Back to the Basics

Three years ago, I was laid off from my first “dream” job. I was working at a magazine in Atlanta.

Three weeks ago, I put my two-week notice in at my second “dream” job. I was working through a mental health agency as a school therapist.

I am one person with two passions – writing and helping others. However, neither “dream” job left me feeling fulfilled. So, where do I go from here?… Truth is, I don’t know.

What I do know is – wherever I go and whatever I do, I want to be happy. I am in search of a way to fulfill both of my passions, and I won’t settle!

I came across a quote today that read:

“Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
Love the people who treat you right.
Forget about the ones who don’t.
Believe everything happens for a reason.
If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands.
If it changes your life, let it.
Nobody said life would be easy.
They just promised it would be worth it.”

Change can be scary, but it’s good for growth. Every day I wake up is another chance to fulfill my passions.

At this point, I don’t know what lies ahead. I do believe that there’s a reason for me being in this position at this point in my life though. My goal is to stay positive, focused, and motivated.

This… is just another part of my journey; another chapter in my book. Stay tuned.

~Ciara L. Walker

SHOPPING Etiquette! “May I help you?” Hopefully, THIS will!

Just a few things I wanted to share with my fellow consumers. After working at a local retail store for the past year and a half [almost] I felt it was imperative that I write this post! At this point, I really wish that people were required to work retail before being allowed to shop! However, being that that’s not likely to happen I’ve decided to share a little shopping etiquette – Associate to Customer. Now, this is not meant to offend anyone! Hopefully, it will make you think BEFORE you act.

If you will, think about being in your own work environment and how you would feel if your customers/clients did things similar to what’s listed below. Whether you work in a retail store, a restaurant, an office, etc. some [if not all] of these things can apply. Maybe – Hopefully, you’ll remember this list the next time you shop!!

SPEAK. Be polite. Have some manners! I understand you may not hear a person speak, but the least you can do when you hear “Hello, how are you?…welcome to…etc.” is speak back! A little smile would be nice too, but I understand that may be asking too much of some of you so a simple hello will do.

PAY ATTENTION to the signs on racks and stands! Again, certain items are excluded on coupons because of special discounts. It makes no sense to argue with the associate when the sign clearly stated the “special” sale and the coupon states it as an exclusion.

READ the coupons! Yes, the small print too. There you will find important information such as exclusions and if the discount is different for certain merchandise.

Good CUSTOMER SERVICE is hard to find. So, when an associate gives you good customer service [checking prices/showing you merchandise/searching for sizes/etc.] it would be nice of you to purchase the merchandise with him/her. Some associates are on commission and some others have sales goals to reach. Some may not. You never know though, so just be mindful of that.

PICK UP after yourself. Yes we are associates, but we are NOT your maids! There’s no need to leave your fast food containers on the dept. floor/register/etc. When shopping for shoes, don’t leave the packing material all over the floor. If you can’t put it back, ask the associate for assistance.

If you’re told the SMALLEST SIZE is displayed in the shoe department, stop asking if your size is available when it’s SMALLER than the display. NO! We do not have an 8.5. The display is a 10… I’m just saying – it happens.

FITTING ROOMS are not your personal bed rooms. Please, don’t leave clothes all over the floor. I understand you may not feel like putting each item back on its proper rack. However, the LEAST you can do is hang the items up so it’s easy for the associates to gather them and put them back for you. Some stores have racks in or outside of the fitting rooms for you to hang the items you don’t want. Please, feel free to use them!

STOP peeing in the fitting rooms! I found this to be a bit disturbing myself, but apparently, this does happen. Now, it has yet to be determined for sure if the culprits are adults/children/the elderly/etc. Either way, that’s just nasty – put on some depends if you need to [NO EXCUSES]!

CONTROL your kids! There is no reason your child should be running through aisles, hiding under chairs and tables/between racks/etc., pulling clothes off racks, throwing shoes around, etc. I mean, didn’t you give him/her/them “the talk” before you came in the store?! If not, please do so next time.

STEALING is a no-no! Now, this should be common sense for all. Unfortunately, there are some who can’t seem to control themselves. THEY are watching you [you know who you are and so do “they”], and that’s all I can/will say about that.

STOP trying to return items days/months/a year past the return policy deadline! Yes, this does happen. And yes, we catch it!

NO receipt? Paid with cash or check? NO FULL REFUND! This is true for most stores. There is no way for us to tell how much you actually spent so we have to refund you with the price shown when scanned. It may be the lowest sale price. Now, some places can give you a full refund if you pay with a credit card – just FYI if you’re bad at keeping your receipts.

STORE HOURS are in place for a reason. Now, I understand if you come in last minute and know what you’re getting or if you’re in the middle of trying on something/deciding on something/etc. But please – please don’t walk around browsing and asking to see merchandise with no intention to buy AFTER the closing announcement has been made.

That is all for now. If you think of anything else, please let me know! I may add on to this list as I think of things or get feedback from my co-workers. I’ll admit I’ve done a few of these things in the past. But, working in retail makes you more aware of things. Yes, it’s a retail job. Yes, straightening/cleaning is in our job description. That doesn’t make it Okay for customers to be inconsiderate and leave their manners at the entrance when shopping.

Being that this isn’t my full-time job or my future occupation, some may ask why I even care or bother to write this post. I care and I bother because I know what it’s like to stay an hour/sometimes over an hour after closing time to straighten shoes, clothes, and clean fitting rooms that have been unnecessarily thrown about. I understand what it’s like to run back and forth/up and down stairs finding sizes for customers all night only to have them take their merchandise to another department. I know what it’s like to feel tired/hungry/sore/etc. at 9 and 10 at night and ready to go home! I know there are people who work retail full-time and will have to deal with these things, among many others, every day. So, this is for them! And, this is for you. They say when you know better you do better. Well, now you know…

~ Ciara L. Walker

Dreams. Impossible?!

“A slipper made of glass is just a shoe, and dreamers never make dreams come true” ~ Whitney Houston as Cinderella’s Fairy God Mother

I was sitting here watching Cinderella; the remake with Whitney Houston and Brandy Norwood, and I began to think about all of the Disney movies I watched as a little girl. My cousins and I had an uncle who would buy us Disney movies for every holiday. I had my own Disney collection: Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, The Fox and the Hound, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 101 Dalmatians, Pinocchio, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast… The list goes on. I also had non-Disney movies like Thumbelina, All Dogs go to Heaven, and Charlotte’s Web.

I enjoyed watching these movies as a child. I was captivated by the characters, and I became intertwined in their animated lives. They had dreams, and their dreams came true. The impossible became possible. The movies made you believe in something more than what was right in front of you when you turned off the TV. I wanted to live happily ever after – like Cinderella and the Mermaid. I wanted my dreams to come true like Pinocchio. I wanted “hakuna matata” like on the Lion King – no worries for the rest of my days. Those were the days…

The thing is I didn’t realize the struggles that the characters went through in order to get to their “happily ever after”. I didn’t realize the struggles I would have to go through to get to my happily ever after. Bad grades. Lost friendships. Broken heart. Unemployment. Family problems. These are just a few of the many struggles I’ve endured over the past 27 years.  Hakuna matata hasn’t been so true for me. I found myself getting emotional when watching Cinderella [I know, I know] because now I understand what she was talking about. Impossible – sometimes things seem impossible. You have dreams, but somewhere down the road you start to feel like they’ll never happen; like they’re impossible. Like Cinderella, there may come a time when you just want to run away from it all – give up. Not so quick though…

Look at this conversation between Cinderella (Brandy) and her fairy god mother (Whitney Houston)…

Cinderella: If impossible things are happening every day, then why shouldn’t I have impossible hopes and dreams – even something as impossible as going to the ball?

Fairy God Mother: Then go to the ball Cinderella. Go. No one’s stopping you, but you.

Cinderella: But, I have no way to get there.

Fairy God Mother: Hmm, you have a point there.

Cinderella: God mother, I’ve been wishing as hard as I can.

Fairy God Mother: I know you have Cinderella. Go on, stand over there…

** She does her magic. Last, but not least, she turns to Cinderella who’s looking at herself dressed in rags**

Fairy God Mother: Spin around. Don’t make me do all of the work.

Impossible – Brandy and Whitney Houston

Looking back over my life, I can really relate to this scene. We all go through hard times where we wonder if our dreams will ever come true, or if they’re just impossible. I know I did, especially after being laid off. When you open your eyes – and I mean really take a look around you – there are people who will help you. The thing is you have to be willing to help yourself first. Have a dream. Wish upon a star. But, don’t let that be all you do.

I had no idea what I wanted to do after being laid off. I was lost. All I knew was I wanted to help people. When teaching didn’t work out, I chose counseling. I applied for the program and went from there. Since then, I’ve sought help from family, friends, professors, etc. I’m open and honest about where I stand and I’m not afraid to ask for help. I try and help myself first though, and I believe that’s why others are so willing to give me a helping hand.

I know at times [we think] we don’t know how to help ourselves; how to get started. Don’t give up and get discouraged though. Write out your dream and seek out ways to make it happen. You can start by researching how others in your area of interest got started, set goals, research educational programs, etc. that will enhance your knowledge in that area. Ask for help. Be open to receiving help. Sometimes, the only person stopping you is you…

I can’t remember where I heard this, but I wanted to share. If you look at the word impossible you’ll see that it spells out “I’m Possible” just the same. So, never stop believing in your happily ever after. After all, impossible things are happening every day. It all starts with you!

There is Music in You – Whitney Houston

“You know the trouble with most people is they sit upon wishing for something to happen instead of just doing something about it” ~ Brandy as Cinderella talking to the Prince

~ Ciara Walker