I don’t know what I want to write about today, just that I want to write, and be alone. Although my job is low-stress, and most customers are pleasant, it’s hard to go there, especially after vacation. Yesterday was my first day back, and as much as I tried to breathe deeply and think positively, I allowed the negativity to get to me. A major part of the problem is that I allow my co-worker’s energy to suck every bit of positivity I may have had were she not present. I’ll call her Barbara. Barbara is a kind woman, but unhappy with her life. She’s about my mom’s age, and lives with her 30-year-old daughter, the daughter’s 4-year-old autistic son, who is the light of Barbara’s life, and with the daughter’s no-good boyfriend, a 20-year-old boy who Barbara doesn’t like. Back in June the daughter and her boyfriend went to Bonnaroo, leaving Barbara to stay home with her grandson, and I couldn’t help but judge the daughter and boyfriend, assuming they were consuming all kinds of drugs (mainly because that’s what I did when I went to Bonnaroo 10 years ago). The same daughter, or perhaps a different daughter (she has two), hit Barbara in the face this summer, hard enough to shove her glasses into her eye socket, leaving a bruise. I remember her telling me about it just before Mom died, and feeling angry with her daughter.
Barbara gets really stressed out by work. It reminds me of my mom when she used to work in retail, before she retired. Barbara worries that she’ll get fired, because companies often want to replace older employees with younger workers who’ll be happy to work harder and longer for less pay, and are unlikely to require retirement, since no one really stays at any one company for longer than a few years anymore. Barbara forgets a lot, and fears that she’s losing her mind (she has lost relatives to Alzheimer’s). She takes the job very seriously, and while I feel that she needs to lighten up, I get the same way. The customers can be so demanding, expecting me to know answers to medical questions they should be asking a practitioner, or researching themselves. Sometimes I want to yell at them to use Google, which is what I do (use Google, not yell at them), and not the most reliable way to get your medical advice, but better than asking someone who makes $13 an hour and has very little education in the medical field. The training I have in alternative health and supplements is limited, and I simply cannot remember a lot. A lot of information is conflicting, and new research comes out all the time. No one has all the answers. You just do the best you know how to do at the time. But some customers don’t like that. They want definite answers. They want a guarantee that a particular supplement will help them sleep, lower their blood pressure, slow down the aging process, help them lose weight, or do whatever it’s designed to do.
Barbara’s a folk singer and guitarist, and in her younger days she had wanted to become a musician. She often wishes she could retire, but she can’t afford it. Her grandson is the highlight of her life, which is good for her, but something I won’t have, ever. When I write it like this, it looks like I’m disappointed in my life, which I am not. I’m happy about my life today, except the fact that Mom’s no longer alive. Before she died I looked forward to going to work, and now I no longer do. What I was learning was related to what I’d be doing for a career, but now I don’t want to pursue that career. I want to be happy where I am, but where I am is temporary. I want my own space. But I forget that everything is temporary.
A new attitude is what’s needed. If I can practice patience, kindness, and gratitude, it’s easier. Doing that is easier when I’m not working with Barbara. She wants to complain about what’s not working, and I want to be patient and understanding with her. At the same time I want to tell her to get over it, to stop taking it all so seriously. But really she’s my teacher. Each of us has our own path, and will learn at our own pace. When I feel irritated with her, it’s because I’m irritated with myself, and this irritation can serve as a reminder to ask how I can practice patience, and to ask what lessons can be learned from this experience.
One major issue is that I haven’t had much time alone in over a week. When I don’t have time alone, I feel frustrated and irritable. And I need hours, maybe days alone. Yosemite Bear keeps popping into my head. He seems to live a life of leisure in which he meditates all day in the woods. Somehow he has a house in this beautiful space and doesn’t have to work for it. This is what I want for myself. That’s all. Hahaha!
Gratitude is the key, and I forget that I have a nice space in the backyard to look at sweet little birds: house finches, wrens, chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, and when I’m lucky, a downy woodpecker. Maybe I will suggest to Barbara that she play her guitar again, which she hasn’t done in years. Wouldn’t her grandson love to hear her play? Writing this blog brings me peace and joy, so why not do that? Looking at pictures of sweet animals brings me joy. And sitting outdoors to watch birds makes me happy, so I’m going to do that now, before I have to go to work.
The thing is, you just have to do what you love to do, no matter what.