Kenny & Julia Loggins’ recipe for lasting love ; the main ingredients: total honesty, commitment and a willingness to take responsibility for your feelings – summer salad

Kenny & Julia Loggins’ recipe for lasting love ; the main ingredients: total honesty, commitment and a willingness to take responsibility for your feelings – summer salad – includes recipe and excerpt from 1997 book ‘The Unimaginable Life: Lessons Learned on the Path of Love’

Suzanne Gerber

The main ingredients: total honesty, commitment and willingness to take responsibility for your feelings.

The long and winding road to Kenny and Julia Loggins’ home in the mountains of southern California is a perfect symbol of their 16-year relationship. Today they may have one of the happiest, and sanest, celebrity marriages, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, when they first met, back in 1982, they were two extremely unhappy people.

Kenny, best known for his partnership with Jim Messina and megahits like “Danny’s Song” and “House at Pooh Corner,” had been leading a stereotypical rock-starish life. Too much drinking and drugging had him on a collision course with an ulcer, and his doctor recommended deep intestinal cleansing. He was sent to a colon therapist named Julia Cooper, and the two felt an instant bond. But they were both married to other people, and on top of that, Kenny had three kids, so they settled, instead, for a warm, healing friendship.

Over the next six years, Kenny and Julia grew closer, but even as their own partnerships fell apart, they refused to admit to themselves, or each other, that they were falling in love. Kenny’s marriage had been in trouble for years. Being on the road a lot, away from his family and in too-close proximity to worshipful groupies only added to the strain. Julia, who had grown up feeling alienated from the world because of childhood asthma, arthritis, kidney and liver disease, was married to a much older man with colon cancer. By the time she met Kenny, her marriage had long since devolved into a sexless friendship, one in which she took care of her ill husband. Ironically, Kenny and Julia decided to separate from their spouses within a couple months of each other, freeing them to start a relationship of their own.

And yet, their tale doesn’t end with “happily every after.” Because Kenny and Julia had each been on a path of self-exploration, they chose to use their relationship as a way to further their personal growth. By using each other as mirrors of their own hidden feelings and issues, and by relating to each other with nothing less than total honesty, they’ve discovered difficult things about themselves they might never have gotten to on their own. For example, one of the hardest, and most chronic, problems for them has been learning the true meaning of Kenny’s fear of commitment and attraction to other women. By never settling for the simple answer and putting their relationship first, they’ve come to a deeper understanding of what makes each of them tick.

Throughout their courtship and eventual marriage (and the raising of their five kids–Kenny’s three and the two they had together), they’ve kept journals and written each other letters, poems and songs. A few years back, Kenny envisioned them weaving their various writings and experiences into a book, which they did last year.

But don’t confuse The Unimaginable Life: Lessons Learned on the Path of Love (Avon, 1997) with a cliched self-help book or vanity publication by a rock star having a midlife crisis. The story Kenny and Julia tell is a rare one: two people determined to find, speak and live by their own truths and approach their bond as a vehicle for spiritual development. In recent years, we’ve begun to realize that true health doesn’t come from whole foods and supplements alone. In fact, leading medical and psychological experts are saying that having loving, intimate relationships is the single most important contributor to good health.

When we’re closed off to the truth, we tend to repeat the destructive and dysfunctional patterns we learned as children. Not acknowledging our role in our problems reinforces the belief that unsatisfying relationships are a result of choosing the wrong partner rather than our still having important emotional lessons to learn.

Kenny and Julia were adamant about not writing a self-help book. They hoped that instead, by sharing their story, they could present a model for creating a lifestyle and a love relationship on a level different from the everyday. The book, which comes with an eponymous CD, was released in paperback by Avon in July. Kenny and Julia have also begun taking their show on the road, so to speak. Kenny will be performing August 17 to 21 at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, Calif., and Kenny and Julia will be speaking together on August 28 and 29 at the Living Enrichment Center in Portland, Ore. Recently I had the pleasure of visiting with them to talk about their relationship, current challenges, plans for the future, and just how one goes about creating an unimaginable life.

Isn’t it scary that your most private stories are revealed in this book?

Julia: It’s actually very freeing.

Kenny: My best music comes from a place of self-exploration where I can really nail what works for me–because that’s what works best for other people. Those songs come from really deep emotional places and turn out to be my most universal songs. Our sense of writing this book was the same thing: If we could tell our story as honestly as possible, more people would be able to identify with that. If we just told a pretty little story about two people who fell in love and lived happily after that, who’d identify?

How did you get the idea to write this book?

Julia: Kenny had a mental snapshot of a book happening. Then, over the years, we imagined writing our love story as a book for our children, so that they could understand our experience of what they grew up with. Originally, we imagined doing this much later in life–in our 80s or something. But when we presented an idea for a different book to publishers, they all asked us to write our personal story now.

The thing Kenny held out for was to do it in the form we did it in. Other publishers wanted a technique-oriented book, with exercises and the “5 Steps to…. “But it’s not a straight how-to book, and it’s not a straight autobiography. It’s its own category. Kenny wanted to hang on to his vision of our story with the teachings brought in through the back door, through the first-person experience that he and I have in our voices, male and female. And that’s the book we wrote.

What was your goal in writing this?

Kenny: We wanted to present people a new possibility for love and relationship and in the course of doing that, bring some healing to each other. We hope our story excites people to the possibility of “conscious relationship” in their own lives. Our philosophy puts an end to the battle of the sexes.

On a personal note, having just turned 50, writing this book and presenting the material with Julia at my side is taking me into a whole new level of my career and is giving me a sense of purpose in my life that’s beyond anything I’ve experienced before.

How does a book accomplish that?

Kenny: This is not just a book; it’s our lives, meaning: This is no longer business as usual. I’m coming out from behind any facades I might have used in show biz. So now a quote-unquote bad review is not a bad review of a song or an approach to a song or even an album but of my life.

And there were some bad reviews…

Kenny: Oh, yeah. Kurt Loder did this piece on MTV a few months ago that just ravaged the book. He was ripping pages out of it and taking quotes out of context. Then he got other artists to laugh at it and make fun of it. It was like the classroom bully who enlists everybody else in the spirit of, `Sure I’ll join you–just don’t pick on me!’

What do you think that’s about?

Julia: I think our views of spirituality, relationship and intimacy scared him. Reading that we’re capable of true love and healing and that men and women can tell each other everything is a very threatening concept. A lot of the men we’ve talked to ask Kenny, “Can you really say everything?”

Can the truth ever harm someone?

Kenny: Truth can be painful, but in the long run it’s healing. I’ve discovered that in a relationship like ours, where two people are so heart-connected, she knows everything I’m feeling, whether I talk about it or not. We can walk around and pretend that we don’t know and try to go numb, but what we’re trying to do is be at a place where our hearts stay in contact so that when one of us goes numb, we feel the contrast between being heart-connected and being numb. And the difference is like that between being in a warm bath then being thrown out into the freezing cold.

Is there an art to speaking the truth?

Julia: The kind of truth-telling we’re talking about involves being willing to take responsibility. So even if Kenny said `I’m not feeling attracted to you right now,’ he’s willing to look at what was happening for him: Was fear clouding his eyes, was he afraid or angry, was something else going on? I don’t think you can sugarcoat the truth, except to not character-assassinate someone.

A great deal of my own personal work involves the ability to hear the truth without running out of the room or shouting names. That has to do with my own work on my childhood issues, and hearing something for what it is, and seeing Kenny for who he is and not confusing him with any of the other characters in my life. Of course it’s always painful to hear anything that isn’t wonderful, but the trick is to take a deep breath and ask, `What’s that about?’ When Kenny tells me I’m not looking attractive to him or that someone else is, I try to be centered enough to say, without faking it a bit, `Gosh that’s interesting, `cause I’m feeling pretty good today. So what do you think this might be about?’

Kenny: I’m also willing not to stop at the “battering” part. If I tell Julia that I’m feeling numb or not attracted to her, her job is not to make herself look attractive to me. She’s just going to be with me in that moment so I can look at what’s going on. I know that when my heart is open, she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. What I’ve learned is that when I contract around fear, she gets less beautiful. So instead of thinking the problem is her, I recognize that what’s going on is a perceptual reality based on my feelings. I can use that to get in touch with the answer to, `Why am I shutting down? Am I afraid?’ Usually I find the problem is fear-based.

Julia: And it’s usually something unspoken. That’s why we’re such warriors for the truth. Anything unspoken, even the littlest things, can become a wall between us.

How can less psychologically oriented people accomplish this?

Kenny: First you have to realize that you’re using each other as mirrors for your own growth. One doesn’t have to do this, but if you’d like to experience love with your partner on a daily basis, I’d give it a hell of a good shot! Because the only option I know is going numb in a relationship. I’ve done that and I’ll tell you, it sucks.

What happens if you’re both feeling shut down at the same time?

Kenny: I might be under a lot of stress from work or the kids and she might say, `Hey, I’m really in it too.’ Then one of us might suggest we take time apart–go out back to the studio and hit the punching bags rather than take it out on each other. We try to remember we are each other’s ally not enemy. If we forget for a moment, we tell each other, `You’re getting me confused with someone else. I love you and I’ll do anything for you, so let’s start there.’

So one of you always has the presence of mind to bring the other back?

Julia: I’d say that the relationship brings us back. We know that our relationship is bigger than either of us as individuals and that there’s a force that’s greater than us, that doesn’t require effort or consciousness. We believe love is that force that’s greater than us and loves us and wants us to be happy and keeps our hearts open.

Do you think people are scared by your suggestion that they can’t control everything with their will?

Kenny: I hear it in songs all the time: I’m never going to give up, I’m going to stay here and fight this out… Gee, that sounds like a pleasant relationship. People think it’s our force of will power that keeps our relationships together but that’s really just a trick of the mind. Love should keep a relationship together.

Your approach to love is the antithesis of The Rules.

Kenny: Yeah, we howled when we saw them.

What do The Rules lead to?

Kenny: Divorce. Because you’re building a relationship on a facade, you’re not starting with the honesty of who you are; you’re trying to make him think you’re a particular type of woman that will make him attracted to you. The rules will only work if that’s who you really are at your core: for example, a woman who never talks more than three minutes on the phone or has sex with a man before marriage.

Julia: The Rules is also all about control, and everything we’re about is letting go of control.

Kenny: And trusting in a higher power. There’s none of that in The Rules. Spirit has better rules and is going to take us someplace better. A woman came up to me when I was on the road and said, “If you told me those things you told Julia early on, I’d have left you.” And I said, `Gee, I’m glad I didn’t fall in love with you!’ Then I asked her to take a look at where she drew the line in the sand with which truths her lover was allowed to say. If you really want a man who’s vulnerable and open and honest with you, I told her, then you can’t be making rules about the limits to that honesty. If you want someone who’s going to share his heart with you, you have to be willing to let him share his fear. Otherwise, he gets the message that there are some things that just aren’t okay, and he’s going to protect you from everything he thinks you’re afraid of. And then your fear is leading your relationship.

What are your biggest personal challenges right now?

Kenny: Making the time to be together and to be able to say to Julia, `Hey, I need you with me.’ It’s hard, because she’s got this little baby who says I need you and a four-year-old who says I need you and I’m supposed to be the adult here, but the truth is, I need her too. I keep putting myself on the back burner, but I don’t like being last in line.

Julia: Part of my growth right now is to learn how to have everything exist at the same time: my creativity, my relationship with my kids, my lover…

Kenny: Another for me is learning that she does come back–it’s the same teaching we’re giving the children. I’m learning by her gentleness and her willingness to just stand in my pain and hold me and say, I’ll be back, even though I might be raging.

Kenny, do you consider your celebrity more of a gift or a burden?

Kenny: It’s both! In some ways, it makes access to media easier and it piques people’s interest. On the other hand, people do have a little resistance to the message cause I keep bumping into comments like, `What can this rock ‘n’ roller have to say about relationships?’ People tend to type you, and since they have such a clean definition of me as a singer/songwriter, they don’t want me to muck it up. I think some folks are afraid I’m going to drop the singing and become a “relationship guru,” which is not what I want to be or what this is about. But I so want to incorporate my music and my message. I have a dream of us going out and speaking together to people who’ve come for the music and the message. We’ll talk, then I’ll do a couple of songs from Unimaginable Life with a whole band–an unscripted theater piece. In my head, this is happening in a Broadway theater.

Can people who aren’t in a romantic relationship still use these ideas for their own growth?

Kenny: All it takes is two people willing to “play the game”–or maybe “dance” is a better way to put it. I think it’s especially powerful for single people. People who’ve been in a relationship for a long time tend to have more resistance to what we’re saying–they have things they don’t want to say out loud to their partner. Really, all we’re talking about is learning to tell the truth. We humans want to put our best foot forward and we want desperately to be liked–and loved. All we’re saying is, OK, that’s fine. But tell the truth. And have a little trust.

For a complete list of the Loggins’ show dates and appearances, visit their Web site: www.kennyloggins.com. To order the book, call (800) 223-0690.

RELATED ARTICLE: A Whole New Set of `Rules’

Kenny and Julia Loggins deliberately avoided writing a technique-oriented self-help book. But they did include a list of 10 “truths,” which they formulated around the time of their wedding in 1992.

1 There is a Spirit that loves me and wants me to have love in my life.

2 The Spirit gives us nothing we’re not ready for.

3 Love always heals.

4 Truth is the expression of love and is therefore always the necessary healing and loving action.

5 Intuition is the voice of the Spirit and will always take me where I belong.

6 Feeling is the path to intuition.

7 As I do what’s fight for me, what serves my heart, that action is always right for everyone around me.

8 There is no “bad self.”

9 Love is always to be trusted.

10 You are not your fear.

Reprinted from The Unimaginable Life, with permission from Kenny and Julia Loggins.

RELATED ARTICLE: Summer Salad with Rainbow Dressing

Toss together: 4 cups organic baby greens 1 cup grated carrot 1/4 cup grated beets 1 cup fresh trimmed sweet peas 1 cup chopped tomatoes 1 cup chopped arugula

Rainbow dressing: 1 avocado Juice of 1 to 2 lemons 1 cup carrot juice 1 clove garlic 1 cup grated beets 1 tsp. rice syrup 1 cup chopped cucumber

Blend well and chill. Serves 4

Suzanne Gerber is senior health editor of Vegetarian Times.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Sabot Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group