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.

road bike - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

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

bicycle basement - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk the hub bike coop - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

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.

betty dangers - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk13 betty dangers - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk11 betty dangers - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk12 betty dangers - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1

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.

hymnal - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

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.

art class - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

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

baseball field - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

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

shorts and longs image

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

 

 

Posted in Hard Things, Healing, Noticing, Wondering | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

barber sharp - shorts and longs 1

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.)

barber sharp - shorts and longs 5

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.”

IMG_9503

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

IMG_9504

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.

IMG_9506

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

Posted in Chuckling, Funny Things, Messy Things, Noticing, Thanking, Wise Things | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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.

couch 2 - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk

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

SNOW GLOBE

It’s not every year that winter shows our state a little bit of mercy while the rest of the country gets pummeled with inches and inches of frozen hassle.

And it’s not every snowfall that drops just enough to leave a shimmering blanket of white that gleams in the moonlight and almost blinds us with its tiny diamond flashes.

But this one… did.

sparkle snow3 - shorts and longs - julie rybarczykAnd it’s pretty much impossible to photograph. You’ll just have to trust me.

xo

Posted in Beautiful Things, Noticing, Raving | Tagged , , | 1 Response

LOOKS LIKE WE MADE IT

It’s been quite a year. One that I ran out of words for, or at least words that I could bring myself to post. Yet. But the other day, some friends spotted a previous blog post of mine, sitting in my windowsill, waiting to be noticed, and they celebrated it for me.

my succulent - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1The story started here, last January:

golden gifts - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk 21

And now, believe it or not, it’s here:

my succulent - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2So. It looks like we made it. (Through 2014, at least.)

Yes, R-girl is off to college. She’s more than halfway through her freshman year already. Life at R-house looks, feels, and sounds a lot different. It’s just me and R-boy now. And, I think I can say, I’m finally starting to get somewhat used to this new reality.

In fact, I’ve discovered some incredibly sweet and unexpected things here in this very-different world of mine.

my succulent - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3But I won’t lie. 2014 was even harder than I thought it would be (and I thought it would be hard).

It took all the energy and grace I could muster, and then some. I’ll admit, I did a little kicking and screaming. And, on top of the actual struggle, I had to constantly fight off the rude voices in my head that kept helpfully pointing out that other people didn’t seem to be having such a hard time with this off-to-college transition, so there clearly must be something wrong with me.

But what I know (and had to be reminded of over and over) is that what other people seem to be doing is beside the point. Right? My journey is what it is. And what it is, sometimes (for any of us), is hard.

It’s hard to end a season of life that you really, truly loved.

It’s hard to say goodbye to a person you’ve looked forward to seeing, and hugging, and teasing, and listening to, and snuggling with, and caring for, and just being around every day for 18 years.

It’s hard to have no actual idea of how the next chapter will look, while holding many fears of how it might.

It’s hard to share someone you once naively thought belonged to you.

It’s hard to figure out what “family” means when there are only two people left in the house.

It’s hard to reconcile that the very thing causing you pain is bringing joy and delight to the person you love—and you absolutely want that (but you also sort of don’t).

It’s hard to figure out how to keep your own sadness from becoming a burden for the person you love—because that really would be the last thing you’d want.

It’s hard to feel left behind.

It’s hard to do it alone.

It’s hard to admit all those things.

my succulent - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk5So, this might be living proof that I can survive hard things. Even when I don’t want to.

And, I guess I can’t help but notice…

Apparently, even when life involves a lot more letting go than you ever signed up for, and even when you’re so distracted by the hard work of grieving and adjusting that you can barely be trusted with much else—like remembering to provide water (and a bigger pot?) to your 2014 partner—even then, growth happens.

Maybe, especially then.

xo

Posted in Growing, Hard Things, Healing, Kid Things, Noticing, Parenting, Remembering, Single-Momming | Tagged , , | 5 Responses

SEEING IT LIKE IT IS


Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetPerspective,
they say,
is everything.

But sometimes,
it’s hard to find.
Don’t you think?

Or, at least,
it’s hard to know
if the one you currently have
is the right one,
or the better one,
or the only one.

Or if, maybe,
you’re actually
the only one
who is seeing things
the way you do right now.

And if what you’re seeing
is slightly

askew.

On those days when you find yourself
wondering
whether a different perspective
might be healthier,
or smarter,
or less taxing to maintain,

you may tilt your head this way
and that.

You may screw up your nose
and refocus your eyes.

You may stand on your hands,
survey the neighbors,
check your gauges,
consult the sages,
wash your windows,
open the blinds,
and adjust your altitude.

All in pursuit of a better perspective.

And,
sometimes,
you may find it.

But, other times,
you may find
that what’s in front of you
is truly just a
messy,
exhausting,
ongoing
uphill battle.

No matter how you look at it.

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Here’s to having the courage to let grief be grief, and pain be pain, and tired be tired, friends.

And here’s to caring for ourselves – and each other – in the midst of it.

xo

 

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photo credit to Alex Anne Photography.

 

 

Posted in Growing, Hard Things, Healing, Heart Things, Messy Things, Wise Things, Wondering, Wording | Tagged | 7 Responses