So on a lighter note…when I was 6, I was rushed to the ER for a very peculiar predicament. I know you’re thinking life or death emergency, but calm your nerves and put on a smile, we are about to go for a wild ride!
Preface: Of all the gifts I have ever received in my childhood, my favorite gift was a 5 gallon ice cream bucket decorated with glued felt on the outside. I remember having to really pry the top open carefully using my fingertips to inch my way around, lifting as I went. Finally, I peeled the plastic teeth apart to reveal the most magical sight. The old 5 gallon jug of ice cream was repurposed as an art studio on the go. It was filled with every art supply a kid could imagine; pad of paper, watercolors, crayons, markers, glue, scissors… GASP!
Over time that 5 gallon jug that went everywhere with me. I was never without it. However, now its a bucket filled with the equivalent of crayon quicksand made of paperless wax nubbins.
And the smell…was HEAVEN!
So, fast forward to me spending some time at my grandmother’s house approximately 6 years old. I am sprawled out on the green shag carpet (circa 1979) with a sketch pad and a brand new box of crayons to add to my hoard. The 64 pack with the built-in sharpener…AHHHH…in my world, that was the equivalent of the golden ticket to the Wonka Factory.
All the tools I needed to make the pages come alive and keep me occupied in wonderment for hours. Now, at this precise moment my 6 year old brain felt a booger. I can see you smiling…what would you do? Time to strategize. I realized I had to make a choice. I looked at the box of all the beautiful new crayons and had pick the “one.” You know, the sacrificial pawn? It was SKY BLUE…
Sky blue was the one crayon in the box that never had a chance with its waxy like texture. It never looked smooth and would glob up the more you used pressure. Yuck! I carefully extracted the tool from the box and…
I WENT IN….ALL IN!!!
Using the perfect point to reach this nose goblin, carefully of course… and the tip breaks! WOW. If I didn’t dis-like this color before, I really dis-liked it now. The search and rescue mission failed. I pushed the fragment farther up my nose. I walked calmly to my grandmother to show her my stupidity and her efforts to retrieve it were also futile. It was really lodged in there…off the ER we go.
I sat on the table while doctors forced mini-forceps up my nose, trying to hold back their laughter while they were digging for gold… well actually sky blue.
Now, as I look back at this experience, I am not traumatized or embarrassed. I am grateful to have grown-up in a generation where imagination ruled.
Problem-solving skills on point! (PUN INTENDED)
Mindful parent lesson: Take the tablet or phone out of your child’s hands and yours. Teach them to interact with people. Talk with your child and let them ask a trillion “why” questions. Teach them to use art, music, or reading as an outlet. Let your kids know it’s ok to be silly. It’s ok if their imaginary friend wants to come for dinner. And if they want to color their grass purple, encourage them to make it the most beautiful purple anyone could imagine.
Praise them for their open minds and unlimited potential.
“The imagination is the golden pathway to everywhere.”
We need to talk because I can’t stop laughing…I did it! I motivated myself to dust off the yoga mat after 6 years and get my life together. First of all, I didn’t choose a difficult type of class, and thought “No problem, I can modify, I’m experienced.” Oh yeah, and to make matters worse I dragged my mom to come along for her first time.
It went sort of like this:
1 min in: We give a confident smile to one another thinking “Let’s do this.” 10 minutes in: She and I look at each other in disbelief, “Wow, this is difficult.” 15 minutes in: We look at each other again and add, “WTF!” 16 minutes in: We are both in child pose bowing our heads in shame, as the rest of class doesn’t whimper. 17 minutes in: We sit on the mats glancing at each other, drenched in sweat, giving the universal facial expression for “DYING!”
Just then, the teacher starts to walk around. We both start casually stretching our necks looking behind us, so we can avoid the teacher’s glance. We lay on our stomachs ready to melt into the floor with some corpse pose soon?! (fingers crossed). 30 minute in: We added in some floor work, not by choice, but we were already down there…why not?! 35 minutes in: We unanimously express that we both feel like barfing, and we lay with our foreheads on the mat until the teacher says get ready for the final savasana. (Here it comes, some desperately needed relaxation!!) Now, at 36 minutes precisely, something magical happens. A synchronicity of proportions occurred because just last night my husband added a wonderful thought to the universe that people tend to fart in yoga class, so stay classy if that happens.
Cue the release of intention into the universe as easily as blowing dandelion seeds into the wind…
36 minutes in: I roll over to get on my back and let it RIP (unintentionally, scouts honor!) I stare at the ceiling holding back the smile thinking how unfortunate the dude was in front me. I know it sounds crazy, and call it what you want, karma, intuition, synchronicity, de-ja-vu, signs, coincidence…but it happened. It was at 45 minutes that it got real serious…my mom DOES THE SAME THING! BIGGER! We can barely roll up to sitting position, our hands come together giving thanks for today….(I shutter a high pitch squeal trying to mask my laughter). I bring my hands to my heart…NAMASTE! (I squeal again, and this time I look behind me giving that old “please don’t look at me”, while I try to physically restrain myself from laughter with every muscle that still works). Breathe! This was for sure the most intense relaxation technique I have ever attempted, some real seriousness. It worked. Until the class was over…. 47 minutes in: We acknowledge our immature behavior practically peeing our pants with laughter over the realty that we both did exactly what our most embarrassing fears would be…. In that moment, I was happy. In that moment, me and my mom shared a bond of powerful emotion, an exchange of respect, an understanding of humility, and an innocence that transcends any material gift. We made a connection.
Lesson: It’s the small things in life that are really big, so stop worrying about the big things because in the end they are so small.
I grew up in retail cosmetics. I say grew up because I started the career at a very crucial time for my development as a woman. I was a new mother with a new agenda which included making this tiny human proud to call me mom. I was driven to make a change in my life and ran away from the service industry which was my home for 8 years. I was slinging chicken wings during the day, then I bartended in a nightclub that hosted raves all night. Needless to say, I wasn’t in a position in my life to be a role model for my daughter and in process of having my second midlife crisis.
(Thought bubble over head shows a slide show of all the crazy pictures at the end of the movie “The Hangover”) That was my life in a nutshell! I definitely needed a nudge to do better.
Oh boy, my second midlife crisis. Now that was fun! Ok, I digress… those stories for another day.
Now, at this point in the story, 10 years have passed, and I have been very successful in customer service, makeup artistry, business management, and I totally immersed myself into a brand that I loved. Oh yeah, I drank the Kool-aid and for a while it tasted good. However, I started to notice that every time in my career I did not take the advice of some executive or senior manager about my career path, I was outed from the popular crowd just a little bit. This went on for another 10 years, until I was hanging on to the fringe of the brand’s philosophies, feeling just like you do when you ride the Giant Swing at the carnival. You know… elated but scared for your life at the same time. I remember spending the entire 3 minutes of the ride clinging to life, imagining how and where I would land if the chains broke and catapulted me into the unknown. Scared AF!
The company took a turn for the worse and the retail industry tanked, staffing adjustments, benefit cuts, lay-offs, job enlargement, and all these changes took place at strategic times secretly and universally for the entire company, no one was safe. The quick decision of the company to rip the band-aid off the bleeding wound caused an infection of bitter overworked employees, myself included. I took a promotion in a dying location thinking it would position myself for safety as the ship sank…(insert a slow sarcastic tone) yeeeeaaaahh… don’t do that. Not only did I have no way out, I backed myself into a corner. Then the most tragic experience of my life happened…my dad passed away. From December 21 to Dec 31 of December 2017, the power switch was activated in my soul. For you visual learners, I was winning a strong woman competition flipping a truck tire of emotion like it was sculpted from weightless foam. During those 10 days, my entire view of the world changed, and I was ready to make a move.
I began actively searching job postings for positions of any kind, and I put my pride aside to let my boss know I would greatly appreciate her support. The company obliged to my surprise, and they stuck me exactly where I needed to be (insert sarcasm). I was afforded the assisting leadership role under a manager that I can only describe as dark, secretive, and dishonest (straight up movie villain style). A cringe-worthy supervisor that an employee dreads to be around. It feels like a hopeless situation, I relied on my interactions with customers to lift my day. Can you imagine? It’s usually the customers that are cringe-worthy, and now I was hoping to connect with anyone just avoid the negativity that was my new work-life.
(Thought bubble reads: It’s time to go!)
What are dreams if you can’t make them come true because you’re slaving away for someone else’s dream? Expending all your energy to something that you will not be thanked for or reap any benefit, other than a small financial gain that weighs you down like a ball and chain because now you’re accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Financial growth should never be the traded for emotional abuse. Stay mindful, (professional note) you cannot change someone else’s poor behavior if they are in denial; however, there is hope because you can change the way you react to it. If you need a list of emotional abusive behaviors, here you go. I had to pick my top five-ish because the list could go on forever.
Reactive and non-patient
Rude and boisterous
Judgmental and gossipy
Conditional and shows favoritism
Oppressive and authoritarian
No, this isn’t a villain in a horror movie, it’s your boss!
Breathe. Let it go!
Reaction fuels the fire
Why do you think we are so consumed by other’s behaviors, especially at work? Here’s why! In a workplace environment, we are the shell of our personalities. We are putting on a front, for the world to judge. WHAT’S THIS? WE ARE A DEAD ONE OF THESE!
Still keeping our shape, just lifeless. Smooth segue
I don’t want to be a dead, crustacean looking, shell of myself with a painted clown face exhibiting absurd behavior which compromises everything about myself that is unique and wonderful!
Time to burn that bridge
I made a conscious effort to burn my bridge, not because I was scared, but because I needed to challenge myself to become more.
“Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge” – Don Henley Musician
According to the Forbes article written by Liz Ryan, the 5 exceptions to burning a bridge include:
You will be tempted to go back some day, work twice as hard, and expect a different result #insanity
Someone tries to dim your flame, and you have to be someone you’re not just to prove to someone you don’t like, that you are worthy. Mean girls are ugly.
Today I woke up to a familiar situation in my life…
(Insert anyone here, whining): “Why doesn’t anyone else know what I mean when I’m silent? Why can’t others know I have expectations?”
Me: “Did you explain what your silence means to others?”
(Truly, insert anyone): No?
Me: “Did you tell others what your expectations are?”
(Really, anyone will do): No?
Me: I think you’ve answered your own questions!
…end scene (click)
Not everyone is at the same pace as you
Through this journey of becoming mindful, there are going to be people in your life that just don’t get it…yet! I used to allow this to make me angry. I used to think I had to fix the problem for them. I would hold on to the resentment of someone stealing my positive energy with their own agenda ALL DAY. Here come’s the thought bubble…”why?”
I have realized over time and with expereince that only I have the power to allow myself to be affected by others.
Now reach up and grab that thought bubble, gently pull it over yourself like a fort of solitude. You know the kind that you would make as a kid with a sheet? You have your trusty flashlight, some music from a small boombox ( the one speaker cassette player kind blasting Joan Jett singing “I love Rock and Roll”), and a pad of Mad Libs waiting for friend to fill in the blanks so you guys can laugh at the funny story.
Feels good, right? Are you smiling?
That’s what it is like to survive in our society today. We need to embrace our fort of solitude everywhere all the time. Do not allow negative vibes to penetrate your bubble. People that are not ready to change will try, unknowingly, to steal a glimmer of your shine to feel better. Don’t let them. You have to be in control of your emotions. This means not getting angry, not fixing anyone else’s problem, and definitely not taking their emotional baggage with you.
Sometimes in life, we can help people by not helping at all!
Give them back the responsibility of owning their own closed mind, emotions, and opinions. When you do, their hard shell will soften and their insides will become strong. Just like an egg in hot water. Confidence grows when you really get to know “you.” A person learning to be mindful addresses where their emotions are really coming from, and knowing their opinion is just that…their opinion!
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi
Your world consists of anyone you allow to be in it, and if you’re patient the people you choose will catch up to your pace.
The fort of solitude is really safe, but it is much more fun with a friend!