My New Year’s Commitment (this is NOT a resolution)

Last year I made a resolution to never make another resolution at New Years. It’s too much pressure and it just sets you up to fail because we invariably set goals that are too lofty and unrealistic.  Now, upon reviewing this past year, I realized that while not making any resolutions didn’t cause me any failures, it didn’t exactly put me on the path to success either.

On reflection, it seems I spent a lot of time searching for projects this past year; projects that made me happy (actually others benefited more from my efforts, so they were happier) but nothing that truly brought me satisfaction. I stayed true to my commitment to look after myself. I walk regularly. I returned to yoga, stretchy pants in tow. I maintained a healthy diet, albeit a robust one (portion control is my nemesis) Ok, I gained another 5 pounds….mid-life, menopause and gravity are ganging up on me and it’s totally bitchin’ but I’m trying.

All things considered, it’s been a good year and I have a very good life. My health, my family, my friends – life really is very good. So what’s my problem? I have this feeling that I’m supposed to ‘do’ something, something important. I just don’t know what, so I keep searching. I dabble in the arts to test my creativity. I took a series of art classes, acrylic, and I really stink, but it’s fun. Not so fun for the teacher who often refers to me as her ‘special project’, but I do enjoy the release of the Picasso in me (frankly my 4 year old granddaughter paints better than I do) and I know this is not the special thing I was meant to ‘do’. It’s just filler.

I’ve always wanted to play the guitar and as luck would have it, I have one. My son left an old guitar when he moved out. Could this be a sign? (Actually, I always wanted to be a ballerina but my sturdy European legs couldn’t master a graceful pirouette…the clashing of my thighs sent such a reverberation through my body it was all I could do to land on my feet without crashing to the floor in a quivering heap) I’d still like to learn the guitar but I’ve noticed a shorter attention span with aging and I’m not sure I could tolerate the endless scales. I want to play, now, a song, not just random scales, and I fear the frustration would turn me into one of those face-painted rock stars that smash their instruments on stage. (Can’t you just see the headlines…..”Grandmother goes berserk at church recital sending innocent bystanders fleeing for their lives”) Ok, maybe the guitar lessons can wait.

I wanted to be a better person in society; no judgement, no temper, just tolerance of others lifestyles and personalities, acceptance of others limitations – sounds easy yes? (shouldn’t we all aspire to this?) Well, I think I am a better person. Age has made me more accepting however I could be described as one who is somewhat strong minded (others say I’m opinionated but what do they know) and this was, and is, a challenge for me. There just seems to be an inordinate number of imbeciles in the world and I have a hard time not pointing it out. (Actually, last year I secretly vowed to bite my tongue every time I felt the urge to criticize another but eventually my tongue became so swollen I developed a speech impediment and had to abandon this resolution)

Let’s just say I didn’t exactly conquer the world in 2019 but that doesn’t mean I won’t in 2020. I’m still searching for that one project, that one thing I’m supposed to ‘do’, and I just know I’m close. In the meantime, I’ve decided to take the pressure of setting goals off myself, again. I will ‘do’ something meaningful and regardless of how it will affect the rest of the world, I am confident it will have a profound effect on me, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

Look out 2020, here I come, and I’m gonna ‘do’ something….just watch me!

Opera lady viking

Sometimes saying nothing is best….or is it?

I’m an emotional person. I don’t necessarily project this in conversation (unless I’m angry….then you’d better run) but for those who know me, really know me, (and there are truly few) I can be read. I sob through all the holiday commercials about a long lost relative coming home at the eleventh hour. I can’t bear the pleas for help against abused animals, and a heart wrenching country ‘love gone wrong’ song will bring me to tears. Aside from that, I’m actually pretty tough.,,,,so,,,,I’m  normal, right?

That said, I do tend to express (often unwittingly) my inner most feelings when I write. We all need an outlet and I guess I tend to bear my sole….in print (or so people tell me) and for me it’s therapeutic. Maybe that’s why so many psychologists suggest patients keep journals. It’s a private place to vent your innermost feelings; a place without judgement or retribution….or is it? Turns out, it is not an anonymous venue because someone, somewhere, will read your thoughts and you have no control over how it will be interpreted, and that’s where the problems arise.

I think there are situations when we should keep our emotions to ourselves; keep your face without expression and hold your tongue (ok, I’d struggle with  holding my tongue….I’d have to bite it….what if I bleed to death?) if only to protect others. The benefit of this self-control is you do not subject yourself to any form of judgement or ridicule, and you spare the feelings of another. The down side of holding emotion in is that you might explode (as I would).  I believe I am destined to always be an outspoken, emotional person, which I hope portrays me as honest and forthright…..ok, maybe a little too honest and forthright, but at least you never have to question where I stand, and I would never aim to cause anyone pain or embarrassment.

There are many who ‘wear their emotions on their sleeve’, softies whose emotions are displayed in vivid facial expression and tone of voice. There’s nothing wrong with this but it can be a double edged sword. On one hand it projects you as sensitive and genuine, which is good. On the other it opens you up to people who might take advantage of your gentle nature.  (I am not one of the softies….at least not overtly)

I think we are all guilty at some time or another of saying something we perhaps shouldn’t (at least not out loud) but we are human, and it’s hard to hide emotion, much as we try. We each have our own perceptions of a situation and it’s in these differing perceptions where misunderstandings occur. My ‘take’ on a situation may differ from another’s, drastically enough that it causes conflict,,,, but maybe that conflict is good? It sparks much needed conversation; conversation that provides clarity, if only for you.

Maybe another’s interpretation of your actions is just what you need to help you deal with your own unconscious thoughts because they are seeing you clearly and without emotion, and that forces you to face your true demons. Failing that, you can hold it in, say nothing, and risk imploding.

Holding it in

Something to celebrate!

Just short of 2 weeks ago my baby had a baby. A little girl; his first child, and my 3rd grand daughter, and it reminds me all over again of how new and exciting life can be. Now I know that babies are born every minute, everywhere, but none are as monumental as our own. Ours are smarter, prettier, funnier,  and practically perfect. (what are we breeding here,,,a society of Mary Poppins’ssss?) Anyway, you get my drift….I like my kid.

This little one is tiny and perfect. No wrinkles, no scars, and boasting a head so full of hair it would make most adult men envious. I held her as she slept and marveled at the expressions that crossed her face; a smile, a sudden frown. What could that naïve young mind be smiling or frowning at? She has experienced nothing, so has no comparisons. The smile surely must be about feeding….and the frown about….not being fed? What else is there to react to on what can only be a clean slate? (ok, maybe pooping)

I envy her having the opportunity to create a path, her path. She has a whole world at her disposal. She can be anything she wants to be, and, thanks to a progressive society that respects the rights of women, embraces all races, and supports the liberalization of social and moral attitudes toward sexual orientation, she can do it on her own terms. (ok, we’re not totally there yet but we’re miles ahead of where we were) Suffice it to say she will have choices. She will have friends of various ethnic backgrounds and genders, and she will embrace them all, because this is the world she will grow up in. How lucky is she?

This little girl won’t experience racism or hate or judgement, in her early years. It’s only when she starts school and is out in the world, exposed to others, that she may see what no one should see. She will witness anger, and pain, and sadness, and fear. For this very brief period her family will protect her from life’s harshness, but this will not be a permanent shield because she is like all of us, a child of the world, and once she moves beyond the role of observer she will become a person of influence. We all are. We just ‘choose’ our level of impact.

My little girl has a bright future. She has a family that adores her (even when she poops) and a safe and loving environment to grow up in. She will have opportunities for growth and education denied to many, in other parts of the world, and she will be taught the value of this privilege. And in return she will be learn to speak with love, listen with patience, and act with compassion, because this is the world she is meant to grace. Lucky world!

Something to celebrate.jpg

Rewarding a job well done

‘Tipping’ is the act of rewarding a job well done, monetarily, and I’m all for random acts of generosity when warranted, but lately I find  myself wondering if these acts are truly earned or simply expected.

When presented with a bill for service we are now given the ‘choice’ of tipping a fixed percentage (15%, 20%) or a dollar amount, and rarely is there an option for no tip. Now it’s not very often I would opt for no tip. I have no problem acknowledging exceptional service, and I can on occasion be very generous when met with quality work but is it really my responsibility to acknowledge it? Who’s benefiting the most here? And I especially take issue with restaurants that build in the tip to their bill so we have no choice. Who are they to decide if I will be happy with the service?

A waiter or waitress in a restaurant is hired to provide good customer service and as a patron I should expect no less – I am paying for it. As I understand it most wait staff are poorly paid, i.e. minimum wage; the expectation for better income is via tips, taking the onus, and the expense, off the owner. How fair is that? As the owner of a business isn’t it their responsibility to ensure their employees provide good customer service? And in doing so does that not improve the business and thereby the owners profit from it? That being the case, why aren’t the owners ‘rewarding’ their staff? They’re the ones reaping the benefit. If an owner has an employee who goes above and beyond, the owner should be rewarding them, not his patrons.

For that matter I struggle with the whole ‘pooled’ tips system many restaurants mandate. All tips are effectively pooled then divided evenly between ALL staff, including those who do not have direct contact with customers. Again, aren’t these employees the responsibility of the owner? Hire the right people, pay them a fair wage, and reward premium performance when warranted. Don’t dump that financial obligation on your patrons. We don’t have a say in who you hire so why make us pay them?  Isn’t it enough that we keep coming back to your establishment because YOU (the owner) are profiting every time we do. And where’s the incentive for an employee to go that extra mile in this scenario? The employee who does half the work, without a smile will still get their ‘cut’ of the pooled tips, so why work harder? Let the others do it.

I also struggle with the blatant expectation of a tip in a self-serve environment. Coffee houses put their tip jars front and centre where no one can miss it, but what is it for? The employee presses a button and passes the coffee to the customer. We put in our own cream, sugar, and apply the lid, so what did they do that warrants payment over and above their salary. Where specialty coffees are prepared, the employees need to put in a little more effort, but HEEEELLOOOOO,,,,that’s their job. And if they’re really good at it, shouldn’t the owner be rewarding them? (it’s not like we don’t already pay a fortune for the coffee)

I’m all for improving the base wage for those who serve the public (because the public isn’t always easy to serve) but I believe the responsibility of paying a fare wage lies with the owner and it’s a copout to dump that expense on your patrons. As for tipping, I still support it where earned, but ALL proceeds should go to the employee who earned them. I’m sure your kitchen staff and cleaning staff do a fine job but you as the owner have the responsibility to pay them, and that includes any bonuses related to premium performance. In turn you’ll have happier staff who have a vested interest in helping your business succeed.