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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

The End of a Thing

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof; and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Ecclesiastes 7:8

One of my favorite places to browse is in the Christian owned arts and craft store, Hobby Lobby. I do not enjoy spending money, I prefer to save money but this craft store triggers all sorts of creative possibilities as you go up and down the aisles. This is also the place I seem to have my emotional episodes – quiet ones, but emotional.

One year when I was in between jobs I went to Hobby Lobby just to get out of the house. I walked up and down the aisles and fixed my eyes on a beautiful magnolia wreath. I had always wanted to have a wreath on my door but with three little ones, I just couldn’t justify the spend. My sons were in college at the time, but I still didn’t think it was a good use of money because…I was unemployed. Then I had one of those moments when you realize that if you keep waiting for the “right moment” you are never going to do it. So I picked up the wreath, paid for it and placed it on my door. Magnolias were my maternal grandmother’s favorite scent. Even though I didn’t get a chance to enjoy her (she died when my mom was a little girl), I like having that connection.

On another trip to Hobby Lobby a few years later, I was getting my walking and looking therapy after work. I was feeling some kind of way that day. Do you ever have those days when you just want to say “What’s it all about Alfie?” Work was fine, the fellas were doing well, but I was just wondering if I was making the most of my time. We have no control when we are born or die, but we do have some control over the dash that separates our beginning and ending dates.

When you get to be a woman of my experience, it is not unusual for you to notice the obituary section of the newspaper. I especially enjoy reading the New York Times obituaries. This may seem morbid to some but I find it fascinating to hear about other peoples’ lives. The things they accomplished and the lives they touched. While flipping through the posters at Hobby Lobby, I can across one that captured my life goals. Here it was perfectly worded on one large piece of paper. When the world gets to be too much I pray, think of these things, and refocus. I keep this near my bed to reminder of what I want to accomplish with my dash:

To laugh often and much

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure betrayal of false friends

To appreciate beauty

To find the best in others

To leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child or a garden patch

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived

This is to be a success.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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