julie and dad - shorts and longs - julie rybarczykTo all you fathers who have
shown up,
stuck around,
raised up,
cared for,
and sat down.

To the fathers
who are still doing it
day in and day out.

And to the fathers
who always meant to do it.

To the fathers who are
and true.

And to the fathers
who hope they are
at least some of those things,
at least some of the time.

To the fathers who are
and treasured.

To the fathers who are
and longed for.

To the fathers who have
stepped in
and become a father
to the fatherless.

You matter.

than you probably know.

than you might have intended to.

than anything can ever change.

Thank you for giving life.

And thank you
for every single moment that you
have offered your brave,

Nothing can ever
the father that is


Every year, as I get older, I have more friends spending Father’s Day missing a dad who’s no longer here.

Or missing a dad who was never there.

I know how lucky I am to have had my dad around for so long. I also know how much of an impact our fathers have—whether they want to or not.

So, to those of you missing a beautiful father who loved you well, I’m so very sorry for your loss.

To those of you grieving a delinquent father who didn’t love well, I’m even more sorry for that loss.

To those of you celebrating a father—or a father figure—you truly love, you are blessed.

And to those of you doing your best to be a great father, thank you. You have no idea.


Happy Father’s Day to my sweet dad, shown with me above. And Happy Father’s Day to all the rest of you very important men!


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In my head, this poem is a song. But either way, it’s for the people I love who are hurting today.
shorts and longs - peonies - julie rybarczykSome days
it’s clear
where my hope can go from here,
where the person in the mirror
is gonna land.

Some days
I know
where the flames are coming from,
where I know I need to run
to get away.

But when the burn comes
from the inside,
when I’m blindsided
by the fire,
when they told me I was safe,
but they were liars.

When the flames lap
at my edges,
when I’m cornered
by unknowns,
when I lift my eyes and find
I’ve lost my home.

I try to
see the logic.
Is someone
here to blame?
I search for some
I curse this game.

is what is now,
and what is not.

is what I wish
and what is lost.

is I am here
and I can

So I will

And I will

And I will

And, somehow,

I’ll believe

that this

is not the end.

I have had phone call after phone call lately from dear friends who are overcome with pain. Every kind imaginable, from every kind of source. But, for all of them, there is one thing in common: The pain came suddenly, and from the last place they expected it. Their own bodies. Their minds. Their loved ones. Their safe places.

And then the news Sunday.

Oh, such pain in Orlando, leaking out onto all of us. And it, too, happened in a place that should have been safe.

Lord, have mercy.

I’m no expert, but I have known pain. And I’ve learned that sometimes the only thing that can be done, when the pain is intense, is to keep breathing. I once blogged about the song below. During an incredibly painful time, I listened to it 84 times in three days, just to keep myself breathing.

Here’s to hope and healing. May it come quickly.


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All of that to say…

pink couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 33

One year ago this was my beloved pink couch…

(Which, if you recall, was formerly Dear Abby’s pink couch.)

This pink friend and I have quite a history. (i.e, this. And this. And everything since.)

pink couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 32It’s been here with me through all kinds of life. Lots of laughs, endless snuggles, more heartbreak than I wanted, plenty of unknowns, so many good friends, and day after day of good ol’ ordinary living.

But last fall I started noticing… that movie nights were feeling a lot more crowded. And a lot less comfortable.

I looked around and realized that my sweet pink couch—which used to hold one mom and two young R-kids just fine—was suddenly filled with a whole row of adult-sized people.

All of whom were squirming for more space.

Then I looked around a bit more and noticed that most of the fabulous vintage furniture in my house was sized perfectly for one mom and two young R-kids.

Which would be fine if that was who still lived here.

So that’s where it began.

pink couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 3(That, plus a burning desire to switch things up around here.)

The undoing and redoing is still underway, but the day I’ve been somewhat avoiding has now arrived.

pink couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 31After several months of stalling, I’ve decided: It’s time to pass my pink couch along to someone new.

I know, right?

But never fear.

I have already found a fabulous pink replacement for this beauty that fits perfectly with the new mid-century vibe we’re adopting over here. !!

I will tease you—and leave you—with that thought. Stay tuned.

And if you’re looking for a loyal pink friend of your own, check Craigslist. Or let me know.









But, alas, this couch was not made for men. This fact would be true even if the couch were some color other than pink. It’s just too slim. And short. And adorable.

I mean, it might be made for the kind of men who are stopping by for a short visit and a cup of tea. But it’s not made for the men who are putting their feet up and trying to watch an episode of Jimmy Fallon.

And, so,


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pink couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2R-house doesn’t look much the same as it did a year or so ago.

And I don’t just mean the décor.

Every one of us here has been walking through a wee bit of transition…

Last year, R-boy was a high school freshman.

Now he’s a six-inches-taller, voice-an-octave-lower high school sophomore who’s finding his groove, owning his style, pursuing his passions, and driving my car. He’s growing into himself and growing out of just about everything else.

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Last year, R-girl was a college freshman.

Now she’s a totally-rocking-it-at-life college dropout who’s landing work for herself like she was born to do it. She’s chasing her dreams, finding her voice, building her business, and uncovering a whole world of creative possibilities.

Last year, I was a busy freelance copywriter and longtime single mom.

Now I’m an even busier freelance copywriter and even longer-time single mom who sees an empty nest looming up ahead, who’s trying to keep up with all the changes (and feelings!), and who’s dating a great guy.

julie rybarczyk - shorts and longs
A great guy who lives way the heck on the other side of town with his (six-year-old) son and who has been brave enough to enter R-world.

So. Wherever we go from here, there’s one thing I know for sure:

This season at R-house is a magical moment in time.

And while some days it feels like I’m just trying to keep up with it all, I am also doing my best to savor it.

Because, wow.


But enough of that.

Let’s talk furniture.




Posted in Decorating, Growing, Heart Things, House Things, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Single-Momming | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Responses


Tomorrow I’ll experience something that I’m sure will become more and more familiar in the coming years.

I’ll be sending my sweet, strong R-girl off on a grand adventure that I’m not invited to attend.

She’ll board a flight out of Minneapolis in the afternoon and, 32 hours later…

shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk - globe3

…she’ll land in Nepal.

shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk - globe2

I may or may not get to know when she arrives. I’ll only have a vague idea of where she is for the next 18 days. Communication will be spotty at best. We will be 12 time zones apart.

She basically could not find anyplace in the northern hemisphere that is further away from Minneapolis.

shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk - globe4

And I am thrilled.

Because what awaits my daughter are so many of the things that drive her: a photography workshop, an opportunity to tell people’s stories, an invitation to think beyond herself, a chance to serve, a gathering of other creatives whose hearts beat in sync with hers, and a chance to step out of her comfort zone…

and into the unknown.

Which is where beautiful
and important
and unforgettable
and risky
and life-defining things occur.

There might be moments when I may not feel quite so calm about all of this. Like when I’m working at the dining room table and R-girl and her laptop aren’t joining me in their usual spot.

shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk - globe5

Or when I wish I could have a conversation with her that consists entirely of random gifs.

And definitely when Nashville finally comes back on.

Or when fear hits…?

But that’s okay.

Because I’m aware that I, too, am leaving my comfort zone and stepping into my own kind of unknown.

I wonder what we’ll both discover?


Here’s to embracing the adventure, friends.

And here’s to R-girl. Drink lots of water. Keep your heart open. And soak it all in.

By the way, this is where she’s headed, friends, and this is what she has to say about all of it.



Posted in Beautiful Things, Growing, Heart Things, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Raving, Single-Momming, Wandering, Wise Things | Tagged , , , , | 1 Response


Okay! So! How to offer some sort of explanation as to why I haven’t blogged a single word since Thanksgiving..? Well let’s not bore you. A lot’s been going on!

But I can fill you in on a few of our furniture-slash-family developments.

shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk - mid-century modern dining set5Anyone remember this pic that I posted in November, of a dining room that was inspiring me (via @sharkgravy)? It has the exact same chairs I scored on Craigslist:

Well, shortly after posting this, I bought a great mid-century table from a sweet young Craigslist couple (for a steal), recovered the chairs, hung a thrift shop find on the wall (this photo doesn’t do it justice), and—voila…

shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk - mid-century modern dining set2…recreated the look I was after.

That’s the good news.

The even better news is that having a dining room table is awesome! A fact I had forgotten!

For the past four years, R-fam has been sharing meals around the little table in our kitchen because we had repurposed our dining room into a “den.” This arrangement gave us a cozy TV-viewing area on our main level that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. And, other than the occasional complaint from R-kids about wanting a better place to do homework, the situation was working great.

But you guys! Now that we have a dining room table again, I remembered why they exist.

shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk - mid-century modern dining set1We suddenly have space for:
– big, bustling meals, with friends and family joining us
– quiet work sessions, with all three of us huddled around our laptops
– a rousing round of game night, without needing to kneel around a coffee table
– and more great stuff like that!

In other words, not only is the new look of R-house starting to come together.

So is a lot more of R-fam.

shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk - mid-century modern dining set2Here’s to more of the best kinds of together, friends!



Posted in Decorating, Everyday Things, Finding, Fun Things, Happy Things, House Things, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Raving, Single-Momming | Tagged , , , , | 4 Responses


Did you ever notice that saying a prayer of thanks
before a meal –
something that many of us will probably do today –
is also called
saying grace.

Why is that?

What does that even mean?

I know how to give grace
to someone,

and I’m learning more and more
how to receive it.

I know how to notice grace,
and need grace,
and name grace,
and offer grace,
and, hopefully, more and more,
to live with grace.

And by grace, I mean
the soul-soothing balm of
“You’re not perfect, but you’re enough”
that fights off the heart-rotting diseases of
and perfectionism
and self-loathing
and scolding.

I have even learned how to
speak grace
to those who need it –
including myself.

But to say grace?

I’m not sure exactly how that phrase evolved.

I’d like to think it’s some sort of pre-Twitter shorthand hashtag
that actually means
#saying(how thankful we are for)grace.

Thankful for the grace
of being enough
and being valuable
and being granted
a good meal to eat,
and a warm home to eat it in,
and someone we love to eat it with,
and another day alive on this earth

(on the days that we are fortunate enough to have
or all
of those things).

Because there are many days
that many of us
are not granted
or all
of those things.

And maybe when we bow our heads to say grace
if we have those things,
we can remember the people who don’t,

and then open our eyes
and wonder if there are ways we can offer them grace
as well.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Is the image above, which is named “Grace,” as famous in other states as it is here in Minnesota? It’s our official state photograph! Which was a bit shocking for me to learn because, although it hung in so many homes that were special to me growing up, I always thought it was a painting.


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Me, a few nights ago, to R-boy: “Hey, can you help me carry in the new chair I bought on Craigslist?”

R-boy: “Okay.”

Me: “Wait until you see this chair. You won’t believe how awesome it is.”

R-boy, looking skeptical: “Why? Is it pink?”

Me, looking innocent: “What makes you think it would be pink?”

R-boy: “Because it’s pink. It’s pink. Isn’t it?”

Me: “Just come out to the car and see it.”

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 23I mean, yes. I might have a problem.

But seriously.

This was too awesome and rare and hilarious – and pink – to pass up!

Also, the problem with selling all the furniture in your living and dining room – for no other reason than you want a clean slate – is that while you’re hunting for new amazing treasures, you might stumble upon a few amazing treasures that don’t fit the living-room/dining-room slate but that you simply must have anyway.

Am I right?

Don’t worry, R-boy. I’m not making you live with the awesomeness of this chair in our kitchen or living room. I’m just making you help me lug it up the stairs so it can be safely tucked into a corner of my bedroom for me alone to enjoy.

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3

Unless, of course, you ever feel like drying your hair or just sitting under a warm flow of air for a bit – because, yes, this baby actually works! (Although, admittedly, I probably shouldn’t use it until I find someone to help me fix the frayed cord…)

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 31

This is not just my own personal Helene Curtis vintage pink beauty salon chair.

It’s also my own personal get-warm chair.

And this is my favorite part.

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2It’s like a stick shift for the comfort gear of the chair.

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 22helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 21

Don’t be jealous.

And, who, you may ask, was parting with this gem on Craigslist? Was it a creatively eccentric and still fabulously fashionable 1950s hair stylist?


I picked this up from a creatively eccentric and still fabulously fashionable 1980s rock star who had planned to use it as the perfect conversation piece in his man cave – until other plans prevailed.

He admitted that he might have spent some time in a few similar chairs back in his big-hair, rock-star days.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

I love the stories that come with my finds almost as much as I love the finds themselves.

helene curtis pink beauty salon chair - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk7




Posted in Chuckling, Cool Things, Creating, Decorating, Finding, Fun Things, Happy Things, House Things, Junking, Raving, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , | 3 Responses


paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1I don’t know about you,
but I’m never sure what exactly to say
or do
when I hear that someone’s world has just been shattered
by loss,
or fear,
or pain,
or some completely senseless act of selfishness,

or by all of that
and more.

Usually, the first thing I want to do
is convince myself
that what happened didn’t really happen.

It can’t be true.

There must be another explanation.

Let’s please just change the channel
or open our eyes all together
on the count of three,
and watch the nightmares skitter away
under the bright light of day.

Obviously that only works
when the nightmare truly is just a nightmare,
– not a life –
but this sort of reprieve does,
at least,
allow my heart the extra few moments it needs
for reality to soak in more slowly.
Instead of drowning me
in a tidal wave
of truth.

paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2Once I have come nose to nose with
what can no longer be denied though,
I sometimes feel badly
that I feel so badly
when I am
not even the one who’s been hurt
by the situation at hand.

Until I realize that,
although I may not be at the epicenter of the tragedy,
the shockwaves of pain
spread far
and the pangs of fear
and loss
are contagious
to those of us who are
and alive.

paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3So, then I am left with my own feelings
as well as the much more intense,
and immediately important
plight of
the latest victims.

paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk4And I wonder
what can possibly be done to soothe any of us?

I’m not exactly sure.

But I do know that
I’m pretty certain
it’s probably not helpful
for people who are reeling from loss
to hear things like
at least it wasn’t worse
or buck up, you’ll feel better eventually
or this is only going to make you stronger
or here, let me try to fix this unfixable thing
for you.

I only know that what has helped me most
in my own shattered moments
is to hear
you’re loved
you’re brave
you’re not alone
here’s a cup of tea
and a warm blanket
and if you need anything else,
I am here for you.

In the meantime,
just keep breathing.



May peace and care and deep breaths of healing surround all the people of Paris – and Beirut, and Syria – and all the rest of us who feel a stab of pain today.


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The other day, R-boy walked into the living room, took a long look around, and immediately walked back out, declaring in frustration, “There’s no place to sit in this house!”

Which was both ironic,

lane mid-century dining chairs - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk41
and true.

Because his mother has sold all of the comfortable chairs and one of the couches in our main living area, and the last remaining couch was, at the time, currently being entirely sprawled upon by R-girl, and the only other cushy surface in the room (the upholstered bench by the window) was covered in lampshades and mirrors and clocks and other items that are auditioning for a possible space on the walls.

I felt his frustration, as I was sitting in an only slightly comfy rocking chair, but I still couldn’t help but giggle, because of the six new places to sit that he walked by as he said it.

lane mid-century dining chairs - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk51
Meet our new potential dining room chairs, scored on Craigslist for $100 total. They are currently taking up an entire wall as I decide on some new upholstery (and find a table to go with them).

They’re possibly a tad big for my little dining room, but two of them will probably live in the basement unless needed. And if they don’t work out, I know I can absolutely sell them for more than I paid. I lucked out by contacting this seller within minutes of her post and beating out all the other interested parties.

Meanwhile, R-boy, I assure you: The hunt continues in earnest for some big, ample, cozy seating that’s right-sized for the full-grown adults now living in this house (and that makes my heart happy with its fabulous color and style).

So take a seat, and stay tuned for what’s next.



From what I can tell, these mid-century modern dining chairs are by Lane, possibly in walnut? I’ve seen them called Danish style? Or Rhythm? Best of all, I’ve seen similar ones selling for as much as $150 per chair. Mine aren’t perfect (need new fabric ASAP, and have a few dings in the wood), but I am pretty happy with my find, and am feeling quite inspired by this pic I dug up on Instagram from @sharkgravy.



Posted in Cool Things, Creating, Decorating, Finding, House Things, Junking, Parenting, Single-Momming | Tagged , , , | 2 Responses

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