Customer Service: The Art of Joy

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Goose. Yep. That was the message delivered from the ‘Animal Spirit Guides’ deck that was gifted to me this past Christmas.

Goose? When I think of a goose, I think of the absurd waddling they do, their plump bodies, and the way that they disguise their natural survival instincts with the appearance of total oblivion to anything other than pooping on paved park paths and wandering in circles.

This was my first week back to reality after two weeks of holiday time, away from the office, social media, housework, parenting, and anything else that required attire more formal than a bathing suit.

Having been a good-girl, I came home with some extra spending money, and decided that I could afford to treat myself to a dress that I saw while visiting The Bitter End. So, I ordered it. What ensued has been a miserable experience with HiHo Clothing’s Customer Service department, and an even more frustrating time with UPS. Lessons learned; just buy the damn dress, use FedEx, buy local.

What does this experience have to do with the Goose totem? Well, frist of all, I thought of the saying, ‘Silly
Goose’, which in my wee little girl brain means a doddering woman who is naive, and weak. Drawing the Goose totem also meant just taking an inward glance at my own attitude. A return to ‘real life’ always means kicking into high professional, domestic, and everything-else high-gear. In short, it sucked.

But why?” I asked myself over and over. Why did it feel so icky to be back to a life that I had created for myself? I love my job. I love my kid. I don’t live in a castle, but I also don’t have to shovel my own snow or mow my own grass, so it all evens out.

Satisfaction. That’s what I think it boils down to. I am very rarely satisfied with what I have, and continually strive to be better, to have more, to do more. What a lunatic!

Which leads me to believe that the atrocious lack of customer service at HiHo and UPS is a result of people showing up do to a job, get a pay-cheque, and leave to get back to their real life. It also likely means that the employees likely don’t have a great working environment, but that’s just my opinion. Rarely do satisfied employees metaphorically flip you the bird by hanging up on you or not responding to email. Satisfied employees have time to address customer questions and respond in a way that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy.

Newsflash; Your job is your real life. Those moments on the clock are about being yourself and being of service to others, whether it’s solving problems, creating something brilliant, or cleaning up a bathroom stall so we don’t all die of some poop-bacteria-related disease.

So, as I caution you against the exceptional lack of customer service which abounds, I also challenge you to take a little look inside and ask yourself if you too are being a customer service asshole (that’s French for being useless).

Watching myself transform into an uptight-bot within 24 hours of arriving back to my ‘real world’, I took the advice of the Goose. I slowed down, took a look around and marveled at just how far I’d come, and with that attitude, I carried on with my week, trying to be kind, at work, home, and everywhere else. Most importantly, I reminded myself that it’s ok to relax, breathe deeply and trust my own value.

Doing that doesn’t make me a weak, naïve woman. It makes me healthy, helpful, and energized.

So go on ladies, dare to be a goose. Dare to create a life you life with joy.

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Water: The Element of Truth

Marina Cay, BVI

Marina Cay, BVI

When I was a little girl, I fell in love. I fell head over heals in love. With a boat. My beloved allowed me to romp and roam, never do my hair, or care what I wore. There was a freedom in that loving that was so innocent and complete, that it has stayed with me, and never left.

In my youth, I would spend hours climbing down the clay cliffs along Lake Erie, and sit on the rock wall watching the waves roll by. Stormy weather was always my favourite, when the water seemed to speak to me, and the timeless knowledge of stillness that it taught would seep deep into my tender bones.

It never left even as I moved further away from a shoreline. The water has always had a pull that some call seductive. In my case, it’s a matter of survival. For too long I have been landlocked; working, momming, worrying about what comes next.

Estrangement from family at a young age is a wild and wonderful thing. Although there is no anchoring in genealogy or tradition, it gives you the freedom to heal and create a life of your choosing. Having done that, I have a visceral knowledge of the famous lyrics, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose“.

So, as I felt my breathing become more shallow, my anxiety at the breaking point, and my heart void of the ability to recognize hope or joy, I took a leap of faith. Instead of a sterile all-inclusive getaway, I put my money and my favour on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a crew of 8 on a sailing adventure through the British Virgin Islands.

A sailing course would have been a good idea, but I tend to jump in feet first. Sink or swim. Love it or hate it. I (gulp)…committed.

I did very little of the ‘sailing’ and a lot of learning. Having had some experience on a boat with regard to the importance of speed and preparedness, I did what I could, and tried to stay out of the way.

JVD White BayYears of counseling and working in crisis situations has given me a keen sense of relationship dynamics, and having a new group together in a confined space for a period of 10 days is a telling crucible. Boats and water have a wonderful way of distilling our personalities and revealing the most miniscule cracks. Flaws that were easy to ignore on land, burst open and whether you like it or not, you’ve gotta face whatever it is.  Water has a wonderful way of washing away the superficial crud of every day. It is a truth-revealing element.

During this particular adventure, I gained a new respect for people I’ve known casually for a long time, a clear picture of who the new folks really are, and let’s just say the ugliness of another was rinsed to sparkling, and filed in the ‘Barnacles of Life’ pile and left to dry in the sun like discarded sea-creature entrails.

The ocean is vast and claustrophobic all at once. Once upon a time someone told me that when they stood on the cliffs and looked out over Lake Erie that they were at the end of the world. I knew that we were not kindred spirits. When I stood on those same cliffs and looked out over the lake with nothing but water, horizon and sky, I always felt like I was just at the beginning of everything.Sunset Boat 3

When I was a tom-boyish ten year old, with wild hair and sunkissed skin, I often dreamed of one day living on  a boat and being rocked to sleep by the sound of the water lapping at the hull. As a workaholic adult, I finally got the chance, if only for a couple of weeks.

It was just enough to reset my mind and body. It was enough to throw open the weathered shutters of fatigue and allow sunlight to shine on hope again.

That’s What Living Means To Me

vonnegut1As you read this, I’m perched somewhere out in the ocean, looking out on a perfect horizon.

Taking a break from every-day life has given me some much-needed perspective.

Too often we over think our feelings, and worry what others will think if we choose one path or another.

What I’ve learned so far is that those people who are critical are not your friends. Your friends are the ones who think you’re crazy, but stand on the side lines and cheer you on when the rest of the world thinks that you’ve gone mad, or at least off your meds.

vonnegut2Take chances. Fall in love; head over heels, madly in love. Trust your heart when it comes to loving, not your head, or the ‘should be’ angel on your shoulder.

Create, take chances, and try something new when you go to work. The world needs people who aren’t afraid to be human and who love waking up in the  morning.

The world needs more passionate lovers instead of people checking off a list of invisible boxes of what a relationship should look like, and what kind of material security it can buy in this world.

 

 

vonnegut3The world needs kindness and compassion and humour and joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wish for you today is that you find a moment or two to stop and listen to what your heart is telling you. Is it telling you to play it safe, or run for your life? Is it telling you to work harder at a relationship, or is it screaming, “Last call”?

Take a few minutes and listen to the silly man who makes a living doing what he loves for people who are happy he followed his dreams.

Do YOU know???

I know my limits

Happy V.D. From the Happiest Place on Earth

"A ship at harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are made for."

“A ship at harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are made for.”

No, the happiest place on earth is not Disneyland.

Provided nothing terrible has happened, as you read this, I will be sunning my buns on a sailboat in the Caribbean Sea with some of the best kind of sailors a gal can find; Parrotheads.

The happiest place on earth therefore, is sitting on my deliciously voluptuous buns on a sailboat, somewhere in the middle of the ocean.

Never forget that we carry the happiest place on earth with us my darlings. As importantly, never let the men in your life forget that either.

That being said, I will hopefully be falling in love with a tall, icy gin and tonic, whilst you are back on dry land suffering through another dreaded, red and pink Hallmark-holiday-hell. By the time 1p.m. rolls around I’ll be concerned with sunblock, sand in unseemly places and how much ice has melted in my drinky-poo.

Now that I’ve given you the ultimate suggestion to escape the holiday, the reality is that you may be stranded, land-locked, and without lover to turn you winter-white skin, pink in all the right places.

If you do have a lover to kiss your valentine’s boo-boo’s better and woo you with flowers, champagne, chocolate and the appropriate measure of throbbing, ever-ready flesh, stop reading right now. Just go enjoy yourself.

If you are alone, single, and think crawling into  the fetal position with a box of leftover Christmas chocolates is your only option, do not despair! Andshelaughs has come to the rescue.

If you have paid any attention to my ranting and raving, you should have at your disposal at least two back-up-boys to choose from. Either will do in a pinch. If some sordid company is all that you crave, give a call, crack the wine, and soak in the tub until he arrives at your door. No outfit planning necessary. Do set the mood though – candles and booze go a long way toward the illusion of love.

Should either of these options be unavailable, feel free to resort to Bridget Jones videos, junk food and bourbon. Sometimes it’s those evenings that make us realize the Y-Chromosome blessings in our lives.

I am toasting you from the sunny south my lovelies! Happy V.D!

Edge of Desire

"...maybe this mattress will spin on it's axis and find me on yours..." ~John Mayer~

“…maybe this mattress will spin on it’s axis and find me on yours…”
~John Mayer~

I know, I know, I post this once or twice a year, but I love it.

It makes me think of you, and miss you, and feel nostalgic for the pain of loving you.

Sleep well, and if you love someone….

If This Isn’t Nice, I Don’t Know What Is

if this isn't nice

Departures & Arrivals

"There is a time for departure even when there is no certain place to go." ~Tennessee Williams~

“There is a time for departure even when there is no certain place to go.”
~Tennessee Williams~

When I was a younger lady, I used to love spending time at the airport people watching. I was fascinated by where everyone was going and why. I loved to try to figure out  travel-companion relationships, and how people behaved while they were neither here nor there.

When you travel alone, airports offer a place to be in limbo.  Mothers and fathers try to impose order; naps, snacks, washroom rituals, but adults who travel on their own are a fascinating bunch to observe because they have no one else to be but themselves.

This morning at my spa appointment, I learned about my aesthetician coming to Canada as a refugee. It’s always fascinating to hear stories about how people came to be who they are, and what hard lessons they learned along the way. Outside of the waxing room, with my tootsies being pampered in a lovely, hot foot spa, and my shoulders being massaged, I relaxed into watching the movie that was playing.

Today I was almost tempted to ask for a manicure to go along with my pedicure so I could watch the ending. But I kinda had it figured out already, so I saved my twenty bucks for an airport breakfast tomorrow.

The movie was about a successful adult woman who woke  one morning as if just waking up from her 13th birthday party. It was a sweet story about reconnecting with her childhood sweetheart, and how the meaning of success gets twisted into something unrecognizable as we mature into adults.

Flashback to my 13 year old self. Where was I? Who was my best friend? What did I want out of life when I was 13?

Sometimes it’s hard to remember what we wanted when we’ve been through so much living and heartache. What we seem to forget as adults is that we need as much love and nurturing now as we did when we were those starry-eyed kids.

I think about how much I work to be ‘successful’, and how one-dimensional that word has become in our culture of glorifiying being busy and having ‘stuff’.

Success, I suppose, means being in the present, and realizing that today, this very moment, might blend in with other memories of living, but at some point, if we’re lucky, we will remember today as one of the best days of our life, from a time when we were younger, more energetic and still had our friends with us.

We depart relationships and life-roles to arrive at others, sometimes years later, without having realized how much time has passed, and who we have become.

As I find a quiet place at the gate, waiting for my connection, I think I may find my mind wandering to those ideas of success I once had, what success means to me now and how I might go about finding more balance between being nurtured and expending my emotional energy.

For a good number of sunsets over the tiny islands in the Caribbean Sea, I will be toasting my vitality, and what it means to live from the heart, with integrity and joy.

Bon voyage my friends! xo

The One That Got Away – VD Advice

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” ~Albert Einstein~

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”
~Albert Einstein~

I’ve gone from English Lit snob to chick-lit/flick junkie. Yes, at this age, I’m pretty sure I know what the real world has going on, and more than that, certain that I know nothing at all when it comes to love. There are  movies that other women think that single women (of all ages) need to watch. These gems include Pretty Woman (still haven’t watched the entire movie from start to finish), Sex in the City (Seen it, seen it again, and again), and He’s Just Not that Into You (which I finally watched this week). What I learned from watching that movie is; no one, men or women have a clue what is going on when it comes to matters of the heart. Even a lady with as much experience as myself has no clue when it comes to love. Romantic love. Nope, nada, zip. In retrospect, the most insight I have is that I let a wonderful man go whilst trying to make a miserable relationship work. Instead of heading off into the sunset with a fellow whom I happen to know is a good man, I stuck in a relationship with a doofus. What can I say? I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Now Mr. Good Stuff is engaged to be married to someone else, and I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking. All I know for sure is; you don’t known unless you try, and trust someone’s actions not empty promises. So as VD creeps up on us once again, put yourself out there and let yourself be vulnerable to love.