22 Mar 2015 Leave a comment
12 Mar 2015 Leave a comment
Be Gentle with Yourself – Tomorrow is Another Day
(Today’s post is an excerpt from EVERY DAY’S A GOOD DAY: Remaining Positive in a Retail or Service Based Profession.)
This journey of remaining optimistic in the face of retail or service annoyances is not a smooth, even road. Yes, this is a journey that we’re on, hopefully progressing at a somewhat steady pace. Some days or weeks we’ll make great strides, reaching reservoirs of patience and infinite calmness that we didn’t know we possessed. And other days, well … they exist, those days where we feel like we’re back at the beginning. Our goal is, or should be, to have continued growth, be it baby steps inching along, or be it huge leaps bounding along the path. At the end of each day, if we can look back and see progress, whether in large or small increments, that is what’s important.
For this issue of remaining positive in our working environment is not an all or nothing thing. It’s not one-day-we’re-Negative-Nellies and the next day …. Whoop … Instant-never-wavering-Positive-Polly’s.
There will be days, and even weeks, where we’ll sail along on an optimistic tide – always cheerful, patient, nary a grumble escaping from our lips. And then, in one moment, it all comes to a screeching halt, with steam rising from our collar, our ears bright red with aggravation, and temples pounding, warning of an impending headache.
Today was one of those. The day was almost over. Thirty more minutes and a genuine smile was still on my face. My order was completed well before lunch time, leaving me some extra time to help order in another department. General maintenance in the department done, labels on, new labels ordered, a few packages repaired. I’d even had time to pop in and watch my safety videos for the month. Check. Check. And Check.
I was still cheerfully assisting customers, helping them figure out fabric dimensions for a project and taking them to other areas of the store in search of what they needed. I had the duster out, finishing the last of my zoning (general straightening and cleaning of our departments) when I heard a voice behind me.
Yep. There he was. The district manager. I didn’t even know he was in the store. Thank goodness at least he caught me in the middle of doing my job and doing it properly. But, his impromptu visit rearranged the rest of my day.
I called for my zone check, which we can’t leave without the closing manager walking our department to ensure we’d done a proper zoning.
Fifteen minutes later – nothing. No response. I went looking for the closing manager. Ah, she was in the middle of a discussion with the DM.
That’s okay. It shouldn’t take long. It’s still not quite time to clock out. I’ll be patient and catch her in a few.
And then, in my pacing, I pass by the office and see all three managers sitting in the office, with yellow legal pads on laps, and the DM sitting behind the desk.
Now my dilemma. It’s now past time to clock out. I can’t clock out without a manger checking my zoning. Yet, I can’t stay late waiting for them. It’s already marked on my sheet that I’m 0.20 OVER my allowed time (yes, that’s a whole 12 minutes over. We can’t have that!)
I can’t go. I can’t stay.
There’s a third option. Interrupt the grand powwow in the office and ask. Woo-boy … I’m not EVEN going to go that route! No siree! I’ve never been on the receiving end of the wrath of the DM. But I’ve seen others there and I know that that’s one place I don’t want to be.
By 4:08 pm the convention was over and I got my reprieve. Now I’m 20 minutes over, instead of my 12 minutes. And by now the shoulders are tense, the jaw is clenched and the cyclone of aggravating and irritating thoughts is rampaging through my brain, stirring up every negative thought about this job that I thought I’d laid to rest long ago.
No matter the progress, no matter how consistently you’ve improved in wearing the mantle of cheerful optimism around your shoulders, just know that in a moment, you can be right back to where you started on this journey.
My purpose of sharing this story with you isn’t to garner your sympathy. It’s merely to show that we all, every one of us, has moments where we revert to a negative, complaining employee. And that’s all right.
What you need to take from this is
- Don’t beat yourself up.
- Be gentle with yourself.
- Tomorrow is another day and another chance.
When setbacks appear, don’t spend your time and your energy whipping yourself over it. Admit it happened. Acknowledge that you’re human, just like the rest of us. Know it happens to us all. And go on.
Go home. Treat yourself to a comfort snack. Call a friend. Take a long hot bath. Get a good night’s sleep. And go on. It won’t be the last time. But as you gain more practice at remaining positive, these instances will happen less frequently, at longer and longer intervals.
04 Mar 2015 Leave a comment
What? You can’t garden you say. Your thumb is perpetually brown, not a green sprig in sight?
That’s okay. You can still have an area where you pay tribute to your loved ones that have passed. You can use statuary, stepping stones, garden signs, flags, windmills, chimes, bricks painted with their names – the possibilities are endless.
Here’s a short excerpt from MEMORY GARDENS: Botanical Tributes to Celebrate our Loved Ones (just released at Amazon this week) to give you some ideas.
It is possible to have a beautiful memory garden area without a single plant. Thousands of concrete and polyresin pieces exist, with loving sayings, angels, rainbows and a multitude of symbolic meanings that can create a memory area at your house, on a patio, in a corner of a room, or on a mantle. Angels in every form or fashion you can imagine are available. Pick up any mail order catalog. Do an internet search. Possibilities abound with something you can use to create a special space for our loved one.
Were they an ocean lover? Fill a basket, or a planter area, with sea shells, driftwood or pieces of smooth edged sea glass.
Were they a bowler? An old bowling ball or a bowling pin inscribed with their name will fill your memory area with special thoughts.
Look around your house or your yard. Find a corner, a niche, an area that you can fill with mementoes that bring your special loved one to mind. It may take a weekend. It may be an ongoing project that you keep adding to as you go along. When you spy that additional little trinket that brings your loved one to mind, think of them as you purchase it and bring it home to add to your collection. Their memories remain alive in your remembrance. Cherish the memories that return to you unbidden, even though they are sometimes painful and saddening. Our tears and emotions keep our feelings alive, and the connections with our loved ones open.
25 Feb 2015 Leave a comment
MEMORY GARDENS: Botanical Tributes to Celebrate our Loved Ones
Planting a Memory Garden is a very special tribute to honor the memories of a loved one, or loved ones. It is a way to have a living reminder, where seeing the plant, tending to it and enjoying the beauty of flowers or fragrance brings your loved ones to mind.
Your Memory Garden can be anything you want it to be. It can be as simple as one plant or one stepping stone to honor someone’s memory. It may be a small corner with a few plants and possibly a piece of statuary. It can also be a more elaborate, full-blown garden with many plants, possibly a winding path and perhaps a small bench or seating area to sit and reflect. Your garden can be any size you wish it to be, according to the space and land you have available, and the number of plants you wish to maintain.
A Memory Garden can be a place of solace, a place to remember and heal. It is a gift you give yourself, a living legacy of memories and love.
A memory garden is just that, a place to recognize and honor memories – the memories of our loved ones.
A garden is a living memorial for us, the living. It does not bring them back. It does not remove our pain or grief, although for many it does help soothe and soften the grieving.
The planning, the gardening, the caring for living plants nurtures our souls; it is a way for us to say — Here. I place this plant, or this stepping stone, or this statuary, in your honor and memory. It is a symbol. It is a symbol of my love for you. I cherished you in my life. I miss you. I will remember you.
I believe they see our tributes. I am a firm believer in the afterlife, and that our loved ones still know what is happening in our lives. I have too many unexplained coincidences in my own life and experiences that confirms it for me. Does it help to believe my brother is here, that he is sending a message, that he is still involved in my life, yet I can’t see him? Some days, yes! It is comforting. Some days, absolutely NO! I want to see him, I want to give him a hug, I want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. But I can’t do that. And sometimes I still get angry about that.
Grief is not a static emotion. It is not a one-way path. We do not walk the pathway of grief, one step at a time, to the end, where we reach ‘non-grief’. We waver. We’re back and forth. Some days we’re good. Sometimes we drift along towards healing. We go on and live our lives. (We have to. We have no choice.) And other days, there will be one memory, one song, one fragrance, one thought – and we are suddenly back to a painful place that we thought we’d left behind.
Just remember this, on the path of grieving NO ONE’S path is the same! None of us will have a journey exactly like another’s. Don’t let anyone tell you what’s ‘normal’, or what’s ‘not normal’. Follow your own heart. Follow your own healing.
Yes, go on living. Definitely do so, as we are still alive. But we can do that while keeping the memories sacred and honored.
I take comfort in the actions of caring for zinnias, believing that my brother will know that when I tend to them, I’m thinking of him. When I tend to the red rose, I’m thinking of Grandma Jones. When I clip the carnations, I’m thinking of Grandpa Jones.
For many years, families were the caretakers of loved one’s gravesites. The whole day was spent there, often with picnics. A celebration was created around the loving care of the final resting places. Nowadays, some people still do this, but not many. I loved to take flowers to the graves of loved ones at Christmas. Now, I’m too far from any of them to be able to do that. So tending the plants in my backyard is a way of making that connection. That is something I can do every day, not just on holidays and honoring special dates.
Why plant a memory garden? For our own healing. For our own souls. For a tribute to the ones we loved that no longer walk this earthly planet with us.
Stay tuned …. MEMORY GARDENS: BOTANICAL TRIBUTES TO CELEBRATE OUR LOVED ONES is slated for ebook publication next month!
18 Feb 2015 4 Comments
Attitude of Gratitude
It took me a long time to learn this lesson. And it’s one that I have to keep relearning periodically.
I was grumbling to myself on the way into work one day. I didn’t want to be up at that hour. I didn’t want to be there. I don’t make enough money. I wasn’t looking forward to my tasks for the day. Blah-blah-blah … I kept my internal gripe session going all the way across the parking.
Then, I remembered I should be having an attitude of gratitude. What? For THIS? For THIS job? Gag.
But … it could be worse, I reminded myself. I could have NO job. I could be working outside in the heat. (It was June in Texas). I could not have the ability to perform my job.
I turned it around and started listing out what I WAS grateful for.
Thank you for this job.
Thank you for the groceries I can buy and the supplies, gasoline, and meals I can purchase because of this job.
Thank you for my legs that work, which enable me to get to this job.
Thank you for my arms that work, that enable me to do this job.
Thank you for my mind, which gives me the knowledge I need to do this job.
Thank you for my sight.
Thank you for my car, which gets me to work.
Thank you for the house with its roof that keeps me dry and the air conditioning that keeps me cool.
Thank you for the dogs and cats at home that slather me with love.
Thank you for where I live, with no smog and blue skies filled with fluffy white clouds.
Thank you for my life and breath, there are worse alternatives.
Thank you ….
Once I got on a roll, the things I saw in my life to be grateful for rolled on and on. All through the day I kept seeing new opportunities to be grateful. (After an encounter with a particularly rude customer that morning, I even had a ‘Thank you that I’m not grouchy and rude like that lady’ moment.)
It was amazing. This literally changed my attitude and my life.
Do I remember to do this every day? No. I get busy. I get rushed. I get stressed. And before I know it, I’ve fallen back into my old habits. But I find that I don’t dwell there for as long. Something reminds me and I start my litany of gratitude’s again, resurfacing to a life that is filled with blessings once again.
Give it a try!
16 Feb 2015 Leave a comment
What an amazing and inspirational lady!
Originally posted on fourfoxesonehound:
We have another free week! This time, rather than writing about a group or people I’m going to tell you about an individual who’s touched my life. About two years ago, while I was working on a book for the Stitching Post Series (which includes The Calico Heart and The Friendship Star Quilt), a friend sent me a video of a blind quilter in Texas named Diane Rose. I was touched by this video – as a quilter I depend on my sense of sight constantly as I choose the fabric for a project, cut it and piece it together. I couldn’t imagine how this lady managed to create over 900 quilts. How did she do it? Take a moment to watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.
After watching the video, the storyteller in me came up with a plot about one of the quilters in…
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13 Feb 2015 2 Comments
Is it possible to work in a retail job and survive … with your sanity?
Yes it is.
And then there are others.
Some days the most effective survival technique is simply … breathe and count to 10.
26 Jan 2015 1 Comment
The story below shows great use of humor in a work situation. Although it’s most probably a joke or an urban legend and not a true recounting of an actual incident, it still illustrates a humorous reply in a difficult situation. (Snopes.com has a similar story, United Airlines but coming out of Denver, that they collected via email in 1998.)
An award should go to the United Airlines gate agent in New York for being smart and funny, while making her point, when confronted with a passenger who probably deserved to fly as cargo.
For all of you out there who have had to deal with an irate customer, this one is for you.
A crowded United Airlines flight was cancelled.
A single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers.
Suddenly, an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket on the counter and said, “I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS.”
The agent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first; and then I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.”
The passenger was unimpressed.
He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?”
Without hesitating, the agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone.
“May I have your attention, please?” she began, her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal.
“We have a passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him with his identity, please come to Gate 14.”
With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United Airlines agent, gritted his teeth, and said, “F*** you!”
Without flinching, she smiled and said, “I’m sorry sir, you’ll have to get in line for that, too.”
Hang in there! When the demands at your job have you ready to strangle someone, see if it’s possible to use humor to defuse the situation. Or, at the very least, can you find any humor in it after the fact so that you can laugh about it instead of seethe?
17 Jan 2015 Leave a comment
Those were the words I uttered – almost a year ago. And then, there I was, looking at aisles filled up with Christmas merchandise that we’d been receiving for the last four months. Our extended holiday hours started the next week. I was still working retail, despite the courageous statement I’d made at the end of the last Christmas season.
I couldn’t quit yet.
I was locked into another holiday sales cycle, with the long hours (some 12 to 14 hour days), the frenzied work schedule (too much to do and not enough time), a new manager that pushed-pushed-pushed, and a store filled with harried, stressed and irritable shoppers.
Our co-manager had a pet phrase he often used. It was his attempt to inspire us, and remind us that we were in charge of our attitudes. “Every day’s a good day!” he’d bellow out as he unlocked the doors to let us in. “Welcome to where happy people come to work. Where every day’s a good day.”
Most of us, in our pre-caffeinated, still bleary-eyed state, mumbled a greeting in return. It was usually along the lines of: ‘yeah, yeah’ – or ‘right!’ (Said with prerequisite sarcastic tone). Sometimes he was met with stony silence. Often, many of us wanted to take that ‘every day’s a good day’ and whomp him upside of the head with it.
Until the day I left for home and screamed at the top of my lungs for the first two miles. I felt calmer. I was also hoarse for the next two days.
Something had to change.
I started listening to words I told myself.
I’m too old for this.
I’m too tired for this.
I’ll never make it through Christmas.
I can’t keep going like this.
I don’t have the energy or the resources to deal with this.
I realized how negative the words I spoke silently to myself were. My body was only doing what I kept telling it to do.
The first change I made was in response my manger’s morning greeting, “Every day’s a good day!” Instead of scoffing, laughing or coming back with a smart aleck response, I’d answer, “Yes it is.” Whether I agreed with the statement or not, I starting replying with positive, spoken words.
Next, I made a list of affirmations – positive statements to read aloud before I went to work each day.
- I fly through this Christmas season with ease.
- My energy levels are higher than ever.
- I enjoy my job and am thankful for the benefits I receive from it.
- I complete my tasks easily and quickly.
- I am drawn to foods that keep me healthy and give me energy.
- This is the easiest holiday season I’ve ever worked through.
Did consistently using these affirmations make every day perfect? No. There were still moments of aggravation that would creep into the day. There were still days where survival was the only goal. But … the days were better. Some days were great. And, here we are moving towards the end of January. I survived the holiday season. I am still sane. I didn’t commit homicide. While very glad that the frenzied days are behind us, I ended the season less frazzled than ever before.
Now I need to change up the affirmations to get me through this next week – inventory week!