I slowly folded back the turquoise tissue paper. Underneath lie a carefully folded red sweater. A lusciously soft cashmere, it was my exact size. Another Shelly gift.
Shelly is a relative by marriage turned beloved friend whom I might only see once a year despite her living in a neighboring town. We share a love of vintage, thrifting, and one another. Every now and then she delights me with a selection from her closet or her most recent Salvation Army scouting.
Shelly’s surprise answered the question I ask myself at the start of each year: What do I want more of? In this season of my life where I’m privileged to have an abundance of everything from books and black dresses to health and happiness, what could I possibly want more of?
Shelly gave the answer: More time with people who inspire me.
I assume Shelly graduated from high school, although in the 30 years I’ve known her I’ve never asked. Her career was as a server at a traditional Italian steakhouse where Warren Buffett was known to lunch. Though she waited on him many times, I don’t think she ever sought a selfie.
Regularly the host for family holidays, she fills her big black and white roaster with enough dumplings and roast pork to feed anyone who might appear as a last-minute invitee of another guest. “Come on in,” she says as you enter her kitchen that feels as warm as her heart.
Shelly is a creative. She’s sewn countless pastel Easter dresses and matching red and green Christmas outfits for the little ones she treated as adopted grandchildren. She made a quilt of comforting soft browns and golds for her uncle with a terminal illness. She gives her time and talent away as though there was no end to either.
In every season of her life Shelly has been a caregiver without complaint. From the babies born to her daughter’s teenage friend whom she took into her home to the dying grumpy elders she practically moved in with, she has nurtured with grace. To this day she religiously visits her aging aunt in a nursing home twice a week.
I ask her about the seemingly endless array of those arriving in need. “I don’t know why these situations keep coming to me,” she laughs. “I’ve stopped questioning it.”
Shelly knows who she was called to be. She keeps saying yes. While she surely had her times of fatigue or overwhelm, mostly it seems to me she loves her life that she’s lived with no regret.
Surrounding myself with more Shelly-ish inspiration is sure to give me not only more of what I want, but more of what I need this year and every year.
What do you need more of in the year ahead?
Who do you want to spend more time with?
Who inspires you today?