Launching notes: This is love to me

It's kind of hard to believe it's been 25 years today since that snowy day in Logan, Utah, when these two kids launched into the crazy glorious challenging leap-of-faith venture of marriage. The snow had closed the canyon by the end of our reception so we were stranded in the valley and delayed in leaving on our honeymoon. Instead, we stayed in our newly rented tiny tiny basement apartment on 4th North and the next morning we went back to my parents' house and ate leftover reception cream puffs with my parents, siblings, aunts and uncles and cousins and opened presents, complete with mildly raucous comments from the spectators. Love and happiness was all around and we felt it.

As my kids get closer to marriage age (but not that close, mind you) I think as much about them on my anniversary as I do about my own marriage: what I hope for them, how I hope they find a partnership that brings them as much joy as possible amidst the challenges and everyday work of life. In that spirit, here are a couple of passages I think beautifully sum up what I hope that most intimate, vulnerable of relationships will be for them--a kind of liner notes/launching notes on marriage and intimacy. It's about as far away from the however-many-shades culture as you can get but it's worth waiting for and hoping for and working for, the room you build together within a marriage:

"The room of love is another world. You go there wearing no watch, watching no clock. It is the world without end, so small that two people can hold it in their arms, and yet it is bigger than worlds on worlds, for it contains the longing of all things to be together, and to be at rest together. You come together to the day's end, weary and sore, troubled and afraid. You take it all in your arms, it goes away, and there you are where giving and taking are the same, and you live a little while entirely in a gift. The words have all been said, all permissions given, and you are free in the place that is the two of you together. What could be more heavenly than to have desire and satisfaction in the same room? If you want to know why even in telling of trouble and sorrow I am giving thanks, this is why." (Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter).

"But you may have a long journey to travel to meet somebody in the innermost inwardness and sweetness of that room. You can't get there just by wanting to, or just because the night falls. The meeting is prepared in the long day, in the work of years, in the keeping of faith, in kindness." (Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter).

"There’s no vocabulary for love within a family, love that’s lived in but not looked at, love within the light of which all else is seen, love within which all other love finds speech.  This love is silent." (T. S. Eliot)


Title stolen from this love song from The Light in the Piazza, which I loved from the moment I saw at its Lincoln Center debut. Swoon.

p.s. Full disclosure: A version of this post was cross-posted at Basic Joy. You know, for posterity.

Launching notes: 30-38

It's been about a year(!) since I wrote an installment of launching notes and I think it's high time for another few. What are launching notes, you ask? Here's what I wrote in that first post: 

One day two [now three] years ago, I suddenly realized that Lauren (who's our oldest) would really, truly be leaving home for university at the end of the summer. What had been purely hypothetical for so long was quickly shifting into the actual. Do you know what you do when you think you have just three months left to impart what little wisdom about the world you’ve acquired? You panic a little. You wonder if you’ve done/said/explained enough. And then you realize: no. No, I haven't told her everything yet. 

Anyway, back on that day in 2011 I started writing down some of my observations about being a grown-up that I wanted my kids to know. I called it my liner notes because waaaaay back in the day I pored over the liner notes of CDs, curious to find the story behind the music. What I hoped to do with my liner notes (and still do) was to set down the story behind the music of growing up and setting off on your own, to school my kids in the lyrics of life. (I also interchangeably call them launching notes.)

I should add that now I know that there’s not just one launch day, one departure. Leaving for college is a huge milestone moment for everyone involved but there are still many more moments to teach and debrief and parent, especially during all the comings and goings of the revolving door of the college and young adult years. Now that we've been through that cycle several times with Lauren, my proverbial apron strings are getting all stretched out and frayed from all the tying and retying and adjusting. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

See other liner notes, 1-29, here.

30. Find a place that brings you back to yourself, a geography of you. [I recognize we haven't made this easy on you, with our several moves around the world. For me it became my grandparents' cabin at Wildwood, a comforting, magical geographical constant in my life. In fact, this whole post is inspired by things I learned at Wildwood. My dream is to have a place like that for our family someday, too.

31. Know what's most important to you. Build your life around those things.

32. Speaking of building, build things that last.

33. Worship in lots of ways. At church. With music. In poetry. In meditation. When holding your babies. In nature. As the fireplace at Wildwood says (via Martin Luther), A mighty fortress is our God. 

34. Relatedly, be curious and conversant about other religions and points of view. Don't make assumptions but seek to understand and look for the good in each person.

35. There's something pretty magical about conversations around a hearty fire. Learn how to build a fire and stoke a good conversation.

36. Find excuses to make things with your hands. You choose: quilts? stained glass? wood carving? cabins? gardens? Find a passion and get good at it.

37. As Mary Oliver said, " I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed." Sing often.

38. Get outside every day. Fresh air clears your brain and moving around in nature brings perspective and clears the sludge from your bloodstream.


I'm writing occasional launching notes, bits of advice to my kids about how to be a gracious, grown-up type person--both trivial bits and major advice. Do you have any launching notes to add? Keep 'em coming!  You can email me through the link in the sidebar.

Launching notes: School/college edition

This installment of launching notes addresses what I want my kids to know about the student years (see also: mistakes I would avoid, things I wish I would have known, and things that occurred to me too late).

Lauren as a freshman in an impossibly empty bookstore

Lauren as a freshman in an impossibly empty bookstore

17.  Dream big*. I think those dreams were planted inside you for a reason. Listen to them, shoot high, and buckle down and make it work. We believe in you.

18.  Browse the university book aisles to find classes/ideas/subjects you might love to take next semester. Oh, and buy the used books as much as you can, keep the receipts, and sell back the ones you don't need longer term (that's probably four in one but this is my list so I'll multiply if I want to :).

19. Ask questions. Literally, in class. You never know unless you ask. Go ahead, raise your hand.

20. Make connections. Between ideas and different classes you take. And, especially, with people: professors/teachers, friends, fellow students. And us, your family. Still connect with us :) 

21. Take advantage of these years*. They're unique and pretty much all about you. Fill 'em up.

22. Be silly sometimes. Have a blast.

23. Learn from your mistakes. You'll make them. It's okay.

24. Take some classes Just Because. Even if they don't count a bit toward your major or graduation. Now's your chance to take ballroom dance/moral philosophy/flower design/golf/whatever.

25. Sit up front now and then.

26. Start those term papers early. Bit by bit is better. Just trust me on this: everyone thinks they can crank out a paper in one procrastinated all-nighter. I'm here to tell you that it will show.

27. Don't walk by yourself after dark. Pretty please.

28. Ask more questions.  Nudge your assumptions, look at things from another perspective, open up to other ideas/explanations/approaches.

29. Remember how very much we love you. We do. We really, really do.

Do you agree with any of these in particular or have something to add? Chime in in the comments. 

* Borrowed from Lee Woodruff's advice to her son when he left for college. Check out her terrific series of posts about sending a child to college: preparingdropping off, and recovering. Couldn't have said it better myself.


I'm writing occasional launching notes (read more about them here), bits of advice to my kids about how to be a gracious, grown-up type person--both trivial bits and major advice. 

 

Launching notes, 11-16

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11. Find and emulate good mentors. Personal mentors, spiritual mentors, academic and professional mentors--whether in person or distant, they light the way toward the person you were meant to be. Wonder about what makes them so terrific. Notice what makes them tick, what their habits are. Use those things as a pattern for your own self. (Then, of course, thank them for their inspiration.) 

12. On a related note, sometimes you have to fake it 'til you make it/make a leap of faith. Not all the time. But every once in a while, you'll feel kind of like an imposter when you first _______ (become a parent, start a job, graduate from college, fulfill an assignment or calling). It's okay; make the first steps, get out there and the way will appear beneath you (thank you, Kierkegaard and Raiders of the Lost Ark).  

13. Learn a little ballroom dancing. You never know when you'll be invited somewhere (wedding? ball? inauguration?) that it'll come in handy. But until then, when in doubt on the dance floor and some kind of ballroomish dancing is required, just step forward together, side together, back together, side together, making a kind of square.

14.  Sunscreen, baby. Every single time.

15. Embrace a little fear. Do it anyway. Recognize it as a little signal that you're giving yourself the chance to grow.

16. Read the paper, listen to the news, be able to discuss issues intelligently. Get your information from lots of sources, not just the ones that confirm what you already thought you knew. When you don't agree with someone, be willing to listen to their point of view and articulate yours with respect and kindness.


I'm writing occasional launching notes (read more about them here), bits of advice to my kids about how to be a gracious, grown-up type person--both trivial bits and major advice. Do you have any launching notes to add? Keep 'em coming!  You can email me through the link in the sidebar.

 

Launching notes, 5-10

photo via  Sapling Press . Cute cards!

photo via Sapling Press. Cute cards!

5. Be on time. You knew I was going to say that, didn't you?

6. Fix it and forget it. Sure, take time to look nice. Shower, do your hair, fix your makeup. Feel confident about how you look. And then here's the key: forget about it. Focus on other things than how you look.

7. Save the day with laughter. A great-grandma Brockbank classic phrase, her mothering motto can apply to and lighten pretty much any situation. 

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8. Everyone feels shy/awkward/insecure sometimes, especially in new situations. Introduce yourself, smile, shake hands, and make eye contact. (And don't be one of those people who pretends not to see someone they know...just go say hi! It's the kind, right thing to do 99% of the time.)

9. Any sentence that begins with "no offense but..." or "I hope this doesn't offend anyone..." probably will. Be thoughtful about whether you need to say it at all.

10. From a reader: start a simple little notebook to record your own health information, keeping a basic, running log of everything from doctor's visits to what cold medicine works best to allergy/hay fever patterns to medicines. Keep those immunization & check-up reports handy, too. You'll need those over and over again: school, jobs, travel.


I'm writing occasional launching notes (read more about them here), bits of advice to my kids about how to be a gracious, grown-up type person--both trivial bits and major advice. Do you have any launching notes to add? Keep 'em coming!  You can email me through the link in the sidebar.

Launching notes

Or: Liner notes to growing up

Or: Nest & Launch Finishing School?

Lauren, 2011

Lauren, 2011

One day two years ago, I suddenly realized that Lauren (who's our oldest) would really, truly be leaving home for university at the end of the summer. What had been purely hypothetical for so long was quickly shifting into the actual. Do you know what you do when you think you have just three months left to impart what little wisdom about the world you’ve acquired? You panic a little. You wonder if you’ve done/said/explained enough. And then you realize: no. No, I haven't told her everything yet. 

I should add that now I know that there’s not just one launch day, one departure. Leaving for college is a huge milestone moment for everyone involved but there are still many more moments to teach and debrief and parent, especially during all the comings and goings of the revolving door of the college and young adult years. Now that we've been through that cycle several times with Lauren, my proverbial apron strings are getting all stretched out and frayed from all the tying and retying and adjusting. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lauren, HS graduation, 2011

Lauren, HS graduation, 2011

Anyway, back on that day in 2011 I started writing down some of my observations about being a grown-up that I wanted my kids to know. I called it my liner notes because waaaay back in the day I pored over the liner notes of my cds, curious to find the story behind the music. What I hoped to do with my liner notes (and still do) was to set down the story behind the music of growing up and setting off on your own, to school my kids in the lyrics of life. (I also interchangeably called them launching notes.)

For starters, here are the first few I came up with:

  1. Thank you notes really are essential. Don’t cash the check, use the gift, or read the book until you’ve written a note, preferably a real envelope-and-paper, stamped, delivered note. It doesn’t have to be long. It can just say “thank you so much.” But thank you notes are non-negotiable: it lets the giver know you got it that you appreciate it, and it increases the chances that you’ll be invited back or given something again. Trust me on this one.
  2. Never get your hair cut in the midst of an emotional crisis or the day of a big event. Haircuts, like new hiking boots, need a significant waiting/breaking-in period. ‘Nuf said. 
  3. Don’t expect mind reading. As much as it would be lovely for boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses (though I predict you’ll each have just one), friends, roommates, and work colleagues to have the capacity to read your mind, life is happier when you express your expectations and air your thoughts.  Be clear, seek clarity.
  4. Always go to the funeral. Here’s why.

Now for a bit of audience participation:  What should a launched young adult know? What bits of knowledge do you want to make sure your growing kids know as they launch into their late teens, 20s, and beyond? 

I'd love to hear what's on your list. Email me your launching notes--they can be significant, everydayish, or just trivial bits of knowledge--and I’ll include them in future posts (with credit and links to you, of course). You can reach me at annie.waddoups@gmail.com or by clicking the envelope icon under my name over there on the sidebar. >>>