As I’ve shared with you many times, my husband and I are opposites in how we look at things, think about and approach them. One of the lighter differences is the way we drink our coffee. I like mine extra hot, as soon as it turns warm, it’s too cold for me. My mister of over 25 years nurses his morning joe all day.
On a recent road trip we stopped at Starbucks and my espousso kept teasing me, asking if I had finished my beverage every few minutes. I was indeed done in short order, while he took a venti long time to drink all of his.
Like the coffee beans of our other favorite coffeehouse, we have organically learned to compromise, even if that means agreeing to disagree. There are lots of ways to take your coffee and many options to make a relationship work. But in all designs, it begins and ends with the heart.
I went to pick up a purse I ordered online at a mall department store and when I arrived at the courtesy desk, I pulled up the email that had alerted me the handbag was ready. I had a heck of a time locating the bar code within the message and the store associate assured me that a lot of people find it difficult and they often request that she look for it for them. Unfortunately, she is not permitted to touch a customer’s property, even when asked.
I finally discovered the code amidst all the text, she scanned it and went into a back room to retrieve my item. It was while she was gone that I noticed this sign on the counter.
I had not told the woman I am visually impaired and I wondered if I had, would she then have felt comfortable taking my proffered phone. I almost asked but the arrival of my new crossbody wiped it from my mind. After walking a lap of the top and bottom floors of the mall, I headed out to the parking lot. Three elderly people were coming in, one using a cane and two with walkers. I held the door for them and they were all so sweet and appreciative. I was struck, as I often am, by the fact that they had no idea that I, too, fall into the “blue sign/white stick figure in a stick wheelchair” category. But I was still able to help them and that made me grateful as well.
On the ride home I thought about the sign and the people it represents, including myself. Some of us do need a little more help than others, but we all have the ability to offer someone else assistance. Although I understand the department store’s reasoning in their “no touch” policy, it’s ironic that they also display this notice. The two don’t go together, the encouragement to ask for help and the limitation on what that assistance may be. We should all be compelled and allowed to lend a hand, even if that involves someone’s personal effects being placed in it.
It’s fascinating to me how one area of the country can be experiencing a snowstorm or other severe weather conditions, while other states have clear radar and clear skies. My wondrous interest can be directly connected to my lack of scientific knowledge, despite The Weather Channel being the background noise of choice in our house.
I love to watch the radar map when bad weather is headed our way, checking out all the lower 48, comparing my colorful location with the commonwealths whose borders are filled with all white. It’s just like life, you can be going through a difficult time while the world around you is umbrella- and shovel-free. Although this phenomenon has been studied by philosophers and other very smart people, there is no way to forecast or explain these inclement periods of our existence. But like the radar map, it’s a comfort to know the sun is shining somewhere. You don’t have to be a meteorologist to find some hope in that.
*** Map from Storm Prediction Center. Click here for their website.
Fear. A four-letter word if I ever saw one. Yes, even a blind girl sees fear.
For all of us, fear lies beneath the surface, waiting for the moment it can make its violent attack and grab us with its pointy, unforgiving teeth, shake us until we don’t know which end is up, our pounding heart seemingly residing in our knees.
Last week I was convinced there was something wrong with Piper. He was cuddly in a new way along with some other concerning behavior. He is fine and I am so thankful. I am grateful for Piper every day and I say it often to him and everyone else. And in this instance, once I knew he was healthy, the relief and gratitude washed over me, the terror gone as quickly as it came.
I was left to wonder: how can fear cripple us so immediately and so devastatingly, yet when a positive outcome follows, although profound at the moment when one becomes the other, it is never as visceral as the terror?
Most of us could not function if we always carried that level of scare with us and as much as we may count our blessings, to live constantly in that deep state of emotion would be equally hard. The highs and lows of life are difficult to maintain for any length of time.
I do wish that we could experience daily the absence of being frightened as intensely as we do when it strikes. Not all day, but for a moment every time we see the people we cherish, do the things we love to do and are able to move our minds and bodies freely without pain or affliction. I would welcome the sweet pain of “all is right with my world” as much as I welcome this healthy, happy bird to my finger to perch awhile.
I have never held up a lighter
at his concert.
I have never cheered him on
in the bottom of the 9th.
I have never celebrated
his Super Bowl win.
But I cannot tell a lie:
Wearing this t-shirt,
purchased recently at Mount Vernon,
really floats my boat . . .
right across the Delaware.
Last Friday, while at lunch with my friend, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to find an elderly gentleman at the table behind me handing me something as he said, “Happy Valentine’s Day”. We were close enough that I could tell that he was probably in his 80’s, his hair white as snow and his eyeglasses large. I could also identify the item he was offering, a small heart-shaped Whitman’s sampler. I immediately thanked him and he brought out a second candy box which I passed to my friend.
He would get up from his table several times with a plastic bag full of the chocolates and venture to other areas of the restaurant to spread the upcoming holiday’s cheer. He and the younger man with him left before my friend and I did, and as they were putting on their coats we thanked him once again for his kind gesture, enthusiastically assuring him that he had made our day. The man with him, perhaps his son, said, “He’s always been a lady’s man” and the Candy Man gave an unapologetic shrug.
I hope that when I’m his age, which anymore doesn’t seem so very far away, I’ve grown and changed with the times, but that I also am still me. And I hope, like this charming man, I can find ways to share my heart with others.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY
“Art is hard. But it’s important.”
—- reply by a Michael’s framing associate
to a customer’s apology
for taking a long time
to choose a frame.
Have you ever agonized over how to perfectly present a photo or other image in your home? I’ll bet you have, me too! Art is subjective, a gray area within the collective us, but personally, falling in love with even the most colorful piece is always black and white.
“When you shut down,
board the windows
and lock the door,
you prevent others from
exploring, enjoying and
learning about and from you.
And chances are
they’ve travelled a long way
through all sorts of weather
to do just that.”
—- Sister Rain
World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock
November 2018: Closed for Winter
President William McKinley Tomb
November 2018: Closed for Winter
Walmart is a black or white place. Before you call the NAACP, what I mean is that you either love Walmart or you hate it. My husband and I love the prices and do the bulk of our grocery shopping there each week. Never my favorite chore, since my vision loss we do it together, me pushing the cart and reading the list to him off my phone at each aisle.
Over the last few weeks, during this weekly excursion, I have been the recipient of random acts of kindness by strangers, proving once again that it’s less about the where than the who and the what. The first time, I was using the magnifier app on my phone to read a bottle of body wash when a woman asked if I needed help. The following Saturday, another woman told me there was a much more inexpensive brand of potato chips in another aisle and a few minutes later she tracked me down in a different section of the store and handed me a bag of the crisps. The weekend after, a Walmart associate went above and beyond to help me with an item I had ordered online that arrived not as advertised.
These type of gestures are, unfortunately, not the norm in the world in which we currently live. But, fortunately, they do happen, and like any rare and beautiful occurrence, there’s a little bit of magic in it. After all, it’s not everyday you’re witness to a pomegranite-smelling unicorn eating chips in aisle 6.
As I got ready one morning to tour a manufacturing facility with my friend (see Craftmanufacturingship), I thought about what the experience would be like. I’ve always been a planner, but since losing my vision I find I’ve taken it to a whole other level. I’m always thinking ahead in order to prepare myself for what’s coming since I can’t see it, mostly as a safely measure, both physical and mental. It’s always a “thing”: do I tell people I’ve just met about my sight or not? As I envisioned the upcoming tour, I imagined the guide handing me something from the manufacturing process to take a closer look at and decided I would just pretend I could see it, unless absolutely necessary.
Later, we signed in at the front desk of the company and were given “VISITOR” stickers to be worn at all times while on the property. As I pressed the label on to my vest, I thought how nice it would be if I could wear a label that said “legally blind” and never have to say it again. I could get it out of the way and move on with my life as could the person I am meeting for the first time. I don’t need a cane for mobility in my current lifestyle but I do have an identifier cane for use in certain situations where I’m alone and there’s a potential safety issue. Of course carrying it all the time would solve the great mystery of “do I say or do I no?” but it can also create more questions, attention and concern than is necessary.
I know, of course, that we aren’t supposed to label ourselves or others. And whether or not my loss of sight defines me or not is a blog for another day. But in this post I am referring to the thing about ourself that we wish everyone could know right off the bat and not require us having to say it or explain it.
What would your sticker say?
I continued to think about it that day and I wondered what my label would be before my vision became impaired and I had a difficult time determining what that would be. Which begs the question, does it only pertain to a physical impairment? An invisible impairment, more specifically? But then, don’t we all have invisible disabilities that have nothing to do with our anatomy? I know I did before I woke up blind.
When I put the vest on a few days later I found the folded up sticker in its pocket. The text was big and bold so I could make out “VISI” on one side of the fold and “TOR” on the other. Maybe that is the perfect way to describe all of us: VISITOR. After all, we visit each other, both people we already know and those we don’t, we visit places both new and familiar. We stay awhile, then always return to ourself. And what we choose to share with the world makes each interaction and experience unique. Most of us were taught that you “never show up empty-handed” when visiting someone’s home. In the same way that we take flowers or a bottle of wine to the host, we all arrive at every situation with lots to offer. Whether we decide on red or white, roses or a seasonal bouquet, our abilities or disabilities, is up to us.