My husband and I went to DSW Shoes last weekend because George needed a new pair of sandals to wear on the kite-flying field. The store was busy that day; I’ll estimate 25 people were waiting in line for the four registers where cashiers were checking people out.
Ahead of us in line were two women; one probably in her late 30’s and the other in her early 20’s. The elder of the two had several tattoos on her face, including one of a tear drop near one of her eyes. The tattooed woman leaned over and quietly said something to the other, then they both walked briskly out of the store carrying three boxes filled with shoes, a backpack, and other merchandise.
It took a moment for my brain to register what my eyes were witnessing – a theft in broad daylight in front of something like 30 other people. I said to George, “I can’t believe I just saw that. What should we do?! Why didn’t I do anything?” It occurred to me I could have LOUDLY said, “Excuse me?! Are you seriously walking out of this store without paying for your merchandise?!” George went over to one of the cashiers and told him what had just happened.
I grew up on a farm in South Dakota; the closest town, Raymond—population now 53—was 11 miles away. Therefore, as you can imagine, I know next to nothing about gang culture. On the drive home, my husband pointed out that the woman’s facial tattoos likely symbolized gang affiliation. If you Google tear-drop facial tattoos like I did, you’ll find the meaning can be anything from prison time, committing a murder while in prison or being raped in prison…to solidarity with someone in prison, grieving the loss of a loved one or seeking revenge on behalf of a murdered friend.
Growing up where and when I did, there were no gangs, and almost no violent crimes against humans. Most farmers had guns they used regularly for hunting and shooting animals who threatened the garden or crops (which, by the way, always bothered me). I grew up trusting virtually everyone unless someone gave me a reason not to. A random internet search tells me that in the year 1972 the population of the entire state of South Dakota was 679,000 and that 8 murders and 106 robberies were committed in the state that year.
After that shoe-shopping excursion last weekend, the foundation of my feeling safe in the world was shaken. Either of the thieves may have been armed and opened fire in the store on the heels of yet another American school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and a much less publicized March attack by extremists in Somalia that wiped out 60 lives.
When I walked into a store next, I felt scared for the first time in my life. I realize how blessed I was to grow up in an environment where I didn’t need to fear for my safety or life going to school or to a mall. Or going to bed at night or walking out my front door.
How do any of us live in a world where we can’t take for granted that we’ll be kept from harm’s way? We never really could. Any of us could be hit by the proverbial bus, smashed in our cars, fall getting out of the shower, or be diagnosed with a fatal disease right now, today.
Rather than be depressed by the possibilities, even though I may feel fear walking into a store for the immediate future, I want to share an unexpected inspiration I received from a dental hygienist a couple years ago. This is the kind of simple daily practice that can change the way any of us approach life.
I don’t recall how the topic came up, but with the time-frame, it probably had something to do with COVID and how it has so negatively impacted everyone on our precious planet.
Every morning when she wakes up and opens the blinds, this dental hygienist looks outside and says “Hello, World!” When she closes the blinds to go to sleep at night, she says, “Goodnight, World!”
I can’t think of any better way to welcome the world without fear, express gratitude for being here, and set yourself up for a fantastic day wherein you can freely express your voice. I’m going to try it. Why don’t you join me, and let me know your experience on the blog?!
After she is tragically orphaned, young Abella loses the ability to speak her truth and express herself. She is sent to live with a reclusive uncle she’s never met, and her only friend is her horse. Abella endures heartbreak, loneliness and questions who she truly is inside. Eventually, she meets friends and animals who help her not only regain her voice, but also uncover her strength and purpose. Purchase How Abella Found her Voice for $4.95 here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/
Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!
Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,