MayBelle Monday: On the Changing Nature of Retail Therapy

This is not a photo of MayBelle. It’s one that popped when she searched for “contentment” themed photos. MayBelle thinks this woman does, indeed, seem content. And MayBelle, who loves a hat her own self, has always wanted red hair. (Photo by Anna Shvets on

MayBelle knows that retail therapy is not often advised by counselors or therapists. Friends sometimes suggest it, thankfully. With Covid, MayBelle has not gotten out to shop much, which is actually a good thing as MayBelle all too often has shopped (and eaten) her feelings instead of processing them. She is working on that. She has, of course, made use of online ordering during these trying times. As a matter of act, MayBelle should this very day receive a long, blue sweater–oh the richness of the color!–from Anrthopologie. (Please make note that MayBelle paid less than half of the original price.)

She’s tried to be good, though, ordering mostly only what she needs, and absolutely no more than three books and two candles a week. She’s vowed to be more conscious about where her clothing comes from and has actually found a couple of good resources for funky clothing that is sustainably sourced and appropriate for someone who is quirky and middle-aged. (Bless her calcifying heart, MayBelle still thinks she’s in midlife.)

A memory: Years after she graduated from college (MayBelle knows that line should be, technically, “after she was graduated from college,” but MayBelle thinks that sounds awfully stilted.), MayBelle ran into a friend from those days who said, “We used to gather in the cafeteria to wait for you to walk by on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings after French 101 just to see what you were wearing.” MayBelle does not know if she should be flattered or humiliated.

Anyway, MayBelle couldn’t take it any longer last week, so she hopped out for a couple of quick errands. While tooling around, a dear friend called and asked what she was up to:

“I’m out doing some retail therapy,” MayBelle said. She could taste the glee in her voice, so happy was she.

“Oh!” said the friend. “What fun places have you been to?”

MayBelle paused for a few moments, wondering if she should tell a fib and say “Victoria’s Secret and Nordstrom, with a quick stop at the Tesla dealership,” but MayBelle never has shopped at Victoria’s Secret (well, maybe that one time….) and she long ago gave up shopping for clothes at places like Nordstrom when she found herself, seemingly irreversibly, ensconced in the land of size twelve. She drives a Subaru. And, most importantly, MayBelle does not like to fib unnecessarily.

“Er,” said MayBelle. “Um…the Office Depot and the Hallmark Store.”

“Wow,” said her friend. MayBelle did not hear the glee in her friend’s voice.

“I know,” said MayBelle, “but I got this fabulous office chair on sale and they put it together for me in under an hour and it’s in the back of my car right now. Oh! And some Christmas wrapping paper at seventy-five percent off.” MayBelle was practically hyperventilating she was so excited.

“Wow,” said her friend again.

They laughed about it, MayBelle and her friend, who happens to be a tad older than MayBelle and much, much hipper. And they both, in the end, knew they would take this kind of contentment any day of the week.

7 responses to “MayBelle Monday: On the Changing Nature of Retail Therapy”

  1. Therapy or no, I appreciate a stroll through the land of what I don’t have. Love to engage again one day with the enticing picture that you and Maybelle paint. 🤩😐

    1. They’ll be glad to have you!

  2. Like your retail therapy, this is a very comforting read in a chaotic world. Thanks, Miz Maybelle!

  3. Oh Amy Lyles, I love your observations and I definitely related to the “flattered or humiliated” dilemma. You clarified for me the confusion around such comments. It was great to see you at Whole Foods (which , for me, is like the Anthropology of food markets). I know I seemed awkward- it was my first time out driving since I broke my ankle. I have forgotten what it is like to really SEE and experience people in the real world, people framed in square boxes on a screen has become all too common place. Am looking forward to a real visits. Take care–Lynn

    1. So good to hear from you, Lynn! Hope you’re feeling much better. And yes, the promise of “real visits” keeps me going.

  4. Sharon Machrone Avatar
    Sharon Machrone

    Whenever I see that MayBelle has something to say, I stop scrolling and read! What a wonderful story about the the pandemic peace that comes with a socially distanced trip to the Hallmark store! Why, just this morning, I made it to Trader Joe’s for $8 worth of flowers. I spent a half hour arranging them and I felt deep joy. Now, if we can only take this lesson of tiny pleasures with us to a new, less restrictive, normal, we might find deep joy can be away of life.

    Please tell MayBelle her words always bring me deep joy. Thank you.
    And blessings to you and Precious.

    1. MayBelle says “thank you,” dear woman. She finds that the flowers from Trader Joe’s last much longer than those at Whole Foods. Here’s hoping these small, delightful pleasures do indeed go forward with us. Blessing right back in your direction, old friend.