I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person. Growing up, I was never much of a people person. I was very shy. Painfully shy. Even after divorcing my first husband at the tender age of 25, I was still very shy. I moved into a gated apartment complex and I really hated leaving with someone in their car. Why? Because it would require me to stop at the entrance and tell the guard who I was.
This was just with strangers. You can ask anyone who really knew me back then and they will tell you that I was talkative, engaging, and fun. But with people I didn’t know I kept my head down, didn’t make eye contact, and would probably faint dead away if spoken too.
Something happened along the way. I’m not sure where. But somewhere in the last 25 years, I began to lift my head and see what was going on around me. I looked people, strangers, straight in the eye and smiled. They smiled back, most of the time. I asked questions. I found my voice.
Now I find that I will insert myself into other people’s conversations. Complete strangers. Recently I was having breakfast with my mom at Cracker Barrel and I overheard a couple talking about their plans for the day. They were visiting Fort Worth and trying to decide what they should do next. They asked the waiter. He seemed to be caught off guard and didn’t offer any real suggestions. I thought about it for a couple of seconds and then got up and walked over to their table. I said “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but hear you asking about what there is to do in Fort Worth.” Then we proceeded to have a very nice conversation about the Stockyards. You can’t come to Fort Worth and not visit the Stockyards. There is major road construction going on I-35. They weren’t too hip on traversing that route again. So I told them how to get there the back way from where we were.
Now see, 30 years ago I would have loved to offer my advice. But I wouldn’t have. I would have convinced myself that they didn’t need to hear from me. That they didn’t want to hear from me.
I hear conversations going on around me all the time. I find it very very hard to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes, even at work, I keep my door shut. This is to not only cut out the outer room noise so that I can focus on what I’m doing, but it is also to keep me out of things going on.
When I stop and think about it, who I am now amazes me. What I’ve realized is, I’m a problem solver. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn. But I think that’s my gift, problem solver.
I think I have great ideas. The problem is, people rarely listen to me when they should. Ha! Ha! You know the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
Example #1 – I had a friend who lived in a small town. She wanted to open up a catering business and maybe a bakery. She’s a great cook! But, in my opinion, she was thinking too big. She talked about renting a building, buying equipment, etc. My suggestion was to start small. Start from her kitchen. Each day come up with a menu of a couple of sandwiches or box lunches. Call local business and find out if they would like to have the menu faxed or emailed to them each day. She could send it either the day before or early the morning of. If people were interested, they would fax their order to her. Since it was a small town, she could offer free delivery. This would enable her to build a clientele before actually making a big up front investment. She didn’t see what I saw.
Example #2 – I had a friend who loved to bake cookies and cup cakes. She was really good at it too. She used only the best ingredients. The first mistake she made was calling the city to find out what she needed to do to open a bakery. Of course they gave her a long list of permits and requirements. She was crushed. We had a long conversation, in which I basically presented the same ideas as Example #1. But she didn’t see what I saw.
Example #3 – I have a young friend who has tried unsuccessfully to launch a homemade soap business. She has made soaps for me and they were lovely. She was a single mom and I knew that there were durable supplies that she needed in order to make and promote her soaps on a larger scale. She seemed to want to go from hobby soap maker to side income soap maker. We talked about farmers markets and different craft fairs. But in order to do those things, you have to have product. So I invested in her dream. I gave her some money hoping that she would buy the molds and things that she needed. She continued to make small batches of custom soaps. So, she didn’t see what I saw.
But those were their dreams. So they didn’t need to see what I saw. They only needed to see what they see. They shared their dreams with me and I had a visualization of their dream. But apparently what I visualized was not what they visualized. And that’s ok. Sometimes, people just like to talk out loud and that’s fine too. I’m happy that they were comfortable enough to share their dreams with me.
Now, I am chasing my own dream. Four months ago I didn’t even know it was my dream. I’ll share my dream with you tomorrow.
I think from time to time we need to hear a story of a real hero. Not necessarily someone who risked life and limb to save a child from a burning building, but just your regular day to day hero. The kind of person who just goes about doing their thing each day. They just keep putting one foot in front on another, hoping for a better day.
Hero may be a word that is used loosely, but according to dictionary.com one of the definitions of hero is a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.
One of my day to day heroes is my sister. When she was about 24 or 25 she was married and had three small children. At that time they were 4, 3, and 1. She was a stay at home mom and homemaker. Other than being an excellent waitress, she really had no job experience. All of her immediate family lived about 3 hours away. It was during this time that she realized that her husband was not who or what she thought he was and that her children, their children were in physical danger.
She did not make excuses. She did not immediately run three hours back to her parents. But she did get her children to safety. Did she cry? Yes. Did she scream to god in her desolation? Probably. Did she give up? No she did not. Was she perfect? No she was not. Did she feel sorry for herself? Not that I’m aware of. Did she think anyone “owed” her anything? No she did not.
Her main concern at that time in her life was the safety and well-being of three small children. She worked the lowliest jobs, simply to put a roof over the heads of her children and put food on the table. She was not alone. She did have the support of her family and of her friends. But the basic day to day stuff she did 100% on her own.
Eventually she moved back to her birthplace, remarried and had another child. Last year her second marriage ended. Once again she is on her own. This time her children are grown. Her work skills are better. She still doesn’t whine and complain. She simply lives her life and is actually following her dreams. Unfettered by the bonds of marriage and child rearing, she is finally doing what she enjoys. She does it to suit herself.
Yet she still serves. She serves her mother. She is our mother’s main caretaker. She sees that she has her medicine, food, gets to the doctor, and is happy. She gets frustrated, I’m sure. We’ve had talks about the future and we both know that at some point our mother may need more then my sister’s care taking. She has told me that she sees taking care of our mother as a beautiful gift. She has told me that she feels honored to be able to do the things that she does for our mom.
That may not sound like much, condensed as it is to the preceding paragraphs. But if you knew the details and all the crap she has put up with over the last thirty years you would understand. She isn’t alone. I know the world is filled with women like her. Women that have had to put their wants and desires aside while providing the very basic necessities for their families.
The next time you hear an adult whining about the hand that life has dealt them, you might tell them to look around for their own “day to day” hero. We all have to take ownership of our choices and our decisions in life.
I’m sure there were lots of times she would have loved to just get in her car and run away, far, far away. But she knew what her responsibilities were. What makes her a hero to me is not the fact that she did what was right for her children, but the fact that she did it without complaining.
We live in a world filled with people that think the world owes them something. We live in a world where some people think that the problems that they create for themselves are everyone else’s fault. We live in a world where some people leave a trail of disaster and wonder why.
I’m glad that my nephews and nieces had my sister as a mother. She may not have been perfect. But she did try and she didn’t make excuses. She didn’t blame anyone. She simply got up each morning, put both feet on the floor, and kept trying.
I hope all of her dreams come true.
I woke up this morning with a lot on my mind. Thinking back over things that have happened and been said over the past few weeks. For weeks I have been going about my business. Doing the usual things. Interacting with the usual people. But suddenly this morning during my drive to work I had a very weird feeling come over me. I suddenly felt as if I was a character in a Stephen King book.
Over the last few weeks, and especially the last few days, things have been happening that have upset me. There are certain people and situations that I don’t believe are as they appear to be on the surface. Abruptly this morning it was as if everyone’s masks had been ripped off and I could see what they really are. The odd thing is it isn’t just these few people that I’ve been dealing with, its like everyone. Its not just this one or two problems with one or two people, its suddenly every little detail in dealing with other people is somehow all connected to one outcome.
I don’t want you to think “Anna’s gone off her rocker.” I don’t do drugs. I rarely drink and every more rarely drink to excess. So these feelings are clear headed “rational” sensations. In some bizarre way I feel like I and a whole big group of other people are being swept along towards some kind of life changing climax. I can’t quite explain the feeling, but it is very odd and real.
Maybe I just need to lay “Wicked” aside and get a good night’s sleep.