Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hidden in Plain Sight

Photo by pschubert.

When you pay attention, you can find neat things spattered all around the space you occupy. Taking a closer look is what makes "old" or familiar things seem new or more interesting.
 When I flew round trip to Detroit last year, I spent considerable time in the Chicago airport there and back. On my return trip, the layout of the airport was more familiar, so I decided to kill time by "seeing what I could see."

As I meandered from gate to gate and from shop to shop, I discovered five previously unnoticed things:
  1. A currency exchange bank. Instead of buying a cup of coffee, I might have been able to buy rand, real, or ringgit. Imagine that!
  2. mental_floss magazine. Want to laugh and learn fun stuff at the same time? This is the magazine for you. I hadn't seen one at the Kansas City or Detroit airports' newsstands. 
  3. A shoe hospital. Evidently, if your shoes need something more than a simple shine, you can take them to the Chicago airport to re-dandify them.
  4. A Best Buy kiosk! To be fair, I have seen these in the Kansas City airport since my trip to Chicago. But at the time, this was an eye-peeler for me. Did you lose your camera? It's okay. Just swipe your credit card and a shiny new one will drop out of the kiosk before you can say, "What's my interest rate?". You're welcome.
  5. Ruth from Maine. Sorry, but you are highly unlikely to find this one in your travels as she is a one-of-a-kind and is prone to moving about the country. I bet if you try, though, you can meet someone just as interesting. I dare you.
No travel plans in the near future? Look harder and closer right at home. Challenge your family or friends: "Whoever pays attention and finds the most interesting thing in their day today gets to...." (eat the first piece of dessert, choose our next fun night activity, decide what we're eating for dinner, etc.).

There's a whole year of neat stuff hidden in plain sight. Go ahead and be the one to win first dibs on dessert tonight!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Better Late Than Never

Here she is, just as I promised. 

Isn't she lovely? Look at that smile, those friendly eyes, and that gorgeous natural silver hair. (My dad refers to his as platinum blond.)

When I first spotted her, she was walking in the opposite direction way across the concourse in the Chicago airport. I did a double-take. Hey! That's the same kind of naturally gorgeous silver locks I'm trying to cultivate! 

Then the battle:  

Should I track her down and tell her I like her hair? 

Don't be silly. Walking up to a stranger in the middle of the Chicago airport on a Thursday just to tell her you love her silver strands is ludicrous. We do not do ludicrous. 

Oh, okay. 

So I steered myself back to my gate, stuffed my ears with earbuds, and listened to Switchfoot's Gone. Tried to concentrate on blending in to my chair. But on my second time through the song, when they got to the part that says, "She believes in living bigger, bigger than she's living now," I hoisted myself off the plastic and went in search of that particular silver-haired woman. In the midst of a swarm of hundreds.

Against many odds, I finally found her in the food court. She looked so pleasant that introducing myself and telling her I loved her hair wasn't so hard after all. Although I was nervous and didn't learn as much as if I'd been a braver version of myself, I did learn these things:

  • Ruth and her husband Dave raised their three kids in Chicago. Since Dave is self-employed, they decided to cut loose seven years ago and make a move based on pure fun.
  • So they up and moved to a little town called Norway, Maine, and bought a house with three acres on a lake.
  • Their kids thought they were crazy.
  • Ruth and Dave are having the time of their lives.
I want to be more like Ruth--silver hair, crazy moves, and having the time of my life. 

What if I hadn't renounced my airport chair and gone in search of the silver-haired lady? I would have been fine, but I also would have missed out on exercising my brave muscles. Even worse, I would have missed inspiration in the flesh. I'm so glad I did it. Even if it took me a year to tell you about it.

How about you? Do you have an "airport chair" you need to break up with? Think what you could be missing! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Chains That Bind You

Photo by mconners.

In 2011, I posted about grief--to help me move through mine and hopefully help someone else move through theirs. Then I trumpeted 2012 with a January prescription to Take Joy. And fell silent for 11 months.

What happened? March came, and I meant to post about a lovely silver-headed woman I met in the Chicago airport. Her hair was so stunning that I spent 15 minutes of my layover trying to find her so I could tell her how beautiful her natural silver was. When I found her, she answered all my questions and graciously gave her permission for me to write about her on my blog.

Which I never did. Never even posted her picture.

Big deal, right? It's not like anyone died because of my procrastination or fear or busy-ness or whatever it was. Right? Right.

But this did happen: In the crack of that broken promise, something sneaky and life-sucking (shame and disappointment in myself) wormed its way in and rendered me motionless. 

So I've decided to fight back. I'm taking up the banner of Better Late Than Never and am going to tell you in my next post about Ruth. She'll probably never see I kept my promise to her, and for that I'm sorry. But I'm keeping my promise to me, and that's a big matter.

Are you blocked in your life somewhere? My experimental recipe might help you: Think back to right before you encountered that block. Did you promise something to yourself or someone else and fail to follow through? Go back and do it. No matter how stupid you feel or how much time has passed or how little you think it matters. And if you can't do it and it involves another person, swallow your pride and apologize to that person if you can. 

Unless you enjoy having a blockage you can't get around.

I'm cheering for you from over here. Let me know how it goes.