Tag Archives: Self-help

Top 5 Life Lessons from the Makeup Chair

31 Aug

With classes at UC Davis starting in just a matter of days, I’ll be seeing the beauty shop a whole lot less in the coming months. As a tribute to all the practical knowledge I’ve gained from my years in retail, I’ve put together the Top 5 things I’ve learned working in the beauty shop.

Valuable little tid-bits gleaned from my moments of embarrassment, humiliation, and learning the hard way.

1.     Be nice to EVERYONE.

We all have those days. Days that we really shouldn’t be interacting with others. Days we probably should’ve stayed home. Where I work, those are days where I’d rather not do a complimentary makeover for a twelve-year-old, I’d rather not give someone free samples, and I’d rather not have anyone in the store. That sounds really awful, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t happen too often but once in a while, I have a really bad day.

Well, it was one of those days, and I was ringing someone’s purchase, when all of a sudden the customer says, “Did I do something to offend you?”

I was in shock. I didn’t think I was being rude, but I wasn’t sure because I hadn’t been paying attention, I was just trying to get her out as quickly as I could. At best I’m sure I had a disinterested look on my face and maybe the customer didn’t enjoy the silence she was being served up that evening.

After she left, I felt awful. It sent me into a real spin. I began thinking about how she had come in perfectly fine, and how my bad mood had ruined her night. She left pretty put off and maybe she wouldn’t even shop in our store anymore because of it. I began to think about how many people I come into contact with on bad days, not just at work, but at the coffee house, at home, over the phone, or at the grocery store. How many bad days had I inflicted on others because of my own bad mood? I am never intentionally rude, but others’ perception of us can be very different than our intention. It was then that I decided that it is very important to be nice to everyone. If not for others, for your own peace of mind.

2.       Don’t jump to conclusions.

I work at a beauty store in a relatively affluent community. With that comes a little higher prevalence of entitlement in our clientele. It can come in the form of the cell phone talker, who refrains from acknowledging my existence, any of a number of snide comments, or dirty looks, or just a general attitude of false superiority. Well, I had become pretty used to spotting this kind of behavior and it didn’t thrill me.

One day, I greeted a woman as she walked in. She made eye contact with me and kept walking without a word.

“Hello” I said, again a little louder. Nothing. Well, I wasn’t going to take this lying down. I was not going to let her blatantly ignore me. I am a person, and she was going to treat me as such!

I stormed up to her, “Hi. Is there anything I can help you with?” I asked with a little attitude.

In response she began signing to me. Signing. She was deaf. She hadn’t heard any of my greetings. She wasn’t ignoring me and I was officially the worst person alive. Don’t jump to conclusions. You’ll thank me when you avoid being rude to the hearing impaired.

3.       Go easy on people, maybe they’ll go easy on you.

As a quintessential over-achiever, I hold myself and others to impossibly high standards. I am competitive. This is great for many areas of my life including work. Though I only work in the beauty shop part-time and my education is my main priority, that doesn’t stop me from striving for excellence at work. I am usually the highest performer in sales and since I managed the shop before I went back to school, I am also very familiar with the operational responsibilities in the store. One of my opportunities is cutting people breaks, when the job doesn’t come as easily to them. I expect a lot because I expect a lot from myself.

Well, we have secret shoppers in our company. They shop you to see if you are doing all that you’re required to, and in ours there’s a lot to remember and to perform. If you don’t do the list of things you are supposed to, you get a bad shop and it is reported to your supervisors and company. Well I got two bad shops in a row. ME! I’m the most experienced, highest performer in the store! I was so upset. I was sure I was going to get in big trouble. I felt terrible that I had let everyone down. I asked my Assistant Manager if she had seen it. She said, “Yes. Well, no one can be perfect all the time. Give yourself a break. We all make mistakes.” I can’t even describe to you the relief I felt after she completely let me off the hook. If I had been the manager and this had happened, I would not have been so understanding. But, it was just what I needed to relax and focus on the future and let go of what I had done. So, go easy on others, and hopefully, someday, when you need it, they’ll go easy on you.

 4.       You get what you give off.

We’ve all heard that old adage: you catch more flies with honey. Well, it sounds obvious and simple, but it’s a piece of advice I rarely see in practice. Smile, ask nicely, say something nice to someone, and go out of your way to do something kind. Trust me. Not only will you see more positive responses from others, but it’s a great mood booster. Give off positivity, and you will get it back in spades.

5.       Mean people are almost always sad people.

This one took me a while to learn. I couldn’t understand why some people went out of their way to be rude or mean to me. Well, we have a customer, we’ll call her Grace, and she had been coming in every month or so for her hair products. She was almost always unpleasant, short, and well…mean. I decided, this time, I wasn’t going to passively endure her negativity. I was going to kill her with kindness. I offered her a makeover and to my surprise she said yes. I lured her into conversation and complimented her beautiful skin. A little while into the conversation, she told me she was going through a difficult divorce and this was the first time she had worn makeup in a year. She later apologized to me and she has been one of my regulars ever since. You never know what someone is going through. I learned that being mean is not something happy people do. Try not to take it personally next time you’re on the receiving end. That person has a life and a history that you don’t know, maybe their meanness is sadness in disguise.

What are some lessons you’ve learned over the years? What are your stories?

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

I have 62 days.

24 Jul

I have 62 days. 62 days of summer. 62 days to my personal best.

Photo by Anthony Delgado

62 days until the beginning of Fall Semester.  Like elementary summers past, when I would lay out my new, shiny school shoes, brand new Jan Sport backpack and freshly sharpened pencils in preparation for the start of the new school year, this summer I’m going to refresh my metaphorical life supplies and be at my best by the first day of school. My 25-year-old definition of “at my best” is improved health, physical and mental fitness, and organization. I am not fat, not unhealthy, or any other extreme opposite that these goals may imply. I simply want to better myself.  These will be my focuses for the next 62 days.

I’m sure my definition of personal best will evolve as I age and change, but for now, these are the salient issues at hand. I’m not unique in my countdown to a personal milestone. I was first inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love along with the rest of the world, and then Gretchen Rubin’s pursuit of her personal best in The Happiness Project, and any number of weight loss and self-improvement shows on MTV, Bravo, etc. But the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back and inspired my personal spin on the docu-journey, the recently Freshly Pressed, Find Fabulous and her post Dirty Thirty: The List, where she outlines her pre-thirty bucket list of sorts. And so, along with many others, tomorrow I will embark on my journey to…me, but a freshly sharpened, shiny, new me.

According to Oliver Burkeman’s article, How long does it really take to change a habit?instead of the 21 days widely touted by self-help culture, it actually takes on average 66 days to change a habit. Though some might say 62 days is too short a time, the article explains that it really depends on the person. I say, I can! I have nearly the average amount of time recommended, but I make up for it with my enthusiasm. Where many have taken a slow stroll to change; mine will be more like a brisk jog.

Although I think of myself as fairly ambitious and moderately successful in achieving goals I set for myself, I’m focusing on these areas for a reason; they are particularly challenging for me, otherwise I would have already mastered them. That’s why I am enlisting the help of various experts in each area. Tara, is not only my boss, but a fitness and nutrition expert. She has had five kids and still has a better body than most 18-year-olds. She was the personal trainer for the mayor for crying out loud! I will be picking her brain for tips and accountability to aid me in my journey to better physical fitness, and of course sharing her secrets with you! I don’t like to bring numbers into this, because I just want to look better in my clothes and not be self-conscious in a bathing suit, but I think a ten pound weight loss is my goal.

My second expert is my best friend Shayla. Longtime vegetarian and self-taught health know-it-all, she knows things. I don’t know how she knows them or where she read them, but she’s like my own personal Google. I have texted her random questions with no expectation of an answer, only to find the pleasant surprise of a credible response and possible source link. During a recent tussle with my thyroid, I opened an email from her to find a journal article on the links between cruciferous vegetables and hypothyroid issues. Shayla will help me clean up my diet in a way that is sustainable for me.

My third expert is a fun one…it’s you! Yes, you reading this, you behind the keyboard. I can see you! No, I can’t; I’m just kidding. But, really, I will be reading, following, liking, absorbing, all the inspirational blogosphere content I can. I am determined to learn from my blogging peers and develop as a writer significantly by the time the 62 days are up. It was Kristen Lamb and her post, 5 Ways to Get Out of The Comfort Zone and Become A Stronger Writer, who initially inspired me in this area. I’m already an avid reader and academic writer, but before school starts, I want to flex my creative muscles a bit, become a more well-rounded writer and as Kristen says, soon I’ll be “typing with the big kids”. By the end of the 62 days, I’d like to have acquired 100 followers and maybe get a WordPress award under my belt.

Ok, so organizational skills is kind of a euphemism, for I’m disorganized. I always get the job done and I’m a really effective student and person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make a giant mess in the process. We’re talking coffee mugs everywhere, clean laundry in the dryer for a day and a half. It’s not that I’m lazy; I think that my time management and organization skills need a little improvement. I start too many projects, take on too many tasks, underestimate the time it will take me to finish something, and before I know it, I’m 10 minutes behind, the dryer’s still running, and I haven’t packed my lunch. My expert in this area is my lovely, domestic friend Desiree. She bakes, she cooks, her house is always spotless, even her fridge is perfectly organized. I’m not saying I want to morph into Betty Crocker in 62 days, but someday I’d like to be able to feed myself without driving to a restaurant and her tips on scheduling and time management will no doubt be invaluable. Plus, whenever I go to her house, she has snacks. Through her expertise, Desiree will help me create a system that keeps me organized and maybe teach me a thing or two in the kitchen.

So, please join me, inspire me, teach me. Tell me your personal best story below in the comments. I LOVE comments!

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

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