Tuesday Update

Charlottesville, Virginia.

This post is going to be a bit scattered, but I have to say something.

What’s happening in Charlottesville right now is what I was afraid of back in November.  When Trump said he would “Make America great again,” I kept wondering what he meant by “again.”  When was the golden age he was trying to get back to?  Based on this demonstration, it’s clear what these people consider “great.”  “White power,” they chanted.  All because a statue was removed – a statue of a general from the losing country.

And then Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”  Because clearly both sides are equal here.  But this man was endorsed by the leader of the KKK.  He rallied about taking our country back.  The seeds were all there.

This isn’t about free speech any more.  When you’re carrying torches and guns, it’s about more than that.  When someone protesting you is murdered, it’s more than that.  When the symbol on your arm is the same symbol worn by those who literally killed billions of people, it’s more than that.  This was proven when a black man was literally beaten at this protest.

I don’t have a solution, but I know it starts with calling racism and Nazis what they are, not equating those things with those protesting them.

 

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4 Times You Should Say “No.”

I love the word “yes.”  When I say “yes,” I get to try new things or make someone happy.  I believe the word can really enhance your life.  But sometimes I go a little overboard and end up over-extended.

“Yes” is great, but sometimes you just really need to say “no.”

  1. When you’re overextended already – Believe it or not, you are not Wonder Woman.  You can’t go nonstop and you can’t do everything.  Once in a while, you have to rest.  So if you’re already exhausted or the workload you have is keeping you busy, you’re better off telling someone “no” than taking on extra that is going to burn you out.
  2. When the thing makes you uncomfortable/goes against your values – When I was a kid and people asked me if they could cheat off my paper, I always felt bad saying no…but I would have felt worse if I had let them.  This goes for adult things as well.  If it will make you feel guilty (or hurt you in any way), you are allowed to say no.  I encourage you to say no.
  3. When someone is repeatedly asking for favors and never helps you in return – I’m a huge believer in the golden rule.  You should absolutely treat other people the way you want to be treated.  But some people will take advantage of that and you should take care of yourself too.  If someone consistently asks you for help and is never around when you need something, it’s time to stop helping.
  4. When you just don’t want to – This may make me sound like a bad person, but I don’t actually care.  If you don’t want to do something, you don’t have to.  Period.

“But Kari, what about…”

Absolutely there are exceptions.  Maybe you’re tired, but it’s your best friend in the entire world and they really need you.  Or your schedule is booked but it’s a person who has never failed to help you out.  Maybe you really don’t want to do it, but they really can’t do it.  Err on the side of kindness, but remember to be kind to yourself too.

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Welcome to August!

I have been SUPER busy lately, and the only way I’ve been able to get through it is to take one day at a time.  This is a valid method, but sometimes you’ve got to play the long game.  So, in the interest of that, here are my goals for the month.

  • Finish four books I’ve already started.
  • Write 6000 words (this is a low goal, Kari, come on).
  • Get caught up on your travel journal (WHY DO YOU DO THIS??? IT’S BEEN A MONTH SINCE YOU’VE BEEN ANYWHERE!)
  • Sign up for 401K (wow, adult much?).
  • Fix paystub problem (this has been on your radar for months, Johnson).
  • Stick to the preplanned budget for the month (which…is not your strong suit, but come on).

The next step is to figure out some rewards for if I do this, so…

  • Buy the three books on my (most timely) wishlist.
  • New coffee mug.
  • Day or weekend trip to Asheville.
  • That Kate Spade bracelet I’ve been looking at for months.
  • Nice dinner at Cowfish.
  • New pair of shoes in September’s budget.

Of course, my other problem is that I have a bad habit of letting myself have rewards without actually earning them, so who wants to keep me accountable?  Anyone?

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Introvert Problems

I’ve been working hard this month.  I came back from my beach vacation and dived into both jobs, working three and a half weeks without a single day off.  I was getting a little burned out.

…my candle literally just went out.  Spooky.

I finally took a day off and spent it sleeping.  It helped, but going back to work the next day, I was still feeling unmotivated and a little angry at, well…everyone.

I thought I needed another day, or maybe a few of them, when I didn’t have to talk to a single person.  I am an introvert.  Sometimes I need me-time.

I arrived at the mall Saturday, determined to make it through the full work day and looking forward to the short shift that followed on Sunday.  Most of the day did feel like going through the motions.  At seven, though, a woman came in with her daughter carrying a Disney bag.  I had to ask.  They had gotten two Tsum-tsums (one was Marie) and were planning a trip to the park.

I spent at least a half hour with them, talking about my time working at Disney World and showing them the pink bags we had on sale.  They were extremely sweet and it really was like talking to two old friends.  When they left with their purchase, they were overjoyed with what they got and excited about coming back.  They were my last sale right before I clocked out, and I actually left work feeling less tired than when I’d gotten there.

Since I got out early, I had time to go to Lush after H&M.  The service there is always great, but this time I got to work with Justine, and absolute sweetheart who accidentally cursed in front of me and whose tattoos I found delightful.  We realized we were from the same county and she could relate to the stifled feeling I sometimes get there.  When she noticed my Gryffindor tattoo, we got to compare Gryffindor and Slytherin qualities.  It was a lot of fun and she hugged me three times before I left.

Sometimes I need me-time, but what I’ve really been missing this month are truly personal interactions: spending time with someone and finding out what they value, what they hate, who they actually are.  It’s hard to get that when I’m trying to make a sales goal at Kate or trying to move the line at Amelie’s.  And it’s hard for me in general since I don’t seem to connect well with people, even people I’ve known for years.  (On a related note, how do you turn a work friend into a friend-friend?  I’m asking for a…well, a friend.)  But when those connections come along, they’re worth savoring, however briefly.  And they always make my job more fun.

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Love and Work

I love most Disney movies but, if I had to pick a top ten, it would include The Princess and the Frog.  Tiana has a dream all right, but she turns it into a Goal and works her butt off in order to achieve it.  I always liked what her dad said: “You wish on that star, but it can only take you part of the way.  You have to help it out with hard work.”  And she does.

Then, things don’t go exactly as she planned.  She falls in love.  And she has to choose between Naveen and finally getting the thing she’s worked so hard for.

There are a lot of romantic comedies marketed towards grown women that handle this storyline with less grace than this animated feature.  Woman works hard to get what she wants, man comes along and shows her that all work and no play blah blah blah.  Love is more important than life-long goals anyway, right?

But at the beginning of The Princess and the Frog, Tiana has made it.  She should be reaping the rewards of her hard work except someone moved the finish line.  So she does something desperate in order to get what she’s already earned: she kisses the frog.

This is where the storyline deters from a typical story like this.  Tiana does fall in love with Naveen, but only after he learns the value of hard work and after he decides to prioritize her goal as much as she does.  She does choose Naveen over finally seeing her dream come true, but it’s a corrupted version of her dream anyway: a version that requires hurting people she cares about and a literal deal with the devil.  It makes her realize why she’d had this dream to begin with.  And, in the end, Naveen does everything in his power to make her dream come true.  She did choose his safety over the restaurant, but if he had sat at home while she built Tiana’s Place from the ground up, that boy would have been back on the street again.

All that to say, I saw an article this week that said millenials were prioritizing education and careers over marriage like it was a bad thing, but if your spouse isn’t as invested in your future as you are, there’s nothing wrong with wanting more.

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Land of the Free

It’s July 4th, which means I should probably be posting something patriotic right about now.  Except…I am the least patriotic person you will ever meet.  There’s a lot of things going on in our country right now that I disagree with and I think the fact that we have a literal pledge of allegiance (guys…nobody else does that; seriously) is a little…off.

I have been thinking about this all day and here’s what I’ve decided: America is a work in progress.  There is a long way to go.  We enjoy many freedoms other countries may not, but we have far too many citizens who don’t get to partake in that.  I disagree with the idea of “make America great again,” because we must move forward, not backward, and include all people if we truly want to be great.

I keep seeing these words: “Land of the free because of the brave.”  I know that’s true.  I know it began with the Founding Fathers who risked executions to declare their independence, followed the Union army as they fought to keep the nation together, and continues to show, to this day, in our military who only want to keep its citizens safe.  But that’s not all.

We are free because of the slaves who risked their lives to escape their bondage.  We are free because of the women who marched and endured imprisonment to earn the ability to vote.  We are free because of the brave souls who through the first brick at Stonewall and fought back against discrimination.

“All men are created equal” has often been a catchphrase more than a truth.  Based on race, sex, orientation, and socioeconomic status, too many people are treated as if they don’t count, as if they must justify their existence.  We are not truly free until we are all free, and we still have a ways to go.

So be brave.  Keep fighting for justice and sticking up for those considered “other.”  If we are to be the land where all are free, it will be because you were brave.

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Work Anxiety

I started my new job this week.  Before you ask: yes, I am still working at Kate Spade.  I’m doing both.

Retail and food were two industries I never thought I’d be involved in because I’m not really a “people person.”  I put on a good show, but I am very often wishing everyone would just LEAVE ME ALONE ALREADY.

The real problem is that people give me anxiety, especially when there is a crowd of them or they expect something from me.

For a long time, that just wasn’t something I talked about.  But in each of my jobs, I have had a moment where I had no choice, where the anxiety was so overwhelming that I couldn’t hide it.

The first was at Kate, where I paused in the back room to catch my breath.  The new manager asked if I was all right and, when I couldn’t answer yes, asked what was wrong.  “I just have a lot of anxiety,” I told her.  She understood – dealt with it as well, in fact – and suggested ways she had learned to cope with hers during her years in retail.  A different day, when I was feeling overwhelmed to the point of tears, she gave me a job that was useful but would give me time to calm myself down.

At Amelie’s (that’s the new place), I mentioned it to two people.  The first, my trainer, suggested an herbal tea we served that was good for anxiety.  It worked too, and soothed my nerves wonderfully.  The second, a guy who was also new but had previously worked at Starbucks and Panera, told me he also had anxiety and that, when things were too overwhelming, he told his boss and just took a break.

Through talking about my anxiety, I found others who could relate to my struggle and had overcome it.  I also found ways to make it better, through following their advice and alleviating the stress of needing to hide it.  The worst thing mental illness does is trick you into believing you’re alone – and you’re not.  We hear it so much it becomes a platitude, but it’s the truth.

 

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Heroes

The Wonder Woman movie finally came out, after years and years of waiting for it.  I was worried.  For one thing, I have hated almost ever DC movie I’ve ever seen.  The most recent, Batman Vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, were exceptionally awful.

And yet, Wonder Woman was incredible.  Gal Gadot was the perfect actress for the role, playing Diana Prince as a powerful warrior whose kindness and compassion are her strength.  Chris Pine stole hearts and subsequently broke them as Steve Trevor, who is an actual nice guy who respects Diana and believes in doing the right thing.  The movie was populated by well-rounded characters, many of whom were also strong women, and it showed the pain of war as it affected communities and individuals.  This is mostly thanks to Patty Jenkins, the movie’s director who fought for years to bring the Amazon’s story to life.

It’s one of those movies that made me want to fight the patriarchy with my own bare hands, and a movie I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.  The same thing can be said of Cars 3.

In the third installment of the franchise, Lightning McQueen is getting beaten more and more by newer race cars.  Other veteran racers are retiring, but Lightning refuses to quit before he’s ready.  When  he wrecks horribly, it looks like he might not have a choice.  He doesn’t want to face the same fate Doc did, but since he’s not there anymore, Lightning can’t ask his advice.  Instead, he goes to the places Doc trained on, the dirt tracks and the forest roads, and meets those who inspired him.

Initially, it looks like the message is the typical millennial-hating garbage of the older generation: newcomers ruin everything.  Actually though, it’s the opposite: the message is that the older generation has to adapt if they want to stay in the game.  Lightning gets to continue doing what he loves because he’s willing to learn new things to do it.

Lightning has a lot of character development, but my favorite part of this movie was Cruz Ramirez.  After being told all her life that she’s “not a race car,” she’s given up on the dream.  When she learns to believe in herself – and Lightning takes her under his wing – she proves them wrong.

If Wonder Woman made me feel like fighting the patriarchy with my bare hands, Cars 3 made me feel like dismantling it brick by brick.  They talk about the history of racing, both the good and the barriers outsiders had to break down themselves.  By looking at their history they were prepared to move into the future.  Nothing is given to them freely, but they understand why it’s worth fighting for.

Both are empowering movies and worth supporting for the messages they share and the characters they bring to life.  They’re great if you need a pick-me-up.  So head to the movie theater and get ready for Feelings.

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Dead Last beats Did Not Finish, which is better than Did Not Start

April and May did not work out like I wanted them to.  I still haven’t fixed my writing space; I’m still not sure how I could.

Instead of dwelling on that and the missed posts (and getting even more behind), I’m going to take this one word at a time.  It’s not a permanent solution by any means, but it’s better than what I’ve been doing.  And what a great week to start, because I did something really exciting this weekend that I’d like to share with you.

Friday, Jennifer and I (and Layla) drove down to Charleston.  It was exciting from the very start.  South Carolina drivers seemed to be holding a contest of who could kill us first.  But we did make it in one piece.  After checking in at our campsite (yes, campsite: more on that later) at James Island, we went downtown.

The stretch of King Street we were on looked like someone had turned Southpark Mall inside out and dumped it on the street.  But on the next block, down Market Street, we found some of the true gems of Charleston: the open-air market, Market Street Sweets, Kaminsky’s and the attached steakhouse that was recently damaged by fie, and the Moon Pie General Store.  We walked another twenty minutes to go to Blue Bicycle Books.

I don’t know how Jennifer felt about this bookstore, especially after all the trouble it took us to find it, but I love this place.  It’s quiet and peaceful, and I always feel like I’m entering a different world when I open the door and the cool air rushes at me.  We only stayed a few minutes, and we didn’t buy anything but my Charleston trip wouldn’t have felt complete without it.

With First Looks over, it was time to get to the reason we were there: Questival.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been describing Questival as a scavenger hunt, but it’s not that simple.  It’s 24 hours of adventures big and small.  The things we were challenged to do ranged from “draw a team crest” to “eat a bug,” “sing karaoke” to “ride a unicycle.”  Each quest was worth a certain amount of points.  Jennifer and I focused on location quests because we wanted to see as much of Charleston as possible.  We visited Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park with its pineapple fountain, and White Gardens.  We even drove out to the Angel Oak Tree, a 400-year-old oak.

Most memorable was the Four Corners of Law, not because of the  buildings themselves but because of the woman we met standing there: a 75-year-old former Marine who noticed we looked lost and stopped to help.  She suggested we go in the church, as both Washington and Lee had worshipped there, and eat lunch at Brown Dog Deli.  Unfortunately the church had just closed, but the deli was the most amazing meal I’ve had in a while.  I had the Fig’N’Pig, the perfect blend of sweet and savory.  Also a chocolate chip cookie, which was so sweet and gooey I almost died.

We finished Questival in 71st place.  Seventy teams did better than we did…but thirty did not.  At least ten of those had zero points because they didn’t even try.

Maybe we didn’t win, but we had a lot of fun exploring Charleston and stepping out of our comfort zone.  And yes, camping.

This was the first time I’d ever been camping.  We put up the tent and got a thousand bug bites.  We even made new friends with some girls from Asheville who camped a lot.  It was a great first camping trip.  We’re already looking forward to the next one.

Sometimes you step out of your comfort zone and find yourself in a magical place.

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A Day at Kate Spade

I started my job at Kate almost two months ago.  I love it, and one of the things i love about it is that every day is new.

That being said, this isn’t a “typical” day, because there’s no such thing.

9:02 – Kasey and I clock in.  I have spent almost an hour in traffic, but feel better as soon as I pass through the doors.

9:12 – While Kasey works on the deposit, I pull out my client book and make sure all my information is up-to-date.

9:20 – We take the trash out.  (It can’t all be glamorous.)

9:34 – Kasey shows me how to check in a shipment.  The first thing I unload is a new box of Glitter Keds!

10:03 – Music comes on and the doors officially open.

10:10 – We get our first client of the day, a woman looking for a dress to wear to her daughter’s “moving up” ceremony.  I sell her my favorite black dress in the store.

10:27 – Kasey and I talk about her time on a cruise ship while we wait for the next client to enter.

10:44 – We get a new delivery. Still preparing for the new floorset on June first!

11:29 – A man comes in to buy his wife a purse.  He talks about how she was there for him when he had nothing and how they’re still close now.  It’s the most precious thing I’ve heard all day.

12:00 – I’m introduced to a muse (that’s my official job title – how darling is that?) who has transferred from Charleston.  She gives me some suggestions about where I should eat on my trip next month.

1:30 – Kasey and I work with a woman who’s just turned 70.  She’s a sweet, colorful person who falls in love with our camel t-shirt and a pink pair of sunglasses.

1:34 – Off to lunch.  I have a chat with one of the employees at Coach about the acquisition.

2:34 – I clock back in.

3:02 – I help a lovely woman find a comfy dress to replace hers that’s falling apart.

4:28 – A girl comes in with her grandmother, looking for a bag to take on her trip to Charleston.

4:47 – Lainey and I tag-team markdowns.  Neither of us know all the product names yet, making the whole thing an interesting scavenger hunt.  (Spoiler alert: most of the items have already sold out at our store, so it’s a bit fruitless.)

5:58 – Dawn finishes her work in the back just as Britt is arriving.  The back room has never been so organized, at least not while I’ve been there.

At the end of the day, I’m tired and my feet hurt.  With the adrenalin fading, I start to realize some of the things I could have done better.  It’s a continuous learning process, and can be emotionally exhausting for an introvert like me.  I’m looking forward to my day off…but I’m also excited to return Saturday, when I’ll meet new, interesting people and spend time with all the shining girls I get to work with.

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