A Cause Greater Than Oneself

While cleaning out recently, I rediscovered Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Although I have rarely reread books, I decided this one should be. I wasn’t exactly sure what message I needed to find in rereading this book, but I have learned to follow the path, and see where it leads.

Hopefully, you are familiar with Frankl’s story. He was a long-time prisoner in horrific concentration camps, whose father, mother, brother, and wife, all of his family but his sister, perished in the camps. He consistently suffered from hunger, cold, and brutality, yet he found life worth preserving, not choosing suicide as many others did.

I am in awe of Frankl’s ability to find meaning in such dire circumstances in the concentration camps. Frankl was able to find moments of comfort through images of loved ones, by religion, and even by the comfort of nature, such as trees or sunsets. But those alone were not sufficient for Frankl to find meaning in his suffering. Frankl found that he was able to survive in spite of extreme indignities by finding meaning in his suffering, often quoting Nietzsche, “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” Frankl believed in existentialism, the central theme of which is: “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering. If there is a purpose in life at all, there must be a purpose in suffering and dying.” Each person must find that purpose for himself, and must accept the responsibility to live his/her life consistent with that purpose.

If Frankl, in spite of, or maybe because of, his extreme and brutal treatment and suffering was able to find meaning in those experiences, why not us? As bad as we think we have it or had it, our experiences cannot begin to compare.  

Most of us will never have problems the magnitude of Frankl’s, yet at times we do have problems that shake us at the core. How do we find meaning in our circumstances? How do we find the purpose in our suffering and live our lives consistent with that purpose?

I am not sure that I know. But I am sure Frankl’s message is timely for me at this point in my life. I will follow the path and see where it leads.

Posted in gratitude, hope, life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All and Nothing

I spent three days in Atlanta at the Gift Market this week, sourcing items for my antiques and gifts business which is located in Southport, NC. This is a very part-time business, although I have had it for more than thirty years. I decided to go to the market this year to see what’s new, and to gauge what is selling. I was overwhelmed by all that is available. Whether you have a business like this or not, if you can, go to the Atlanta Gift Market once, and see where all the gift shops source their merchandise. You will never want to pay retail ever again.

The showrooms were full of beautiful items, everything imaginable. Since I have a need for beauty, not just a want, I was in my element. I thoroughly enjoyed the hours spent looking at beautiful items, many of which were also functional. There were items at every price point. I bought from some vendors I have shopped with previously and also bought a couple of new lines.  

Mike accompanied me to Atlanta, although he did not go to the show. We stayed in a hotel at Centennial Park, which was less than a ten-minute walk to the showrooms. Since I love to walk, I was glad to be able to do so. Although I enjoyed the exercise of the walks to and from the show, I did not enjoy some of the scenery.

Atlanta is no different than many cities these days, especially these days, with more homeless people than ever before. Although some of those living on the streets seemed to be zoned out, most that I interfaced with were respectful. I only felt afraid once. Some did ask for money, but they did not push when money was not given. My predominant thought about them was “there but for the grace.”

It was impossible for me to miss the juxtaposition of the opulence of many of the showrooms and the lack of even basic human needs being met in the men (all that I saw were men) living on the streets. At times when I was in the Atlanta Gift Market, enjoying the merchandise in the showrooms, the men I saw on the streets flashed through my mind. I even had the occasional thought that the merchandise in the showrooms was so artificial, and the needs of the men on the streets so real.

How are we to deal with the homeless problem? What is the right thing to do about giving money, or not? I am never sure. I did give one man $5 for his assistance with parking, and he remarked, “The homeless have something to offer after all!”

I think it is fine to enjoy the beauty all around us, and all of it certainly is not just found in showrooms. There is plenty of beauty in nature, and we should not be so lost in our devices that we miss it. But while we are enjoying the beauty, we should not lose sight of those we pass who seem to have lost not just the beauty of possessions, but who are living without even the basics of shelter and food. How can we allow basic human needs of some to not be met while so many are living in excess?

I do not have the answers to these questions. But asking the questions is a start.

Posted in conflict, gratitude | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Are You Happy?

I do not mean are you happy all of the time, for no one is. Are you happy in general? Do you look forward to each new day, and each experience? Are you satisfied with your life? Or are you waiting for something to happen to be happy, whether it be a vacation, retirement, or something else external? If so, it may be time to rethink happiness and decide to be happy now.

It is time to be happy now, regardless, like Jane, a past America’s Got Talent contestant who was featured on the show this week. This show featured past contestants who had made the most impact on the judges.  Jane auditioned when she was dealing with Cancer, and stated, “You can’t wait until life is easy to decide that you are going to be happy.” Jane has since died. Jane’s perspective changes something I have often said, “At least it isn’t Cancer.” When facing problems, I have recognized that whatever was happening was not as bad as it could be, by stating, “At least it isn’t Cancer.” Jane’s comment required me to reframe that thinking. Jane had decided to be happy even with Cancer. Had she waited to be happy until she was cancer-free, she would have missed a lot of life. Jane’s example is a powerful one.

I am reminded of the quote, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” This quote has been attributed to President Abraham Lincoln, who had many problems in life. He obviously also had success as well as hardship, neither of which made him happy or unhappy. Happiness is not determined by external circumstances. Happiness is a decision, one that we make every day, in every situation. We choose to be happy, or not, regardless.

We had a minister, Rev. Elizabeth Burgess, speak to our church in May. Rev. Burgess decided to become a missionary late in life, and has served in Ukraine as well as other areas, and is still serving, although she is the age that many choose to be retired. Rev. Burgess said, “If you’re not dead, you’re not done!” Too many people have a different life than Rev. Burgess, serving only themselves and their own interests. Some retire and spend their days only in leisurely pursuits, sitting too much, drinking too much, and eating too much. While retirement can be an important and well-earned stage of life, those who retire and (only) have a sedentary lifestyle are missing out on aspects of life that are necessary for happiness.

What does the research tell us about happiness?  First, those who help others, who get outside of themselves, are the happiest. Having a spirit of gratitude helps us to be happy. That money does not result in happiness once our basic needs are met. Eating well, staying physically active, and getting enough good sleep help us to feel happy. Spending time in nature can give us a feeling of peace that equates to happiness. Finding a creative outlet can help one feel happier. That being with people who are a positive influence is a necessary component of happiness. That finding meaning in life is important as long as we have breath. That while leisure can be pleasurable, it does not create happiness. That happiness comes from within.

Are you happy? Are most of your days spent being active, helping others, and finding meaning in life? If not, what can you do to change that? What will you do to change that?

Posted in best self, life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Freedom To Choose

No, this is not about Roe v. Wade. There is plenty of debate about that in other places. The only comment I will make about that is we should all be respectful of everyone’s freedom to have their own opinion about this very divisive issue. What this post is about is freedom, the freedom to choose who we give our hard-earned money to when we are a customer.

Two situations I have experienced in the past few days have precipitated this focus on freedom. Of course, the freedom theme this week is also about our country’s freedom, with the 4th of July holiday already in full swing. We should be so ever grateful that we have the freedoms which are granted in our Constitution, those that are protected by our courts. Until they no longer are. As we have seen recently, those can change. I am not making a political statement, just a factual one. Whatever we feel strongly about we need to diligently protect.

Free speech is one of our freedoms. Yet, there are times that our right to free speech can be offensive to others. When that happens, we have a decision to make. Are we going to be silent, or are we going to speak up for what we think is right? And are we going to spend money with businesses that offend us? I have decided that this is a Values issue for me, and if a business acts in a manner that is contrary to my Values, I have a decision to make. There are certainly degrees of this dissonance, and we should not take things to the extreme. The two situations I experienced recently bothered me so much that I had to speak up, and also decided to not do business with them.      

The most recent situation occurred this morning at the open-air market at our beach. I am leaving names out, to protect those involved. My point is not to turn others away from these businesses, just to be aware of situations that are not consistent with their values, and to take whatever action they deem appropriate.

A vendor who I wanted to purchase an item from at the market did not accept credit cards. That was not the problem; a lot of small businesses make that decision. The reason he gave for the decision was the problem. He blamed Joe Biden for his decision, loudly proclaiming all that Biden has done to ruin business. He is not the first businessperson who I have heard sing this Joe Biden song, so maybe he was the tipping point. And I am not making a political position of this. My concern is one of customer service. Why would a businessperson take the chance to offend or alienate any of his customers? It seems arrogant to me to assume that one can make a negative remark about any political person publicly, and not offend some customers. Since Customer Service is one of my core values, and this vendor violated his customer service responsibility, I decided I would purchase the product I needed from someone else.

The other situation occurred a few days ago. In a gift store that I love, I noticed towels and napkins with the “F” word printed all over them prominently displayed. I abhor any profanity, but the word I am most offended by is the “F” word. I see no reason for a gift store to have such merchandise. I would be embarrassed if my grandchildren saw that word printed on products in a store in which we were shopping. Consider me a prude if you want; I draw a hard line on this. Why have we turned our heads to this profanity, allowing it to insidiously invade? Should we not walk with our feet, taking our business and our money elsewhere? I decided yes and will not support this business ever again. 

Yesterday I was working in my antiques booth and realized that I am not walking MY talk. I had accepted books from a local author to sell on consignment a year ago. While organizing the books in my booth I found those two books and realized the subject matter is against my values. The subject matter is adultery. I immediately decided to return the books to the author, since I do not want others to think I condone adultery. (I may only have cookbooks left once I clean out all the books that include this all too prevalent behavior!) Then I remembered books I have been reading. I have enjoyed books by one author who writes about a beach area in the northeast. Recently I have become bothered that most (maybe all) of her books are about affairs. While they are interesting and easy beach reading, this all-too-common theme of hers is not consistent with my values. I must hold myself to the same standard (or higher!) that I hold others to. I will no longer read books by this author, and I am removing all of her from my sales area. I am not mentioning this author’s name since my purpose is to not drive other business away from her. My purpose is to encourage others to make sure that a business they support is consistent with their values, not mine.

I hope that I am not sounding “preachy.” I know that I err on the side of being too serious and thinking too much. But I think we sometimes go through life and don’t think deeply enough.

Our freedoms should be protected. The freedom to do business with those whose overall values are consistent with ours is an important freedom.

Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. Happy Birthday, America.

Posted in Relationships, service | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Remembering Uncle Barry

This has been a sad week for me. Sunday was Father’s Day, which is always a difficult day for me. Neither my legal father nor my biological father was very fatherly. Since they are both deceased, there is no possibility of those relationships improving. I am glad that there are many of you who were able to celebrate Father’s Day with a loving father.  

The other reason for my sadness this week is because today is the one-year anniversary of my dear Uncle Barry’s death. Uncle Barry was my most consistent father figure. He was my uncle by marriage to my mother’s sister, Evelyn. Aunt Evelyn passed away in 2003. Uncle Barry passed away one year ago today, June 23, 2021, at the age of 90. For the last ten years of his life, our family had the privilege of having Uncle Barry with us for most holidays, vacations, and many other times. He was an important part of most of our gatherings. Uncle Barry’s absence is felt in a profound way. As I reflect on Uncle Barry, I recall his life more than his death.

Lest you think Uncle Barry was a saint, let me dispel that. (None of us are, are we?) Uncle Barry was what many would call a “character.” He was irreverent many times, and his language was not always appropriate. Many times, I reminded him that the children could hear him, and to “watch it!” He was very particular about how and when he wanted things done, including weighing crab cakes so they were all the exact same size, and would cook the same. When he was cooking something for our large gatherings at Thanksgiving, he wanted to start long before necessary, and right in the middle of me preparing for another meal. He wanted what I cooked for him to be done a certain way, regardless of what else was going on. He was not demanding, just particular.

Soon-to-be ten-year-old granddaughter Virginia still talks about Uncle Barry’s “holy shirt,” the t-shirts he wore that had holes in them. He would even wear those in public if I did not insist on him being dressed more appropriately. I only remember him wearing shorts most of the time, regardless of the outside temperature. But he could “dress up” when necessary. I remember then six-year-old granddaughter Elsie’s comment when she saw Uncle Barry dressed for the formal ceremony honoring Mike as North Carolina State University’s 2012 College of Textiles Distinguished Award Recipient, when she said, “Uncle Barry, you look so NICE!”

There is so much more that I could tell you about Uncle Barry. I have so many memories. Some memories will stay with me forever.

I remember living with Uncle Barry and Aunt Evelyn when I was a teenager, and how he bought me a new outfit when I was in the 8th grade homecoming parade, although he could not really afford to. I remember having him walk me down the aisle for my first wedding, although I had a legal father who could have done so. Uncle Barry had been my father more than any other male, and I thought he deserved that honor. I remember the hours he spent looking for just the right presents for the grandchildren for Christmas, and how he and we evolved to having him with us for holidays. I remember him smoking a turkey for Thanksgiving. I remember him picking and cleaning crabs and making crab cakes. I remember him having his neighbor and friend Cecil make lots of barbecue for Mike, the best barbecue Mike said he had ever had.

I remember my last outing with Uncle Barry. He wanted a hot dog from his favorite place in Virginia Beach. About a month before he died, Uncle Barry and I made the forty-five-minute drive there, and after our meal, we rode around and (although I did not know it was what we were doing at the time) said goodbye to his old home place, places I had lived, and the beach. I am so glad that we made that trip.

My lasting memory of Uncle Barry is that he loved me unconditionally. While it was hard for him to say, “I love you,” he did say it. It was never hard for him to show his love. He showed it in his time spent with us. He showed it in embracing our extended family as his. He showed it in so many ways. And as we know, actions speak louder than words.

Rest in peace, dear Uncle Barry. While your passing left a big void, your life with us gave us so much to cherish.

Posted in family, life, love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Summer Traditions and Memories

Our family has been going to Hilton Head every summer for our family vacation for about ten years. Our family believes in vacations and has taken them every year since our family blended in 1984. When our girls were small, we usually went to Ormond Beach, Florida for a week’s vacation, with our girls taking friends along with them. That location was selected because it was close to Mike’s parents, and we could have a vacation and also visit with them. We somehow knew that trips away were important and made them a priority. As the years evolved, we continued our tradition of family vacations, although the venue changed. Of all the choices Mike and I made for our family, our family vacations are among the most important.

For the past few years, our family vacations have been to Hilton Head. Now we travel with not just our children, but our grandchildren and their friends. The number of us gathering in Hilton Head each year varies. This year there were fourteen of us for some of the week, and ten of us for the full week. We sunned, swam, shopped, and took long walks. We ate (too much) wonderful food. We did puzzles, played board games, and played pickleball. We look forward to this time together every year. Traditions are created and memories are made, memories that will outlive us.

Hopefully your family has traditions, making memories that will live in your hearts forever. Work is necessary, and even fulfilling. But no amount of work satisfies the way pillow fights between cousins do.

Posted in family, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What To Do When Boredom Sets In

I am struggling with a couple of days of boredom this week, which is a rare occurrence for me. I am not one who is bored often. There is always plenty to do. Cleaning closets, cleaning the garage, pulling weeds, etc. There is always something to do around the house. But it is much too hot today in Raleigh to be outside pulling weeds or cleaning out the garage. And cleaning out my closets does not appeal to me today!

There is always reading. But for some reason I do not usually read during the day; that is my nighttime pleasure. I thought about going to Belk’s to use the $10 coupon that I received that expires today, but decided that the blog I wrote last week will not allow that! So, what should I do so I don’t resort to snacking?!

I decided to write a few thank you notes. I just returned from visiting with a couple of life-long friends, and they are worthy of a note thanking them for their hospitality. After all, who doesn’t like to receive a handwritten note? If/when we do receive one, it is usually the first thing opened in a stack of mail. And since it is best that a thank you note to be written in a timely manner, doing that will be a good use of my time. In fact, there is another thank you note that I need to write that is very much overdue, so I will also write this one, finally.

It is perfectly fine to choose to rest and relax and to not think that we have to be productive every waking hour. That is different than being bored. What is not good is to go through our days aimlessly, not focused on rest, and not making decisions about how we are spending our time. It is not fine to get to the end of our day or days, and not have anything to show for our time. Time is a valuable resource, and wasting time is different than choosing to slow down and rest.

Aimlessly scrolling through social media because we can’t think of anything else to do is not a good use of our time. Choosing to spend time on social media because we want to check in and see how our friends are doing is different, and that can be a productive use of our time.

Summer allows us to have a less structured schedule than many of us do during the school year. During the school year, those who have children in school and after-school activities that compete with work schedules never even have to think about being bored; their challenge is getting everything done that has to be done. Even without school-age children, those who have busy work schedules with too many priorities to manage long for a time when boredom can set in. Their challenge isn’t boredom, it is overload.

Summer provides a more relaxed schedule for many people, yet even so, making the time meaningful is important. So, decide how your time will be spent so aimlessness and even boredom do not set in. While structured goal setting may not be necessary, setting two or three priorities for each day and working to accomplish those will make you feel, and in fact be, more effective.  

It is more important to be and feel effective than it is to be and feel productive. We can be productive and get a lot accomplished, but it may not be the things that are most important for us to accomplish. That is different than being effective.

So, what will it be for you? Will you let boredom set in, and give in to it, accomplishing little? Or will you focus on being more productive, getting things done, yet not necessarily the things most important for you to get done? Or perhaps you will focus on being effective, accomplishing those things that get you closer to what is important to you.   

It is your decision to make.

Posted in best self, change, life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wasting Time and Money

Time is our most valuable resource. Money is also a valuable resource. In fact, if we need or want more money and we have time, we can make more money. Yet we sometimes act as if we will live forever, and waste both time and money. I have good examples of both this week.

I decided to clean out my kitchen pantry and ended up throwing away many things that were too much out of date to feel comfortable using them. I am not rigid about “best by” dates, but when things are months out of date, (and in some cases, years!) I toss them. I now have the neatest pantry I think I have ever had! And I know what I have, for I can see the items, and I wasn’t able to when things were crammed in. It feels very cathartic to have a clean and organized pantry. I am bothered, however, about the money I wasted on items I had purchased and not used. Those who know me know that I hate waste and that I freeze small portions of food instead of throwing them away. I also use most of what I have frozen, so it isn’t wasted.

Earlier today I thought I would go out and do a little shopping. For what, you might wonder? Well, for nothing in particular, but just because I was bored! Thankfully I changed my mind, since there was nothing that I needed to buy. And what about need? Need is indeed different than want. While I do know the difference in needs and wants, sometimes I act on wants when I should be acting on needs. For whatever reason, today I was able to resist that.

Today, I recognized that I was bored, and decided to do some straightening up in my closet. There I came face to face with more wasted money, items that I had bought that I have not really used. Clothes that were not a good purchase when I think of the per usage cost. Too many shoes and too many purses. Shoes that I have not worn for years, and therefore likely will not wear, yet fail to give to someone who might need them. I was glad that I had not purchased more shoes when I was shopping with a friend this weekend. I found several pairs of shoes that I liked, that were a good price and almost bought until I realized that I have more shoes than I wear now. I did not need any more shoes, and I did not buy them.    

I am reminded of 2006, the year that I did not buy anything for myself or our home the entire year. (Other than a few necessities that I replaced when used.)  With Hurricane Katrina my stimulus, I decided that I had a spending addiction, and decided to take a year off from spending. I journaled the journey, and my lessons from that year can be found in my book, A Year in the Life of a Recovering Spendaholic.

My year of no spending changed me in two key areas. One, I am no longer (usually, at least) an impulsive buyer. When I want to make a purchase, I often wait to make the purchase, and often the urge to purchase the item passes. The second area of change is what this article is about, wasting money. While I am more conscious of ways not to waste money, and have made some progress in this area, this is still an area of growth for me. Throwing out food and having shoes and clothes that I do not wear are examples of this.

Most of us have too much, especially in the United States, and do not even know what we have. Yet we too often buy more and fail to even use what we have. We continue to waste time and money.

Back to wasting time for a moment. What can we do today to focus on what is most important to us? Before another summer passes. Before another year passes. 2022 is almost half over. When we get to the end of this year, what will we have to show for it?

Perhaps we can make some decisions in June that will help us focus on those things that we say are most important to us. So when December 31, 2022, arrives, we can look back on 2022 and know that another year was not wasted.  

Time, our most valuable resource, is finite. Let’s live like we know that.

Posted in best self, change | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Years Pass So Quickly

Like all of you, I am heartbroken over the senseless death of innocent children and adults in Uvalde, Texas.  Words are inadequate. Prayers for all of those touched directly by this tragedy. But prayers are not enough. Our country needs to find better answers to this problem. This tragedy occurred while I was traveling in Alabama.

I just spent a wonderful week visiting with life-long friends in Alabama. These are two friends, Pam and Judy, that I have had for a very long time. Judy and I have been friends for 54 years, and Pam and I for 48 years. Since I moved from Alabama in 1981, we have each taken turns traveling from North Carolina to Alabama and Alabama to North Carolina to maintain our relationships. These friends are more family than friends. The distance does mean that we only get together about once a year, which is never enough time.

Mike had a meeting in Atlanta last week, so we decided to make a trip to Alabama while we were close. Mike and I visited with Pam and her husband Butch in Gadsden, Alabama for a couple of days, then he flew home and I stayed behind. Our visit included spending time with soon-to-be 92-year-old Coke Man/Cokee, which are the names daughter Tara gave to Pam’s dad, Coy, who has been like a grandfather to her. We also enjoyed time with Pam and Butch’s grandchildren, 6-year-old Ella Mae, 3- year-old Emma, and 1-year-old Wyatt.

Judy’s house is undergoing major renovation, but we did spend an afternoon visiting with the family, including grandchildren 10-year-old Suzy and 3-year-old Jake, (which I failed to take photos of!) Then Judy and I escaped to Auburn and Birmingham for a few days for our time together. We shopped, went antiquing, and had wonderful meals, then went back to a hotel at the end of each evening, enjoying having no responsibilities. It really did not matter what our days included, other than to be together.

Relationships take time to nurture, and the effort and time are worth it when those involved choose to stay connected. Through the years there were times when it would have been easy to fail to spend the time and effort. But we chose to stay connected instead, and I am so glad that we did. It is so heartwarming to pick up where we left off, telling the same old stories, and reliving the memories of our shared lives.

It has been said that some people are in our lives for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. These friends are lifetime friends, friends that are actually family.

I hope that you have a Pam and Judy in your life, and that you nurture those relationships. For we never know when we are together for the last time.

Like the 21 people in Uvalde, Texas.

Posted in family, Relationships, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Atlanta Reimagined

Mike and I are in Atlanta for a few days. Mike has a three-day meeting at the Georgia World Congress Center. We are staying outside of town, so I have been dropping Mike off in the morning and picking him up at the end of the day. I am using these three days to do something I love to do, shop. And by shopping, I am referring to more window shopping than buying. This is day 2, and I have not bought anything yet, other than less than $5.00 of food and drink.

Yesterday, day 1, I went to Phipps Plaza, and today I am at Lenox Square Mall. The main reason I came to the malls is to get my daily walk inside where the 80 plus degree humid temperature does not interfere. Both days I made myself get my hour walk in before doing anything else. Then I enjoyed the shops.

I love Lenox Square Mall and Phipps Plaza, but I haven’t been to them in years, and not just because of COVID. Years ago when I traveled from Alabama to Virginia and then to North Carolina I would often stop in Atlanta for a shopping excursion at these malls. Breaking up my eight to ten-hour driving trip with a couple of hours at Saks and Neiman Marcus and other loved stores was a treat. Through the years these malls changed. A few years ago (I am not sure exactly how many years ago) Lenox acquired a bad reputation. There were reports of violence and other unseemly behaviors. For this reason, I went to Phipps first, expecting it to be the “better” of the two malls, and also because that is where my favorite department store, Saks, is located.

Phipps was fine, Saks is still there, but not as much else. Lenox has definitely changed for the better. Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales are its two anchor stores. There is also a Macy’s at Lenox and many other stores. There are more high-end designer stores at Lenox, and there is a two-level Apple store. There is also a Capital One Café, where Capital One customers receive 50% off of all purchases, with a wonderful seating area and free Wi-Fi. This creates a very relaxing way to write this week’s blog!

A few insights from my two-day shopping experience. Retail is not dead in Atlanta, quite the contrary. The malls, especially Lenox, are full of people during the day. There must be plenty of money in Atlanta, for the abundance of higher-end goods is amazing. If these items did not sell, they would not be filling the stores. This is good news for Mike’s industry; apparel, textiles, and fashion.

The healthy retail economy in Atlanta is also good news for those with disposable income. It remains to be seen given the price of gas and the overall U.S. economy whether the sale of these upper-end items will hold. The current health of my favorite stores in Atlanta makes me sad for my favorite local Belk’s in Raleigh. Belk’s Crabtree has changed from a high-end department store with many designer brands to a store that looks more like a discount chain store with very few designer brands. Whereas I used to do most of my regular shopping at Belk’s, I do not shop there much anymore, and never for clothes, since they no longer carry the brands I wear. I will be very surprised if Belk’s survives another year, and not just because of their brands.

Why do I refer to“designer” brands, especially upper-end designer brands?  I have long since known that I have a “need” for quality and beauty. It is a need, not a want. While one can find quality and beauty in lower-priced items, it is not common. Quality and beauty usually cost more money and are more often found in designer brands. Having said that, there is a limit to what I will (usually) spend, even for quality and beauty. I have found that I am able to buy items I like on sale, and since quality results in items living on for a very long time, they are not replaced as often as lower quality items.  

Other observations of my shopping experience in Atlanta. Security is very prevalent at Lenox especially, perhaps because of the past, and maybe even due to the recent shootings around the country. And the security presence is not just for looks. I was stopped by a security guard and asked about a small bag I was carrying, which only had my Ipad in it. When it was clear that I wasn’t carrying anything else, the security guard was satisfied.

Although I haven’t bought anything (other than food,) I have been tempted. There are some good sales, and on brands I wear. I have talked myself out of several things because I do not need anything. I struggled about not buying a black Eileen Fisher (my favorite designer) top that is on sale for a very good price. Then I remembered organizing my closet last week and that I have several black Eileen Fisher tops. I do want (note I did not say “need”!) a pair of white linen pants, and if I find them for a good price, I may buy them.

Being a bibliophile, the absence of bookstores at both malls is troubling. Are books not selling? Since I brought at least ten books with me on this trip, I do not need to buy any books, but I love to wander through bookstores.

Other than spending time at Lenox and Phipps, I have not done much else. Mike and I did attend a lovely reception and dinner at the World of Coca-Cola Museum, where I had not been before. The food was delicious, and included Coke floats for dessert, from which I successfully abstained. I remembered walking an hour each day and decided the Coke floats, even as good as they probably were, could not be worth the calories/WW points.

My time in Atlanta has been delightful. I feel energized by being here, able to experience the city, or at least the shops, leisurely. I concur with the Capital One staff person next to me who just said, “I love Atlanta!”   

Posted in service, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment