Posted by: duchessoceanwaves | July 22, 2015

The Shoe’s Soul

Off the Hard Road

Shoes Soul

Lights, sounds, the promise of something…something good, really good.

It was the energy that drew me in. Energy that not-so-gently drew me to the door, beckoning me to take that final step over the threshold, to take hold of the adventure waiting just for me. Perhaps it didn’t so much draw me but lured me; much like you can lure a child with the promise of ice cream. The overwhelming pull of the lights dancing with abandon, the sounds sending the assurance of dreams fulfilled. It gave me a feeling that I was somehow just on the brink of encountering one of life’s great moments. I hesitated, if only for an instant, not knowing what the day’s adventures would bring my way. Then, I knew I had to go in. I had to experience what was beyond that threshold. I was excited. As excited as the little girls dressed in…

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Posted by: duchessoceanwaves | October 16, 2014

The Shoe’s Soul

Shoes Soul

Lights, sounds, the promise of something…something good, really good.

It was the energy that drew me in. Energy that not-so-gently drew me to the door, beckoning me to take that final step over the threshold, to take hold of the adventure waiting just for me. Perhaps it didn’t so much draw me but lured me; much like you can lure a child with the promise of ice cream. The overwhelming pull of the lights dancing with abandon, the sounds sending the assurance of dreams fulfilled. It gave me a feeling that I was somehow just on the brink of encountering one of life’s great moments. I hesitated, if only for an instant, not knowing what the day’s adventures would bring my way. Then, I knew I had to go in. I had to experience what was beyond that threshold. I was excited. As excited as the little girls dressed in their favorite princess attire to attend “Disney’s Princesses on Ice” at the FedEx Forum just down the street.

What greeted me was moving and more thought-provoking than I could have possibly imagined.

That Saturday began by crossing one very important adventure off my bucket list; visiting Graceland. That’s another story for another day however. The rest of the day’s to do list included Beale Street and finding a hole in the wall barbecue joint somewhere close to Beale Street. The barbecue joint was going to have to wait until my first stop was neatly tucked away in my memory bank.

With the afternoon sun high in the sky, I turned the corner and came face-to-face with the infamous Beale Street. What laid before me stopped me in my tracks. The visual was truly overwhelming. I had to get my bearings. There was sign after sign touting the best beer and blues joint ever. I felt a bit like Elf. I wanted to run in and congratulate each and every one of the staff. I imagined myself saying “Great job everyone! Best beer and blues! Way to go!” Wouldn’t that have been a sight; a crazy lady from the Midwest running from place to place congratulating each on a job well done. Actually, now that I think about it, no one would have thought much of it. It is, after all, Beale Street in Memphis.

I heard, rather than saw, my first stop. BB King’s Blues Club. The sound of a horn warming up, the mic check, the lick of a guitar, scales on a piano; it all sounded like adventure, like something out of a movie and I was going to play a part. Choosing a seat at the bar facing the stage was perfect. I ordered an ice-cold Blue Moon and looked around. It was as if I could imagine each person that had been there before me. Some were regulars, some were tourists like me, some simply stopped by for a beer and a burger with no other agenda in mind. They were there, in my mind; men, women, big, small, old and young. Legends, not legends…I saw them all.

Then, she sat down.

I paid little notice to the nice woman who politely asked if the seat next to us was available. I smiled politely but my attention was riveted to each wall, each table, the musician’s warming up, the sounds, the sights; my hunger to take it all in as quick as possible was begging to be fed. Then, I saw her, really saw her. My first impression was how nicely she matched. Shallow I know. Her deep coral shorts were topped by a lovely embroidered top which boasted stitching that matched the color of her shorts. I remember thinking how cool that she found shoes to match her shorts too.

Then the band began to play.

Blues. Blues like I’ve never heard before. It caught me and wouldn’t let go. I was enthralled, trance-like, and couldn’t turn away. The soulful sound of the sax, the bass, even the clothes the musicians wore. They mesmerized me from the start. I was hooked.

Then she began to dance in her chair.

I was dancing in my chair too if the truth be told. Seriously, when music hits your very soul how do you sit still? I wiggled and waggled in my chair. i clapped after each song. I smiled. Lord how I smiled. I couldn’t quit. I fell in love with the blues.

Then she got up out of her chair and headed to the dance floor. All by herself.

I watched as some were taken aback. How could this woman dance by herself? Judgement. All around. Then, magically almost, the dance floor began to seduce one, then two more, then several more people. This one woman, this one soul who felt the blues down deep, danced with abandon. Not a care in the world for the ones who thought it inappropriate for this woman to dance by herself. The music demanded it. She gave in to the demand. Then others joined her forgetting their earlier inhibitions.

We stayed much longer than intended. A barbecue joint must be found. I truly didn’t want to leave, yet I wanted to know what else Beale Street wanted to give me. As we left, this wonderful woman hugged me and told me to come back.

Then she smiled. And winked.

The shoe’s soul will forever be an inspiration to me. An inspiration to live life not watch it.

To take a chance.

To dance, each and every time the music demands it.

Posted by: duchessoceanwaves | June 18, 2013

Did you hear that?


My apologies, I didn’t hear you.

Huh? What?

What was so funny? What did I miss?

I’m sorry. I can’t hear you.

No, I’m not kidding. I really cannot hear you.

Perhaps it’s more accurate if I say I cannot hear you if you are standing on my left side. Stand on my right side, or in front of me so I can see your lips move, and I can hear you (most of the time). At 47 I realized that I wasn’t just missing some parts of conversations, I was missing whole conversations, multiple important statements in meetings, and, most heartbreaking of all, conversations with my sons.

I’m quite certain I drive people crazy. There are times when I drive ME crazy. I see people around me talking quietly, sharing their lives, their stories, their jokes and it makes me insanely jealous. I just want to be “normal”, to hear what is being said. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask. I mean really…in the grand scheme of life, I just want to hear “normally”.

Then, I remember something I’ve always believed.

I would rather see than hear.

Those six words have become a mantra of sorts.

When I become sad that I can’t hear people I stop and  remember that I can see them. I see how amazing people are in their likenesses and in their differences. I see how, when I become agitated in a crowd because I cannot pick out a single conversation, someone steps up to talk to me, just me. I see how some people roll their eyes when I have to ask them to repeat themselves. I see how people accommodate each others needs, whatever they may be. I see, and that’s enough for me.

I watched in awe as my youngest son ran in the state cross country meet. I didn’t have to hear – I saw what I needed to see. The fire, the passion, the joy, the sense of accomplishment as he PR’d. I saw the parents, family, friends – all congratulating and consoling runners from all over the State of Illinois. I saw my son’s face as he saw his family, his father, brother and myself, proudly waiting for him. I saw it all…I didn’t need to hear anything.

I sat quietly, with tears silently rolling down my face, watching as my oldest son graduated from Great Lakes Naval Station. I saw the new sailors march in; I saw the pride on their faces as well as the pride on the faces of those around me. I saw my son achieve yet another dream in his life. I saw him as a man, not a little boy, a man who made a decision and followed through to the end. I didn’t have to hear a thing…I saw it all.

So as I continue my journey in life, not hearing just exactly what I should, I find that I see far more than most people. That is enough for me.

I see what you’re saying…and what you’re not saying.

Posted by: duchessoceanwaves | December 12, 2011

Celebrating the Unthinkable

One year ago this coming Saturday, December 17th, many lives were touched by an event that up to that time was beyond my comprehension.

The day began as any other; get up, get ready, go to work. That day however, we planned to do our Christmas shopping so we were taking the afternoon off – it was a Friday. Heading to the mall with list in hand, the plan was to get the vast majority of our shopping accomplished, have an early dinner, then head home. Our oldest son had to work that evening but our youngest would be home. The mall, NOT my husband’s favorite place at any time of the year let alone the holiday season, was very busy and we were lucky to run into several friends. Soon though we were heading to a local steakhouse for a couple of cocktails and a steak dinner. It was a good afternoon and we accomplished much of our to do list. Dinner was excellent and we found ourselves heading home early to relax. Around 8:30 p.m. my husband stated he wasn’t feeling very good, hadn’t been for a while, but thought it was just indigestion.  Soon we became concerned we might not be dealing with indigestion and we both felt perhaps a trip to the ER was warranted. Our youngest son elected to stay home as long as we called his brother home to wait with him; I made that call while on our way to ER telling him I would call as soon as I knew something.

We arrived at the ER and were immediately escorted to a room whereby they began the treatment for a heart attack victim. A heart attack victim? No no no…it was indigestion…I was sure of it. It still wasn’t real to either of us.

We both remained convinced it was simply a case of severe indigestion…until 4 a.m. when a doctor came through the door to inform us that my husband had indeed suffered a heart attack and a significant one at that.

My first thought was “Could they ever be insignificant?”

My husband was immediately taken to Cardiac Critical Care.

My head began to swim with “what now?”.

Questions of how to tell the boys, how to tell my mother-in-law, how significant is significant, what happens next, and more clouded my already muddled brain. We simply went through the motions as they settled my husband in and maintained their diligent effort to get his chest pain under control. He is a strong man with a very high pain tolerance and knowing he was scared and the pain was so severe frightened me more than I can explain. By mid-morning Saturday, December 18th, the boys were anxious to see their father, family had been notified, friends had been notified, my Ya-Ya’s were called in, and our church had been notified.

Then the roller coaster really took off.

The cardiologist came in to tell us that damage was not as severe as expected but bypass would most definitely occur and likely within a day. The heart surgeon then visited to tell us damage was so extensive my husband could not withstand surgery at that time. Hence the roller coaster analogy.

Thankfully our story has a good ending. We were blessed with receiving bypass and treatment at Barnes on February 10th (my mother-in-law’s 87th birthday) by an extremely skilled cardiac surgeon. We were blessed with friends and family to support us (thank you Ya Ya’s – for holding me up when I didn’t know I needed it). Recovery was painful but one year later, having lost 90 pounds, my husband is proud to call himself a runner and, more importantly, a survivor. He continues to be one of the strongest men I know.

We will celebrate this Saturday, December 17th, which may seem strange to some. Realize however that the celebration isn’t about the heart attack that almost took his life but rather about the heart attack that gave him his life. He is more healthy and active than he has ever been. The difference between life and death was about one inch…if the blockage had occurred one inch lower this story would have a very different ending. The difference is about having a skilled treatment team and the conviction to seek answers from others. The difference is about having the most amazing family and friends to support us on our journey.

I now read the following poem with a new understanding. Realizing the value of time is an eye-opening experience. Realizing the value of friends and family is heartwarming and overwhelming at the same time.

Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.

  • To realize the value of one year:
    Ask a student who has failed a final exam.
  • To realize the value of one month:
    Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
  • To realize the value of one week:
    Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
  • To realize the value of one hour:
    Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
  • To realize the value of one minute:
    Ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane.
  • To realize the value of one second:
    Ask a person who has survived an accident.
  • To realize the value of one millisecond:
    Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Time waits for no one.

Treasure every moment you have.

You will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special.

~~ Author Unknown ~~

Posted by: duchessoceanwaves | December 9, 2011

The Christmas Trees

As I put up my artificial Christmas trees this year I reflected upon the similarities of the trees to life. The branches of an artificial tree must be molded and shaped as each year their original shape seems to get somewhat distorted. Similar to our own lives, we often attempt to mold ourselves into what we think others might want us to be or what we think we ought to be and often get distorted. Would we be wiser to simply use the shape we were blessed with?

So many do not recognize the blessing of who they are inside, what they offer to others simply by being a part of their life, and try to change. I’m guilty myself. As I shaped and molded the branches of the trees into what I felt was an attractive presentation it made me think of how much time I spend trying to shape myself into what I think others want to see instead of realizing that I’m blessed with just being me.

The branches of a live tree are molded each in their own way by His hand. You can, of course, alter them however they are never quite the same when you do. I’ve only had one live (is it live if you cut it down?) tree in my 47 years and it was an interesting experience. This year I wanted to try a live tree again however I couldn’t make others in my household see how fun it would be so I resigned myself to the artificial ones. I still find myself gazing and smiling as I see families out in search of that one special tree.

I put up several trees for Christmas and they vary in size and age. The tree in my dining room is 41 years old this Christmas. Some would likely  look at it and think it isn’t worth the trouble. It’s branches most definitely must be molded each year and it’s design is rather old-fashioned. To me though, it’s one of the most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen. It represents independence, family, and unconditional love. It was the first Christmas tree my mother and I had after my parents divorced. In fact, it was my first tree ever. It is special in its need for molding and shaping each year and it gives me comfort to help it come alive for Christmas.

As I put the finishing touches on my artificial trees, molding and shaping them, I am thankful for the thoughts and memories that surface with each ornament I hang. I am thankful for the joy I get from knowing that each person in my life is a gift. I am thankful for the reminder that I should stop trying to mold or shape myself into what others want. I am reminded to be thankful for being me, for He has a plan for me…just the way I am.

Posted by: duchessoceanwaves | August 15, 2011

Writing a Biography

Each day I enjoy setting aside time to read about someone or something I know very little about. It may be something that is of interest to the people around me and I want to learn about it or it could be someone I hear about and I want to know more about them.

Today’s pick was Maya Angelou. I often get inspirational quotes and many of them are from her. As I went to her home page I was instantly pulled to the Biography tab to learn more about her. After clicking on the tab I was greeted with Global Renaissance Woman. Wow, what a description! Global Renaissance Woman, how does one acquire such an amazing description I wondered. Then I began to read…

Ms. Angelou is an incredible woman, overcoming many obstacles and challenges in her life to become what SHE wanted to become, not what the world seemingly had planned for her. She is a “celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist.” Pretty amazing list isn’t it?

Then I began to think about what my biography would look like, what would be the title? What would the list of “she is” consist of? It’s pretty interesting to think of one’s life in that manner. Give it a try sometime.

Renate Lynn Robinson Ping

Lifelong Aim To Please’er

Renate is well versed in laundry and diaper changing. She is a daughter, granddaughter, niece, great-niece, cousin, wife, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, great-aunt, and great great aunt. Most important of her roles is that of mother. Renate’s life began in 1964 in Urbana. Born to Dan and Anita she lived her early years in Charleston. From an early age she was eager to please all those around her, whether it be her parents, teachers or friends. Many times this resulted in her going outside her comfort zone. To this day Renate tries to keep everyone happy regardless of what it takes from her.

Well that doesn’t sound very exciting now does it? I thought about it some more and came up with bullet points, that was easier:

Compassionate; Caring; Hopeless Romantic; Loves to Read; Needs Sun and Sand; Devoted to Her Sons; Tries to Keep Everyone Happy; Hates Yelling; Hates Someone Mad at Her

No good, those don’t work either.

I think I see why people hire someone to write about them. Writing about yourself is hard work. It’s uncomfortable. It makes you look at yourself, look deep within yourself and perhaps see things you don’t want to see.

I think I’ll go back to reading about other people. It’s easier.

Posted by: duchessoceanwaves | August 3, 2011

Biking in the Dark

As a general rule I do okay in the “stay active” department. If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know that I don’t aspire to be a size zero. I do love being active and outside as much as possible even in the heat – the humidity…yeah, not so much. When it’s not so humid I walk about three miles every day on my lunch hour in addition to my morning and evening walks. It refreshes me and leaves me with a renewed level of energy with which to face the afternoon.

As of this week I’ve added a morning bike ride to my schedule. I’m up at 4:30 every morning and when my husband takes off for his run, I take off on my bike. The first day I was somewhat hesitant as I peddled off into the dark. My mind was filled with questions like – what if someone comes out of the corn, what if I encounter a dog out prowling, what if I encounter a skunk, will I be able to see potholes in the road, how many cars are out at 4:45 in the morning…you know, the usual questions. Suffice it to say that the first day I didn’t have to worry about anything. It was a beautiful ride, quiet and peaceful, and certainly made my day begin in a very relaxing way.

This morning as I took off I began to think of other questions. I peddled into dark trusting that the road would be safe, that no one would come walking out of the corn, that I wouldn’t encounter any animals, and that I wouldn’t get stuck in traffic. I began to ponder how many other times in my life do I peddle into the dark filled with trust.

I trust each and every day that I won’t be given more than I can handle. Like most of you I suspect, sometimes I think the Man above thinks I’m stronger than I am.

I trust each and every day that God will keep those I love and cherish safe under His care and watchful protection.

I trust each and every day that the people who come into my life – family, friends, co-workers/friends – will be the kind of people that I believe them to be. I always trust that people are who I see them to be inside.

I trust each and every day that my eyes will open and that I’ll have a brand new day full of opportunities to make a difference, no matter how big or how small.

I trust each and every day that I will be given the tolerance, patience and support needed to fulfill my responsibilities, both at work and at home.

I trust each and every day that there are those I can call upon should I falter in my journey.

Living life is a bit like a bike ride into the dark. There must be trust that when you take off on your journey into the unknown, into the dark, that you will be guided along the way. You must trust that God will give you the strength that you need, that He will prepare your path; perhaps not without bumps but at least with manageable ones. You must trust that the people in your life have been put there for a reason just as you being placed in their life provides them with something they need.

I’m thankful for my journey into the dark each morning. It fills me with faith, with trust, and with a new sense of accomplishment.

Now…about that aspiration to be a size zero…nah…

Posted by: duchessoceanwaves | July 29, 2011

Tattoo of an Open Mind

As a child I was surrounded by loving people. People who were hard-working, church going, old-fashioned and set in their ways and beliefs. I remember growing up believing you must be married to conceive a child (of course the farm animals were married too) and that the right path was one of  – grow up, choose a mate, get married, have children, buy a house, likely have a career. Most important in that path however was taking care of your spouse and children. Those particular beliefs were taught to me by my grandmother who lost her husband too early, raised her children to know what hard work meant, and passed away leaving a legacy of love and care for others. They were also taught to me by my mother; divorced in 1970 with a five year old daughter to raise with little financial support by my father but a lot of emotional support from family and friends. Doing what needed to be done, she became a critical member of the OB/GYN team at Carle.

My growing up years consisted of being surrounded by people who went to work and worked hard, came home and worked some more, and started all over again the next day. My mother and grandmother believed that only military men had tattoos…and they kept them covered. They also believed that proper young women did not tattoo themselves nor pierce their ears more than once. On Sunday you put on your best clothes and shoes and went to church. There were no jeans, no shorts, only your Sunday best. After church it was Sunday dinner time. More often than not Sunday dinner was at Mr. Steak. Bob always greeted us warmly and addressed my grandmother by her first name.

As I grew up I tried to follow the path my mom and grandma set for me. I followed my passion and went to cosmetology school. I had cut my own hair since sixth grade so I figured I would go to school so someone could teach me the “right” way. I loved college and loved making people look good. To this day I miss not being in a salon.

I did marry and have two incredible sons…I am in awe of them of them daily for they truly are amazing. Newly married, my husband and I bought our first home, had our sons, bought another home a bit larger to accommodate our growing family, then bought yet another one out in the country. My kids love it and so do I.

As my sons grew I realized I was trying to raise them much like I had been raised. My husband was raised much like me, work and work hard, so I certainly wasn’t on my own in my beliefs. Both of our sons are smart, energetic, know the meaning of hard work, but they also know the importance of family and friends…and about enjoying life.

At the tender age of 12, my oldest son lost a very dear friend to Leukemia. It was a traumatic event for all the children as well as the parents. It affects our lives even now, every single day. As a sophomore, my son decided to run cross country. There are those that doubted his ability to run, especially cross country. I admit I had a bit of hesitation as well. He had played many other sports and was very active but running never seemed to be his passion. He attacked training giving everything he had to give. He began to run and as he did many things began to change besides his body. His mental attitude toward challenges, his determination, and his persistence to achieve a goal all became more intense. He became a very good athlete and went on to earn himself a cross country scholarship to a local college.

From the time of his loss at age 12 he had stated he wanted a tattoo in remembrance of his friend. It wasn’t until he got to be 16 or 17 that I began to understand the importance of this tattoo. He had designed it and nothing about his design changed as he grew up. About a month ago, at the age of 19, he realized yet another goal. He is forever marked with a tribute to his friend.

But it’s much more than that.

His tattoo is the silhouette of a runner drawn in a somewhat childlike way. The limbs spell out WILLPOWER in honor of his friend. The childlike similarities of the drawing refer to the tender age my son was when he lost his friend, and the tender age of his friend at his passing. The location of his tattoo, under his left arm near his heart, is full of meaning. His friend will forever be in his heart, my son’s heart lies in running. The silhouette of the runner depicts who my son is; what is passion is…running. It is a testament to never giving up, of not listening to those who doubted, but staying true to yourself. WILLPOWER is my son’s word. When he’s running and it seems like it’s all up hill I simply tell him to stay strong, WILLPOWER. It makes a difference.

When I told my son that the location he chose for his tattoo would hurt an awful lot his reply to me was “it’s nothing compared to the pain Will went through”. He’s right.

For me my son’s tattoo reminds me to keep an open mind. Everyone I meet has a story. Everyone I meet is fighting their own battle. Everyone I meet deserves my attention, my friendship, and my heart…regardless of their “markings”.

I hope you too have an open mind.

Posted by: duchessoceanwaves | July 20, 2011

Felt and Foil

Chatter: Noun – purposeless or foolish talk.

Chatter is what wakes me up at night. It’s not purposeless or foolish talk uttered by others who share my home with me. It’s the chatter that occurs in my very own head. The chatter that consists of endless thoughts – hopes, dreams, ideas, concerns, prayers, worries, etc. The chatter that lets me fool myself into thinking I’ll go to bed, drift off, and stay asleep until the alarm sounds. The chatter that lulls me into a land of dreamless sleep only to smack me awake with the demand that I simply must address, at that very moment, the thoughts running rampant in my head. There are times I can put it to rest; more often however are the times when chatter startles me awake only to keep me awake with its endless questions and demands for answers.

The occurrences of the chatter keeping me awake are becoming more frequent. I found myself wide awake recently with no less than two trillion thoughts running through my head and remembered my “chatter catcher”.  I quietly walked through the house, down the stairs, and opened the secret basket. Contained therein are all sorts of treasures…the most important one at that very moment, and the one I was in search of, the Chatter Catcher. I put it on my head and was instantly reassured and comforted…I was going to be just fine.

What is a “chatter catcher” you might be asking.

Let me tell you a story…

Once upon a time there were six women. Childhood friends who drifted away, these women found their way back to each other after 27 years. (It it believed that they were guided back to each other by someone far greater.) These women, led by Duchess Fleur de Lis, began to affectionately call themselves the Ya Ya’s, credit given to “The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood”. It is entirely true that these women do indeed have divine secrets and they have a history. A history rich in the knowledge of teenagers with acne, boy troubles, parent problems, love, hate, loss, and joy. They have a love for each other that has stood the test of time, weathered many storms, and continues to fight unimaginable battles. The Ya Ya’s gather at least once a year for a marathon session of catching up, drinking wine, and lots of sharing of the love in their hearts.  At a recent gathering it was noted that one Ya Ya in particular was dealing with an awful lot of chatter. Enter the leader, an individual gifted with outside the box ideas and a creative flair like none other, with the idea and materials to build each Ya Ya a “chatter catcher”. All it took was felt and foil and the most amazing transformation began. At the end of the session each Ya Ya had a unique catcher of chatter to perch upon her head.

Does a chatter catcher really work? Most will say it’s a ridiculous idea – it’s felt and foil and has no powers whatsoever to sooth a mind filled with chatter. There are six women however who will disagree.

I am a Ya Ya.

I have a chatter catcher.

Felt and foil are nothing compared to gift of friends who truly love you and support you.

It is important to note that when a chatter catcher, made with love, is perched upon a Ya Ya head during times of need…it does indeed work.

Posted by: duchessoceanwaves | July 7, 2011

It’s in the bag…

Have you ever heard the saying “It’s in the bag”? I’ve heard it many times when referencing a particular sporting event; something like a football game when the home team is up 40 to zero.  This morning however I saw something that made me think about that saying in a whole new way.

I drive the same route to work almost every day. The scenery doesn’t change much unless school is in session.  This morning, with no school in session, the scenery did change and it caught me off guard.

At seven this morning I was driving the straight shot from my husband’s office to mine. The sun was shining brightly to warm the Earth and let her know it was time to wake up to a new day. The air was still, there was no humidity, and there was very little traffic. The fountains were bubbling as I passed by the park and I thought about the kids who would soon be playing in them while their mothers visited. The traffic lights were with me and the drive was easy. That is until I noticed him and his bag.

His shoulders slumped, his eyes drooped, and he was dressed in worn clothing. He was resting on the curb beside the viaduct. Beside him was a large garbage bag. I knew immediately it was one of the many individuals in town who had likely spent the previous night without a roof over his head. He looked haggard in a way that defies words; like restful sleep is not part of his life on a routine basis.

The man tugged at my heart-strings but it was the bag beside him that truly held my attention. What was in that bag I wondered. His clothing perhaps? Pictures of his life; his youth, his wife, maybe his children? Maybe that bag held cans he’d collected to exchange for enough money to eat. Then again, maybe, just maybe…

Maybe it was his whole life in that bag. Could it be possible that everything this man has in the world fit into one large garbage bag? How does one fit a life into a garbage bag?

I suppose it depends on your definition of “life” and what’s important.

As I drove past, still wondering about the man, I began to wonder about life and if what’s important to me could fit in a large garbage bag. Stuff has never been important to me. My family and friends are important.

Would I still think stuff wasn’t important if I no longer had stuff? Circumstances are largely uncontrollable; our reactions to them are, however, controllable. How would I react if suddenly faced with nothing but the sky overhead and the Earth beneath my feet? Would I find a large garbage bag and begin to fill it with my life?

It’s in the bag…what IT is, is up to me.

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