I love the markdown section at the back of the grocery store. I never know what I might find, and, often, when there is something good, it is very inexpensive—as in cheap enough that I will buy it, even if my kids and I don’t really need it. This is how I recently came home with a $1.00 squeeze bottle of crème de coco. We didn’t need it, but I was pretty sure my children—now 18 and 14 years-old—had never tasted it, and, for the price, I thought it worth introducing.
It was a beautiful day, and I was in good spirits, chatting and joking with the cashier, appreciating the puffy clouds in the sky as I headed into the parking lot with my grocery-laden cart, and enjoying a quick, bumpy ride on the shopping cart as it rolled toward my car, which was strategically parked next to the "cart corral," so I could have a longer coast, and easily stash the gravity-powered vehicle at ride’s end.
Whenever the opportunity presents itself I hop onto the back of a grocery shopping cart and ride it in the parking lot, unmindful of enviously gawking kids and adults. I seek and appreciate the little thrill that makes me smile. Whether in the mark-down section, at the register, or in the parking lot, I look for the lagniappe in every day, and find it in everyday opportunities and actions.
When I arrived home, my younger daughter, Laurel, came into the kitchen to help put away the groceries. As expected, she was curious about my bargain purchase. "Get a spoon," I instructed as I opened the seal on the bottle. I squirted a pile of Crème de Coco onto her spoon, and onto another for myself. Doubtful eyebrow raised, Laurel lifted the spoon to her mouth, tasted, and smiled. It felt sinfully indulgent to be eating this sweet, creamy, high-fat treat before lunch, standing there at the kitchen counter, licking our utensils, with Laurel noting that, "Sometimes, you just have to eat the good stuff off the spoon."
There are a lot of sad and angry people upon this earth. Many have survived terrible childhoods, and physical or psychic wounds. In our individual ways, we are all walking wounded, and how we choose to respond to that determines our level of happiness. I have often said that people need to know that happiness is mostly attitude and intention, that it takes the same amount of energy to be happy as it does to be miserable. I am no stranger to abuse, loss, injury, or challenge, and those who know me best say that I have experienced more than my fair share of these. However, by a path of many turns, I have come to a place where I have largely forgiven those who have hurt me, and recognized the self-empowerment that comes with choosing to use those experiences to make myself better and not allowing them to make me bitter. I recognize that a person always fashions his or her own life, unconsciously or consciously--and I choose the latter. I keep my mind and heart open to possibilities, thoughts, and experiences. I look life square in the eye, embrace the whole of it, am responsive to whatever it brings while avoiding the trap of victim and martyr roles, push beyond fear, and strive to hold onto trust in even the darkest hours. I embrace and savor the boundless goodness of life, consider it an adventure, and have a tendency to find and make fun and magic wherever I go.
As we stood in the kitchen with spoons poised, Laurel’s comment told me that over the years, my daughter had absorbed the lesson conveyed through my example of keeping oneself open to the possibilities, embracing joy and finding pleasure. Laurel understood the crème de coco moment and the concept at hand, the significance the value of spending a dollar on something needed only for its surprise luxury, and the importance of sharing a decadent moment eating the good stuff off the spoon.
Shay Seaborne is past President of The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, founder of the VaEclectic homeschool discussion list and Skipper of Sea Scout Ship 7916. She lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, where she writes, homeschools two teenagers, rides her bicycle and sails whenever she has the chance.