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Moments

Life is made up of a series of moments. Many pass by without a second thought; a few are special enough to give us pause. But the rare ones are the ones that change us. They steal our breath away and alter the very core of our beings.
You read about these moments in novels and watch them play out in movies. How the impact of one event can create ripples in the lives that are affected. You watch in anticipation of whether the main character will use every ounce of strength they possess to change for the better or if they will slowly start to unravel. The suspense builds to a choice. Which will it be?
I never thought I’d find myself in that position. It never occurred to me that my life wouldn’t go exactly as I had planned. I assumed that my reckless optimism would help me forge my way through the muck and madness that comes with growing up. Adults never tell you that the world will do its best to beat the positivity out of you. They don’t tell you that no matter how hard you work there will be times that looking on the bright side won’t help. I’m sure they just want to protect us. To keep us safe from everything that will try to tear us down. But they can’t protect us from everything.
After my niece passed away, I knew nothing would be the same again. It was the first time in my 27 years that I knew what people meant when they said that life isn’t fair. My unwavering positivity flickered and I struggled with keeping it turned on. I became really good at boxing up my feelings and erecting a false face. I felt this overwhelming pressure to be ok. Like people expected me to be bounce back after a specific amount of time. What I am learning is that there is no bouncing back; no way to go back to a world before this tragedy. And I wouldn’t want that. I wouldn’t want to live in a place where this perfect, beautiful little girl was never loved. If the pain we feel for her loss is any indication, that little girl is one of the most loved in the world. That kind of love and loss is something you can never just get over.
I spent the next year clawing my way towards a sense of normalcy that I wasn’t sure even existed any longer. As the anniversary of her birth and the day of her death approached, I found myself becoming more and more closed off. There was this constant pressure in my chest. I wasn’t sleeping. I didn’t want to hang out with anyone, but when I was left alone, it felt as if I was suffocating. Tears flowed regularly and the walls I had so painstakingly built to house the grief crumbled. It took me a full year before I could visit her grave. And when I did, I cried just as much I did on the day I kissed her goodbye. So much for finding ‘normal.’
I’m not sure how, but I survived that week. I survived the tears, and the heartache; the sleepless nights and the anger towards the universe. I made it through and I felt like I could finally start to heal. But life or karma or whoever decides our fates, wasn’t done yet.
I never could have predicted what October 2016 would hold. Most days I still try to convince myself that it didn’t happen. But it did happen. And I feel like I’ve been living in a nightmare ever since. I spent 23 hours over the course of 3 days in a car travelling to and from Florida to say goodbye to my grandpa. It was the first time in 4 years that I was able to see him and sometimes the guilt I feel over that fact threatens to swallow me whole. This was the man who watched over me as I grew up, taught me how to play cards, and danced with me around bonfires. He showed me how to shoot pool and bait my own hook. He instilled in me an intense love of cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies that I don’t even understand sometimes. And now I had to say goodbye.
I will be forever grateful for those few hours that I got to spend with him. Our conversation didn’t make much sense and it didn’t last very long, but I was able to laugh with him and tell him I love him. I got to hold his hand and kiss his forehead. As hard as it was to walk out of that hospice room for the last time, I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.
My grandpa passed away the Wednesday after we arrived back home. I had just finished getting ready for work and was sitting down to eat my breakfast when I pulled out my phone to check Facebook. The first thing I saw in my newsfeed was a picture of him with some words written beneath it. To be honest, I don’t even think I read beyond the point where it said he was gone. I can remember how quiet it became in my apartment and how it felt like everything had just stopped. It took everything I had to not fall apart. I thought if I could just bulldoze my way through work I could go home and unravel in the safe space of my husband. I’d be ok. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t get that chance.
When I got home, the shaky ground I had been standing on collapsed. The nightmare I thought I was living in became almost too much to bear. I will never forget the look on my husband’s face when he found out that one of his friends had committed suicide. It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to watch the one person you love most in the world, get his heart broken and knowing that there isn’t anything you can do to make it better for him.
When he left the apartment that night, it was as if he took all the oxygen with him. I couldn’t breathe and could barely stand up on my own. I wrapped my arms around myself afraid that if I let go there wouldn’t be anything left holding me together. This couldn’t be happening. There is no way the world could be this unfair.
The following weeks were full of lessons. I learned that my husband is one of the strongest people I know. I watched as he became the rock for this group of people who couldn’t make sense of what was happening. He did everything he possibly could to help in an unimaginable situation. I learned that there is no measure of time long enough to prepare yourself to hear your husband speak at his friend’s funeral or to watch him carry his casket. I learned that even when you cry every day for weeks, your body still manages to find a reserve stock of tears. The hardest part of saying goodbye is having to do it over every single day.
One of the things I have loved most about myself is my ability to see the bright side of everything. How no matter what was going on, I could put a genuine smile on my face and find some way to make it better. I was naïve in thinking that the world could never knock out my sunshine. That I could go through my life radiating constant positivity. I’ve learned that this is an unrealistic expectation that I have had for myself.
The last 6 months I have been trying everything I can to stay out of my own head. The quiet moments are always the hardest; when the world is still and there is nothing left to distract my mind. I become very aware of my breathing and my mind starts to wander. Without realizing it, my subconscious will start showing me things that I’d rather not see and then I start to wonder what is wrong with me. I tried closing my eyes tight to drown out the onslaught of these thoughts but when I shut them, there is a steady stream of memories playing on a constant loop. There is no escaping it, even in sleep. In all of my life I have never had such vivid dreams as these ones. I find myself waking up with immense anxiety sitting in my chest after these dreams. Some days it’s so overwhelming that it’s hard to breathe. It takes me hours, if not days, to shake that feeling.
Working helps. It’s a scheduled routine where people expect me to be a specific place for a specific amount of time. They expect me to accomplish specific tasks and it forces me squash as much of the anxiety as I can. Outside of work is where I’ve been having issues. I have been struggling with balancing time spent by myself and time spent with other people. I want to be able to just go somewhere on a whim or meet up with friends spontaneously, but I’ve been finding it difficult to do anything that isn’t planned. Even hearing someone suggesting a different game plan instantly makes my heart race and my chest tighten. It’s not that I don’t want to go, because I do. I want to see people and go on adventures. I want to catch up with old friends and leave the house without a game plan. I want so badly to find that carefree, happy, and optimistic person I used to be. I’m trying, I promise. But some days I just can’t. I ask that you be patient while I am searching for her.
I write this not to gain sympathy, but merely as a tool to help myself process some of the most difficult emotions I have ever had to deal with. It’s hard to know where to start when you’ve never experienced anything like this before. I’ve been carrying around a tremendous amount of weight and writing helps to lighten that load; almost as if I am plucking the thoughts right out of my head and containing them in this document. Sounds silly, I know, but it seems to be helping.
It’s been six months since the ground fell out from underneath my feet and I am learning how to keep moving forward through this grief. Some days are good. I find myself laughing and smiling without having to force it and I know that means I’m healing. The bad days are still really rough. They tend to sneak up on me in a song lyric that takes my breath away or a dream that tricks me into thinking it is reality; forcing me to relive moments over and over again. I know this is all part of the process. Things will get better.
I’m ready for the part in all the books and movies where the main character starts to rebound. Where they regain their footing and start to build who they are after the moment that changed their lives. You know that they can never be the same person they were before their world changed, but the tone in the story leads you to believe that the new version of who they are will be just fine. They will start laughing without feeling guilty and making new memories. And one day, they will be able to look back and remember what happened and it won’t cripple them. It will sting and it will be sad, but it won’t take the wind out of their sails as it once did.
These moments that alter the core of our being are what shape us into the people we are. Falling in love. Having children. Completing a bucket list item. Chasing your dreams. These are all things that become part of us. But people don’t talk much about death as being one of those moments. Death is sad and tragic. It’s hard and oftentimes unfair. It forces us to cope with tough emotions and teaches us how to keep putting one foot in front of another. It is a jarring reminder that we don’t know how long we have with the people we love. Death changes the living.
If you are reading this, know that somehow, some way, you have changed my life. And I thank you for that. Know that you are loved and wanted; and that no matter how long it’s been since we’ve spoken, or what happened the last time we had contact, you can always reach out to me. Thank you for being a part of my life and thank you for continuing to be patient with me as I figure out who I am after these losses. You are important. Remember that.

Grief

This is something that I have been working on for a little while now. I wanted to read it, but I couldn’t make it through the whole thing without breaking down. This was the healthiest way I could get out what I have been feeling since October when my grandpa died on the same day as a friend committed suicide. Emotions are complicated and grief is no exception. For those who are struggling with the same things, this is your trigger warning. Thank you for reading, and I understand if you can’t. Sending so much love and positivity to my friends and family.

 

Grief

 
I got out of bed today.
I did my best to leave the demons behind on my pillow.
The ones who wage a constant battle in my dreams,
With their swords of anxiety and worry, clamoring and clanking
Coinciding with my restlessness.
I left the house today.
I did my best to weld together a thick armor.
In an attempt to protect myself from things no one can see.

I cross the days off my calendar with a fine tip green sharpie and a ruler.
It’s been almost 4 months since I forgot how to breathe.
If I were being truthful, it probably started much earlier, only now, too much has happened.
Except death isn’t something that ‘happens.’
It’s something that stops things from happening.
It is lives that are gone and futures that are stolen.
It’s lungs that no longer expand and eyes that cannot see.
Death stops things.
What I am learning about grief is that it is uncontrollable and unpredictable.
The scent of a fire sends me back to when camping meant dirty feet and golf cart rides.
Where grandpa would dance to country radio and teach us to play cards.
It takes me back to before and makes me watch, knowing what will happen next.
Yellow makes me think of the gown I had to wear when I kissed you goodbye.
It is inescapable and I am frozen.
Grief finds me in a picture online or a song lyric while I am driving.
It seeks me out at work when a coworker jokingly says he should kill himself.
He doesn’t know that his words trigger the grief.
He doesn’t know that even though I am looking at him, all I can see is a casket.
That while he is speaking, all I can hear are sobs echoing off the caverness ceiling of a church.
Cries from friends and family for a man who never made it out of his twenties.
Looking at my coworker, I am frozen.
Afraid to move or speak out of fear of losing my carefully placed armor.
Grief is confusing.
It’s not knowing who I am crying for today.
Whether the tears that are staining my pillow are for those we buried or for those the buried  left behind.
Some days it’s knowing that I am crying for both and I am frozen.
I’ve always been known as the sensitive one.
And lately it feels as if Niagara Falls lives on standby in my head.
With the tiniest  provocation, the waterfall will pour out of my eyes, leaving proof of my softness streaked and stained down my cheeks.
My instinct is to be strong for me, for my husband, but my body is not my own right now.
It is  held captive by fear and sadness and it leaves me frozen in place.
I am still trying to just push what I feel away.
Separate these emotions from my day to day,
But these feelings are like strings and each one I have swallowed has become twisted and knotted in the pit of my stomach.
Turning sour, like an ulcer; eating away from the inside out.
I cannot move.
Some days I don’t understand what is wrong with me.
I think that enough time has passed and I should be moving on from this stage.
But I am frozen.
Maybe, with time, I can grow out of these feelings.
Like the clothes of my childhood that no longer fit the awkward shape of my teenage body.
Maybe I can remove them from the closet of my soul and pack them neatly away in a box.
Mark it for goodwill and drop them off in hopes that someone else could benefit from them.
But grief is not something I can just pack away.
It is a shape shifter, constantly taking new form.
It steals the breath from my body and I have to fight the urge to gasp for air.
It’s holding me hostage inside my head and some days it locks me inside my home, frozen.
This invisible monster has taken up residence inside barely leaving room for me.
My body is holding this grief like a balloon captures air.
Filling and stretching until I can no longer contain the pressure.
How is one person supposed to manage this pain?
My happy has turned its back on me.
My shoulders carry the weight of people gone too soon.
And my bones are supporting this guilt that wont leave me alone.
My tears aren’t always my own, and I don’t always understand the anxiety in my chest.
The demons from my dreams always find their way back to me,
Looking for war when I just want one moment of peace.
But they are relentless.
Constantly showing me how fire turns memory into ash.
Or putting me inside the darkness of a wooden box.
Where it is dirty and cold and I am frozen.
I am always frozen.
So I cross the days off my calendar with a fine tip green sharpie and a ruler.
One precise line from top right to bottom left.
Visually marking the passage of time.
I hope one day this will trick my mind to unfreeze my body, and let me step forward.

Jesus Loves: A Spoken Word Poem

Ok so this is my first attempt at a spoken work poem and I am pretty excited with how it turned out. The topic in this is something that has been weighing heavy on my heart for a while. This is not intended to start a riot or stir up anything. This is simply a release of things I have been holding onto for a long time. So please, if you feel the need to comment, be gentle. It’s not easy bearing your heart….

 

Jesus Loves

So this whole meditation thing is amazing. I may not be as consistent with it as I’d like to be, but it is definitely a start. Heck, I may even be doing it wrong. All I know is that I feel a heck of a lot better.

I just finished reading “Count Your Blessings: The Healing Power of Gratitude and Love” By: Dr. John Demartini and man is there a lot of truth in that book. I found myself highlighting in my Kindle so many great tips and lessons that I wanted to remember.  One of my favorite quotes from the book is “Plant flowers or forever pull weeds.” So simple, yet so  brilliant! Those six little words hit me like a ton of bricks. How true is that statement? If you don’t start working towards what you want in life, you will never get there. If you aren’t happy with yourself, your job, your situation, etc., then you need to change something. What you are experiencing is lack of a goal. What you are ‘pulling’ is just stuff that is sitting in place of what you want. If you don’t try, you will continue to find yourself in situations that you are unhappy with. Making one positive change can start you on a path towards complete happiness. To a place where you want to be. More flowers and less weeds. Brilliant!

Meditation: Round 2

When something doesn’t seem to feel quite right, it probably isn’t. This is so true especially when you are talking about yourself and how you feel. If you have been reading along, you are familiar with the fact that I just feel out of whack. I am stressed, antsy, exhausted, etc. and so I decided that I needed to take steps towards bettering myself and finding my center. I am trying new things and evaluating how they make me feel. So far I am incredibly excited about what is happening!

I have definitely decided that I think I love meditation. 🙂

I consider my first attempt on Saturday a successful one and knew that I needed to try it again. So Sunday evening right before I went to bed, I dove into attempt number two! I sat on the floor of our bedroom and set the timer for 10 minutes. I immediately began to concentrate on my breathing while trying to tune out the crazy thoughts that run rampant in my mind. Part of me felt silly for what I was doing, but the bigger part knew that I needed to give this a serious go in order to find the peace and balance that is so desperately needed right now. Once I relaxed into my meditation, I decided to start telling my body to relax. Starting at the top of my head and working my way down to my toes, I let my muscles relax. I told the stress to leave my body. That it was no longer welcome. Once I finished that, I had this little tingly-like feeling telling me to recite some affirmations. From what I can only assume was my inner voice, I found the perfect affirmation/mantra for me:

“I am whole. I am happy. I am healthy. I am loved. I am Love.”

I kept reciting that over and over again until the timer went off. Before opening my eyes, I rolled my shoulders and did some light stretching and I felt great! I climbed into bed and fell right asleep! Now it could have been a coincidence, but I choose to believe that because I had that 10 minute unwind and recharge session, but I slept like a baby! It was amazing! Call me crazy if you wish, but this is happening.

I am challenging myself to meditate once a day for at least 10 minutes. I really, truly think that this is going to be incredible! Who’s with me?

Well, I did it. I just finished my very first meditation! I had high aspirations to be sitting in a secluded spot outside in nature and really doing it right but apparently the Universe had other plans. After a very long (54 hour) work week and a bout with a flu bug, I decided I needed to try it now. There’s no time like the present, right? So I gathered myself to a nice little chunk on the floor of my apartment and set my timer for 10 minutes. Not really sure what to do or expect, I tried to focus on breathing. The first thing that I noticed was that my mind sure is loud. There is so much going on, running about in the background, and I never even had a clue.. No wonder I am tired all the time! Sheesh!

I tried to clear my mind and focus on breathing once again. Sitting with my back straight and my head held high I tried to consciously relax my body and just breathe. The most ridiculous thoughts were popping into my head. “I am breathing to heavy.” “Is that how I sound all the time?” “Am I breathing right?” Am I breathing right?? Seriously? I have been breathing my whole life and my brain chooses this moment to ask if I am doing it right? Wow, Jen. Just, wow. Focus.

Once I got the hang of breathing normally, I was able to focus more on myself as a whole. I tend to carry my stress in between my shoulder blades and decided that I wanted to remove that stress. I tried to focus my thoughts and tell myself to release that stress down through my body and into the floor to be absorbed. I know this sounds crazy, but I felt it move. Seriously. I could feel the fiery sensation that typically manifests between my shoulders, moving down the center of my back. And me, being easily distracted, got excited! I lost focus and had to start from the beginning again. I’m not entirely sure what to think of that, but I know it happened. Call me crazy if you wish, but I know what I felt.

Before I knew it, my timer went off! I lasted the whole 10 minutes without opening my eyes or giving in to my distractions. It was pretty cool. I learned that not only is my mind is incredibly loud and messy, but also beautiful and powerful. Did I totally heal my body and relieve all the tension? No. But I sure as heck feel a lot better now than I did before I started. I will most definitely be trying this again. Here’s to hoping I can find my sweet spot!

Finding My Center

Something is missing; I just know it. There has been this nagging feeling that started in my head and has since travelled through every fiber of my being. For weeks I have been trying to figure out exactly what it is and I think I am finally uncovering the truth. I am missing. Or rather, more accurately, I am lost.

For weeks on end I have been stuck in this never-ending cycle that has overcome my life. Wake up, go to work, come home, go to bed. Repeat. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do as a Wig Specialist and Customer Service Associate and I have never been happier when it comes to living with and loving the man I am married to.  And sure, I have gone out with friends and seen family, but something is missing. I can feel it. It has nothing to do with others but everything to do with me. Somewhere along the way in the last few months, I have lost myself.

Just yesterday I had decided that I was going to come home from work, grab a book, and go sit on my back patio to soak up the warm spring weather and sunshine. I knew I needed to unwind and recharge and what better way to do that then to sit and listen to the birds sing, feel the cool breeze on my skin, and read an encouraging message. I used to be able to read anywhere with my uncanny ability to block out any potential distractions. I would be so immersed in whatever I was reading that nothing could interrupt me and I would be transported to a literary world full of wonder for hours at a time. Yesterday, I lasted a whole 5 minutes before my first distraction. My neighbors that live behind me have a garage where they constantly are working on a beat up truck with exhaust issues. Well they came out to tinker with the truck. There was metal on metal pounding and the rumble of the truck being started several times, along with various other noises that were drowning out any chance of a peaceful afternoon. I took a deep breath and tried to focus. It really shouldn’t be this hard to read. No sooner did I start getting into my book, my immediate neighbor came out to her patio and lit a cigarette. I, of course, was sitting downwind. About 5 minutes later, another neighbor came outside, this time with her little yippy dog. Once the little guy saw me, it was all over. He just went nuts. That’s about the time my husband came home and I gave up on my personal recharge.

I ended up being  more frustrated and uncomfortable after my attempt to regroup, than I was when I first sat down. I need to find a quiet place for me. A place where I can just sit in peace to release my stresses and frustrations and absorb the healing and calming elements of nature. I will be looking for a location this week for sure.

I talked to my husband about all this and he is wonderfully supportive. I told him I wanted to start taking walks with him in the evening so we can recharge together. I also expressed that I wanted to look into doing some yoga to help center myself. I feel so out of whack and I know I just need something to help my focus and stay grounded. I want to try meditating. I also need my creative outlet back. I used to love to write and I did it all the time. I have a thick journal of poetry that I had written while I was growing up and now reflecting on it, I can’t even begin to guess when the last time I wrote a poem was.

I realize this post makes it seem like I am incredibly sad, but I am not! I am happy and healthy and I have several jobs that keep my bills paid. I am married to the most incredible man that I could ever ask for. We have a roof over our heads and food in our fridge. We are incredibly blessed. I am incredibly blessed. This is more of a personal revelation and a chance for me to grow. It is time for me to take the time for myself. To center myself and to better myself in ways that will allow me grow as a person; to be who I was meant to be. It is time for a change.

Black Friday-The Aftermath

Well I did it. I survived another Black Friday working retail. I have a lot of mixed emotions about this retail holiday this year. My sister and I have been going shopping on Black Friday for the last 12 years in a row and this was the first year we didn’t go together. She’s 9 months pregnant and I had to work at 4am so that kind of put a damper on our tradition this year. It’s not really the shopping that I look forward too, but the time I get to spend with her just enjoying the season and each other. For some reason, this year we both just weren’t happy with what Black Friday has become. The sales weren’t that great and there wasn’t anything we just HAD to have and it seemed like all of the fun and excitement had been sucked away. I hope it will transition back into something more enjoyable and less about all the grumpy people grumbling about anything they can that might go wrong. There is a slight chance of that, right?

Since October I have been doing a lot of reading about what it means to be an Empath and how to cope with my emotions a little better. I have been trying to compartmentalize the emotions I have been feeling that aren’t mine and distinguish them from my own. It’s been a bit of a slow process. Lucky me though, I work in retail and can have plenty of practice in large crowds. Today really put that to a test. I have been up since 3 am and as hard as I tried when I got off work, I just couldn’t turn my brain off enough to nap. The amount of people that I interacted with today and the different emotions I’ve felt has been interesting to say the least. It is exhausting to try and protect yourself from the emotions of those around you when you are highly sensitive to them. Impatience, frustration, and anger were among the top of the list for the customers in our store today. This, I am realizing, is why I had trouble trying to nap when I got home.  I am so keyed up with all of these feelings, that I couldn’t settle down.

Constantly trying to block unwanted emotions while working with hundreds of people is just crazy. I need to learn how to do that better. My body aches, my head hurts, and my anxiety levels have been through the roof today. I know it is common after a long shift to be tired, but I am so glad I know why I am so much more than just tired. Black Friday shopping isn’t for the faint of heart, neither is working retail on Black Friday. Especially for someone like me. Here’s to hoping I can learn to better block myself and get back to enjoying Black Friday!

Retail Workers Are People Too

I’m just going to be real for a minute. The holidays are here and for many of us that work retail, it means a lot of extra long hours and about five times as many customers as the rest of the year. I get it. We choose to work retail and we know what is required of us. That being said, we are still people. I urge you to think about that while you are doing your shopping this year.

Now I know it can be frustrating and infuriating when things aren’t going the way you want them too. The lines are long. The check reader jams. The loyalty card system is malfunctioning. The register freezes. The sales are coming up wrong. The one perfect gift for your great Aunt Mary is all sold out. There are no more carts available. The list is endless.  Please understand that we are doing everything in our power to help you get the best deal you can get in the most efficient way possible. No amount of yelling, belittling, or ‘I want to speak to your manager’ is going to make it a smoother process. When has it become the ‘norm’ to talk to retail workers as if they are less than you? I love my job as a Customer Service Desk Associate. Is it the most glamorous job in the world? No. But I love interacting with people and help solving problems. What I don’t enjoy is having a customer treat me as if I am nothing but a nuisance.

For example, when you walk up to my counter you expect me to give you my full attention, I only ask the same of you. When I have to ask you the same question three times because you are texting or talking on your cell phone and then you roll your eyes at me as if I am being rude to you, that is not ok. Not only are you making your transaction longer and more difficult, you are also causing the people in line behind you to wait longer.

Since the holidays are upon us, here are some things to keep in mind while you are out shopping!

1. Never is it acceptable for you to yell, curse, or call a retail employee a name other than their given name/nametag name. You would think this would be a given. Unfortunately, it is not. For some reason, people feel the need to resort to name calling when things aren’t going their way. This is completely inappropriate and will not help to solve anything. Speaking from experience, the moment you call me a b****, is the moment I am less inclined to help resolve your issue.

2. Never is it acceptable for you to throw merchandise at an employee. Yes, I understand there was a problem with your purchase and yes I will help fix it. This does not require you to throw the item on the counter and demand that I “take care of it.” I will be delighted to help you even without all the theatrics.

3. Never is it acceptable for you to be on your cell phone during any point of your retail transaction. It is just plain rude. We do not want to hear all about your baby daddy drama or how your sister’s boyfriend’s brother got messed up at a party on Friday night, we want to help you quickly and efficiently. And whatever you do, do not hold your finger up at us and tell us to “hold on.” Newsflash, you are in line for a service. Once it is your turn, it’s your turn. I can just as easily help the next person in line if you would like to head to the back of the line and finish your call.

4. Never is it acceptable for you to pass judgment on a retail worker because they are a retail worker. Retail is hard work. It includes long hours standing on your feet while handling hundreds of transactions all while trying to maintain a pleasant attitude. We are blamed by customers for everything that goes wrong and hardly ever praised by them for a job well done. We work hard for our paychecks and deserve to be treated well. Yelling “you need to get me a manager because you clearly are not one” is not only inappropriate, but it makes the associate feel small and insignificant.

5. Please be patient. The lines are going to be longer than normal. Just know that we are doing everything in our power to get you in and out in a timely fashion. And no, I can’t open another register. If I had another cashier, I would gladly open another line, but that clearly isn’t the case. People call off. I can’t magically make another cashier appear out of thin air. And yes we  do have to take breaks. It’s state law.

6. Please be respectful. There is no need to get snippy or argumentative.

7. Please use your manners! A kind word of thanks is always appreciated.

8. Please do not turn a neatly stacked pile of clothes into a complete disaster while searching for a size. It took someone a good amount of time to make sure all the clothes were folded neatly, please be respectful of that.

If we can all just be a little more understanding , I think this could be a great holiday shopping season! In the words of the great Ellen DeGeneres, “Be kind to one another.”

Breaking Out of My Box

It has been over a week now since I received a life-changing reading. I feel like I have been living on a high. There is something so freeing about having clarity and a direction to pursue when it comes to my emotions. I have realized this week that I had been trying to fit myself into a tiny, neat little box. Always questioning why I was such a hot mess. Trying to hide the fact that my emotions were mirroring those around me. I felt like I had no right to feel the way I did. Those people were experiencing their situations first hand and who was I to think that I could even begin to understand what they were going through? I felt selfish and self-centered. Above all, I felt confused. I have never been one to be all about myself. With me, it has always been about helping others and putting their needs above my own. So why was I feeling it necessary to relate my friends’ experience to myself? I was lost and I didn’t even know it.

This week I have begun to learn that I don’t need to hide my emotions. I shouldn’t have to try and force myself into a tiny, neat little box. Life is messy. Things aren’t always black and white and they won’t always be able to be put into specific categories. As people, we try so hard to fit into ‘social norms’ and we are losing our individuality in the process. We weren’t created to all be the same. Every single person has individual thoughts, feelings, and experiences, all of which are valid. No two people are exactly alike. Why do we feel the need to squash ourselves to fit in? If losing myself is the price, I don’t want to fit in any longer.  I am breaking out of my box and man does it feel good!