Gratitude Sunday: Simple Excellence

Gratitude * Sunday

Quote of the Week – “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” Albert Schweitzer

Sunday Haiku
Summer heat breaks, wind
cools warmed skin, wet refreshment;
flowers glow, trees drip.

Sunday Musings
Are you perfect? I am absolutely not perfect. Never have been, never will be. You aren’t? Good for you, not judging. I don’t like to look at people looking for the wrongness of their flaws, instead I delight in our flaws and differences, how we each have personal strengths and beauties, paradoxically, sometimes a flaw is the beauty.

I don’t strive for perfection. These days I’m not so sure striving is even a good thing, however, when I do something, I like to do the best job I can do. Sometimes, I’m not happy with my work. When that happens I either work to make myself better or do the job better, or decide there are other people who can to that particular job better than me. Which leaves me being picky, because if I’m paying you to do a job, I want it done my way, and excellently so.

I like to recognize excellence and effort in every-day interactions. People’s reactions are so worth the effort of a few words.

To the woman with the sour face, obviously struggling with cart and child and bad day, but who looks fabulously hot in the dress she threw on that morning: “That dress looks so great on you!” brings a smile and the feeling like maybe the day’s challenges are worth it.

To the pre-schooler who minded what mommy said and stayed close to the car while in the parking lot: “Thank you for minding Mommy and staying next to her in the parking lot,” brings beaming faces from both mom and child and the child getting another compliment from mommy for job well done.

To the customer service person who made my return happen in under a minute while smiling and chatting with me: “Thank you for your smiling quick service,” brings a wider smile and a blush, because nobody thanks customer service people these days.

To the group of foul-mouthed, exuberant, early-teen boys who gave this old lady and her cane a wide berth on the sidewalk, when told: “Thank you for giving me plenty of room,” brought straightened backs, quieter voices, and a “How are you today,” and “How’s your day going so far?” back at me. Teaching polite society by being polite society: extend respect, expect respect, receive respect. It’s a feedback loop. At least it worked this time.

To the Social Security worker trying to blame the foul-ups in my account on computers: “Thank you for your patience with my questions. Please find out the answers why computers aren’t being properly programmed by people.” I’ll admit this one is primarily passive-aggressive; he doesn’t have the answers, he is a messenger, a cog in the oily machine. And if it is a glitch in the programming, get on fixing that stuff, dude. No matter what he said about my Social Security nothing made any sort of logical sense. No, I’m not losing my wit, just my patience. I always thought I was a simple, if opinionated, person; turns out I’m complicated. Who knew?

When my mom was alive she often said the problem with America was people don’t do their jobs. I often find that’s true. For whatever reason deadlines aren’t met, customer service smiles fail, snark prevails rather than kindness, simple accounts get bungled. I suspect people are realizing how much of our time is spent in mindless tasks and how little we are paid for our time. Then again we can all have a bad day, and it’s hard not to take it out on each other.

We are coming into a time of profound change in our global world. Folks are unsatisfied with their lives and their work. I see people both moving into the work world and out of it redefining what it means to be employed and what it means to be retired. Many of the jobs available to us today will not be defined as jobs for humans in the near future as we move toward a world of ever more automation and technology.

Maybe we could re-frame all our jobs as helping others, not perfectly, but excellently. Help each other. Help each other be better. Taking the time to tell each other when we appreciate the simple time or courtesy they’ve given us, or when they do something well or right, can improve a minute or an hour or a week. I’ve been known to hold onto the tiniest kudos until the next one is bestowed; I’m greedy that way.

When we teach our children not to run in front of cars we are helping them be safe, one of the jobs of parenting. When we tell the child how well they did minding mommy, it reinforces what mommy says, helps mommy feel good about parenting, and helps keep everybody safe.

When we don’t exhibit road rage when other drivers aren’t courteous or even reckless, we are helping extend peace and grace in a distressed world, one of the jobs of a responsible driver sharing the road.

When we smile at that distraught customer who thinks you overcharged her, and take the time to explain we are refunding per her request three times because she is so caught in her loop she is not hearing we are doing exactly as she is requesting because somehow she has the right and the need to be angry no matter what we do, all while knowing we are having our own personal bad day, that is one of our jobs as an employee helping both our employer and the overwrought customer.

When we take the time to say, I don’t know that answer, but allow me to find one and get back to you and it might take x amount of time before you hear back from me and this is what to do in the meantime, and then really do follow up and get back, you are helping people who aren’t familiar with a system you’ve been working with your whole career, and part of that job is having the patience to explain it kindly as many times as the person needs it explained even if the news isn’t so good and the person is upset because what you say doesn’t make sense.

None of it is perfect, but it can be done excellently. Most of it requires the same rules as civil discourse, meaning no name-calling, no expletives, no personal judgments (how many times have I heard, “well, that’s just stupid”? Not allowed.).

As we look forward to a changing future, changing work space and work force, it may make it simpler if we consider all our work, whether at home or employed elsewhere, to be about helping others, which is personally satisfying beyond the income aspect of working. Let’s use the simple tips format:

Simple helping tip number one: listening. We have two ears and one mouth; we should listen twice as much as we speak.

Simple helping tip number two: think beyond yourself.

Simple helping tip number three: strive for excellence.

Simple helping tip number four: patience, especially during any transaction or transition.

We’ll make it. We are in a weird blip in history right now, but we are better than this and we are legion. We are only as good as the least of us, so we must help raising up the least of us. Moving forward might not be easy, but it can be excellently simple.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A friend’s artful raised garden with profusion of texture and color.

Photo by Julie Larson

Neighbor’s hedge of white jasmine, so fragrant. Yellow black-eyed Susans entangled with wild purple thistle.

Photo by Tina Carlson

Creamy white drifts of yucca flowers. Dahlias have started blooming, here’s a peachy one.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} The Seagull (2018, rated PG – 13) with Annette Benning. An actress visits her dying brother and an ugly backstory is revealed. Trigger warning: suicide attempts. * Miss You Already (2015, rated PG – 13) with Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore. Trigger warning: one of the characters dies from breast cancer. Difficult subject, talented and capable actors, mildly engaging plot. * Otherhood (2019, rated R) with Patricia Arquette, Angela Bassett, and Felicty Huffman as friends with twenty-something sons who forget Mother’s Day. They decide to visit their sons in person. They surprise and are surprised.

Currently ReadingDifficult Women (2017, short story fiction) by Roxane Gay (American author). Ms Gay is one of my favorite contemporary authors. She goes there, to the edge, to the rawest pieces of your skin and the most delicate sensitivities of your emotions. She surprises, delights, and horrifies us with real women and real lives and alternate universes all in fantastically lyrical and chilling prose. * The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life (2018, self-actualization) by Mark Manson (American author). He says happiness is over-rated. I tend to agree. The point is to focus on what to give a fuck about, and not about the rest of it all, sort of like picking your battles. It tickles me to think of so many library catalogs having this expletive in them; so many titles, so little time.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Patience.
  • The guy at Social Security who was as patient as I was trying to get my account straightened out.
  • Taking notes when I talk to people on the phone, making them repeat themselves when they talk fast.
  • Work-arounds that seem crazy and clumsy but might get the job done when the job hasn’t been done right in the first place.
  • Cranky gratefulness; being able to see both the good and the bad at the same time in many situations and events.
  • Ibuprofen, ice packs, my salsa dance video, and my local swimming pool when my back did an owie thing. Can’t just lie there and do nothing, gotta keep moving.
  • Pain. Reminds one of still being alive with every movement.
  • The neighbors getting home from work so their dog who has been outside lonely howling for them all day is finally quiet, inside, and loving on his family.
  • Schmist. That very fine summer rain that feels like sliding into the thinnest water glove, as the son says, “It’s almost cute.”
  • How much I love listening to a full-on refreshing summer rain.
  • Asking the son to clear out a patch of blackberries, which he did during the rain after a mild morning. His choice, job done.
  • Learning how to use my speaker phone.
  • The comparatively small amount of drama in my life; I’m really not wired for dealing with drama, I’m hardly even wired for average daily life.
  • A couple friends who still listen to my many opinions.
  • A mild Oregon summer so far. Just right, lots of sun, but not meltdown hot.
  • The son picking me a bowl of ripe blackberries from our yard.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Work and Labor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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