Thoughts on Loving Well…

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.

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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.

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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:

Many blessings,

CoCo

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21 Comments

  1. Lois Munn says:

    What a delightful post, thank you. Please share where the PINK building is located!

    1. Thank you so much, Lois! The holiday and Christmas goodies can be found at Marge’s off of 4809 North Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, Florida. I’ll go back and add the link to their website in the post too. They were so nice and the decorations were amazing! Hope your week is filled with all good things, CoCo

  2. Wonderful reminders. Thanks for sharing your experiences

    1. Thank you so much, Sandy, I really appreciate it. Hope your week has been a fun one so far, CoCo

  3. CoCo this is a beautiful post. Yes, the pictures are gorgeous.

    This story touched me to my soul. Ever day I miss my mom and these kinds of cherished moments.

    Ah, to have one more moment like this with her. Time goes by in a blink.

    Cherished times I’ll never get back. I loved hearing your time with your mom

    1. So sweet of you to say, Cindy, thank you so much! Our Christmas in July event is something we look forward to every year and it always puts me in the mood for the holidays. It’s also the weekend we honor her Mom (my late Granny’s birthday) which is a time we all treasure. I’ve sent my Mom so many of your orange slice and clementine posts. She’s loved each and every one! Big hugs and thanks for helping to make our Christmas in July a fun one, CoCo

  4. Ding ding ding. You went to my favorite store Marge’s Specialties. Last Sunday in July is Christmas open house.
    It’s hard to get excited about making Christmas in this heat, humidity and rain BUT I know you can do it.

    1. That place is amazing, right Myrna? I literally could not get over seeing so much Christmas in one place. It was definitely magical, to say the least. I got tons of ideas and the people were so helpful and sweet. I would never have guessed all those goodies were in those pink buildings! It’s hard to believe but the holidays will be here before we know it 🙌 Hope your week has been filled with all good things, CoCo

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing place!! What inspiration!! Loved seeing it all!!
    Hugs,
    Deb

    1. You are so welcome, Deb! Marge’s is a family-owned business in Orlando, Fl that has been serving up a magical Christmas experience for over 48 years now. It was nothing like I’ve ever seen. Hope your week has been a special one, CoCo

  6. This post has left me a bit teary eyed. Reading about your wonderful adventure with your Mom really makes me long for my Mom. She has been gone for 14 years and I keep my emotions tucked in my back pocket…usually. This post has allowed me to relive her and our relationship. THANK YOU.
    I was also glad to read ” Sometimes it’s ok to just…be.”
    AND, I agree that most people have no idea the work involved in being a blogger!!!!
    Have an awesome day:)

    1. Such sweet and thoughtful words, Maria, thank you so much. Our Christmas in July event also coincides with my late Granny’s birthday so it always feels like a great time to honor her, gives us something to look forward to and reminds us to treat every day like a gift. Sending you hugs and hoping your week has been a blessed one, CoCo PS: Still learning how to just…be PPS: Blogging is not for the faint of heart ❤

  7. Betsy Hunter says:

    Where is this place? My google search came up empty.

    1. These photos were taken at Marge’s Specialties on North Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, Florida. They recently held a holiday open house but the staff said they get new Christmas goodies in all the time! I’ll be sure to update the post and include the link. Hope your weekend is a fun one, CoCo

  8. Love all of your thoughts here especially this one: “derailed plans which turn into divine appointments” How often do we get frustrated when things don’t go our way?? I know I do. Your perspective is spot on and I appreciate that you shared it. Blessings to you CoCo! BTW your new blog looks amazing! I haven’t been here in a while and it looks so good!!

    1. Such sweet and thoughtful words, Cindy, thank you! While I try really hard not to “live and die by the calendar” I definitely appreciate being organized and it’s hard to pivot on the spot sometimes when things don’t go as planned. Thankfully, I know mastering the skill will be a lifelong commitment with multiple opportunities to practice ❤ Thank you so much for your sweet and kind words about the new website. It took WAY longer than I thought it would but I’m excited to have it all behind us and I’m looking forward to all the good things August has in store. Hope you are too! Sending you lots of hugs, CoCo

  9. What a great weekend, CoCo!!! I regret that I didn’t get to spend more time with my mother and father when they were alive. Mom loved Christmas, too, and her favorite thing was nutcrackers. She passed away on Dec. 4th, 2004 and as we were all at her home, we set out the Christmas tree and the nutcrackers… It was a really good way to have Mom there with us. <3 I'm soooo glad you are able to spend fun family time with your family! I hope your aunt is doing well with chemo treatments (I'm guessing here). <3 Much love and prayers for her as she goes through this time. <3

    Happy to feature your wonderful post at this week's Share Your Style #312 for you,
    Christmas hugs,
    Barb 🙂

    1. You are so sweet to feature my post, Barb, thank you so much! We had a great time hanging out and crafting together. My Mom loves the holidays too so she always makes it “a thing” and goes all out. I’m so glad you guys were able to be with your Mom as she passed. It’s truly such a gift. My aunt’s first chemo treatment did not go well at all because she had a really scary allergic reaction. Thankfully, she was able to get medical attention immediately and her team got back together to create a new cocktail and dosage strategy for her. She had her first full treatment on Monday and so far so good. I think the smaller dosage was definitely key. It’s going to take her longer to go through all the treatments but in the end, it will be a safer strategy. Thank you for asking about her and for all your prayers. We need them so much! Sending you lots of hugs, CoCo

  10. What a wonderful trip with your friend and Mom. What was the coffee bean story?
    Hugs,
    Kippi

    1. We had such a great time, Kippi! The Coffee Bean story is actually a book my Mom passed along for us to read. It’s all about how coffee beans transform their environment in hot water and make something amazing like coffee as opposed to carrots who grow soft and mushy and eggs that harden. The premise is we each have an opportunity every single day to transform our lives and the lives of others around us by embracing a positive and purpose filled mindset and attitude. It’s a super short read but an impactful one. Hope your week has been filled with all good things, CoCo

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