As I was trying on clothes the other day at T.J. Maxx, I heard a young girl a few doors down from my dressing room squealing with delight.
“Oh, Grandma. I love this dress so much. Let’s show the lady out front. You know, the one who gave us the dressing room ticket.”
With her grandma’s approval, the little girl ran out of the dressing room and boldly went up to the woman out front and asked, “What’s your name? Oh, Maria? Hi, Maria. It’s nice to meet you. I’m Isabella. Isn’t this the most beautiful dress? Watch me twirl in it. It says ‘Let It Go’ on it. See? That’s a song from the movie, ‘Frozen.’ I know how to sing the whole song. Want to hear me?”
Without waiting for an answer, the little girl burst into a loud and confident rendition. As I listened to Isabella belt out the song, I marveled at how free she was. She didn’t worry about being judged. She didn’t fight with her inner critic. She didn’t hide her talents, stifle her personality, mute her speaking voice, worry about perfection, or care about pleasing people.
She was the epitome of “letting it go” and the poster child for shining the spirit of inner freedom, self-belief, and pure joy. “I want to be just like her when I grow up,” I thought to myself.
Here are the unexpected spiritual life lessons I learned:
>> Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 1: Free myself to be myself. It’s time.
>> Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 2: Let go of my inner critic. Let go of the need for perfection. Enjoy being perfectly imperfect.
>> Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 3: Don’t worry about being judged by others.
>>Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 4: Be all of who I really am. Don’t hide. Don’t hold back.
>> Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 5: Give myself an empowered speaking voice. Convey my truth with strength, clarity, and love.
>> Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 6: Be confident. Believe in myself.
>> Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 7: When I meet a nice person, ask them their name. Make them feel like they matter. They are more than the work they do for a living. They are human beings with life stories. Tell them your name, too.
>> Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 8: Don’t be afraid to sing loud and proud, in tune or out of tune, anywhere and everywhere. It’s your birthright to sing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
>> Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 9: As I listened to this beautiful child sing the lyrics to “Let It Go,” I had an epiphany. Whatever is eating me from the inside out, it is time to let it go. Away it went. Released. Thank you, sweet child.
As I tried on another pair of pants, I could hear the woman in the dressing room next to mine talking to herself. She was chuckling, obviously touched by what had just transpired. I made a mindful choice to connect with her. “God bless the children, right?”
She responded, “Yes, God bless them. That little girl made all my troubles melt away.” I agreed. “Yes. I know what you mean. I’m feeling better, too.”
As we continued to eavesdrop, the energy in the area shifted. A dynamic communication clash between Isabella and her grandmother was creating quite a stir. “Oh, Grandma, I love this dress so much. I want to wear it now. Outdoors. Everywhere. Please?”
Her grandmother, pushed to her limit, was firm with the insistent child. “Isabella, if you nag me one more time, I will be taking this dress and hanging it up in the store and not buying it at all. I told you that we need to save this dress for another day and that’s that.”
Isabella was disappointed but agreed to comply. “Okay. It will be hard for me, but I won’t ask you anymore, Grandma. I’ll wait.”
>> Unexpected Spiritual Lesson 10. It is possible to iron out conflicts with a large dose of patience, empathy, compassion, compromise, and love.
And that was that. Unexpected moments of the highest vibration wrapped in ten spiritual life lessons in the dressing rooms of T.J. Maxx.
On my way home, I stopped by CVS Pharmacy to buy my daughter her favorite chocolates. While I waited in line to pay for the assortment of deliciousness, I heard the person behind me sighing. I turned around to ask if she was okay. Did she need to sit down? Did she need help? The elderly woman said she was hot and uncomfortable.
I gestured for her to move ahead of me in the line, and while we waited, I asked how life was treating her. She grumbled about where she lived and told me how much she hated it there. “They” were waiting for her in a special bus to bring her back to her assisted living residence. They were rude, mean, and dismissive of her at this place. They never listened to her needs and were disrespectful, impatient, and abusive.
Because I have gone through the heartbreaking chaos of having my mother, mother-in-law, and stepfather-in-law in one of “those” places, her complaints sounded sadly familiar. I commiserated empathically while she paid for her items, and as she was leaving the store, she turned to me and said, “Thank you for listening to me. No one usually does.”
>> Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 11: Take the time to listen with an open heart to a stranger’s burdens.
>> Unexpected Spiritual Life Lesson 12: Aging is not easy. Living in a place that is unfamiliar to where you lived before is not easy. Losing control is not easy. When I see an elderly person, I will give them an extra smile, my listening heart, and a huge dose of respect. If there is time, I will also listen to their life story. I may learn lessons from this person that can help me live my life with greater courage, strength, resilience, and determination.
When I woke up last Saturday, my only goal was to accomplish my checklist of errands.
Go to the gas station. Check. Go to the post office. Check. Try on clothes at T.J. Maxx. Check. Go to the drug store. Check.
I also assumed I would be annoyed with crazy drivers and impatient people. Instead, look at what happened. My errands merged with human-to-human caring, kindness, empathy, compassion, love, and humor. There were no crazy drivers or impatient people, and if there were, I didn’t notice.
On my wall, I have an affirmation on a post-it note. It says, “Something magical is about to happen.”
And it did.