finding Beauty (a video).

Sometimes I get my preach on …so if this is your thing, grab some tea, pull up a chair and join in with me as we seek to find Beauty in the most unlikely of places.  Because sometimes Beauty – who is Christ – can be found in the midst and the mess of overflowing, plunge-worthy toilets.  And Life – who is Christ – waits for discovery, just like the women who found an empty tomb 2000 years ago.  So, let’s look for those theophanies, those God-announcements, those moments of Grace in our ordinary, everyday lives.

April 15, 2015 – Cara Meredith – “Finding the Beauty in the Most Unlikely” from CPC Danville on Vimeo.  (And in case you can’t see the video on my website, just click to watch it on Vimeo!)

Have a great weekend!

xo, c.

How do you find Beauty in the most unlikely of places?  Join in the conversation!

a letter to you, young writer.

Dear Writer,

You just celebrated your 22nd birthday. You’re set to finish up school in just another month or two, and with major in hand, you’ve declared to yourself and to the world around you that writing is in your bones. When you sit down at your laptop or pull that worn journal out of your bag, a calming happens. Your eyes stare at the blank space before you, but they’re not actually looking at anything in particular. They’re simply giving the rest of your body permission to enter in to the moment, to join in what’s to come. If corneas could breathe, they’re breathing a sigh of relief, for they know that truth and clarity and vision aren’t far behind. And soon, after you let your fingers do the talking, all the different parts of you will heave a collective thank you. Because writing is how you best process and think and communicate not only with your insides, but also with the world around you.

April Killingsworth

And friend, this will never change for you and about you. Always, always you will be on a journey of discovering who you are and how you relate to the world around you through words. Chances are, you’ve always been like this. You remember penning that first story in the third grade, the one about the magical tree house in your backyard. You secretly did a little happy dance when your professor declared she believed not in bi-weekly tests, but end-of-term research papers. To this day, you can’t pass a bookstore without popping in for a glance, a whiff, a refueling to soul. And you know what? The nerd in me applauds the nerd in you because, quite frankly, the world needs more people like us.

So don’t be an astrophysicist when you’re supposed to be a writer. Don’t get your degree in business administration when all your heart wants to do is sit down in the comfy chair, and morph together the already-existent words and phrases and commas making their home in your mind. Don’t make excuses for the gift that’s been birthed within you.

For that’s exactly what it is: a gift.

And you, my friend, have been given the gift of words. So guard it wisely and believe in it steadfastly. Even if you experience rejection. Even if you feel like a failure. Even if you don’t get the shares and the likes and the tweets you think you deserve, because you’re not writing for them. You’re writing for you, you’re writing to honor the gift you’ve been given.

So believe it. Believe it and receive it and relish in after the whirlwind of graduation day sets in, and after doors of opportunity open and close and open again. Remind yourself of your gift when you’ve forgotten it’s there, and when you’ve said yes to other opportunities and jobs – because this is a gift that cannot be returned. Sure, your gift will need a tune-up every once in a while if it’s not properly exercised, but gifts don’t go away. Gifts remain with us, pecking away at our insides until we let them loose, until we set them free.

From one writer to another, I salute thee with words and with phrases and with a shower of effervescent letters galore. The sacred gift in me honors the sacred gift in you – might we not neglect this perfect present.

With love,

C.

So, what about you?  If you’re a writer, young or old, have you acknowledged your GIFT?  Have you applauded the beautiful, perfect, genius way you were created, because it’s YOURS to give the world?  In this with you (and cheering you on).  Also, one last question: can corneas breathe?

rituals: on being clean (barbara lyon).

Oh lovelies, get ready for today’s words from a real-life friend of mine who insists on grabbing my baby boy every time we’re together.  Why?  Because she knows I need a break.  And that’s who Barbara is: she’s one of those wisdom-filled sages, complete with rough, snarky edges and a mean wit to boot.  So, do yourself a favor and enter into her #rituals post today …and enjoy. 
bubbles1

First thing this morning I vacuumed the apartment.

That sentence paints a picture, doesn’t it?  I mean, what sort of person am I to begin my day vacuuming?

But the truth is, the vacuuming had been rolled over from the day before and the day before that.  This morning at eight am just happened to be the moment that I could do it.

Is that still too nice of a picture?  Let me paint further.  This morning, directly after my son left for school, I realized with a suddenness that there were few enough toys on the floor that I could possibly pick them up faster than two kids could take them out and if I hurried I could get it vacuumed before the day began and then I wouldn’t have to watch my eighteen month old eat particles of day old popcorn out of the shag anymore.  So, I cleaned up, yelling every time they tried to get out a toy and after finding my baby french kissing the vacuum cleaner for the second time put him in his crib for the duration.

There, the vacuuming was done!

And what is the first thing my daughter wants to get out?  The large bin of miniscule paper pieces belonging to craft time mosaics.

“No!” I said.  Too harsh?  Maybe.  I’m pretty reasonable about messes.  I don’t try to keep it immaculate.  Goodness, I make my kids popcorn!  But, you know, give me a moment to enjoy it before it goes back on the to-do list!

And now about my jeans.  I washed them yesterday.  It is delightful having clean jeans.  It was delightful putting them on, feeling their snugness, and catching that whiff of fabric softener.

And as soon as we get to the bus stop my daughter asks if she can climb my legs.  “No!” I said.  Then, the baby wanted to stand in my lap.  Then, I splash coffee on them, just a bit, you can’t really tell.  And, finally, tonight was multicultural night at school and I fed an eighteen month old fried rice, soba noodle salad, and lasagna in my lap.

It wasn’t pretty, people.  In the now-immortal words of Queen Elsa I had to “let it go”.

All of this has me thinking.  Because in moms’ group we’ve been talking about ritual and the meaning behind the things we do as a family.  And during a collective bout of whining the other night around bath time I cupped my four-year-old daughter’s chin and looked her in the eye.

“Do you know why we give you baths?” I said, “Because God gave you to us to take care of and because I want you to know how good it feels to be made clean.”

So, tonight I scrubbed the soba noodles out of my denim.  And I picked a few cheerios up off the floor (they breed in there!).  And I wondered if this is the ritual my heavenly Father gave me to do, this endless cleaning?  Like a dirty faced child throwing a tantrum against the inevitable scrub, do I misunderstand the favor?  “See how good it feels to make things new, Barbara? Do it again!  Feel my joy at making dirty things clean!”

Today I realized all over again that there will never be a moment in my life when, by the energy of my own industry, I will be able to make everything clean all at the same time.  Thank goodness!  I rather think I need the practice of dependence in this area.

Hmm, I think I might have just given you a spiritual basis for maid service.

You’re welcome.

image1Barbara loves living in San Francisco with her husband and three kids  She works in children’s ministry at her church, blogs at solongsuburbia.com, and writes kids’ books in her spare time.  She goes to the laundromat only when she has to.  It’s Cara again: I mean, is she a straight shooter, or what?  Barbara once told me that when it comes to her kids, she only answers the question asked.  She doesn’t add to it.  And I feel like that’s what she did for us today, too.  So, write her a note of encouragement, will you?

searching for sunday.

2015_04_13-searching-for-sunday

Too often, I have a love-hate relationship with the Church.

And truthfully, I don’t always want to air my partially clean, partially dirty laundry in such a public space.  Because I’m still figuring it out.  Because I can waver and wonder, and do my best to sort out questions and musings on my own time and in my own space.  Because I haven’t always been ready to make known my fears, my insecurities, my frustrations.

But it’s the place I can’t stay away from, and it’s the place I return to, over and over again.

It’s the place that centers and calms me, and it’s the place that restores my soul.

It’s the place that I call home.

The irony, of course, is that I’m what some people would call a Professional Christian.  I went to school for an extra long time, simply to study and know and learn God (oftentimes feeling more confused after a Masters degree than before).  The last two Wednesday mornings, my boys and I have been buckled in the car by 8:05 on the dot so we might venture to various churches in the Bay Area.  Cancan and I have donned tough faces and thrown double fist-pumps in the air upon the miracle of miracle realization that we three qualify for the carpool lane.

As I drive, the conversation repeats itself:

“Okay Cancan, are you ready to be brave?”

“I be pretty brave, Mama.”

“Because we’re going to go to a New Church this morning, and Mama’s going to speak to the mamas, and Cancan’s going to go hang out with the kids.  How does that sound?”

And both weeks, he’s responded with the following:

“We be pretty brave together, mama.  Dada be brave …and Cancan be brave ….and Frodo be brave …and Mama be brave.  We be brave together, Mama.”

I get all teary-eyed, and I nod my head and promise him that yes, we’ll be brave together.  And then I meet new friends and I put on a mic, and I make sure I know how to operate the little Powerpoint remote, and I practice being brave.

As a Professional Christian.

Because the truth is this: As long as I’m in charge, I’m okay.  As long as I’m the one leading the charge, I’m all right.  If I get to teach and to study and do things the way want to do them, then I am most all right with the Church.  And maybe it speaks to deeper issues, in that I feel like I have belonging and meaning in this place, that my gifts are being used in the way God himself intentioned them to play out.

But when I’m on the receiving end, I dish out criticism like like I’m a sixteen year old scooping ice cream at Baskin Robbins.  Criticism, you want some?  Here, have some more, another scoop, and I’ll even throw in whipped cream, a cherry and peanuts for free!  

They’re too programmatic.

They’re too conservative.

They don’t like women enough.

They’re not inclusive enough, they don’t vote the way I think they should vote, they live too luxuriant a lifestyle, this is merely a social club, they obviously hate gay people, they just used the word “literal,” that song sounds too much like a mid-eighties rendition of “As the Deer,” the musicians can’t even keep the beat…

And on and on I go, forgetting that I’m one of them.

I forget the inclusion of the One – body, spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism and God & Father of all – toward all, over and through and in all.  I forget that I’m allowed to wrestle and I’m allowed to question.  I’m allowed to voice my opinion and I’m allowed to not understand.

But I’m not allowed to neglect the unity.  I’m not allowed to neglect inclusion and forget about the “all” of Paul’s profound words in Ephesians.  I’m not allowed to bring about disunity.

Just like you, I am allowed to find the right fit, to find where the Spirit most meets me in all my me-ness. Because I need Her just as much as She needs me.

And I’m not alone as I search for Sunday.

If you haven’t seen it yet, popular author, blogger and thinker Rachel Held Evans released her third book this week, Searching for Sunday.  And it’s beautiful.  It’s her best and most honest piece of writing yet.

She writes this:

…I’ve wrestled with the evangelical tradition in which I was raised, often ungracefully.  At times I’ve tried to wring the water of my first baptism out of my clothes, shake them out of my hair, and ask for a do-over in some other community where they ordain women, vote for Democrats, and believe in evolution.  But Jesus has this odd habit of allowing ordinary, screwed up people to introduce him, and so it was ordinary, screwed up people who first told me I was a beloved child of God, who first called me a Christian.  I don’t know where my story of faith will take me, but it will always begin here.  That much can never change.

So, do me a favor and read the book.  Go, search for Sunday.  Or if you’re not in need of searching right now, then gather those of us who are, and hold us close and love us as we are, where we are.

Let us be brave together, wherever we find ourselves, inside and outside Her walls.

And do read Rachel’s book.

511Xwfec5PL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I believe in this book so much I’m giving away a copy here on the be, mama. be Facebook page – head over there to win a copy!  Otherwise, how are you searching for Sunday?  How are you practicing being brave?  How are you loving those of us who are in search mode?

craving rituals: the kid inside all of us (cathy meredith).

Oh friends, it is Tuesday and y’all need to get ready for a story.  You may remember my friend Cathy from last year, when she let us into that voicemail that saved her life.  And I’m telling you, she does it again. She’s family – distantly, somehow, I don’t always remember how – and she’s a friend; were she to live closer I have no doubt that we’d begin a weekly ritual of eating together.  So, do yourself a favor and enter in to a story that is all her own.  Enjoy. 

Photo cred: Emilien Etienne.
Photo cred: Emilien Etienne.

Growing up, I did not have a lot that was consistent regarding family rituals. My family moved around…a lot. I was born in Newport, Rhode Island. Shortly after that, my family moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia. A few years later, we moved to San Francisco, California. Then we moved to the Chicago area. First, we lived in Oak Park, Illinois (suburb of Chicago)…then Elmhurst, Illinois (another suburb of Chicago), then BACK to Oak Park, Illinois. By the time I was seven years old, we had moved five times and lived in five different cities/towns (one of them twice!). 

At the end of our second round of living in Oak Park in 1979, my parents broke the news to me that we were going to move again…this time to Portland, Oregon. My stomach began to tie up in knots as they showed me pictures of the majestic pine trees and sandy dunes of the Oregon coastline. They tried to show me how wonderful it would be, but I dreaded moving again. I was finally making friends. So I went through one of the few rituals I had come to know…saying goodbye. I told my friends that I wouldn’t be coming back to St. Edmund next year, because we were moving to Oregon. My teacher, Ms. Carroll, even let me make a tearful announcement to the class that I would be moving. And then…. we didn’t. We did not move. I was breathing a sigh of relief, when suddenly the other shoe dropped.

My rickety world as I knew it fell apart. My father suddenly moved out of our small condo (and unbeknownst to me, in with his lover, David) and my parents began an unnaturally long “separation” (that would end up lasting seven long years until their ultimate divorce) while my father explored his sexuality and my mother took on the job of raising me on her own. Any rituals we may have built as a family at that point quickly disintegrated, as my mother had single-parenthood foisted upon her unexpectedly.

Why did Daddy move out? Don’t you love each other? Doesn’t Daddy love me? If he loves us, why would he leave? These were the questions I asked my mother with a tear-streaked face, day after day. They seemed like very simple questions to me…but she could not answer them…probably because she couldn’t answer them for herself.   I did not understand this new reality. I thought moving around was bad, but now I had lost my family. My dad was gone. I only saw him occasionally when it suited his schedule. I distinctly remember a friend coming over that summer to play, and we had a tea party on the lawn with our dolls. It was a Saturday, and my dad was not there. She asked, “Doesn’t your daddy live with you?”. I hastily made up a lie, saying that my dad worked on Saturdays and that was why he wasn’t around. The truth was, he hadn’t been living with us for months. But I was broken hearted about it. I was ashamed. I wanted to be like everyone else…I wanted a mom and a dad that were together

The reality of my situation was painfully highlighted by the fact that at the time, Oak Park was the kind of place where large Catholic families raised their kids. I was at a parish school, St. Edmund, where it was commonplace to be from a family of eight or nine kids. One family I knew, The Dransoffs, whose mother actually babysat me and other kids from St. Ed’s after school, was 12 kids large. And I was an only child in this sea of big families. I was an oddball, and I felt it. I watched these large families go through their daily rituals of mealtimes, play and chores with a mix of admiration, envy and fascination.   My friends complained that they had to be home at 6 PM for family dinner, or that they had to watch their little brother, or that they always had to go to church with their family on Sunday. I said nothing as they told me I was “lucky to be an only child” and that I should be so glad my mom didn’t “make me do stuff”. Silently I would think, “You have no idea. You are so lucky. I wish I was you.” I was the “adopted” kid in a lot of these large families. While my mom was working late or working weekends, I would hang around their big Victorian worn-at-the-seams houses like a groupie, watching them fight and play and laugh. This is family, I thought. Even during the times my friends complained about it, it seemed amazing to me.

I carefully observed these rituals in these large families like a little scientist. My life at home did not have many of these traditional family rituals, and I craved them like a glass of water on a hot summer day. I wanted to do these “boring” things my friends spoke of with great resentment. So I watched. And participated when they invited me to. And I stored away those family rituals like a little squirrel hoards nuts. Someday, I thought, I will do these rituals with my own family.

Finally, after many years, I am getting some of these rituals established with my own little family…just as I had hoped as a girl. Ironically, I married an actor, which is not a recipe for a humdrum ritual filled life. My 22-month-old son and I have spent the last 18 months touring the country with my husband as he performs in a Broadway national tour. Despite our ever-changing landscape, we have carved out rituals for our family. Naps, bath time and bedtime rituals are always the same, no matter the city. And while we have been home at our house in Oak Park the last few months, we have started going to church every Sunday. As our son grows, we will continue to add to these rituals, and I pray he someday can bring his friends to our house, and complain to them about how “boring” his parents are.

image1Cathy Meredith is a full-time stay at home mom with her 22-month-old son, Evan. Currently, Cathy and Evan are accompanying hubby/daddy James Vincent Meredith on his national tour of the musical, The Book of Mormon. Before becoming a stay at home mom, Cathy worked as an elementary school teacher in the Chicago Public Schools for four years. Prior to her career as a teacher, she worked for ten years in the not-for-profit world as a Program Director for an arts-education organization. She loves travel, photography, being an amateur “foodie”, and writing (when she has time!).  You can connect with her on Facebook.  Bada bing, bada bang – it’s Cara again, and I for one am humbled and blown away by Cathy’s honesty, by how she invited us into her story.  Show her some love and encourage her as she craves rituals, will you?

82 ways to succeed at costco, without really trying.

tires-5

1.  Decide that getting tires at Costco for your own thread-bare set is a great idea.

2.  Decide to go to Costco with half of Oakland, San Leandro and Hayward in attendance, on a Friday morning.

3.  Decide that it’s a Super Great Idea, exclamation point, to take your two and a half year old and your seven month old with you.

4.  See the queue in the tire shop five people deep, and think to yourself, Well, this is really no big deal.  I’ve got this.  

5.  Realize, ten minutes into waiting, that you will be attempting to entertain your children without any food, any coloring books and crayons, any balls, any toys, any anything. 

6.  Do nothing about #5.

7.  Begin to play hide-n-go seek in the tires.  It’s secure! It’s safe! Your toddler cannot escape!

8.  Begin to play “Race” in the tires. Try and wear out said toddler in hopes of an afternoon nap.

9. Make your toddler sit on the floor.  Ahem.  Try and make your toddler sit on the floor.

10.  Fail miserably.

11.  Pull out your journal, and the one pen in the bottom of your purse and instruct him to draw. Anything.

12.  Chase after your toddler as he attempts to escape.

13.  Catch toddler by shirt.

14. Comfort wailing escapee.

15.  Calm now-crying baby at chest, whom you’ve nearly forgotten about.

16.  Apologize to said baby, for Mama really does love you.

17.  Chase after escapee again.

18.  Consider why you haven’t purchased a leash for the prisoner.

19.  Hem and haw along with the other patrons in line.

20.  Secretly hope someone will let you cut in line. [See #s 1-19]

21.   Put jaw back in place after old man standing behind you calls you ma’am and asks if he can cut in front of you.  “Because I only need to return and exchange and get one new tire, ma’am!”

22.  Muse over his question. Wonder if you’re a bad person for saying No.

23.  Say No, as you point to Exhibit A (Toddler) and Exhibit B (Baby).

24.  Avoid eye contact with the old man for the next 25 minutes while you continue to wait in line.

25.  Hope that he doesn’t hate you.

26.  Shush yourself as you chase after Exhibit A, again, and vow to stop being a people-pleaser.

27.  Run to tackle Exhibit A off the ladder he’s climbing.

28.  Run to tackel Exhibit A off the cart he’s pretending to be a cowboy on.

29.  Breathe a Thank you, Jesus sigh of relief that you’re finally at the front of the cash register.

30.  Let Exhibit A color with the tire department’s assortment of highlighters, Sharpies and Magic Markers.

31.  Wonder why you didn’t visit the cash register earlier.

32.  Be told by Very Nice Tire Man that it’s going to be a three-hour wait.

33.  Realize that staying another three hours is nothing shy of Stupid.

34.  Leave the tire center without ever having purchased a set of new tires.

35.  Wonder if you’re having an out-of-body experience as you find yourself dragging two humans over to Big Costco.

36. Watch numbly as your toddler starts shouting “GAPES! GAPES! GAPES!” at the top of his lungs after you deny him access to four pounds of grapes.

37. Decide to pick and choose your battles: toddler can hold said grapes.

38. Detour to the alcohol aisle.

39.  Consider the phrase, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.”

40.  Treat yourself a nice bottle of Chardonnay and promise to keep to Pacific Standard Time’s five o’clock.

41.  Eat sample #1: raviolis!

42. Avoid purchasing any discount books and give yourself a pat on the back.  You WILL support the independent bookstores.  You WILL read the 89 unread books waiting patiently on your shelves.

43. Listen as toddler proceeds to scream “PYJAMAAAAAAAAAAAAAS” when you won’t let him put on his new pajamas in the middle of Costco.

44. Eat sample #2: salad!

45. Become Those People as you race through the Costco maze, toddler wailing for pajamas, tears streaming down his face.

46.  Let strangers give you the stink eye as they wonder what bad thing you, Ms. Denier-of-All-Things-Happy-to-Precious-Little-Children, must have done.

47. Thank the Good Lord for sample #3: coffee!

48.  Make your way to the check out line, hoping your calculations for the shortest wait time pan out.

49.  Feel eyes widen as Toddler yells “POTTY!!!!”

50.  Leave your perfectly-picked line, racing in the direction you hope the restrooms reside in.

51.  Realize your hunch is nearly accurate, but for the chain link fence blocking your path.

52.  Remember how you once attempted to hop a chain link fence in the 9th grade and got your stretch pants and long sweater and penny loafers caught at the top.  Remember how your Esprit bag flapped violently, mockingly in the wind.  Recall how you were late to Grease practice and arrived with bloody hands.  Vow to stick to the promise you made as a 15-year-old to never try and climb a fence again.

53.  Scurry with Baby in Ergo and Toddler in arms around the chain link fence.

54.  Neglect to realize that your older son is actually in the process of peeing on you while you waddle.

55. Get to the stall, and plop Exhibit A on the toilet, facing you.

56.  Touch the side of your hip and wonder why your shirt is wet.  Unlock the answer to #54.

57.  Scream in horror as Exhibit A, who’s used to facing backwards on the toilet, lets a stream shoot straight onto your leg.

58.  Wonder if the other restroom patrons are enjoying the ruckus coming out of your stall.

59.  Give your son Grace-Grace-Grace because accidents happen.

60.  Wonder if other people are going to give you Grace-Grace-Grace for your urine-soaked smelly self.

61.  Make his day by allowing him to put on the previously-denied new pajama bottoms.

62.  Do a little dance and fist pump the air because this Costco Nightmare is almost over.

63. Imagine Cuteness Overland when you picture your two sons, bonding in the front seat of a Costco shopping cart.

64.  Imagine the Instagram possibilities.

65.  Strap your baby into the cart, and miss grabbing your toddler who is now running full-speed in the opposite direction.

66. Stand there in horror as he ignores your plea to STOP!

67.  Start going through your options – cart or no cart – as he ignores your shouts to WAIT!

68.  Watch as he keeps running.

69. Leave your baby, your food, your purse, your everything in the cart to chase after the miniature human.

70.  Think you are faster than him.

71.  Realize that you aren’t, and vow to go to the gym.

72.  Watch in disbelief as he rounds the corner.

73.  Mutter, “I really don’t get paid enough to do this,” as you pick up your pajama-clad toddler.

74.  Arrive back at your cart and notice a little old lady starting to push your cart forward.

75.  Hope little old lady isn’t trying to steal your baby.

76.  Say, “Um, thank you?” and steal back your baby.  And your cart.

77.  Strap a wailing and screaming toddler into the cart next to Baby Brother.

78.  Remind Big Brother that “We’re gentle,” as he attempts to claim the entire seat area for himself.

79.  Be reminded that your “we’re” is not always a part of his vocabulary.

80.  Secure a place in line, again.

81.  Neglect to take the Instagram picture.

82. Lament over your bill, for everything you never knew you needed…

When all you came here for was a new set of tires. 

Happy Friday!

So, how was your day?  Tell me a story.  Make me laugh.  In this with you.  Xoxo, c. 

rituals: the sound of celebration (abby norman).

Guest post Tuesday, exclamation point!  I really like today’s writer (but whenever is that not the case?), and I also really like today’s post (…but whenever is that not the case?)  Because this thing called Life, in and of itself, is worthy of celebration. And Abby Norman gets that.  So, enjoy the story of the ordinary everyday she tells today, that not-so-boring ritual that makes the story deeper. 

Photo cred: www.popsugar.com
Photo cred: http://www.popsugar.com

We don’t have many rituals. I love fun, and am easily drawn in by novelty. I was told I would surely grow out of this, that is the best part of no longer being in my twenties. People have stopped telling me that I will grow out of myself; now I can grow into it.

My propensity toward novelty means that it is sort of difficult to keep rituals. I know that kids thrive with night time rituals and when I am putting my three year old into bed for the fifteenth time I swear that tomorrow the night-night song and story will begin. But then there is a new show on television, or the girls imaginary play is just too good to interrupt, or the mud pie making in the spring time yard means that we needed a bath and then things got crazy with the bath paints. I love all of it. You skip a night time ritual enough and then there is no ritual at all.

But there is one thing I like do, like to have, like to use. There is one ritual I keep cold in my refrigerator, just so that I can have it on hand whenever the occasion may arise. I keep a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator, and I open in when there is something worth opening.

It is a ritual of celebration.

Sometimes, the good thing that happens is an acceptance letter for a conference, an academic journal, a contribution blog. Sometimes it is a Friday. Sometimes the good thing is that no one, not the four year old, the three year old, the dog, peed on the floor. Sometimes the good thing we are celebrating is that we have champagne in the fridge. Recently it was celebrating my friend’s engagement, mostly for them and their new life together, a little bit for me because I set them up. I got it right.

I like champagne. I just like it. This is the reason this celebration ritual started, but it has turned into something more. Most people like champagne, so it is a ritual many of us can participate in (I keep sparkling grape juice now, for my abstaining friends. Everyone gets to be in on this party.) But I think the thing, the little extra oomph that has made it stick, is the sound.

Everyone knows the sound of a champagne bottle opening. The POP is in movies and even songs. Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, these big events are punctuates, opened and closed by the opening of a champagne bottle. This noise and the subsequent pouring and passing are often followed by toasts.

I love toasts. My husband and I met on a speech team, we both have taught public speaking, and the toast is one of our favorite assignments. I love that in a toast, you have the opportunity to stand up, look someone in the eye, and tell them all the great things you really think about them, to let other’s bare witness to that. I think this should happen more than three times in your life.

So, if someone walks through my door with good news, don’t be surprised if I head for the refrigerator, get out the mason jars (all the champagne flutes broke), carefully untwist the wire and put a towel over the cork. I will twist slowly and purposefully until I hear the POP, the alarm that something good has happened. I will pour a little out for all who want to join in the celebration, and I will celebrate with you. I will look you in the face and tell you I am proud of you, glad for you. I will tell you all the good things I should tell you for no reason, simply because they are true. I will replace that bottle with a new one, waiting for another reason to celebrate.

Anewheadshotbby lives and loves in the city of Atlanta.  She swears a lot more than you would think for a public school teacher and mother of two under three. She can’t help that she loves all words.  She believes in champagne for celebrating everyday life, laughing until her stomach hurts and telling the truth, even when it is hard, maybe especially then. You can find her blogging at accidentaldevotional and tweeting at @accidentaldevo.  Abby loves all kinds of Girl Scout cookies and literally burning lies in her backyard fire pit.  Cara again: I mean, do you love Abby’s words (and her heart), or WHAT? Leave her some love below, and then run as far as you can store-ward for that bottle of bubbly!