Monday, November 16, 2009

Reading the Signs

It’s fun to be alert to the signs that are all around you – signs from above that you are doing the right thing.

Today as I was checking out with my groceries at Publix, I noticed those prepackaged food donation bags at the end of the counter. I heard a thought in my head to buy one of them, and I listened. The price of it was $7.74.

I did it because it made me feel good. It felt like I was officially kicking off the holiday season – right then and there – by doing something nice for someone else. That’s the spirit, right?

Well, the cool thing about that donation, in addition to all of the warm-fuzzies I was feeling on the inside, was that when the cashier handed my receipt back to me he said, “You saved $7 today!” I looked at my receipt, it was true! I had saved $7.52.

I smiled a great big smile, gave a little giggle and pointed at the bag with the price of just over $7 on it! The cashier instantly connected with what I was saying and laughed with me.

I certainly wasn’t looking for a reward by buying that bag, but right then and there I got one. I felt like spending $7 and saving $7 was a message … an instant reward … a thank you for doing the right thing! It made me smile. (Gotta love Publix and their buy one get one free deals!!!)

I know it may seem small to others, but I find taking joy in these small things really makes me feel happy!

So, on that note, let’s get this holiday season started!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Talking Out of Turn

Normally, I take this time to provide my readers with insight and inspiration, but this week, I could use a little inspiration from you!

My challenge of late is how my soon-to-be 7-year-old and my 4-year-old talk over each other. One of them will be talking away, and the other just can't wait to jump in and tell their own story.

This usually happens in the car and ends up with Alyssa yelling and crying, because Tyler won't stop talking. Heaven forbid someone besides Alyssa be talking when she has something to say! :) This frustrates me to no end. I think it's Alyssa's crying and yelling that really get my goat. Plus, Tyler's determination to finish what he was saying, whether he was talking first or not.

I have tried to calmly explain that they need to be respectful and wait until the other is finished speaking. I have tried to keep my mouth shut and let them duke it out. I have also ended up yelling (no, I'm not proud of that).

I'm out of ideas. I was wondering how other parents handle this with their children. Does it frustrate you as much as it frustrates me? Got any tactics to share??? Let me know!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Paralyzed by Inaction

While at Costco this weekend, I was standing in line waiting to grab lunch for the family. There was an elderly gentleman in front of me who could barely walk and barely hear. Walter was his name.

Walter was trying to use a Costco rewards certificate to buy his lunch. The cashier explained that he could not use the certificate there and pointed him in the direction of the customer service kiosk. It was very, very busy and loud at Costco that day … Walter had a hard time hearing the clerk. The clerk repeatedly pointed and reiterated to Walter what he should do. Sweet, sweet Walter walked away.

I felt frustrated for him. Part of me wanted to take care of him and help him get this situation resolved. Even pay for his lunch. But, I did nothing.

It was my turn next. I placed my order and waited. While the clerk was gathering my items, I turned around and noticed the person at the customer service kiosk was pointing Walter to the long checkout lines. Again, it seemed to take Walter a minute to hear and understand where he needed to go, but off he went. He reminded me of the man from Disney’s movie “Up” as he hobbled away.

At this point, I felt very frustrated to see Walter being pointed, yet again, to another place in the store. I thought to myself, “You know, Mr. Costco Manager, I don’t care what your policies are – just take care of this man…have some compassion. Sometimes people have to come before policies.” I felt like I should go over there and help Walter, but, again, I did nothing. It was like I was paralyzed, just watching the situation unfold.

Moments later, a Costco manager walked by me. I was determined to do something, so I stopped him and politely explained the story to him. I said I just wanted him to know, because I thought the situation could have been handled better. He agreed, but that was that. It was over.

I realized, as I was talking to the Costco manager, that the person I was frustrated with was not him or the clerks that turned this man away – it was me. I should have stepped in. Two times the thought came to my mind, but I ignored it. I truly wish I would have stepped in to help this man before he walked away from that counter the first time. I wish I could have saved him all of those extra steps and the frustration he might have been feeling.

At this point, it’s obviously too late for that, but I have made a mental note for future instances to “act” instead of react. My “complaint” to the Costco manager was a reaction – it was not action.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Using Gratitude to Change the Mood

One recent morning as my husband and I were loading the children into the car for school, I was feeling stressed out and overwhelmed. I was trying to talk to my husband, and the kids kept interrupting. We couldn’t even get a sentence out before one of them had something to tell us. I felt very frustrated and firmly asked the kids to “give us a minute.”

Of course, that made me feel worse.

As we started driving to school, the energy in the car was negative and heavy. I didn’t want the day to start like this, so I tried to think of what I could do to change the mood. I remembered my life coach taught me that gratitude can do just that.

I asked the kids to tell me what they were grateful for. This is an exercise we do almost daily – but I’ve never purposefully used it to change the mood.

Alyssa said she was grateful for school, the playground, her friends and trees. Tyler mentioned his family, school and his teachers. I told them I was thankful for a car to get us to and from school, for their health, for Paul’s help getting them ready for school that morning and for a beautiful sunrise.

We continued to talk about the things that made us feel grateful most of the way to school. I noticed the mood in the car literally lifted and turned into positive energy.

It felt great to give Tyler a kiss and see his big, sweet smile as he got out of the car to go into school that morning. I knew I had started his day off on the right foot…and for that, I am grateful!