I know that I’ve shared this before, though I feel compelled to once again. My mother had spoke a few words to me, words that I needed to hear the most. What she said is having a profound impact on my life.
Last summer she looked at me and offered this, “I see you loving everyone else except yourself”. That was a hard pill to swallow at first, but for only a day or two. Then I began realizing the truth in her statement, accepting it, and set out to discover what self-love is and what it isn’t. It has been a process, quite spiritual in nature, learning this infinitly important lesson. And Im still learning.
A revelation that came to me a few months ago, before emBARKing on this mission, was that I’m a giver, having struggled for most of my adult life with the concept of asking for help or even receiving help when it was offered to me freely. I always responded to those offerings by saying that I was doing fine, or amazing even.
Today I believe that the Spirit that guides me and cares for me is teaching me a valuable lesson, the art of asking; the balance between giving and receiving. What an incredible way for me to learn, by stepping out in faith, taking with me only the bare necessities for survival and a few dollars dollars to my name in my billfold, cycling cross-country with my best friend, Shoeless Jo.
I woke up early yesterday and hopped in a car with my friend Ron and his Parts Unlimited co-workers. We arrived at a racetrack on the outskirts of Austin, Circuit of The Americas.
Once we were there I was welcomed into their VIP hospitality tent, trackside, being made to feel at home by all of those he works with. A catered meal, the best seat in the house and a thrilling race, one of the most exciting ever, World Moto GP. Jo was at my side the entire day, the staff, Ron, John and head boss, Lou making sure we had everything we needed.
Back in downtown Austin I wandered into a gift shop and bought twenty dollars worth of postcards to send to everyone who has been providing for Jo and I while we have been on this journey.
Pam was standing behind me with two of her friends and immediately they took to loving on Jo. She reached into her purse and handed me the same amount I had just spent at the register. She encouraged me along on my long bike ride and my passion to create a brighter Christmas for children.
Next door, I sat at a table in a dimly lit bar room listening to Mike Vallierie. He belted out some of my favorite songs with his whisky seasoned vocals, whaling on his acoustic guitar, singing to me a treasured ballad, a John Prine song. The words, “Make Me an Angel” have been playing in the back of mind ever since.
There was a foursome seated behind me, a group visiting Austin. They thought that I might be off in la-la land, ignoring the acoustic offerings. I wasn’t, in fact, I was multi tasking, writing thank you notes to friends with one ear directed toward the stage. I wish I would’ve written their names down because at this moment, I’m forgetting them. But I’ll never forget their kind gesture, each couple pulling from their pockets a twenty dollar bill and promising me more in the future.
I decided I would take Jo out for dinner and proceeded to walk the two city blocks to the Driscoll Hotel where I knew Shoeless would be welcomed, regardless of their no shoes, no service policy.
Taking a seat in the lounge I struck up a conversation with Ashley. She was shining with a warm smile and our conversation was as beautiful as she is. She asked me to tell her all about Operation Elf Box. I love sharing our simple mission: to create a brighter Christmas for children. I thanked her for listening, for giving me the opportunity to share one of my greatest passions.
In return, Ashley spoke to me about her dream job. She lives near Los Angeles and travels the globe, opening retail stores for Toms Shoes. Ashley loves her role with the company and seemed to think that there was some sinergy and perhaps some support that Toms might offer to Operation Elf Box.
One of the amazing ventures that Toms sends her on is what they have dubbed as “Giving Trips”. With their one-for-one company model, Ashley visits impoverished areas, rural villages that the company knows need some extra love. Ashley gets to give away thousands of pairs of shoes to people. That’s love.
I excused myself from my seat for a moment. When I returned, Ashley was quick to give me a tight hug and make her way back to her room. After she left I asked the waiter for my bill. He smiled and said that the Angel I was sitting with had cleared my tab. Here’s a picture of Ashley I borrowed from her Facebook page because I forgot to take a selfie of us together. As you can see, she is full of love and living life.