Ever-Changing Reflection

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding... It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#scintilla13: More than a mentor

I have been so fortunate to have several mentors through my life, both professionally and personally. Today, however, I would like to focus on someone who has been both a personal and professional mentor, who has guided me and supported me over the last eight years, who I couldn't do without: O.

I actually inherited O, so to speak, from a friend and coworker who got me a job in O's department and introduced us. He immediately took me under his wing to help guide my career. Whenever we spoke, he asked how I was doing and what I was working on, and then he would offer me some advice or wisdom on how to be better.

As our relationship grew, we started meeting outside of work, and I realized that he was more than my professional mentor, he was becoming my friend. We started talking about life outside of work: family, relationships, dreams, feelings, hobbies, philosophy, perspective, internal struggle; and he offered his guidance in those areas as well.

Something that always struck me about O was how much he believed in me and how he had built this -- what I thought fictional -- future version of me in his mind. I knew he had a good read on me and knew me in the present, but he never focused on that. He always focused on who I was becoming. That was the theme of every single conversation. And he pushed me toward that, even though I fought him on it and I didn't think that was who I was destined to be.

I bet you can see where this is going. He was so right -- I hate admitting that, don't you? I have achieved everything he said I would. I have ended up exactly where he thought I would. He has always had my best interest at heart, and I trust that without hesitation. He is still focusing on who I am becoming, though I know he is so proud of who I am, and that makes me proud.

So, here is to O. I couldn't have done this without him, and I am so grateful for everything he has given me. There is so much love in this circle.

This post is part of the Scintilla Project. Today's prompt is: Write about someone who was a mentor for you.

Monday, March 18, 2013

#scintilla13: Forever changed

- Adlai E. Stevenson II
I first heard, or saw can't really remember, the above quote in high school. I thought it was nice, but a little cheesy back then. However, it stuck around, and I quickly grew to believe it. I find it incredibly true, especially in my own life. And, as painful as it can be at times, I try to stay open to the way people touch and change me. To me, this is the human experience; to me, this is how we truly live and love.

A chance meeting? Oh, I have had so many. I have a quarter of a lifetime of people coming into my life and staying with me -- physically or emotionally or both. 

Today, I am going to tell you about the one that is currently in my heart and mind, the one I cannot let go of. Almost seven years ago, I was in an interesting place in my life. I was finally falling in love with myself. I had let go of my ex-boyfriend, a process that took years, and I was living life on my own terms. I was happy and content for the first time in a long time. 

This coincided with my best friend's wedding, which was good because I was in a great place to be happy for her and support her. I planned her bachelorette party with enthusiasm, determined to give her the perfect night out with all of her girls.

We ended up in Newport, R.I., at a bar with live music -- the bride's favorite form of entertainment. As soon as we heard these guys play, we knew we had found our spot for the night and we were in for a good time. They were playing all of our favorite covers, and they were entertaining as anything. They treated us well, pulling the bride up on stage and giving her multiple shout-outs. I was thrilled.

During the band's break, I went up to one of the guys and told him I thought the band was great, and I thanked him for providing us with a fun night. We chatted for a bit -- the usual questions when you first meet someone. He bought me a drink, and he gave me his business card. He told me to give him a call.

Well, I knew better than to think anything of this encounter -- just another dude in a band. I filed away his card, and I started following the band's website, checking out a few more shows when they were in the area. Months went by, and I was at one of their shows talking to said guy again. He asked me why I never called him. Um... What? Apparently this was not just another dude in a band. Apparently this dude was looking for more.

I know what you're thinking, and it wasn't quite that. To make a long story short, I fell in love with the band and the members of the band. I followed them, stayed in touch, built personal relationships... especially with above-mentioned guy. 

It's a little tough for me to put into words what he has done for me at various points over the last six-plus years. He has inspired me, pushed me and encouraged me toward my goals and dreams. He has given me a safe space to be me and shine. He has listened to me and shared with me. He has made me laugh, and rarely, he has made me cry. He has lifted me up when I was down, and he has made me smile with just a thought. He has opened my mind and my heart, and through that, I believe I have become a better version of myself. I miss him when he's gone, and I feel complete joy when he's around.

I pushed him out of my life once, when I thought that was what was best for me. True, that time was crucial to my development, but I know that I am better when he's here. I can't define him or our relationship, but I know I will never been the same because of it. He keeps me in that space of being happy and content, of living on my own terms. He gives me that strength and courage. He stays with me, even when he's not here.

This post is part of the Scintilla Project. Today's prompt is: Write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

#scintilla13: 7/1/13 - The day Reader died

This is not something incredible interesting that happened to me, as The Scintilla Project specifies for today's post, but it has me so overwhelmed that I had to share it. Plus, I'm sure it affects many of you as well.

So, here we go, an instruction manual on the day I found out that Google Reader will die.
  1. Log into Google Reader to browse today's blog updates.
  2. A window pops up informing you that Google Reader will be retired on July 1, 2013.
  3. You can navigate to Google Takeout (has anyone else ever heard of this before? I hadn't), where you can download an archive of every RSS feed you subscribe to and your entire Google Reader life.
  4. As of July, you are SOL and in search of a new RSS reader.
Ahhhh! Does anyone else have a good RSS reader suggestion??? I'm desperate!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

#scintilla13: My first job

I don't think I have ever talked about where my career started on this blog, and the older and more experienced I get, the more I realize how valuable those first few working years were.

Like a huge majority of young girls, my first paying gig was babysitting. I took the whole Red Cross babysitting safety course, and I had quite the operation going with great word-of-mouth references. I volunteered at my dance studio as a teacher's assistant, so the moms began asking me to watch their kids outside of dance class for money, which was great. My neighbors started telling their friends, who started calling me and asking if I was available. It was a racket, I tell you.

Once I turned 16, though, my parents were eager for me to get an "official" job. You know, the kind where you have to report your income to the government and they send you a W-2. I refused to work in the food service industry, so I did what any teenager would do: I hit the mall.

I showed up for my interview at Baby GAP (back then, it was a separate store from GAP) in my high school uniform, and I professed my (fake) love for the brand. And I got the job.

Back then, GAP was all khakis and black or white t-shirts or button-downs. How times have changed! I remember the three managers at the store when I started so fondly. They really took the time to teach me so much. In fact, most of the managers I worked with in my six years there were just incredible. We had great times and awful times, but we usually had fun.

I made life-long friends at that job, people I still count on today even though I no longer call them coworkers. We are the #8938 crew (that was our store number, which is now defunct since the baby store closed and consolidated with the other GAP stores in the mall). I trained many of them, including my mother who still works there today!

I had such a love-hate relationship with retail and GAP, but they were really good to me through my formative years. When I went to college in Boston, I transferred to two different stores in the city, guaranteeing me a job when I need that part-time money. My home store always took me back during school breaks and summer holidays -- they made transferring back and forth a breeze and always accommodated me. Once I graduated, they loved me so much, they gave me a full-time, non-manager position, which is extremely rare in the retail world. I was the store expert, having worked there longer than any of the managers, and I pretty much got to do whatever I wanted.

I spent most of my time on visual and merchandising projects, rearranging the store, working in new seasonal lines, setting the store windows, and styling baby and toddler mannequins. I learned responsibility, accountability, customer service and communication. I learned how to work with and train others, even some difficult personalities. Oh, and I was usually well-dressed with a 50% discount! They gave me a Tiffany bracelet for my five-year anniversary with the company.

I left GAP in 2004 to work at Victoria's Secret before leaving retail for good a year later. As much as I hated being on my feet all day and retail politics and difficult customers, I miss those "good old days" at GAP. They were some of the best days of my life, and I could always "escape" to work when life got overwhelming. I credit my time there for making me the hard worker and problem-solver I am today. I don't think I'd be where I am without those first six years.

Your turn! What was your first job? What did it teach you? Have you ever worked in retail?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A little thought for the day

Sometimes, someone makes you smile... and suddenly your whole world gets brighter.

I've been thinking this all week, and it's stayed with me -- which is a great thing. So, I wanted to share it.