Recently, I was getting ready to head to Bliss Barracks for our annual Christmas in July celebration.
What had originally begun as a quiet weekend of Christmas crafting had somehow turned into treasure hunting in multiple cities, an afternoon searching for holiday inspiration, several Christmas in July events, and a photoshoot for the blog, in addition to crafting.
To make it all happen, my schedule had to be moved up a week earlier than I had anticipated. I had to take off several days from work and knock out 5 blog posts before I left.
While I was excited for all our Christmas in July adventures, as an introvert, I was starting to feel the squeeze and pressure to please before I had even loaded a single bag in the car.
It must have shown more than I expected because as I was going over a to-do list that had me up at 2 am that morning, my bestie S kindly said, “Everything doesn’t have to be about completing a mission, you know? Sometimes it’s ok to just…be.”
I knew she was trying to be helpful, so I said, “I know,” and kept reading through the list secretly rolling my eyes thinking, “This lady doesn’t have a clue.”
Bloggers are asked to be rock star content creators, social media managers, writers, educators, entertainers, Google analytics and Pinterest mind readers, photographers, videographers, techies, online magazine editors, idea banks, campaign managers, contract proofers, and small business advocates – all at the same time.
Is it the best job ever? Of course!
But it also takes an enormous amount of time, effort, and energy no one else ever sees.
Taking off several days from a growing blog is not as easy as checking in with your boss, making sure your desk is neat and tidy, and leaving it all behind as you walk out your office door.
Thinking I had dismissed her words completely, she walked over to the table and handed me two coffee beans. “Your only job this weekend is to be a coffee bean,” she said referencing a book my Mom had given us recently.
Then she walked quietly away.
While I had not dismissed her gentle words at all, they definitely made me think about what it really means to love someone well.
What it takes to leave your ego at the door and walk into a space where your only job is to help the next person down their path with the skills, knowledge, and talent you have available.
Loving well looks like showing up as your best self.
It means adjusting your expectations and your attitude simply because it’s the right thing to do.
And in the words of singer/songwriter Brandi Carlisle, it’s the call to action, “Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?”
Armed with a fresh perspective and 33 Christmas magazines, I loaded up the car and headed for Bliss Barracks.
When I arrived, the entire house smelled as delicious as the cookies baking in the oven and I could hear Christmas music playing as soon as my Mom opened the door.
“I’ve waited ALL DAY for you to get here!” she cheered as she hugged me tightly. “I’m SO excited for our big weekend!” she followed.
“Just drop your bags off at the door,” she said as she steered me over to the dining room where she had gathered supplies for our Christmas crafting sesh.
“Before I forget, CoCo, I made you something this morning.”
“I didn’t realize we were bringing gifts, Mom, I don’t have you anything,” I said totally embarrassed.
“Oh, honey, this is something really small I knew you would enjoy. Don’t even worry about it!” she replied as she handed me a small glass vial of coarsely crushed coffee beans.
Her gift caught me so off guard I got a little teary because I had never even shared the coffee bean conversation I had with S that morning with my Mom.
Right then, I knew the weekend was going to be a magical one.
We spent the next few hours sipping on peppermint mochas in our matching pajamas, flipping through holiday magazines and the gigantic 3-ring binders my Mom has collected inspiration in for as long as I can remember.
And as I moved the “welcome home” basket of treats off my bed and onto the luggage rack that night, I was thankful for the gentle reminder that loving well includes unexpected gifts of grace.
The next morning, my Dad woke up early to send us off with steaming cups of coffee, car safety tips, sunscreen, and hugs for a happy day as we eagerly hit the road.
A few hours later we arrived at the Renninger’s July yard sale filled with all sorts of treasure-hunted goodies. Including a massive table piled high with vintage and store-bought ornaments in every color of the rainbow 4 for $1.
It was truly a pleasant surprise so many vendors had holiday items for sale.
Honestly, we never really know how this event will be because July in Florida is incredibly hot. Sometimes we go and find lots of treats and other times we come home completely empty-handed save for full hearts.
And as I saw my Mom’s excitement digging through all those ornaments, I was grateful for the sweet reminder that loving well includes unexpected gifts of joy.
With our car piled high, we drove to the next event at a store with multiple warehouses I’d only heard about from my Mom and her sisters.
Honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect when we pulled up to a large pink building with banana leaves painted all over it called Marge’s Specialties.
The minute we opened the door though, I knew immediately why my Mom and aunts loved this place so much.
It was pure magic, literally filled from floor to ceiling with holiday inspiration.
I’ve never even been to a store like it, so I don’t have much to compare it with.
It was like a Kirklands, Hobby Lobby and the Christmas Shoppe all rolled into one place with prices similar to Restoration Hardware.
Truly, these I-phone photos do not do it justice.
When I say every nook and cranny was filled with Christmas, I mean every. nook. and. cranny.
And as we slowly strolled the aisles taking in layers upon layers of holiday inspiration, I was thankful for the gentle reminder that loving well includes unexpected gifts of awe and wonder.
From the pink warehouse, we drove to a few more antique stores, shopped for my sister’s new home, gobbled up scoops of ice cream in waffle cones, called my aunts to share our finds, planned family events for the holidays, and left funny messages for my Dad on the ride home.
We talked about to best support my aunt as she enters treatments and how amazing it had been to watch everyone show up for her in their own special way.
And as we pulled into the driveway of Bliss Barracks, completely exhausted from the excitement of the day, I was grateful for the sweet reminder that loving well includes unexpected gifts of rest and relaxation.
The following day was a complete blur as we painted a large door ornament, visited with my sister, fielded a million questions from my nephews about treasure maps and rare coins, watched my Dad and brother in law trim palm trees, troubleshooted a recipe for cinnamon ornaments that made the entire house smell amazing, photographed our favorite finds from the treasure trail, ate hungry hippies and polished off the last of the Christmas cookies.
And as I loaded my bags into the car and hugged my Mom one last time, I was thankful for the sweet reminder that loving well includes derailed plans which turn into divine appointments, room for coffee bean style growth, opportunities to leave the mission behind, and unexpected gifts of time well spent.
Even when we struggle, at first, to take it.Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
Other Encouragement of the Month Posts to Enjoy:
- The Messy Middle (June)
- Summer Bucket List and Slowing Down (May)
- Cultivating Courage (April)
- The Joy List (March)
- Encouragment of the Month (February)