Love is where you see it

I have a young friend who’s going through a difficult time, right now. And so I counseled her—feeling impossibly old and insensitive and Terribly “Adult Who Doesn’t Get It”—to try finding one thing every day that makes her happy, for a week, and to focus on that. “It will help,” I told her, knowing that she was probably rolling her eyes (internally if not externally) and thinking about how I just don’t understand.

The thing is, I totally DO understand. I mean, it may have been a long time since my first heartbreak, but hello, here is my six-year-long shrine to Things I Obsess Over Sometimes When I Probably Should Just Move On, and what I really wanted to say was, “Oh, honey, I understand the impulse to wallow, heck, I may have INVENTED the impulse to wallow, and no one loves a good wallow more than me, sister. But then, sometimes, you have to force yourself up out of the mud and remember that life is still worth living.”

Of course, I also must acknowledge that someone basically tried to tell me exactly that when I was around her age, and do you know what I thought? I thought that no one had ever hurt as badly as I was hurting, certainly not the advice-giver, and she just didn’t UNDERSTAND and the only way to cope with my pain was clearly to 1) mope relentlessly and 2) write bad poetry.

I often share a long story or a specific interaction on Thursdays, something that’s touched me deeply or is meaningful to me or really made me stop and think. And I love all of that. But how often do I find the joy in the mundane, stop to appreciate the little things? Not often. Certainly not often enough to grant me the necessary cred to suggest that someone stop to smell the roses, as it were.

Recently as part of our current Spring Cleaning challenge at Five Full Plates I decided we were going to eliminate using paper napkins in the house. The problem then became that I needed us to be able to reuse our napkins a few times (I didn’t want to have to choose between buying a billion napkins or doing laundry constantly) and—provided it’s not a messy meal (in which case I would obviously wash them)—I needed to be able to keep track of whose was whose. I mean, using the same cloth napkin twice doesn’t bother me. But using the cloth napkin someone ELSE wiped their mouth on already kind of grosses me out. So.

Napkin rings. And not just ANY napkin rings, but different ones, so that I could toss the napkins in a basket or whatever between meals, and we’d each be able to identify our napkins by the rings.

I trolled Etsy and eBay and searched on random things, but really didn’t know what I wanted. All I knew was that I probably wanted something slightly retro to go with our shiny dinette.

One day I found them, and a few days later they arrived. There was no bickering over who got which one; we all knew exactly which one was right. And now we no longer think about them at all, except when I do, and then I smile.

Otto is orange, of course, because he loves the color and loves our alma mater. Me, I’m a fool for purple, so naturally I’m the plum. Monkey’s favorite color is green and sometimes I think he’d happily wrestle the dog for a pear core. Chickadee goes through a bag of apples a week and in reality the apple’s red is actually closer to pink (her favorite color). And—of course—they’re made of aluminum like those old tumblers, so they go quite nicely with our table.

It’s a little thing. Rather, it’s four little things. But I look at them and see my family; see how things don’t have to be the same to go together; see how I am lucky even when I’m not so good at appreciating it in the moment.

I need to do this more. I think I will.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Where will you find the love today?

25 Responses to “Love is where you see it”

  1. 1
    Erin April 1, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    This was really lovely, as usual, Mir. At Thanksgiving last year, I gave my husband a small notebook, and said it was for a “love journal.” I’d often asked him, before bed, “What do you love most about me today?” So now, we write it down in the journal every night. I write a love note to him, he writes one to me. And sometimes it’s specific to something that happened that day. (Last night, we both wrote, “I just had such a great night hanging around at home with you.”) And sometimes it’s something about that person that you always love, but were reminded of that day. (I’ve written, “I love the way you smell” and “Your smile always makes me smile.”)

    Anyway. It’s a little thing, and kind of goofy, but we really love it. Plus, it’s fun to look back and say, “Oh man…three months ago today was when we had that crazy snowstorm and you were shoveling for 3 hours!” or whatever.

    I’m all about finding the love where I see it.

  2. 2
    MomCat April 1, 2010 at 11:27 am #

    Very sweet to find the essence of family in the little things you use everyday. Now, where’s my napkin? I need to wipe my eyes.

  3. 3
    hollygee April 1, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    I like.

  4. 4
    Anna April 1, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    Oh my gosh, I think Erin stole your Love Thursday.

  5. 5
    Aimee April 1, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    I love those napkin rings! And even more, I love the story you told about them.

    I am finding the love today in my husband’s unfailing ability to make me laugh, even when I’m tired and cranky.

  6. 6
    hokgardner April 1, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    I so look forward to your Love Thursday posts. They never fail to make me feel better just by reading them.

  7. 7
    Diane April 1, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    My favorite line was this:

    “But I look at them and see my family; see how things don’t have to be the same to go together”

    That pretty much sums up my family too… Beautiful post!

    Also, where did you get those napkin rings? They are adorable!

  8. 8
    Katherine April 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    This reminds me of the napkin rings we had when I was a kid – wooden animals. We each had our own animal – and you’re right, there was just a right one for each person.

    Another idea, that my grandmother used, was different colored fingertip towels for each person as a napkin.

  9. 9
    txtingmrdarcy April 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Erin, I Love your Love idea. I may have to try something similar in my home, as long as my boyfriend doesn’t fall asleep first! Even in a new relationship, and learning to cohabitate, it’s vital to remind yourselves why you love each other. :)

  10. 10
    Mary Fran April 1, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    Me, I just leave the napkins on the table at everyone’s spot. And I’ve been known to fold them inside out to get just one more use out of them. But I love the napkin ring idea and may just waste the rest of my day on etsy.

  11. 11
    Nicki April 1, 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    Awww. That was too perfect. I need to remember that more when I’m trying to force us into sameness. I still don’t see me using linen napkins. Sorry.

  12. 12
    Scottsdale Girl April 1, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    I prefer linen napkins to paper. Of course at Casa de Scottsdale Girl, it’s usually just ME eating so no worries about whose napkin is whose.

    Perhaps the new not-yet-my-boyfriend will change that… hmmm…

  13. 13
    dad April 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    I am a happy person. Although I do not tend to wallow as a means of coping with my pain, I have, at times, produced some really, really bad poetry. I might have even subjected you to it during your post adolescent era.
    You get that trait from my side of the family. It is vastly preferable to going silent and even gives one the rite to write haikus without paying attention to counting.

  14. 14
    Sarah K April 1, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    I do colour coded napkins for everyone too! The girl gets pink, the boy gets blue, the baby gets a towel, and hubby and I can keep track of our own :D

  15. 15
    Karen April 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    I found the love on your blog post, it’s a great one today, Mir. :-)

  16. 16
    Kethrim April 2, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    Those are some great napkin rings!

  17. 17
    WarsawMommy April 2, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    I am not someone who has ever thought about napkin rings before. I see, however, that I have been remiss ;)

  18. 18
    Headless Mom April 2, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    I love this!

  19. 19
    Dawn April 2, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    “Where will you find the love today?”

    Is it wrong of me to want to respond, “Craigslist.”?

    Yes. Yes, it is. But I cannot resist the cheap gag. Even if I’m the only one laughing, which I no doubt am.

    *sigh*

    It was indeed a beautiful post.

  20. 20
    Ironic Mom April 2, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    I love the find-one-thing-you-love idea. Years ago, when I was starting a long journey of healing after a break up, my no nonsense older brother said, “He’s not the brightest apple on the tree.” I took it to mean that I deserved an even brighter apple.

    Sounds like you showed your friend that she was loved and that she could love again, starting with the small things.

  21. 21
    mamaspeak April 3, 2010 at 3:04 am #

    Dawn, you are not alone. I giggled like the 9yo that I am.
    Craigslist cracked me up.

    oh yeah, Mir. Nice post. ;-)

  22. 22
    Suebob April 4, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    Yes, yes, that is precisely the IDEA behind napkin rings – so each person can re-use. So matching napkin rings are not correct.

    I love this post & how you found the pleasure & meaning in a small thing. And yes, those are very cool napkin rings.

  23. 23
    Katie in MA April 5, 2010 at 8:46 am #

    What a beautiful post! “[T]hings don’t have to be the same to go together…” Indeed. Happy (belated) Love Thursday!

  24. 24
    Karate Mom April 7, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    OK, first off, I usually read every day because, well, I check my Google reader obsessively. So, I usually read your posts mere nanoseconds after you post them. (Hi, I’m Lisa, and I’m a blog stalker.) BUT, I’ve not gotten to check my Google Reader for quite a few days, so when I looked today and saw something like five posts from this blog, I was so excited! It was like having a big huge box of toffee that I could sit down and enjoy all at once rather than having it pieced out one piece at a time. (Not sure that made sense…)

    ALSO, I had to read this post more than once and then laugh at myself because, through my mis-reading, I somehow thought that you didn’t like using napkins that another person had used even AFTER they had been washed. And I was thinking, “How does she handle eating in restaurants? Is she going to wash all the napkins separately from one another? How will she know that each one gets back the napkin that they used before?” It was a very confusing time. Then my mind cleared.

    Love the napkin rings!! (Sorry about the long comment!)

  25. 25
    Kim in Minnesota April 11, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    What a great idea! I had been carefully leaving the napkins on our placemats and making sure they didn’t stray from our “assigned” seats. But, today each of us chose from napkin rings embossed with inspirational words: family, friends, traditions, and thankful. A positive, subliminal message about what is most important to us! Thanks for the idea.

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