The Duck and Run! Have You Ever?

By Crystal Tiingle

I kind of think I already know the answer to this and for one reason only. We have ALL done it! So let me just say that this is meant to be one of those stories that as you read through it, you will blush and giggle at the same time because you were able to answer yes to the question. I will be the first one to admit it. Yes! I have been in that moment where I have pulled the “Duck and Run”…that moment when you see someone you know and do your very best to avoid speaking to them. But hang on before any of you get offended and feel like you were on the receiving end of that, especially if I know you…let me explain.  Recently, I found MYSELF the victim of a “Duck and Run!” I know! Can you believe it? Yes, I was the one whom they ran from! Now, I don’t think that typically you are supposed to be aware that the “duck” happened to you, especially if the “runner” is an experienced one, but regardless, I noticed.  It’s okay to laugh! My first reaction was to get tickled because #1, they got busted and # 2, because I have done this very thing to someone else.  My second reaction after thinking about it was confusion.  “Why me? I am a nice person. Why did they try to avoid me?” And then my third was internalization. “If they did it to me and I do it also, why do we do it?”

So I started my own little low-scale investigative journalism project. I asked a few random friends if they had ever participated in such anti-social behavior and, to my humor, almost 100% were guilty as charged! It was actually quite funny listening to everyone’s reasons so I thought this would be a fun, to-be-taken-lightly look at some of our human frailties that lead us to do ridiculous things such as this as if no one notices. It is this journey through life that makes us all the same in our very different ways. 

So here is the fun part. How is the “Duck and Run” pulled off? Gathering from several people including myself, here are a few methods! For our purposes, the setting is a grocery store and to add a bit of humor I have assigned names to each category. (This was also fun creating title!)

1. The Rewind

The most obvious way is to turn or back out and hit another aisle. This has to be done quickly and with precision with no jerky movements as to not draw attention to the retraction.  Stay cool and smooth as if planned. 

2. The Phone-a-Friend

If you are too late and already down the aisle and feel that a jerky Rewind would be noticed, quickly grab your phone and pretend like you are talking with someone. Just hope that you have your phone on silent as you pass them by, offering a courtesy wave and smile, and it doesn’t start ringing in your ear. 

3. The Parade Wave

If you are a fair distance from them but you were spotted, and you are in a place where you have a fair area to roam like the produce section and not right past them, smile, step up your pace, keep walking and give a friendly across-the-store wave and a courtesy yelp like “Hey there!” but keep on walking.

4. The Analyzer

They haven’t seen you but you can’t pull off the Rewind, so quickly throw your attention on a product that may have caught your eye, pick it up and stay distracted and apparently very interested in the nutritional facts until they pass. 

5. The Traveler 

You saw them early enough so you quickly head to the opposite side of the store and begin your shopping in reverse, but take care that you carefully navigate the aisles, cautiously sneak, peeking around the corners, before committing to turn because at some point you will more than likely collide if not careful. 

These are funny! And these are just a few of the top ones that I have heard and quite frankly used myself. And it makes it even more comical as you picture yourself in some of these situations! But the truth is, we are all guilty and do things sometimes that might not seem like the most considerate or kindest thing to do to someone, but I have often said that there is a always a why behind the what of the who. There is a reason and history behind each of our actions and often, as the aware recipient, we are so quick to get offended or take things personally when it may not be personal at all.  I think more often than not when I evaluate the different reasons why I have avoided people it was NOT because I didn’t like them or want to speak to them. I am a very social person and love to talk. More times than not, my attempts to elude were based on what I was dealing with on that particular day and it had nothing to do with them. Could it be that others do it for the same reasons? Could it be that they were having a very busy day and had only a short amount of time left to accomplish things before getting home to fix dinner or pick up kids and were just trying to stay on task? Or maybe they just weren’t in the best mood! Maybe the morning started off rough…a disagreement with one of the teenagers or hubby, a phone call from a family member that set a bad tone for the day. Maybe in that moment they just needed to get out and get things done and just weren’t feeling very personable from the morning events that were weighing on them. Is it possible that they were just not feeling good? Maybe they were just under the weather and coming down with something. Or another scenario could be that you knew something personal that they were going through and they just weren’t ready to answer questions about it or even discuss it yet. There are so many reasons why we each set boundaries and distance so we can have our personal space, and sometimes the “Duck and Run” is all we know to do. 

This is certainly meant to be light-hearted but also to shed light on our imperfections and humanity. Our nation has gotten to the point that we are so quickly offended and less likely to forgive and extend grace which is sad because we often forget our own imperfections in those moments when we are really all very much the same whether we admit it or not. Recently, I watched a movie that is now in my top 10 favorites of all time! The movie was Same Kind of Different as Me and is based on a true story.  It is about a man who was a very wealthy international art dealer, his wife who served at a homeless shelter and another man named Denver Moore, a very bitter, angry homeless man who many years ago was a slave.  The three develop a very unlikely lifetime friendship and at the end of the movie, Denver says one of the most profound endearing statements that I will never forget. I won’t say why he delivers this message in case you want to watch the movie but regardless, he says this: 

“I found out everybody’s different – the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us. The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin’ place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home.”  – Denver Moore

So you see, we really are all the same kind of different. We are all just trying to figure it out and move through the best we can. Though we are wonderfully made, we are still amazingly human. So as we blush, giggle, duck and run, or see it happen, let’s also try to remember that we are on this crazy journey together and with that comes time constraints, personal problems, mood swings and just life…busy, crazy beautiful life! Life that we should see, even in the craziest of moments, as the same kind of different as you…and me! So just laugh, grin and extend…grace to all!


Life Is Good...Even When it's Bad.

By Crystal Tingle

It seems like these days, I am in the grocery store at least once a day…and by the way, this has nothing to do with this article yet and it has EVERYTHING to do with it. It’s important for me to ramble a bit for background, so just hang with me on the rabbit trail.  I remember a time when I had a weekly grocery and meal plan and did once-a-week shopping. Once, I even did a monthly meal plan and bought items that I could in bulk and spent the entire day separating, storing, freezing, etc. Notice I said ONCE! That wore me slap out. And on top of that I still had to go back to the dreaded store to pick up perishables that I couldn’t buy for the month like vegetables and fruit. That never happened again. But even recently, I can’t even get a weekly plan wrapped around my brain. It seems that I am living day-by-day dousing the flames of the biggest fire of the hour which usually puts scrambling for dinner ideas for that night and school lunches for the next day in the afternoon flames.  I mean, as a mom, there is ALWAYS something when you have three kids, a husband, a dog, a household to run, work, laundry….LAUNDRY… Child #2 forgot something at home that he needs for school while Child #3 mentions last-minute school project needs…the list goes on and on. I need about four more daylight hours to get things done! It’s at times mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting!  Often, deep sighs resonate from my mouth that I’m often not even aware are happening until my husband asks, “What’s wrong?” 

Me: “What do you mean?” 

Him: “You just sighed really hard.” 

Me: “I did?” 

But on this particular day dragging my fire hose, I entered the line to check out before running home and throwing a meal together and ran into a friend that I haven’t seen in a long while. We exchanged cordials: 

Her: “How are you?” 

Me: “I’m great but just been super busy.”

Her: “I know, right?  Same here.” 

That’s not verbatim, but it went similar. Then we spoke of our kids briefly as the sweet checkout lady scanned my friend’s groceries. We continued to chat in terms of the kids’ schedules and keeping up with them and how overwhelming it is at times, and then we said our goodbyes and good seeing you. At that point, the checkout lady engaged in conversation with me and spoke of (all with a positive and sympathetic tone) how she raised her children as a single mom and understands how stressful it can be, as well as overwhelming, when you find yourself needing to be in two places at the same time, like being at work and needing to bring the kids to school activities, with no help. When she finished and I paid, she said to me with genuine sincerity and empathy, “Have a good day and I really hope things get better for you soon.” And… it hit me! Did I make my life sound that bad? Do I really feel that way? Are things that overwhelming? It stopped me dead in my tracks and I looked back at her and all I could say was, “Thank you. Life is good!” 

I am not sure why those are the words I choose to reply with. Quiet honestly, a barrage of thoughts and emotions flooded my mind and heart all at once, and I truly felt that I spoke what I should be feeling, but I realized in that moment they were not the same. Why had I projected such discontent and frustration? I found myself at a loss for words. I am married with a husband who helps out and works hard to provide for us, three healthy and beautiful children who need a mom to do what moms are supposed to do, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, great friends and the luxury to be a stay-at-home mom.  What in the world do I have to complain about and why should I feel so overwhelmed? Are my feelings unjustified? Here is this sweet lady working as a cashier in a grocery store, a single mom who has had her share of heartache and trials with no one to share the burden with, and yet offers me words of condolence and encouragement. I had never felt more ashamed. I actually cried when I got in my car. Because you know what …Life IS good! I am not saying this based on material comparisons to her. I don’t know really anything beyond what she said in that five-minute conversation. I just know that she was the richer one! The precious jewels that she had amassed were from her attitude and gratitude and in her humility, the trinity for joy!   She probably could have shut me down quick and said, “Oh, suck it up sister and quit complaining!”  But she didn’t. Full of compassion, she expressed her heartfelt sentiments.  

So am I just a spoiled brat and never satisfied? My circumstances are real.  My challenges are tangible. I have a child or two with special needs, and that requires a bit more at times which is why I actually do not work. I have a couple of newer health issues that hold me back occasionally from being as productive as I would like, BUT…. when I count the things I have to be grateful for…it FAR outweighs the overwhelming components. This is where the trail ends…

You see, my epiphany in that moment before walking out the door was that truly Life is good! No matter what! Life, breath and the freedom we have to allow circumstances or trials to define us OR NOT is still a choice we own. And I was reminded while I was sitting in my car afterward of what my pastor recently said… that often our circumstances DO warrant or justify a bad day or season…but more times than not it’s our attitude about it that changes us…even when it can’t change our circumstances. We can be the victim or be the victor over our attitude despite our circumstances! 

This lady on this day at that moment was walking in victory despite anything that was happening or had happened to her or around her. She chose that day to be grateful and to fly higher than her circumstances. She was the victor and truly because of her attitude she impacted me! That’s where and when you see the fruit, joy and victory you can walk in despite the craziness…when you can say, “Don’t look at all of this surrounding us, just look at me. Hear what I am saying. It’s going to be okay…LIFE IS GOOD!”

The Gift of Life

By Crystal Tingle

Do you know what I see when I look around my home? I see an amazingly gifted songwriter who, as Barry Manilow put it best, writes the songs that make the whole world sing! I see a famous video game designer who has developed the next generation game play that no one ever thought possible, so futuristic! I also see a brilliant engineer who will design a smart home that self-protects against flooding and fires and theft, unable to be penetrated or destroyed by natural disaster or home invasion! I see possibilities! I see potential! But mostly, I see value! Not monetary value but rather value in simply who they are and were created to be! Their individuality. What they love to do! Their unique DNA. Their wonderful contribution to the world, their friends and family by just being them. Their priceless and irreplaceable value to me.  Yes, they are my three sons. And each of them is so very different from the other. Their unique expression of life and dreams is what I love …much like a fingerprint, they each have their own soul print, that one thing that no one else but them can mark this world with and every person they encounter! I don’t know if they will ever eventually be a famous musician, game designer or engineer but regardless, their immeasurable value to me is not what they do, it is distinctly who they are and what they bring to my life!

I’ve shared this before but it is worth repeating because it is so important that we allow this to sink into our very core. A dear friend of mine who at the time was healing from being a two-time cancer survivor spoke these words to me in the midst of her affliction: “Honey, if you had never lived, would anyone be affected? Make a difference that you have lived.”  I will admit at first hearing that seemed like so much pressure. What a huge weight to know that I MUST impact people to the point that if I never was, their lives would be less because I was never in it. Holy moly! But as I have gotten older and think often on what she said, I understand it differently than I did almost 33 years ago. 

Why? Because I see differently now. I see now that it isn’t about performing or excelling. It isn’t about solving the world’s problems or finding the cure for a disease. It isn’t about going to the best college or having the highest paid job. Making a difference is about our soul print! Just as unique as our fingerprint is, our soul print is all the more valuable! You see, our fingerprint identifies who we are individually but our soul print…well, that magnifies all the lives that have been touched and are being touched BECAUSE of your fingerprint…because you ARE.  You are daily marking this earth with a part of you…your soul print is everywhere…left behind at every place you visit and person you encounter. YOU are making a difference in someone else’s life whether you see it or not.  

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." -- HENRY DAVID THOREAU

I believe Thoreau’s words are saying that the image we might describe based on what our eyes observe is not necessarily what is in front of us. It’s what lies within us. What we believe to be truth about ourselves and our value and significance to others will determine the soul print we leave. It will determine what we see and how we see it. What do you believe about yourself? What lens do you see things from? Does your lens hold tight an image of just how valuable you are? If so, you will handle with care because you believe and know that you are a precious gift!  And all that you are is wrapped up waiting for someone to open so you can leave your soul print on his or her life.  They are waiting with joyful expectancy! 

But what I also believe and see is this. I see how our world has changed because of technology. I see the pressure put on our teenagers these days to perform and one-up another. I see the private lessons and the travel teams stealing time from our Norman Rockwell sit-around-the- kitchen-table days of old. I see social media measuring our worth based on a thumbs-up.  I see the low value we unconsciously are tagged with when we compare ourselves to smoothing filters and edited images. I see this pressure trying to steal our worth and our significance and our soul print! I see it desensitizing our youth and adults as well in the art of communication and real life. I see the lie that we sometimes believe as truth!  

I read this the other day and I thought it was so good. It reminded me of the recent hurricane, Nate, that came in as a tropical storm.  Well, Nate didn’t scare me in the least, but I admit when I was awakened by Nate’s presence at about 5am and looked out to see the trees in my backyard a little more bent over than I anticipated, it rattled me for a moment. Oh, we were fine and fared well, but it has been a while since we have weathered a big storm in this area and I had forgotten what 50 mph gusts looked like, much less if it had been even a CAT 1 hurricane or worse. But as I watched the tops of the trees bend, I also watched the base at the roots. They stood strong. So when I read this, I was moved: 

“Consider a tree for a moment. As beautiful as trees are to look at, we don't see what goes on underground - as they grow roots. Trees must develop deep roots in order to grow strong and produce their beauty. But we don't see the roots. We just see and enjoy the beauty. In much the same way, what goes on inside of us is like the roots of a tree.” --Joyce Meyer

The value of that tree is in its roots! It’s what is on the inside regardless of what is happening on the outside. It doesn’t matter if it produces succulent fruit or a gumball. The value lies within and its ability to stand tall and recognize its significance and beauty. Nature depends on that tree.  Wildlife find safety and refuge and love in its boughs. And just like a tree, your roots, the valuable and unique things within you, leave a mark, an imprint that only you possess. Distinctly you! That is the fruit you bear. That is your soul print.  That is the amazing gift to the world of your life!  That is truth!

And in a world of thumbs-ups or smiling emojis or clicked hearts to “love,” you may not always see whom you make a difference to…. but they are there. Watching. Listening. Loving. Appreciating you! Embracing your soul print. It is just that simple. It is about being! Being you! All of you! Roots, fruit, gumballs … whatever! Just be you…the wonderful, unique, one-of-a-kind you! Billy Paul, who wrote many amazing songs, said this: “All my life, I wanted to sound like myself. I never wanted to sound like anybody else.” He didn’t say as much but he recognized his strong roots within, his unique soul print. And you have one too. You’re a precious gift and your value is priceless!  The point is …be you! Just be the remarkable unique beautiful one-of-a-kind you! Because we need the gift of your soul print in our lives!

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