Coins from Daddy

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I was waiting in line behind a young man — late 20’s, if I had to guess. Next to him was a quiet, young girl; her dark brown hair pulled back in a loose ponytail. She wore pink sweatpants and a light blue jacket. From their loving interaction, it seemed she was his daughter; him her dad.

I was right.

The man stood at the counter in a conversation with the cashier, while the young girl peered at a nearby bulletin board, as if an adult shopping for modern art.

“Here is your change, sir.”

The man turned around, collecting the coins and placed them in the front pocket of his rugged blue jeans. 

“Thank you.” 

Just as the man and his daughter were gathering their belongings to leave, he realized he had forgotten to order something. I couldn’t see what it was from where I was standing, but it didn’t matter. I could hear what he said next.

The cashier  rang up his second total.

“That will be $2.44,” she said.

He handed her a twenty-dollar bill. The cashier looked puzzled.

“Don’t forget about the change I just gave you,” she said.

He sighed.

“I’m sorry, I don’t spend my change.”

There was a pause. It seemed silence was her way to exhibit confusion and ask for an explanation.

“I keep all of my change,” he said, smiling at his daughter. “Any change I have at the end of each day goes in my daughter’s piggy bank. Sorry, it’s our rule.”

The cashier smiled.

“Not to worry. She’s a lucky little girl to have you as her Daddy.”

The transaction was complete. The young girl and her Dad were on their way. And, the cashier was looking to help the next customer in line.

But, for a few minutes in that line, I witnessed something great. A father’s love for his daughter. And, one young woman with memories of life as “Daddy’s little girl”. Let’s make that two of us.

They’re talking about what?

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Two old women in a coffee shop
Credit: Ugo Di Fenza, Flickr.com
If you were asked to guess what these two women were talking about during their coffee shop conversation, what would you say? Here are a few of mine: children, grandchildren, coupons, shopping, hair appointments. Stereotypical? Maybe.
 
I don’t actually know the topic of conversation at the time this photo was taken; however, I played this “guessing game” recently at a coffee shop, sitting near two women I’d guess were at least 70 years of age. My answer was the same: children, grandchildren, coupons, shopping, hair appointments. Boy, was I wrong!
 
The topic of conversation today? Transvestites. Yes, you read that right. The women were in a serious debate about the difference between a transvestite and a cross-dresser. When I got wind of this, I quickly lifted my coffee mug to shield my smile, as I held in a laugh. I listened closely, attempting to assess each argument as if my judgement would settle it.
 
I thought their debacle was a bit ridiculous until I realized I don’t know the difference, either (should I?). So, I did a little research to clear things up.
 
 By definition (at least according to ehow.com):
 
Transvestite, also known as transgender, refers to “a state of being in which the apparent or biological gender (usually determined at birth) does not match the person’s subjective gender — that is, the gender the person identifies as”.
 
Cross-dressing is”the act of wearing clothing typically associated with the opposite sex. Cross-dressers are not necessarily transgender”.
 
And, in case you were curious, I also learned when speaking with transgender people, it is “best practice” to use pronouns that match the gender of their dress.
 
So, now you know.

And I Gladly Stand Up {Guest Blog}

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Some say patriotism is dead.  You turn on the news, and there is always someone -some politician, some celebrity, some businessman- talking about what is wrong with our country or how corrupt our country is. They spit out commentary focusing on the danger, the violence, the health problems, and couple it with screenshots of body bags, police cars, politician’s angry faces. Yup, watch an hour long news program and you can begin to lose faith; you can begin to lose confidence in what our country is or, at least, what it is turning into.
 
Usually I try to stay away from the news for that very reason. I try to back away from the negative, keep to myself, go about my business. I am not exactly an overly patriotic person, to say the least. Sure, I said the Pledge of Allegiance in school. I watch fireworks on the Fourth of July; I bake cupcakes and frost them in the shape of a flag (hardly true patriotism, I know, but it counts, right?). I listen to politician’s debates. I vote.
 
But on Sunday, that clutter of chaos and negativity the news constantly spins and focuses on was wiped away from my mind.  I remembered what this country stands for and the sacrifices made by others for us to be free.
 
And this reminder came in the form of an elderly man in a coffee shop.
 
He was wearing an oatmeal colored sweater and large, horn-rimmed glasses. I didn’t really pay any attention to him at first. Having never been to this particular coffee shop before, I was killing time before heading to the gym to do a Zumba dance workout. I was trying not to be annoyed at the fact it took forever for me to pay for drink. A TV was loudly blaring, the staff wasn’t greeting me, and as I clumsily dropped my wallet, credit cards and cash spreading on the floor like confetti, the customers in front of me did not even bother to turn around to help. Instead, they pretended not to see me as I awkwardly dropped to the floor, whispering my apologies as I tried to grab my plastic credit card under the black snakeskin Gucci heel of the woman in front of me.
 
“Figures,” I thought.
 
So when I grabbed the corner chair, wallet in one hand, chai latte in another, I wanted to just focus on my laptop and keep to myself like everyone in the place seemed to be doing. An elderly couple had just sat down in a couple of the leather chairs near me, but other than that, everyone else was near the front of the shop, busy making drinks, buying drinks, minding their business.
 
I turned to my laptop. The TV was still blaring loudly; it sounded like NASCAR race was about to begin. My dad had always loved NASCAR; I remembered sitting in the living room and watching the brightly colored cars race round and round the track while he watched in anticipation. I remembered at the beginning of every race, there was the singing of the national anthem, and today was no different. I continued to stare at my computer screen as I half-listened to a woman begin to belt the first view lines of the national anthem.
 
“Oh say, can you see….”
 
Suddenly, I heard a scraping of chair legs near me. I looked up, and it was an elderly man sitting near me. With a face worn with deep wrinkles and gray hair balding near the top, he stood up, turned towards the TV screen, put one hand on his heart, and listened.
 
Just listened.
 
I could not stop staring. His face was full of admiration and pride as he stared at the TV screen, listening to the national anthem; I could sense it. Tears filled my eyes at this man’s true and open respect for his country.
Apparently I was not the only one who sensed it. Suddenly, the woman who was sitting near him stood up, placing her hand over her heart, mimicking the man. Then the employee behind the counter turned to the TV, placing his hand over his heart, as well. Suddenly, one by one, everyone in the coffee shop stopped what they were doing, stood up, and listened to the national anthem. I stood up as well, amazed at the power of action, the power of one person, the power of patriotism.
 
When the song finished, I sat back down, still in awe of the moment I just witnessed. Soon, the coffee shop began to buzz again, and the elderly man sat down, sipping his coffee.
 
But something had changed for me. I realized this moment is one snapshot of America. This moment is an example of pure patriotism. There was no cameras to witness it, no reporters to ask for comments. And it showed me that what we see on the news is not the whole picture of what our country is.  Our country is more than the negative stories, and it is the everyday actions such as the man at the coffee shop that help to make the heartbeat of America strong.
 
We must not forget to show love for our country, for if there is not love for the very place that gives us life and opportunity, soon all our country will be are those negative stories.
 
Lindsay Henry is a recent graduate of Central Michigan University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal Communication and her master’s degree in Communication. She enjoys reading, writing, and being with her friends and family. You can usually find Lindsay strolling around a bookstore or sitting in a coffee shop; a chai tea latte or white chocolate mocha are her drinks of choice.

Cancer in Caribou

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Cancer.

After ordering my morning cup of joe, the friendly coffee connoisseur behind the counter began telling me the story of Amy Erickson. Who is Amy? She was a “Roastmaster” at Caribou Coffee and someone who I learned helped set new coffee standards for the company. She was also someone who loved life, and unfortunately, lost her battle with breast cancer at just 33 years of age.

After sharing, the kind gentleman offered me a bag of “Amy’s Blend” coffee beans for purchase, with 10 percent of all sales  benefitting Susan G Komen for the Cure. Being aware October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but also in a hurry to start my day, I politely declined.

Learning from a stranger

I noticed a bald woman sitting alone at a table on the opposite side of the packed coffee shop. I saw her, but didn’t want make her feel uncomfortable by staring. I found a seat nearby, sipped my coffee and went on about my business.

A few minutes later, another woman walked through the door, peering around the room as if looking for someone. She spotted the woman sitting near me and quickly ran over to greet her, telling her she didn’t recognize her without hair.

That’s when I started listening. And, began getting a glimpse of the events which occurred during the past year of this woman’s life.

Around Christmas time last year, she was in a car accident, sustaining a few minor injuries. She went to the chiropractor as part of the recovery process and noticed a few unusual lumps in her breast and started to show symptoms of a cold. Not overly concerned, she decided to continue with plans to go on a ski trip with friends. This is a trip she was looking forward to and had purchased a new ski suit for, on clearance – two sizes too big – but thought it would fit perfect after piling on layers of clothing. A few days into the trip, her cold had gotten worse and after visiting a nearby doctor, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

 The cancer progressed quickly, the sinus infection continued and after three different antibiotics and a few months later, her body was showing no signs of improvement. Her spirits were still high until she learned during a regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment the cancer had spread to both breasts. It was a Wednesday and she was asked to make a final decision about the “all or nothing procedure”, scheduled to take place on Friday.

Sharing her story, she went on to explain how she almost “fell off the table” when an ultrasound technician left the room and she peeked over to see the images of the monster taking over parts of her body. Listening to her gut, she decided to move forward with a lumpectomy on Friday, but also scheduling a full body massage hours before. The procedure went well and removed all of the cancer.

Now at the coffee shop, she wears a colorful necklace imprinted with the word “journey” to remind her about the ups and downs in life. She gave a hug goodbye, as her friend brushed her hand over her soft, tiny pieces of hair and then walked out the door.

Her friend reached for her cell phone and began a new conversation with the words “she’s a fighter”.

And, I left with a new perspective on life. But, not without purchasing  my new bag of Amy’s Blend first.

Blog Action Day: Girls Rule!

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What if I said there is a woman out there who is concerned about her weight because she doesn’t want her kids to be ashamed of her? Psst… I said it.

Today is Blog Action Day 2011 – an annual online event, uniting bloggers around the world with blog posts about a global issue. Today is also World Food Day; therefore, the topic for discussion this year is food. Follow the coversation on Twitter, using #bad11.

I was recently in a coffee shop and overheard the conversation between two woman I consider a global issue because, well, this issue is there regardless of race, culture, region, family or any other of the ways we can categorize ourselves today.

My ears perked up in the conversation when one of the woman began talking about how girls in her daughter’s class had started to call her fat. The girl is 6 years old. This was heart-breaking, yes. But, what was even more was where the conversation went next. The concerned Mom started sharing her own struggles with food and weight. Her daughter’s experience had struck a chord and now, as a grown woman, she was concerned about her weight and struggles with food because she didn’t want her daughter to be ashamed of her Mom.

This story leads me to believe, as adults, we are still children, but playing on a different playground. A playground with secret tunnel clubs, monkeybars {these ones serve alcohol} and [emotional] rollercoasters. We still have the same struggles, worries and dreams for the future.

For women, weight continues to be an issue around the world – too big, too small, eat too much, not enough access to food, poor nutrition.

The story above showcases two examples of how this global issue has affected female lives. What will it take to make a positive shift for women around the world? I’ve posted a few of my favorite inspirations for change below, but please share others in your community or around the world.

And, as always, thank you for reading!


Promoting Change

  • Girls on the Run (GOTR): A positive youth development program which combines an interactive curriculum and running to inspire self-respect and healthy lifestyles in pre-teen girls.
  • Dove® Real Beauty Workshop for Girls: Building a movement in which women everywhere have the tools to
    take action and inspire each other and the girls in their lives. (Also watch http://youtu.be/iYhCn0jf46U – an eye-opening Dove® advertisement)
  • New York Times article “Weight Issues Around the World“: A look at how the issue of weight is perceived around the world.
  • MSNBC.com’s coverage of the ‘Girl Project’: Coverage of a project comparing weight issues of teenage girls today and stories of women from 30 years ago. [hint: there’s not much difference]

 

Bottoms Up!

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I’ve wanted to start this blog for awhile. I spend an unhealthy amount of my free time (what is that again?) sipping coffee and people watching in coffee shops. It’s “my place”. You know, the place you go to relax, chat and enjoy. Except, coffee shops (and public places, in general) have started to mimic an adult story time for me.

After overhearing (mostly, by accident) a countless number of stories from complete strangers – secrets, political rants, in-law controversies, celebratory meetings – I began to wonder: what if my coffee could talk? And here I am.

I’m going to begin sharing stories from inside the coffee cup, mostly from strangers with some of my own sprinkled in. So, grab a cup and bottoms up!

*When possible, posts will include a picture of the coffee cup sitting at my side.