Tag Archives: laugh

If You Stare, You Pay

The shakes, the racing heart, the sweat, the confusion. They happen every single time.

This is nothing new, and it happens all the time. The moment puberty hit, speaking in front of and to a large group of people has been really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive in large groups of people. I’m often the life of the party and would rather be surrounded by people than be alone. But, having to deliver news, information, or any kind of speech to more than three people? I’d really rather not.

I am sure many of you feel the same way. It takes a certain personality to be comfortable speaking eloquently to a large audience. One of my favorite public speakers is Martin Luther King, Jr. How he managed to calmly talk to thousands of people blows my mind. Never faltering, always level, he managed to get his message across with love and strength. I wish I had that ability.

But, I don’t.

I get nervous and clam up. My heart feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest. My palms get sweaty, and I shake very noticeably. I’m never confident that what I am about to say is real, true, correct, or even kind. I’m too concerned with making everyone happy, and I’m equally as concerned that I won’t sound intelligent enough. Sounding intelligent is a very big issue I constantly struggle with.

Casually put me in a room with a bunch of people, though, and I can wax poetic in small conversations about things I am passionate about. The desire to sound intelligent melts away. If I’m wrong or confusing, I’ll gladly take that to heart and seek out the correct information. A casual conversation has never been an issue, and probably never will be.

So, at 33, I’ve decided that if I ever am put in a situation that requires me to speak to a large group of people, I better get paid. That way, I will have the financial resources to research what I’m speaking about. And, I’ll have the financial resources to get help for the fear of public speaking. I promise, therapy is wonderful. Therapy is a great tool to guide people in positive directions. However, good therapy isn’t always cheap. For public speaking, I know that I would need an actual, physical human opposite me, giving me the right tools to melt the fear away.

Fear of public speaking is very real and very legitimate. Delivering information to large numbers of people requires a somewhat deep understanding of what is being discussed. It also requires the belief that what is being said is real, true, and correct. [Not all speeches have merit or are true. Look at Adolf Hitler. One of the things he is known for is his public speaking skills. Was a lot of what he said good or right? Of course not. But, he believed it, and that allowed him to be firm in what he said.] I’m decently educated. I attempted a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and a minor in English Literature. I’m two classes away from a Paralegal Associate of Arts degree, and plan on eventually going back to university and getting a BA. But, I’m not educated perfectly. There are a lot of things in this world that I have to learn about. There is only a small handful of things I can comfortably talk about, and I know that there is a lot more to learn about these things. With that knowledge about myself, I am naturally scared that I will be judged by people listening. I automatically think to myself, “who here knows more than I do and will want to immediately judge and correct me?” I don’t mind being corrected. I welcome being corrected. But, the judgement? That’s scary.

Long story short: if I am going to be watched and stared at, someone better pay me.

Naked with Black Socks

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Ssssh, It’s A Secret.

Earlier this month (October), the retailer that I work for opted for stores to put out holiday products. The retailer next door to us has even played the occasional holiday song already. For those of you who don’t come from capitalistic, Christian dominated pockets of the world, my use of “holiday” refers to Christmas. When you work retail long enough, you’ll hear people say “the holidays come earlier every year,” and you’ll roll your eyes, understanding that truth, yet fervently hoping the opposite.

I have a feeling that in a decade, it is very likely that every single day, there will be a premium put on Christmas shopping. This is why I hope that in ten years, I can afford to escape from the states between the months of October and January. If I am running my own business, I plan on giving my employees the entire month of December off on top of whatever vacation they have accrued. If they want to stick around and work, awesome. I won’t stop them. But, I’d like to give them the option of enjoying life.

With all of that said, I have some secrets for everyone who has never worked retail (or in hospitality of some sort) a day in their life.

  1. It’s just stuff. Does your co-worker’s girlfriend who he’s been casually dating for three weeks really need the latest makeup palette from generic brand x? Is it necessary that your dog walker’s niece have the most recent variant of a celebrity fragrance? Sure, it’s one thing if the person you are shopping for works in a relevant field of the store you are in. Let’s say your fiancé is a personal trainer. Yes, please, buy him or her new workout clothes and/or state of the art exercise gear. How about your aunt who is a makeup artist? Go ahead and buy her pro gear from an upscale cosmetics brand. My point is, it really is just stuff. How much stuff do we really need? Do women really need five exceedingly similar versions of the same thing? NO! We definitely DO NOT!
  2. Know your audience before you leave the house. That means know who you are shopping for, what things they like, how much money you want to spend, and which stores will cater to all of the latter. Don’t walk into a busy store on a Saturday afternoon and ask a sales associate (who probably is already helping two other people in your same situation) what you should buy for someone. Especially a week before Christmas. We don’t like having to pick out presents for people we’ve never met. Sure, it’s our job to guide you. But, if you know nothing about the person you are shopping for, how can we guide you? Every year, my coworkers and I each have to help at least 20 of you clueless drones. And, we’ll tell you all to buy whatever we have excess of. We won’t spend an hour with each of you interviewing you about the recipient. We won’t make personal phone calls to them either. We have limited time to help you. So, HELP US HELP YOU! Please!
  3. I cannot emphasize the importance of the phrase “IT’S JUST STUFF.” I will repeat it over and over again until y’all wrap your head around that idea and truly understand it.
  4. People (yes, human beings) who work in the hospitality sector have lives outside their jobs. We don’t magically appear the moment the doors are unlocked. We don’t magically disappear when we lock the doors in the evening. We are not magical hospitality fairies. Most of us working hospitality are doing so to pay bills, put food on the table, support a family, etc. We aren’t doing it for the love of serving others. Most of us working hospitality would give an arm and a leg to have someone wait on us all day long. The only difference is that hospitality workers are genuinely grateful whenever they get any kind of service, even sh*tty service.
    1. Three Golden Words: PLEASE. THANK YOU. Even if you don’t mean any of them, just say them. And crack a damn smile when you do, even if it’s fake. We’re getting paid meager hourly wages to be on our feet anywhere from 6-12 hours a day (sometimes up to 18 for some people with families, mortgages, debt, student loans, etc.). A little bit of gratitude goes a very long way. Be grateful that you have the option of spending your money on STUFF and going to nice restaurants and staying in nice hotels. Many of us working hospitality don’t have that option.
    2. As we are not magical hospitality fairies, we’d really appreciate it if you plan your shopping wisely. Don’t show up to a store as the doors are getting locked and say “Oh, but I really need to buy ONE thing!” We know that buying one thing will take at least 15 minutes, usually extending the time employees need to be clocked in. Be aware of store hours. Even if you need to buy one thing, show up an hour before the store closes. That way, you can shop at a leisurely pace and we don’t have to say “we’re closing up our registers, so if you need us to grab you anything and take it to the counter, please let us know.”
    3. We do have lives outside our place of employment. We have families to go home to. We have friends we’d like to spend time with. Many of us cannot afford therapy, so our intimate relationships and social lives are incredibly important. We like having the option of going to the gym or sharing a bottle of wine with friends or taking our dog for a walk. Humans are social. So, after spending all day getting paid a meager amount to interact with people we otherwise wouldn’t outside of work, we need to be surrounded by a like minded community.
    4. Many of us who work in hospitality are, in fact, educated. Just because our yearly income usually falls below a truly livable wage doesn’t mean we are idiots. A lot of the people I work with have spent time at college and many of those people have degrees. I spent three years at a university before I started working retail. And, I am back at school finishing a Paralegal Studies degree. Even though we make significantly less money than most people who shop at our store, many of us are as intelligent (if not more) than you. Again, we are not magical hospitality fairies. We are human beings, with functioning brains.
  5. Don’t be that asshole that makes it a point to say Merry Christmas to everyone. If you are really that jolly, say “happy holidays! Thank you for working hard!!” We meet a lot of the adamant “Merry Christmas” agenda pushers every day during the holiday season. Your schtick is not original nor funny. Plus, if you tell me “Merry Christmas” during Hannukah, I will respond “Chag Urim Sameach! Hope you have enough oil!” If you say “Merry Christmas” to me on December 20th or 21st, I will say “Happy solstice! Blessed be! May the sprites be with you tonight!”
  6. For those of you living in the United States, never expect any sales associate to spend more than 10-15 minutes with you between Black Friday and January 6th, unless you are shopping at a tiny, exclusive boutique. If you are shopping at a major retailer, chances are the shopper to associate ratio will be 10 or 15 to 1, and that is including the six to eight cashiers ringing up an already horrendous line.
  7. Remember, IT’S JUST STUFF! Please, thank you, and a smile are all helpful.

 

With that said, have a wonderful Halloween and All Saint’s Day. Enjoy Thanksgiving. Ask the sprites and fairies and sky and earth to bring rain and snow. Live in the moment. Don’t focus all your energy on Christmas until Christmas is here.

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Reborn

Daily Post, January 2nd 2014:
When you look back at your blog on January 2, 2015, what would you like to see?

There has been a lot of talk about writing more. In the last few years, I have gotten frustrated with myself because the writing seems to come to a complete halt for a few months at a time. I’d give up, move on to something a little more shiny, then forget I was even writing in the first place.

What happens when I don’t write regularly? I get antsy, frenetic, and combustible. Can a frenetic being be combustible? Am I being redundant? That’s what happens when I don’t write. I lose my focus and forget what words mean. That is very serious.

By January 2nd, 2015, I hope to have a combination of 156 blog posts. That means each blog of mine needs to be posted in once a week. Guess what? I’ve challenged myself to write a blog post every single day of January. I never promised I’d write a post in every blog every day of January. Ninety-three posts? Yikes. No thank you! With the 156 posts, I am allowing myself to not beat myself up if I miss a week.

Apart from frequency, I hope to see more viewership and subscribers. But, I think that goes for most bloggers. Many of us are writing to have our voices heard. Some readers might not like what we have to say and that is allowed. Humanity would be really boring if we all felt and thought exactly the same way. To boost viewership, I think I am going to start YouTubing. Depending on the response I get, I may do one vlog a month. If I manage to entertain enough people, I may vlog once a week later in the year.

Lastly, I am going to actually start writing about concerts I go to, books a read, and movies I have enjoyed seeing. That was the original purpose of my blogging, so why not get down to business? And, I plan on actually having some vacation time this year. I deserve it. I have been working hard at school while trying to not let work in a retail environment get me too wired. I want to be able to sit outside and look out at a lake or the ocean with a cup of tea, a book, and a pen & some paper. I would love to be still for awhile… Still…

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New Habits

Every year, I always tell myself I am going to write more. Somehow I seem to fall short a few months into the year. This year, 2014, I feel it is going to be different. Now I have three blogs going and am back in school, I have more passion in my life. The environment I have chosen to be in cultivates the habit of writing and learning and general curiosity.

On a friend’s Facebook page, she mentioned a site called 750 Words. I wish I had heard about it two days sooner! The premise of the site is that you are to write at least 750 words a day. No one (but the site admin, I assume) has access to what you write, so you can write whatever you want. Some people use it to help with their writing skills, others use it as a therapeutic tool, and some use it to get their creative juices flowing. I am so grateful to have found this site! Within half an hour of signing up, I was able to write almost twelve hundred words (I’m not a fast typer, I just have a lot to say).

For any of you who are creative in any way, please use this tool! It is a great way to help break up any blockage you may be experiencing!

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Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2014 be an amazing year!

Let me give you the most traditional poem/song that is played when the year changes, sang by a Scotsman himself:

Auld Lang Syne, if sung by the right person, always gets me misty eyed. Robert Burns did well.

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Bucket List

I’m nearing 32 and I haven’t created a concrete bucket list. So, here goes! This is just a small list. I will add to it when I get more ideas!

  1. Travel to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.
  2. Complete a sprint triathlon.
  3. Live on a farm.
  4. Have my own vegetable/fruit garden.
  5. Spend a month in New York City, writing & photographing every single day.
  6. Travel to Greece & Turkey.
  7. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
  8. Hike around Corsica.
  9. Throw a dart at a map and travel where ever it lands (unless it is the middle of the ocean).
  10. Visit all 50 United States and Puerto Rico.
  11. Drive across USA diagonally from Southwest to Northeast & Northwest to Southeast.
  12. Speak with everything but my physical voice for a week.
  13. Take at least one class at ACT.
  14. Audition for 3 plays.
  15. Do a volunteer vacation.
  16. Host a 100% vegan dinner for 30 people.
  17. Write a novel and/or collection of short stories.
  18. Complete a paralegal AA.
  19. Attempt to take the California State Bar.
  20. Run a bookshop/cafe.
  21. Have writing published.
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Anxious Playback

She scraped the ladle against the side of the deep set pot of soup. “I’m glad she’s eating,” I thought to myself, “but my god, I wish she’d stop with the metal against metal.” Each ding and scrape, my blood surged and crept a degree higher until the moment she dropped the ladle back into the pot and sealed it with the lid.

“Right, I need to go for a run,” I told myself, “Now.”

I strapped on my neon blue running shoes, grabbed my iPod, and snuck out the side door. For the first mile, I walked faster than usual and had a conversation with myself. I’m not lonely, not schizophrenic. The metal on metal just made my spine hurt and I was hanging from an anxious, thorny branch. Someone needed to talk me down and I am the only one who knows how.

As I turned into the school grounds, I slipped my earphones in. The sound of my own painfully anxious thoughts were subsiding and I was ready to hear something pleasant. Portishead’s self titled album made the cut. “It’s so jarring,” someone once said when I played it for them. Not to me, never.

While I escaped into the sound of the greatest trip-hop album ever made, I ran. I ran the perimeter of the high school. The bleachers were calling my name and I managed a few. Then, I began to run around the track. Fifty minutes later, I had run the entire length of the album, so I stopped. In silence, I stood on the cushiony track and stared at the new scoreboard some generous alumnus donated. My breathing was steady and hard. The crisp winter air made my sweat prickle against my forehead. My lips curled up in a smile and I began to laugh the way I did when I was young. The loud, full bodied laughter filled the air and echoed off any surface it could find. The metal against metal, the self conversation, the Portishead, and the silence, they lead me down a happy path. I was happy… And I knew it, and I clapped my hands.

[By Ellie McHale, Inspired by Daily Prompt]

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