Today is Easter and I am looking out the window of my home office watching cars pull in and out of the cove across the street. Families are gathering for church and dinner, kids are opening their baskets of goodies, the weather has a nip in the air for afternoon egg hunts. If the cars were older, the clothing was more vintage, the hairdos were bit more formal and tailored, this could be 50 years ago…nothing much has changed since I was a child. The traditions and trappings have remained intact over the years, but I have certainly come through many changes.
In the business I am in there are so many wonderful twists and turns, fun things and memory-creating moments. I love seeing people come in and find some of the beloved childhood items that were in their homes growing up. A lamp reminds a young person of their grandmother’s home, musty with peeling flocked wallpaper and braided rugs over the scuffed hardwood floors. A man picks up a bag of marbles and his eyes fix on them as he remembers many days spent kneeling in the dust and dirt, hovering over a circled string on the ground, trying to shoot best to win that prized aggie. I watch as an old woman picks up an antique handkerchief and holds it softly to her nostrils and breathes in, hoping to smell the light scent of lavender that had pervaded her own mother’s lace and trims when she was but a tiny girl.
My favorite customers are those who wander in, find treasures like these, and give them new life through a repurpose or redesign. Most often it happens with a piece of furniture, but I have witnessed the birth of an entirely new heirloom from old door hardware, wooden windows, a scrap of fabric tablecloth or a wooden barrel or box. All of these have come through countless hands, been in more than one home oftentimes, and now landed in a place where others can purchase them and give them a new purpose and a new life.
As a small child of 7, I met Jesus on a hot August day the last service of a tent revival in my church. I was just a little kid, but I knew there was something more to the life I was living, and so did the Lord. He knew I needed a makeover and I am so grateful He was willing to give me a new life. Many years and much water has gone under the bridge and my life has not always been what He intended it to be. But with great patience and a steady hand, He continued to sand off the edges, add a bit of color here and there, and spent hours and days and years waxing a beautiful patina into my life as I plundered through the milestones of my journey. And somehow, He is still working….and I am still grateful.
I think about my own ultimate repurpose when I see others take pieces and bring a new glorious life to them. I am humbled and continue to see the beauty possible in this old piece of worn out furniture I call my life. And I look forward to see the purposing again of my life in this, the latter half. There is always something amazing in making the old new again.
Some days I find myself in a funk. Many times I can determine what placed me there, other times not so much. More often than not, the heaviness and big black cloud overhead is caused by my choices during the current day, or even a series of choices from the week leading up to the yucky day. It takes some real time, effort and skill to grow a beautiful mass of feeling sorry for yourself.
Bad feelings are bred in many ways. It is found in how we talk to others. It is found in what we spend our time on. It is plopped down in the middle of who we embed ourselves in the company of on a routine basis. If we spend our time procrastinating, steeped in idle gossip, or giving into Debbie Downer head talk, then it is no wonder our days go from ok to “meh” in about 3.2 seconds.
I was reminded of this recently when a cable repairman came to my home. I was not in the best of moods but this older man was pleasant enough and kept up a friendly chatter although I was really not in the mood to establish a conversation with him. I just wanted my cable fixed. I had been having the same issues for many months, had been dealing with modem problems, resorted to using the hotspot on my phone just to get my work done at all, and I had finally just bit the bullet and resorted to calling the cable company out to repair it. I had gotten to the point when I sat down at my computer, no matter the time of day, I was already feeling a rising anxiety thinking I may or may not be able to complete the online work I needed to do in the session because I would lose connection halfway through so many times. I had been the same old route over and over…I knew the most common scenario by heart. Start and stop…start and stop…
My repairman was of Hispanic nationality, and had a very thick accent, so I found myself having to listen a bit more intently to understand him when he was explaining what the problem was with my internet. All I knew was I had a deep frustration over the modem clicking on and off eleventy-million times a day. But he was going through the whole gamut of what the problem was, why I was experiencing the issues, how he planned to repair it and what the final result would be.
I was wondering why he was even taking the time to explain all of it to me when he said ” You know…this cable company…they have new rules. They take us through the big hoops. They have us come out again and again. It fixes no problem.” He shook his head and then said “I been doing this cable company 10 years. I know what fix it, they not know how to go in straight line.” I must have looked confused for a moment because then he said ” I tell my wife ‘it make no good sense. They do this (reaching over his head with his right hand to touch his left ear) to fix when they could easy do this (reaching with his left hand to touch his left ear).’ ”
I laughed so hard when he said that. And you know, later after he fixed everything and left I had thought “Yeah, that’s just what I’ve been doing for months. Just creating chaos and hardship for myself.” By not calling right away I had spent months working in frustration and anxiety when I could have had it fixed, as it is now, and running like a champ.
I began to think about how many ways I frustrate myself. I listen to others fuss and complain about people they work for instead of just changing the subject quickly. I entertain idle gossip about another business owner or friend instead of stepping in or stepping up and shutting down the conversation in lieu of something more uplifting. I let paperwork pile up and then sigh when I see the stacks of unfinished business on my desk on a day when I could have been outside in the garden or spending time with my grandchildren. Rather than stopping a gossiping offender, I let others’ conversations go on hoping they will just monitor themselves and quit on their own. I become the dumping ground for them, then they walk away and I feel like a garbage can because I have heard too much, and it raised my level of stress internally, and they didn’t even realize what that conversation had done to both me and our own relationship. Rather than taking an hour daily to work on paperwork, I think I will eventually get to it, and shove it to the side waiting for a block of time that never comes.
It’s time to change that. No more creating chaos by doing or not doing something the simplest way. I am bound and determined to find my path of least resistance that I have waiting for me out there! Most of the time, the path to my inner peace is the the one closest to me and speaks to me, I just need to lend it my ear.
Do you ever have the days you feel like you are hitting a rock wall? I do. Sometimes it is weeks, months or even years of it. I have a problem, an issue, a long time “thing” that bugs me or controls me or worries me. It makes me fret, moan and groan and become otherwise hyper-focused on it. I spend money, waste time, flap my jaws and talk about it, purchase books, magazines, and sit in webinars about it, cry into my beer (or diet coke) with friends and try to solve it…but when all is said and done, I seem to never really get anywhere in taking care of the problem or the root issue.
My health, in particular my weight, was one (and only one) of these kinds of issues for me. I’d get to the point of really dedicating myself to it. This was the scenario….I’d back way up from the rock wall issue of my weight, look at it hard, steady my focus on it. My adrenaline would run high. I’d hunker down determined to tackle it, the ball would get snapped, and I’d take off and fly down my field…only to hit the rock wall with my shoulder and fall back flat. As I lay there dazed and wondering why the latest thing I tried didn’t work, I’d let my failure to succeed become my failure to even try anymore.
But one day, I had a simple epiphany, if you will. I realized the rock wall was really me. I started to envision myself not running, but walking at first. Then as I got closer to the rock wall, I’d jog, start to sprint, and then by the time I’d hit the wall I’d be running full force. I was expending all my energy before on the front end of the running and by the time I actually reached the wall, I was hitting it with the least amount of force I had left in me instead of the other way around. So I decided to do little things, not great huge sweeping things like cleaning the pantry out of all the bad food. I’d just give up one favorite item at a time and replace it with a new one. That was a start, it was walking it out and not trying to run before I could walk easily. Once I got started, I could see it coming easier and I increased my speed, I started losing weight very consistently, and found I loved the way I felt because it wasn’t exhausting me mentally or physically to do so.
I also changed the way I viewed the wall (me). I started to see myself after I busted through the impending wall, rather than my running and approaching it. There is something magical that happens inside when you do this and see yourself through your problem rather than just approaching it. You see success instead of experiencing the moments of “will I be able to do this?” And you say “Yes, I CAN” a whole lot more.
I never really connected why this time has been so much easier for me to lose and stay focused than the millions of times before until I saw this picture of my grandson Isaac from the park the other day. My daughter said he went through the rock hole, came out the other side and said “tada!”. The hole was already there, he knew he could do it, he went through easily, and tada was how he felt. He didn’t wonder if he could make it, he just DID IT because he saw himself through it already. In the past I had seen myself in every way, but never already through the rock wall. This time…I saw the hole in the rock and I saw myself coming through the other side. And I love living my new tada life! 🙂
They: Did you hear so and so is doing xxx at their shop/in their estate company now? (at one time you could insert “cleaning company” for the words shop/estate company since I owned a cleaning company for many years)
Me: Oh? That’s interesting.
They: It’s amazing how much business/customers/inventory they are doing/servicing/selling.
Me: That’s great, they do a lot of business, I have heard that about them/seen that.
They: Have you thought about changing and doing a/b/c too? If it works for them it will work for you, don’t you think you should do that too?
Me: I will look into that.
I had the following article hit my inbox today….and it speaks to me. This is so the way I have always tried to run my companies. I have always said my best competition is myself, period. I don’t look around too much to see what others are doing and trying to mimic their choices and attain their results. I am interested, yes. I am educating myself on different ways of doing things, yes. But to become them? No…I can’t be different if I am the same. That is a pretty simple concept….one that other business owners often fail to embrace and be ok with and thrive on. That’s why I will listen when others tell me this and that company is doing such and thus, but I don’t let it deter me from my steady course. I have a path, I stick to it till I know I should veer off because MY business tells me to do so. What happens most often if you (I) run after those competitive rabbits is this…you spend your money and time chasing THEIR ideals and dreams, and not your own. Sometimes the best plan is just to stay the course, and nod your head a lot and smile. And a well-timed, “hmmm, interesting” doesn’t hurt either.
Today was a day I had been working up to for a week. Don’t know why, don’t really know where it started…but a minute at a time, experience here and frustration there had finally culminated into a day Alexander would have been proud of. You know the guy I mean…”Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”.
I got up with a full slate of things to do, not only today, but really the entire week. This was my first real work day since the holidays, and I needed to hit the floor running. But discontent had become my friend over the last several days and my mood was negative to say the least. So being chipper and positive about going back to work today…even work that I totally enjoy…was not destined to happen.
Early last week I had made several sales through the resale sites. But I had also had more than my share of stand ups and real flakes I had been forced to deal with, and each one just added fuel to the cranky fire. I’d have a good talk with myself, pull up the bootstraps, and then another would bow out on their pick up or pass on an item too late for me to offer it to another person. This had not been my experience at all with the resale sites, so it was discouraging.
From there, a chain of things began to happen. I found out something about someone close to me that was upsetting and a cringe of new disappointment in this person every time they crossed my mind began a pattern for the week. A different person criticized me with absolutely no cause another day and I felt angry and fed up and had a whole lot of head talk going on, and more than once said “to heck with it AND you”. A third group of circumstances happened, and I felt taken advantage of and unappreciated. I wasn’t sleeping well, I was waking tired and anxious. I would wake feeling like a fat lady was sitting on my chest, and I hadn’t felt that in years. To top off the week, I was balancing the checkbooks and realized I somehow taken money out of my account balance as if I had paid a bill online, but then forgot to pay it, so a late fee occurred. I hate it when that happens, don’t you? There were other things, but today…well…it was the grandaddy of it all. Or at least it felt that way on the heels of all the other incidents.
I went to the shop and had a no show on a pick up, even though I had reminded the person and could see they had picked up my message, but chosen not to reply to my “we are still on aren’t we?”. I was frustrated to the hilt and mad. Never mind that the other three folks showed up just as they said they would, were happy with their purchases and complimentary of our shop. I was laser-focused on the one who didn’t keep her word.
Then, I decided to stock the floor a bit and two items I had purchased just today crumbled in my hands today before I could get them out on the showroom floor. Frustration again.
Swinging by to get a soft drink and head out to try and find costuming for my granddaughter’s upcoming theater show, I climbed back into the car. I still don’t know how, but 30 ounces of that 32 ounce diet coke came out of the bottom of the cup, filled the cup well in the van, went into my seat (you remember how cold it was today right?) and started seeping into the carpet. And no paper towels or anything to mop up the mess in the car was to be found. I had pulled into the parking lot of Goodwill, the third place to try and find costuming, and had not found one items on the list as yet, and her show is next week. I was fussing in my mind because we had just gotten the list last week, I don’t have time for this, yada yada. Then the coke thing. Sigh.
I pulled out of that parking lot, narrowly missed getting sideswiped by some lunatic on a cell phone and barely missed a monster pothole on the other side. By this time, I was getting to the point of DONE.
I pulled into the parking lot of the thrift store where my friend was working and begged some paper towels, vented a bit, then got in the car to make one more attempt to find the costume pieces I needed. As I sat there for a minute, I felt like I was going to burst out in tears, and I am not that type in most cases. But I had just saturated to the point I didn’t want to do anything, be anything, or care anymore. And I actually sat there and voiced it out loud saying “What on earth is going on????” It is humorous to say it here, but I suddenly felt like God said ” I was kinda wondering the same thing, kiddo…what on earth is going on in you?”
So I sat. I didn’t analyze, I didn’t rant and rave, I didn’t cry, I didn’t try and figure it out. I just sat and let whatever it was just drift away in that moment. And I started to laugh, just a tiny snicker at first, but then it got the point of a hard, deep laugh. Yes, Rhonda…what on earth was going on in you? Pretty much nothing that I would even remember a week from now, but I was letting it ruin and rule a potentially great day and all because I had started a stream of self-pity a week ago that I had failed to stop feeding somewhere along the way. It had grown fat and lazy and had begun to think it was here to stay. But in that one moment of laughter, I decided it had to go.
I prayed to have a good day from there forward, and even threw in a little prayer I’d find the items for the theater show. And you know, I did…in the very next store there they were. Hanging side by side were the three pieces in the correct sizes. I wasn’t in that store 5 minutes and was done with the shopping. Before the pity purge I had about talked myself out of my next item on the list….standing in the Wally World returns line….but changed my mind and took a chance since I had made the start on turning my day inside out. That return line was ginormous, long and winding around four registers and down the front aisle toward the doors. I hesitated for a moment, then took my place behind an older gentleman. Everyone before him and everyone after me in line were complaining and fussing, sighing heavily and so forth, but I was silent and watched him as he greeted each person that passed by the returns line, tipping his cap to the ladies, patting kids on the head. He was in the same yucky line as everyone else, was making the best of it, and it wasn’t affecting his personal day at all. But he was affecting mine, and I was grateful for that little old man where I may not have noticed him at all if I had been standing there an hour earlier. I would have been too busy sighing and griping myself.
On the way home I thought about that little old man. He may have had the same kind of week I had been experiencing, but he chose to allow the good parts, like sweet cream, to rise to the top and just enjoy his God-given day, and went even further to help others enjoy their day too by his pleasantries By reaching out to involve them as they passed by, he was the person who gained the most.
So, I made a decision to do the same. I picked up the phone, sent a message to my daughter and told her I was going to pick up my granddaughter for a few days. Yes, even with this really packed out week of errands and getting ready for a shop sale this weekend pending on the schedule book, and a house that is way messy and needs my attention. I did it because Lorelai needed time with me, but I really did it because I needed time with me. I knew reaching out to someone else was one of the best ways I would get that Rhonda time. I needed to reach out beyond myself, my feelings and my frustrations and just enjoy myself and the gift of “today”, and if someone else reaped the benefits, well that was ok too.
I picked Lorelai up, and we got in the car. She looked at me, put her soft little hand on mine, and said ” GiGi, I am so glad I got to see you today.” I teared up…that is what I always make a point of saying to her when I see her…”I am so glad I got to see you today”. And I think probably God said the same thing to me today, too…and maybe added the word “finally” at the end…
Sometimes you have a dream. It might be years in the making. It rattles around in your head. You get a piece of it here, a scrap of it there. You wake up in the middle of the night, grab a pen and start scribbling away in your journal, then revisit it the next time you wake in the middle of the night and you jot down a few more thoughts. Or maybe you don’t. It all depends on what kind of dreamer you are.
Many folks are dreamers–turned-visionaries. They plot and piddle, climb and fall, run and dodge until that one perfect dream comes true. They never stop, they fail a lot, but they never, ever, ever give up or give into the notion that the dream won’t come about. They, like Edison, just keep adjusting the experiment until the light finally comes on and everyone around them sees the brightness they envisioned all along.
Other folks are dreamers that stay in the dreamlike state. They float, they fault anyone and everyone but themselves when they can’t (or won’t) accomplish or push their dream out of the nest in their own brain. They are happy and content to stay in the fog of planning rather than do the hard work of the actual completion of their dream. Ecclesiastes says “A dream comes to pass with much business and painful effort.” Maybe that last part…the pain part…is what scares most of us off.
The difference between a dreamer and a visionary is simple. Dreamers are afraid to hurt a little to get what they want. Visionaries know the reality in the old adage “ No pain, no gain.” Dreamers have great and monumental thoughts, but visionaries execute great and memorable actions. Dreamers are well thought of and admired for their thoughts, but visionaries are often misunderstood and accused of controlling assertiveness when they are in pursuit of their goals. Dreamers think about the work it will take to have “something”, but visionaries? They actually execute the work to attain that same “something”. Dreamers do a lot of thinking and planning, but never put feet to their actions. Visionaries are born in running shoes. And when faced with a roadblock, a set back, or a difficulty, the visionary just adjusts, evaluates and continues to walk the dream on out.
In this world, we need both dreamers and visionaries, but they do have to embrace the value in each others’ contributions. Are you a dreamer without a vision? Or are you a visionary without a dream? Neither situation is a very good place to be…
Today is the last day of 2014. It has been a year of ups and downs, gaining and losing , letting go and holding on. I am pleased with the way most of it has taken shape. It has been a good year.
This time last year I was letting go of a company I had poured my life and total focus into for over 12 years as a full time CEO. It was like sending a child on to their own life when I walked out that front door and locked it up for the last time. But it was the beginning of a new, exciting company and experience and I was…and still am…excited to embrace it as my new life plan.
In the last year I have uprooted offices and moved into a new facility as I melded my old life and new life into a brand new vocation. Somehow all the stars have aligned, and everything has been steadily moving forward. The Lord has been good and placed amazing people in my path, and pushed me into opportunities that could only be a part of a BIG plan, and I am pretty humbled when I think about it all. Every day as I drive to the shop, meet a client, go thrift shopping for inventory and work from home I am brought to tears in gratefulness for what my life is right now. I hope that dream and the fruitfulness I am experiencing right now inside and outside never ends.
I have rid myself of three toxic relationships in the last year. Two were tearing down my business life and one adversely affecting my personal life. I cannot imagine now, on this side of that cutting away, how I stayed sane and was able to operate as well as I did during the height of those three relationships. But the strength that came in character, business savvy and sheer tenacity is seen today in my dealings with people both in my personal and professional life. I have since rid myself completely of anyone new who didn’t fit into my best life plan almost as quickly as they tried to enter, and on more than one occasion. It is difficult at times, because people come to you showing their best face and on their impeccable behavior. You can’t always see them for who they are, or are not. I have met and begun an acquaintance with some this year that I would have drawn close to my heart or brought into my business very easily in the past. But when I placed them against the acid test I have developed with the three former toxic relationships, I could see immediately and with an unreal clarity that those newest acquaintances were not genuine, real, or destined to be a part of my life after all. I was able to let go before I held on, and that was an amazing feeling. Because of this stepping back and razor-edged conscious decision-making skill I have developed, the last year has been pretty drama free with the exception of a couple of clients and one incident involving some business acquaintances. In those situations I was able to shut down the drama in record time and before it splashed onto my own life. Wow, what a grand feeling of self-control. And what a freeing feeling of knowledge that this really is a repeatable skill. It will be one of the greatest skills I will ever land in my own portfolio as a business owner or private individual. Integrity is of great value to me and I have seen the truth in Ben Franklin’s quotation ”He that lieth down with dogs shall get up with fleas.” It is refreshing and exhilarating to go to work at a place I love, with people I care about and know I am doing a great job because we are a TEAM. Being equally yoked is the only way to make the progress I want in my company and life, and I love that this was shown to me through a deep hurt and large loss in many ways. Like a phoenix, I have risen and will continue to rise.
In getting rid of things that were not beneficial in 2014, I also lost weight…a lot of it. Year to date I am almost 50 pounds lighter than this time last year. It hasn’t been a major struggle either. I just got up one day in June of this year, said to myself “Ok, it’s time to get healthy and feel good again” and I began the journey of counting calories, adjusting my lifestyle and mindset and just started listening to my inner voices again when it came to my personal care. What they say about being able to accomplish big changes only when you are ready is absolutely right, and that’s pretty much what happened to me. I was ready, and I just did it.
I started that book (in earnest) I kept saying I was going to write one day. I had written things down randomly in the past but this is a concerted effort to get it on paper so to speak, recorded and publish ready. I want to inspire someone. I want to challenge others. I want to know myself. This is what this book is about and my goal is to get it published in the next 18 months. We will see if that all pans out. It may be even sooner, and that is ok by me. Check another thing off that old bucket list.
When I reflect during the last few hours of 2014, I am content with it. I have done most of what I intended, grown through it, and have even learned to anticipate goodness and fulfillment rather than feeling anxious and insecure all the time. I turn to look into the bright, young face of 2015 and smile because I can see it taking a running jump off the good things that happened in 2014 and making its own solid destiny as it pulls me along with it and creates my next steps in the right direction. It will be interesting to see what this year holds, but not half as interesting as seeing what I hold at the end of 2015. And the most interesting discovery will surely be when the page turns next New Year’s Eve and I find out what holds me.
Sometimes it takes years to find your own little niche….that place where you fit, find your calling, and feel great in your own skin. Often it is more about searching for and discovering your life’s sweet spot. It is a place where you thrive, you do things with virtually no effort, you glide through days even when they have challenges here and there, and you wear a goofy grin on your face pretty much all the time. You know then you have found your life’s sweet spot.
How do you put aside the negatives like the job that does not fulfill, the relationships that have dulled, the restlessness in your soul? Self-evaluate and ask yourself some questions like these:
*What am I great at…or what do others tell me I excel in?
*What brings me the most joy and contentment…day in and day out?
*What do I want to learn more about?
*What do I dream about, think about, ponder on most of the time?
*What will people pay me enough to do for my primary living or at least I think they might?
*What do others keep asking me to do for them?
Look through your past jobs, relationships, hobbies, committees and club activities. Where did you serve, what did you do, and how did you feel you did in those positions and places? Any stand out for you as GREAT? If so, that could be the place you need to pursue as your permanent calling…your sweet spot.
I am pretty sure I have found my sweet spot in my work life. I love what I do, people are paying me to do it, and over time I can see myself and my company becoming the “go to” place for the services and products I provide. It is comforting and exciting to be in this spot, and I can tell you…right now it feels pretty sweet.
I can always tell when my daughter, Samantha, has made her first visit to my house at Christmas time…. the donkey ends up upstairs in the loft of the Nativity. She claims “It’s a Christmas MIRACLE!!! “, but I think that donkey got a little boost.
We could all use a little encouragement at the holidays. Some have had a difficult year and experienced a job loss, fire in their home, sickness, lost a loved one through death or divorce. It only takes a split second to smile, wave, write a note…but the effects could last a lifetime with that one individual. Wouldn’t you love to be a life-changer for someone?
Do you know anyone who might need a little “boost” so they can have their own Christmas miracle? Take the time this holiday to pay it forward. You might just start a tradition of your own.
I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. Seemed to be a way to set yourself up for disappointment or failure at times, and often pretty quickly after the first week of the enactment of the resolution. I have always found it easier to live a resolved life and try to make the most of each day personally and professionally.
As it nears the Christmas holidays, I watch the fuss and bustle, the bright eyes of children sitting on Santa’s knee as parents tap their feet wanting to get to their next destination, and the frantic gathering of families from far and wide and I find I am pondering my own life this last year more so than usual. There were so many rushed moments, and sadly even missed moments as I struggled to stay ahead of my business, moving into a new space which was daunting in the short time frame, and I cringe when I see my usually near spotless home has become crowded and unkempt, to me anyway. As the outside surroundings of my life have changed, my inside serenity kind of feels the same as the year draws to a close…unkempt, crowded and complicated. It’s time for some resolutions.
My adjectives for 2015 will be “Frugal and Simple”. In the New Year, I resolve to cut down on the things that fill up my home…those things I must care for, wash, clean, dust and otherwise spruce up to keep the health department at bay. I will keep only those things needed to perpetuate living for the day and those things I LOVE, not just like. I will be frugal with my time, spending it with those I love and even alone more rather than complicating a very simple, quiet life, which is what I really desire. I will get into nature more, enjoy the outdoors, and live it simply in the moment. What will be your adjectives for 2015? Do you have New Year’s resolutions?