I was a die-hard Girl Scout. Yes, I enjoyed the campouts, badge earning, and other activities — but my favorite time of year was selling Girl Scout cookies. I am extremely competitive, and each year I would challenge myself to do better than the prior year. No one put me up to it. My parents did not pressure me or push me to sell a specific number of boxes. They also did not reward me for my achievement. It was my own crazy self that worked my ass off to do more than I ever had.
One year, one of the prizes from the local community of Girl Scout troops was a 10-speed bike. I did not have a 10-speed and wanted one badly. I knew it would take a lot of babysitting and tips from my paper route to be able to purchase that bike, not to mention selling my parents on my spending my hard-earned money. The next best way to ensure I had that bike was to sell the number of boxes required to win the bike — and I did.
A different year there was a trip to an amusement park in Ohio. I had been a few times on school trips, and absolutely loved amusement parks, so of course it was on my list to win a trip. I had my goals in mind and I made sure I met them, however crazy I was to find ways to sell boxes. Since I lived on the edge of a University campus, I would go to fraternity houses, their student center, apartment complexes, and dorms, not to mention door-to-door in my entire neighborhood to sell as many boxes as possible. I learned a lot — specifically on how to cater my communication and language to the person on the other side of the door, or the one with cash in their hands. I learned how to warm up my audience, be cute when needed, or spout off the benefits of the different types of cookies – whatever I could do to make sure they walked away with boxes of cookies in their hands.
So when I found out that Girl Scout cookies have gone online, I had mixed feelings. Girl Scouts will now be able to take credit cards and transact business via an app online. They can have family and friends in other parts of the country place an order through their specific online webpage. Here is why I have mixed feelings — yes they learn business techniques for 2015, online sales, webpages, social media, and credit cards, but I feel a lot is lost. It feels much like what happens when parents sell for their kids at work, but their kids never have to do a thing. How is that good for the kid? My parents did not sell a box for me. I sold every single one.
With selling cookies now online, I fear that kids will no longer know how to make change, do math in their heads as buyers put them on the spot with questions, and my largest concern is that they have now taken the human side out of selling cookies. Maybe I am old school, but I feel that the learning experience has dwindled for these girls.
Change happens for us all every day. We do not always realize how much change hits us on a day-to-day basis, often because of how we handle the change. At some level we all have a bit of dislike to change. Some individuals are more flexible than others, some are more set in their ways or routines, and yet others relish the freedom and excitement of having things constantly changing in life.
Whatever level of tolerance we have for change, we often do not have a choice of if it happens to us. Whether that means changes at work, at home, with our family, there is change that happens by choice and change that we would rather not come close to with a ten foot pole. These past few weeks for me have been emotional to one extent (thank you hormones) and a little nerve-racking on another level. I know I am not the first woman to have a baby, and I know (because everyone tells you) that my life is about to change in numerous ways. Some of those changes will be amazing, and some will knock me on my ass.
I have to say that what has been hardest (besides my body no longer being mine, the endless peeing, and little to no sleep because of the endless peeing) has been being a professional woman with a team. When you read about others that go on maternity leave, they talk about the baby side of it, but what they do not really talk often about is what it is like for the working mom. I have been working since I was 9 years old. I had a paper route, and babysat kids in the neighborhood. This means that I have been working non-stop for the last 28 years. The most time I have taken off (other than a period when I was laid off), is the two weeks I took for my wedding/honeymoon. I have never not worked for a longer period than that.
Now, judge me all you want, as I think some mothers might — when I say it is going to be hard for me to be away from work. There are some pretty involved and intense projects happening in the coming months and, while I have the most amazing team, it does not make it easy for me to be away from it all. I have poured my heart into the work and my team, and having a child does not necessarily change my dedication to my work. Sure, some of my priorities will change when I meet Mini Conk, but I also want to raise a son that not only understands the importance of hard work, but also sees that I have an identity that is different from just being a mom.
Folks rarely talk about how hard it is for a working mom, instead I see more judgement that my place as a mom is at home with my son. Why should I have to choose, and why should I be judged for how I want to live my life? As more and more women have leadership positions at companies, not only do the rights for women having children need to change, so does the behavior for how we treat women that work and want to do both.
Often I think we do not even realize we do it. We complain about how little sleep we got the night before, the guy that is driving too slow on the road, how a co-worker treated us. We might complain about the wilting lettuce that came on our salad, or how cranky we feel. It is almost second nature for us to complain. I am just as bad as the next person. I think about it though. I try to watch myself and see when I am complaining. I wonder what life would look like, feel like, or sound like if we did not complain. Would we all sound like Pollyanna?
This Fast Company article, “What It’s Like to Go Without Complaining For a Month” is an interesting idea. I know it would not be easy to do, and yet why not? Does the Pollyanna vibe feel odd to us because someone who does not complain feels fake? Does that mean that our society is so immersed in the idea of agonizing over the hand that we were dealt, that it is almost very strange to imagine not sharing our qualms, experience, and drama with our co-workers, family, and friends? Is it the drama that encourages to complain? Or is it the storytelling and community that comes along with going into all the gory details of all you went through getting your take out last night at your neighborhood Chinese restaurant?
Often I think individuals do not realize they might be complaining. We are all storytellers at heart. I am an addict of a good story. I love to laugh and while I am not one to make fun of someone’s misfortune I do love when a story weaves and explores what someone might have had to go through – even if it all happens in the process of complaining.
While I do not think I have it in me (yet) to go an entire month without complaining. I am going to *try* to be conscious about my complaints. For someone who is very free with my thoughts and what is on my mind, I could do a better job filtering the complaints. I should probably spend some time thinking about the list of ideas in the Fast Company article that are tips for complaining less.
We’ve lived in our house for almost two years and yet we didn’t really know some nearby neighbors that we had wanted to know for a while. We hadn’t really gone out of our way to get to know them better. However a few weekends ago, we had a “neighborhood crawl” where a few couples got together and had drinks and food and hopped from house to house. I got to know our neighbors better and now feel like I wasted two years of my life where it would have been fun to have known them.
How often in life do we go through our normal routine and not take the moments out of our days to reach out to others? Do we resist the urge because it might feel like more work? Do we resist because we think the effort or energy will not be reciprocated? None of these thoughts ever crossed my mind about our neighbors, life is sometimes just too full and crazy. Our life needs to change and we need to make more room for more neighbors, friends, and community.
This recent “Daily Om” titled: “Links that Last” discusses meaningful connections and it was a topic we discussed with my sister over this past weekend. The idea of community, friendship, and forging bonds that matter to us in our life. It is interesting to think about how your mind shifts from professional life, to family life, to community in differing ways depending on where you are at in life. We are at a place where we want to live a more balanced life, with children (or one child) plus neighborhood children running around. I remember the kids I played with when I was a kid and I also remember how much I craved living in a neighborhood with more children my age. We live in a great neighborhood for kids, and for neighborhood friendships.
Here is to future opportunities and meaningful connections.
I remember two specific houses that I always wanted to avoid when trick-or-treating as a kid. One was a woman down the street who would take a dime, a cotton ball, a piece of orange tissue paper and make little mini jack-o-lanterns with the dime as the flat base, the cotton on top wrapped tightly with orange tissue and the face drawn on with black marker. Borrrrrring. Yet, she was so before her time. That would be something I would find today on Pinterest. As a kid though, I thought it was such a waste. A dime? Really. I got more from the tooth fairy, and that was not saying much.
The second house was about five streets back where the houses were larger and usually occupied by doctors and dentists. I knew most everyone in my neighborhood due to the afternoon newspaper I delivered to a large percentage of the neighborhood, and the many, many years of Girl Scout cookies I sold. This particular house was owned by a dentist and again, borrrring. They did not hand out apples, but rather Bazooka gum. Which out of all the gums it was more of the sugary kind, but I was not a gum girl. I guess gum, even with a little sugar, was better then getting a dime on Halloween.
I do remember one year when I was the last kid to the dentist’s house, or maybe they were just done for the night. They gave me the rest of their bag of Bazooka. That was like winning the lottery as a kid, especially as a kid who rarely had candy and treats at home. I took it home and of course hid it from my sister and brother. I learned early on that to share meant it would be gone in moments and I would have to wait until next year. In our house when treats were like water in the desert, you found ways to hide your bounty. Funny how “hiding” meant under your pillow. I am sure I had many lumpy nights of sleep. Until many months later when my sister and I found the bag of Bazooka under my bed, hard as a rock. It must have fallen under the bed while I slept and I had forgotten about that gum. There was no way that we could ever chew any of it, the entire bag like tiny bricks. An interesting thing that happens when you do not share. Sometimes your bounty just goes to waste.