Category: Serious Stuff

Customer Service

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Believe in your heart that you’re meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic, and miracles.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Thank God for words. Read above. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

After the Academy Awards, I usually feel inspired. There’s nothing quite like watching someone pour passion into their work and be recognized for it within their community. But this year the Shoprite in Chatham, New Jersey and I had a thing that sort of coincided and overshadowed the Oscars. To repeat the Shoprite in Chatham, New Jersey overshadowed the Academy Awards for me.

The story can get complicated so I’m going to use simple sentences for the synopsis.

I ordered a cake. There was an issue. I felt dissatisfied. I experienced the bitter end of apathy. My mama bear mode was activated. I wasn’t nice. Then I cried. I legit cried over a cake. I called customer service. I spoke to people. People were nice. I was nice too. People made the situation better. People asked me for genuine insight. I connected with people. I got another cake. The cake was amazing. The end.

I get that this might not feel like a big deal, especially in simple summation form, but it really was significant for a variety of reasons.

I often find people lack inspiration. There’s a lack of focus or a sense of pride within their work.

From someone who craves connection, it’s challenging to witness. As a customer, it’s difficult to digest. What happened to customer service? Did it disappear? Or are we part of the problem as well?

I don’t pretend to think these questions can appropriately be addressed in one blog post, but it’s a start to a fika that needs some feistiness and genuine attention. No matter our position or title, there has to be a heartfelt investment in our work. And as consumers or customers, we need to model our expectations. If the customer is always right per traditional expression, shouldn’t we be right and nice? Because I’d hate to live in a world where aggression and apathy are the roadways to right.

I get that it’s not always easy. But why does it have to be so difficult?

No matter what we do, who we work for, where we’re headed, etc., we need Roy Bennett’s words (see above). I’m rooted in a life full of passion, purpose, magic, and miracles.  Here’s to looking for lessons and finding stories in unexpected places and through unexpected people. And here’s to Shoprite in Chatham for making Oscar Sunday discerningly different. I am inspired.

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What I Wanted

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Last Saturday I went to my nephew’s second birthday party. While there I talked to my brother-in-law’s brother-in-law. Trust me, I know it’s a mouthful. His sister recently wrote, directed, and starred in a feature film. I became an instant fan. To begin, it was incredibly well done. Also, kudos to her for chasing and capturing her dreams. While talking he noted my knowledge of the industry and asked me if it was a hobby.

I heard myself say it was something I used to study. I rambled about it being something I used to want to do. Slowly but purposefully I retreated to the next room. I said the words in the past tense and it shook me.

To be clear, I’d still like to win an Academy Award. The speech has been half-written for many years and I’ve rehearsed into a hairbrush on several occasions. Regardless, I think I’ll write a script in completion for my own personal satisfaction. And I might do other crazy stuff that I used to consider, dream, or practice as well.

I guess my point is that I don’t like to talk in the past tense about stuff like this because it shouldn’t have an age or experience expiration. Listen, I understand practicality and purpose more than most, but I also understand defiance and determination. It feels good to think that the best is still ahead of me.

I like to imagine a big vault where some of my wildest and most authentic dreams reside. Every now and then I envision opening the vault and extracting a few from the bank. I take them into the world refreshed and refocused to see if they’re strong enough. More importantly,  I like to see if I’m strong enough.

Dreams don’t have to come true for them to have a purpose. But many of my dreams are centered on something more meaningful than whimsical wishes. Several of them are significant and satiable.

I don’t want to archive hope. I refuse to bank talent. It’s not the time for past tense. Here’s to the power of present tense. It’s what I want.

Labels and Titles

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Labels and titles. Titles and labels. They’re everywhere. Some claim and cherish while others run from restrictions and stereotypes. I straddle a line here. Some labels and titles are appropriate and necessary. But there’s a sad reality that a lot of people self-proclaim and misrepresent and do so to the detriment of others.

To begin, yay Internet. I love you. Social media, you are capable of engagement and entertainment. Together, you’ve taken the world by storm. But what qualifies someone to be an influencer? Is a health coach certified via education and/or degree, or did they pay for a title without experience? Listen, this isn’t an easy topic to discuss. It feels judgmental, but I assure it’s not intended to be. This is about evaluation, which we’ve stripped from many processes and scenarios. We need to evaluate who is an expert and entrepreneur. Just as importantly, we need to decide what authenticity looks like in a world where we can purchase likes, self-label, self-title, and filter images.

Are you ready to hear about my experiment? This week I subscribed to twenty-five websites or services that promised promotion, brand recognition, all the follows and likes one can get, etc. I did so in the midst of the great Instagram sweep, where tons of big named celebrities, influencers, and artists complained about follower loss after Instagram attempted to weed out the imitators and bots of the world. Guess what I learned? This is only a small part of the problem. Soon, my numbers will return to their original state. Currently, it’s about self-portrayal. In my case, it proved anything can be acquired. But, I can also self-label myself without very little informative inquiry or research. Someone quoted me as being an expert in my field. Um, excuse me, but have you read this blog? I’m not an expert in anything. This is about conversation, exchange, and personal development. It’s a need and possibly a niche, but it’s not expert based. Anyone can facilitate. My how and why are self-taught through experience. But I’m not trying to lead or teach. I’m trying to relate. There’s a difference. Sometimes leading and teaching are byproducts. Regardless, I’m not going to claim expertise when it’s not earned or deserved. But I could have and that’s the dangerous reality we find ourselves in these days. We need to evaluate more than ever before.

My experiment also taught me that the quality of product is that much harder to recognize in a world oversaturated with experts. And now, more than ever, numbers matter. This had me wondering what we did before the Internet. Seriously, what did we do?

I’ve decided the reason it’s so hard for me to explain this thing I’m doing is because I fear categorization.

In my opinion, it’s important to know that starting at the bottom, with little to nothing, is still the way to go. It’s entirely too easy to overinflate and misrepresent, and aside from a raised eyebrow or occasional accolade, it gets you nowhere.

Phew. That felt like a lot. I’m off to go unsubscribe and get rid of some shady stuff on my Instagram account. The experiment is over. It’s time to return to being authentically ordinary. But trust me, extraordinary fun and potential are within us all. No lables or titles are necessary. Let’s unearth it together through some coffee and conversation.

What Marriage Needs

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I’ve been in love with my husband for fifteen years. This past August we celebrated seven years of marriage. He is the ying to my yang, calming force, and favorite partner-in-crime. Our history is worth sharing.

I met him in college.  Our love story begins in a crowded and dark fraternity house basement near a keg of Keystone Light. He sported ugly red Adidas sneakers, a God-awful bright yellow Northface jacket, two silver studs in his ears, and a mischievous smile. For me, it was love at first sight.

Those fashion remarks are what happens when I look back upon our initial interactions fifteen years later. Sarcasm aside, he wore all the things one would wear in 2003. Plus, he wore them well. And at that moment, and even now, I recall his powerful presence.

From early on it was clear we were different. But our differences elevated and encouraged one another. Together, we marched through our twenties.

But if I could tell my sorority-self one thing fifteen years ago it would be this: remember.

It’s entirely too easy to forget our beginning.

Currently, we’re in the hamster wheel. We’re running, spinning throughout our day, changing diapers, teaching manners, working hard, demonstrating good teeth brushing, preaching kindness, encouraging effort, and everything else under the blistering sun known as parenthood. And while we sit down to talk, swap stories of napless preschoolers or stubborn toddlers, relay random encounters, or dabble in heavy real-world debates and dilemmas, we’re tired. Sometimes in our exhaustive states, we forget about the keg of Keystone.

Why is the beginning so important? Because when we lose sight of where we started, where we are doesn’t mean as much, and where we’re going is void of inspiration.

We had a big argument yesterday. We were tired from a long day and weary from an even longer week. And we had forgotten to do the thing all marriages need, which is to remember.

This phase of life is every emotion and then some rolled into magic, mystery, and mayhem.

But I’m taking us back to that fraternity basement. We remember. Now, we refresh.

Before Cupid invades us with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, long-stemmed red roses, or overpriced greeting cards, remember. It’s the key to happily ever after.

Something Brief

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“Don’t Just”

Don’t just learn, experience.
Don’t just read, absorb.
Don’t just change, transform.
Don’t just relate, advocate.
Don’t just promise, prove.
Don’t just criticize, encourage.
Don’t just think, ponder.
Don’t just take, give.
Don’t just see, feel.
Don’t just dream, do.
Don’t just hear, listen.
Don’t just talk, act.
Don’t just tell, show.
Don’t just exist, live.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

 

Something brief to take into the weekend. Enjoy every moment.