Word Problems

Annnd it’s Wednesday!  Time for a new Recruit!

Today is exciting because I am bringing you the words of one of my MUST read bloggers:  Julie of By Any Other Name (although admittedly, I blanked on the name of her blog because I always think of it like her her twitter handle: julieCgardner.com…oops).

And to be honest, the fact that I always just think of it as Julie.com is because I am so in love with her words that I forget that her blog has a name.

She doesn’t post every day–which I love because I canNOT keep up with you who post daily, so when her blog lights up with a new post in my reader, I go right for it.

Julie also leaves me the best, most wonderful comments EVER.  Seriously, cruise around here and read what she has to say to me.  You’ll be in love with her just from those.

But I will give you another reason…read on…


The breakdown of the word BELONGING is not lost on me.

After all, you can take the English teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t make her love math. Or something like that.

Which is why my equation for today is this:

Be + longing = A state of yearning to be a part of something.

But what? And how? And why?

From our earliest years we question our place in the family. Perhaps a sibling steals our position as “only” or we enter a home already inhabited by at least one other child. We suspect the universe revolves around us and strive to test the theory; especially when we’re forced to share a ball, the last cookie, our mother’s attention. It’s hard to prove you belong when you’re only three years old.

Unfortunately, the quest to fit in doesn’t ease during our school days; in fact it becomes worse. What if we like the wrong shoes, the wrong music, the wrong gender? Or forget the rules of the game and how to fix our hair? We fear failure at every turn, our anxieties amplified by hormones and pimples and unavoidable change. It’s all so very serious and strange.

Then young adulthood tempts us to seek real partnerships, validation, authenticity. We may even believe people will appreciate our true selves but we aren’t really sure what those selves are. So we try on different attitudes; we shift in our seats, settle into our souls; cross our fingers that our invitations are returned. We hold our breath and wait. And then.

The response can be more deafening than silence.

Even as a “grown-up” I’m a drifter between groups. I overlap, dip in and out; test the waters for their depths but avoid making waves. I half-fit into many circles but rarely feel I’ve reached their centers. I want to be fully vested, but chip away at my own rough surfaces until I expose the underlying reasons why I’m not quite right for each circumstance.

A part-time teacher leaves campus before eating lunch with her colleagues.

A part-time mother doesn’t join playgroups that meet while she’s working.

A writer works with words but fumbles when she speaks. She creates sentences but ruins conversations; forgets how to dress for public consumption.

If I try hard enough, I can convince myself I’m too old or young; too fast or slow; too rich or poor; too much or too little of whatever is necessary in any given situation.

Or I can stop the madness.

I’m smart (except for the math). I can be funny. I am loved for real by some and perhaps (at least intermittently) by many who’ve shared their online worlds.

I can let go of the first-grade girl whose peers run so quickly back to class after recess that she’s left behind. Lost.  Sitting by herself until someone notices.

I’m not that girl now. And yet. At one point, aren’t we all?

Some longer than others; some long more than others.

I imagine there’s a person in the history of living who’s always felt she belonged. But I do not know her. And I’m not sure I’d want to.

No. I choose the quirky, the silly, the slightly-off.

The one who’s at the park with her kids and (instead of a pack of mom-friends around her discussing their upcoming girls’ weekend) she has a strip of duct tape hanging off the seat of her ten-year-old sweatpants.


But those girls-weekend friends? I suspect they worry, too.

They stand close to each other thinking they need to tighten their pores or freshen their breath; to treat the pit stains on their white t-shirts. (Worn only once and still!)

We can kill ourselves with the longing to belong. Or we can just be.

As hard as it is. For as long as it takes.

So come on. Hold my hand.  Let’s address this word problem together.

Because You + Me = Enough.

And then some.


You need more Julie in your life.  You so do.  So here you go…

I absolutely melt when she writes about her kids:  today call me complete

Again with those kids:  today call me chosen

And this is just funny because we ALL know she doesn’t need this:  today call me Bo-curious

All I have to say about this one is…sigh: today call me julienancy

I know.  you are in love with her.  It’s ok…go hang out at her blog.  I totally get it.