THAT’S WHAT’S UP

Tomorrow I will point my Honda Pilot in the direction of R-girl, load her stuff back into it, and drive her home from her first year of college.

I have no idea how this is even possible. I literally just dropped her off. And yet, this day feels decidedly different than last August 28 did. Like, different-universe different. So a few things must have happened in between now and then. Right?

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetBecause, in case you missed it, I had kind of a rough time saying goodbye to R-girl last fall – and to the amazing chapter of my life that ended when she left.

Besides the fresh absence of one of my favorite people to hug, besides the huge void in our suddenly two-person household, besides the mid-life-crisis-divorced-single-parent anxieties, the worst part of saying goodbye to that chapter was that I had no idea how the next one would look.

But I had plenty of fears.

What if R-girl and I were finished? What if I was not only losing her in proximity but also in relationship? What if I would now only hear from her on Mother’s Day and see her at Christmas, if I was lucky? What if I would no longer get to listen to her hopes and her dreams and her analysis of everyone’s Myers-Briggs personality types and her crazy, giggly antics with her very best friends? What if I was being demoted to the least important person in her life? 

I knew that all of those losses were possible. I knew that many losses were necessary and normal. I knew I would survive. But I didn’t yet know how.

If I’m being honest, I was as scared as I was sad. Yes, I was happy for R-girl to start her new life, but a big part of me wanted things to stay the way they had been for so long. Familiar and comforting. I felt childish and selfish to sometimes want the opposite of what she was so excited for. I felt alone as I wrestled the unknowns – as well as the knowns. And I felt helpless to fight off the feelings.

So I didn’t.

I let them come.

I let her go.

I let time pass.

I let myself adjust, reacclimate, and start to enjoy the new rhythms of my life.

And now…

I find myself here.

A whole school year into this new chapter.

Things have definitely changed. In some pretty great ways, actually. There have been a few (very sweet) surprises. And even though R-girl is coming home for the summer, it’s clear: This is a new chapter of R-fam, not a return to the old one. And that’s a good thing.

Oh, and guess what? 

Here’s what:

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Here’s to new chapters being unexpectedly richer than the last, friends. xo

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

IS THIS REAL LIFE?

spring blossoms 2 - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1
Do you ever find it hard to believe
that the season you’ve longed for
and dreamed of
and spoken of only in whispers

for so long

that it began to seem more like legend
or fairytale
or prophesy
of the most fantastically preposterous variety –
and the monotony of waiting for it
eventually lulled your hope into a
cold
dark
deep
endless
slumber –

may have actually arrived?

spring blossoms 2 - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2

Me too.

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Here’s to signs of new life (and warmth), friends.

xo

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And also, here’s to Margit Mindrum, who I just discovered is the talent behind the painting that currently hangs near my front door. I found it at a thrift store (naturally) but decided to learn who M. Mindrum is.

Here’s what I now know:
– She didn’t start painting until she was in her mid-50s – after her six children were grown.
– Over the next 20 years, she completed more than 600 paintings and had a waiting list three years long.
– She was featured in an exhibition at the James J. Hill House, titled “Minnesota Painters of Norwegian Background.”
– She never had any formal training.
– She wrote a memoir for her family and called it No Change My Heart Shall Fear, which sounds so inspiring that I’m considering buying it on Amazon. I would bet she borrowed the title from a line in this hymn.

Thanks for creating so much beauty in the second half of your life, Margit, and for welcoming this new season to mine.

 

 

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MOTHERING

to mother - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

To mother is

to care for
to sacrifice
to protect

to soothe
to see
to hold

to cheer
to guide
to clean up messes

to play
to cry
to ache

to smother
to control
to royally mess up

to own it
to learn
to grow

to hang on
and
to let go

over and over again.

 

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Whether the mothering in your life came from your mother, or from others, or from your own adult self; whether it came from somewhere up above, or someone unexpected, or some intricately woven combination of it all…

Whether you have birthed a child, or raised one, or loved one, or nurtured the child-heart inside someone else…

Whether your experience with your mother was safe and precious, or jagged and complex, or distant and unclear, or all of the above…

Happy Day of Truly Needed and Beautifully Human Mothers.

 

xo

 

Posted in Beautiful Things, Celebrating, Happy Things, Heart Things, Kid Things, Parenting, Single-Momming, Thanking, Wise Things, Wording | Tagged , | Leave a comment

THINGS I LEARNED IN APRIL

1. The new bike that has joined our household may be from the 80s but apparently it’s not cool to call it a ten-speed anymore.

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2. Some bike shops are more aesthetically pleasing than others.

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3. The new, gaudy ferris wheel that just went up in Northeast Minneapolis provides a 20-minute ride complete with drinks, snacks, a fantastically kitchy experience, amazing views of the city, and, best of all, a blanket if you’re chilly/me. I definitely recommend checking out the brand new Betty Danger’s Country Club. The day R-boy and I stopped in (as a short detour on our first long bike ride of the spring), the Food Network was there filming. Perhaps we will be famous.

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4. My childhood church still uses the same hymnals. I learned this while I was there watching my niece and nephew perform in an adorable musical at my alma mater church.

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5. Artists are everywhere. And not just at the St. Paul Art Crawl, where I met some amazing painters last weekend. Also in the incredible circle of beautiful, creative people who surround my life. And also in the high school classroom where my friend Stephanie teaches art.

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6. I stay far warmer on a January day that’s 30 degrees below zero than pretty much any spring day during baseball season.

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7. These two people continue to amaze and delight me.

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8. And life can take some pretty crazy turns. Now and then, some really beautiful ones that catch you completely off guard.

Am I right?

 

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Here’s to learning more great stuff in May, friends.

 

xo

Posted in Cool Things, Everyday Things, Fun Things, Happy Things, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Playing, Random Things, Raving | Leave a comment

MY NEW OLD FRIEND

You guys! I’m not even kidding. I was right here last night. Without a blanket. Or a parka. What is happening??!

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk6The cushions are out. The French doors have been unlocked. And the screen porch is officially open.

Could it be that spring may actually be springing?

I know, I know. I’ll have to close it all back up again next week during the impending cold snap. And perhaps I’ll even have to shelter the cushions from a Minnesota May snowstorm like we had two years ago (please, God, no).

But I did get to spend last evening on the porch with a new friend of mine, and I’m choosing to believe there will soon be many more.

Because the only thing better than a book or a beer or a breakfast – or really anything on the screen porch – is a friend on the screen porch with me.

So. Want to meet my newest friend?

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1We met online.

A little place called Craigslist.

I saw this guy and drove way out of my usual self-imposed mileage limits – in the dead of winter – to grab him. He was a beauty, and a steal.

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3 screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2 screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk4Perfectly imperfect, with pretty handsome bones, if I do say so myself.

I might paint him up, I might not. We’re just getting to know each other for now. I’ll give it a minute before I make any drastic decisions.

Besides, as you know, I’m kind of a sucker for anything that’s been around long enough to have a story. Do I really want to cover all that up? (Maybe.)

Either way, I think we’re going to have a pretty great summer together.

screen porch wicker couch - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk5And there’s plenty of room to make a few more stories here. Care to join us??

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Here’s to new seasons, new friends, and always lots of new old stuff to keep you company.

xo

Posted in Beautiful Things, Chilling, Cool Things, Decorating, Finding, House Things, Junking, Raving, Yard Things | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

IN BETWEEN

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetOne sunset from Good Friday. One sunrise from Easter.

Some might call it the place in between the despair and the hope.

But, really, the only people who can easily call it that are those who’ve seen the end of the story.

Because for those who were actually living that soo-not-good Friday, I’m positive that their Saturday was still, fully, overwhelmingly, a place of despair. With an ample serving of confusion, grief, fear, anger, and hopelessness.

And, let’s be honest, for most of us, a whole lot of life happens in that place – on the Saturday after the pain invades and before the hope shows up.

I know I’ve spent a lot of time there. More than I’ve wanted, for sure. And when I’ve been in that place, if there’s one thing that has kept me putting one foot in front of the other, walking toward a hope I can’t see, it’s the people in my life. It’s what they see and affirm and speak on my behalf. It’s what they believe is true, about me and about life. And it’s how they don’t try to push me to be someplace I’m not.

This song is to those of you who keep me believing – and to the rest of you who keep someone else believing. You know who you are.

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“Believing”
by Emily Shackleton, Kate York & Tami Hinesh

I don’t remember,
How I got here,
When my rose-colored glasses disappeared

Sometimes my fingers
They can lose touch
Start letting go of everything I love

When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning
You keep me believing

My fears are safe here
Held in your hands
When I’m broken
You put me back together again

All that I once was
All I could be
When I’ve forgotten,
Baby you remind me

When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days
When my faith has lost all meaning
You keep me believing

If ever your red heart starts beating blue
All you are to me
Baby I’ll be that for you

When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days
When my faith has lost all meaning
When I get the feeling
That my prayers have hit the ceiling
On those darker days
When my faith has lost all meaning

You keep me believing
You keep me believing
You keep me believing

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May all your Silent Saturdays be filled with soothing songs of hope, friends.

xo

 

 

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THE BARBER SHARP

One thing that’s always been true about R-boy is this: It might take him a while to decide what he wants (there’s no might about it – I’ve grown old in the Target aisles waiting for him to spend a $25 gift card), but once he knows, he knows.

Don’t bother with the questions. He knows.

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So when, after several weeks of pondering, he announced on Saturday morning that he had decided what he wanted to do with his hair, had found the barber shop that would do it, and wanted me to drive him there, I should have known better than to ask: Are you sure? Is this a barber shop? Or a stylist? Do they do more than buzz cuts? Can they handle that style? Can your hair type handle that style? Do you realize you’ll have to use product to make that look work? Are you willing to? Do you know how to? Do they have room for you today?

Yes, Mom. Yes. No. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.Yes.Yes.Yes! Stop! Let’s go. 

barber sharp - shorts and longs 4(I know, I know, obsessive. But, you guys! This is the boy who’s walked out of more than one haircut with his eyes welling up, devastated by a cut he didn’t like. I couldn’t take more heartbreak.)

Finally, when I got behind the wheel and he gave me the address, I understood that all would be well. We were headed to the very heart of hipsterville. He would definitely be in good hair-styling hands.

And I was right.

Or, I should say. R-boy was right. As usual.

Check out The Barber Sharp in Northeast Minneapolis.

barber sharp - shorts and longs 3

This place was so hipster that all of-age guests were offered the obvious beverage of choice.

barber sharp - shorts and longs 2(This one was left behind by someone else, calm down, people.)

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I wasn’t allowed to direct, watch, come near, or comment upon the proceedings.

barber sharp - shorts and longs 81

And I was barely allowed to rave. But I’m doing that anyway.


barber sharp - shorts and longs 7
I mean, come on.

Right???

P.S. R-boy, happy half birthday! 15.5 and counting…

Posted in Cool Things, Finding, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Single-Momming, Styling, Wandering | Tagged , | 2 Responses

MAKE IT A TRIPLE

You know what I like about Triple A?

IMG_9490

They never say, “Wait. What? You locked your keys in the car?

“AGAIN?”

IMG_9493

They never mutter, “Holy blockhead, Batman.”

They never say, “Yeah, remember that time you locked your keys in the car at the end of a date, and the guy had to sit there in the parking lot and wait for us to show up while he was supposed to be getting back to his kids at home?”

IMG_9484

They never sigh loudly.

They never lecture me on how to not lock keys in a car.

They never say, “Oh noooo, it’s fine. Fine. I mean, I think I might have strep throat and I’ve already changed four tires tonight and it’s pitch black out here, but I didn’t really want to stay in that warm vehicle of mine anyway.”

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They never say, “Seriously. Next time you’re on your own.”

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They just show up with their big truck full of magic tools – even when it’s ten below zero – smile, and get me back into my car. Like a boss. Like a hero.

So I can finally drive away from my 24/7 fitness club and take myself, my son, and my keys back to where we belong.

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Not that anything like that happened recently or anything.

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Here’s to being as kind to yourself (and your people) as AAA would be.

Even about maddening moves that might occur now and then (and possibly again).

xo

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HAPPY DAY OF STRENGTH

3To those who are
living for
longing for
fighting for
and searching for it

To those who have
lost it
so recently
the shadow of it
still lingers
in the doorway

To those who are
longing for it
so earnestly
the very thought of it
is both intoxicating
and cruel

To those who have
found it
so completely
they simply can’t contain
the heart-pounding
joy of it

To those who can’t
remember
how it feels to
actually feel it
and those who are
desperately
watching it slip through
their fingers
and those who have had it
savagely torn
from their arms
and those who swear
they never want it
again

To those who are
reeling
from the very first
head-spinning
sensations
of its blooming possibility

To those who are
embracing
the hard work
and everyday ordinariness
of it

To those who believe
they’ll never have it
the way they actually
want it

To those who can
only seem to find it
from afar,
all star-crossed
and alone

To those who aren’t
really sure
what it even is

To those who have
discovered it
exactly in the place
where they thought
they never would

And to all of us
who are struggling
to give it
to ourselves
and accept it
from others

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Did you know? The name Valentine means strength and capacity.

Happy Day of Strength, friends.

May your capacity be expanded in all the most gentle and beautiful ways.

xo

 

Posted in Beautiful Things, Celebrating, Growing, Hard Things, Heart Things, Thinking, Wise Things, Wording | Tagged , | 2 Responses

LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH

So…

This almost happened.

pink couch 01616_cyV4UB7Y2aM_600x450I know.

Right???

I mean, yes.

I do already have the most amazing pink couch in town. And it looks quite smashing and keeps us very comfy in our cozy little TV lounge (a.k.a. converted dining room). And I love it!!

my pink couch 21 - shorts and longs - julie rybarczykBut. Do you happen to remember where this whole pink couch obsession began?

It was here, in a picture from Design*Sponge:

pinkcouchAnd also here.

And I’ve often wondered…

If I could actually find a velvet version, might I be willing to part with my Dear Abby couch and pass it along to some other deserving soul?

Hmmm.

I even wondered recently with some friends about whether I would ever possibly re-cover the current couch in our living room. To a lovely shade of deep pink velvet.

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But, then again, I’ve also wondered if it’s time for a big change. Maybe something not pink at all???

And so, in the midst of all my wondering, one day last week I pulled up the Craigslist search box (where so many great stories begin, friends), took a breath, and typed in: couch.

Not pink couch or vintage couch or retro sofa or any of my regular searches.

This time, I just typed couch, and started browsing.

And, suddenly (after pages and pages of overstuffed, faux-leather 1990s beasts), there was this.

pink couch 01616_cyV4UB7Y2aM_600x450

For $40.

Uh, what?

Yes.

Yes?

Yes!!!

I immediately responded to the seller in all three of their provided formats: one email address and two text numbers. “Is your pink couch still available? I’m very interested.”

I won’t make you wait as long as I had to to know how this story ends (I know you’re on the edge of your seat).

Alas, as I alluded to earlier, this pink couch was not meant to be. For two very valid reasons.

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One, this couch is (allegedly) not pink.

I know, I know. It looks like a fabulously over-the-top shade of magenta, right? But, through a series of emails and texts (in which I was barely hiding my giddy excitement, while hoping they wouldn’t suddenly quadruple the price), I asked the seller three times to tell me a little more about the exact shade of pink. Each time, they assured me: “It’s not pink. It’s red.”

Wait, what? Are you sure? It looks very pink/purple/magenta from here.

“No,” they replied. “It’s crimson.”

But.

I became concerned that perhaps these well-meaning folks must be color-blind, so I called R-boy up to the loft office. “R-boy, look at this couch. Does that look pink or red to you?”

“No,” he said.

“What? It’s not pink or red?”

“No.”

“No what?”

“No you can’t buy that couch.”

“But. It’s pink! (Or possibly red.)”

“We have too much pink already. You can’t buy it.” And he walked back downstairs.

“But what if we only have one pink couch?” I shouted behind him. “What if I get rid of the one we already have!”

“I like the one we already have!” he yelled up from his seat on the gorgeous pink couch we already have.

 

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The boy does have a point.

Also, he’s really not a boy anymore.

The fantastic young man I live with and love has just announced that he’s not okay with a flamboyantly pink (but apparently not actually pink) couch in his living room, especially when we have a perfectly amazing pink couch already sitting in front of the TV.

Point taken.

Although, I’ll admit, if that Craigslist pink couch was actually pink, I might be fighting this a bit harder. I am The Mother after all (insert evil laugh).

This whole thing is sounding a bit familiar, though…

Oh, right! This is what my married girlfriends with similarly funky tastes have been bumping into for years in their own houses. Men. With tastes and opinions.

And, compromise.

I do appreciate men with tastes and opinions. I do.

So, friends… R-boy is Reason Number Two, bless his non-pink-loving soul.

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Okay, now that we’ve settled that, I’ve definitely got the itch to switch things up in that living room of ours. It’s been way too long.

Hmmmm.

What color couch should I be searching for instead??

xo

Posted in Chuckling, Decorating, Dreaming, Finding, Fun Things, House Things, Junking, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting | Tagged , , , | 5 Responses