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I'm at work in my dream. The lights are low, I'm about to leave for the day when our HR manager comes over and asks if I can give someone a ride home because they aren't feeling well. She says she would, but there's a reason she can't which I think sounds suspicious. I'm at the desk next to the floral department. Normally we outsource floral, but today one of the guys I work with in real life is over there. I see my brother who is working in produce. I ask him about the ride situation, there's some dialogue and we agree to give this guy a ride home because he looks very unwell even though he insists he can walk home (in real life a woman I work with had told me she was going to walk home last night after I offered her a ride so I wonder if that conversation influenced this one), I'm very skeptical and then I can't find my brother. This guy has an object in his hand, I ask where he lives and when he tells I'm like, no, there is no way you are walking that far when you're obviously ill. He looks like he's going to disagree with me, but then the HR manager is there and she has his coat so we leave without my brother.

We drive for a while, but I don't drop him off at home. We pick up my brother and then this poor guy is stuck in the car on a road trip we decided to take to go see some of our family members. He's sitting in back, I'm driving, my brother is in the passenger seat, the drive takes forever, but eventually we arrive in Minnesota, and I have no idea why these people are in my dream since I haven't seen them in more than a decade, but we end up visiting Bill and Bergit who are very distant relatives of ours. The first thing I notice when we get there and they exclaim how delighted they are to have us is that their dining room table is massive. It looks like it could easily be ten feet square, there's a chair, and I notice there's only one which is odd, but given the size of the table, not that surprising. It barely fits into the room, but we carry on a conversation as if it's a regular size and there's nothing odd about this. My mom appears, I see some of my cousins, finally people notice this guy who is holding one of the slicers we use to cut soap. This is kind of strange and could be interpreted as threatening, but then people realize he's sick and insist that we drive to Walgreens to get him this product that my family swears by (I know this a dream because this would never happen in real life.)

He says something, we go back out to the car, my brother insists that I'm going the wrong way, but I tell him the freeway was recently redone and keep driving. We drive toward the Twin Cities, but instead of it being lined with restaurants and big box stores there are a lot of houses that are cute and kind of quaint. We get to a Walgreens like store, the guy says he's feeling better, but we go in anyways and that's where the dream ends. My friend texted me this morning to see if I could text someone and see if they could come in, I guess three people have already called in sick and she's the only person working up front today. I offered to come in even though I don't have that training and it annoys me that the company refuses to cross train because situations like this could be reduced if they did. Even if I just had register training I would be helpful, I could have picked up some hours, they could have gotten help they needed, and others wouldn't have been bothered, but they would rather go through this than provide training which I admit is a bit of a pain, but well worth it when you realize how valuable it can be when another department understands more of how the store as a whole operates.

When the pricing coordinator we have went on maternity leave my boss told me I should apply for the temporary opening. At the time the HR manager was in the pricing office, I couldn't imagine spenidng that kind of time in an office with her, it wasn't a move I was willing to make based on what I knew, but now I would like that kind of training and a benefit of showing me the basics is I already understand how margins work and I'm familiar with the tag printing process which can be more complicated than it would initially seem because the computer will accept anything you put in, and that doesn't mean that the tag is going to scan or be accurate. One of the things I wish we could streamline is how initial products come into the store. Most of the time our department gets a deal, but not always. Product arrives, but we aren't always going to be getting that introductory pricing so it goes into the computer at regular wholesale prices, or it should if people are doing their jobs correctly and for some reason I doubt they are because there is very little attention to detail and the sheets aren't usually filled out correctly on a routine basis for regular products we already stock.

Math is involved, but it's much more important to understand the concepts behind the numbers or you won't question what you see on the paperwork when it goes upstairs. I feel like sales training should accompany a new product line, we get these things in and then nobody has any idea how to sell them so they sit on the shelves rather than getting sold. Samples are always nice and not just because I like freebies which is also true. Once you have personal experience with a product you can pass that along to others and it can make or break a sale. Some people think you should never say anything negative about a product, I go back and forth on that. I will tell people straight up if I think a product isn't what they want or going to work well for them although in the end a decision to purchase or leave a product sitting on our shelves is individual and maybe that's something I need to think about more, but perhaps not. I knew next to nothing about skincare when I started. A woman I worked with told me that serums were, I forget what words she used, but she implied that they weren't anything I really had to know or worry about.

One of my favorite products is a night serum that I never would have tried on my own given the fact that it's a $60 product. That's a lot of money, but this stuff is absolutely worth it and I never would have known without an opportunity to try it for myself. My skin is very dry, it has a lot of red in it, and I used to walk around looking like someone had slapped both cheeks during cold windy days, or long summer ones where I had spent too much time out in the sun. I'm not sure how to accurately measure how much my skin has improved since I started working there, I would say at least 40% which is my best estimate. When I was younger I couldn't use any of the products that were sold in places like Walgreens and Target. Every single one of them made my face hurt worse than it had before I washed it so eventually I just stopped using anything on it and splashed water on it to keep it clean. I can slather just about any oil, lotion, or moisturizer on my skin, some of them made my face drier since they had alcohol in them, I was cynical, jaded, skeptical, and naive when it came to caring for my skin and educating others.

Now I have a completely different attitude and approach. Since my skin is extremely dry and ultra sensitive I prefer using oils or milky cleansers to clean it. There are those who can't get past the idea of putting oil on their skin to clean it, a woman I spoke to last night said she couldn't use any oil since her skin would break out, but oil can be used to remove oil which is counter-intuitive, but true. A lot of it is experimenting to find what works well for you. We have these kits of smaller travel sized products at work and I love that cleanser and toner so much I bought one after the other cleanser I had been using ran out. Toners have always made sense to me, but a lot of them don't work for my skin type. We have a lavender one at work that has a honey finish which probably sounds strange, it's hard to explain, but I it's an absolutely wonderful moment when it soaks into your skin. It's like a little pick me up whenever you need it, I use toners throughout the day and they always make me feel just a bit better than I had. This is another area where packaging becomes important because lower end toners won't have the light misting coverage the higher end products incorporate into their containers.

I prefer products that are packaged in glass, I think it preserves product integrity better, I like being able to see what's inside when the glass is clear, and I like to pretend it's somehow helping the environment even though it's much heavier to ship and breakage is more of an issue. I don't sell as much skincare as I would like, I go in streaks with it, but it makes me super happy when someone tells me that something I suggested has been a hit for them, or whoever else they had in mind when they went ahead with their purchase. This is one area where I see some reverse sexism since people are more willing to buy systems for their daughters rather than their sons who may have skin issues and that doesn't always mean acne prone skin even though it usually does. One of the moms I really like brought in her son who did a lot of skiing, I could tell right away that his skin was too dry so we found some things he was willing to try, and I have to give them both credit for being open to that. This is another area where I think you get what you pay for and I understand that not everyone can afford some of the things we carry which is really too bad as it can be such a game changer.

Yesterday when I was cleaning I came across multiple containers of clay masks. I always mean to do more masks, but I know myself well enough to realize that this is mostly wishful thinking on my part. I packed up a bunch of them, found these moisturizer pods that I knew I would never use because I don't care for the manufacturer, I took a bunch of things into work and it was fun thinking about the people who were going to get them because most people are as appreciative as two of the women I talked to last night. One woman in particular was having a bad day. She had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend and then she had to go to work right after the conflict. She was thrilled to get a couple of products that I wasn't going to be using anyways. I put some things in my new friend's locker, and then I told my unicorn friend that I had things for her, but had forgotten to bring them downstairs since I was in kind of a rush when I got to work. Even though there are a lot of frustrations, and I wish we could make more changes that I see as badly needed, I'm glad I have the opportunity to work there.

Seeing that guy in produce call someone out on their crap instead of just tolerating it was an eye opening experience for me. While I believe he could have used a softer touch, and disagree with at least one point he made, the motivation and action were absolutely needed and I don't know why I don't do more of this type of thing except it hasn't gone well or made a difference in the past and it could be that we just have different styles although I don't want to excuse myself if I've been unassertive in the past. Sometimes I think the best approach really is to just sit back and let people hang themselves once they get enough rope. The other day my friend got sprayed with a can of sparkling water, a woman in my department was standing next to the guy in produce that she's always flirting with, they were standing close to each other and it gave me the worst feeling to see that, like they were an actual couple and they were her parents. It was very unsettling and I know I'm going to have to say something about this, but I can already hear management telling me you can't make a case out of two people standing next to each other even though I know that this behavior is unacceptable even if they had been ten feet apart.

Another thing I liked about working in produce was being able to touch real live plants. There was something more satisfying about arranging apples than putting boxes and bottles in a row. I wonder if I would eat more fruits and vegetables if I worked in produce, I had this nice little fantasy going last night where I transferred to that department, did more meals featuring some of the things at work, I was straightening a row of fennel and wondered whenI  quit buying that because I adore fennel. One of the women who used to work there stopped in last night, it was great seeing her again even though she's very busy with work and school. She finished the classes she had been taking and is now going to apply to grad school. We're very different people, but I think that's why the friendship works. It was kind of funny, I had been going through my phone the other day and when I came to her name I realized I hadn't heard from her in a while. I thought about reaching out, but then I thought, no, I do too much of that. I need to see who wants to be in my life and let those who don't call or text back go. Then she showed up and I felt bad, but I still think my original principal was sound.

I put a lot of effort into my relationships and if others don't, why should I keep investing? Even though I didn't sleep very well last night I'm having a good day. I'm at a really good place in my life where I have some challenges, but I feel as if I can meet them. I think I know myself better, my relationships with others have improved across the board, I'm getting better at separating things I've done from the impact they've had on an interaction, and I think I'm getting better at recognizing what that women in the video my friend sent me said - some people are seasonal, they come into your life for a short period of time, and then they're gone. Others are around for a bit longer, but they aren't true friends. They won't be there for you when the chips are down, there's nothing wrong with either of these types, but see them for who and what they are, temporary, and not deeply nurturing friends that feed, comfort, and enrich your life. I'm fortunate to have the friends that I do, I think I'm a good friend and I try to see that I am also these things in the lives of other people. I need people to appreciate and encourage me, I need those who will hold me accountable the way that many of my friends do, and I need to hear when I'm being too hard on myself even though I have a hard time believing them.

The woman who runs that art studio does a marvelous job of hiring great employees. Most of her staff is younger women who are in school, some I like more than others, but I haven't had a bad experience there yet and I just love the idea of a place where you can walk in and start creating. None of these people are pretentious, they admit when they don't know things, they aren't pushy sales people even if one of them tries to get me to work from a preprinted model more than I would like. I've told her why I don't, I understand why she suggests it, and maybe someday we will meet in the middle, but I also know that if I told her, knock it off, you're bugging me when I came in to do my own thing, she would drop it. I don't because I sense that her motivation is pure and I know that I have a tendency to resist things because others in my life have told me what to do and how to think and who to be which colors my perception and is something I'm still trying to overcome. I decided that I'm going to do something else for my sister. I don't like the piece I have, I don't know where that's going to end up, maybe I'll just give it to my mom even though it has the letter A on it and her name starts with a T, I might go back and redo it yet again, but my sister isn't going to get it.

She liked the A I had initially done. I could have used a template for that, I was so mad when I messed it up and I wish I would have asked for help right away rather than trying to deal with it on my own, but that's another art lesson learned. Last night my daughter got off work late, now that I think about it, I wonder if standing near the floral department when I was waiting for her influenced my dream, I had forgotten about that until now. I drove her over to get her things from her dad's and was treated to a conversation about her cleaning her room and organizing her desk which are two tasks I rarely see being done over here, however it's also true that she doesn't have her own space so I'll cut her some slack there. She left the scissors she had borrowed out last night after I asked her to put them away. I was snippy with her because I was tired after work. I want to make sure she gets some driving time in this weekend, she has to work and so do I, but we also have time. One thing that really impressed me was hearing that she had paid to get an ACT guide. The test is at the end of February, and it was nice to hear that she did this on her own because I wouldn't have invested $250 into it. Her father paid for half and I'll chip in money as well because I want to encourage that type of behavior.

From what she says it sounds as if colleges are more lenient about these test scores than they were when I was applying. I always hated that test because I did so poorly in the math portion. Now I understand that I'm not bad at math at all, I just need real life problems where I'm exposed to it rather than learning from the book. I did exceptionally well in the other categories, if you threw out the math portion I'd look much better than I do with it, I don't know why this is still bugging me so many years later, I think it's because it really influenced what schools I applied to get into and I know my academic career would have proceeded much differently had I believed in myself more. I remember getting the score back and thinking, wow, I thought I was smarter than this. Today I can see that I chose to focus on the one negative category rather than my scores in the other three. I think I scored as high as you could in at least one of the categories, I've always done well on anything that involves reading comprehension, vocabulary, pattern recognition, and I was good at science too although I didn't realize that at the time.

My mom saved test scores from when I was in grade school. Sometimes I think I should just toss them, but it's kind of fun to look back every once in a while. It's neat to see how the girls scores compare to each other and to mine. Since math had been a struggle and since neither of their parents loved it we had the girls take it in summer school which I think was helpful even if they bemoaned it at the time. They have some wonderful programs for younger children,  I wish they had more things for high school students since I see a need for that kind of thing as most of these kids aren't working yet. There's a gap until they turn sixteen and can start driving and then there's a gap until they turn eighteen, and then there's another gap until they turn twenty-one which I think is totally stupid. I would lower the drinking age or get rid of it altogether. I don't view an age restriction as particularly helpful. I would listen to an argument that raises the age for military service to twenty-one, but most of the time think that eighteen is probably okay. It's just an arbitrary number they chose like the driving and drinking ages. I'd change the driving age restriction as well, if you can pass the test at fourteen, go ahead and give that person a license in my world. It doesn't measure actual critical thinking skills, it measures vehicle manipulation, technical execution and knowledge of the rules of the road. 

And now it's time for another list, I know you're all very excited. Today's list is books that have changed my life for the better. Enjoy.*

  1. Lists to Live By (The Third Collection) Compiled by Alice Gray, Steve Stephens (what a name...), and John Van Diest. I would not pay full price for it, but it's helped me.
  2. It's Just My Nature! by Carol Tuttle - this book teaches you how to understand and dress for your energy type. Absolutely a game changer and priceless to me.
  3. Real Style by Sam Saboura - another game changer (for women) as Sam breaks down body types, figure flaws, and teaches people how to apply concepts learned in Carol's book.
  4. Life Makeovers by Cheryl Richardson - I like this book because she gives you action plans along with each week's focal point. Really well done and neat to read.
  5. Organizing From The Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern - I cried when I read her psychological profiles. To really get organized is to see how thought patterns and beliefs interfere with the process.
  6. ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life by Judith Kohlberg and Kathleen Nadeau - worth a read even if you've never been diagnosed. Great simplifying strategies for everyday living.
  7. Eat. Taste. Heal. by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda, and Johnny Brannigan. I like this as an introduction to Ayurveda and those principles. Who should eat more greens? Who needs more starchier carbs? Who is most likely to benefit from a vegetarian diet? What signs and symptoms do you observe in the different types? Great easy to read and understand book, recipe section could be better.
  8. Healing The Child Within by Charles Whitfield - there's a workbook that goes with this that I'd like to buy. Breaks down types of trauma and teaches us how to heal past wounds. Probably should have led with this one. I would recommend multiple readings for certain people. I know I had to go through it more than once.
  9. Anger Free by W Doyle Gentry - I had no idea how angry I was or what to do about it until I started reading this book. Should also be higher on this list.
  10. Controlling Stress and Tension by Daniel Girdano and George Everly - beautifully written, buy it for the quizzes that they show you how to chart midway though. Once you identify the type of stress you have in your life you can start to address it. Very cool breakdown on the types of stress and how it can impact your life. Ending could be a bit better, but the brilliance of the beginning keeps it on my shelf.

 

  1. Intimate Connections by David Burns - Despite the title, I think everyone should read this book and perhaps teach it in school as it addresses self esteem and how to build it. Easy to read which does not mean simplistic, his humorous and insightful approach based on real life people and their situations is fascinating to me. Would recommend for anyone even if they are already happily in a relationship.
  2. QBQ (The Question Behind The Question) by John G Miller - I follow him on Twitter and he is awesome. His no nonsense approach to accountability is in a ridiculously easy to read and undertand format. Basically you can make an excuse, or you can be proactive and accept responsibility for whatever crisis or problem is present. This book would be handed out to every employee at work if I was in charge.
  3. Stress Free Living by Trevor Powell - A short yet useful primer on how to address and cope with the many stressors we have in our lives. 
  4. Love As A Way of Life by Gary Chapman - I haven't finished this yet, but it has already made an impact on me and my life. Pairs well with QBQ and Intimate Connections. Once you have the self esteem to better evaluate and trust your own worth you can be accountable for your actions, and start to love others more.
  5. Pain Free by Pete Egoscue - great primer on how to move and use the body as it was designed. Cannot recommend this one highly enough.
  6. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale - a lot of people dismiss this book, you can judge for yourself whether it is helpful or not. I really like it, but I believe in God so that may influence me.
  7. The Bible - It should have made the top of my list and I thought about putting it there, but didn't because I don't read it as often as I would like to, and I was afraid others would stop reading if they saw it right away. I think it has value beyond a religious book although that is obviously its primary function and purpose. I'm ashamed to say that mine is dusty and am going to make it a higher priority in my life going forward. 
  8. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey  - Worth the time and effort it takes to read this thing. Still trying to figure out how to incorporate these into my life. This list is a good reminder of why I keep the books I have and is helping me see the importance of returning to them from time to time.
  9. The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin - this is an incredibly tough read, I still haven't finished it, she really gets into language, how it can build or break relationships, and how to dissect what someone may be implying when they make a comment or ask a question. It comes with exercises which I am notoriously bad about completely, but in this case, I don't know if it's just me, but this was several levels above where I'm at cognitively and I don't think I'm a dummy when it comes to this sort of thing. I'm looking forward to the section on charisma in the hopes that I can understand one section of what she's written better. Worth a read despite the challenge, but this is at the end of the list for a reason.
  10. How to Parent so Children Will Learn by Silvia Rimm - I really enjoyed this book, I own several of her books, this is an earlier, and I think better one. Some of her later works are less reader friendly and she starts losing me as a reader with her attempts to portray herself as a gifted intellectual. I don't think she did this on purpose, her mind and writing advanced and her books reflect that, just make some of her other things less appealing to me personally. 

 

  1. Your Body's Many Cries For Water by F Batmanghelidj - this is another book that's been heavily criticized, but I found it to be life changing despite the difficulties I face in staying properly hydrated.
  2. ADD and Romance by Jonathan Scott Halverstadt - if you or anyone you know, love, or care about has received a diagnosis then I would encourage you to read this whether you are in a romantic relationship with them or not. I think the title is somewhat misleading although I understand why he chose it. Great breakdown of what this looks like in real life, some things you may not know about the manifestations, and his own personal experiences. He also addresses the benefits of having a mind that works like this which I thought was cool and gives people some career options they may not have considered previously. I applied for a job as a firefighter after reading this book, I didn't get the job, but now I know that my brain enables me to take in a lot during a crisis situation and calmly and effectively do what needs to be done to keep others and myself safe. 
  3. The Game by Sarano Kelly - I have yet to finish this and I put it on the list to remind myself to get back to it because it is a great way to move forward quickly. Not hard to read, difficult to apply the concepts, defintely a purchase I'm pleased with even if I have yet to implement most of what he says. I like how he divides people into A, B, C, and D groups and may make a list like that of my own today.
  4. 101 Things I Learned In Engineering School by John Kuprenas with Matthew Frederick - this small book taught me a lot about how engineers think which helped me understand how to use these principles in applications beyond the book. We had one on things people learned in law school as well, but I got rid of that one for some reason. 
  5. Total Relaxation by John R Harvey - If the only thing someone did for me was help me relax I would consider them a valuable and prized treasure in my life. One of the guys at work does this for me and I just love him for that. His voice is calming and well modulated, he doesn't get upset easily, he doesn't rush, he paces himself; this book came with a CD and I can't believe I haven't worn it out yet. Skip the reading and just listen to the CD if you're super stressed. 
  6. Is There Life After Housework? by Don Aslet - not an organizational book per se, but absolutely one that will always have a place in my heart because Don gets it. This belongs much higher on my list. I would consider it a must read for anyone and would teach these principles in school and at work if I could. 
  7. Feng Shui Today by Jami Lin - it annoys me when people dismiss feng shui principles because the majority of them are just good design principles. While her book is a little out there in places for my taste, she even gets into sex and how that can be practiced, a lot of her geometry, design elements, and principles are sound. She really understands how where your dwelling is placed and how the surrounding landscaping lies can affect that and has some brilliant and effective strategies to help counter practical matters like excess sunlight, traffic noises and dangers, and furniture flow and placement. If you read my arguing doors piece, and I wish the people who had designed and built my previous home would have, you will recognize at least one concept from her book.
  8. Use What You Have Decorating by Lauri Ward - More than any other book I've read on the subject her book helped me understand how to pull apart a space, evaluate what is working, eliminate what isn't, and add what is needed. I really wish I would have written about how I changed some of the spaces at my old place, I still could, there was a day I completely redid my laundry area and I cried so many years of happy joy once I removed obstacles and streamlined the process. It was a thing of cost saving efficient beauty and a part of me is still very sad that it stayed with the house when I left. I did this in the garage too, so many people have so much stuff in a way that interferes with their abiility to live, work, clean, and really truly love where they are at now using what they have. You can go out and buy new stuff, but if you don't put her teachings to work first, you will very likely keep making the same mistakes you did. I would sleep with this book under my pillow at night if it was a real live person which probably says something about me, but I'm not sure what... (wink)
  9. 7 Days to Confidence by Ros (sic) Taylor - I haven't read this and I need to make a decision about it, writing this list started out as a lark, but now I'm realizing that I need these books in another space because they're currently in the bedroom and I need the visual cue so they're going to get moved. I now have towering stacks in and around my desk, but I'm totally cool with it since this has been inspiring and motivating and I want to take a moment to appreciate you for letting me share this with you. I had no idea how many super cool books I owned that have transformed my life. 
  10. Triathlon Training by Eric Harr - if the only thing this book did was teach me that the word triathlon only has one A, then it was worth it. All joking aside, this was a great read. The summer after I got divorced I told myself I was going to compete in at least one race. Then I promptly fractured my fibula falling down the stairs at home. I did incorporate a lot of what he said, I disagree with parts of his book, but the game plan was helpful and for a while the girls and I were in a really good routine which is what I needed. I know I can get back there, I probably can't run, right now I know I can't, but I can walk, bike, and I can get back into swimming as soon as the pool opens. If I had a partner who would do things like this with me that would really help. Ditto for yoga. 

Well that was a completely unexpected gift to myself and I hope you got something out of it as well. I forget how much reading I've done and my sister likes to tell me I have too many self help and improvement books, but this kind of thing is so much fun for me even when the subject material is difficult, emotionally draining, or awakens feelings I didn't know I was repressing. I feel like I can tackle some of the things I've been putting off just by grabbing some of these books and flipping through them again. I haven't read everything cover to cover, something I've noticed is that some of these books will start very strong, and then kind of fade away at the end as if the author was in hurry, and hadn't really thought through the ending. While this isn't universally true it helped me in my own writing and I thought I would pass that along as some potentially constructive criticism that may help others. Today I'm going to wake my daughter up and get her to help me with some of these things. I know she'll balk, but I'm not going to live like this anymore. I have the day off, time, and after cleaning the bathroom the other day I realized how generous my boss really is, and how that can be a liabiilty because honestly, who needs seven tubes of toothpaste in one bathroom?!?! The majority of these books were purchased at thrift stores or other discount retailers and that might be a better strategy for you than buying any of the books on my list which may cost more. I wander through the aisles and grab whatever interests me, this list is just a brief posting, I have a lot of books, but today I'm proud of my collection in a way I haven't been previously. I can point to the stacks and say, I read that and it changed my life. Good for me.

Xoxo,

J

P.S. Part of me is really overwhelmed after this exercise so I may need to take a short break to try and recharge. Still glad I made the effort though...

jj

***

*Some of these authors have MD, PhD, or other titles they've earned behind their names, in the interest of saving space I have omitted them. I had the titles underlined, but the formatting keeps disappearing on me so I apologize for that as I realize it makes it a tougher read...

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