Discovering and playing and building in this little corner of the world to document my writing life. I'm glad you're here. {If you want to receive updates via email, sign up below.}

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Friday, May 22, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week: LXXXIII (83)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

*****
I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.
***** 
Oh my goodness -- those comments you left me last week? Thank you!



There is magic in the muddle. This week the muddle is thick. We are days away from summer break. This is hard. Never again will life be just as it is right now. When kids return to school in August, everything is different. Different teacher. Different room. Different classmates. 

This causes anxiety. It especially causes anxiety for a 10 year old boy who has never returned to the same school. Never. 

Before Jay came home to us he started each grade in a new school. When he joined our forever family, he was in second grade and went to school in the district I work.

Third grade and he went to school at the district in our hometown.

Fourth grade and he moved to the intermediate school in our hometown. The afternoon after his first day of school in fourth grade, he greeted me at the door when I came home. Bouncing upanddownandupanddown he announced, “You were right, Mom! I did know all of the kids in my class! They all came back from last year! I can’t believe it.”

It was a whole new paradigm, much like life for a caterpillar that comes out of his cocoon as a butterfly. Same eyes, but a whole new perspective.

Early in the week, Jay was nearly impossible to please, and difficult to get along with. He was a ball of fury and there didn’t seem to be any reason why.

The truth tickled my ears: All behavior is a result of a feeling. Our thoughts influence our feelings and our feelings influence our actions.

After a rocky bedtime routine and a spat that landed Jay in his bed, cocooned inside his thick quilt, and the rest of us perplexed, I stood beside his top bunk and wondered what to do.
I hoisted myself up into the bunk and curled up beside him. He inched away from me and pasted himself to the wall. I left the space between us. If a butterfly is going to thrive, the cocoon must be left alone.

Quietly I asked, “What grade will you be in next year?”

His voice gravely, it seemed like he spit rocks with his answer. “Fifth grade.” Then he rolled over peeked out of a tiny space at the top of his quilt and raised his voice. “Gosh! I don’t know! Who knows what grade I’ll be in! Just leave me alone!”

Only he didn’t move away from me, he moved closer, rolling to close the gap between us and resting his head on my outstretched arm.

Still quiet, I said, “You’ll be in fifth grade, buddy. Kids with all A’s and B’s go to fifth grade. Kids who get along with others and do their best to follow the rules go to fifth grade. You’re going to fifth grade.”

“Whatever. Gosh.” He spit more stones.

“You’ll still have the guys too. Chris and Liam and Gavin will all be your friends when you go to fifth grade. You’ll still be "the guys" in fifth grade.”

Unexpectedly, his little arms shot right out of the quilt and hugged me tight around the waist. I pulled him close and said, “You don’t need to worry about next year. You’ll still be an Ayres. You’ll still be at your school. You’ll still have your friends. There’s no reason to worry.”

His eyes met mine and he smiled. “Okay.”

“Okay,” I said back, but it meant so much more than one little word can hold. It meant this family is forever and you are forever loved.

I climbed down from the top bunk.

“Mom?” his question stopped me and I turned back. Maybe we weren’t okay after all.

“What Jay?”

“I wondered why I was being such a jerk to everyone. I didn’t know I was worried. I’m glad you know about that stuff because I don’t like being a jerk and I guess worrying does weird stuff to you.”

“I love you, Jay.” I clicked off the light. Someday I'll have to tell him I have no idea about stuff, I just listen and love.

Worrying does weird stuff to you. Isn’t that the truth? The magic is right here in the middle of the muddle. We don’t have to worry. Instead, we take the time to listen and love and break into a new perspective. I’m grateful as chains of insecurity and anxiety and anger are loosened from Jay’s heart. We keep catching glimpses of the beauty beneath the cocoon of his heart. Someday it will soar. 

This is most definitely the magic in the muddle.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week: LXXXII (82)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

*****
I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.
*****

I'm pretending we're having a chat over a warm cup of something. I sit across from you in a comfy seat and listen. I like to listen. I like to listen especially when I'm exhausted. I hope you'll share your celebrations today and imagine me on the other side of the screen with a cup of something warm being inspired by your stories of celebration.

At some point, you might ask ask me about celebration, I'd take a deep breath and a long sip. I'd smile at you and then maybe say something like this...

Recently I read a quote from Arianna Huffington and she said, "Failure is not the opposite of success; it's part of success." It's been tumbling around in my mind, redefining failure, accepting that if there's success, then there's also failure.

I've made no secret that I'm having a hard time finding my footing as a writer. I keep trying to make space....make space...make space. I miss blogging. I miss writing 1000 words each morning. I miss the easy way words lined up when I draft articles or chapters about teaching writing. I miss writing slices from my family life. I miss jotting wisps of stories in my notebooks scattered around my daily life -- in the laundry room and the car and my nightstand.

I miss these things. And yet, no matter how hard I try to make space, my brain is still muddled. I sit in front of a blank page and I don't even know how to begin. I write anyway and am left with a jumbled mess and too much frustration.

It feels like failure.

My editor said, "You did become a mother to four active kids quite quickly."

Yes, this is very true.

That's part of the story, though. Those four active kids teach me about young writers and storytelling and faith. Those four active kids teach me grit and compassion and grace. Those four active kids teach me about culture and overcoming stereotypes and mercy. Those four active kids teach me about using technology for creation and the power of video and mixing medias. 

It feels like failure that I'm not filling pages with these stories and reflections and teachings.

The celebration is this: Just because it feels like failure doesn't mean it is. Rather, it might just be one step on the road to success. I'm going to fight to stay on this road. Fight to keep believing that I am a writer. Fight to ignore the world's definition of success. Fight to hold on to this piece of me being a writer because I know it is who I'm made to be.

I'm glad you're here -- joining me in the good fight. Each of us, no matter our corner of the world -- are fighting to hold on to the pieces of us that we were made to be. Failure is part of the journey to success. I'm choosing to believe this and hope that you will too.

Friday, May 8, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week LXXXI (81)


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

*****
I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.
***** 
Someone sent me a thank you note. The old-fashioned kind, where it's blank inside and you use your own handwriting to fill it up.  I didn't do anything to deserve this thank you. I didn't take a meal or give a gift or help with a project. The return address wasn't from a close friend or family member. 
The thank you was simple, but loud to my soul. I've had the privilege to invite the whole town to be part of a bible study. In the process, it's becoming a network for women of faith in our community.

It was a natural step, but one that felt risky. It was a step waaaaaay out of my comfort zone. It's been a step where I've battled the the voices in my head that tell me I'm ridiculous.

Recently, I've been wondering if maybe all this working-up of my soul, stepping into new writing territories and chasing down a dream I never expected, but makes a lot of sense, is totally smoke and mirrors.

At the same time, I've been flooded and nourished by messages and scripture and teachings to never give up. 
Never
Never
Never
Never
Never
Give Up.

I thought maybe I was just making it all up -- these steps I keep taking are maybe on the wrong path. Maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe I shouldn't be writing. Or studying. Or teaching.

I look down at that handwritten thank you note and I realize it's more than an off-handed note. It's sustenance. It's evidence. It's the grit that I need.

I will stay the course. Dreams are only accomplished when we don't let go when things get a little rocky. 

I celebrate staying strong, even when it feels like it doesn't matter.

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We have been celebrating for 81 weeks. I. Love. This. 81 times we've been coming together to find the joy in the midst of life. 81 times we've dug to find magic in the muddle. 81 times we chose to celebrate rather than wallow. 81 is significant enough to change a life. 

It has changed mine. Thank you for investing in this corner of cyberspace. It comes as no small thing that you chose to celebrate here.

Share below!


Friday, May 1, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week: LXXX


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

*****
I turned my Instagram account public. I've been using it to collect & document celebrations. I love it. Please follow me there: @ruth_ayres to find celebrations throughout the week.
*****

That's Diego Fuller, Christian rap artist. You should follow him on Instagram @diegothagogetta or Twitter @gogetta4Christ.

Today I heard his story and it soothed the story I am living. Jay had a day where he made a choice he wished he didn't make. Then he lied to cover it up.

This morning I was trying to celebrate the way Jay quickly turned to the truth and then, as soon as he got in the car with Andy after school, he told him the whole story.

This is a celebration. The turning to the truth is always a celebration. Admitting the truth is also a celebration. These are big steps in trust and security. These are steps I can rejoice as his momma, but the truth of the matter is the damage is still done. He made a mistake and it is one that people will remember.

I carried this bittersweet celebration with me into today's opening session of CAFO 2015, trying to cling to the truth that healing is always a process and this is evidence of Jay's healing. 

Then I heard Diego's story. As a teenage foster child, he burnt down his parent's house. His dad told the story, telling of getting clothes at Walmart for the next day and checking into a hotel. Diego had foster brothers and they were all sure they would be moved to a new placement the next day.

This never happened, because their parents knew the commitment of forever families. 
Today, Diego surprised his dad by showing up on stage beside him. He shared the power of unconditional love. Because of the big mistake of burning the house to the ground and the family remained intact, Diego (and his brothers) realized the power of being engrafted into a family.

There I sat, a little momma from a little town with a little boy who made a poor choice the day before. And I realized it's the love that shows up on the other side of the poor choices that heals a child. When love stands firm on the other side of a poor choice, family becomes real. Love is real. 

I celebrate -- truly celebrate -- getting to love my son on the other side of a tough day. I celebrate the power of sharing stories so we can make one another resilient. I celebrate healing love.

And I especially celebrate finding a rap artist with a positive message for Jay to love singing along with. Check out Diego Fuller's album, Engrafted.

I hope you'll celebrate and invite someone to join us!