Finding More Than a Lost Purse

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is a post from Coach Maria Shepard-Smith who shared this story about an unexpected Christmas Eve Time Out during a discussion about why the holidays seem to get crazier every year.  We hope you’ll enjoy as much as we did!

Maria finds an unexpected refuge and gift while looking for her missing purse!  Photo credit: Daderot (Daderot) [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 Many years ago I was rushing around at the holiday season on Christmas Eve doing my last minute shopping, after work of course, in Macy’s NYC on 34thSt. I wasn’t alone, unfortunately there were hundreds of others doing the same thing …what were they doing here…didn’t they finish up early…why were they in my way?

Needless to say, I was harried and rushed and thinking about the hundreds of things I had to do before Christmas day…yes just a measly 6.1/2 hours hence.

Well “I went in” as they sometimes say, you know you hear it all the time ’I am going in’ …knowing just knowing you might not survive the ordeal. Or worse, for me at that moment, that I might not get ‘just the right present’ to add to the lovely holiday spirit and sense of peacefulness that is always being touted at this time of the year, which for me was, at that moment, quickly evaporating.

Yes! I was at the very place where many of us end up, for one reason or another, when it is least expected, and when we can least afford it emotionally…at the brink of extreme angst.

Well, I did survive and in a way that I did not even think was possible when I finally left the store 3 hours later and headed home at the end of the evening.

In the midst of my harried rushing about I had forgotten the real meaning of the season.

As I made my way down the Subway station stairs to catch the train home, I fumbled with my packages and shopping bags for my purse to get a token for the fare. In less then 2 seconds, I realized … I DID NOT HAVE MY PURSE!

I rushed back up the stairs of the Subway, through hoards of folks headed down the stairs. I hurried into Macy’s trying to remember where I could have put my purse down ….you just don’t do that at the height of the shopping season in NY. Well I decided to retrace my steps…going backwards. I made my way to the 7th floor restroom…the last place I had been before leaving the store.

I rushed into the restroom went through the sitting area and checked the stalls…I knocked on the stall that I had used and asked the woman if she saw my purse hanging on the hook behind the door. ‘No ‘she said, ‘there’s nothing here. For a moment, I didn’t believe her, but then I knew that it had to be true…what was she going to do…stuff it in her bag, (in those days my purse a pretty fair size).

Well, with a sinking feeling in my stomach, I began thinking about how I was going to get home. Well, I thought, I’ll give a sob story to the policeman or clerk at the booth. They would let me on the train. After all, it was Christmas Eve. They weren’t going to hold me hostage for the fare…which at that time was .35 cents. Plus, by the time I would have gotten down to the Subway, after my search, I would look like such a sad sack they would take pity on me.

Then of course I began to make a mental list of what important things I had in my purse…not much money…only one credit card…and various other items we all carry in a wallet. The thought of having to plow through the task of unraveling the event of a lost wallet etc. was too much for me.

For some reason, I didn’t lose it, my sanity that is. I just began to settle down. After all, what choice did I have?

With a resigned feeling, I turned to leave the bathroom area to make my way to the other departments in the store where I had shopped. ‘I’ll give it a try,’ I told myself…knowing full well that it would be a futile attempt…but I had to try. I continued ruminating as I walked towards the door to the sitting room. “I’ll head for the ‘lost and found’ department before I leave too,” I said to myself.

As I did so, the matron for the women’s room came into the bathroom area from the outer sitting room. She was a tiny elderly woman with grey hair and glasses. I asked if she had seen a purse. ‘What color?’ she asked. ‘Black’, I replied with a ray of hope. “And how much money was in the purse?” she asked. ‘About two dollars”, I said. ‘Come with me’ she said. She walked me through another door into a small windowless room connected to the sitting area. In this room there were a small table and chairs and some of the restroom supplies. “Is this it?” she asked, as she handed me my purse. I was stunned. Not because she had it, but because it just seemed absolutely impossible that I would get that bag back at all.

I was profuse with my thanks. Perhaps she realized that I had reached the other side of panic, numbness, because she asked me to have tea with her…right there in her little space…and I did. This was a space she used to rest and perhaps to have her meals. She heated water on a small electric burner and took out an English teapot with two matching teacups. As I listened to her tell me a little about her life, while we sipped our tea, I felt a growing sense of peace and gratitude. I had been given a gift…in this little room, sipping tea in bone china teacups with a kind and gentle spirit. I had come upon a refuge…metaphorically and literally.

At the time I was grateful for having been given this moment. I was grateful too because I was able to give her, at that moment…a little gift of companionship on Christmas Eve.

I realized at the time and in looking back at that Christmas Eve, that the genuine meaning of the season or the greater gift is to give of oneself in a simple way.

I also received a bequest, not just a reminder to retreat from the hustle and bustle and share quiet and touching moments with others, but a series of more poignant gifts that reveal themselves each time I relive the experience of sitting in that little room.

When I look back at this experience in my life, and I often do, I realize it has become an allegory for me. It was a moment where I learned something that continues to touch my ‘soul’; something about life and how to ‘be’ beyond the moment. It is something that I cannot cognitively explain, except to say that I feel like I experienced a spiritual connection with humanity.

Finally, the memory of this event continues to touch me deeply because, for me, it is a lens through which other difficult events and experiences can be seen and transformed; transformed from a lost cause to a hopeful resolution, from calamity to a silver lining, from disaster to re-birth.

It has many meanings and lessons and I hope it will touch you all in a way to help you move into and through this special season of the year, and perhaps through any trying a time, with the ability to create a sense of peace within yourself as well as for those around you.

Perhaps the experience was a cue to remind me that we have a greater connection to one another than we are aware of or care to believe. Perhaps it was the pathway to the work I do now. Perhaps it is a chance for me to pass on the awareness that we are all in some way responsible or maybe even destined to support and nurture one another. Perhaps once we start to do this we will all be in a better place as I was in that little room in Macy’s NYC, sipping tea with a kind and gentle soul.

Join Maria and other life coaches and career coaches at a holiday gathering at the Pinnacle Empowerment Center and Refocus, Re-center and Re-energize. Take a break from the holiday chaos and join us for some cheer and inspiration as we wind down the year. Come drink, eat and mingle with us as we discuss and share ways to keep from getting overwhelmed and reconnect with the purpose of the season.

**Complimentary coaching sessions** available

Please bring a friend!

When: Wednesday December 12th at 6:00pm

Location: 8180 Lark Brown Road, Suite 301, Elkridge, MD 21075

For more information visit click here!

Maria Shepard-Smith is a Life and Career Coach with 15 years of experience coaching and training individuals and empowering them to find their own answers. Coaching is a way of encouraging and supporting clients on their path as they continue to make important choices in life and in their careers. Tune in for more on about how coaching works and how you can benefit! Call Maria at 410-799-1097 ext 304 or email her at maria@empowerctr.org.

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