Will you remember me?

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Maya Angelou said that people will forget a lot things about us, but they will never forget how we made them feel.

So often, part of missing someone, whether they’ve passed away, or a relationship has ended, or there has been some type of distance, that is what is missed: how they made us feel.

And it can be hard to separate from missing the actual person. Because our feelings remain, long after the people who gave them to us are gone.

I think, oftentimes, there is a certain loss of innocence that goes along with each loss of a physical someone in our lives.

Because relationships have so many intangible things attached to them.

Things like hope. 

Trust. 

Intimacy. 

Respect. 

And those kinds of things are often built from a very innocent foundation. 

When that person is taken from us, in whatever way, it can be very easy to feel as though something has been stolen from us. 

I attended a funeral yesterday, as is often the case, for someone I had never met. I was there for a friend. A show of support. Of love.

It seems to be a rare occurrence for there to be an actual eulogy given at funerals in this part of the country, at least that has been my experience. I have only attended a handful of funerals where someone close to the departed stood up and actually gave some insight into the person being memorialized.

But there was a eulogy yesterday.

And I left feeling like I had, in fact, known the man who was being remembered.

Because of how this man’s brother spoke of him. It was clear in his tone, in his words, the way that his brother had made him feel throughout his life. And that emotion carried throughout the church. And I could feel the love that was shared among this family.

We seem to forget just how much power we have, in terms of the people around us and how our words and actions affect them. I’m as guilty of it as anyone. Not being considerate enough.

I think one of the reasons people love the Christmas season so much is because of how it makes them feel.

The giving of gifts, the outpouring of generosity – these things are special not only because of tangible value, but because of what they mean. How they make us feel.

I always kind of laugh when I think back on some prior Christmases.

My daughter’s father and I married very, very young. 17 and 18. And, to be quite honest, it was a very tumultuous relationship. And I don’t have just a ton of good memories of our time together. But the ones I do, I cling to like life support. Just to remember that, in addition to our daughter, we did have some happiness. It wasn’t all for naught.

Our first Christmas as a married couple, we didn’t have a tree. We were so very broke. Had only been married for 3 months. Trying to prove ourselves. 

I got sick. Had a bad case of the crud. I was working retail and I’m pretty sure I worked that Christmas Eve….

I didn’t get him anything that year, I don’t think. And I wasn’t expecting anything. He and I had both been working and hadn’t had time or money to get gifts. Our relationship was not one big of gift-giving anyway.

When I got up Christmas morning, there were gifts for me.

While I was sleeping, he had gone to the all night convenience store and gotten me cold medicine, cough drops, and some of my favorite candy.

It was, to this day, one of the most memorable gifts I have ever received.

Because of the unexpectedness of it. Because of the heart behind it.

I will tell anyone I meet just how little I get along with my ex. And even now, 13 years after our split, I deal with issues created from our relationship.

But there were times when he made me feel special. And loved. And even when, to this day, I want to literally choke him, I find myself, more and more, choosing to focus on the times I felt positively. 

Because bad doesn’t always negate good.

Sometimes it does. Sometimes it has to.

But not always.

I wonder, as I often do after attending a funeral, how I will be remembered. 

I think it’s clear, from the rise of social media, just how deeply we all hold the need for validation. Acceptance. Love. To be made to feel as though we’re special. 

The most popular posts I’ve written here at a Pensieve View have usually involved my tributes to people I love.

I hope that my life is remembered because of how I made others feel. And that, when all is sifted away, how I made them feel was important.

Special.

Loved.

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The Big Snow of ’17

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No sooner had I posted a YouTube video on Facebook for Sarah Maclachlan’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River” than it seemed I might get my wish. 

It was reported that Friday’s snowfall in the deep south was the heaviest in 35 years.

It was beautiful. 

I love to write, and I love words, but I struggle to describe just how enchanting this day was in this place. Not just in my physical location, but in this place in my life.

I absolutely marveled at how stunning my familiar landscape looked, covered in its blanket of white. 

I’ve seen big snow. Growing up in western Oklahoma, I saw my fair share of blizzard conditions. Played in actual snow drifts. 

But it was different then.

For one, it was a normal occurrence. 

For two, I was a young child. And I cared more about playing in it than in the beauty of it.

I used to follow a blog written by a woman in Wisconsin. Their winters are notoriously long. She hated them. She lived for warm, sunny days. She tried to get to a southern beach at least once a year. It was obvious that she really loathed winter weather.

In contrast, I’m not a “summer girl”. There’s a lot that I love about it, but I’ve always been partial to sweaters, fireplaces, boots, blankets, books, and warm beverages over anything summer related. 

Whether you’re a summer person or a winter person, I think we simply delight in the unexpected arrival of a day that looks and feels like a gift. 

For a lot of people in Mississippi, Friday was the gift of an early white Christmas. Something we tend to fantasize about. 

It was an unanticipated moment of beauty. It transformed the familiar into something different, and made things stand out that normally blur into the background of my observation. 

I wonder if summer people, like the blogger in Wisconsin, feel the same way when their snow starts melting? Like all that has been buried is free and brought into the light and warmth of a new season?

I guess we all tend to, on occasion, be dissatisfied with our own surroundings. 

Still, I think I’d like a long winter. 

More than one snowfall.

Repeat performances of the pure, fresh, untouched perfection that is a snow covered landscape.

I had to work on Friday, and didn’t get many photos at all. I did manage to snap this one though. I think it’s the prettiest church in one of my nearby towns. It’s always stood out to me, just because it’s so different on a sunny day. The snow definitely dressed it up.

We had a skeleton crew on Friday, but I don’t think our business would close for the apocalypse itself, so I just showed up and made myself useful where I could. 

I haven’t helped count a vault or played bookkeeper/receptionist in many years, but it’s pretty much like riding a bike. We had 2 tellers manning our drive-thru and I never heard either of them complain one single time. One of our newest and youngest officers braved the cold and brought us lunch, helped me answer the phone, and drove as far as I did to make sure he was there to help.

The other officer had to leave to check on livestock, but came back, drenched in snow, to offer to drive our head teller home.

I love the way we all just made the best of the non-ideal working conditions. 

And, I love that we were able to hold down our fort for those who couldn’t be there.

We had 2 that were spending final moments with their father. He passed away later that evening.

We had some that were already scheduled for vacation time.

We had some that have been dealing with sickness and flu all week.

We had some on maternity leave.

And even if we had some that played hookey, just because it was a snow day, I don’t blame them.

Especially if you have young children or grandchildren. 

If I haven’t learned anything else, I do know that life is unexpected and short and you have to make every moment count. So if my showing up on Friday made it easier on the crew we had, and gave someone else the opportunity to build a snowman with their child or grandchild, I was happy to do it.

My heart got what it needed, just by seeing the wonder of a postcard perfect winter across the forests and pastures and buildings that make up this place that I call “home”.

Now the snow is melted. And we might not see any more, especially to this degree, for another generation. 

But we have the memory. And sometimes that has to be enough to sustain us, until we see our heart’s desire again. 

Snowflake moments

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I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.

Lewis Carroll 

Saint Francis seems to be warm in his white hat and heavy coat. 

A little magic is never a bad way to end a week. Or a month. Or a year. 

The end of December is so close. I consider this day a reminder to cherish every day. Sometimes the special moments are so bright and visible, like the snowfall. Other times, most times, we have to look a little harder, or, even more often, create them ourselves. But that doesn’t make them any less special. Each one is as unique as the snowflakes that fell outside my door last night.

So enjoy all of them.

“Choo”sing Chatanooga

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It would seem as though “girl trips” might be becoming tradition as a means of celebrating my daughter’s birthday. 

On Friday, we once again rounded up two of our favorite cousins and set out for Chatanooga, Tennessee.

I haven’t visited Chatanooga since I was a kid, and have only traveled through there a couple of times in the last 25 years. 

My memories of this historic little town is sketchy with a lot of blank spaces. I have seen pictures of me being there, but I don’t remember it. 

Although it’s just under a 6 hour drive, it seemed doable for a long weekend. A friend and her husband were gracious enough to extend some hotel points in my direction and I got 1 of my 2 nights for free. Score! 

Then my only problem with planning became the one that always plagues me whenever I travel: not having enough time. 

The temptation is to try and see as much as possible in as little time as possible and never slow down.

I’m afraid I gave into that a little bit too much because I am definitely paying for it this morning (pass the coffee. And repeat. And repeat. πŸ˜ͺ)

But there was a good time had by all. And I wouldn’t trade that for all the naps in the world. 

Day 1

On Friday morning we hit the road about 8:30ish. I knew we’d be losing an hour in the time zone switch and I was trying to get to our hotel before dark since I wasn’t entirely sure of where it was located. 

The Holiday Inn- Hamilton Place is a nice, quiet hotel and I had zero complaints about it whatsoever. In hindsight, however, because of the attractions we visited, I would have chosen a different hotel simply because this one is on the opposite side of the city. 

But, it did have it’s perks. The main one being that it was less than a mile to a Cracker Barrel and less than 3 miles to one of the most wonderful places we ended up visiting. 

But, more on that in a minute.

After a couple of pit stops and getting our fix of “Jesus chicken” at Chick-fil-a, we continued our trek into the mountains.

Friday evening, when we arrived, the girls posed for photos in the parking lot to celebrate our arrival:

The normal pose.

The “girl pose”.

Aaaaaand the “guy” pose.

I take no responsibility for these little smartasses and their stereotypes. Well, the one. The one in the middle. I take responsibility for her.

After we got settled, we ordered pizza, watched trash reality tv, and then played Taboo until late into the evening. 

Day 2

Our first order of business on Saturday was to fill our bellies. Cracker Barrel was just too dang convenient to pass up.

Our first intended stop after breakfast was Rock City

Now, I know that what I’m going to tell you about our travel experiences might sound a little “touristy”, but you have to remember, all of my traveling companions are under the age of 18. None of them had seen any of these attractions before and I myself didn’t remember much about them. I feel that, if you are from a certain region of the country, you should know as much as you can about that region. Even the touristy stuff. And hey, these sites are popular for a reason!

Before we headed up to Rock City, we stopped at Point Park

Actually, if I’m being honest, my GPS was telling me that Point Park was Rock City. They are both on Lookout Mountain, but they aren’t the same destination. Still, I’m glad we “accidentally” discovered this spot because I got some of my favorite photos here. And the view of the River was quite spectacular. 

FYI, when I put “See 7 States” in my GPS, it correctly routed us to Rock City.

Upon arriving at our intended destination, we took the daytime tour of Rock City, and explored more of the views that we drove 6 hours to see.

We enjoyed a light lunch while at Rock City and satiated our need for carbs and/or caffeine with a stop at the Starbucks across the street before heading downtown Chatanooga.

Tennessee Aquarium 

I have been to other nice aquariums, but I have to say, I think this is my new favorite.

The layout of these (there are two) aquariums are really nice and open. We visited the Ocean exhibit first, then the River Aquarium. Both were wonderfully fascinating and I loved that they didn’t feel geared toward only small children. 

I know these types of places are there for educational purposes, but I do appreciate it when not everything in the building looks like it was designed with a hyperactive 1st grader in mind. (No offense to any parents of hyper kids. Mine was one too, and she still has her moments.)

I ❀ butterfly gardens. I put out certain plants every spring just because I like to see the butterflies that they attract. 

There was no shortage of fascinating sea and river creatures to behold.

I love otters!!! So playful and fun!

I think I want the starfish to be my spirit animal. They’re so chill. And they get to just lay around.

Can you find the tiny seahorses in the photo below. Tiiiiiiny and oh, squee!!!!

The museum staff was very friendly and knowledgeable and it was absolutely lovely to listen to them talk about the animals that they so obviously love to care for and protect.

I also loved that many of their animals are rescues!

From the aquarium, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and then head to dinner before going back to Rock City for the “Enchanted Garden of Lights”.

Since it was actually Reagan’s birthday, we let her pick the restaurant and she chose an O’Charley’s that was within a stones throw of the Cracker Barrel where we ate breakfast. πŸ˜€

With our strength replenished, we made the drive back to Rock City, letting Claudia the GPS guide the way. 

All was well until we rounded one of the winding mountain roads and saw…..

Nothing.

But.

Taillights.

And that’s the ONLY lights we saw for over an hour. 

The Rock City display was supposed to close at 9 p.m. Seeing as how we were still sitting on the side of the mountain at 8:45, we called to see about getting a refund. 

The little perky elf who answered the phone told us that they would be serving ALL of their visitors and would be staying open until everyone’s tickets had been honored. 

Lady readers, I want you to just take a moment and think about how a bathroom with only two stalls looked after hundreds and hundreds of people, who had been sitting in traffic for more than 45 minutes, finally made it to those bathrooms. I want you to think of the LINE for that bathroom. 

Dear Lord. It was, as one of my friends likes to say, “worse than terrible”!

Still, we survived. But, to be quite honest, I don’t really remember much about it. I think I was in shock. 

We had gone to the Bellingrath Christmas display last year in Mobile and it was so…..enjoyable. Not crowded at all! 

I guess I naively believed this experience would go the same way.

We didn’t get back to the hotel until after 11 p.m. I’m pretty sure I just passed out, as did the rest of my companions. It was both physically and mentally exhausting to be surrounded by so many people in such tight quarters while also feeling as though your bladder would rupture at any moment. 

I felt truly sorry for the employees that worked at this event Saturday evening. I know I wasn’t the only one who felt my Christmas cheer deplete what with all of the screaming, tired children and the masses of people swarming around. 

The redeeming part of the experience was the view from Lookout Mountain at night. It was exceptional, especially with the full moon that we had. I enjoyed this one part of the night more than any of the lights displays.

And we didn’t see Santa, but we did get a picture with this lovely lady:

Day 3

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

We went back to Cracker Barrel for breakfast and then made our way to what was one of the coolest stops on this trip:

McKay Book Store. 

I have never been so in awe of a book retailer in my life. I’ve been in some big book stores. I’ve been in some that had a great selection of titles as well as collectables, movies, games, music, etc. But I have never been in a USED bookstore like this…..ever.

We all got books, of course, but I got a grocery bag full of titles for less than 41 bucks. 

They had paperbacks for $1, $2, $3. Many hardbacks for that. 

To say we were in a book-nerd’s paradise would be the understatement of the year. 

We killed at least 2 hours in this temple of stories until I finally had to drag the girls away.

McKay also had this on the door in the ladies room and I don’t know why other people haven’t gotten on board with this idea. It being flu season, I almost squealed when I saw it. I mean, I still Purelled the hell outta my hands when I walked out, but it was nice to know that my hand sanitizer wasn’t having to do ALL the work. 

Finally, against my daughter’s will, but because I had already purchased tickets, I dragged the poor child and our traveling buddies to one last stop on our way out of town:

Ruby Falls.

I loved the tour. My back did not. But it was something I really wanted to do because I really have very little memory of my first trip to this Chatanooga landmark. 

Our tour guide, Katie, was hilarious. Anything touristy is always better if your tour guide is good at their job. And she is that. 

As much as critters like bats and such give me the creeps, and as scared as I am of the dark, I’ve always liked caves. We used to visit Alabaster Caverns on a pretty regular basis when my family and I lived in Oklahoma. I really enjoy learning about geology and the history of places like Ruby Falls. 

The trek underground did not disappoint. The waterfall is truly a beautiful sight and worth the long, rocky, and winding path.

Ruby Falls was our last stop and from there, we hit the road and got into our hometown about 8:30 p.m. 

Other than the traffic on Day 2, there was only one other aggravating experience on this trip, and it happened at Ruby Falls. I shall close this post with my thoughts about it.

A quick glance

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We rolled in from a long weekend in Chatanooga, TN about 9:00 p.m. 

The trip was my gift to Reagan for her 14th birthday. 

I’m currently ingesting my second cup of coffee and trying to remember why I didn’t use my last available vacation day as a “recovery” day. 

Ah well, it was worth every mile. And every yawn I’ll produce today. We had a blast. Full report coming soon!

Showing them beauty

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For the last several weeks, the news has been story after story of “Wow! Him too?”

And I’ve been thinking about how the onslaught of these stories must look to my daughter’s generation.

Does it frighten them? Make them angry? Make them wary? Pessimistic?

For those of us who have been in the workplace for most of our lives, I don’t think the stories of the women coming forward these days with allegations of sexual abuse and harassment are surprising at all. 

It’s that common. 

I would like to believe that these are isolated incidents, not indicative of society as a whole. But, the truth is, it happens so much more than people want to believe. And when people finally feel like they might be believed, might be supported, and there might actually be a consequence for their oppressor, then it doesn’t surprise me that we are having such a barrage of women stepping forward. 

And, for my generation, it’s a relief I think. To see some people finally held accountable for their crimes and misconduct. 

For my daughter’s generation too, because hopefully we are beginning to set a precedent. Maybe the prevalence of this problem will continue to decrease as those who would harass, or downright assault, realize that they might not get away with it. 

Still, I can’t imagine what some of this relentless reporting on the issue must do to a young woman’s thought process. How it might affect her opinion and view of the world.

Certainly I want Reagan to be self-aware, and able to defend herself. I want her to never be afraid to stand up for herself if she’s ever pressured, harassed, or manipulated. 

But also, I just want her to see some beauty in the world. There are times when we have to face down the darkness, and set about the work of defeating it wherever and whenever we can.

Because this world is not perfect, but it’s not all terrible. 

In fact, a lot of it is downright breathtaking. And THAT is what I want her to focus on. What I am trying, more and more, to focus on myself. The good, the right, the perfect, the lovely. 

So, today, we’re off on a road trip. To see some of that beauty. To wrap ourselves in it. In the companionship of precious women we love. To laugh. To eat well. To see the beauty. Around us, and in each other.

I see

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My senses are relentless. Because they feed my thoughts. My thoughts lead to speculation. And, eventually, I will ask the question, “Are you okay?”

I’ve lived with this heightened awareness and (excessive?) empathy for as long as I can remember. It doesn’t feel like it’s my choice to look for those signs in others of discomfort, pain, inner struggle. 

I just feel it. Notice it. 

I see.

And I struggle with deciding who and when to offer some type of support.

I want to fix it all. 

I can’t.

I have my own issues that need fixing. I meet very few fellow empaths. People that are willing to carry my struggles with me. But even when others try, I struggle to convey the depth of the pain. 

In contrast, I feel the depth of pain in others. Sometimes without them saying a single word. 

I see how heavy the darkness is around them. I detect and notice the subtleties of pleadings to be seen. To be noticed. And I want to acknowledge them all. 

But I’ve learned. 

To avoid the emotional leeches. Even the ones who don’t mean to be. 

It’s hard to put distance there. But it’s a necessity for mental and emotional wellness. 

I could easily get swept into a relentless barrage of waves, drowning in the hurt and cries for attention from others. 

My heart aches to comfort. Soothe. Speak life and truth and words of affirmation. 

But I can only do so much. I can only pour from this vessel so many times before it becomes empty. And if it becomes empty, completely empty, without steps to be filled again, I become exhausted, depleted. And have nothing left to give. Even to myself.

It’s why I need solitude. Music. Church. Laughter. Literature. Art. Physical affection. Sleep. 

Things that replenish. 

It is guilt to turn away when I have seen.

It is conflict within my very being.

Because I can’t unsee what I have become aware of in another human. 

I help those I can. Who will allow me in their space. I reach out to fellow empaths when I believe I find one. 

I choose carefully these days about where to expend my energy. 

The choosing feels selfish. 

But it’s necessary. 

But that necessity has been an exhausting, yet valuable lesson.


A Tale of Two Black Friday Virgins

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When I went to bed last Saturday with a sore throat, headache, and enough sinus pressure to make a grown man cry, I never doubted that I would still be moving forward with my Black Friday (henceforth known as BF) plans. 

Even when I woke up Thanksgiving morning, completely congested and with a voice not unlike one of the Neville Brothers, I was undeterred in my quest to make a dent in my holiday shopping. 

Only one thing had changed: I now had a partner.

My sister had texted me earlier in the week, slyly asking about my shopping strategy. I finally just asked her outright: “You want to go, don’t you? You just don’t want to get up that early.” 

She responded affirmatively. 

So I called her and suggested that, in my opinion, we should just NOT EVEN GO TO BED Thanksgiving night!

We each took some semblance of naps off and on Thursday evening, and I picked her up at midnight on BF.

I live in between two major metropolitan areas, each having their pros and cons. After polling some of my friends, I felt that that the southernmost option of the two would be our best bet. 

Friends and family kept asking me on Thanksgiving, “Are you really going to do this?” 

I can understand their skepticism. BF is not for the faint-hearted. And given my propensity for road rage, loathing of crowds, and Scroogelike demeanor of Christmases past, I can see why many of them, including my own child, seemed more than a little perplexed at my decision. 

Many of those in disbelief have experienced BF for themselves. Others have simply seen the horrific images on the news and stay away because of the sensationalized versions that have been presented to them. 

But here’s the truth: it ain’t that bad. 

However, we definitely learned a few things on our first foray into this time-honored tradition of holiday shopping. I’m going to share those lessons and a few anecdotes with you now.

Cultism and the Ugg Princesses

Jana and I laughed as we made our plans for BF. We called ourselves “The Black Friday Virgins”. We joked, “We should have made matching t-shirts with our nickname on them!” Hahahaha……hahaha….ha…..🀀

And then we saw them. 

Everywhere.

Women in matching t-shirts. Like relay teams. 

These ladies looked like they weren’t joking at all. In fact, some of them frightened me. I kept picturing 2 or 3 of them cornering me in housewares, throwing a burlap (with lace!) bag over my head and throwing me into the back of their 2017 Denali. Being forced to drink peppermint lattes from Starbucks and having a Michael Kors bag permanently affixed to my shoulder. 

It was super scary, y’all. 

And not just the shoppers in matching “team” apparel.

The ones who really scared me were the ones in full makeup, perfect hair, complete with designer outfits (aka “the Ugg Princesses”), BEFORE DAWN. 

I just have one question: where do these women come from? Do they have personal assistants and a cosmetic team that reside with them? 

How does one go about looking that put together before 5 in the morning?

I know I was sick and all, but I don’t look as good as most of the Ugg ladies on my BEST days. (Side note: my autocorrect keeps trying to change “Ugg” to “Ugh”. This is both hilarious and accurate.)

Jana and I finally decided that they were dressed up because they must have been going out for a fancy brunch when they were done with their shopping. 

Let me put this in perspective for y’all.

I was wearing a pair of workout pants with a hand-me-down pullover fleece that a coworker gave me about 10 years ago. It has definitely seen better days. I wore it because it was warm. And so I could take it off when the sun came up and it got hot. 

I had on the remnants of my Thansgiving Day makeup, which, by 3 a.m. on BF, looked like I had been to a rave. My sister and I laughed so much and so hard that we cried. That mascara and eyeliner, in addition to my frizzed hair thrown up in a clip, had me looking the very definition of a “hot mess” by the time we got to OUR fancy breakfast at the Cracker Barrel. 

If you’re picking up on hostility or jealousy toward these women, you’re way off. Well, MAYBE a little jealousy. But mostly just amusement with a touch of infatuation. 

Thanksgiving Openings

There has been much in the way of controversy about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. I endured years of having a spouse in the retail industry,  working for a chain that, quite literally, is NEVER CLOSED…..EVER. So, I sympathize. 

But I will say this: as someone who really does hate being in crowds, the Thanksgiving Day openings were kind of a godsend for me on my first BF.

You see, my first planned stop was JCP. They had opened at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving. By the time Jana and I arrived at 1 a.m. on BF, the store was practically devoid of shoppers! It was LOVELY! I knew I’d never get there in time to get one of the primo coupons for $500 off a $500 purchase or whatever. I just wanted to score some extra discounts on top of what I normally would save. And I did. And I did it in PEACE AND QUIET which, not only was a pleasant surprise, but also practically impossible to have occur anywhere between the months of October and January. 

We had lots of time to kill after we finished at JCP, not anticipating getting done with our shopping there quite as early as we ended up finishing. 

So…..we went to Wal-Mart. Also deserted. Another retailer that had been open on Thanksgiving. We wandered the store, passed some time, and then meandered over to the mall to wait on ULTA Beauty to open at 6 a.m.

The Madness

It was here, at the mall, that I experienced true BF. 

We arrived in front of the mall entrance around 4:30 a.m. Even got a parking space at the very front of the row. Within 20 minutes, the parking lots around us had started to fill up, and by dawn there was a line of people in front of the mall entrance. 

As dawn broke over the horizon, I looked out of my car window (I refused to get in a line to get INTO a store) and saw the previously empty parking lot starting to congest.

Three minutes before 6 a.m., Jana and I made our way to the end of the line and the doors to the mall were opened. People weren’t “running” but they were…….hyped. And, apparently, they were ALL GOING TO ULTA.

I had read up on the sale, but nothing in the store was clearly marked. I ended up with a few items, and waited in a line for 30+ minutes to purchase said items. And it was in this period of time that I realized that I was now in the pit of BF hell.

I was in between two women in line. 

The one in front of me, with a heavy Bronxy style accent, proceeded to inform her shopping partner on everything from her MIL’s dementia, to her quest for a PS4 for her daughter so she could play a game with her boyfriend who lives in “Flahridah”, to the various shades of colors that said daughter had dyed her hair over the last 3 summers. It was….interesting. 

Much more bearable and entertaining than the woman behind me. 

It was in the moments that I noticed this woman’s voice that I first considered violence. 

Have you ever heard a sound so annoying that it made you want to shank someone with a mascara wand?

I have. 

When I tell you this woman ALSO had a Bronxy accent, it’s true. And that, in and of itself, I don’t mind. In fact, I find it a little endearing and I can do a fabulous impression of it. It’s a party trick I only pull out on special occasions.

But Oh My Gawd……the woman behind me had a Bronxy WHINE. And when I say “WHINE”, I MEAN, “WHINE”. 

By the time I was having to endure this woman’s screeches, I was halfway through my BF adventure. My sister had abandoned me to sit outside in the massage chairs. I was hungry. I was getting hot in my fleece, I was feeling a little claustrophobic, and I was disappointed in the lack of savings I was getting in exchange for my aggravation. 

My Happy Places

When we left ULTA, it was like Heaven smiled on us. Chick-fil-a was now open for business, and, after the homicidal urges I had just felt in that long line at ULTA, I needed the purification rites of consuming what Reagan calls “Jesus chicken”. 

Once we got our blood sugar levels back to normal, we went to my happiest of happy places: Books-a-Million. It was quiet. It smelled like books. And coffee. And there were nerds running the cash registers.

I felt like I was back among my people. 

I spent longer time there than necessary, lingering in the reverie that is BAM, before finally departing for our last couple of stops. 

By the time we finished visiting retailers, I needed further sustenance before the hour+ drive back home. 

So we embraced our inner old ladies and ended the day in another happy place of mine: Cracker Barrel. I go to this establishment for 2 reasons, and 2 reasons only: biscuits, and biscuits. 

They have, hands down, the best biscuits in the world. To say I love them is like saying a fat kid kinda likes candy. I ADORE these damn biscuits, okay?

Plus, there’s a store to browse while you wait for your table. And they have a FIREPLACE IN THE DINING ROOM. I mean, what’s not to love?

The Ugg Princesses can have their fancy brunches with mimosas and quiche. I’ll take some biscuits and a side of hashbrown casserole any day of the week.

The Verdict

Would I go BF shopping again?

Oh yes. Most definitely.

It’s not something I would undertake lightly. I didn’t this year. I had a plan, and I stuck with it. 

I knew that, because of the times I planned to be at many of these stores, they might be out of some items. And they were. But that’s no big deal. It wasn’t life or death.

I have found a “sweet spot” in terms of timing that I would most DEFINITELY take advantage of again. That post-Thanksgiving-but-before-the BF-morning-peak-crowd arrives time. When the stores are almost deserted and yet everything is still marked with attractive discounts. 

It’s probably the only time of the holiday shopping season when these stars align, so, yes, I’d do BF again. If for no other reason than to hit certain retailers when they’re NOT crowded, yet open for business.

But there are definitely some experiences I shall NOT be repeating.

I will not attempt to be at a store when it opens on BF again unless there is something in particular that I’m wanting, offered for a HELL of an amazing price and I can’t pass up the deal. 

Accomplishments

Ultimately, I succeeded in my goals:

Buy certain, quality gift items being offered at good discounts – βœ”

Make a large dent in my Christmas shopping list so I might actually ENJOY December – βœ”

Mark something off my bucket list – βœ”

Have fun – βœ”

Earlier this year, I made some conscious choices to start doing some things for myself.

Part of that came about because I was tired of feeling like life was just happening to me. I was not feeling like an active participant in my own life.

If anything has changed these last 11 months, it’s that. 

From taking time to do more of the things that bring me joy, to experiencing new things…..just because. I have become, am becoming, more of my own navigator. I’m steering the ship instead of letting it steer me.

Black Friday was, in many ways, the evidence of a broader transformation within myself over the last year. 

It was also a lot of fun. 

And I’ll be doing it again.

Kleenex, Spiritual Growth, and Some Random Observations

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Kleenex

Oh how the mighty have fallen. 

I’m chugging along, exercising (even running some!), work is going well, holidays are in sight and I’m feeling festive and merry……then WHAM! A sinus infection. 

One of those hit-you-out-of-nowhere-just-let-me-die-but-could-you-make-me-some-soup-first kind of illnesses. 

I don’t get sick nearly as much as I used to. When Reagan was a small child, it seemed like we constantly passed infections of some sort back and forth.

But now, I no longer have:

  • Tonsils
  • A gallbladder
  • Any female reproductive organs

I take vitamins. I drink a TON of water. And I quit smoking. Yes, yes you read that right. I quit smoking.

For years I harbored this habit, and kept it relatively hidden from most people. But it was my crutch. One that my anxiety kept me dependant on and running to, again and again.

But I quit. Recently. In fact, Thanksgiving Day will mark 3 months that I have been free of this addiction.

And make no mistake, it is an addiction. One that is really hard to break.

One that never goes away.

I struggle with that fact. Because I’ll never not want to smoke. But I don’t miss the irritability of when I had gone a few hours without a cigarette. I don’t miss the way a sinus infection like the one I’m battling now would make me feel 10 times worse because of the poor state of my respiratory system. I don’t miss the habit.

But, ya know what? This is so relative to my last post about parallel truths. I will always WANT to smoke. Because it is a habit that I enjoyed. It wasn’t good for me at all, but I loved it. I loved the way it made me feel. I loved the way it calmed me down. I loved the way it soothed me. And I just loved the taste of a cigarette. 

I gave up the habit, but the habit will never give up on me. And I have to live with that truth, alongside of the new one that I created for myself by putting down my lighter for good.

On a lighter note (pun intended) 😜, I am still planning to be over this crud and in the JCP parking lot before dawn on Friday morning. I AM doing this Black Friday thing. I have a list. I have a plan. And goshdarnit I’m going to get the bulk of my shopping DONE this weekend. 

I am actually starting to feel the mania…..of course, that might be all the OTC meds I’ve pushed through my body in the last 72 hours. But still, I am feeling a rush of pre-shopping adrenaline starting to build in my system. I’m so ready to get my packages home, put up the trees, help hubs hang the lights on the house, and start rolling Christmas flicks! 

I’m ready to start Christmas baking. Wrapping gifts. Observing Advent and soaking up all of the spiritual preparation that makes Christmas even more beautiful, more hopeful.

Some spiritual growth

Because that’s where I think I found my joy this year. I think that’s where this year is different from previous years. And it’s a continuation of the parallel truth concept as well:

Christmas, for the Christian, is about hope. It’s about promises fulfilled. It’s about Love coming into our midst. 

As Christians, we hold the truth of this holiday with the truth of Black Friday and Easter Sunday. They all work together to write the story of redemption. And that, my friends, is worth celebrating. 

Randoms

But on to the random observation portion of this post. (If I sound completely without flow and the writing seems awkward and disjointed, please refer back to the statement where I mentioned my heavily medicated state.)

Velvet

As is often the case, fashion trends often return for another chance at wreaking havoc on society, but more specifically on women’s clothing options. This year? Velvet has come back into “style”. I don’t mind certain colors making a heavy imprint on fashion trends, or even the occasional trendy pattern (chevron, anyone?), but I’ve got to draw the line somewhere and velvet is where it’s going to be drawn this year. Yeah, if you’re a little size 4, your velvet romper might be cute……wait, no. No it’s not. Velvet should be reserved for the 1980s, the occasional plush stuffed animal, and MAYBE a Christmas party dress. IF it’s tastefully created. But only if it’s black. MAYBE red. But yeah, I’m not liking all of these velvety things. And I especially don’t intend to look like a squishy stuffed animal myself, so I’m going to cling to my cotton and flannel and let this fad pass over.

Slut costumes

I realize that Halloween is over, but can I just say that I’m so over every. Single. Costume. For a woman being a slutty version of something else? “Sexy police officer” “Sexy nurse” “Sexy Janitor” “Sexy Lunch Lady

Whatever.

Next year, I’m just going to wear all black with a big NO printed on my shirt. 

Cologne

I did a snap chat story on this topic, but I want to reiterate it here, because it’s HELLA important. Dude bros, listen up! 

Wear cologne SPARINGLY. If you don’t know what “SPARINGLY” means, go look it up. Never mind, I want to make sure you understand. Here, I’ll post the definition:

DON’T WEAR THE WHOLE DAMN BOTTLE OF COLOGNE

If you’re going through Brut at a rate of approximately 1 bottle per week, you need to start reducing your usage until you can make that bottle last you at LEAST a year. Just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean you can get away with wearing more.

I swear, y’all. I was in a store this past weekend and, I knew, it being a furniture store, that we’d be attacked like fresh meat as soon as we stepped inside. I used to work for this particular establishment and I know how their sales teams operate. Still, I wasn’t prepared to be nearly knocked unconscious by this dude’s overpowering stench of chemically enhanced “fragrance”. The cold front that pushed through MS on Saturday, dropping our daily highs from the 70s to the 50s is probably to blame for my current illness, but I also believe that the headache and sore throat I acquired upon leaving that store were also, at least partially, to blame on this over eager salesman that, bless his heart, spilt his whole bottle of smell good on hisself. 

Sophomore slump

Last year, I participated in a workplace fantasy football league. I won. I made it look easy. And I knew, this year, the pressure would be on to prove myself as more than a first time fluke.

I did my research. Picked my team. Got the lowest draft grade. No worries, same thing happened last year. But that’s the ONLY thing that has mirrored my last season.

I’ve had a ton of players get hurt. I’ve turned over so many on my team I don’t even really remember who I have most weeks. I am currently next to last in the rankings. 

But hey, there’s always next year. Still, experiencing the highest of highs last year was not good preparation for being nearly the lowest of the low this season. 

Thankfully, it has gone that way for most of the players in our league so nobody can really say much in the way of smack talk because it’s all been so unpredictable! 

Another sick day

I took a sick day yesterday. I took another today. Aside from a headache that won’t quit, I’m feeling much better than I did Saturday night. 

So far all I’ve done is sleep. And read. And play Jeopardy on my phone. And write this drivel. But maybe it’s just the rest I need to fortify me for the busy weeks ahead. So while I haven’t felt my best, I will use this time as an opportunity to relax. Solidify my plans. And get ready to embrace the Christmas season with wide open arms.

I don’t know if I’ll post again until after Thanksgiving, so I do wish you all a Happy Turkey Day. Let the feasting begin! May your Turkey be tender and your cranberry sauce be fresh……ly CANNED!!! πŸ˜‰