She had tears in her eyes before she started speaking, apparently she had been in earlier that day, and now she was back after several frustrating hours elsewhere. She said she felt like she hadn't gotten anything done that day, but I disagreed. I told her that she was in our store late at night because she wanted to give her daughter the best Christmas she possibly could. She was making it a financial decision, and I understand that there are times when you simply can't work a purchase into your budget, however, there is also a time when it is permissible to break your own self imposed rules. The first time I bought phones for myself and the girls I was terrified, I'll skip over that since I've written extensively about it in other entries, this woman did not know what to do, and I had to remind her that she is a good decision maker because I sensed that she needed that reassurance.
I lost track of the times that she told me she didn't know what to do. This is when the decision making comment seemed appropriate, perhaps I repeated it, but essentially I told her that she would feel better after she committed to a strategy. She came in nineteen minutes before the store officially closed, and I felt bad for her because I can tell that she works hard and is very concerned about her future. She's going to be fine, but I know she doesn't believe me, and I can't really blame her. There's no way to tell someone who is close to what seems like an inevitable panic attack that if they put their faith, hope, and trust in God; he will see them through unimaginable scenarios and situations. Despite her frustrations, she learned a very valuable lesson today. There are times when I wonder why I have the job that I do, why I say the things that come out of my mouth, I rarely think before I speak, most of the time I am talking out loud to hear how my thoughts sound to myself, and whenever I feel like I should be working on developing an internal monologue, I meet someone like her.
One thing that made me really happy to hear was the praise she gave the other person who had helped her. When I mentioned her, he remembered that she had been in, and I feel as if we are playing a valuable role in her life. It is incredibly easy to become bitter, jaded, and cynical after you get divorced. I'm guessing that this woman hasn't been on a great date in a really long time, she's on her own, there is deep vulnerability behind the hurting blue eyes, and I wanted to be able to take her out and have a couple of drinks with her just so she could unwind and relax for a change. She owns her own cleaning business, and she looks like the hard working type. She's attractive in her own way, and I wished I could have found a way to showcase all of her wonderful qualities to herself, but people with lower levels of self esteem refuse to see or acknowledge the good in themselves. I half wonder if she ended up at a big box store because she's so used to being treated poorly that she gravitates toward and attracts some level of ill treatment.
Not long ago I was talking about taking and making a leap of faith. There's no safety net when you jump, and while you're only suspended for a relatively short period of time, you're in a new place when you land, and it takes some acclimating before you are used to your new surroundings. Often we are our own worst enemies, believing that we have to remain at a certain place in our lives; disbelieving that we can lose weight, get in shape, reform our finances, address our spiritual needs, take better care of ourselves, have more fun, cut loose and really dance as if nobody is watching even when you're at a place where it seems inappropriate, and out of context. You don't have to be good, you just have to take action, and I wonder if that is her problem; she's poised for growth, scared of it (understandably), and inching along rather than walking, jumping, or even trying to fly which is a great exercise for the imagination. She can't picture herself being able to give her daughter a new iPhone for Christmas, and I wonder if there are feelings of inadequacy in her that are preventing this family from greater peace and contentment.
She could have gone home with a phone earlier in the day, but she wanted to try and save some money. Intuition tells me that she isn't used to having things go smoothly, she's looking for the hard way because that's familiar to her. It was sad, but it also made me really glad to have met her. Once upon a time I was just like her, scared to commit to one path of action without realizing the cost of inaction, or buying the wrong thing at the wrong time from the wrong entity. I have written quite a bit about the importance of recognizing what is right, some people are so focused on what is wrong, that they fail to see what is harmonious and working for them. They upend systems that are functional, efficient, practical, and elegant because they are convinced that there must be a better way. Usually there is, but as the Japanese have learned, there is beauty in the cracked and broken pottery that has weathered an incident.
This woman has some cracks that need to be filled with gold. My prayer for her is that one day she will wake up and see past the face in the mirror down to the potential she has inside of her. And sometimes I think that maybe these people are in my life to remind me of where I was, who I was, where I want to go, and how happy I am today. Calm is a choice. Stress is also a choice. Today I told someone at work that instead of looking ahead at what needed to be done, there was a benefit to turning your head to the past and seeing how far you have come. I forget to do this, and I'm not even sure why I got out of bed to write this, for some reason one of my friends said something, I forget what, but I started going back to things I had written years ago; stuff that I thought was okay at the time, and now I'm astonished that those words didn't exist on this site before I put them there. I don't do enough with what I write, and that's really a shame. I treat it like a hobby when it largely defines who I am, without it, I wouldn't have the people in my life that I do today.
Once upon a time I was the outsider looking in on many things. I will be that person again, and today I'm grateful for the moments of clarity like the one I'm experiencing right this very moment. It is a gift to be able to dance to Taylor Swift at work and to be verbally appreciated for who I am by someone who trusted me enough to put down money on a new phone they hadn't planned on purchasing that day. A lot of people tell me I am good at sales, there is some truth to this, but the larger lesson is that once I learned how to make it fun to shop with me, I became much better at all of my jobs. I didn't last at my previous job because the people there were afraid to have fun. That may sound silly, few people associate work and play, but they're connected in my head because I have learned how to really have fun at work, and I do not care if nobody else wants to play along when I am in an emotionally good place. There are times when I let people inhibit me, I hate it when that happens, but I have never been perfect, nor do I aspire to anymore.
Today our crew was there for that woman and I am super proud of us for delivering what some people in the company call The Premier Store Experience (note - it might be callled something else entirely, that's just what I'm remembering, when I sold footwear at the mall it was The Ultimate Store Experience and it was just as formulaic and simplistic back then). I can't remember when I told who that culture starts at the top and works its way down, but it is true at our store, and I have a great deal of respect for the people I work with for being who they are. Yes I realize that there are things that could be improved upon, but you will find whatever you are looking for in others. If I choose to focus on what doesn't work, isn't great, or needs improvement; I will slide right back into being extremely depressed about life, however, if I continue to tell myself that I am part of a great team, then that becomes true as well. I never thought those Love and Logic courses would carry over to the workforce the way that they do, but they are applicable daily.
Whatever you notice grows which is why I choose to love, forgive, trust, defend, praise, and support. That is who I am and it's very hard to get me to change once I have decided on a strategy. Not everyone will like me, and I am totally okay with that. The people who do are going to tell their friends, family, fellow employees, neighbors, and others they know about their experiences, and sometimes, that is worth far more than a paycheck to me. I spent so many years worrying about money, it never got me anywhere I really wanted to go. Obviously there is a need for budgeting and wise money management, but I feel like following your heart is important, and that can be a fine line. That woman is stuck in the unenviable limbo of not having what she wants, and feeling as if she is cheating her daughter out of Christmas. What her daughter really needs is what all children need; the knowledge and security that they are unconditionally loved for who they are at that very moment no matter what they did, or did not do. They need a mom who is less stressed, more available, more carefree, and happier so that's what I'm praying they get this year. Please reach out if you need a general or specific prayer, well wishes, or any other form of affirmation, encouragement, etc..., and I will do what I can to be supportive, but you probably knew that.
P.S. Tomorrow I am going back to the art studio, showing up in my own life has really been beneficial. Now I kind of wish I had some of the pieces I've gotten rid of, but another part of me is happy to be free from the past. Who knows, maybe the tiny paintings will come back again, wouldn't that be something?
All my love,