Me and Mrs. Baker
Me and Mrs. Baker

Mrs. Baker lived across the street from my parents when I was born in 1980. I’ve literally known her my whole life. And while my family long ago moved from that small town, and I’ve since moved to another state, Mrs. Baker is still in her house at the end of the cul de sac in that small town where I was born.

Now here is the kicker of it all: Mrs. Baker is 92-years-old and still just as sharp as a tack. Further, she is one of the most positive people I know.

My parents and I went to visit Mrs. Baker on Sunday, and when I left her house I had to marvel at how many lessons this woman has been teaching me through the years — most specifically the last few years — and how I really want to take those lessons and put them into action.

Lessons I’ve learned, or am trying to learn, from Mrs. Baker:

1. Everyone has problems. When I think I’ve got problems, I need to take a step back and realize I am not unique in those problems.

Every time I get a letter from Mrs. Baker — whose letters are one of the few items of mail that are opened immediately — she will mention that her rhumatoid arthritis is bothering her, or perhaps she’s come down with a cold. But it never fails that she follows that statement with something about having nothing to complain about and that there are others worse off than she is. When we go to visit her, she’ll in passing mention how she broke her shoulder earlier this year, but its not to complain that it happened. No, it’s to tell us about something that happened on the day she came home from the hospital. It’s never a complaint. And when someone comes to her to complain or whine about something, she’ll just reply, “Everyone has problems.”

Words of wisdom from a 92-year-old.

2. I have many blessings. Going hand in hand with not complaining comes the reminder that I have many more blessings than hardships. So I have a few bills that are late. Instead of moping about that, I should instead be grateful I have a job to make the money to pay those bills… even if they are late.

As we left, Mrs. Baker commented that she doesn’t go anywhere any more. She long ago gave up driving. And she only leaves to go to the doctor occasionally. She has a woman who comes to help her six days a week with chores around the house, and a neighbor keeps her lawn in shape. She is homebound, but instead of moping around the house she marvels at how blessed she is to still live at home and not in a rest home.

There’s a way of looking at any issue and instead of focusing on the negative aspects of it, to instead count ones blessings.

3. Friends are a priceless entity. It’s impossible to go visit Mrs. Baker and her phone not ring countless times in a couple of hours time. I truly believe her friends are what keep her going.

It makes me smile how she has a certain time she calls certain friends each day. And she knows that they will call her at certain times as well. The conversation may not last but a minute, but its that voice on the other end of the line that makes her smile and laugh. We need human contact to bring joy to our lives. Friends are not only a blessing, but an important part of a long, happy, healthy life.

4. Put your mind to it. We had a long conversation today about how many things in life can be accomplished simply by putting your mind to it.

There are thousands of self help books that promote the success of positive thinking. If you think it, you can do it. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. How one thinks affects everything in their life. So much of our life is really in our power and up to us to just choose to do or have. All too often we left outside forces make up our minds for us. Don’t. Be yourself. Take your life in your own hands and make it what you want.

5. The power of prayer. Mrs. Baker long ago had to stop going to church when she gave up driving. However, she is just as devout of a Christian as ever and just as active in church as before. She’s chairwoman of the prayer chain. Its up to her to let others know of anything that happens to a member of the church in which they need prayers. Be it illness or injury or any number of needs. She prays for many others, and they in turn pray for her.

I think we could all learn so much from one another, if we’d only just pay attention.

I know there are countless more lessons I could learn from Mrs. Baker, as well as from others. I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. And I, for one, never want to stop learning.

A different kind of week

"Drive Dunk, Get Nailed" cars are popping up around Nashville...

This week has been one for the record books for me. Simply due to how “different” it really was from beginning to end.

Many probably don’t know that I work at a hot dog stand in a bar in downtown Nashville for extra money. It’s a fun job and I get to listen to amazing live music, have a drink if I want one, and meet all kinds of interesting people. Not a bad day at work!

However, the week was kicked off with a strange Sunday in which the downtown in general was just dead. Not even Broadway could boast much of a “crowd.” And adding to the strange quiet of downtown, our full band didn’t start until midnight! Ultimately, I think those of us working agreed that we should have just closed early and cut our losses. Surely Monday would be better.

Monday, however, simply upped the strange factor.

A torrential downpour left my husband and I doing 20 mph on the Interstate as debris from trees swirled through the air, and our ability to see ahead of us was diminished down to a few feet. Once the storm cleared and we were able to go again at a normal pace, a woman in an SUV pulled out in front of us. She merged onto the Interstate, crossed two lanes into our lane, doing maybe 40 while we were going 70. It was physically impossible for us to slow fast enough to not rear end her, and I’m still thankful the next lane over was empty and we could swerve around her. Its not the first time that’s happened on a Nashville interstate to us (apparently checking to see if a lane is clear is not necessary, and turn signals don’t come standard on vehicles here) but it never ceases to leave my heart pounding wildly.

That evening’s highlight was getting to have dinner with my husband at his lodge meeting before going to work. THAT was a treat. Work, however, was simply bizarre again. Downtown was once again pretty much dead, but the city’s homeless were moving around a lot.

The night ended with a homeless woman rushing into the bar demanding that I call 9-1-1, because “he’s laying on the steps bleeding! He’s all beat up!” The woman said she and this man had only been in Nashville three days. However, she could not tell us who or where “he” was. My husband went with her to look, but came up with no one.

About half an hour later, the lady came back hysterical again to call 9-1-1. This time, my husband and the lead singer of our night’s entertainment went with her together to hunt for her friend. They did find the man this time, looking like he’d been beaten up and passed out in an alley.  My husband called for help, and soon three police cars, firetrucks and an ambulance appeared to help the man. I do hope the man and woman are all right, but I also hope to not go through that scavenger hunt again any time soon.

Things looked up come Tuesday. My husband sold a piece of gear and a roadcase he’d been trying to sell for awhile. I got the oil changed in my truck for a better price than I had anticipated it costing. And we arrived downtown for my husband to play the late shift to discover a music video being filmed outside the bar. The bonus was that I got asked to be an extra in the video! Definitely not your typical night out! Everyone has their list of things they want to do someday. A deep secret dream of mine has been to be in a music video. Now I can say I have!

Wednesday was gloriously normal. Thursday, I flew to Texas for a visit with my family. My husband jumped in a tour bus and headed north to Iowa and Wisconsin. Definitely a case of our going opposite directions! Not the first time. Nor will it be the last. (I can’t leave out that Thursday was also the day that Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson both passed away, leaving the news world spinning as well.)

Now, I’ve lived in Nashville just shy of three years, and in that time my ability to handle cold weather has gotten better, and my ability to handle hot weather has diminished. So not only was my Friday swim date with my nephew and niece a priceless period of time with my two favorite kids in this world, but it was a nice reprieve from the 100+ temps!

To round out the week came Saturday. I had tickets, thanks to a friend, to see a Texas artist do a show in Waco. However, I was not aware it was an outdoor show until the night before. My parents and I went, but ended up not staying. The heat was just too much for all of us. (I suppose on my part, it also doesn’t help that I’ve admittedly gotten a bit spoiled to having a cool tour bus to hide out in at outdoor shows when I go see my husband play a show!) The inside of the club was reserved for VIP ticket holders, and with General Admission tickets we couldn’t go inside. So without reprieve from the heat, we left not long after the music had started.

Strange for me to not stay for a concert! But this year’s summer in Texas is setting record highs… and I suppose that in and of itself tops out a very different week for me. One for the books.

Or atleast for this blog.