lessons for December

Two Christmases ago I worked at the cheesecake bakery owned by a much loved and respected friend of mine.

I have no experience as a baker but they needed extra help during their busy holiday season and were asking for any extra hands.

I needed the money in a frightened and desperate way.

I signed on with them.

The first day I did a bunch of dishes and not much else, while some much younger girls were tying ribbons and setting up cardboard boxes.

I was my unpleasant and not best self when I said after a couple hours of dishwashing, "Hey you guys, how about if we switch jobs for a little while? I could use a break from the dishes."

I see now that a person on their first day at a new temporary job where they agreed to come in and do whatever needs to be done, does not get to announce, or trade, or make a big deal about, or even open one's mouth to say anything but "what else would you like me to do?"

So, the next morning they called me to say I was no longer needed and they had it all covered.

I begged to stay.

I said that I was counting on the money now for Christmas.

This was true.

The friend kindly gave me another chance.

Where as before I was offered a few different respites from the ever mounting dirty dish pile, from then on out I was one hundred per cent dish duty.

They needed the dishes done.

Probably no one liked that job.

I was the lowest person on the totem pole.

I wasn't even on the totem pole.

I was an ant in the grass next to the totem pole.

I was grateful to them for giving me a chance to be more humble.

I thought often as I washed the dishes that I was a college educated fifty-something year old woman and this was what had befallen me.

No fault but my own.

But I was taking this dish washing job from someone who might have been more in need than me.

I was taking this job from someone who had no education or skills to get a better paying job.

I was in the wrong lane and I was imposing on these people and making my problem their problem.

I washed the dishes with gratitude and humility.

I watched the owner and her staff work carefully and diligently, with kindness towards each other and their patrons.

All the days before Christmas, as each of them struggled with their own personal issues, as each of them made constant compromises with their own families to make sure the cheesecakes got finished and wrapped and delivered, I listened to them make quick calls on their cell phones asking a friend or a relative to pick up a child from school, to let out a dog who was going to be home alone for several more hours.

I washed the dishes and I kept my big mouth shut.

Christmas came.

I received my check, which was just enough to buy the groceries and stocking stuffers I had hoped to buy for our family.

My children were all coming to town and I was excited and wanted everything to be nice for them.

Also, I wanted to show them that my choice to be a full time artist was working out.

Working out with the help of a dishwashing job...............

After that experience, I promised myself I'd never take a job that wasn't in line with my highest skill level, and that I'd never make my problems someone else's problem.

I promised myself I'd remember that at Christmas and throughout the year nobody owes me anything.

My situation is between me and my God.

The circumstances I find myself in are of my own creation and only I can change them and only through my own change of attitudes.

This year I am playing a variety of different shows during the holiday season.

I'm grateful to be making money in a way that is more in line with my goals and skills.

Last night I went to a party and at the party some people invited me to do a house concert for them in January.

That's the way I want to make money, providing a service for people who are excited to have me play my music and share my stories with them.

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