strong women



Mark and I generally envisioned this blog being about beekeeping and hearty roast recipes and goat herding. To a degree, it is. The thing is that life is swirling and twirling and moving and shaking with the grandeur of family, of life and of death, of encounters with faith and with humanity that change your heart forever. And how can Mark and I possibly keep to writing about the goat roast we ate last week when these currents are happening elsewhere? To us it would seem inauthentic, and thus our blog is 50% farmstead writing and 50% super personal writing. Cue this week, in which my mama Retires. Capital R, Retires. She has engendered real change, genuine growth, and joyous communion with, literally, thousands of people—all because of her simple way. Her deep optimism, which says that life and people are Good, suffuses a room—a whole company, actually—with such light, such warmth, that it can feel impossible to step away. As her youngest daughter, I am heartily biased, but actually I am blessedly privileged. She is mine, as much as someone can be someone else's. To me and her kin, she is the queen of our hearts. I am awash with all of the pride and gratitude that one can feel for a mama who devoted decades of hard work in order to create something better for her family, for her employees, for her company. Just like her dad, my remarkable grandpa in Heaven, she shows dignity to everyone. There are no caveats, no exemptions from this dignity. It is her simple way. How could I not write about this moment? I am continually moved by this awe-some mama. To be a woman like her: my greatest dream. In her words, which are more elegant than my own:

"So this is a big week in my life. An ending, a closure, a turning point. This is my last week working as a store manager for Walmart. I am turning in my keys and the responsibility that goes with them after a 19 year career. I want to let you know that as much as I am looking forward to focusing on my precious family and my own business, this is bittersweet. I can not say loudly enough what Walmart has done for me, my family, and more people than I can count.
I would never have dreamed that this stay at home Mom, looking for extra money for Christmas gifts, would take a job stocking overnights and end up managing 500 people and a $115 million dollar store. I had ZERO retail experience and no college degree when I took that temporary position. This company backed me every step of the way-seeing and believing in a potential I didn't recognize. I was encouraged, challenged, trained and given opportunity to advance. It was tough-of course it was, it always is, right? Great effort does yield great reward. This is the thing I want every person to know-in all the sound bites of negativity, Walmart takes a beating. I have never encountered the company that is often depicted. My experience is not unique, it is repeated all across the country/world every day..I look at people I have hired for those "low paying jobs" and who are now on their way to doing even better than I. I can't count how many associates I have seen take off and build careers. I smile thinking that someday they may be afforded the chance to teach training classes at the home office to new store managers like I did, or stand on the big stage at a company convention in front of 11,000 people and speak like I did, or sit at the table with community leaders and contribute to projects that impact our neighbors like I did..
I could go on for a long time, and I already have, but it is important to me that you know the truth of my experience, and the honor I was given, and the pride I have as a Store Manager for Walmart. My friends and coworkers- I will love and miss you. And Walmart-I am forever grateful to you.
Peace and joy to all."

[P.S. Happy Valentine's Day! This is my second favorite holiday and to celebrate we are hosting a big, full-bellied feast with all of our pals out here. I hope you give an extra smooch to your partner, or your pet, or the earth!]