I had signed up for a book fair in Hackensack, Mn way back in early May. My thought was to showcase my new book at what I had heard, was one of the largest art and book shows in the lakes area. I also decided to extend our time in the lakes area and have a mini vacation for my husband and myself. Who knew it was going to be perfect timing for everything!
Fast forward to the week before the book fair. Things could not have been more worrisome with regards to a family member struggling with a few medical conditions, stress of having a new book and wanting to develop more marketing strategies and not really understanding how to do that, and finally, knowing I had two more weeks to 'play around' with fun, getting my book out there and completing all of the tasks I said I would before school started. So the cleaning of the closet and painting my office are not going to happen.
My husband and I left after much deliberation about whether we should leave our loved one or not. Thanks to an angel that stepped in to take care of our family member, we felt confident to leave.
We had a wonderful place to stay...shout out to Chase on the Lake in Walker, MN. We had a great time strolling about the town and driving to places we had never seen before. Best of all, it was nice to spend time with my husband and not talk about what we were going to work on at the house...because of course, we were not able to work on the house!
We shlepped several boxes of books, totes filled with table decorations, greeting cards, pens, cute little lights to add 'Sparkle', paper, tablecloth and a variety of book display setups. We had table number 1. It was in a good spot complete with an air conditioning vent blowing right up under our table (yay) and an outlet we could plug our laptop in for people making purchase. The set up was awesome!
We met many people, felt warmed by the hospitality of the people who put this together and began the day with high hopes. I always hope for at least 10 books to be sold and dream for 20.
By mid-day a person trying to sell their wares can get to feeling defeated if sales have not picked up. It becomes a game of who will have eye contact with you...or not. Small talk steps up and suddenly I tell everyone walking by that they are wearing something cute or I love their glasses. Anything in the hopes of people hearing my voice and thinking to stop at my table. It gets tiring...and I am not that good at sales. In fact, I would rather have pink eye than sell! I would probably hand out my book for free if somehow that meant I would have a sale from the friend they show it to. And then it happened.
Another reason I was there. I was able to witness in person what I wrote about an believe in...women feeling relevant as we age.
An older woman came to my table using her walker and having a hard time catching her breath. She was beautiful in her very stylish outfit and piercing blue eyes to match. She was timeless in a way one might describe Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe. She began to speak with me about the contents of my book. As I ended my schpiel, she started to talk of her own feelings of relevance. She shared that she was 83 years old and often wondered what she even could contribute to others. She shared of not feeling a part of her family in the way that she used to be and it made her sad. She gave an example of not being asked what she would like to prepare or bring for family gatherings. She shared how she used to be one of the main planners for the family and that now she was simply picked up, brought to the gathering and in some ways, expected to stay out of the way. She missed being a part of the action. She felt dismissed in a way that she knew was not intentional, but still it caused her to feel irrelevant.
We spoke for at least 15 minutes before her daughter approached the table. I hadn't a clue she came with anyone up until then. She began saying how she was going to get rid of her journals that she had been writing and saving. "Why have them? I have nothing to offer, really." Her daughter chimed in with, "Mom! Don't get rid of those. I want to read them. I want to hear all about the stories you wrote about and the experiences you had. I want to be able to share in your life even if through the words. No, you can't throw them away. I want them!"
So you know that moment when you are trying to figure out if you should really be there listening? That was me. I wasn't sure if I was a part of the conversation anymore and even if I should be. I waited to hear how her mom would respond. She hesitated and then said, "Really? You want to read my journals? I had no idea you would be interested. I would love for you to read them! I even wrote down a few recipes passed down to me from my grandmother. Well, yes, I will give them to you. I think it will be fun to go through them." And then I said something as filler...but then added, "She would like to help with the meal prep as well when you get together! She can always sit at a table and put together something for the meal." Both laughed...I smiled and that was that. No book sale, but a life lesson that is priceless: Never assume anyone is done giving of themselves. Never decide for someone else if they are finished with contributing. And the importance to really practice what I preach.
I never sold my 10 books that day. But...I made some new friends, established friendships with people I have seen before and most importantly, I walked away committed to my raising awareness about women and aging. No matter our ages, we really do Sparkle!