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Posts Tagged ‘listening’

April 23, 2012…My transformation arrow has taken me two weeks to face! I can blame it on the snow – sure – I can’t find a stick in the snow. I can blame it on being busy – sure – there’s always something else to do.

Really? Really?

My visions of Kali at first freed me – I felt courageous and ready…but then the doubt and resentment and fear and unworthiness set in.

Who am I trying to kid?

  • a goddess?
  • an artist?
  • a writer?
  • a creative soul?

NEVER!

There would always be an excuse, a road block that can never be moved…

…Friday night, I left the house. Full of disappointment, resentment, anger…and after such a crappy attitude week. Every day, I intended to be better. Every day, the disappointment set in…

There were so many sticks thrust in my path that night. I couldn’t believe how many. There in the middle of sidewalks, along the sides of the road, in the grass. All beckoning, all ignored as I fumed forward and the temperature in the air and in my heart dropped.

Suddenly, there it was, a spindly spruce branch. Naked of needles, far from the tree. My favorite tree-type; the scent always reminding me of happy childhood days around a campfire.

I walked with it swinging in my hand. My anger turned to regret and sadness. My heart just felt sick and alone; empty as the barren stick in my hand. I set it on my front step; not feeling ready just yet. There, it waited while I spent the weekend soul-searching and reconnecting.

When I went to find the stick, it was gone. It called to me from the garbage bin where he’d thrown it. The bin had just been collected, so there it lay alone at the bottom. It seemed to say, “Ready?”…and so it began…

Transformation Arrow

Strips of paper from a sheet where I’d written words as they flowed in different colored pens. I thought of all the times I worry that my story is not good enough to be told. I wrapped the words around the stick. The colors of them releasing my fears of sharing them with the world. Fabric strips of autumn colors; a season I love and hate at the same time. A season reminding me of my own confusing ups and downs. At one time beauty and warmth, and all at once cold, dead and the end. Fabric strips of precision and accuracy so unattainable in real life…

Purple and blue antique threads. Memories of the past, and the mistakes I’ve made. My past is not who I am, but it made me what I am today. A single safety pin: letting go of so-called security because there is no such thing…not if you really want to bleed and feel and love and live…

And now, as I watch, it burns….releasing all of this. The fears, the anxieties, the unworthiness. Letting it go…It is none of my business. I am not meant to know the destination. I am only meant to learn and love the journey…

Transformation

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…also known as How to Behave as Your Mother Taught You!

Monday morning, I experienced how being a good customer (aka PERSON) can lead to much more than a good cup of coffee.

At the breakfast buffet, I sat quietly while my very beautiful waitress poured me a cup of coffee. I observed her accent and asked her where she was from…

“The Ukraine” was her answer. I was intrigued and asked her if she missed home. She said that she’d been here a year and was here with her fiancee, so it wasn’t so bad. I agreed and smiled as she left to serve other customers.

There was a less friendly lady near me that believed she was entitled to a free buffet, but had no card saying so. She loudly discussed this with our server; who quietly asked her manager to verify. The manager continued the discussion and then checked at the front desk for the woman. It turned out, her group rate didn’t allow the complimentary breakfast. The woman still loudly insisted. To which the manager calmly explained that she could take it up further with the front desk. She stormed off with her laptop, “It’s on the website”!

When she came back, she explained to her companion that she indeed was wrong; that the group rate didn’t allow the free breakfast. She laughed it off, saying the print was so small. No apology to either our server nor the manager about the scene she’d caused.

After that, I noticed that no one went out of their way to do extra for her. They served her well, but not extra.

In the meantime, for me, the server kept my coffee topped up and warm and asked me where I was from. I asked her more questions each time she came to my table. I learned these things about the beautiful girl from the Ukraine:

  1. She’d been here for a year and was here with her fiancee
  2. She also modeled sometimes as another job
  3. She used to dance ballroom dancing in the Ukraine and missed it
  4. She is too busy working to have fun with her dancing
  5. But, she does have a cat and that makes her happy
  6. She’s been to Calgary once before and found it very beautiful there
  7. She works here every day and likes coffee too 🙂
I tipped her well as I left. Partly because I wanted to truly say Thank You and apologize for that other woman. Partly because I believed that this was a hard-working young woman, trying to make her way and I could help a little at least. Partly because I felt so good getting to know that this server also happened to be a person with hopes, dreams and a gorgeous smile.
The lesson about being a good customer? Take the time to see that the person serving you is just that; a PERSON who deserves courtesy, respect and a friendly smile. You’ll be surprised at the affect it has on them, and most of all, the affect it has on YOU!
UPDATE: and this morning I learned that she rides the bus to work and that the weather outside wasn’t as nice as the day before.
And my coffee NEVER got cold…and I started the day by saying “Hello” to a new friend 🙂

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I’d like to think that I’m a bit of a customer service “pro” since I do A LOT of that in my real life and consider it a “calling” and something I’m very passionate about. I’m often found saying things like, “Everyone should have to do ‘time’ in a customer service role, just so that they know what’s it’s like the next time they yell & scream at a customer service person!” I’m sure it would help anyway! 🙂

One thing that I’ve learned over the years that I’ve been in this field, is this: Treat those that are your most “difficult” customers extra special – try to go above and beyond for them.

Now, before you get upset and say, “They don’t deserve it!” or “That’s impossible!” – hear me out!

I will give you that for some people, you can just never make them happy. And that’s true. However, I have learned that even those people can be more civil when you are giving and civil to them FIRST.

I will also give you that I have NOT always been able to do this myself! Especially for some particularly difficult people. But, I am MUCH better at this now that I’ve been on my Happiness Project. Let me explain:

As my regular readers know, I am looking at life in a different way. I am more accepting of things I cannot change. One of these things are the difficult people that we have to deal with on a daily basis. Another is that I need to be true to myself and not care so much what others think. Both of these things that I’m getting better at has helped me deal with difficult customers.

Compassion goes a long way in customer service. We don’t know what kind of day this person is having or what troubles they have in their life. Why not be a shining star for them? What would be the harm in saying, “I understand your problem – let me see if I can help you!” or even just saying, “Wow, that does sound like an issue. Let’s try to come up with a solution together”

Sure, they may have come in yelling and screaming with their eyes blazing. I am willing to bet that if you emphasize with their problem, SMILE honestly and put yourself in their shoes, the situation will turn around.

I have done this a lot lately with some of the more difficult customers. I’ve listened, I’ve jumped up and tried to work on the solution with them rather than ignoring it (hoping it would go away). I have tried to be a beacon of hope in an atmosphere that isn’t very understanding right now. I have at least tried to understand and do what I can.

What I’ve noticed: Those people have begun to be much more civil when they come in now! Saying things like, “You’re always so good to me” or are more understanding of waiting times etc. I’ve also noticed a VERY big difference in how I feel about the situation. I am not tense and worried about what they’re going to say next. I feel like a “bigger” person for getting past the negativity and trying to be just a little more positive. In the end, both of us benefit from the incident rather than both going away upset! I have been a little surprised at that – that it has made that much of a difference.

Again, I don’t know what that person is going through in his or her life. But if I can be a beacon of light for just a minute or two, maybe it will make a difference for them. It certainly doesn’t do any harm at all!

What do you think of this idea of being extra helpful to those more difficult customers? Add your thoughts to the comments!

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March’s Happiness Project theme is having a tidier house. Those of you that have been here, know. ‘Nuff said!

I’ve also been feeling a lot of guilt over the past couple weeks. I’ve tried to talk myself out of it, tried to read myself out of it and listened to the advice of others to get me out of it.

This made me think today about GUILT. This made me think about my Happiness Project theme. Why did I choose this theme? How is it related to my feelings of guilt?

I have found such happiness so far here in my Happiness Project. I absolutely love the feeling I get when I workout. I especially love to ride my bike. I love the energy I now have because I’m in better shape. It has made me so happy to be taking care of myself. I am having FUN with my friends as we encourage each other and support each other in our fitness. I am happier because I have openly shown my love for those around me. I have brought them joy and found such love all around me. I have realized just how blessed I am.

So, this month, this “house” thing. Why?

I don’t think I’m doing this for the right reason! I am doing this because I feel guilty!

The guilt I’ve been having is that I’ve been feeling guilty about finding this happiness. Yes, that’s right – feeling guilty about being happy. Why?

  1. I feel guilty about the amount of time I’ve spent exercising. How I will choose going for a bike ride over vacuuming the house ANY day.
  2. I feel guilty about missing my kids’ bedtimes sometimes because I am at a workout. Their dad is there, but I am not.
  3. I feel guilty about making my kids eat healthier food that they don’t like. That’s ridiculous, I know!
  4. I feel guilty about the hours I am spending creating our new business – I am obsessed with the happiness I find there.
  5. I feel guilty that I’m no longer passionate about my day job, that I’m just putting in time until I can escape to do what I truly love – our business and writing. I have never been like that before.
  6. I feel guilty that I do not allow myself to be surrounded by negative, hurtful people. That I avoid them like the plague. I’m supposed to try to make everyone like me, aren’t I?
  7. I feel guilty that I am happy and others are not. Why should I be so lucky?
  8. I feel guilty that because I’m focusing on things that make ME happy, I’m neglecting making others happy. I feel like I’m neglecting them, even though they insist I am not.
  9. I feel guilty that I am not the perfect homemaker. That I don’t keep the perfect house that my mom and sisters and friends do. I am not good at it, and I want to be good at everything.

There you have it, in that last one. I want to keep a tidier house because if my house is tidier, it will show that I’m not selfish, that I’m making others happy, that I’m not neglecting anyone, that I will be closer to the picture of perfection.

Is that going to make me happy?

If the meaning of happiness is not feeling guilty, maybe.

But if in doing that, I am resentful; then I certainly can’t be happy and resentful at the same time.

And that is where the House of Cards falls down. The truth behind this month’s theme. I am not really believing in it because it is not really me. It is my guilt that is making me do it, nothing more.

I don’t really put a high happiness value on having a perfect house. Yes, I like to be able to find things. Yes, it does make me feel less guilty. But at what cost? My Happiness? My true Happiness that I’m finding?

So, let’s rethink this theme then shall we?

Maybe it should be less about a tidy house and more about finding Peace.

How can having a tidier house contribute to finding Peace?

  1. Being able to find things – a lot less stress for everyone
  2. Being able to have someone over without being embarrassed – well, seeing friends means a lot to me
  3. Having a peaceful, tidy, comfy home just feels good – it’s warm and inviting to curl up with a book
  4. Being less overwhelmed – having the huge mess seems so hard to face every day
  5. Having a clean kitchen – that I actually do really love. It just makes my day to come out in the morning and be able to make my coffee without having to fight with dirty dishes in the sink
  6. Taking care of my family and teaching them the importance of working together toward a common goal – now that is worthwhile!

So, perhaps now that the House of Cards has fallen and I’ve looked at the truth; now I can really focus on this. I can be passionate about this theme  instead of being only half “in it”.

I have realized that it is not selfish of me to want to be happy. In fact, I truly believe that my increased happiness has affected those around me in a good way, not a bad way. I have not neglected anyone. They are happier because I am happy. They are inspired by my quest and I in turn am more inspired as well. I have realized that I cannot take care of anyone without taking care of myself. There is no harm in that.

I will shuffle those cards and build again.

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A Shoulder to Lean On

I have been tripping and stumbling along for the past couple weeks. I’d take a step or two forward, but would constantly fall back; further each time. I’ve been in a “funk” – unable to find my “mojo” as they say!

The same old things, getting to me and getting me down. Reading and writing would help for a tiny bit, but then I’d fall back again. Angry and frustrated with so many things that I have no control over. So disheartened, so sad at the turn of events in my work life. Add that to the fact that I’ve forgotten that my work is not my life!

Just the usual complaints. I’ve just struggled to get past them. I’ve not been able to “let it go”.

I haven’t been taking care of myself: eating junk, not exercising, attempting to exercise but something getting in the way and then I would get mad. Not finding happiness in all of the gifts I’ve been given. Being mad at myself for not being grateful for these gifts. Not taking my own damn advice that I keep giving to everyone else! Getting really P.O.ed at everything!

I started a post earlier today, but it was a whiny post, so I deleted it. I was just disgusted. What the @$#* was the point? My hubby is away, so I’m feeling a little lonely. I don’t want to clean house, I don’t want to sew. There’s nothing on TV. Whine. Whine. Whine. UGH! I wanted to kick my own butt! But it wasn’t working!

What finally hit me tonight?

My best friend. She is truly my hero.

She is just always there. I have taken that for granted many a time – and I have regretted that every time. No one else understands me like she does!

When I took her daughter to school on the morning I was to pick her up from the airport after being away on a holiday, I exclaimed, “Your mom comes home today! I sure have missed her!” And the wise blue eyes of an almost 6 year old looked up at me and said, “Well, duh, you’re friends!” Kids just get it. Why the hell can’t we? 🙂

She came over last night and kept me company so I wouldn’t be so lonely. Shared a couple new vodka drinks (our favorite pastime!), watched a “chick flick” – which I never get to do. And just listened. Again. The poor girl. Then she invited me and the kids to dinner tonight, even after me boring her to death with the same old same old crapola from work! She is not only a hero, she is a saint!

She got my butt to a workout tonight. I whined about going, I whined about work while she made supper for me and the kids. I whined about the workout being ‘hard’ while I was there (I believe I said that I hated her at 1 point, right? 😉 )

To me, she really is a hero. I could never fully explain how much I need her shoulder to lean on. She just believes in me, even when I don’t believe in me. When I think that I am worthless, she always reminds me how great and how beautiful I am. She reminds me that I am intelligent and that I deserve happiness.

A true friend never lets you feel bad about yourself. She will be firm with you when you need it, but she will comfort you and protect you, even from yourself.

That’s what she does – she is that shoulder that I lean on – a lot lately. She is fierce in her protection of me, but doesn’t let me get away with beating up on myself. She’ll be the first to give me a kick in the butt if I’m being an idiot, but she’ll also be the first to be there to catch me when I fall or pick me up and dust me off and push me onward again.

Thanks you for all you do – I don’t tell you often enough. You are my “bestest friend” as I always jokingly say, but really do mean it. I would be a different person if I hadn’t met you. Thank you for being my friend.

S

And of course, a video:

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Where to search for inspiration? Where do good ideas come from?

My best place for inspiration is in the shower! I have solitude there. The outside world is blocked; the phone doesn’t ring, the radio isn’t blasting, and I can barely hear the kids trying to kill each other!

The caressing drops of water gently massage knots out of my shoulders and ideas out of my head! The scorching heat (I do like it hot!) relaxes my spirit and my mind can just glide along with my thoughts.

I’ve always loved long, hot showers for this reason. It drove my dad (and siblings!) nuts and it drives my husband crazy too! But, it’s where I do my best thinking, so I will continue to do it. Sorry water meter!

I used to sing in the shower a lot too when I was a kid. Not so much anymore, but I do notice that many times, I can hear my daughter belting it out in there and it always makes me smile 🙂 – she is so like me!

Where else do I get inspiration? There are a “shower” of places:

  1. listening to music – says the girl who constantly puts music videos into her posts! 😉
  2. going for walks, especially in the quiet country side – don’t do that often enough anymore
  3. listening to my children laugh down the hall from my bedroom door
  4. my husband! especially long talks while we’re driving
  5. reading great writing and aspiring to be just as great
  6. my best friend – she inspires me to be who she thinks I am 😉 when I really just want to be more like her
  7. creating and sewing with beautiful fabric – especially if it’s for someone I care about
  8. sipping an ice cold beer on a hot night sitting around the campfire looking up at the stars
  9. helping people solve problems – I love it and it inspires me to do more
  10. Christmas – because it brings out the best in people when it’s not about the gifts
  11. My parents – how I try to be what they know I can be
  12. Riding my bike – all I can hear is the wind in my ears and the miles (and worries) just disappear and I am free
  13. Writing my blog, when even just one person reads it and I can help them, even just make them think, that’s truly cool!
  14. A hot cup of coffee with a friend, laughing until our guts hurt!
  15. Late night talks with my oldest, who will still give me a hug and call me when he needs me (and doesn’t care if his friends think it isn’t cool!)
  16. Curled up under a blanket with my nose in a book while the snow falls outside and the house is quiet because everyone is doing the same thing
  17. So many more, but I won’t bore you!

What inspires you? How do you keep those ideas and great thoughts coming to you?

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