I haven’t spent anytime on my blog this year. I wrote once to talk about my challenges which are underway, but that’s pretty much it.
The reason I’ve been quiet isn’t because I haven’t had something to say, lord knows I always have something to say. I just haven’t had anything big to say.
In some ways, I think quiet stories get less attention. We are so consumed by the in-your-face stories and media that a quiet story might not give us the jolt of brain juice we seek.
But today I had an experience and realized that even a quiet story can have a huge impact. And, when that happened, I also realized that it’s selfish to stay quiet.
Our impact in the world doesn’t always have to be to hit 10,000 readers or even 100. Today I learned that the impact we have on a single person, that we will likely never meet again, is far more powerful.
A gal walks into a garage to get a battery for her car…
Innocent enough, right?
I walked up to the counter, waited for the gal behind it to be off the phone and then said, “I’m here for my battery, I called a little bit ago.” She got all the details, got my keys, and I sat down to wait.
A few seats down was another woman waiting as well, reading the paper.
I settled in to read an article on my phone.
The gal behind the counter said, “So what shop did you own?”
I had let her know at the beginning that I’d owned an automotive repair shop, it helps a little when you take your car in for repair if you know a little something, right, I don’t want to get overcharged. It’s a thing…
Anyway, I told her about the shop, that I’d been at their shop before when I was looking for places to refer customers, and said, “I know I just need a battery, but after chemo last summer, I don’t have the upper body strength to get the battery out, I’m too short, and well, it’s too hot!” We laughed.
And the truth is batteries are heavy, my Jeep sits higher than a car, and there’s just no way I was going to lift it out without a step ladder and some serious huffing and puffing.
It was then that the woman who was also waiting said, “OMG you had cancer? You look so healthy.”
She was staring intently at me, and I said, “Yup, ended chemo last summer.”
The both ladies asked in unison, “But you’re alright now, right?”
I always say, “Yes”. Even though the reality is… there’s no test for many cancers so I really have no idea.
This women, next to me, seemed awe-struck.
She asked me a question and I answered with some details and said, “Yup, exactly one year ago, I was bald. Now I have all these Shirley Temple curls!”
She said, “Wow, thank you for sharing, really, no one ever talks about this stuff and so many of us don’t know. Women need to share.”
I told her my little story, added in “franken-boobie” levity, answered questions, etc. She seemed particularly intrigued by the story of the day my hair fell out. I guess most people just have no idea how it happens or what happens, I sure as hell didn’t.
Her cousin, who lives in the north-east, is currently undergoing chemo and the Facebook updates don’t always make sense. Her friend had breast cancer and mastectomy, she saw the mortifying scar, and felt so much sadness for her friend. I think she just wanted to understand.
I told her about my perspective, that I do what I can, when I can, and try every day to have a good day. They aren’t always good, but I try.
My mother says about my quest to run 3 miles again, “Most people would have given up by now, but you just keep trying.”
Sure, it annoys the hell out of me that I can’t do the things I used to, but damned if I’m not going to keep trying.
She shared some of her current story, she was a teacher but just couldn’t do it anymore. So she isn’t working and her husband is the sole supporter until she hits retirement age next year.
She feels guilty that she isn’t working, everyone else. I said, “Volunteer.” She said, very excitedly, “I am, I do, it’s great.”
I said, “Then you are doing your part and you are doing exactly what you should be doing.”
When my car was ready, I paid, and got my keys.
As I started to walk out, she said, “Hey, it was really nice to meet you. Thanks for sharing. Can I give you a hug?”
As said, “Sure! You rock!”
And then I asked her to promise me that she wouldn’t focus on guilt and worry, but instead focus on all the things she could do and go do them.
She was so earnestly happy, tears in her eyes even, and she promised.
One person is all it takes…
I was pretty moved I have to say. My worn out “I had cancer” story having such an impact on someone… on just one someone.
A few people, you know who you are, have said to me, “You need to share your story.”
I always think… which part?
But the truth is this, our stories have power. She will repeat the story of today to her husband and to a friend, just as I’ve repeated it to you.
It will move from one person to another a couple of times and then it will die away until I tell it again to another person.
And, for me, in the telling, I’ve realized that I’ve neglected my own best advice to have a good day every day.
In some ways I’ve held firm to figuring out which parts matter and which don’t, and focusing on the ones that do. But not all of them.
When we seek to find balance in our lives, it is a work in progress. It’s not easy. It’s a balancing act. What do I take from column A and move to column B? What do I give up?
My challenges have morphed a little but I have pursued the biking challenge with much gusto! So that means I have to give something up for the time it takes to go for a ride.
In the last month I’ve begun to re-evaluate my personal life and work life to address the things that aren’t working any longer. And, it’s my job to work to make the necessary changes.
Waiting on someone to do it for you is shitake, plain and simple. Waiting on people to do the things they say they are going to do… wasted energy.
Mediocrity annoys the hell out of me so why settle for it?
I am not and will never be a broken record. I say what I want or need, it either happens or it doesn’t, but I’m not going to sit and repeat it. I expect those around me to put on some ‘adult’.
I used to tell new employees, “Don’t make me repeat myself and we’ll be good.”
I know it sounds harsh but the point is this… listen. Take notes if you have to. Put on some ‘adult’ and take in the instructions. If I have to repeat myself that means you weren’t listening, or paying attention, or you were looking at your phone. Clarification is okay but coming back two days later and asking for the whole run down again. Mediocre.
We choose to be distracted. Right?
So that means, we also choose to let life distract us.
Staying focused takes work, I’ve skated a little on my objectives, and in telling my quiet story today, I confirmed it.
Stories have power, and they move people to action. More important than the person you might affect with your story is you.
In the re-telling of that tired story of you, you just might be reminded of what’s important and you might just be the one to take action.
All of our stories are worth telling, worth sharing, and worth remembering.
If one person reads and comments on this post, I’ll be content because the story itself has already done its work.
It moved one woman, a stranger whose name I do not know, and it inspired me to take action.
I call that a quiet win.