family thanks

I have a confession to make: I love my family.

Well, that’s not really a secret. But that doesn’t change its truth. I would do anything to be able to move closer to home, be near my parents, eat dinner every night at the house, and generally spend as much time in my home as possible.

Reality check: I am an adult. I cannot move back in with my parents without regressing in age and maturity a minimum of five years, and there’s no way I want to be 18 again.

Since I can’t move back in with my mom and dad, and the job prospects in my hometown are not so great that I can love with in a convenient distance (less than five miles), I instead look forward to every single excuse I can find to go home and spend some time. This makes the Holiday Season one of my absolute favorite times of year, despite the cold.

So, this year (and every day), I am thankful for my family. For my mom, who is always enthusiastic and supportive. For my dad, who always believes in whatever I can do, and who has always encouraged learning. For my brother, who is a constant source of unconditional love, even when he pokes me mercilessly in the stomach, and who always makes me laugh. For my sister, who will always be there when and if I need her, no matter what.

And for our extended (though not necessarily related) family: Don, who would be the first person I would call if I needed to be bailed out of jail. Wally, who is dependable and constant in our family, especially when we need him most. Aunt Vickie, who loves me and my brother and sister so much I’m not sure what we’d do without her. Our dogs, who greet me at the car as soon as I pull up the driveway. Claude & Linda, who are like bonus grandparents, and whom I really need to call for dinner soon. And our Texas Family, with whom the laughs never end (especially if it means getting into trouble!).

And then finally, my friends — those who are practically family, and who would fit right in at Palooza: there are too many of you to list, honestly. But some honorable mentions? Beth, who always makes me laugh and keeps me company. Shelby and Maurissa, who put up with my busy schedule and still find time to see me (and play mahjong). Tonia, who calls to check in and gives advice whenever I need it. You ladies are loving on a daily basis, especially when I need it most.

And pretty much the entire swing dance community, who treats me like family, makes me happy, gives all the cuddles, and always makes sure I’m loved.

I’m always at home when I’m with my family.

the overachieving, brown-nosing tattler

I have always been challenged to get along with and be accepted by my peers, whether in school or at work. It’s something I’ve really tried working on lately, as I want to develop a stronger relationship with my coworkers (particularly at BR). What I’ve found, though, is that changing my working relationship would, in many ways, create more problems than it would fix.

Today I drove a coworker home, and she let slip that a lot of people don’t like me. Well, I already knew that — so, curious, I asked why. She is terrible at giving concrete examples, but here is what I gathered:

  • I am an overachiever.
  • I am a brown-noser.
  • I am a tattler.

Listed as such, these three traits are terrible — and honestly, it hurts a little to know this is how I am perceived. But in the course of the conversation, I realized that these are over-exaggerated words for what I am actually proud of about myself:

I am an overachiever.

I work really hard to do really well at my job. This is how I sell absurd amounts of clothing over the course of a weekend, and I’m honestly proud of that work. Because honestly: where would the world be without overachievers? They are the people who frequently push boundaries and often are more successful. So faced with overachieving and being average — well, I’d rather be the former.

I am a brown-noser.

I have a good working relationship with my leadership team. I often stay late to make sure things get done or come in on my day off because I was asked. I do my job the way it’s supposed to be done — by reporting when I find a detached pricetag (which could indicate theft) or by board-folding all the shirts (because it honestly looks better, even if it takes ten times longer). I’ve been a brown-noser since I was a kindergartner, and while it’s something I struggle with because it frequently singles me out amongst my peers…well, I’d rather have a good relationship with my boss than a poor one.

I am a tattler.

This one is a hard one, because I have struggled with this all my life. It is a term which honestly hurts my feelings, as it has such a negative connotation. It is usually tightly tied with being a brown-noser, and it’s an action I frequently take without even realizing how it appears.

Frequently, I “tattle” because someone is slacking off and trying really hard to avoid work. In that case, I will ask a leader for help because the less they do, the more I have to do. I don’t care if you get to leave at 9pm — I have to stay until 11pm, and if you talk instead of folding shirts, then I have to come behind you and fix it later, and that’s just frustrating. On the other hand, if I try to confront my peers myself instead of going to a leader, two things will happen: (1) they will not take me seriously, and (2) they’ll think of me as a nosy bitch and meddler, which is equally bad.

The second instance when I am called out is when someone is being dishonest about their work — once, I reported internal theft (employees stealing from the company), and I have been known to report “stolen” sales or BRCs. Sales are “stolen” when one associate does most of the work with a customer, but another associate gets the credit. This is a stupid attitude to have, since sales can be “split” at the register, giving both employees credit for the work they’ve done. The other day, I was working with a customer for two or three hours, acquiring quite a pile of clothes to purchase. She had to leave the store for an hour or so, and when she came back, another sales associate began helping her. Trying to be honest and communicate well, I told him that she had a large pile of clothes behind the register, and that he should go let the cashiers know to split the sale between the two of us. He waved his hand and kept walking — as if to say, “whatever.” He then attempted to claim the entire sale as his own when he escorted the guest to the cash register. Frustrated, I asked a leader for advice, and she said she would talk to him. So did I “tattle”? Yes. But I’d already attempted talking with him, and he had brushed me off.

Conclusion

I stand behind my actions and character. I will not change being an over-achiever, a brown-noser, or a tattler (though, as I’ve said I have serious anxieties about that last word). I believe that these attitudes are the sometimes exaggerated perceptions of qualities which I value in myself: working hard, the maintenance of a good relationship with my leadership, and honesty.

However, I would be stupid not to change some of my behaviors in an attempt to soften the perception that some of my coworkers have and improve my working relationships. Some of the actions I’m working on:

  • Acknowledging my peers more often for their successes, and never asking for acknowledgment about my own successes. Praise for others, humility for myself.
  • Continued attempts to improve communication with my peers — meaning I must be willing to have a challenging conversation, as well as ready to give a peer space when they are being difficult.
  • Sucking it up more when people slack off. Also known as: not getting frustrated when others are slacking off, not calling them out on their dishonesty, not talking shit about them with other employees, and especially not pointing it out to managers. If they have poor work ethic, that’s their deal.
  • Changing my diction when asking others for help (getting a size, helping run clothing back to the floor, etc.) — every little bit of politeness can help change someone’s perception.

Most importantly: I am going to work really hard to always be pleasant, to always have something nice to say, and to always do a good job. I know and respect many of my fellow employees: hard workers who are universally liked. So I’m going to pay attention to them, and see what I can learn. I think a large part of it has to do with “sucking it up,” as mentioned above. While I honestly struggle with letting others get away with bullshit…I guess it’s a life lesson. All that should matter is that I do my own job, and that I do it well.

Finally, I am repeating this over and over to myself: don’t let it get to you. There are people who will always dislike me — they might be jealous that I’ve sold more, they might be annoyed by my friendly relationship with my leaders, and they might be angry that I’ve reported their dishonesty. But their attitudes and perceptions cannot and will not change my underlying character:

I will not let my own work ethic and moral code be negatively affected just so that I can be friends with everyone.

***

I would like to say that I do have a good relationship with about 70% of the people I work with at BR — I get along with almost every cashier and most of the sales support (all the people who put the clothes back on the floor); the biggest opportunity for improvement is my relationship with my fellow sellers, where my good relationships are about 50/50. But honestly, I have a better relationship with more people than not — I am merely exploring actions that I can take to improve those working relationships which I find challenging on a daily basis.

30 Day Cleanse: Breaking the Habit of Coca-Cola

I love Coca-Cola — honest to goodness love it. I used to drink it so much that I sometimes felt like those vintage Coca-Cola advertisements: you know the ones, with the pin-up-inspired girls in their bathing suits, always accepting that refreshing glass of high-fructose corn syrup and caffeine…wait. What?

Yes, Coca-Cola is bad for you. In fact, it’s something I frequently struggle with: I already have bad eating habits, and there’s no reason I should augment any health problems I might encounter in the future by over-consumption of …

By over-consumption, let me spell it out for you: before I underwent this challenge, I would often drink 3-4 cokes a day. Sometimes, more. It got out of hand, to say the least. Not only did I prefer the taste of coke, I was in the habit of ordering it. The habit was my real vice: it was the only thing I ordered, because it was the only thing I knew I would like.

To combat my habits, I underwent a 30 Day Cleanse.* Technically I eliminated all soft drinks — but in reality, I was just eliminating coke from my diet. The purpose was to not only eliminate something unhealthy from my diet, but to change my habits — to find other drinks which I liked, and to become more comfortable ordering them in all types of situations.

The first week was the hardest — but strangely, I didn’t suffer from any caffeine headaches or trouble staying awake. Instead, I just didn’t know what to buy at restaurants, and I was overcome with an intense urge to purchase a coke every time I saw a vending machine — not a craving, as far as I could tell; just an urge.

After the second week, the desire to order coke became significantly less and my comfort with other drinks increased significantly. I found that I actually almost enjoy tea, and will probably love it as soon as I find one or two which I really enjoy the taste of. I also re-discovered a love of lemonade, and I found that water is considerably cheaper in restaurants (and who doesn’t love saving money?).

A couple quirky anecdotes:

  • I did not weigh myself to see if I lost weight (as many people predicted), but I did have a couple people comment that I look thinner. While I do not necessarily feel healthier, but I am cognizant that I probably am.
  • I had the strangest, most intense dreams the first week of this cleanse. In one, I was even denying myself coke in a gas station — I was in tears that I couldn’t have a coke, in fact. It was crazy, and I’m glad my sleep patterns evened out after the first week or so.
  • I must have had 20 people ask me if it was Lent. Uhm…what? I mean, I’m not religious myself, but I’m pretty sure that Lent is in the spring. You remember that holiday called Easter? The one where you get peeps and chocolate? That’s your signal that you’ve missed Lent, and that a whole bunch of people you know are re-indulging in their vices. Just a heads up.
  • I’ve never attended a dance event without coke before. It was a real challenge. I was tired and sluggish, and honestly almost indulged. Of course, it could have been the late night dancing and early morning classes, as well. But I hadn’t discovered tea yet, so hopefully avoiding coke at dance exchanges won’t be a challenge in the future.

Before you ask, I do plan on going back to drinking cokes again.** In fact, I had my first coke in 30 days today, and it was glorious. However, I would rather approach coke as a treat — not as a standard. Maybe, in the future, I will phase it out of my diet entirely…but I honestly enjoy the taste of Coca-Cola too much to do that right now.

In conclusion, I’m incredibly glad that I’ve completed this personal challenge / cleanse. I’ve tried quitting drinking coke in the past, and never succeeded because it always seemed too daunting a task. Going thirty days at a time (and with the support of friends) made it much more manageable. Now, however, I have seen success. And more than that, I’ve discovered other drinks that I honestly like, and I no longer have to go back to coke as a standard.

***

*While most people would say a cleanse needs to clean out every toxin in your body, I think it’s up to you. If you have a particular habit or vice you want to kick, go ahead. In fact, challenges like this tend to be easier to conquer if you take smaller steps.

**A short rant: I am actually really frustrated with the people who are trying to convince me not to drink it ever again, which seems to be every other person with whom I celebrate the success of this recent challenge. Seriously — I know it’s not the healthiest drink, I know it has High-Fructose Corn Syrup, I know it has caffeine, and I know there are healthier drinks. Mind your own fucking business. And if you’re still going to be nosy and spend your energy trying to convince someone to be healthier, try starting on people with real vices — those who are smokers, alcoholics, or pill-poppers, for example. My vice is legal, I only plan to indulge occasionally, and it doesn’t inconvenience or harm those around me. Please take your do-gooder advice elsewhere.