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Our First Date

By 09/08/2014February 21st, 201757 Comments

Our First Date

Terreeia and I in 2007

In 1998 I was in a six month leadership course with Landmark Education. Terreeia was the head coach.

I didn’t like my coach. One day while in a coaching conversation with her I got totally frustrated and ended up saying some mean things. Immediately after I hung up the phone I felt bad and didn’t know what to do about it.

All my life I preferred to go straight to the top to get advice or coaching, so if I thought there was someone better, I’d just go to that person. It’s why I was so good at finding mentors when I decided I wanted to be in the design industry.

In this course, Terreeia was that person. So that day, about 5 months into the course I called her crying:

I’ve just discovered that I am a bitch.

“I know, she said “So why don’t you just own it?”

“What? What do you mean?”

“Well, you’re actually not a bitch, it’s just that sometimes you behave like one. When you own your faults and accept responsibility for your behavior, you don’t have to pretend anymore. People can call you on your stuff and you become easier to be around”.

“So if someone says I’m a bitch or being bitchy, I can’t get offended, but this way I can notice when I’m being a bitch and stop anytime?”

“That’s right. And there is more to it than that.”

She agreed to meet me for coffee to discuss this revolutionary idea further.

All my life I have been unfiltered and I’ve upset a lot of people by saying whatever I was thinking or what no one else in the room was saying. Sometimes that’s a good thing and other times not so much. Being unfiltered has gotten me into so much trouble and is the reason why I was fired so many times when I was in corporate jobs and lucky for me, I failed enough times to figure out what I was really good at and at the same time be able to create a career where I get paid to be honest, every, single day.

The other day someone bought my shutter colour solution because she wanted a new colour for her shutters. I took one look at her house and told her it would look much better without shutters and that they should be removed.

She said “All this time that’s what was wrong (and with our neighbours houses too) we were looking too hard, knew something was wrong but couldn’t figure out how to fix it”.

The job of any consultant is to look at a situation and be able to diagnose what works and exactly what isn’t working at the same time, not to just give your clients exactly what they want.

Anyway, back to my story. I loved being with Terreeia. Talking to her made me feel calm because my brain is so tortured.

Terreeia is a masterful communicator and her specialty is working with executives and entrepreneurs who suddenly find themselves in a position where they have staff and need to accelerate their communication and relationship skills.

Throughout her career, she has won awards and accolades for creating team environments where people not only work together but actually like and respect each other as well.

Terreeia is the most diplomatic person I’ve ever met. At the same time, she can have a really difficult conversation with you and you don’t feel judged. As I sat there, listening to her, I decided I wanted to be just like her.

To my complete and utter surprise, about 45 minutes into our coffee meeting, these are the words that came out of my mouth:

“So, you may or may not know, I’ve stopped dating David, and I’ve moved on. To you.”

I had no idea I was going to say that until that moment. Especially since I was and am a straight girl. Never been attracted to a woman before or since Terreeia.

Terreeia just looked at me and said “Oh, so you’re going to date me for six weeks because that’s your pattern and then dump me for someone else?”

No, I said, but really I was thinking, “Well yeah”.

Terreeia was intrigued and amused. So she said “Tell you what, meet me at Pride next weekend, so you can see what my world is all about”.

I went to Pride and we started hanging out.

On our third date, I met Terreeia at her place for breakfast. She said “I’ve just bought this condo and don’t have any furniture, so be warned, you’ll be eating standing up.”

When I got to her place, I looked around and said, “I can help you, I’m a decorator”. And I whipped out my mini measuring tape from IKEA, haha. Well we all have to start somewhere right  ; )

The biggest thing I have learned about being in a long-term relationship is that values hold you together. You don’t even need to have a lot in common but your values have to be in sync.

So how does a diplomatic introverted team person end up with an independent, extroverted, entrepreneur, type like me?

Terreeia and I connect through deep discussions, mutual discovery and respect, caring and generosity. I love that she’ll analyze everything including every aspect of our relationship with me to the minutia.

The things we value together are generosity, integrity, self awareness, honest and clear communication.

Do we argue, scream and yell (well, I’m the screamer) like any other couple? For sure, but we’ve spent lots of time studying personal growth and development and analyzing where our reactions come from (our past relationships including mom or dad) so we also forgive fast and move on.

Sometimes we don’t know who we’re going to love or which career we’ll end up in, but we know what keeps us there and it’s interesting to learn that sometimes love or our career chooses us.

PS. We’re on an overnight train to Halifax to start our tour of Atlantic Canada, stay tuned for photos!! xo Maria

Related posts:

My One Big Secret You Don’t Know

Do you Give your Clients Exactly What you Want?

 3 Things You Don’t Know About me But I Wish you Did

If you would like help creating a palette for your home, become a client. Online or In-person.

To get your exterior colours right, download my How to Choose Exterior Colours with Confidence webinar and get my go-to list of colours.

Download my eBookHow to Choose Paint Colours – It’s All in the Undertones to get my complete step-by-step system on how to get colour to do what you want.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

And, if you would like to learn how to choose colour with confidence, become a True Colour Expert.

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  • traci zeller says:

    Love this, especially the statement about values!! I think this is so true. Have so much fun on your vacation!

  • Rob Barkhouse says:

    Wonderful story and OMG, you guys are on your way here to Halifax??? You should stop in at the Benjamin Moore store in Dartmouth and say hi!

    Have a great trip you two!

  • Rob Barkhouse says:

    Oh, just wanted to add, that if you’re touring around a bit while here in NS, you have to see my hometown, Mahone Bay. People there have every combo of colour for their exteriors. It’s amazing. Also check out Lunenburg too.


  • Jil McDonald says:

    Wow – what a powerful sharing of your heart. That takes guts.
    I’m so very happy you’ve found your soul mate, the one whom completes you but doesn’t define you.
    Much love for a wonderful holiday!

  • Kevin says:

    Congrats – have fun in Halifax.

  • Anne M says:

    Great post – I really identified with it because I also married someone who is my temperamental opposite. Like you too, we also share our values. Have a wonderful time down east – the Maritimes are beautiful.

  • StagerLinda says:

    Wow. Love your love story. Attraction is a mighty force. When my now husband started dating me, he was not looking for a divorcee, 7 years older, with a young son. 20+ years later we are blissfully happy! Enjoy your holiday!

  • Judy says:

    Love your story Maria. It really sounds like you have met your match. Congrats !

  • Elara says:

    I love this post Maria. Love to you and Terreeia:)

  • Erin says:

    Thank you for such a brave post Maria. It appears that ‘authenticity’ is another value of yours… I love the ‘why not own it’…. It’s so true… Instead of hiding or defending, why not own our vulnerabilities so that we can be more aware and do something with them?? Brillant! Thank you for sharing & inspiring… This struck a cord and I’m moving it forward xo

    PS. Enjoy Atlantic Canada… Was just in PEI & NB two weeks ago… Fingers crossed for blue skies!

  • tara dillard says:

    You brought up a huge topic and dropped it untouched.

    Designers vs. sales.

    Perception of designers is highest percentage ‘sales’, from general public.

    Wish I had ‘seen’ that moment you told your client she didn’t need shutters. Aren’t those some of the best moments on the job?

    Don’t know about your ‘shutters’. Designed shutters today on a porch with lovely large round columns. 3 sections need the shutters, functioning casement style, for privacy.

    Want a drop-leaf table on her porch and voila, she walked me inside to her grandmother’s mahogany drop leaf pedestal table that will soon be painted and placed on her front porch with chairs etc…!!!

    Having met Terreeia, I love you writing about her. She is all you describe.

    Off to your shutters link.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  • I love this post, Maria! Congrats to you two.

    I’m a split-between-E-and-I people-pleaser type, but I too failed out of a typical corporate world in many ways because I was meant to have my own business. The only times I can “tell it straight” and super unfiltered like you are when I’m working with a client (I’m an online dating coach) who needs to hear it.

    You know what those clients say EVERY TIME they hear my tough love? “…You should be a therapist. Thank you.” That’s how I know I’m hitting the right vibe. 🙂

  • Susan S says:

    Seems to me that that’s all it takes: tandem values and understanding one another. Yep, so happy you two forged a bond. Can’t wait for details of your fun trip!

  • Lorri says:

    How gutsy to tell someone right off the bat that you’ve moved onto them!

    I could never come out and say that even if I was thinking it!!!

  • jan says:

    What an inspiring story. My words come out of my mouth unfiltered much of the time. Its nice to read your story of success and live. It gives me hope!

  • Dot says:

    Nice story! BTW. – how does Terreeia pronounce her name?

    • Maria Killam says:

      That’s a good question, it’s Maria with a T. So our names sound very similar 🙂
      Impossible to know though, with all those vowels 🙂

  • My daughter married her partner on Saturday!!! She wasn’t gay before she met Chees, but fell in love with this amazing woman for her strong sense of self and her love of family. I was proud to be one of the mother-of-the-brides. As I’m sure your mother was. We want our children to be happy. So glad you found your happiness!
    (p.s. you can check out pics of the wedding on my blog – shameless plug there).

  • bfish says:

    Your how-we-met-and-got-together story is most interesting and insightful! You are very fortunate personally and professionally to have met and bonded with someone like Terreeia — and I’m sure that she feels likewise about you. The description of how she helped you take ownership of your inner bitch is very pertinent to a work situation I’m in so this post is quite helpful and timely!

    Happy vacationing; I’ve only been to Nova Scotia in terms of your itinerary but would love to go back (I can still taste the mussels, mmmmmm).

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Hi Maria,
    I love hearing stories of how people met. Thanks for sharing yours.
    You’re lucky to be with someone that can communicate. A quality that neither my husband or myself were born with or learned. Don’t look under my rugs. There’s a lot of stuff swept under there.
    Have a fun time on vacation. Make some great memories.

  • Sarah says:

    What a beautiful story, Maria. “[V]alues hold you together”-just wow. This is so true and probably why I haven’t met that special someone yet-I’ve dated plenty of men with similar interests, but the values are so, so different.

    I’m so glad you shared this story. Thank you!

  • Richelle McCarthy says:

    What an inspiration you are Maria, as a decorator and as wonderful human being. You are so blessed to have Terreeia as your soulmate.

    I am new to your blog and am just starting my staging company and consider you a great mentor. I went back and have been reading a lot of your old posts, they are fantastic and you are a great communicator. all those years of Landmark courses really paid off. Have a fantastic vacation. Looking forward to seeing all the lovely pictures you will take.


  • Fran says:

    You are so right about values being the glue that holds a relationship together. I hope you and Terreeia have a wonderful and relaxing vacation!

  • Joanne says:

    My life changed when I did Landmark. It’s so much easier to move through difficulties when you have the training.
    I’m so happy for you and Terreeia. You are the Yin to her Yang and visa versa. Take care of each other.

  • Cynthia says:

    Based on your comments about her, I nominate Terreeia to help with BC teacher / gov’t issue, they need to like and respect each other 🙂 She sounds amazing!

  • Cathy says:

    Awww…. nice story!
    Terreeia sounds pretty freaking awesome!
    Does Terreeia have a blog?

  • Angela Taylor says:

    Thank you for sharing what is in your heart Maria.
    I can relate to much of what you say about yourself.
    We just know when we have met “the one” don’t we:)
    Had to come to the USA to meet my guy and have been with him for 41 years now.
    I wish you and Terreeia all the happiness in the world.
    Have a wonderful trip:)

  • franki says:

    EnJOY your trip to Halifax!! I LOVED the series on PBS, “Last Tango in Halifax”…the scenery was sensational!! franki

  • Anna says:

    Congratulations Maria and Terreeia! That honesty and boldness is something that comes through so strongly on your blog, Maria, and why I actually read it . . . I have always been impressed by your communication abilities – most design types are not able to break down or explain things in a way that the less design – gifted can grasp. You can. Your clean versus dirty is such a simple concept, but has made it all so much clearer for me. I can see this is partially function of your penchant for analysis. It helps all of us. Now I see that you are also getting help from a skilled communicator and counselor — someone who actually helps you shine brighter. I would love to take one of Terreeia’s classes. Please let us know if she is still working. Maybe she can do online classes and blogs on her own special skills! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • JaneBIVL says:

    Happy trip! Happy life! Lovely post.

  • KA says:

    Great photo of two people who look like they epitomize Color Me Happy. My sister is in the third ER in 8 days, so seeing your smiling faces helped me. Hope you enjoy your time and travels together.

  • GaBi says:

    Maria you have finally find the “fine” tuning with Terreeia, she did open the door for you, what you were refusing to see.
    Enjoy your holiday

  • Patricia Kramer says:

    You both are amazing women, and you are supportive partners to each other! I agree those values had best be there, I am also a strong believer in pheromones…Those give you the first 6 weeks, after that, values had best kick in!
    Big hugs!

  • This post brings tears to my eyes. So very sweet and authentic, and isn’t it the truth that we just need to recognize aspects of ourselves and own them! And take feedback from others.

    I love how you articulated that values hold a relationship together. Never thought of wording it that way, but you are right! My husband and I have the words “Love, Joy, Peace and Freedom” engraved in our wedding bands…so I guess in a way we were following that idea to hold those values core to our relationship.

    Thanks, thanks, thanks for this.

    Jill 🙂

  • susan says:

    I love when you write about Terreeia…you are both so obviously happy together:)

  • KM says:

    It is a constant struggle to maintain a reasonable facsimile of a social filter. I feel your pain. Enjoy your train trip with your friend and post photos!

  • Annie says:

    I really like this post. It made me stop..think… ponder on my own relationships and consider how I can improve them. Thank you.

  • Sylvia says:

    Sometimes, people use “I’m just being honest” as an excuse to say whatever they feel like, often spiteful and without regard for the effect on others. Then there’s the honesty that comes with a genuine interest in the welfare and understanding of the other person, too often misinterpreted and under appreciated. I don’t know about your personal side, but based on your blog, I find that you do utilize diplomacy in equal measure with your honesty when sharing your knowledge of design. You maintain a positive natured blog, which I appreciate, and you are generous with what you share. That’s the kind of honesty I crave and see too little of. I’m grateful that you found your particular calling because I think you are very gifted. I’m not really sure what you mean when you say you were and still are straight when you’re describing dating a woman…the terms seem mutually exclusive, but then I don’t need to understand the specifics. I care more about people being good to each other. If Terreeia has contributed to your diplomacy, enrichment and happiness, then yay Terreeia, and I’m happy for you both!

    • Lisa says:

      I echo the confusion on terms. You don’t need to explain it, of course not. And I cheer your happiness. My concern comes from my young gay son, who spends a good deal time educating me on gender and sexuality language, and its importance. You, of course, are under no obligation to conform, or use language that doesn’t make you happy, but it is a tricky area that can have repercussions for others.

  • Linda Fitzgerald says:

    Love seems to find us when we ‘surrender’ our crap.. and all that that, implies

  • I couldn’t agree with you more on the values thing! My husband and I def have that, now if I could just get him to talk like you and Terria do it would be perfect!!! =) Have a great trip!

  • Nicola says:

    thank yo Maria…this post has made me realize that I also need to get less offended when I get called out by my partner for my unfiltered words/actions. Think I should think about how me getting offended might be offensive to him. And thank you for the front door consulation – I am currently painting it as you suggested, fixing my shutter color, and hope to have the door installed later this week. It was such a relief to have your color advice…a weight was lifted off my shoulders!

  • Carol says:

    I found this post very moving. You are so brave to let love find you, and to just put yourself and your relationship out there. It is rare to find such a great communicator as Terreeia…..and a strength of yours that you recognized this at the time and let yourself get involved.

  • Judy H. says:

    My best girlfriend since I was 4 years old, attended the same school every year until we graduated from high school. We rode the same bus, stayed over at each other’s houses, traded clothes and knew everything about each other. She went to nursing school, I went to the university. She sang at our wedding. She went to the Peace Corps, my husband and I had a baby. Her first day back after two years in Honduras, she made the trip to my house to see my new little girl. She was hugging and kissing her and I asked her if she was looking forward to the “Mommy” part in her life. She said, “Karen and I haven’t decided yet.” I stopped short, and through my arms around her. I told her I thought she looked different when she came in the door. I told her now I knew why, she was “in love”! She never hesitated a moment, she was so happy and so happy to tell me about Karen. Thank you for telling your story, I’d love to throw my arms around you! Be so happy and so blessed!

  • Sandy says:

    Have a great time in Halifax. You must stop by the Old Triangle Ale House and have a piece of their gingerbread cake. It is so good !

  • jan says:

    Should read: Teerela and me. i.e., this is a picture of Tereela and me as opposed to Tereela and I are going someplace.

  • Sati says:

    BEST. POST. EVER. you are a very special woman Maria and I am honored to know you.

  • Dimi says:

    Ohhh… So sweet! You sound just like me and my George (him being the communicator obviously). We ‘d so hang out if we were living closer! You rock as a couple and I can see how your strengths and weaknesses combine together. Greetings from Greece 🙂

  • D.Gibbs says:

    Some relationships clip your wings…others give you wings…keep flying!

  • MarthaY says:

    I just found out that you are in a relationship with a women. I’m surprised but I’ll still loved reading your blog. I also love Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi. Thank you for all your interesting articles.

  • John says:

    Hi Maria. Terreeia seems like a great person and I’m glad you found each other. My comment does not come from a bad place but I am just completely confused by your statement that you were and still are straight, but you are essentially married to a woman??? Is Terreeia just a really good friend that you happen to live with or a partner in every way? Sorry don’t mean to be so blunt but I your comment could almost be construed in a way such as “well I’m really not gay, but I am just making an exception for this one woman”. I can’t imagine a man living with and sleeping with another man yet still proclaiming they are straight????

    • Maria Killam says:

      Thank you for your straightforward and obvious question. Our relationship is not sexual. A woman can be in that kind of relationship and be totally happy (straight women in heterosexual marriages do it everyday), or I’ll just speak for myself and say that it really works for me.

  • Candice Hill says:

    Hi, Maria and Terreeia…I just read this older post, again! And I just love it! You not only help us, in color, you help us in life! Thank you. Love, Candy XXOO 🙂

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