rituals: to infinity …and beyond (ginger lobdell)

Oh man, it’s only week two of RITUALS, and I’m already a weepy mess.  Once again, we’re looking at those ordinary, not-so-boring rituals of our everyday lives that make the story deeper.  And for my friend Ginger the words she’s whispered to each of her boys at the end of the day, every day of their young lives, CERTAINLY makes the story deeper.  Enjoy, oh, enjoy.  
Ginger open

My shoulders fell as I stared at the dirty pots and pans in front of me.

The rumble of brotherly wrestling from my older sons traveled down the hall. That wasn’t the sound of boys getting ready for bed. They didn’t seem the least bit tired, but I was exhausted.

Sigh. Maybe I should just tell them goodnight so I can cross this day off the calendar. They’ll understand.

My husband was deployed somewhere in the Middle East with the military, and I had spent a long day worrying about my Beloved while holding down the fort here at home. I couldn’t wait until I could crawl under my own covers and finally let this day fade away.

“Mommy, may you please snuggle with me?”

My youngest just looked so cute standing there in his dinosaur jammies, big brown eyes looking up at me. I love how he still mixes up his words sometimes, and I couldn’t say no.

Sure, Honey. Go brush your teeth and I’ll be right there…

The dishes would just have to wait.

I separated the big boys, sent them to finish getting ready for bed, and promised each one that, “Yes, I’ll come snuggle with you, too.” 

I collapsed into our littlest’s bed, and he snuggled close as I put my arm around him.

We chatted about the things important to him that night: how “pokeypines” have quills, how spiders have eight eyes, and how a brother ate the last cookie. Then we prayed together, and I kissed his squishy cheek goodnight.

Quinn, do you know what?

“You love me.”

How did you know that’s what I was going to say?

He smiled and pulled the covers up to his dimpled chin. “Just because! I know you love me. Goodnight, Mommy.”

I’m so glad, Honey. I DO love you! Then I added the thing I’d said to them every night since they were born, To infinity… and beyond! 

I walked across the hall to my middle son’s room. His freckled face beamed up at me from over a Wimpy Kid book.

“Mom, you’ve gotta read this part!”

We sat and laughed together as we followed the latest shenanigans of Greg and Rowley. He prayed his sweet little prayer, and then I gave the top of his crazy hair a smooch. “Blech!” he giggled as he wiped away my kiss.

I love you so much, Aiden. To infinity… and beyond! Our familiar bedtime phrase made him grin.

“I love you, too, Mom!”

 My oldest son was humming along to the song playing in his headphones. I tousled his thick black hair aside and kissed his forehead.

Goodnight, Camden. Sleep well, Dude. I love you.

And I turned back toward the door. I left off our last phrase, guessing that he was getting too old for Toy Story humor. I usually tried to not embarrass him too much.

“Mom, can I talk to you about something?”

I recognized the hurt in his voice, and I realized that my little guy who wasn’t so little anymore needed me. Everything else faded away as I sat down beside him and he let me into his world. I listened as his thoughts, his fears, and his questions all came trickling out as he shared what was on his young heart.

I looked down at our feet as we talked, amazed to find that they were the same size. I wondered how I could have blinked and missed that he was not a little boy anymore. He had grown into a young man, but he would always be my baby.

I gathered him into my arms when a tear escaped down his cheek, and I held him. I don’t know how long we sat there, but after a while he looked up and gave me a hint of a smile. There’s my boy. He’s going to be okay.

I ruffled his hair once more, and hugged him close before turning out the light.

Goodnight, Buddy. 

“Goodnight. Hey, Mom? I love you. To infinity… and beyond.”

Ginger bioGinger is wife to her Beloved, mommy to three boys, bookworm, survivor of a broken heart, and Kansas girl! Her Yellow Brick Road has led her through deep valleys of loneliness, betrayal, incredible heart ache, divorce, illness, and searching. She has also encountered the glorious paths of motherhood, friendship, rapture, butterflies – oh the butterflies, promise, hope, healing, new beginnings, and a love that she had never known possible. She would love to share with you how it came to exist in her very own not-so fairy tale at justoneoftheboys.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

friendship, unrequited.

Flickr Creative Commons: Rebecca.
Flickr Creative Commons: Rebecca.

What’s my badge of honor?

My ability to make, keep and be a good friend to many.

Pinned to the front pocket of my coat, I used to marvel at a seemingly natural ability to consistently maintain friendships despite distance or life stage, lack of common interest or even feelings of obligation.

Given the choice, if I had to choose between having three worthy, true and real friends, and fifty nice, fluffy and occasionally authentic friends, I’d choose the latter. Despite glaring evidence that I wasn’t necessarily able to have and do it all when it came to Being a Good Friend, I boasted needlessly in my capacity to love others well.

Because I knew what it meant to be a good friend: call them, text them, email them.

Pursue the living socks off them.

Be all things to all friends.

Ask a million questions.

Think of them and remember them and love them well …because this, this is what really matters.

And really, it wasn’t always a bad thing, it was just what I did and who I was. Because if I chose you – if I made the conscious decision to invest in your life, to cheer you on and make you feel like a million bucks – then you were one lucky cat.

Friend Whore that I was, I gained another contact for my phone list.

Certainly, there were seasons. In middle school and high school I leapt into the social pool of relationships, shameless in my ability to call myself Friend to every student in my graduating class: the preps, the drama kids, the nerds and the jocks. The druggies, the band geeks, the choir nerds and the no-names, I fit in everywhere and nowhere, all at the same time.

For each group I had a reason and an in, and excuse and a chameleon-like ability to adapt to any people-filled situation.

I calmed down in college, and further accepted that not every friendship was meant for life upon entering the work force. But at my core, I continued to believe one thing: friendships were at my disposal, at my discretion.

I alone held the key to their existence.

That is, until I didn’t.

Sometimes we put our hearts out there, pinning another with friendship’s badge of honor. We select them as a part of Soul’s Society. We invite them into our circle and we call them our own. We name them Our People, we deem them family. We believe ourselves so deeply knit with this person, this Other, that we remain blind to friendship’s need for reciprocity.

We love but are not loved in return, at least not as we want or expect or deserve. Our desires toward friendship are not reciprocated or returned in kind.

It’s friendship, unrequited.

And it can feel like the worst kind of devotion.

We shoot them an email or we call them on the phone. We text them again, again, but a month goes by, or two, or four. We invent excuses for them, for us, but then the confusion turns to frustration, and frustration leads to anger, and all of these excuses, and all of this confusion and frustration and anger remain a cover-up for our hurt.

We’re hurt because we chose them, but they didn’t choose us in return.

We’re hurt because all our old tricks didn’t work on this new dog.

We’re hurt because we’d categorized them as a Lifer, but it wasn’t the same for them. We weren’t their Lifer, their Other, their chosen friend.

We were just another contact in their phone list, one of the fifty.

So I return to the “I” of this post, writing in the personal, remembering that vulnerability is healthy and real and good. As you may know, I’m learning to be – I’m always learning to be – and with friendships that means that I’m learning how to let friendships happen instead of making friendships happen. Just as I’m learning how to be pursued, I’m shedding unhealthy habits and I’m embracing those few who are already in process, present tense embracing me.

Perhaps it’s because I’m realizing that friendships are organic in nature.

They have the ability to grow and flourish and morph into something greater than we ever expected, but they’re not for me alone to dictate.   I don’t always need or get to play my cards.

Instead, I lean into one of the wisest, truest lines ever written in a children’s book: [we are] “…making time for people that like you, that like to like you.”

So that’s what I’m doing: I’m making time for the people who like me, who like to like me.

Maybe you can do the same.

Friendship, unrequited: is there such a thing?  Leave a comment about FRIENDSHIP below, and also check out and join in the conversation at The Other Cara’s synchroblog today!   

the 2015 reading challenge (MMD).

As I sit here packing for a cross country trip in the morning with little Frodo, I can’t help but realize that I’m most excited to decide which books I’ll read in flight.

Giddy giddy giddy giddy.

Book nerd, I know.

Subsequently, I’ve also decided that it’s best to prolong packing as long as humanly possible by finishing a blog I started a few weeks ago on my 2015 reading goals.  This follows the directive from one of the best book-bloggers out there, Modern Mrs. Darcy, who published a 2015 reading challenge.  Friends, her twelve reading ideas are simple and glorious.

So, what’dya say we hunker down and get our read on?

2015-Reading-Challenge

A book you’ve been meaning to read: God’s Forever Family (Larry Eskridge) – my grandfather helped found Jews for Jesus, and was key in San Francisco’s Jesus People Movement in the 70’s …and this is the story.

A book published this year: Lessons in Belonging (Erin Lane) – Erin and I were roommates at a writing festival earlier this year, and I can’t wait to cheer on her book which comes out next month.

A book in a genre you don’t typically read: {poetry} Sailing Alone Around the Room (Billy Collins) – you may recall a post from about a year ago, “You know, those kind of people,” in which I esteemed our friends who also happened to introduce us to this poet.

A book from your childhood: Jacob I Have Loved (Katharine Paterson) – this was one of my favorite books in middle school, and I’d love to pick it up again!

A book your mom loves: The Black Rose (Thomas B. Costain) – I even own a copy.  There is no excuse.  Sorry Mom.

A book that was originally written in a different language: The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon) – this too has been sitting on my shelf for far too long. Do I fear committing to potentially life-changing books?

A book “everyone” has read but you: The Silver Star (Jeannette Walls) – well, I don’t know if everyone has read this, but everyone except me who loves Jeannette Walls has read this novel.

A book you chose because of the cover: The Corrections (Jonathan Franza) – you eat, I eat, we all eat the 50’s family feast!

thecorrections

A book by a favorite author: Small Victories (Anne Lamott) – and I have not started reading Saint Anne’s book because?

A book recommended by someone with great taste: The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga) – plus I have a thing for Indian literature.  Done.

A book you should have read in high school: A Tale of Two Cities (Dickins) – do I even admit what I’m about to profess?  I do.  I EVEN TAUGHT THIS BOOK …without ever having read it.  Shame on me, shame on me.  (And yes, it is possible to fill up a week’s worth of summer reading conversations with So what did YOU think about the book, Joe Student?  Tell me more!)

A book that’s currently on the bestseller list: Yes Please (Amy Poehler).  Okay, I’m totally cheating since I already read this earlier this month, but since Modern Mrs. Darcy’s instructions were to read one of these books a month, I win!

And the best part?  I have all but ONE of these sitting on my shelves, waiting to be read.  Winner, winner chicken dinner.

Happy reading!

So, what about you?  Want to join me in reading any of the above books?  What books would fill YOUR twelve categories?

*FYI, Amazon Affiliate links in the above post!

a friday quote (3).

Why is it that Friday rolls around, and JUST LIKE THAT,  I want to get my Rebecca Black on because we gotta get down on Friday.  (Repeating this one line of her lyrics is never going to get old, now is it?)

But I digress, as per the usual.

It’s Friday, which means that a quote is in store for you.  This one comes from one of my favorite friends in these here internet portals, Tim Fall.  Tim is an encourager and a thinker, a deeply devoted and wit-filled story teller whose words always seem to strike a sage note within me.  So it’s no surprise that the quote he leaves has me mulling and thinking and chewing over the most simple and profound of statements.

From G.K. Chesterton’s Heretics: 

Flickr Creative Commons: Geraint Rowland
Flickr Creative Commons: Geraint Rowland

Happy Friday!

So, what does Tim’s quote – well, GK’s quote, if we’re going to be technical about it – mean to you?  Is TRUTH stranger than fiction?  And if you have a quote you’d like featured on a Friday, leave it below!

rituals: story-memories (hannah vanderpool).

Friends, we have a full year lined up for you, and TODAY is the first official-official day of guest post writing (since my words last week only half-counted).  Because this year we’re looking at RITUALS, those boring rituals that make the story deeper.  Hannah is an internet friend whose wisdom I’ve grown to covet and love – and her morning’s picture of normalcy, with books and coffee and children beside, is going to stay with you.  So, enjoy.  

12980772435_483e2d7bc8_o
Flickr Creative Commons: Brittney Lynne.

It’s 9:00 a.m. I’ve been up for a while, first with a giant mug of black coffee and my Bible, then with the laptop open, saving thoughts for tomorrow. The kids woke up an hour ago. They’ve made themselves breakfast and are talking in sleep-thick voices. They learn at home, and they know not to disturb the teacher before she’s ready. But by now I’ve had my second cup of coffee and am ready to do, today, what I did yesterday, and the day before that: call the kids into the living room and open the stack of books beside the gray chair.

Every day it’s the same, whether we have an early morning orthodontic appointment or know a math test is looming. We gather, and I readpoems, mostly, and a chapter of a novel. The kids have long been able to read on their own, and they do (it’s normal to find them sequestered in various bedrooms with their dog-eared copies of Harry Potter and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe). But I read to them anyway because it’s this ritual that makes the day feel right. It’s when we gather like this, when we enter other worlds together, that we feel we’re a part of a grander, more interesting narrative than our daily grind would lead us to believe.

If I’m honest, I have to admit that I don’t always want to break up our day with such slow, luxurious forays into the imaginary, not when I think of all the things we could be doing, things like bed-making and worksheet-filling. Sometimes I wonder if the fact that my oldest son’s voice is wonky, and that he wears deodorant, are signs that this lolling on the couch is overkill, like spoon-feeding a six-year-old. Then, too, I think about how we all read faster when we’re doing it alone.

But I keep going because I can’t shake the belief that Langston Hughes has something to teach us about the miracle of meaning, because Carl Sandburg says things we don’t yet know how to say. I do it because Old Yeller makes us feel something, keeps our hearts a little raw. Because when we turn pages and cry for a boy who kills his dog, it buys us a moment to grieve for everything else that’s wrong in the world. Finally, I keep going because I believe these lessons are meant to be shared, the words, to be heard and not just savored in the privacy of our own minds.  

I know that days like this are melting away fast. Right now, the boys prepare themselves to listen, stretching like young lions on the couches and covering themselves with Afghans. Their feet stick out the ends of the blankets, and I notice that my middle son has a hole in his sock (when did his feet get so big?). All of them are growing faster these days than I can ever remember, except, maybe, when they were babies. We have a little time left, a few more years when we all wake up under the same roof.

And then one morning I’ll read by myself again. I’ll sit in silence in the gray chair with the dogs curled at my feet. I’ll look up from my page once in a while and wish that I had the kids with me so we could argue about an interesting bit in chapter seven or sit in silence after a razor-sharp poem. But then I’ll remember that we already lived a thousand lives together. We went on a hundred journeys, were shipwrecked, imprisoned, and rescued together. We cheered our favorite heroes and mourned inevitable deaths. We’ll have our story-memories. This is what I tell myself.

My hope is that this bookish way of marking the days will have helped to weave our own stories brighter, will have threaded them into something deeper, somehow. There’s always so much to do, and many days I wonder if we’ll ever get it all done. But I’m sticking with our reading ritual for another day. This morning, I’m choosing to believe that, whatever else happens in our lives, there’s time enough for stories.

Photo on 4-18-14 at 12.08 PM #2Hannah Vanderpool is a writer, a former ex-pat, and a homeschooler of three interesting middle-schoolers.  You can connect with her on Twitter or at visit her blog.  So, is this something you do in your house too?  Are words and story-memories and cups of coffee part of your morning ritual as well?  Leave a comment and encourage Hannah below!

a friday quote (2).

It’s Friday.  And while some people Gotta get down on Friday, we’re getting down in our own way here on be, mama. be: with a quote.

Today’s words ring particularly true for me because I’m a big fan of beauty.  I yearn and I desire and I beg to find beauty – Beauty – in the most unlikely of places. I want to see it peeking out of the heap of garbage, and I want my eyes to be transfixed and transformed by its tickling surprise.  I want Beauty to catch my breath and cause my throat to hiccup and my eyes to well with gleeful tears.  Because Beauty occupies a narrow band.

From Ian McEwan’s Atonement

Flickr Creative Commons: FIND PERSON.
Flickr Creative Commons: Tristan Martin.

Happy Friday!

So, what do these words mean to you?  Is beauty narrow and ugliness therefore expansive?   Feel free to add your own favorite quote in the comment section below – perhaps it’ll show up one of these Fridays!

*Post includes Amazon Affiliate Link.

rituals: living room dance parties.

Right before this evening's dance parade.
Right before this evening’s dance parade.

I married a dancer.

Let me clarify: I did not marry a man classically trained in the art of ballet or jazz or ballroom, but I married a man whose insides rhythmically know how to move.  His heart pulsates and pumps a beat that flows from his deepest self, electric movements that wiggle and worm their way to the ends of his fingers, his head, his toes.

Take, for instance, a wedding: this summer we found ourselves cheering on Cousin and Cousin-in-law at their June nuptials.  At thirty-four weeks’ pregnant, I nearly upstaged the bride with my protruding, “Holy crap, is she going to go into labor?” belly, upon performing my marry-and-bury duties. (Well, the marrying part, that is).  But, as happens at nearly every wedding my husband attends, the other guests did not go home thinking about the potential of my water breaking. They went home thinking about the HBH’s (Hot Black Husband’s) dance skills.  

For he’s the one who befriends the DJ so he can get a Michael Jackson song played.

He’s the one who packs special dancing shoes just for the occasion.

He’s the one whose bald head drips with beads of sweat, whose Thriller-like moves part the waters, whose mid-air jumps create a circle of envy around him.

As wedding guests, we wait not for the cake to be cut, but for the boom of the speakers to begin.  This is when we’re most alive, when our defenses are down and laughter is up and anger is pushed aside.  

This is when I’m most proud.

Because dancing at weddings is just the icing on the cake, but the bulk of it happens most every night in our living room.

The ritual began a year or two ago when we began learning about bed time routines for our older son, Cancan.  Parents, we read, should establish a nightly routine for their young child, incorporating bath time or book reading or song-singing religiously.  And we’re like, we get it.  Bring on Goodnight Moon, again.  But in an effort to knock out any remaining energy the little one still had within him, we also added dancing to the mix.  Flipping on the kids’ station, Pharrell Williams and Kelly Clarkson and Justin Beiber became a part of our Normal, Ordinary Everyday.

And I tell you, there’s something about standing up after you’ve digested Micha’s Chinese tofu salad for dinner, in between sips of an earthy Pinot Noir.  You forget about the long commute you had, the hours you spent in Bay Area traffic, waiting, waiting, waiting.  You put aside frustrations of not having enough or being enough or loving enough, and you just enter in to the dance.  You embrace the moment and you feel its force, even if you look a little silly and can’t stop the giggles.  You wonder bemusedly at your four-month-old’s ability to kick stocky legs to the 1-2-3-4 rhythm, and you hold sticky hands with your toddler, twirling and kicking and bopping to the beat.  And as you look at the man in front of you, head tilted back, eyes smiling, joy abounding, you say a hearty Yes, Yes, Yes all over again.

Because sometimes the most boring of rituals make the story deeper.  

They speak to our values, to embracing the moment, laughing and playing and being together.

They’re the things we do, even when we don’t feel like it because we know, when we look back on these years, on these memories, that we’ll be glad we entered into this tradition again …and again …and again.

For they tell the story of Who We Are, of our deepest selves, of how we fight for freedom as we cherish the parts that make up the whole.  

So friends, enter into the ritual.  Enter into Rituals, our theme for Guest Post Tuesdays this coming year.  I can’t wait for you to hear from a crew of talented writers – some old, some new – and learn from the ordinary, everyday stories that happen in living rooms and kitchen tables and on walks to the bus stop alike.

Join us, will you?

What’s a so-called boring ritual in your life that tells a much deeper story?   What traditions speak to your YOU-ness?  And, how about joining us for tomorrow night’s dance party?