ZEN and the art of Evolving Relationships
James and Heather met in Austin, Texas, in 1989, where they attended the same high school. After graduation, Heather traveled around Europe, working as a model, while James pursued the study of classical guitar at UT Austin.
While Heather worked in Paris, Athens and Tokyo, James formed a progressive rock group, Power Trip, that enjoyed local success in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. The long distance presented a challenging transition for their relationship. “When she left for Paris,” James said, “the guys in the band said, ‘You’ll never see her again.’ I felt confident that initial spark could outlast the strange circumstances, but there were days I was not perfectly confident.” James need not have worried. Heather returned to Austin a year later, where she also attended UT, and completed her undergraduate psychology degree in two years.
Trying their hands at a long-distance relationship once again, Heather moved to Dallas to pursue her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, while James went on to pursue a master’s degree in writing (again at UT Austin). His literary fiction was published in several journals, and in 2003, James published his first book of non-fiction, Build a Better Buddha. While Heather continued with her training, becoming interested in cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychoanalytic treatment, James performed as the front man and lead guitarist for the James Robbins Band. He eventually retired from performance to build a successful music teaching career, before going on to complete an M.A. in professional counseling to become a licensed psychotherapist.
At the time of the article, Heather and James were beginning to work together as professional speakers and workshop facilitators. Speaking about the many unexpected detours in their now twenty years together, the Robbins shared the lessons they learned. Heather summed it up this way: “We know that we can stay together through change and personal reinvention . . . I feel that I incorporate aspects of each role into subsequent incarnations of myself. A daughter who becomes a wife, then mother, then grandmother brings experience from each role into the next. In my case, I learned a lot from my modeling and travel experiences that served my experience as a student, then a psychologist, and now a public speaker and writer.”