it just all seems to turn to gold! What I love most about Sylvester is his dedication. If he starts on a journey he is going to give it his ultimate attention and not falter or deviate from the course. And you know what else, they say you can tell a lot about a man in how he treats his mother, and let me tell you the amount of reverence he has always shown his mother was nothing slight of a mere a prophecy to how he would honor and respect Krystal, as his wife!
Together these two are golden! Insert Jill Scott melody here! They just get each other, the quirks and all. You know, what I most admire about them as a young couple is their love of The Lord. Without fail before they were married and after, they could be found at worship each Sunday. Sylvester telling me once, “...it would be a dishonor the The Lord not to attend mass each week seeing all of the blessing he constantly gives me, C.” This is something they did prior to marriage, as singles and it has carried on, not letting their different religions keep them from serving and worshipping together, and teaching their young baby to do the same. Don’t you dare let me put a Chick-Fil-A waffle fry in front of that baby’s mouth without him, blessing it! Why is that important? Because at the root of it all is about loyalty, a quality that both Krystal and Sylvester possess apart and together as a union. Whether that be loyalty to family, friends or above all, God. This is a quality that is everlasting, it is one of high character and moral value. That is why I love them as individuals and as a unit. They are unchanging in their loyalty no matter the forecast, which, to me, is an amazing and appreciated quality to have. I am proud to call them my friends both separately and as a couple. It just saddens me for those who aren’t as blessed as I to have a little Krystal and Sylvester Agbahiwe to brighten their worlds!
Listen or read below about my It Couple #5, The Herreras.
It Couple #5: Alexandra and Jaime
I met Alexandra years back when I had taken a part time job at a clothing store back in the day! Our friendship started when she bailed me out when a customer came up to me and had a full blown conversation with me in another language. Now, according to my high school and college transcripts I should have been able to completely understand the customer and respond in kind, this however, was absolutely not the case! Seeing my despair Alexandra came over took a hold of the conversation and that was it! She did not know it in that moment, but she became my personal tutor and I would bother the holy crud out of her asking her questions like, “how do you say this...” “what does that mean,” the entire shift! I can’t believe I didn’t annoy her to no end, or maybe she was just too polite to say, but from then on, we were friends! I love Alexandra for adventurous spirit. Shortly after I met Alexandra she got engaged and few weeks later she packed up and moved to London and a few months after that I received an invitation to her wedding in Peru! I told you this girl was an adventurer! What I love about her is that she is such a sweet spirit that is willing to extend a hand whenever she can! She has always been so gracious, sweet and welcoming to me. I think a lot of this has to do with both her Peruvian background and just that she is an amazing person! When you think about it, our friendship doesn’t really make much sense because, we literally met weeks before she left the country and haven’t lived in the same time zone since! I think we click because she too has a Pisces spirit like me, and trust when I say, many people just don’t get us Pisces...like at all, so when you find your spirit twin, you stick close to them! One thing I love about her is that has this posh, yet unpretentious spirit that I absolutely adore! She like the total effortless cool kid that you want to be your friend! Fortunate for me, I got the luck of the draw on this one!
Jaime is just an overall great guy! A true Peruvian indeed! I remember when I first met Jaime. We had all gone out to dinner. I was asking about the Peruvian culture and he looked at me dead in the eyes with the most serious face and said, “Colet.” I had no idea what he was about to say and he proceed, “Colet, do you know what makes the Peruvian culture so great?” I said, no, I don’t. He said, “Let me tell you, it’s our women and our ceviche!” I couldn’t help but laugh! Jaime has always been so gracious. Treating me as he has known me for an eternity, which I think that speaks highly of his character to truly embrace his wife’s friends as his own! Jaime is so interesting, if you sit down and talk with him for any length of time, you will get up thinking to yourself, “ why didn’t I know that until now?!” LOL! I love that Jaime is full of pride and you can see it each time he looks at Alexandra! I think it’s just perfect!
As I said, Jaime and Alexandra are indeed adventurers. They have literally traveled all over the world and have the passport stamps to prove it! They have a carefree spirit, and I must say that they triggered the traveler in me! Seeing and hearing all of their amazing adventurers it jolted me into action years ago to being to see the world. A visit to their house is like a well curated gallery. It tells stories of exclusive African safaris, hidden coves in the middle of the desert, ostrich eggs from foreign lands and perfectly snapped pictures of Myanmar’s castles Actually, visiting these two in London was actually my first trip ever abroad and by myself! I would have never gone, but Alexandra being herself, called my bluff one day after saying for the ump-tenth time that I was going to come visit them across the pond! I have to say, that trip did it, and I haven’t been able to stop traveling since! They inspire me because I can see with each trip they take, and each trinket they bring back to tell the story they grow closer and stronger as a couple. They are creating their own fairytale and I am all the way here for it! I love it and I love them!!!
Keep checking back as I am adding a couple each day until Valentine's! Tell me below who your "it couple," is and why!