Passing Lanes

Sunday mornings have always been special because it has always (and I mean ALWAYS) meant church. I was five days old the first time I attended. I am grateful for the heritage of building Sunday morning church-going into the foundation of my life. It has never left me. 

However, our current church situation offers a Saturday evening service, which is an exact replica of the Sunday morning one. Our son, Noah, is a member of the worship band and we, of course, love to go worship with him. Also, a large percentage of our  beloved small group, The Wolfpack, as we call ourselves, attends the Saturday evening service. It has become a regular routine to have dinner with them afterward. Always a treat!

It is nice on Sunday mornings to awaken and know we have a day to go out to breakfast or do a few chores. Sorry, Mama. She forbade Sunday chores growing up. But the Lord is gracious and He gives understanding when Sundays sometimes become a day of catch-up in preparation for the new week ahead.

This morning, after breakfast out, my husband and I made a little jaunt to IKEA. We were on a mission for one item. Every time I go and the winding journey begins in the area of those set up little apartments, I want to go home and put a for sale sign in my yard and move in. They are incredibly cozy. Marketing genius. 

As we walked through the network of passages which, intentionally of course, direct the consumer through every department of the store, an idea occurred to me. We were walking briskly, a misnomer at IKEA. There are young couples pushing baby strollers and mid-age couples trying to corral their kids, and older couples shuffling through, in no hurry whatsoever. 

The thought came to mind that there should be designated lanes at IKEA, just like an interstate highway system. There could be a regular lane in the middle, a slower one on the right that creates an easy exit to a specific department, and a high-speed, or passing, lane on the far left. 

At one point walking through the labyrinth, an older couple (older than us, anyway) quickly moved out of our way as if we were the running of the bulls. We definitely got a ‘look’ from them. I guess I didn’t realize we were up in their business so closely. They probably felt our hot breath on their necks. I smiled, apologetically, and quickly moved on. This whole scene could have been avoided if there were proper lanes at IKEA. 

For a bit of trivia ~ you may not know that IKEA is an acronym. The name consists of the initials of Ingvar Kamprad (name of founder), Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up), and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Småland, southern Sweden). 

If any of you visit Sweden and happen to run into Ingvar, please ask him about my *IDEA. I think he may like it. 

*I Desire Easier Access

It’s Questionable

Margaret Thatcher was a British stateswoman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990. The Falklands War highlighted her most significant international relationship, which was with Ronald Reagan. Thatcher and Reagan, who together made the 1980s the decade of conservatism, shared a vision that the Soviet Union was an evil enemy who deserved no compromise. Their partnership ensured that the Cold War continued until the rise to power of the reform-minded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985. 

In 1976, Margaret Thatcher, in keeping with her strong anticommunism stance, gave a speech which earned her the nickname “Iron Lady” in the soviet press.

She was quite an impressive woman.

One of Thatcher’s famous quotes is this “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” I love that so much.

Today when I was shopping for mousetraps and toothpaste and vitamins, I walked through the clothing section and ran smack dab into this T-shirt. It brought to mind Margaret Thatcher’s famous quote.

Though I appreciate the ideology of the message and that “woman power”, “don’t think you can push me around” mentality, I’m still not a fan. 

If you have to wear a T-shirt that announces the message to not underestimate you, your value and admiration may already be in question. 

Putting your money where your mouth Is

Last year Walmart became the first company in U.S. history to generate $500 billion in annual sales, Fortune reported on May 21 in the business magazine’s ranking for 2017. FIVE HUNDED BILLION. That is a lot of Cheetos. 

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant is the biggest winner in Fortune magazine’s annual Fortune 500 ranking of the nation’s largest corporations, grabbing the top spot for the 14th time and sixth year in a row. 

Other winners on the annual list included Exxon Mobil, which returned to the No. 2 spot and shopping/delivery powerhouse Amazon, which moved into the top 10 for the first time and ranks eighth. 

Apple fell one spot to the ranking’s fourth position despite a 6% gain in annual sales. Still, this tech Godzilla grabbed the title of Fortune 500’s most valuable company. Apple reported $48 billion in profits, leading all companies in that category for the fourth consecutive year. 

Other corporations in the top 10 included billionaire Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, UnitedHealth Group, health care company McKesson, CVS Pharmacy, AT&T and General Motors. 

Seventeen companies debuted on the Fortune 500 list for 2017. Two of those first-time winners were fragrance and beauty product company Coty and beauty store chain Ulta Beauty. Interesting.

Some of us are on consistent scavenger hunts for a delicious-smelling fragrance or the latest lip plumper that rivals Angelina Jolie’s pout, or 18 year-old eyebrows, or a blushy bronzer that gives us Chrissy Teigen cheeks.

I am guessing that if a study were conducted, many of those women pushing Coty and Ulta up the Fortune 500 list, would be 60 years olds willing to lay money on the counter to purchase a bit of lost youth. 

As I said, I’m just guessing

Real Shopping

Apparently some people still enjoy driving to a mall, finding a parking place and shopping in a real store. 

Macy’s department store experienced a sales surge at the start of the year as customers poured in to buy products from clothing to hand bags to perfume. 

Sales were up 4.2% in the first three months of 2018, reversing a downward trend the retailer has experienced over the last four years. Macy’s net income was $139 million in the first quarter, up from $78 million in the same quarter last year. I know Macy’s is a huge company, but an increase of $61million is a lot of money to anyone. 

For decades, Macy’s was the king of department stores, but it has been struggling to reinvent itself in a time when people would rather sit on their sofa in their jammies with their laptops in their well, laps, and await the front door delivery of their shoes and clothes and Keurigs. 

Macy’s is hoping to better compete with Amazon by bringing technology to its aisles. By the end of this year, shoppers at all Macy’s stores will be able to use their smartphones to scan and pay for most products with the store’s app. 

The company also recently bought Story, a Manhattan shop that regularly rotates its look and merchandise, similar to the changing exhibitions at an art gallery or features in a magazine. Macy’s has also brought Story’s founder and CEO onto its leadership team to help improve the in-store experience for shoppers. 

I have never kept one pair of shoes or a clothing item that I purchased online. For that reason, I do not shop that way. Even QVC shopping (which I have rarely done), has been bagged back up and schlepped to the post office for return. 

I am definitely more of an in-person shopper. I want to look at the real color and see if it is a true royal blue, not periwinkle, a true lemon yellow, not golden yellow, or a true pink, not peach. 

True confession here. I carry 3×5 laminated cards of my color swatches in my purse. I am a ‘winter’. FYI.

I also want to touch the fabric. I want to know how it feels against my skin.

And perhaps most importantly, I want to try the darn things on. I am a between-sizes person. I may wear one size in a brand and another size in a different brand. I also need to see if it covers what I want it to cover and accentuates what I want it to accentuate, which isn’t a lot, but I work with what I’ve got.

So, I say “Go Macy’s!” I am glad that department stores realize they still have value. And besides, I figure I am burning a few calories and toning my calves as I walk through the stores. I also get quite the cardio workout when I jump up and down in a claustrophobic fit as I attempt to pull the size two, that won’t fit,  back over my head. 

New clothes AND a workout. Now that is multi-tasking. 

Little Women

I was doing a little shopping today and I overhead a mother taking with her young daughter, who, I’m guessing was about five years old. The mother was telling her daughter that she was looking for a certain outfit. She described it to her young daughter. That little girl was incredibly precocious. She said “Okay, mommy, I’ve got it. I will help you.” 

A bit later I was in the fitting room and that same mother and daughter were in the room next to me. I recognized their voices. 

The mother asked her daughter: “What do you think about this?” Her mature daughter: “I’m not sure it is for you, Mom. It doesn’t fit exactly like it should. Let’s keep looking. We will find the right thing.”

Alexandre Dumas said: “It is rare to see, in a little boy*, the promise of a man, but in a little girl one can almost always see the threat of a woman.” 

Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870) was a French writer. His works have been translated into nearly 100 languages. He is one of the most widely read French authors. Some of his most famous novels are The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, and Twenty Years After.

Though married, in the tradition of Frenchmen of higher social class, Dumas had numerous affairs, allegedly as many as forty.

The English playwright Watts Phillips, who knew Dumas in his later life, described him as “the most generous, large-hearted being in the world. He also was the most delightfully amusing and egotistical creature on the face of the earth. His tongue was like a windmill – once set in motion, you never knew when he would stop, especially if the theme was himself.”

Sounds like Dumas was quite a gregarious guy. The generous, large-hearted, delightfully amusing part of him attracted the women. The egotistical, tongue-like-a-windmill, favorite-theme-being-himself part of him couldn’t keep them. 

I do think Dumas was right about seeing the threat of a woman in a little girl. We are born as women. It simply takes our bodies a few years to catch up. 

*I must add a disclaimer to this statement. I saw, in my little boys, great depth and compassion and maturity. That is not hyperbole, it is pure fact. 

These Boots are Made for Walkin’

I was in a thrift store yesterday, looking for a CD player. I know that is a passé item for which to be searching. My husband is preparing to take his medical board exam, which has to be retaken every 10 years. Well, 2018 is the year.

He has some CDs from the last time he was preparing for the board exam. That was in 2008 and believe it or not, we were actually using CD players at that time. I had a hunch I could stop by a Goodwill Store or a Salvation Army Thrift Store and run across an old CD player for a few bucks.

While in one of the stores, great sixties music was being played. My music era is the 1970s but I truly despise most seventies music. I much prefer 1960s or 1980s music.

So while I browsed through the glassware and books and eventually, electronics, I was certainly enjoying the music.

I heard “Crimson and Clover” and “Kind of a Drag” and “Make me your Baby” and “I’m a Believer”. Then, I heard an oldie that really took me back. It was Nancy Sinatra’s oh, so huge hit, “These Boots are Made for Walkin’” I specifically remember that my little sister, Tammy, loved this song. She was very young, probably three or four years old at the time the song was popular.

I liked the song, too, it was catchy and clever and I so very much wanted a pair of tall, white pleather boots. Though the mini skirt associated with it would never have flown with Mama.

But back to the thrift store. I heard the song and really listened to the lyrics. I love the use of words that aren’t real words but fit perfectly. Here are a few favorite lines:

You keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’
You keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin’ when you oughta be a’changin’
What’s right is right but you ain’t been right yet

These boots are made for walkin’
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

That’s right, sing it, Nancy. I nearly ditched the CD player search and headed to the women’s shoe racks to look for boots.

The next song, however, brought me back to reality, “You can’t hurry love”. While that may be true, I knew I did need to hurry and find the CD player, get myself home with it and figure out what to make for dinner.

Are you ready, boots? Start walkin’.



I have been on a self-imposed fast from clothes buying. A bad habit had become a routine. I found myself buying some kind of clothing every week, sometimes several times a week.

The fast is not about money. I am a frugal shopper who loves quality. Those two don’t always go hand-in-hand. It takes time and research to get those concepts to marry.

Often it would be a typical chain department store or an upscale resale shop or even the Salvation Army Thrift store. Which, by the way, I have found some amazingly high quality clothing for $3, $4, $5. Some of these items have become my “go-to’s” that I wear over and over and love.

It is a treasure hunt, for sure. And I sometimes wonder if I do not enjoy the treasure hunting as much as I enjoy the find.

Over time I accumulated too much. I have often looked through my closet and found clothing with price tags still attached, items so sardined that they were overlooked. That is a red flag.

From yesterday’s post about the Shaker Village book entitled When True Simplicity is Gained, this is what I read:

“The gift of simplicity frees us from obsession with things. In a vivid gospel word, Jesus tells the disciples to travel light. Heavy luggage and surplus clothing got in the way of their response.”

“True simplicity does not ask us to throw away all things but to understand their source and, by concentrating on the grace of the Spirit, to be free of the hold that piled-up possessions can have on our hearts. Then we can see, no longer blinded by the distracting glitter of things.”

The fast is not so much about the clothing, but about my heart. It is also about time. Again, to match quality with frugality takes a chunk of time. I do not need more clothes, plus I have things to do in this life.

As a disclaimer, my husband does indeed need more room in the closet. I have, slowly and subtilely narrowed his hanger room. It is very much like nudging closer and closer to him at night when I am cold till eventually he is clinging to the side of the bed like a giant panda on a tree limb.

My fast was originally intended to last through Lent, meaning on Easter Sunday I could shop like it is Black Friday. But I’m not sure I am ready for that.

Honestly, I am enjoying the challenge. I have given away four large bags to the Vietnam Vets organization. There were a few items I was uncertain about but when they are gone, they are gone. The indecision is over.

Additionally, I heard the sweet and wise voice of my precious daughter-in-law asking “Does it spark joy?” And I have to admit, no, not one of those pieces that initially brought a sense of dubiosity sparked joy. Time to let it go.

There is a lightness in my spirit every time the Vietnam Vets truck rolls into my driveway and the guy tosses that large, yellow bag into the back. A sense of freedom indeed.

It is truly lovely to declutter the closet, which in turn, beautifully declutters the mind.

Cyber Monday

Today is projected to be the largest online shopping day in U.S. history. This year, Americans are expected to spend $6.6 billion (that is BILLION) online on this Monday following Thanksgiving. That is a 16.5% increase over last year’s record-setter.

The first Cyber Monday was in 2005. Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation came up with the term. Other suggestions were Blue Monday, after the color of web links, or Green Monday for the money being made, but she liked the clarity of Cyber Monday. Obviously, it stuck.

In 2005 online sales were new. At that time, between 10%-30% of shopping was done online. People were used to going out shopping on Black Friday and waited until Monday to shop online, when they got back to work. That was, at least in part, due to the fact that most people were still using slow dialup connections at home. At work they had access to high speed internet connection.

Side note: Employers, do not expect much productivity from your employees today. You may think they are crunching numbers for the end of year report, but they are crunching numbers for the savings at Best Buy. Just sayin’.

Within a year, Cyber Monday became a household term, even though its original reason had faded. Today, 73% of U.S. households have broadband and 75% of Americans have smart phones.

According to research, there are other reasons that Cyber Monday is a good shopping day. It also means that the in-laws have gone home, the Christmas lights are up and you have a little time to breathe before the next wave of holiday mania.

It is predicted that U.S. online shopping sales will reach a whopping $107.4 billion this holiday season, with Cyber Monday kicking off the spree.

Deloitte predicts that total holiday spending in 2017 may exceed $1 trillion.

I actually had to look up how many zeros that is. And my friends, there are 12. Here is what it looks like: $1,000,000,000,000.

Just for fun, let’s break it down. One thousand thousands equals one million. One thousand millions equals one billion. And one thousand billions equals one trillion. A trillion can also be thought of as a million millions. My head is spinning.

As I sit here sipping coffee and clipping Kroger coupons to save 50 cents here and there, it feels quite pointless.

Though…I am calculating that if every U.S. adult saved 50 cents at the grocery store today, we would collectively save $133,500,000. That is a lot of cable knit sweaters online at Old Navy.

Happy Cyber Monday, and clip those coupons.