Love what you do

I had the most wonderful privilege of going on a supremely relaxing holiday with my Mum and daughter. There was glorious food, incredible surroundings and impeccable service. But this is not my focus, it was the contrast of coming home and visiting the supermarket that struck a chord.

I had completed my post holiday essentials shop in my local supermarket, cereal, milk, chocolate spread and some apples (these are key items in my existence) and went to the self-scan machine. I always inwardly berate myself whenever I use these machines, as more often than not there is a problem. My items don’t scan, discounts don’t come off, the weight of the items is deeply problematic, and sweet Moses you need to get your produce into the bag fast before the machine questions your commitment to bagging said item. However today I had a new problem, I had remembered to bring my reusable shopping bags and they were too heavy. The machine advised that my heavy bags necessitated the assistance of a member of staff. I called over said man of green, to which he barked at me that I could ‘Just click the ‘add bag’ button’ before he stalked off to contend with a product weight issue (I assume, based on the most likely contender). My lasting feelings about this encounter was this man really did not like his job.

Having just experienced the glorious highs epic customer service compared to this equally epic low several thoughts occurred to me.

  1. If you don’t enjoy something, find something else.
  2. The people in my local farm shop are always chirpy.
  3. The self-scanning machines are taking jobs. And customer sanity.
  4. Maybe supermarkets breed unhappy people.
  5. Maintaining happiness and motivation must be really hard for big organisations.
  6. People who represent a company are in the precarious position of being human.
  7. If people’s only motivation to work is money, can that ever be enough?

When I have been in jobs that I haven’t enjoyed, I have rarely stayed long. A job that doesn’t sustain you in some way is not something that should be a long term commitment. My most favourite jobs (other than what I do now) were highly physical jobs. They came with the perk of diabolical pay, but I came home covered in mud and physically tired and that felt good. And working in an office, looking after a filing system. This was good money for a job where my primary focus was to track down missing files. I have never particularly linked how much I am paid for a job to my happiness. If I enjoy something, then to a large degree, the money feels immaterial. This is likely because for a long time I wasn’t happy, so if something provides happy, it is precisely where I want to be!

And then there’s the subject of worth. Maybe my lack of connection to finances is down to ascribing a monetary value to my time, to me. It feels uncomfortable at some level having to decide my worth. That I have worth. But it is curiously empowering when I do. Recently for a job that I have been doing for around three years, the company suddenly decided that they only wanted to pay half of what I had been charging. I said no. I didn’t get excited or cry (shock or anger generally provokes tears.. then people think I am sad, and feel sorry for me. I am not sad, I am a ball of magmas rage, in liquid format!), I simply explained my worth. If someone wants my time, wants the skills and experience that I have, then that comes at a price. Knowing what I will and won’t accept in employment feels like a huge thing for my self-esteem. I have inherent worth and getting paid well to do something I love is a muchly beautiful thing.

Map Point. What is my inherent worth?



Second letter

Dear Rachel,

I don’t like you. I didn’t like you much when you were actually my friend, and as the years have gone on, although the rationales have changed, I still don’t like you.

I want to tell you that I am grateful for the lessons that you taught me. If the only thing that you ever taught me was how not to treat people, then that is nowhere near enough for the damage that you caused me, as most people already know that being kind should be a natural state. I have often wondered if there was some sort of abuse happening in your life and that it could possibly account for your behaviour, but irrespective, am going to start with the nice things that you gave me.

Thank you for introducing me to the Beatles, they are an amazing band, and I love the poetry contained within. I also thought that the films, especially Help! was really funny. Thank you for letting me copy your science homework on changing energy states. You don’t know that I did this, but when you gave me the work to copy because I had been off sick, your answers were already there, and time is somewhat short, sometimes. Thank you for the lifts your dad gave me; it was nice to have sometime access to a vehicle. Thank you also for the mutual development of the ‘perfect day’ (one swim, one cinema) or the ‘doubly perfect day’ (one swim, two cinema).

Looking back, I realise that you copied a lot of what I did, or had. Getting a vinyl player when previously you had only had tapes after seeing all my vinyl, playing the guitar, learning sections of poetry, stealing poems from books for English assignments, going to church, going to the same dance classes, befriending my outside school friends and I know that there were other things too. It seems petty thinking about this, but it was relentless. Maybe you felt that you needed to assimilate bits of me to erode me, or maybe you idolised me, I have no idea.

Maybe that is why I have naturally sought out strange people and places.. places that you wouldn’t want to go.

Now for the things I didn’t like about you. You smelled strange, like really old sweat, you laughed at me when I sang, you openly mocked me in front of others, frequently. When Megan started teasing me, every single day from the beginning of secondary, you joined in and I felt as if I had no one. When Megan socially excluded me and no one else spoke to me when she was around, you did this too. If I had a friend over for tea who wasn’t you, you would ignore me or get cross with me, usually both.

I don’t think that I have ever met anyone else in my life who was that possessive and as jealous.

Nothing is worth the cost of harm. I did not learn this when I was with you, but continued to allow harm as a trade off, until one day I stopped; I was 40. Settling for less than I am worth is something that I will no longer tolerate.

You also mocked how flat-chested I was, the clothes that I wore, if I wore makeup, my lack of knowledge on world issues or when I mispronounced words. You were impressively clever, so I don’t understand why you felt this compulsion to berate me so much. I heard that you cried, apparently, when I scored one mark higher than you on a test. I know that you seemed to perceive me as thick, as scatty, as useless. How could Sally dare to be better than anyone else in anything? I know that you got your masses of ‘A’ grades and likely have done exceptionally well in your life. And that is an amazing thing, and me getting a couple of ‘A’s does not detract from yours in the slightest.

I don’t need your judgement or superiority in my life, and carrying you with me is a weight I am saying goodbye to. Thank you for what you have taught me and through my reflections of the time we spent together, I continue to learn.

  1. I don’t need to be superior to be intelligent. Humility is a good thing
  2. Fun shouldn’t come with a trade off in harm
  3. Change is possible and starts with challenging yourself, this can be harsh
  4. I am incredible. Knowing you taught me the framework for compassion, I am a better friend to others now, because of what I experienced.

There is likely more I could say, there always is.




Map Point. Who do I need to say goodbye to?