I think COVID-19 is making me mushy. I’m starting to tear up at every feel-good video I see. 😢 Which makes me not want to scroll Facebook anymore. And what would life be without scrolling through Facebook? That’s a rhetorical question, mostly aimed at myself, so please don’t answer if you hate Facebook, or worse yet, don’t have an account. Because, trust me, if you are one of those folks, you probably can’t relate to what you just read. Let’s try it this way . . .
Have you ever cried during a Hallmark or Lifetime movie or while watching a diaper commercial with a baby just starting to crawl? Or even worse, have you ever seen those ads for services to find a place for your elderly mom to live when you can’t care for her at home? When I think about it, those are probably the worst for me. I haven’t seen my mom without a mask for so long, and she is getting older, and often doesn’t feel well, and she is so afraid of getting the virus, and her fears have become my fears, so those commercials just KILL me! Does any of that hit you in the heart, too? If yes, keep reading. Because although you are hanging in there, the pandemic is getting to you. And this will seem like it’s all about me, but I’m actually writing this for all of us, so we don’t forget the fabric from which we are made. We are made to thrive.
I write humorously about all of this, while clutching my heart, because it’s the only way I know how to stay positive through so many tears. Through so much loss. Just today, one of my Mary Kay Director sisters told me that in the last 7 days, 4 people she knows had death in their immediate family. That’s four families and potentially hundreds of people that have crossed over the bridge to the side of sadness and now are just trying to bear up. Because isn’t that what we are all doing? Just trying to bear up?
And then, aside from the tremendous loss of life, and the associated community grief, one of the great heartbreaks of COVID-19 for me personally, is something I have otherwise taken for granted:
See, I smile at strangers until they smile back. A run to Whole Foods for “buy 2, get 1 soup Wednesday” might be a two-hour trip. Why? Chatting. People ask me questions every where I go. But especially in the Whole Foods gluten-free aisle. And yes, I ‘love me some’ Whole Foods, and would sleep there on the floor in between the organic white sweet potatoes and the exotic olive bar if it were allowable, but I do not now, nor have I ever been blessed with the privilege of working there. And yes, I’m super busy. But I’m also a sucker for a real conversation.
Do you remember it too? Standing less than one foot apart? Reaching over to touch someone? Saying hello without a mask? For me, normalcy also included getting to the heart of a deep personal life issue within minutes, while strolling the book section at Costco or at my neighborhood DSW, and then hugging someone I’ve only just met. That’s been my life since I was 5 years old. In fact, my whole life, my mom has repeated the story of Rosemarie Bell, my first friend outside of our family. During the first few weeks of school, way back in 1973, while mom was waiting to pick me up at noon, in the glory days of morning and afternoon kindergarten, little Rosemarie walked up to my mom, pulled her coat, introduced herself, and said: “I really like your daughter, Chatone. She’s so nice. We talk a lot. She’s my best friend.” (Now we won’t go into how she knew it was my mom. Lets’s just suffice it to say I grew up in an area that was not diverse.)
The point is, I am the girl who turns around in line at Target to chat folks up. I run after people who have dropped a dollar. Inevitably, I find keys on a clearance cardigan table in Walmart, panic in advance for the person that left them, run through the store looking for a lady who looks somewhat frantic, and then reluctantly go to customer service, turn in the keys, and wait to see if she comes. (That sounds a little dramatic, but it’s a true story – more than once!)
As a Coach-Copywriter-Entrepreneur-Mary Kay business owner, I have met many clients just by being my authentic self, interested and kind. In the words of Kathleen Kelly, played by Meg Ryan in one of my all-time favorite movies, “You’ve Got Mail“, it’s rarely just business for me. It’s all personal. My gift and my passion is loving on people until they feel better. I listen. I see where things are broken and help find pieces that need picking up. I empower people (especially other women) to put the pieces back into place and adjust their crown. In fact, I have listened to more 10-year life histories during a 10-minute encounter while walking through a mall, that I cannot possibly recount them all. My kids laugh at me. No matter what, I can come home from the supermarket with more stories of strangers than groceries; ALL of them ending with me hugging someone I didn’t know before I left the house. I don’t want COVID to change the fabric of who I am. And for that, I am mushy.
Am I also a little over the top? Maybe. But I’ve met so many women who go home to sadness and depression and abuse and loneliness. If I meet her, I simply feel compelled to see if I am able to bring at least one good curve to her lips, one good moment. I don’t post it on Facebook or ‘do it for the gram’. And although I LOVE a feel-good story, which I already said, it’s not for anyone else. It’s a personal mission. I like making people feel happy. I don’t want anyone to feel alone. And I’m all in for the long haul from day one.
Which brings me back full circle to my mom. Because although I grew up with two loving (albeit a bit over-bearing) parents in my home, it was a strong black woman who raised me. She did day’s work with a smile. She was a keypunch operator and made it sound enjoyable. She worked when my dad’s business failed and he couldn’t find employment. She cooked natural meals before it was called organic, and no one knew what it was, and she did it on food stamps. She drove a long commute that she absolutely hated, to a job where she excelled, but never got promoted. She saved my life in first grade, in the middle of the night, when I became dehydrated and lost consciousness on the floor of my room. I know I can’t actually remember it, because I wasn’t conscious, but I feel like I can. I know she rode in the back of the ambulance and yelled all the way to Orange Memorial Hospital, while the EMT did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. I know she was crying and blaming herself. But in reality, she found me. She saved me. Because she was the kind of mom that peeked her head in the rooms of her girls every night, just to check.
She is a ride or die chick, incredible in a crisis and always ready to give you a belly laugh and a sincere exclamation when something exciting happens. It’s also true that a gecko can’t come in the house without her screaming to her wit’s end, and she is afraid to fly, and fearful of heights, and mice, and bugs, and dark alleyways. But if someone is on the roof, ready to jump, hysterically crying or inconsolable – my mom’s ability to calmly talk the person back to life, with logic and love and loyalty, is simply astonishing. (True story.) When I was growing up, let someone be a misfit, unloved, unappreciated, uncared for, less fortunate, under educated, or even, dare I say, weird – my mom was all in. She is the original Die Hard With A Vengeance. And yes, I adored my father, and I think I just might have been the ‘apple of his eye’. But my strength comes from my mom. And every day that another friend loses a parent, or I attend another virtual funeral, I get mushier.
So yeah. This pandemic is making me soft. Not just because I don’t always feel like jumping on my Peloton and riding it out with my online coaches. Or because I eat a few too many Kirkland Pink Himalayan Salt potato chips. But because I’m absorbing so many tears from so many people. And I’m starting to realize that I may not have my mom forever the way I had planned. And I’m no different than any one of my friends who now feel like they are orphans. And no matter how many crowns I wear or titles I have or books I write or products I sell or people I serve and empower to feel confident; one day I will lose my mom and join the club of parentless adults. And right now, in this moment, it’s a reality that precipitated the longest blog I have ever dared to write in one sitting, in my fully-authentic, way-too-many-words, and way-too-many-thoughts voice, and post without editing.
And if you managed to read all the way down to this paragraph, thank you. I appreciate you. Share this with someone who will enjoy my sincere ramblings. In the meantime, I hope you remember to Focus Attention & Take Time with every person you love, even if they make you frustrated, and you don’t always understand them. Remember to make eye contact and say hello and smile at strangers, even if your face is covered by a mask. Do it because they need it, and because you just might need it too.
Chatone Morrison © January, 2021
Princess of Positivity®, Chatone Morrison is the author of the book FATT & Happy, a self-coaching course and journal for women, and a Content Strategist & Confidence Coach for Women Entrepreneurs. She is the owner of Chatone Morrison Consulting and the founder of The Confident Content Cafe, specializing in content creation, confidence coaching, consulting and strategy for women-owned small businesses. She is a highly creative, high energy, heart-led, coach, consultant, mentor, leader, speaker and author, and she is absolutely passionate about helping her clients to script their unique stories, know their niche and find their voice, systematize their message and move past the negativity so they can confidently sell their services on and off-line. She also has a Mary Kay business and loves to share both the products and the business opportunity with women who are ready to shine. She believes that you can absolutely release negativity so positivity can reign in your brain, in your business and in your big beautiful life. To apply for a strategy session with Chatone, go to bit.ly/contentkickstartcall or visit chatonemorrison.com.