Costco

CostcoRecently I went to Costco. I had gotten a deal on a membership so thought I would give it a shot.  Figured early Sunday morning would be my best bet as I don’t like crowds and wanted it to be as painless as possible.  I didn’t know what I would find there but always like looking.

Finding a parking space is like winning the lottery in a place that large but I happened to get lucky and found myself inside at the membership counter.  Usually there would be a line but today I walked right up to the counter.  The woman who helped me could not have been more helpful and friendly.  Well, I thought, this is pretty painless so far but was waiting for the ball to drop  once I got into the store.

I was looking for a new phone and happened on a kiosk that was selling what I needed.  “Can’t imagine I’ll get it here” I said to myself but again thought I’d try my luck.  And once again the gentleman that helped me was funny and very knowledgeable. Even his name, Frankie, was down home.

With phone in hand I proceeded to do my shopping being assisted as if I was in a small town store.  Everyone seemed to be there just for me.  But I also believe that my attitude made a tremendous difference.  I knew it was going to take time but I resigned myself to take it step by step.  I didn’t have a specific schedule so I didn’t feel anxious to be anywhere else.

At the check out I had a lovely discussion with the cashier about the best way to water orchids as I was in the process of buying one.  He wanted to purchase one for his wife but was afraid he didn’t know how to take care of it.  He was so thankful for the information as he wanted to surprise her.  Here was a store the size of Costco that could actually be that personable.  But then again I reached out and received back what everyone wants…a bit of kindness.

When I was growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio we use to go to the local “pony keg” which today would be the Seven Eleven.  We’d always stopped off on our walk home from school to get some candy and conversation with the family who own it.  Next door was a bakery own by a Swedish family that had settled there and brought with them their amazing delicacies.  They were part of the neighborhood and even today it still brings back memories of a childhood long gone.

And that brings me back to Costco.  With all of the mom and pop stores seeming to fade I realized standing in Costco that as much as I missed the small establishments I could still have the same small town girl in me.  That there are people out there with the same beliefs that I have.  They work hard and want to show good customer service.  It doesn’t always happen.  There are those days that it seems like that doesn’t exist.  But if I’m really honest with myself I haven’t brought my best customer attitude with me on those days.

What I do notice is that when I start up a  genuine and positive conversation the bulk of the time, like the bulk items in Costco, I receive a genuine and positive response back.

 

 

Transparent

TransparencyI have to admit recently I have been struggling with my life and what I am planning to do.  I have gotten to an age where I have done one thing for a long time.  I am grateful for the places it has taken me and the opportunity to be creative.  It’s been a great way to make a very nice living.

I am looking for another outlet to keep me motivated and excited which will not replace the work I am doing but enhance it.  There’s only so many conversations you can have about the “business” and all the changes it is going through.  It is definitely not like it use to be in the way that it seemed more of a community.  I don’t think it is just in my business.  I think it is the world in general. A lot of times the conversations on sets are about the tax incentives and when or if the jobs will  come back to California.  People are hoping that this new bill will give California a chance to claim some of it’s glory and jobs back.

In recent years a lot of the business has gone to other locations leaving many people here out of work.  I don’t know if it’s because I have been in the business a long time but it seems many people are panicking over their future.  I have also heard conversations that seem identical to mine in other professions.  I notice there are more small businesses trying to make their way among the big world of  conglomerates.  Their worries are very much like my own. There are countless articles about how someone started in their kitchen and now own 15 restaurants.  Is it possible?  Absolutely.  Is it possible for everyone?  I don’t think so.  The articles don’t go into how many countless hours went into being so successful.  And that success is based mostly on how much  money has been made.  We can talk about passion and freedom and blah, blah, blah.  But that freedom is a lot of times not so free.  I now think my freedom is about how much time is really mine.

I was driving to work the other day through a park.  I was listening to beautiful music on the radio and the sun was streaming through the trees.  For the moment I was incredibly happy. I actually started to cry at the beauty.  Before I would have thought that silly.  But now those times are so fleeting that I was happy for the release.  If only for that brief moment.  I wanted to continue my drive but arrived at my destination and I was back in work mode.

My head starts to spin when I look at all of the businesses and ideas and articles about making it on your own.  I did have a small business on the side and it sucked the life right out of me.  It also hurt me in many other ways that were much more personal and long lasting.  It is very hard for me to trust like I did in the past but I’m working on getting back to basics.  And this is where transparency becomes so important to me.

I don’t think it is voicing my opinion on every topic but I do believe it is being more transparent with what I want out of life NOW.  I need to try to stifle the voice in my head that tells me I have to always keep busy.   Which in my mind is to work and make money to support my way of life.

If I am really transparent with myself,  I need to look at the fact that I am restless and down right confused.  Basically, I’m scared.  I’m scared for those days when I will have the time to enjoy the beauty of that park but will be too tired or not healthy enough because I have pushed too much.

Bali is going to be wonderful, eye opening and challenging for my mind and my spirit. I have refused work for the month of November which is difficult for me as work has always been my security.   Let’s hope some or even all becomes crystal clear what my next move will be in this sometimes not so transparent world.

 

 

Tennis

TennisI’ve been watching the US Open this past week and I am always amazed how these athletes, both experienced and not so experienced, are so focused.  How, with being on a world stage watched by millions, they are able to show up and actually perform.  I’m lucky I can focus for ten minutes much less hours on end.  And that is not just mentally but physically as well.

My son played tennis for a number of years and I was a nervous wreck watching him in the stands.  I can only imagine what it was like on the court.  And then multiply that by so much more with these pros and my respect and awe goes to another level. Add to the hours of practice and the dedication it takes to keep going even when you lose and that determination is an inspiration to me.

I recently watched a fifteen year old girl win her first US open match and was so impressed by her demeanor.  She had a quiet maturity within her girlish giggles of sheer surprise and excitement of actually checking off something from her bucket list (if she even has one…I think that happens when you get older and realize that you need or want a bucket list).

Where does that talent, dedication and determination come from at such a young age?  At fifteen I was wondering what outfit I would buy from Casual Corner with my babysitting money.  The thought of being in the US Open to me was like being able to take a shuttle to Mars.

At nineteen the tennis bug finally bit me and I was obsessed with watching every match Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova played.  I’d call in sick from my job so I wouldn’t miss one stroke.  I played everyday and entered a local tennis tournament to see how successful I would be.  I played the top seed in the tournament and never got to feel the thrill of a win. And then I quit competing.

Not having any coaching except from playing with guys  I was completely ill equipped with the knowledge or the skill to compete. I was also too old to even think about doing anything but play for fun.   But I still went out and tried.  I learned something about myself that day.  My nerves and focus were not cut out to compete on the tennis court. I was lost in my life at the time and was grasping at straws.  Anything to make me feel complete.  Luckily I did find my love in the arts and was on my way.  I think sometimes we often wonder if we could have done something but were too afraid to fail.  I realize now that just going out and doing it I knew I needed to move on and find my way in something else.

I have read where great champions have come from the toughest backgrounds and they rise to the occasion and come out a winner.  Novak Djokovic is one of those champions.  He grew up in war torn Serbia  where bombings were a daily occurrence.  He said for three months he and his family would spend the night in the basement because of the bombings.  Djokovic said that the hardships of war drove him to pursue tennis with even greater determination.  He is number one in the world at age 27.  Now that’s focus.

I am finding more and more that I have to follow my gut to tell me when it is time to move on.  To know that I have given it my best shot.   I didn’t win  any tennis tournaments but I have won some of my own personal battles.  It may not have made it on television but they are definitely milestones for me.  I need to keep remembering no matter what age we are that our competition is really with ourselves.  May sound trite at first but let it settle.  For me, that’s the real game.