I have been thinking a lot lately about encouragement, the way we motivate each other to do better, how we push each other along. There is positive encouragement and then there is the other sort where we push in a negative way, hoping that the negative reinforcement makes the other see the error of their ways. As a mother, I know I struggle with this. I want my child to know that I am absolutely proud of her but sometimes I choose to focus more so on what she's doing wrong right now then what she's doing right. Everyone has their own motivations, the things that make them tick, the things that make them go. In a perfect world, I would know exactly what to say to my teenage daughter for her to understand my point of view but it's not a perfect world and I'm not a perfect mother. So we struggle when we see people not doing as well as we know they can because what can I say to you to make you move a little faster? What encouragement can I give you to make you understand how great you can be if you just put a little effort into it? And even that question falls to the more negative side then it lifts you up, doesn't it? Because maybe at the end of the day what you give is the best you can. Sometimes wouldn't it be nice for us to encourage each other with the level of motivation that matches our abilities? In a perfect world, I would know the answer to the question.
There are spectrum of people out there who motivate in different ways. I have encountered people who would rather tell me I am an idiot than tell me good job. I have encountered people who have gave me a pat on the back and told me I rocked it out just the same. I think some people in this world need a little bit of both. Constructive criticism is healthy. It is a good thing to be told you are not doing something correctly if you are doing it wrong. Then, you can start doing whatever it is right. Of course, the right way is relative, I admit because not everything is black and white. I'm a fan of the gray. It is in the delivery of how they are telling you are doing something wrong where the message sometimes gets lost. It gets caught up in accusations and blame. It gets lost in the translation from "that's wrong" to "you are wrong" and it never has to be that way. When we come at someone in a negative manner, there is backlash to be had. The other person who just needed a little direction now feels like they are being attacked. I see this at work sometimes. Someone won't be doing something exactly the way the other person does something. One person will tell them how to do it right in a way that could've been handled better and the other person gets their feelings hurt. I admit. I fully admit to sometimes not handling things in the proper manner at times. As a human being, we are reactionary so it is hard to take a breath in that moment, really think about it, and then go at it with a clear head. Sometimes you have to back away from the moment to truly see what the real problem was. It's not an easy thing to do. And as a mother, I know sometimes my choice of words to point my daughter in the right direction are far harsher than I mean them to be. Is it frustration? Absolutely because I see all the wonderful things in her, in the people around me and all I want to do is to encourage them to be the best they can. The thing is that inspiration won't happen when I am passive aggressive. That inspiration won't happen if I infer that they are idiots. And for some that negative motivation works. Some people need a harsh kick in the ass for them to stand up but is that really motivation at the end of the day? Because at that point you aren't doing anything from a positive place. You are doing it out of spite. Nothing good ever comes out of spite.
I once worked as a receptionist a very long time ago. There I met a woman named Jean, a much older woman who had a scratchy voice and a tiny frame full of sass. At the time, I was with my ex-husband and we were having a lot of problems. My daughter was very small. I remember coming into work many mornings upset and angry, feeling really alone because I didn't know how to make my life better. And every morning, Jean would come up to my desk and smile, giving me some small life advice and making me laugh, reminding me that life didn't have to feel all that bad. She was a tough lady who never let me wallow in my own misery, who would tell me to stop my crying and find my feet because once I did, off I would run onto greater places. She never once told me that I was a lost cause. She never told me once that it was my fault that my life (in that moment) was in shambles. No, she told me that I was a brilliant young woman who had a lot more courage than I thought, who was a lot better than who I was with, who could be anything I wanted to be if I just opened my swollen eyes a little. Jean passed away years ago but I often think about her, her encouraging words, her kind demeanor, her no bullshit sense of life. I have kept pieces of this woman with me through the years. And when I need a little encouragement? I think of that tough old lady with a cigarette in her hand and the way she used to light me up when all I wanted to do was drag myself down.
Life is a series of lessons, some you retain and some you immediately lose. I look at the people that are in my life, how much love I have for them and how much I want the best for them. I try hard to be a positive light though I know I dim at times. We all have our different motivations but at the end of the day I truly believe that the positive we are towards each other, the better we all become. I do catch myself doing my passive aggressive bullshit when I see the cats haven't been fed or the to go cups at work weren't filled and it is wrong of me to approach anything in that fashion. Just like everyone else, I am a work in progress and perfection is an unattainable goal. So what do we aim for? We aim for our best whatever that is. We offer a helping hand, not one dripping with conditions or venom. We see someone struggle and we throw them a rope because kicking someone when they are already down is a wasteful use of energy. We are in this life together, not alone. Choosing to be someone's light at the end of the tunnel is always better than being the ghost that chases them down that dark tunnel.
I get older every day and I think that every day certain things become clearer while others just become more confusing. I have seen the best qualities in people and I have witnessed the worst. I have seen really awesome people behave in horrible ways just as much as I've seen people I thought not very highly of surprise me with an amazing kindness. I have always this problem with people in general, the potential of them and the reality of them. I know so many amazing people in my life and these words that I am writing right now do not discredit them in anyway. I am simply making observations of things that I have encountered in my 36 years in this skin. There were times in my life when I thought the core of all of us was good, that deep down inside the worst there was a light. There were times in my life when I thought the core of people were rotten just the same, that beyond the smile on their face there was nothing but blackness. And perhaps as the years have gone by, I've landed somewhere in the middle. Today, all I can speak for is today, I believe in the general goodness of mankind but doubts linger. One of the saddest parts of life is when someone you think so highly of is pushed off that pedastool.
You go on though. And you keep trying and you keep hoping that the people around you will get it because what a sad life to just give up? But what do you do when you try and you try and you try and all they give you in return is a thoughtless shrug? Do you move on from them? Do you write them off as a lost cause even though you know that in there somewhere is the light you know still exists? Or do you just accept them at face value even if it breaks your heart a little bit? Sometimes dealing with people is like banging your head against a wall over and over again, never getting any sort of result other than a concussion. Then you're left trying to figure out why that didn't work. We have ideals about the world but I fully believe that we carry ideals for each other, too. When people don't live up to these fantastical ideals that we created in our heads, we start to become angry at them, knowing perfectly well we are the ones that blew them up to such great heights. Isn't it lovely though to make a hero out of someone? Isn't there some value in having a hero even if it's just your neighbor down the street? We need people to look up to, to inspire us, and it's such a downer when the people choose to be those heroes can't live up to the pedastool we created for them.
Often I take these ideas for these blogs from my life while still trying to keep it vague. I have no intentions on calling people out (in a bad way) for my own personal gain but I do want to share where this stems from. Disappointment in someone is a hard thing to swallow. I remember hearing my parents say to me, "I'm disappointed in you," was a far worse punishment then them being mad at me. I don't want to be the reason you are disappointed which explains why I will never intentionally do anyone wrong. Let me share with you though why this is the topic at hand right now. I will make this simple. A few years ago I went to a person I highly admire about someone who was being very disrespectful towards me. In my mind, I truly thought that this person was going to at least have some sort of feelings about it... but they didn't. They smiled and brushed me off. So when I was brushed off, I was confused. I don't know what I expected them to do to keep it real but I certainly didn't feel like their response was appropriate, shattering a little bit of this image that I had built up them up to be. It's incredible to me that one small thought of doubt takes down the entire pedastool so swiftly.
The thing is I don't want to stop believing in people, in the good of them, in the inspiration that they give me because I've been down that path, too. Believing that everyone is horrible, evil, out to get you is a dark place to live. There is no joy when you surround yourself with hate, with skepticism, with this idea that the entire world doesn't care about you. And you know what? The world may not care but the people who love you do. There is a separation there that sometimes the best of us can't see. I am close to being at a point in my life where if someone disappoints me, if someone makes me cry, if someone makes me angry I can still accept them for all the wonder they are. Sometimes these moments of being brushed off are just moments and not the whole picture. There was a time in my life if a person did me wrong in any sort of way, I immediately wrote them off because it was easier. It is always easier to run away from things, from people that hurt you. Sometimes the best thing you can possibly do for yourself is move away from these things, these people. Sometimes they are toxic. As I get older what is toxic and what is me just protecting myself become much clearer. I understand now that the situation stated above was not about this person not caring, though it could have been the case at the end of the day. It was about me looking for some sort of validation that my ideals for them were correct. People are who they are, not what you want them to be. Sometimes people will surprise you. Sometimes people will do exactly what you thought they would do. Most the time we are never as good or as bad as what people think, as what we think of ourselves. Being human means being faulted. Just because someone paints you as a beautiful picture doesn't mean the picture matches the reality. Just because someone molds you into an ugly ashtray doesn't mean you're not butterfly.
It's been a long week. I haven't been able to sit down in my little corner and write as much as I have been. Believe me. I feel it when I can't write because this, my friends, is the only form of therapy that I will ever need. I am exhausted. It all hits so heavily now that my very long week is done but I do not complain. It is all for the greater good. I came home to an empty house but I do not complain. My husband is at work and my daughter is out and about living her teenage life. So, I sit down to write the thoughts that have been bubbling for the last week. Will it be cohesive tonight? I'm not sure. I feel like there is so much to say but the way my mind feels right now is sluggish so I will do the best I can. So where to start? What little gem of inspiration should I drop tonight as Simon and Garfunkel sing their lullabies, my most trusted and inspirational form of musical choice. And here is where my mind goes.
I have always tried, wanted to be a good person. I try to be kind, to be compassionate, to give you everything that I possibly I can. I always try to put someone else's needs before my own. It's not just because I am someone's mother or because I am his wife but because there is something in my foundation that wants to make the world a better place. This concept of someone's character has always been something important to me. I never want anyone to ever question what kind of character I am. So, yes, I believe in giving my word and I believe in always doing my best and I believe in giving whatever I do the best I can give. And I think that is why I get so disappointed in people sometimes especially when I see so many wonderful things in them but they can't. I believe in being fair and honest and true to who you are because without those basic things what are you really? I've been a shell of a person in my life, behaving questionably out of pure spite because that is who I thought I was. Now, so many years later as I work in an industry full of people much younger than me and trying so hard to finally pursue a dream I find that my character is more important than ever. I want people to say my name and know that you don't have to worry because I have your back. I want people to think of me and know that they never have to doubt in my abilities. I am steady and strong and will do my best to never disappoint because I never want to do anyone any harm. Yes, sometimes that is to my own detriment.
I get angry. I get very angry when people question my character especially when I have given them no reason to do so. I will keep this vague but I came into a situation yesterday with a person who thought I was behaving in a questionable manner. It bugged me because while I am not a fan of this person, I have never done anything in any way to make this person think I would do them wrong. In fact, I have gone out of my way to make sure they are being treated fairly. I should preface this though. This person is very quick to judge everyone so looking back, sure, this was not a personal thing but it irritated me just the same. I will be honest here (because I am always honest in these words) that I'm not a fan of a lot of people despite the amount of rainbows I spread but just because I may not like certain people it does not mean that I treat them unfairly either. My character would not allow it at the end of the day. It is so easy to see the horrible parts of people rather than dig a little bit and find the better ones. Even with the people I don't fancy I can see the silver lining in them. This person that questioned me yesterday can be difficult but I've seen the nice parts of them, too. So I try to find solace in their brighter spots even if their darker ones are more prominent. We're not all going to like each other. We're not always going to get along with each other. Both are just fine. This life works because we're different, not because we're all the same.
When I was raising my daughter on my own, I was questioned a lot. I was questioned about what kind of woman I was, about what kind of mother I was being, what kind of kid I was raising. Every decision I made was scrutinized because everyone knew better than me what I should do. When she was born, I was lost and scared and unsure of everything but I was never unsure of the love I had for her. And in those big brown eyes, I truly saw who I was and who I wanted to become. So, I ignored the looming crowd and their constant judgments about what I was doing because I knew my character would soon enough speak for itself. Yeah, it did bother me how often I was questioned because I had never shown any reason that there should be any. I was steady and I was strong and I figured out who I was over time. And what I have figured out is this. I am honest and true and will believe in the good even if it is not returned. Character, this concept of who we are and the reality of what we are, is a beautiful thing. People will question and people will judge but as long as you stay steady and true, what do they matter anyway?
As usual I sit in my small corner in front of my computer with thoughts in my head and not quite sure where to go with this tonight. I had coffee today with one of my favorite people in the entire world. Sitting with him always brings a sense of calm reassurance and I walk away feeling rejuvenated in my feat of living my life right. We talked about life, about how to live it, how to understand the people around you, and how to keep going when you feel like you've hit a wall. I realize that no matter how old I become, the same battles will still be something to fight. I will always have these inner struggles between the person that I am and the person I want to be. I understand that outside influences will always be able to send me off track but in the same breath I understand now more than ever that I have the absolute power to put myself back in the right direction. Is it age that brings clarity? Or does clarity come with something more? I sat with my coffee next to this kind man, across from my husband and daughter, and I couldn't be more clear in my path. We talked about my writing, my latest projects, and I seem to have a constant theme. I've never been much interested in the destination because the destination has never been the point. I am far more interested in the little gems we pick up along the way. Not to quote Miley Cyrus but it is certainly all about the climb.
I have found myself in a peculiar place in my life, a peculiarly wonderful place. I have an amazing family. I have a husband, a best friend, this love of my life who I know will always be there no matter what. I have a smart, beautiful daughter who though may sometimes get under my skin, I couldn't be more proud of. I have friends who are supportive and kind and inspiring and simply lovely. I know that when I need a helping hand, I have a plethora to choose from. I have these words that may still be trying to find their wings, I know once they take flight will soar. All I have ever wanted in this life was to be happy and in all of these ways I have succeeded but the nature of me may never truly be satisfied. I will always strive to be more, to be better but I have no interest in being perfect. How boring would that be? Today while having coffee with this man who taught me what having patience truly meant, what having understanding truly required, I found peace in a way that I've only ever found briefly in my life.
Tomorrow I will go to work and I will push myself like I always do, always the hard working one who does too much because that is the way I am built. For so many years I did so much on my own that there is a part of me that doesn't know how to let that go. And to be honest, I don't ever want to let that part of me go because I never want to allow my happiness to be determined by someone else. I may have to go the extra mile out of the way but who would I be if I didn't? My husband often says to me that I give too much and he's right. I don't mind giving the people around me more than I should at the end of the day because I know learning how to be selfless was part of my climb. There was a time in my life when I was spoiled, when I was rude and demanding. I thought why should I try so hard when the people around me were not? And what I have learned is that it doesn't matter what the people around me are doing. If I can, I will. I can, I should. Sure, sometimes that means I get trampled but I would rather be trampled for being kind than broken for being selfish. When I worked with this very favorite person, there were times I would observe him with the people around me. Though I knew sometimes they drove him crazy, he never hesitated to give them some kind advice. Though I knew sometimes people would make him angry, I never once saw bitterness in his face. Tomorrow I will go to work and I will give because I can, because this is what he taught me.
This struggle of always trying to be better than what I am will be a part of me until my last breath. I don't see much point of living if I am not learning. We can always learn something new even if the outcome is bleak. We live on this earth for such a long time and yet for such a short time span that I want to take every opportunity to better myself with knowledge, with compassion. I remember watching a video an old friend had sent me years ago from when we were in high school. I was excited to watch this video. After awhile you forget the little details of who you were. So there I was, maybe 17 years old. I was as thin as a rail with a bright smile and a chip on my shoulder sitting by a pool with an old boyfriend. We were laughing and arguing about Papa Smurf's pants. I noticed that every time this old boyfriend tried to show me affection I shooed him off like an annoying fly, knowing perfectly well in that moment I loved him dearly and knowing in that moment in my life there was nothing I was willing to give him. When the video was over, I was left with these thoughts of that girl with the bright chip on her shoulder and I laughed, knowing that if we met face to face now she would think that I was a pansy. You know what? That's all right. This journey has been heartbreaking and soul shattering and loveless at times. I have seen the ugliest parts of people, been the ugliest parts of me and I didn't know if I was going to make the climb at the darkest moments of it. I didn't learn anything until I was willing to notice the pebbles along the way. Sometimes I think of that old boyfriend, the one who I thought I would marry and have babies with. He was the beginning of becoming who I am right now sitting in this tiny corner. And I laugh at those naive dreams we once had, both too young and bitter to truly understand we weren't ever going to see that aisle even if college hadn't torn us apart. He was just a pebble on this mountain I continue to climb, the first step up the mountain I will always push myself to climb. The struggle is real and beautiful. The pebbles that have stopped me along my way and the ones that will stop me as I keep going are inspirational. I will continue to give and I don't give a damn if I receive anything back. At the end of this journey, I will have already received everything I need because of what I've picked up along the way.
I have often got the same question over the last two years that I have worked at my current place of employment with my husband. How do you work with your husband? Don't you guys want to kill each other? How can you possibly stand working side by side and then go home and live together? The questions always made me kind of laugh to be honest. My husband and I started our relationship out with each other as friends who worked side by side so there was nothing unusual for us to continue on that path. Sure, once that place fired us for not being what they wanted, I moved along to an office job and he found his way to the Village Draft House. And we worked separately for almost two years(ish). Time escapes me but it doesn't matter. So when I left my horrible office job because I was so miserable and he says to me, "Hey why don't you come work with me?", there was no hesitation. We would be together again, side by side, facing the world as a team. How lovely it would be to see his face every day! How comforting it was to see his smile in the middle of a rush when I thought it would never end!
Today was his last day. For the last two weeks, I don't know if I really thought about what it would be like to work there without him. And don't get me wrong. I know I will be fine but I've never been within those walls without his presence behind his bar. He has always been a steady hand in my life, a steady hand I wish I had been ready for much earlier than I was. He knew when I was weeded, when my customers were driving me bananas, when someone was about to make me cry, when I was about to slap the crap out of the next person to look at me sideways. He would rub my shoulders and tell me to breathe when he knew I was incapable of seeing anything but red. He taught me how to be good at my job, how to be kind with the rudest of people, how to scream very loudly in the beer cooler appropriately. His beers were timely and he never scoffed at me when I asked him a dumb question. And it wasn't because I was his wife but because I am his friend, his very best friend. On Monday morning, he won't be there with me opening the store like we've always done as a team. They never had to worry because the Dills were there and it never mattered if anyone else was because we were a team. He always had my back, will always have my back. I didn't get emotional about this until today. We never truly get emotional about change until the change happens, right? I wrote that blog a couple of weeks ago and I was fine because the inevitable change was still two weeks away. This morning he kissed me like he always does before we go into work but then we looked at each other with tears in our eyes, realizing that was the last kiss that we would ever share in front of those glass doors in that capacity. Then throughout the day, I would look over at him, listening to him schmooze his customers, and I could hear his usual chatter. I could hear him talking so lovingly about his wife, his daughter, our life, and in those words, in that moment I realized that I would be comforted with those reassuring words throughout the day. And then he hugged our boss, our very great boss, and the tears started to flow because in that hug I saw the love that we all shared for him as our trusted companion, our trusted bartender, our gentle giant. I understood the change had just happened and I wasn't ready for it if I am being completely honest.
I know. This is all sounds so melodramatic. He's just changing jobs. We certainly aren't getting divorced. I will still lay beside him every night. He will still wake up next to me every morning. We will still laugh with each other and cry with each other and smile at each other and grow old next to each other but I am going to deeply miss spending my days beside him. So, for the question at hand, how did I work with my husband for so long and not kill him? I will be honest. There were things about each other that annoyed the other. There were moments where we kept to our separate corners because of some silly disagreement. There were times when I was upset and he took it the wrong way. There times when he was upset and I was too sensitive. He would make me cry and I would make him tense but it never lasted. We knew when we had upset the other and we would give each other space and time. He knew that when I was in a tizzy the best thing to do was to let me have my space and I would work through it. I knew when he went to that beer cooler to lose his cool, the best thing I could do was keep my distance. And it wasn't because we couldn't stand working next to each other. It was because we loved working with each other. I loved knowing that if I lost my cool, he was behind that bar. I loved knowing that if I was too sick or sad or angry to go to my tables, he was right there for me, ready to take care of my tables while I regained my composure. And he knew that if he needed a minute, I could handle the bar because I had his back just as much as he had mine.
My husband, this man who is full of so much love and compassion for the world, has a hard time receiving that love back. He has made left his mark on that bar whether he realizes it or not. From the smiles he inspired to the tears that fell on his way out, he will be remembered for years whether he likes it or not. It is an end of an era today, a new beginning for a man who hasn't quite figured out his way. It was an honor working beside him and who knows? Maybe one day we'll find ourselves working with each other again in that capacity. But really all that matters to me is his happiness, is our happiness. We started out together as a team and we will continue to go through this life together as a team. I will miss him dearly on Monday morning and every morning after that but knowing that I can come home every night is a beautiful motivation. It was never hard to work with my husband because he has always been more than that. He has always been and will always be my best friend, my very best friend.
At some point in our lives we all have to take a step back, realign where we think we're going, and figure out if where we are is where we want to be. We have to assess the struggle that we currently fight, asking ourselves is the fight I fight today worth the fight I will fight tomorrow? Or should we just put our heads down, put our feet to the ground, and push forward on the path that we are currently on? Do we fight one justice over another? Or do we just let it go? There is no right answer, just an answer to be had in whatever fashion we choose. And in all these things to mull over, it's our attitude that makes the biggest difference. A positive outlook is often like climbing the highest of mountains while sliding down that dark path is as easy as riding a bike. It's always easier to see the worst than to see our best. I have days when I'm not particularly in the mood to keep a sunny disposition especially when people can be unnecessarily rude to me. I have days when all I want to do is sit in that bed, watch dumb reality television, and accept that will be as far as my life goes because it's easier to do nothing than to do something.
We have these trials that we think will never end. We will always take two steps back when we feel like we have somehow moved forward. There is always something standing in our way of that one thing and if we could just do this, then that will be within our reach. It's not always that easy, is it? So the smile that once so easily came to you, falls flat and you find yourself no longer trying. What's the point? The people around you aren't doing anything so why should you? Why should you try when so many don't? Why should you smile when the world frowns? And that, my friends, is exactly why you should do something. That, my friends, is why you should try. That, my friends, is why you should smile. When I was a kid, I loved the movie Pollyanna. I'm sure more than half of the people out there have no idea what I'm talking about but it's all right to remember things that some don't. It was about a girl who had an incredible sunny disposition. She was the bright spot in everyone's day. She always had a smile or a joke or something uplifting to pass along to everyone she met. There was no end game for her. She just believed in the brighter side of life. Then, she fell out of a window and became paralyzed, losing the ability to walk. She had a choice after that. Her attitude could have stayed on the sunny side or she could have given into the despair that not being able to walk ever again brought. As a young girl watching this Disney movie, something clicked with me I think because I've always wanted to find the silver lining, the best part about something not so great. And when I fell to my own despair, when I allowed myself to drown in my sadness, it was hard for me to find that Pollyanna part of me... but when I did? When I did, I held on even tighter to the sunshine. Though it was easier to hide in the dark, I knew my place was always among the light.
And I guess my point tonight is we can choose the attitude we go through life with. Sometimes waiting tables is frustrating. There are days when tips are, for a lack of better words, shitty. There are days when I'm running and there feels like there is no light. There are days when everything breaks, when everyone is dropping plates, when my customers are just plain mean, when no one can seem to do anything right. I have a choice because we always have a choice. I could mutter under my breath, cursing the people that are sitting at those tables because they keep guzzling their Sweet Tea, snapping at my coworkers because I'm angry. Or I could put my head down, focus on the end of that tunnel that there will eventually be, do my job to the best of my ability, and smile at those mean people in the best way I can. I can choose to find the silver lining. At the end of that shift, I will have made enough money to pay a bill. At the end of the day, I can rest easy knowing that I gave it my best without passing on my negative thoughts to anyone else. I like to think I see the best of the world but I know that is not always the case. I like to think that I choose to be positive more than I allow myself to go down that dark rabbit hole but I can admit that sometimes there is no Pollyanna in me at all. As I get older, I understand that this life, the way you live life, the way you react to life is more about how you choose to see it. I see more clearly now that struggles pass and where you land is not as important as what you took from the journey. I try to make every smile genuine, every tear truthful, every laugh full as much joy as I hold inside. And I know what I put out into the world whether a sunny sky or dark clouds is ultimately my choice to give.
Today my family and I spent the morning together. It was lovely. My husband and I, after drinking a little too much last night, slept in... until my tornado kitties determined it was time to get out of bed. We went and had brunch at Big Ed's. Our daughter gave her usual pleasant 15 year old company while we sighed, repeating to ourselves this, too, shall pass. Then we went to get coffee, to sit with each other, to play our silly little games that we find entertaining. I go to this coffee shop often not because it's a good coffee shop or even that they serve quality coffee. I go there because it is OK, a convenient location. It's small which is whatever. Most independent coffee shops are but I'm not here to talk about this place really. The place is more of an afterthought than the topic at hand. So, my little family and I are sitting there. Two women walk in and start making people move out of their seats because she will be having 15 people altogether for her annoying little knitting group. 15 seats is the majority of the seating in this tiny little coffee shop. These people that she was asking to move had been sitting there previously to her arrival. And, I know, why I am writing about this inconsequential happening? It didn't effect me really. My family and I sat strong at our little table but this woman's behavior started making me think about manners, about being polite, about not feeling so entitled because at the end of the day we can all make up reasons why we deserve more than someone else. In reality, what we deserve is relative and what we get is not always what we deserve.
My teenage daughter, my wonderful teenage daughter, was enraged by these women's behavior which, to me, was incredibly ironic because sometimes the kid's manners are to be desired. I will say this however my girl does know how to behave in public and is incredibly respectful to other adults. We sat there and watched these women harass table after table for their chairs, making an incredible amount of bothersome noise as they dragged them across the floor, annoying just about everyone in the room. I get it. You want to go out with your friends and do something together that you enjoy but there should be things to consider when doing something like this. Like if you know you are going to have a large amount of people, maybe pick a place that can accommodate your group without taking away income from the this chosen place. I watched about five people walk in with their laptops, hoping to have a cup of coffee and do some work much like I do when I go write turn and walk out because there was nowhere for them to sit. I used to manage a coffee shop back in the day. Yes, that is the reason I am such a snob about the quality of my coffee and particular about the environment I choose to sit in. This coffee shop was large with a back room large enough to house about 25 people. Today wasn't the first experience I've had with this knitting group. Often they would come into my old coffee shop and try to behave there as they did today. Fortunately, we had room to house them. And when they tried to make a hostile takeover, I was very quick to put them in their place. A public place is a great place to have social gatherings but one must remember that it is a place of business first and foremost and not your living room.
I like manners. I like being polite. I like saying please and thank you. I enjoy the common decency of people respecting each other in all situations. I don't know at what point it became the common denominator to just assume that we all are entitled to something just because. Those women had every right to come in and spend their time together but they had no right to be so inconsiderate to the other patrons, to the business owners. I run into people like this more often than I should. We have people come into the bar all the time who believe that it is there god given right to do what they want. They think it is OK to walk in and move tables around to their liking without any permission from the people that work there. They think it is OK to shake glasses, to snap, to holler when they need something because in their mind they deserve to be able to do whatever they want. In reality, there are rules, protocols, boundaries that should not be crossed. I had a gentlemen come in last week with a party of eight. He insisted on telling me where he was going to sit with his party of eight. Every table that he told me he was going to sit at, I politely informed him that those tables would not fit eight people and kept a stern foot. It was not polite to try to tell me how to do my job but he knew best, didn't he? It's people like him who have obviously never worked a day in a life in the industry. And that's OK but I would like to think that people should have more consideration for the people that do.
It's not about working at a restaurant. It's not about managing a coffee shop. It's not even about those women in particular. It's about being considerate of the world around you. Say thank you when someone helps you. Say you're welcome when someone thanks you. Hold doors open for the people behind you and pick up the trash that someone nonchalantly left on the ground behind them. It's about not being entitled just because you are you. Have standards but don't think that anyone owes you anything just because you are you. My daughter, my brilliant daughter, made me proud today as we sat there watching these women behaving in such a disgusting way. It made me realize that even though she struggles with being polite with me and my husband, she at least gets it with the rest of the world and that's a start. For much of my youth, I did think I was entitled. I did believe that the world owed me something because I was me. Looking back as a grown woman, I understand more than ever that the word "deserve' isn't a word I like very much. It gives you a false pretense about the things that you earn. I work my ass off all the time but I never expect anything in this life to be given to me. I am diligent and hardworking and compassionate but shitty things can happen at any time. I am not entitled to a problem free life regardless of the many rocky paths I have walked. The life you choose to lead should always be one of love, of laughter, of giving, and humbly receiving. I will always thank the people in my life who help me along the way in whatever capacity they help me and I will try to never take that kindness for granted. If I just assume your hand, then I would never be able to reach it. So be polite. Say thank you and please and never forget that the wonderful people and things in your life are gifts, not entitlements.
I was trolling around Facebook earlier and I came across this picture of a simple quote. I don't remember the exact words but I remember the gist of it. It was this concept that you weren't happy until you found your other half, that we are not complete people until we have found someone to share our lives with. And I started thinking about love, about being complete. I started to question my own happiness, measuring it against whether or not I had my husband. It's February, the month of chocolate hearts and post hast flowers picked up on the way home from work because you forgot Valentine's Day. It is the month where we celebrate the other person in our lives. For those out there who don't have the partner, it's the month to be reminded that you don't have a significant other. Somehow there is this weird thing in society that sets the standard of two as being a complete set... but is another person a requirement for making you complete? And I know. This whole thing sounds like it's going to be a downer but bare with me. My point will come around.
For a long time on Valentine's Day every year I would wear black because I thought the Hallmark holiday was silly. It was a made up holiday to make money for greeting cards and I still believe that's what Valentine's Day is. I would wear black to show my disgust for the holiday because it reminded me that I was alone. I had to live in the world that day, walking around and watching all those happy couples holding hands and cuddling each other. But me? I was sitting at a table by myself, wearing all black, writing my dark poems about how their beautiful love disgusted me. It wasn't that I disliked these happy people, these lovely people who were simply in the purest form enjoying each other. It was that I was reminded that I wasn't complete because I hadn't found someone to hold my hand, to open my door, to bring me those post haste flowers, to love me. Valentine's Day, this day that reminded me that there was something about me that was missing. Love, this magnificent feeling, didn't belong to me. So I wore black not because I was angry at what I didn't have from another person. I wore black because I was mourning what I didn't have for myself, a lovely little thing called love.
So many times you hear the words, "You complete me" from couples from to the other, saying that they weren't a whole person until that other person came along. I never understood that and maybe that's why it always made me angry, because I couldn't complete myself. A funny thing happens along the way though. You do complete yourself when you learn to love yourself. This misconception about needing another person to feel like you are complete isn't always true. For a long time, I thought I didn't want someone else in my life because I was too busy or because it was too complicated or because I just didn't have the patience for someone else in my life but they were all just excuses. The truth of the matter is that there were things about myself that I had to accept, that I had to change, that I had love before anyone else had a chance to get close to me. So I wore black with my fists in the air, stomping my feet in protest to a holiday that reminded me that I didn't love myself. And life went on until one day I woke up I guess. I went on raging until one day I looked in the mirror and said you know what? Whatever it is I am looking in that someone else, I can find in myself. So I smiled and thought how lovely. So I cried and thought how simple this was. I accepted my imperfections, the fact that I didn't know everything, that I couldn't be everything. I put all my broken pieces in a vase and watered them until I bloomed back together.
We get lost in this romantic idea that we are half empty until the knight comes in on his white horse, until the princess calls to us from the tower because of a fairy tale we were told as children. I can't tell you how many hours in my youth I imagined a handsome prince sweeping me off my feet and riding off into the sunset. I can't tell you how long I thought that was how it was supposed to be but reality sets in. Before you know it you are 23 years old, raising a kid on your own, and your white knight was nothing more than the court jester. Love is simple and complicated and healing as much as it is heartbreaking. It picks you up when you are at your lowest and slams you down when you feel you are at your highest. It inspires you to stand and knocks the wind from under your knees but it's source at it its truest form comes from inside you. Don't get me wrong. I love my husband and would be crushed if I ever lost him but he wasn't a factor in my life for a long time. I had to learn to comfort myself, to take care of myself, to solve my problems all on my own. I had to kiss the scrapes and chase away the nightmares and pick up the wet towels by myself. I had to be my biggest fan before anyone else could.
Here is the most beautiful part about finding someone you can spend the rest of your life with. I didn't find my husband at a time in my life when I was looking. In fact, I was no longer interested in finding a life partner of any sort. I was content to raise my daughter and grow old on my own because I had found a peace inside myself. I had learned that I was enough, that the love I had for myself was enough and it always had been. I just got lost in some fairy dust along the way. I met my husband, the love of my life, when I wasn't looking for him, when I was completely whole. Love, this poetically beautiful thing, comes to you from all sorts of places, from all sorts of people but I wasn't supposed to meet this kind man until I was a complete person all on my own. We don't have other halves. We are already complete people on our own. My husband makes me better, inspires me to always be true but I am who I am because of the love I have for myself. Will I wear black this year? Of course. Some traditions must stay alive although my feet don't stomp quite as loudly these days.
I know I've been away for a few days. Between work and family and life, sometimes it's hard to sit down and find a minute to blog my life out but obviously it's a priority. Some changes have been made this week. It's been interesting to see the aftermath. My husband is leaving his job and onto a new adventure. He hasn't been happy for a minute but it wasn't anything specific or anything that could have been done to come to a different conclusion. We have moments in life when it becomes very clear that one chapter is over and another must begin. I was wiping down a Beverage Station today when I started thinking about this. How do you know when it's time to move on? How do you know when it's time to hold on? Because it's never quite clear when one is right until you know. I'm not a big sign person. I don't wait for the world to show me something to make me move a certain direction. I can't say that it's a feeling either. You don't wake up one morning and change everything but I do believe you do wake up one morning and take one step at a time. There are impulsive people in this world that just do. Then there are others that have to sit with it for awhile. And then you have the people that just never know either way, who can't make a decision. Is it out of fear? Is it our arrogance? I don't know. I think back on my life, taking note of every chapter I started, and trying to remember if there was something specific that led me this way or that. I don't know how I knew at 20 that I wanted a child. I just did. I don't know what told me that the man who became my sweet husband was my forever. He just was. There was something very specific inside me that said yes.
Now, I sit here and wonder what it will be like to no longer work alongside my husband every day like I have been doing for the last 2 1/2 years. He was stuck and I could see it written all over his face. When I was at my horrible office job, he could see how miserable I was plastered all over mine. I will miss him but as his wife, as his best friend, as his partner, I know the only thing I could have done was tell him to fly. The only way he was going to figure out his wings was to take a leap. We'll figure out the landing together. When I left that horrible office job, I didn't know what I was going to do next but he looked at me and told me to jump. I didn't have a job to go to. I had this idea of writing and that was about it but nothing solid that was going to bring home an income for my family. All I had was his hand, his support, and we jumped together. We figured out our landing together. I think about all the wonderful things about this man, how beautiful he has made my life, how much of a kinder person he has made me. I think about the beautiful chapter that we are living right now and know that things may not always be what they are today but knowing I am not terrified of tomorrow.
Happiness, this relative term. I don't know why we think that we have to stay in unhappy situations just because we're supposed to. I spent so much of my life being miserable, of thinking that there was something better out there for me but never taking a step towards it. I made excuses. I had a kid. I had to pay the bills. I was tired. I was old. I was being lame. I watched my parents as a kid work jobs they couldn't stand, sacrificing their happiness for ours. I never understood why they couldn't do something that would make them smile instead of frown. My father always had a dream in his pocket but he never knew how to take it out. I know the dream in my eye came from him and I couldn't be prouder of that part of me. I remember when I was a little girl all I wanted to be when I grew up was happy. For a long time, I wasn't that. Then, I had a kid. Then, I figured out who I was. Then, I met my husband. These chapters of my life that became part of me. I realized that happiness, this relative term, was something that you have to work for. Just because I had a kid didn't mean that I wasn't a person, too, with dreams and ideals and goals. Just because I had bills to pay didn't mean that I couldn't stretch my wings on the side. And being tired and getting older were nothing more than excuses made out of fear of failing. Because what happens when you fail at being happy? Then I realized that there is no happiness in never trying at all. If this writing thing doesn't pan out and I have to wait tables for the rest of my life, I tried. If my husband moves onto this new job and stays there for awhile, he is trying. Part of finding what makes you happy is sticking your feet in the water. Part of figuring out what makes you happy is realizing what doesn't. Sometimes what truly makes us happy isn't the most obvious. It's what hidden in the fine lines on your way there.