Customers, neighbors, vendors, and friends, they’re all chiming the same words. “Cheryl, you’ve come full circle. How does it feel?”
Scary, thrilling, exciting, overwhelming—all at the same time. Really.
I didn’t mean for this to happen. I simply couldn’t help myself. OMG, maybe it is true. Do I have an addiction—to creating and operating pretty stores?
A couple of weeks ago, I opened the doors to my publishing company’s first ever retail store, Gently Spoken, on Anoka’s historic Main Street. But it’s not like I’m new to the neighborhood. This is the fifth location I’ve operated a retail store in—within the same block, in the same city, during the past 16 years.
What could have ever inspired me to do it all over again, especially considering the current state of the economy? Earlier this summer while reading a book called The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran, I had a revelation (great book, by the way). Just as the author discovered the beauty of being part of a small Tuscan village where people knew his name, cared about him and his wife, laughed and cried tears with him, I, too, yearned once again to be part of something larger than myself. I needed people.
One by one they’re trickling in.
And they’re giddy and I’m giddy. It’s like an all day, every day high school reunion. Connecting with my old customers is a thrill. They want to hear about my life: where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, and did I really get married? To be frank, I don’t want to talk about me. Life has been great! I want to hear their stories. It’s been five years since I sold my two former stores and I have a lot of catching up to do. Did Sally ever complete her MBA? Did Debbie finally leave a job she loathed? Did Becky and Allen ever sell their company and spend a year sailing the world? Is Cathy’s MS still in remission?
For many years “we,” my customers and I, were so closely connected: growing, becoming, imagining and dreaming together. I missed them immensely. I yearned to hear their voices and their stories.
So here I am, listening once again. Dreams have been dashed and realized. Lives and careers have been reinvented. Faith has been challenged. Faith has grown. Teen kids grew up and even survived, and so did their parents! Grandkids were born and brought much joy. Hearts have been broken. New love abounds! Life is, after all, a circle.
And it’s so good to be home.