Don't Forget To Stop and Eat The Guava

author/source: Thomas Feraco

My wife, Lyvia, is starting Herself360 with her partners and asked me to write an article where I share some insight for the readers. I’m not a very insightful person so let me tell you a little bit about her and what an amazing person she is.

I’m an operating partner for a Private Equity Firm. We met in Paris in 2009 while I was working on an assignment there. We dated (long distance) for a few years and managed to make things work. In 2013, I asked her to marry me while we were on top of the Arc de Triomphe and she said yes! Saying yes meant that she would have to uproot her life and move Theo her 11-year-old son away from their friends and family to live with me in Boston. It was an incredible leap of faith for both of them.

After a frustrating immigration process, Lyvia and Theo finally landed in Boston in September of 2014. We were married shortly after they arrived and began our life together. I was 48 years old at the time and it was the first marriage for both of us. As you can imagine, it was an adjustment for all of us. We learned about each other during our first year of marriage. Mostly, I learned that she was a strong-willed, passionate, fearless and determined woman who was not afraid of open and honest communication. I’m a gentle giant and almost a foot taller than her but sometimes she scared me (in a good way)!

During that first year, Lyvia began to think about what she wanted to do for work. She was new to the USA and had a clean slate. A fresh start to do whatever she wanted. My advice to her was find something she was passionate about and do something she loved to do. Not a “job” but something she could be excited about doing every day, regardless of income. After some introspection, she realized she would be a great life coach. I thought it was a great choice. Lyvia is a great listener and extremely empathetic so it seemed like the perfect choice. She did all the research and set out on her journey to become a certified life and performance coach. The process was long and arduous but she attacked it with the same determination and strong will that she exuded every day since she moved to Boston. It was her passion and when you love something so much, it is not work, it’s fun. She has a determination and desire to perform tasks with a precision I’ve never seen before. It’s not just limited to work, you should see her clean lettuce for salad! Once she sets her mind on something, she puts all her effort and creativity into it. Lyvia doesn’t do things with half-effort, no matter what the task.

During the certification process, Lyvia had to find clients. This would require her to go to events and meet people all alone. She wasn’t afraid to walk into a large room and talk to perfect strangers. She has this innate ability to bond and make friends faster than anyone I knew. I was amazed at her courage. English is her second language and she wasn’t afraid to jump in and meet new people. She took acting classes to help give her confidence in front of crowds. She was a natural.

Let me finish by sharing a story with you that hopefully will make you see what I see. Two summers ago, we went to pick up Theo at the Montreal airport. He was returning from Martinique after visiting his father. He had brought back lots of gifts for his Lyvia, including some fresh Guava that he knew she loved. We began our 6-hour journey back to Boston and had to stop at the border to enter the US. Things were going smoothly until the agent asked if we were bringing any exotic fruits into the USA. We said we were and he told us we had to pull over and see another agent. The other agent searched our luggage and we showed her the Guava. She said we had to either throw it away or eat it there. Well, I was driving and wanted to get back on the road ASAP but my wife loved Guava. I’ll give you three guesses what happened next and the first two don’t count! There we 5 pieces to eat and she was going to have them despite all the looks I gave her! She was born in Madagascar and moved to Paris when she was 7. She wasn’t about to shovel down that fruit like Tom Hanks in “Castaway”. She stood there and had a picnic on the spot as only she could do. She had a lovely conversation with the agent and enjoyed her Guava for the next 30 minutes. I could have been upset but instead, I just enjoyed watching her enjoy here fruit and realized this is why I love her and why I married her. She wasn’t going to let a little speed bump get in the way of her enjoying her Guava nor was she going to let me and my ‘schedule’ get in the way of her impromptu picnic. This simple act of eating Guava was the embodiment of all the traits I described above. It was awesome.

I often wished I could take Thoreau’s advice and ‘...suck the marrow out of life’ but I’ve had a hard time doing that. Lyvia is the living embodiment of that mantra. As she was enjoying this sloppy fruit, she was literally and figuratively sucking the marrow out of life!! In that moment, I couldn’t have been happier to have found my soul-mate. 

Everything she does whether it’s coaching, starting a digital magazine, being a mother, a wife or a friend, she’s approached with the same passion and determination that she had while she enjoyed her Guava on that warm August day at the Vermont border control station.

Today, she starts Herself360 where she hopes to leverage her coaching and help women along their life's journey. As she does so, I’m sure somewhere along the way people will talk about Sheryl Sandberg and tell women to “Lean In”. This is great advice but I would adjust that to say that they should never forget to stop and eat the Guava!!