Thursday, May 30, 2013


I have never been a wearer of sunglasses. I don't particularly like how they look on me, or how they feel up against the bridge of my nose, and since I usually try to stay out of the sun, I've been known to use that as an excuse for not wearing sunglasses. But a while back, the optometrist informed me that I should be wearing shades regularly, especially when I run.

So yesterday, when the kids and I headed to Walgreens to pick up new swim goggles, I looked at the selection of sunglasses. Some were pricey, others were not. I simply wanted a pair that didn't look too awful and that felt pretty good. I didn't really care about the fashion statement I would make. Thus, I came home with a very dark pair that passed muster with me and the kids; the frames are purple and black (quite cool to them), comfortable and retro (quite cool to me).

I slipped the pair on this morning when I went out for a short 3.5 mile run. My usual route was now shrouded in darkness, and I had trouble seeing the people I usually waved at, but I found myself enjoying the new view and lack of wind sliding over my eyes. I looked around at the trees and the flowers that skidded by, spoke a soft whisper to the birds that tweeted, and wondered if they recognized me. Wearing glasses was like wearing a disguise, a new way of approaching the world, and seeing what I hadn't seen before.

And then I thought of my mom. A simple act of wearing sunglasses brought me back to when I was a kid, when, much like I did yesterday, Mom would slip over to the pharmacy and grab a pair for the summer. She didn't spend much on the glasses in case one of the kids or the dog sat on them, stepped on them, or (and you never know) ate them. I remember her sunglasses as being large and funny-looking to me, especially when I tried them on my small face. But they must have pleased her, for the thing I remember the most was that when my mom wore her sunglasses, it was as if she owned the world. Gone was the woman who second-guessed herself and questioned her role in life. Gone was the woman who preferred to sit at the side of the pool and observe. In her place sat the lady who put on a pair of shades she liked and didn't care what people thought of those glasses. It was as easy as that: slip on the glasses and slip on a new attitude.

I'm not revealing anything that my family doesn't already know about the women in my family: We all could use a shot of confidence from time to time. Those sunglasses fit the bill for my mom. They did the trick, at least in my mind. Because I can't truly remember whether or not the situation was as I described, or whether that is simply my interpretation of the events. I sort of hope for the former, but I am leaning toward the latter.

So here's my challenge to you, whether you are 12 or 37 or 68 years old. Go find whatever it is that makes you become the extraordinary person you want to be, whatever makes you feel at peace and gives you confidence and makes you feel that all is right with the world. Find it, grab onto it, and slip it on, every day.

Here's to finding those sunglasses again, Mom.

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