“WHAT HAS HEART AND MEANING FOR ME”

BY ARLENE APPELROUTH
AJT CONTRIBUTOR

Deciding how to spend time is one of life’s big challenges. When you’re employed, waking hours are determined by your boss. When I became a mother, my child assumed the role of boss, or so it seemed. When I reflect on my life, it seems I spent a decade being pregnant, followed by two decades taking my children where they had to go.

Once they started leaving home, figuring out how to spend my time became a challenge all over again. It surprised me that I found myself dealing with sadness as my nest began emptying. I thought I longed for the freedom to decide what to do based on my own wishes.

Figuring out what has heart and meaning for me has been on ongoing challenge. Sometimes I opt to do what is important to someone else.

One day, recently, a friend invited me to come with her to Lenox Mall. I agreed, even though I couldn’t think of anything I needed to buy.

While she looked at designer clothing I found myself looking at costume jewelry. I have more than enough jewelry. The truth is I have more than enough of everything and should probably avoid all stores except for grocery stores. I often find myself responding to clever marketing strategies and wanting more in spite of not needing more.

I often do a lot of impulse buying. So when I found myself considering purchasing a necklace and set of matching earrings, I asked the saleswoman if it would be going on sale any time soon. “You just missed the sale,” she said, “it was reduced by twenty-five percent until a few days ago.”

I said I would buy the two pieces if she would honor the sales price, but she told me she didn’t have the authority to reinstate the sales price.

I took the two pieces and went to ask my friend for her opinion. She was buying some designer clothing. I showed her the necklace and earrings and told her I just missed a twenty-five percent off sale, and that I would buy it if I could get the sales price.

To my surprise, the sales woman that was helping my friend told me she would be glad to honor the expired sales price.

I should have limited my purchases to those two items, but I found myself looking at the rack of designer items that were on sale. Items, which were reduced by fifty percent, were marked down another forty percent. “These are give away prices,” my friend announced while looking for bargains for herself.

It was easy to rationalize shopping. The sales woman put together a few outfits and everything I tried on looked great. She kept giving me outfits, I kept trying them on and the pile of what I was going to buy kept getting bigger. I maxed out my credit card.

Recreational shopping can be fun and therapeutic. I had been dealing with some medical issues over the past few months and easily rationalized treating myself to some new things.

Ordinarily, if I want to treat myself to something special, I’ll head to Lake Lanier to enjoy being on the water in that beautiful place.

When I first moved to Atlanta, during the seventies, fifty dollars bought a season pass to the beach at Lake Lanier. My kids loved swimming in the water and building sandcastles and I became adept at packing a cooler for the long days at Atlanta’s beach.

Over the years, Atlanta has had a lot of growth and development. Lake Lanier Islands now boasts a water park, a Ferris wheel, boat rentals and lots of restaurants.

This morning, I was delighted that my husband Dan was willing to join me on an early morning boat ride. He had not seen how Lake Lanier Islands had been built up and I wanted to show it to him.

We got to the dock before 8 a.m. Nothing opens until 11 a.m. I used to love boating to the Marriott Hotel on Pine Island for breakfast. They razed that property and I’ve been disappointed that another hotel was never built to replace it. Dan and I enjoy eating breakfast out, but since they knocked down the Marriott, we hadn’t found another place to go by boat.

We decided to call the main phone number for Lake Lanier and discovered there was a hotel and conference center called Legacy Lodge. We told them we were in a private boat at Sunset Cove, which is the beach area, and we asked if the hotel was walking distance from where we were. It wasn’t, but they told us where to walk to get a shuttle to the hotel. Not only did the hotel offer a gourmet buffet breakfast, but it also had a spa with various types of facials and massage services.

I read all the hotels’ brochures while enjoying a delicious omelet and perfectly ripened fresh fruit. One of the brochures showed the location of a boat ramp which meant I could take my boat directly to the lodge in the future. This made my day.

Arlene Appelrouth earned a degree in news-editorial journalism from the University of Florida and her career as a writer and journalist spans a 50-year period; she currently studies memoir writing while working on her first book.