*Stories of Hope, Faith, and Belief in Association with OWN Belief Team Partnership.
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“I believe in Love” By Ann Marie Amante
My life is a continuous song of high and low notes, lyrics that make me smile and some that have made me sad. All held together by a melody that is as beautiful as the sound of the ocean or birds chirping in the early morning light. This song is mine, we all have one and we can sing it from the mountaintops, as we give thanks for the miracles which are rightfully ours. My life song is all the evidence I need… you see I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a God.
It is September 29th 2015 and I am writing this piece from my relatively new home in Vero Beach, Florida. I describe my life as a song because it is an analogy that I have come to understand only too well. I am now firmly entrenched, purely by choice in the intriguing world of entertainment and music. I am constantly amazed at how my life has unfolded and as I have said to many people in the past year or so, “if it can happen to me, it can happen to you”. What am I referring to? Well if you are at a place in your life where you feel like true love doesn’t exist or questioning whether there is a God, I hope my story helps to reignite the faith you need to keep on going.
A little more than a year ago I moved from Trinidad to the United States in what almost seemed like the proverbial blink of an eye. The changes were quick and left me quite breathless, a little scared but oh so happy! I still sometimes feel like I am dreaming. Maybe I am, as the saying goes, “you only know it was a dream when you awaken”. Regardless, this has been a journey I would not trade for anything. I continue to ask questions, like “why am I here?” or “am I truly living my purpose?” and in those trying times, “do I have what it takes to get through this?” While I may have my moments of doubt, the one thing I know for sure is that God exists.
I grew up on the island of Trinidad where life was simple and money hard to come by. Even though we didn’t have much in terms of material things, my parents ensured that I never went hungry and that I received an education. I had dreams as well, big ones, of being on television and reporting the news. I have since learned to drown out of the voices of those who thought I would never achieve my goals, one person in particular told me, “you’ll never be anything in life”. Oh but my parents knew, just as they still do that I was anchored by faith, in God and in myself. I think I always had a relationship with God but it was only later in life, a few years ago that I truly embarked on a new spiritual path, one which the author Scott Peck refers to it as “the road less travelled”.
Eventually I became a TV journalist and news anchor in Trinidad and later transitioned to the world of Public Relations. At the age of 33 I married and migrated to Florida thinking that I had found the missing link in my life. What eventually happened turned out to be one of my most valuable life experiences.
At the time though, I was in a dark pit of despair, frustration and disappointment. I separated from my ex-husband in 2011 and went back to Trinidad, eventually divorcing a year later. As anyone who has been through a divorce knows, it hits you really hard. It is a sense of pain and heartache that makes you feel like curling up in a ball and never going back into the world. I was disappointed in myself and I felt like such a failure. Four years later I can look back at that time in my life without regret and absolutely no bitterness, in fact I am extremely grateful for everything that happened, even for the presence of my ex-husband in my life. I know now that it was all part of the divine plan to help me discover myself and to embark on my quest for spiritual enlightenment. Little did I also know at the time that somewhere in New York, thousands of miles away, there was someone who would one day be one of the most important people in my life.
Michael Amante has always been a man on a mission, to serve God and humanity and to make beautiful music. He is a world-class tenor and in 2002 was the number one classical artiste according to Billboard magazine. He is an Emmy Nominee and has sung before several U.S presidents, Pope John Paul 11 and the legendary Luciano Pavarotti. However in December 2011 Michael’s world came crashing down. His wife and mother of his three children tragically passed away.
Michael describes those days as some of the darkest he has ever known, and even contemplated taking his own life at one time. Michael’s faith was tested to the limit but it was his love of God and for his children that encouraged him to not give up. Finances were suddenly overwhelming and emotionally he had to use ever ounce of willpower to keep on going. He turned to his music and to God, believing that one day he would smile again. In an article in the Tampa Bay times in February of 2012, Michael said, “I sing my way through this, because that is what I do.”
Michael had a conviction deeply rooted in spirituality and spent several years in the seminary. While his desire to become a priest has long ended, his love for God is even stronger and keeps on growing. He describes it as his salvation, his nourishment and all the ammunition he will ever need.
While Michael was working on rebuilding his life at the same time in Trinidad I was doing the same. 2012 was a difficult year for me but I came through it, smarter, wiser and with a stronger faith in God. Two years passed, it was 2014 and I was again on top of my game but I never forget an epiphany I had in 2010. I was lying on the couch at my home in Florida and an inner voice which I am now convinced was God, said to me, “I will lift you up on wings of eagles and they will know that I have done this”. That was the moment I knew that everything would be okay.
It was this conviction that led me to write my first book which is based on insights I gained from the teachings of the late Dr. Wayne Dyer. In February of 2014 I self-published, Eighteen Lessons from Wayne; reflections on the teachings of Dr. Wayne Dyer.
Now that my career was intact I began to seriously think about love, the romantic kind that makes your heart flutter and which makes you blush. I longed for companionship but this time I wanted it to be true and lasting. My wish was for a partner who loved God and who shared my passion for life coaching. I was heading the communications department for an oil company in Trinidad at the time and every morning I said a prayer as I drove to work, “Dear God, I know that you didn’t put me on this earth to be alone, I know that my soul mate is out there, please send him to me”. I also sent out a message to who ever that person was, “I know that you are out there somewhere and one day we WILL find each other”.
In the US, Michael Amante was saying a similar prayer because he too had healed enough to want love again. He recently moved to Florida and felt like he was ready to start over, it was a new place, new life so it all made sense.
A few months earlier, on the advice of well meaning friends, I signed up on an online dating site. I didn’t really have any expectations and seriously thought the whole idea quite silly in the beginning. It was fun though and it was enlightening to realize what I liked and didn’t like in men. Michael had also signed up on the same site, with much trepidation though, since he was after all very well known in some parts of the United States. He recalls, “I didn’t even want to date someone in the next town or city much less another country!”.
Our love story started with a simple “hi” from me to him. Yes I admit I was first attracted by his good looks and striking blue eyes but then after reading what he wrote about himself, I knew that I wanted to get to know him better. As with dating sites, profiles are anonymous and we didn’t know each other’s names at first but his profile said to me that he was deeply spiritual and lived a life of purpose. “Is he fake?” I wondered, “this can’t possibly be real because I feel like he is everything I’ve been searching for”.
Putting aside my reservations, I sent of a cautious introductory note. To my surprise and delight, the handsome stranger responded and introduced himself as “Michael”. This began an exciting couple of weeks of email exchanges on the dating site but we still we didn’t know each other’s last names. I knew he was in the performing arts, he lived in Florida, he was a widower and had three children. He knew I was a public relations specialist, lived in Florida at one time and moved back to Trinidad after my divorce.
Then one day, a few weeks after that first email exchange, Michael sent me his telephone number. “Oh no” I said to myself, “I’m NOT calling you”. I decided though to store his number on my phone. The next day I went to work but rushed home in the evening, in anticipation of getting an email from him.
I signed onto the dating site and there was this message from Michael, “my dearest Ann Marie, my phone rang earlier today from Trinidad and Tobago. I answered but heard voices in the background and some swooshing. So now that you’ve called me by accident, please feel free to call me on purpose. I would have called you right back but I heard what sounded like your parents and I did not want to interrupt you if you were heading to church or breakfast. I will however, call the number on my iPhone and hope that it will be you answering. Anyways, have a lovely day and I will be anticipating hearing your voice for this first time.”
I looked at the email in shock and wonderment, “really God?” I asked. A phone call later and I knew deep down inside that Michael was the person I had been waiting for. We eventually met for the first time in Trinidad in June 2014. People ask us all the time about that first meeting, “how did you guys feel? What did you say to each other?” I picked him up at the airport and on his instructions, kept my back turned to the arrival entrance. He walked up behind me and in full view and earshot of everyone around, sang the first few lines of the beautiful long song by Shania Twain, From this moment. “ From this moment, life has begun, from this moment, you are the one. Right beside you is where I belong, from this moment on”.
There are some things in this life you just know and I knew as Michael did that finally our lives had come full circle. When I turned around on that day we met for the first time and I looked at Michael, that inner voice that I have come to recognize only too well said to me that he really was the one. I felt my heart overflow with emotion and I kept saying in my mind, “thank you God”. Michael’s first words to me on that day were, “there you are”. I asked him weeks later what did he mean by that and he explained “he knew me for a thousand years.”
Today we are married and I eventually moved to Florida to be with Michael and his three children. Every day is a reminder that in life you just never know what tomorrow may bring. I think about those days when I prayed and asked God and the universe for Michael and I to find each other. Did God answer? He most certainly did and every day we both thanks for the blessings that have come our way.
I don’t know what the future holds of course but I am working on keeping my connection to that divine source. I believe that we are all connected, that’s the reason Michael and I found each other. Nothing happens by accident and this is why I am able to share my story with whoever is reading this piece. This powerful and energetic connection to God and each other has helped me to smile once again, to discover my purpose and to have the courage to share my experiences.
Was in easy to fly to Trinidad and meet someone you hardly knew? Well Michael did it because he too was convinced that when God speaks the heart knows.
Life is not without challenges but it is up to us to find the lesson and keep on growing. I have learned to value my life experiences, even those that I once thought were bad. As I continue along this journey I will hold on to what I know is good and pure and true.
I believe that anything is possible and that dreams do come true. I believe that we are all spiritual beings joined together by one God. I believe in a God of miracles, a God of healing and a God of love.
Ann Marie Amante