Chocolate for a Woman's Heart

One late-summer day during my eleventh year, my mother and I spent a morning on a whirlwind shopping spree for back-to-school clothes. This was rare event. Mom had a chronic illness and didn't often feel well  enough to spend a day shopping. On this particular day, though, she seemed energized and so was I.

Mom treated me to lunch in the department store's restaurant. As we entered the dining area, I noticed elegant models sauntering from table to table, wearing the latest fall fashions. Since this was prime buying season for school clothes, I wondered aloud why there were no preteen and teen models.

Impressed with my idea, my mother encouraged me to talk with someone. By the time dessert was served, she convinced me not only that my idea was great but that I should be one of those models!

I felt excited and scared. Her encouragement gave me confidence, and I actually began to believe in my idea and in myself. Mom's enthusiasm did not stop there; she persuaded me to talk to the store manager. Even though my stomach was churning, I was ready to apply for my first job!

Now, I should tell you, I wasn't a willowy, preteen version of Brooke Shields. No, I was short, a little chubby, bespectacled and freckled--maybe cute, but definitely not classic model material. Yet Mom's reassurance had convinced me I was beautiful and capable in that moment.

As the elevator doors, closed sending us up to the manager's office, I hesitated again. "Do you really think this is a good idea?" I asked.

In that moment, my mother spoke words that come back to me often--words that have changed the course of my life more than once. "What have you got to lose? you'll be no worse off if he says no. And maybe, just maybe, he'll say yes."

So, refocused and inspired, I proceeded. When the elevator doors opened, I marched straight up to the secretary's desk and asked to see the store manager. The secretary hesitated, then let the manager know I wanted to see him. Before long, we were ushered into his office. As I sat across from him at his desk, I confidently explained that he had an opportunity to create more sales by showcasing back-to-school preteen and teen fashions this time of year. He listened politely and with interest. When I said I wanted to model, he gave me a job application, saying he would consider my suggestion.

While he never did call me, the next summer the department store ran a search for teens to model in the restaurant for back-to-school fashion showing! In truth, I didn't really care that I was not selected. I had my reward. Mom gave me gift that has endured a lifetime . Although she died a few years later, when I was fifteen, Mom's spirit is always with me when I scary life situations.

Mom taught me it was safe to take risks, to believe in myself, and most important--to ask for what I want! 

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