First Job

When I was about sixteen years old I got my first real job. In other words, it wasn’t babysitting or doing extra chores for 50 cents an hour. This was a real clock-in, clock-out, have responsibilities, learn some skills, maybe get a raise, job. I was a waitress at the diner in our local Walgreens store!!!

I filled out an application, passed an interview, got a uniform and was trained in a matter of days. (I think maybe two!) I felt more grown up than ever. Now all I had to do was learn how to balance six malted milks on a 2 1/2 foot round metal tray with one hand while calling out a full dinner order for four while passing the kitchen window and picking up my tip with the other hand. What?!

Well, it looked easy! And I frequently manned the counter, which meant I was the cashier. Which meant I had to balance the cash register at the end of the day. That’s how I learned to give change the correct way, not in a pile like they do nowadays. Who says you aren’t going to use math in the real world?

And did you know that you have to learn a new language to work in a diner? Well, it’s true. It’s a kind of shorthand for telling the cooks what you want without using all the words of the menu. Like “short stack” means three pancakes and “tall stack” means six pancakes.

I learned more than just shorthand talk and carrying a tray, I can still carry five plates of food in one hand and two in the other and not drop a bite. It really impresses the grandchildren!!!!

More importantly, I learned to finish what I started and I learned to always give a bit more than was asked. The waitresses were my teachers and the diner was my classroom. The customers were my tests and their tips were my grades. Sometimes I did well and sometimes not so well.

One time that whole tray of six malted milks ended up in a customer’s lap. That’s how I learned to accept my shortcomings, face my mistakes, and make them right. I cleaned him up as best I could, offered to pay for cleaning his suit, paid for his meal, apologized over and over, and took another tray of malted milks to the other tables. Then I had a small breakdown in the stockroom. Remember, I was 16.

But again, the older waitresses taught me. Some taught me just by being there. They were working to support their families, I was working for spending money. Big difference! Being mindful of that difference helped keep me in school for several years–through High School and college. They never knew the many positive effects they had on me. Thank you, ladies!

First jobs are powerful. They can teach you a lot of the work ethics you will carry with you the rest of your life, if you pay attention. Even though you are usually at the bottom of the heap, so to speak, there are knowledge and skills to be gained, relationships to be formed, and habits to be honed.

First jobs? Choose wisely and enjoy!

Word Of The Day – Relax

Even though I’m retired (or is it because I’m retired?), I’m a very busy person. I have weekly and sometimes twice weekly quilt group meetings, Bell Choir practice every Tuesday, Choir practice every Wednesday, church every Sunday, various doctor and dentist appointments, lunch with friends, sewing almost every day . . . . . whew!!!

I’m exhausted just thinking about it! And then you throw in an occasional night out for dinner and a movie, a weekend camping and a day spent with grandchildren and I’m near a total comatose state!

I live in a constant state of fatigue and a feeling of always being behind. Couldn’t I just once wake up feeling refreshed and rested, instead of feeling like I just that minute laid my head on the pillow?

So much to do, so little time. Busy, busy, busy. It’s the same for all of us, I’m sure.

We live by our own self-imposed schedules, thinking that staying on task 24/7 is a good thing. We think a calendar with every day completely filled in is the ultimate goal. We think time spent not producing is time wasted.

I have one word in response to all this . . . . . . .RELAX!!!!!!!!

Sounds simple but harder to do. Being a “doer” is a full time job, for sure. But are not meant to be human doers. We are meant to be human beings. All we are asked to do is . . . . . BE.

“Being” does not mean we have to produce anything, finish anything, start anything or plan anything. It is a calm state of relating to the world in a quiet way. It is taking time to see and hear and feel your surroundings. It is allowing yourself and the word to touch gently and lovingly.

Learning to be a human “being” takes time and effort. It takes practice and repitition. It may take, dare I say It, scheduling on the calendar.

Being able to relax periodically keeps us balanced. The goal of life is not the number of things we can get done in a day or the number of things we can produce or the number of meetings we can attend or the number of miles we can put on the car. The goal is a fine equilibrium, a true balance of activity and calm.

We all need those important pauses between the busyness. We need the calm moments to balance the hectic ones. We need to stop and experience what we are missing in our hurriedness. We need to relax so that we have the energy to do.

Now to take my own good advice . . . . . stop . . . . . relax . . . . . rest . . . . . . slowdown . . . . . . absorb my surroundings . . . . . . til next time, my sweeties

Word Of The Day – Celebration

I don’t know about you, but I sure do love a good party! Lots of balloons, good food, sweet drinks, happy people, music, dancing, bright lights, maybe some singing and a toast or two. I’m not even sure I need a reason or a real occasion. It can just be a Thursday evening or a spontaneous happening.

I love happy gatherings with laughter and plenty of joy and goodwill. I especially enjoy celebrating the little things in life.

Everyone has a party for the big occasions, like Christmas, New Years and their Birthday, right? But what about giving a big cheer for a rainy day or for the first day of school or for passing the drivers test?

Celebrations are like little “thank you” notes to the world and those we love. There’s so many things to be thankful for that deserve some extra sparkle and shine. I can think of hundreds, maybe more.

Sometimes a celebration can be small with just two people enjoying a special event together. Sometimes it is planned in advance with a structure and a timetable. Sometimes it happens completely in the moment with a spontaneous idea. Sometimes it involves many people gathering from many places in a miraculous union. Sometimes it is colorful, loud and rowdy. Sometimes it is quiet, solemn and reverent.

I think the more grateful we are, the more we feel like celebrating. And the reverse is also true – having a celebratory heart makes us more grateful. They go hand in hand.

Having a celebratory heart is a learned skill. It can be developed, honed and sharpened. A grateful heart just naturally feels joyful, happy and playful. And a party will follow!!!

I have very fond memories of celebrations large – weddings, births, funerals, reunions – and small – grandson’s drawing being chosen for display, lunches with friends, quilt show awards, hugs from my husband.

Some are so tender in my memory, I can still cry thinking of them. That’s how important it is to mark these moments in our lives. It is imperative that we make events memorable and special, that we remember to be grateful for each little second that we are given.

To celebrate is to remember.

To remember is to be grateful.

Word Of The Day – Integrity

My father was the most honest, fair minded, and ethical man I ever knew. His word was true and was a promise that he always kept. His handshake was strong and was unbreakable.

When I looked him straight in the eye, I could not ever lie to him. And, of course, he never lied to me. His standard was high but he expected everyone of us, his children, to live up to it.

His theory was, you do it right – every time – not just when it’s easy or there’s glory to be had. You do it right when it’s hard, when no one is looking, when no one else agrees, when it’s not popular and when it’s costly.

Sometimes my father’s stand on an issue was very lonely, painful and took all he had. But he didn’t budge once he made a decision. He truly had integrity and strength and honor.

My dad. My mentor. My hero.

I learned from an early age by just watching him. I learned later by his actions and his words.

I learned that words are important and can’t be taken back. It’s best to think before you speak, rather than after.

I learned that everyday habits are the key. What you do every time, everyday, in every situation keeps decisions to a minimum. It’s not your actions in the special occasions that will matter but what you do in the small everyday ones that will.

I learned that strength comes with repetition. The more often you decide to be honest and trustworthy, the easier it is to be a truly ethical person each time.

I learned that, even at a young age, I might be an example for someone else. I needed to be my best self, not just for me but for others as well.

I learned that being an honorable person felt good and was more often the most productive method of getting things done.

I learned later in my life, working as a nurse, that always always signing my name to accurate honest accountings was the only way I could live with myself and be true to my oath.

What my father taught me all those years ago, I am now teaching to my children and grandchildren. By words and deeds, I am passing on the gifts of honesty, honor, truth, strength, integrity, trustworthiness, loyalty and ethics.

It is my job, just as it was his, to see that the next generations see and hear these virtues.

It’s how they learn – from their elders!!!!