Well hot dang. That got your attention. In all honesty, I wanted to title the column, “Let’s celebrate.” But I have realized the last 2 plus years have conditioned us to gravitate towards the negative. It has taught us to seek perfection, whether that be in looks or in health. Man, my mom would slap this culture if she could and all of her friends would circle us around the coffee table for some real hard talks. I can hear them now… “Perfection is fake. The real beauty lies in the truth. Seek out the real women. The ones that will call you up. The ones that will sharpen you. Don’t be afraid of the people that speak the truth. Even when it hurts.
I was sitting in the salon this past week getting some much-needed attention to my hair. As I sat there, all the hairstylists began to buzz around and talk about how “Mary” was coming in today. In my mind I kept asking, “What about MARY? Why was everyone so excited that this woman was coming in.” Then I started to get the backstory on Mary. She is 100 years old and I was told that she looks way younger than her age and more importantly acts younger too!!
As the salon doors would pivot and new clients would come in, I would look up in anticipation of seeing Mary. My hairdresser started laughing and kept saying “nope, that’s not Mary.” After what seemed like hours of anticipation, in walked Mary.
I’d have to agree that she definitely doesn’t look 100. I joked around that she must’ve forged her birth certificate or her parents lied to her all of these years. At most she looks to be in her early-to-mid-80s. She walked with no assistance, I didn’t notice any shaking in her hands. But what I noticed the most was the joy and light that shone around her.
By this time in my week I was completely out of words, and/or too shy, to introduce myself so I too could talk to Mary. But I did find myself continuing to listen in as she got her hair and her nails done. What I discovered over the next hour of being in the presence of this woman was that she never once mentioned the political environment, what medication she was on, who had died recently, or any other negative aspect of this world or her life.
She did talk about the people she ran into, how their haircuts were different and how amazing they looked with their new do’s. She talked about the joy that she got from playing bridge and how excited she was that her care center was now going to be allowing two visitors at a time. I waited for her to mention after that statement how much she had missed her visitors in the past. She.. never… mentioned…anything…about… it. And then a lightbulb went off. It was my “AHA” moment. This woman lives in the ever present moment. She doesn’t even allow her brain to go back in time to remember the years where she wasn’t allowed even one visitor in her care facility.
I write about this interaction with Mary to encourage us all that throughout the day you have no idea who you are impacting, whose life you are speaking joy into, what stranger you are calling up and out of despair. We individually have so much power to be the joy and the light in someone’s day.
Linda on our team, who I call “my Linda,” without even knowing it, was speaking life into me the other day. I have a big milestone birthday coming up and whether I admit it or not, it weighs heavy on me. I haven’t spoken about it, so little does Linda know about my daily struggle. But, as she talked to me about how proud she is of me, how far I’ve come with my life and what I have accomplished both professionally and personally, I was surprised how much it’s surrounded and encased my heart with love and encouraged me. Despite how hard life might be, how mundane it might be right now in this season, I can still celebrate the little victories. I can be more like MARY. And I don’t need to wait to turn 100 to do it.
Mary, I hope this letter finds you and I hope to run into you again at the salon. This time I won’t be so shy.