It’s been while since I last posted. I didn’t realize how long until I logged in to write this post (47 days which is almost 7 weeks).
There have been times when I thought of something to write about, but by the time I sat down to write, I either couldn’t remember what it was (Yikes), or I couldn’t figure out a theme or point I wanted to make.
I have been completely distracted by everyday life, as well as things that I hope to do. Big Dreams.
Distractions are a part of life, but lately, “Big Dreams” haven’t occupied any space in my brain. By mid-October, I was sort of done. At least when it came to writing. I had no thoughts, ideas, and honestly felt like my work in this aspect of my life was over. I just didn’t have the “want to,” or the energy to put into my “author business,” which is honestly close to being considered more a hobby (I’m reminded of this whenever I work on my taxes)…
As the 30th anniversary of my father’s death loomed, I surprisingly entered into a peaceful time. My season of grief took a sabbatical. I realized how much life I have lived since losing my dad suddenly in 1992. I realized I had survived, something I never thought possible in those first hours, days, weeks, and months after he was gone. In reflection, I wasted many years struggling to figure it all out—the “whys” and “what-ifs” ruled my days. The never-ending unanswered questions. The anger, the feeling of being cheated, the sorrow.
On the very day that marked 30 years since I lost my hero, my book, Mockingbird Moments, was re-released (actually I received my copy to proof). As I held the book in my hands, it was as if I was holding my entire life within in my fingers. And it felt much lighter than I thought it should.
In that moment, my friends, I knew I had overcome too many things to stop doing one of the things that brings me my greatest joy. Writing. Where I can unleash my feelings, thoughts, hopes, dreams, humor, and passion.
As I held this beautiful book which was re-done with the help of my friend Ellen, I knew my dad would want me to keep writing. Something he said to me when I was in high school has always helped keep me grounded, but also is a reminder that we are all given gifts, talents, or maybe just things we are passionate about.
During a time of growing pains, Dad told me, “When you’re good at something you don’t have to tell people, they will already know.” It was his way of reminding me to be humble, and not seek the praise or approval of others. To be true to whatever it is that I’m trying to do or achieve.
I hope I am humble, and relatable. At times, I might be a little too self-deprecating, but I think that goes back to my father’s words. I always hope to do this thing I love, and do it with humility, grace, and charm. I also hope that in my daily foibles, others will see themselves, and learn to laugh at the silly things that can either stress us out or make us stronger.
Speaking of stressful, last week I went to Walmart. I was getting things in preparation for Harper’s first birthday. If I had to choose, I would go to Target whenever possible. But Target is ALL the way across Tyler, and life is too short for that. If you live in the Tyler area, or have ever driven in Tyler, you know what I mean. IYKYK (I’m trying to be hip and I’m not even sure it’s correct, but If You Know You Know).
Since we already live about 10 miles outside of Tyler, I try not to go any further in than necessary (although, most of the “good stuff” is across town).
Now that I sound like I’m an old geezer, I’ll carry on…
As I mentioned, Walmart is closer, so I opted to go there. I filled the buggy up with random things, as well as necessities (laundry detergent, dishwasher pods, and other cleaning products). My haul was enough that I didn’t have the energy to do the self-checkout.
I found ONE lane that had a real check-out person and was relieved to not have to wait in a long line. The lady at the register was so very kind. In a season of short-tempers and rude shoppers, she was a delight. We visited about the cost of things, and the weather. I noticed a couple behind me, and all they had was a package of Highlighters. I wondered why they would be in line when they could self-check, and realized they probably were paying with cash.
I bravely reached over all of my things and my buggy, and took the Highlighters and said, “I’d like to pay for these. There’s no sense in you having to wait behind all this mess I have going on!”
The man looked a little puzzled, and when the checker scanned them and handed them back, he tried to pull money out of his wallet to pay her. She quickly said, “Oh no, she’s paying for them.” I wasn’t quite prepared for the handshaking and expressions of gratitude. The man spoke broken English but thanked me over and over again. I was happy I could do it.
After they walked off, the checker said, “That was so nice. One day, I hope someone will do that for me.”
I changed the subject, and she continued scanning all of my ridiculous items.
I paid and left the store. As I was approaching my car, a black cat ran out right in front of my cart. What in the world? In the middle of the parking lot, this poor little fella was running for his life! I get it! That’s how I feel every time I have to go to Walmart!
I couldn’t help thinking about the cat being black—was this going to mean bad luck for me?!? I was then completely embarrassed about being superstitious, and selfish—as if the entire world revolved around me! This cat was simply trying to find its way to greener pastures.
In that moment, I realized how LUCKY I am! I have a loving family, great children, and precious grandchildren. I have a job I love, friends I adore, and a wonderful life. My cup runs over a million times. The bottom line is, I know Jesus. And that, above everything else makes the thought of having luck, good or bad, ridiculous. I was reminded, I’m not lucky, I’m blessed. And that thought led me right back into the store, where I bought a gift card, and took it to Lane 3.
When the checker saw me again, she looked surprised. I handed her the gift card and said, “Today’s your day.”
She jumped up and hugged me and kept thanking me over and over.
Before leaving I said, “Sometimes God puts things in our heart, and we choose not to do them. I’m thankful that I listened to Him today.”
Y’all, I can’t tell you how this made me feel! I try to do kind deeds as often as possible, but they are usually pre-planned and well-thought out. This experience was different because I had to come out of my comfort zone. I had to make an effort, even when I felt a little weird about it. But I knew it was what I was supposed to do in that moment. Pass along my blessings to someone else.
Please don’t think I’m sharing this to brag. I hope it doesn’t seem that way. I was sweetly reminded that giving is better than receiving. The check-out lady in Lane 3 will probably never know how much she blessed me. In a time when there’s a lot of rushing around, and we forget the reason behind the season, she slowed me down, and took the time to have a conversation. Her smile, joy, and humor will not be soon forgotten.
SO, after that sweet story, I’ll take you to my experience yesterday…
I had to go to the dreaded Walmart, AGAIN. Last minute gift bags, gift cards, and things I needed to get before going back to work next week. I also had to pick up some staples: coffee, creamer, toiletries, etc…
As I approached the check-out lane, I saw a line in Lane 3, and there was the sweet familiar face of the lady who blessed me last week.
I thought about getting in her line but felt a little uncomfortable. Would she remember me? Would it be awkward? As usual, I overthought, and rather than waiting in a short line, I went to do the self-check-out. And you guessed it! It was a NIGHTMARE!
I was doing fine, as I had finished about 4 bags, plus wrapping paper, gift bags, water, and a 12 pack of Coke Zero. It was time to do the gift cards, and I’m not sure what happened, but apparently, I scanned the same one twice, which was the next step to the end of the world in the Walmart self-check-out lane. Whatever I had done, it caused the red light to start flashing, and fortunately, an attendant came to help me.
I felt a little better when even she couldn’t get it straightened out. But it was when she turned to me and said, “Would you consider voiding it all and starting over?” that my eyes welled up with tears. I responded with: “If I have to do that, I will leave it all here and walk out of this store.”
And I meant that.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so honest, but my goodness, scanning, and bagging is tough! Especially when you then have to load it in your car, just to unload it and put it all up when you get home! This weekly Hunting and Gathering is hard work!
In a moment of kindness and sweet relief, the attendant said, “Oh, I’m going to do it for you!”
I thanked her profusely, as she re-scanned, re-bagged, and then successfully figured out the trick to the gift cards.
As I walked out of Walmart yesterday, the feeling was different than that of a week earlier. Funny how the same place can bring such different experiences. Funny, how in the good and the bad, we can still learn important lessons.
I think there can be several take-aways from my Walmart experiences. Your experiences have a lot to do with where you are in your own life.
And on a crazy, random, busy, stressful Friday, I was reminded of my senior English teacher, as John Donne’s famous lines came to mind:
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were:
any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind,
and therefore, never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Life imitates art, or vice-versa. On my way to a basketball tournament, I was listening to the song, “I am a Rock” by Simon & Garfunkel. I’m including the lyrics, because it’s a direct contrast to Donne’s words:
In a deep and dark December
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow
I am a rock I am an island
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pains
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain
I am a rock I am an island
Well I’ve heard the word before
It’s sleeping in my memory
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried
I am a rock I am an island
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock I am an island
And an island never cries.”