I read, “The Love List,” an article by Alice Gorman, in Oprah magazine in 2008, where Alice told her story of writing a list of 100 things she wanted in a partner and then burying the list in a closet. To her surprise, a man who matched the list almost exactly strolled into her life. I read the article and said to my colleagues over lunch one April day, “I’m writing my list.”

So, I wrote a list of characteristics that I absolutely required in the partner I wanted, including, “likes adventure; listens; dreams; shares; knows what he wants; keeps commitments; loves music; broad-minded; humble; kind; makes me feel like the man in my dream.” I named the doc file, “Hear Me Universe”; I remember feeling that I was sending an important message out, and I wanted it to be heard—that my voice really mattered and that I welcomed the fullness of the relationship I defined.

At the time, I was forty-four, had ended a 22-year marriage three years before, and was on a journey to understand WHO I AM. The big-picture truth was that I was confident ofwho I am and what I wanted as a mother, from my career, for my health, with my friends & family, and in my spiritual life. I was happy with who I was in all those important areas of life. Yet, in my relationship with men, meh, I wasn’t happy and hadn’t really understood what I wanted, yet.

That list I made was my declaration of self-love. It described what I believed I deserved in a relationship. It described how I wanted to feel in a relationship.

I tested my theory in a bunch of ways, some with disastrous results, but what I absolutely know is this: I had emotionally altered my list to be in relationships where I did not feel whole. I compromised how I truly wanted to feel—sometimes just a little, sometimes a lot. Every time I gave up on my own heart’s greatest desires, something happened and awakened me from the difficultly I had created.

I learned from all those experiences I lived that I am pretty, darned cool. I’m smart. I’m kind and caring. I’m interesting to be around. I have a lot of offer to this world. I spoke these words at the end of a particularly bizarre relationship, and I felt that I was speaking my truth. It allowed me to finally step out of old patterns and into the relationship I believed I deserved—into the relationship I wanted.

When I met Craig in early December of 2009, I immediately knew he matched a lot of descriptions on my list. A couple of weeks later, as Craig was leaving for a holiday trip, I gave him two things: a copy of the poem, “The Guitarist Tunes Up,” to express how I loved hearing him sing to me, and my list. I suggested he save my list and read it while on the plane—I explained how the list came to be and that I felt he was the embodiment of that list. When Craig landed in Los Angeles and called, still waiting on his luggage, he shared, “I scored a 98%!”

How did I know that Craig was my list? How could I be so sure? I knew because being with Craig was easy, relaxing, and fun. We easily partnered to get stuff done; we loved exploring together, be it hiking or taking a subway. We loved being. And, maybe that was how I really knew: we loved being in the same space, even working quietly on our own or reading or just being—our presence as a couple felt good to me.

Before Craig proposed to me the following April, he sang David Gray’s “Be Mine,” and the lyric, “there’s nothing in the way now, don’t you see?” spoke to my heart—I felt I was stepping fully into the life I had envisioned when I wrote my list to the universe.  Our years together have been magical; experiencing my ideal partner has created an environment for growth, self-acceptance, and happiness.