Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New You!

In with the new – out with the old!

What is the significance of a new year?  I guess that question is pretty pointless…it’s like asking, *What is the meaning of time?*  It’s all relevant really and means what it means personally to each of us.   We’ve come to learn the significance of the changing of a year from some long ago archaic calendar that told us this is such-n-such date and with the ticking of this clock, the dropping of a glittery ball, a kiss, a joyous celebration that people from every corner of the world will welcome in a New Year!  It is the chance to start again.  To leave behind what wasn’t pleasant and try again with the next 365 days awaiting us all in an effort to “make it better”? 

But why do we wait for that date?  For that time to make a change?  What is the poignancy of it?  Is it just because that’s what we’ve always done?  Or maybe we need the push of all those other minds to help us along our newly chosen path?  Are we just so programmed to a time schedule that we need the significance of that clock ticking over to 12:01 – 2014, 2015, 20…. To force us into being better people?  Thinner, healthier, more mindful, more career driven, stop smoking, more giving, less angry, less snarky, more open minded, more productive, a cleaner house, more books read, another pet, more schooling, finish those UFO’s , this is the year that I’ll apologize to and move on with my life, I resolve to be…..perfect in every way! 

Wow….we certainly put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform.  All with the ticking of a clock. 
I’ve had a few moments in my life over the past 4 or 5 years that have pointed me in a direction where I feel I need to be more compassionate.  I want to be that person.  I think by nature I already have most of what it takes to be a compassionate person.  With age and maturity I am learning to recognize when I am not and to be mindful of it so I can stop myself (most times) from being non-compassionate.  It is a goal for sure.  And maybe in this lifetime I’ll learn to be that person I  
strive to be.

I didn’t wait for 12:01 on the clock to start being more aware of my compassion.  I just started right that moment when I felt I needed to do it.  I don’t even really know when that was.  I guess it was at the right time, though. 

I’m hoping I can just learn to do other things in my life when the time is right.  So, this year I am going to resolve to not resolve to put any pressure on myself to perform.  I’m not going to berate myself for being overweight, or not as active as I should be, or my studio messier than I’d like it to be.  I’m not going to assume that I’ll do things better, or try to be more of this and less of that.  I’m not going to stress myself out with a set number of beaded items to design within a set number of days. 

I’m just going to live my life.  If on January 1st at 12:01 am, 2014 I decide to join a gym, so be it.  But I’m not going to force myself into it.  I’m going to practice my need to be a more compassionate person on myself and I’m going to give me a break, give me time, give me no pressure to perform.  Maybe if I don’t feel pressured I’ll actually get those dreams and wishes accomplished or at least start them on their way to becoming reality.

Wanna join me in resolving to not resolve?  To not pressure yourself into being thinner, cleaner, nicer, healthier, whatever it is you’re setting a stop watch for?  How about we just start treating ourselves with the respect we deserve the moment we think about it, rather than at 12:01am! 


 Every single day of our lives is an opportunity to make a change in ourselves.  We should learn to do it right at that very moment and not put it off waiting for some glittery ball to drop!  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reflecting on retail

My mind, in it’s sometimes (okay, most of the time) racing fashion, woke me up very early this morning.  Usually when that happens it is because I have a lot to do (true), or because I have a flood of beady ideas that won’t let me rest (true), or sometimes it is just hormones wreaking havoc on my mind (sigh…true).  But this morning when I woke up my mind was reflecting back on yesterday.  Spinning through the myriad of encounters I had with people.  Being in retail increases my odds of that, but yesterday was particularly interesting.

We had a very busy Cyber Monday sale, which translates to a very busy week trying to catch up, which in turn translates to a TON of human interaction.  For the most part everyone was happy, excited, thankful, and anticipatory.  Feelings that translate back to me as joy.  Then a few were frustrated, angry, unnerved.  Feelings that I absorb and cause anxiety for me.  I want them all to be in that first group….I want every single one of my customers to be happy.  (Impossibility, I know…but a girl can dream!).  And then there were a handful who are just unhappy souls.  They have some need to take out their aggression, their angst, their all-encompassing anger on whomever they come into contact with.  At first I absorb this and become overwhelmed by it, I feel the anger and I relate to it.  It exhausts me.  But then within a short amount of time I begin to feel empathy.  What a horrible place in your mind to be living in.  Why are you there?  Can you help it?  Have you tried?  Has it become so commonplace for you that you aren’t even aware of how it spills out onto others? 

I have no answers.  I don’t imagine even the most experienced psychologist has the answers.  And I am not sure even the person experiencing this type of behavior has the answers for themselves either.  And that brings me right back around to feeling sad for those folks who take their anger out on whomever they happen to encounter as their day progresses. 

Don’t get me wrong…I am most certainly not forgiving their behavior or giving them license to behave however or in whatever way they feel.  They still should be held accountable for their actions.  But instead of being angry right back at them, my anger dissolves fairly quickly and I just feel sorry for them.

At work yesterday we had people hang up on us, be extremely passive-aggressive, be blatantly rude, demanding, snarky.  Basically they spewed whatever angst they carry in their lives onto us….all over some beads.  That, my friends, is just sad.

But for every hang up, or rude comment, or demeaning comment there were ten or more that were beautiful, kind, encouraging, happy.  And while it is, for some strange reason, harder to focus on those positive feelings - they are what I need to hang on to.  They are what see me through a tough retail day.  A smile, a thank you, an excited customer is the proverbial wind beneath my wings. 

What heals me after a rough day of retail - brings it all back into focus - are two things I remind myself of. 
One is a quote I have above my computer on my shelf of “Things I love” 

It is a quote of compassion from the Dalai Lama and says:

"I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.  The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the ultimate source of success in life.” 
~ Dalai Lama

It is not easy to remember, but it feels good when I try.
The other thing I remind myself of is a video I saw of Carl Sagan and that we are nothing more than a Pale Blue Dot. (Take 3 minutes out of your day and go watch it...seriously...I'll wait here...GO!)  When I get lost in my thoughts, I’ll watch this video and it slams home just how minuscule we actually are in the scheme of things.  Something about that reminds me to work hard every single day to treat others with kindness and respect, regardless of how they may be treating me.  

I am sure this is a lesson I will need to practice all my life.  I still don’t fully understand it and I most certainly veer off track frequently.  But it is who I want to be.  I want to always be compassionate.

And now…I must get ready to take on another day of retail.