Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rampage and Janey

Anyone who knew me as a child, may remember how desperately I wanted a nickname. Shelby was never shortened to anything good. At least nothing that satisfied me. Even today, the most common way people try to shorten my name is by calling me Shelbs, which if you count the letters, isn’t even shorter. So obviously that does not qualify.

In response to my whines for a nickname, my own father started calling me Shelb-belb-on-a-doorknob. He persisted in calling me this over all my protestations. None of us ever figured out where he came up with this name or why. He now denies any recollection of this much-detested nickname. I guess it cured me of my whining though, which I suppose may have been his plan all along.

As I got older, I gathered a rather large collection of nicknames. Ranging from the rather common misheard pronunciation of my name as Chubby, to the ode to the Ford GT500 Mustang. A brother-in-law, who nicknames pretty much everyone he meets, has a rotating list of names he calls me. I was just getting used to being called Rampage when he switched to Dee.  Now obviously, Dee is sort of my name. I’m used to hearing it run together with my first name, as if my name were BillieJo or MarySue. But not usually as a stand-alone name.

Still most people call me Shelby. Which is my name, and one I am proud of. Both my names really. I have the honor of being named for both of my grandmothers.
Both wonderful, strong ladies

But I never knew that Grandma Shelby had nicknames too. I mean, I’ve heard Mama say that she and her friends used to call Grandma the Dragon Lady. But I’m pretty positive they never utter that name in her earshot.

A few weeks ago, as us girls were sitting around the room with Grandma, she started to tell stories. I ran fast into the other room to grab my notebook and a pen. I’d never heard Grandma Shelby tell stories before. Not stories of when she was younger. If she was telling stories, I was writing them down.

“Dave called me Janey,” she said. “He almost never called me Shelby.”

We all smiled and laughed, and cried out why?

“I don’t know why he did that.”

I’m not sure if Grandpa David came up with nicknames for everyone the way my brother-in-law does. We’ll never know why he called her Janey. If there even was a reason, or if like my dad, it was just something he pulled out of thin air. But I’m glad she’s telling stories, and am honored to be a listener. It’s in the stories, the place we live on, even after we are gone.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

bonus day

Have you ever had a day where events beyond your control resulted in a bunch of free time you hadn't planned on. Yesterday was that day for me. 
I work in a small office right next-door to a bakery and a tea shop. The tea shop chose yesterday to do a little resurfacing of their floors. They are the only one of the three businesses open 7 days a week, so I guess it didn't occur to them to remodel on the weekend. They also must not have anticipated the affect their floor redo would have on those around them. 

I'm not trying to bash the tea shop here. And won't even name them. (Although last week they served me the most foul chai latte I've ever had, and I'm still not sure if the milk was sour or if they scorched it. Needless to say, I won't be going back.) But anyway. I don't know if it was the fault of whoever arranged the remodel or the Joe they hired that the lack of ventilation in the building was not accounted for prior to the start of the project. 

It started gradually shortly after I arrived at the office. A foreign smell wafting through the door. It didn't take long for that smell the permeate the entire building. I'm not sure what it was exactly, but I can tell you it smelled and tasted like I was swimming in a vat of paint thinner. 

There are no windows that open in this building. There was no way to ventilate or air out the place. There was no escaping the smell. The headache, the stomachache, the burning eyes. 

Thanks to my bosses, we closed up shop for the day. And I got to spend a sunny fall afternoon, running in the park and meeting up with friends. Isn't it great when one decision takes a day from bad to awesome? 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

in retreat

I run. I'm not a quitter, but I don't like conflict. I tend to avoid it if possible. I do my best to skirt around it. When life gets tough, I don't quit, but I tend to retreat. Withdrawing from difficult, dangerous or disagreeable situations. I retreat into myself. My comfort zone. I hole up like a turtle in his shell.

Comparatively, my life isn't that rough. I get it. I know that. But I was talking to a friend last week who said, "Life is hard." And even if comparatively I'm pretty lucky, some days are still just plain hard to get through. But I still feel pretty silly talking about my hard days when I know other people have lost their jobs, are facing homelessness, are struggling with health issues.

I've been doing devotionals with the ladies over at #SheReadsTruth for a few months now. Two verses have really stood out to me recently: Ephesians 2:10 (we were created to do good works) and Galatians 6:9-10 (don't grow weary of doing good, let us do good to all people). And you know what I'm learning? This retreating, this hiding, it's not what I was created to do. Hiding out helps no one. Not even myself.

It's OK to have a bad day. It's OK to struggle. It's OK to recognize life is just hard. But then what? Do I give up? Continue to hide until something changes? Do I grow tired of doing good? Usually I do. Usually I'm ready to give up. To hide until circumstances change.

But a friend unexpectedly brought me coffee the other day. And it set me to thinking. How often do I do the unexpected for my friends? This week--today--I'm looking for ways I can do good for someone else, even in the midst of this hard life.

Has someone changed the course of your day with an unexpected surprise? What have you done for others?  

***Grandma Shelby Update: Thank you for your prayers. She is through radiation and has started chemo. It's been two months since her diagnosis. But life is hard this week. And we appreciate continued prayer.