No doubt, I am a social person and meeting others comes natural to me, but it is something anyone can do even if it requires allowing oneself to be uncomfortable for a minute or longer.
This past weekend, I was with a friend exploring the beautiful town of Tryon, NC. We both love to hear others’ stories, which is probably one reason we love being therapists! While we were in an adorable bookstore/toystore/gift shop talking to the sweet owner named, Julia, an older man came in. Immediately he caught our attention because he had long white hair pulled back into a ponytail and a long white beard. He was wearing a tied eye shirt and jeans. I don’t often see white hairs wearing tied eye, like they were still enjoying the 70s, around where I live.
Before we began talking to him, I noticed he came in to pick up a copy of a book he wanted which was the same book my oldest son picked out. There is was, our commonality! Finding something in common with someone is a way into some great conversations! So our conversation began…
Julia introduced my friend and I to J. Alan Peoples, the infamous mayor of Tryon, NC. We finished our conversation with Julia, a lovely lady who will be in a Hallmark Christmas movie coming out this fall that was filmed in Tryon, and walked outside to see Mr. Peoples van.
It was exactly the van you have in mind for a man wearing a tied eye shirt and a white ponytail. It was this old Volkswagen van from the 70s or at least it looked like that (look at the featured image). It looked like so much fun to ride in and drive around. Mr. Peoples told us he bought the van for his beautiful wife who was sitting on the plush orange passenger seat. She loved it and he loved her.
As I talked to Mrs. Peoples and my friend talked to Mr. Peoples, I realized the Mrs. and I weren’t quite finishing our conversations which was totally fine. I can be very ADD at times in conversation, etc. so I wasn’t sure if it was me or her at first. After a while I could tell something was off, but I could also sense her kind heart and loving spirit. Later on after our great conversation with the mayor, his wife, and another local who walked up to say hello, my friend told me that Mr. Peoples said his wife had dementia.
The mayor had told us about his military service, teaching/coaching job, and position as major, but the most important work he does is caring for his wife. He said people asked him why he hadn’t put her somewhere and he said that is not what he wanted to do. He loved her and wanted to take care of her. He still does his jobs, but he takes her with him and the townspeople help him. Mr. Peoples said they all help take care of one another in their small town.
Wow, I loved this town. More importantly, I was reminded that when we stop and take the time to hear the stories of others, we can learn so much and be inspired to live out our stories in a great way by loving others. We were so encouraged by Mr. Peoples and the people in the town simply by taking the time to chat.
So, stop and meet someone new today even if you think what they are wearing or driving is very different from what you are wearing or driving….
Learn something new, be inspired, or be reminded about what really matters. As my friend and author of Sign to Story, Chris Smith says, “Embrace every opportunity God gives you to pour into the person standing in front of you.” As you embrace the chance to love others, you’ll find that you are also being loved!
I can’t wait to hear some of your stories! Message or email me!