Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Customer is Always Right -

My father taught me, and reinforced over and over again, that the customer is always right. So when a customer complained about a wrongly cooked steak, too cold of potatoes, a piece of pie that wasn't big enough, his employees should smile, ask how the customer would like their complaint to be taken care of, and then do it. He gained customers over the years, rather than losing them, because of the ability to make the customer feel valued.

I wonder if this is still the case in businesses, or if now days, those in retail and service, particularly, think, "Screw you, I don't need your business." And - when a customer does make a complaint, regardless of the size, is it with apology, "I'm sorry, but I ordered this salad without cheese," or with entitlement, "Hey you sob, I ordered this without cheese, and I didn't discover this until I had eaten half the salad." And is it the tone of voice, the seeming apology, the "hey you," that determines the way the business person reacts, or is it the "Customer is always right" policy of the place of business?

And, along with this, does social media make it possible to complain, again and again, about the inadequacies of a business, big or small, without the need to confront the sales person or business owner?

As I travel, I rely on Travelocity, TripAdvisor, and Yelp, for references for lodging, dining, business. I look at their ratings, and I typically read a few of the reviews, if there's time. But what I'm finding is that often the quality of a business is directly tied to how entitled the reviewer feels, or how soon after their experience they wrote their review. So far, they've been pretty accurate, but they can be petty. Often there are complaints that are more related to the customer, not the business - as in, "The food delivered to my table was not what I thought I ordered." Well - what were you thinking? Or, "We arrived late in the evening, later than we had confirmed. The lady at the front desk was grumpy, like she had just woken up." And I get that. But tolerance, folks, tolerance, and the need to not always be correct or right or in charge, seems to take the edge out of being snarky.

And yet - there are some places, there are some people, who do not believe the customer keeps their business running. While I'm not the perfect guest or customer, I'm not a whiner or complainer; I am a "thank you for your help," take the bedding off the bed, don't clean my shoes with the bathroom towels, fold my napkin and put it on my plate, along with silverware, type of customer. And when I'm treated like crap or disrespectful, I am not inclined to return again, regardless of how awesome the food or product was. But I'm also not inclined to whine on social media - although perhaps I should?

So - who is correct? The business, the customer, or the employee who has just had a tough day? And can vulnerability - "What can I do for you?" go both ways in improving client/business satisfaction, hence ratings?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Train Up A Child -

I taught the women's meeting at church yesterday. The lesson was on Raising a Sin-Resistent Generation, based on a talk by Joy Jones. As I prepared this lesson I was continually reminded of the poem, written in 1972, by Dorothy Law. Of course, Proverbs 22:6 says it simply, "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." But this poem - this poem has been my motto for rearing my children - it hung in the bathroom of all of my homes - something I saw constantly, but a perfect morning reminder - a good way to begin the day.

I'm hanging it back in my bathroom, because as I emphasized yesterday, if we cannot treat ourselves and our spouses similarly, caring for our children is nearly impossible. I need to return to this mantra in the mornings - for myself and for Scott - and then for those around me.

             Children Learn What They Live

          If children live with criticism,
               They learn to condemn.
          If children live with hostility,
               They learn to fight.
          If children live with ridicule,
               They learn to be shy.
          If children live with shame,
               They learn to feel guilty.
          If children live with encouragement,
               They learn confidence.
          If children live with tolerance,
               They learn to be patient.
          If children live with praise,
               They learn to appreciate.
          If children live with acceptance,
               They learn to love.
          If children live with approval,
               They learn to like themselves.
          If children live with honesty,
               They learn truthfulness.
          If children live with security,
               They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
          If children live with friendliness,
               They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972/1975 by Dorothy Law Nolte

Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.
This is the author-approved short version.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Pacing Myself -

We arrived home from Switzerland last Sunday evening. Along with some amazing experiences, I brought home a terrible cold. I got sick last Thursday evening, and I spent all day Friday in bed, in Interlaken, Switzerland, in our motel room. Thank heavens it was a rainy, snowy, cold cold day, and I had the best view of the mountains from my bed! Thank heavens also that Scott had a good book, because it was too cold and rainy for him to wander.

But what this has meant is that this cold has had me down nearly all week. I've learned to pace myself, but not to go to far from home this week. Groceries one day. Errands one day. A little yard work one day. And bed and rest the remaining time. I haven't done much sleeping - resting and coughing and post-nasal drip are not the best of friends. So I've read. And that's been nice.

I've been to the office for a few hours, but I've tried to stay away from folks, just because no one wants this virus - which I've heard can turn into pneumonia on a whim, and I don't need.

So just like our traveling - when I planned one day travel, a half day wandering, one night's sleep, a day of exploring, another night's sleep, the next day off to the next place, I've had to do the same here at home. And what I'm learning is not pushing myself, on vacation, or at home, ain't bad!

Pacing oneself means understanding the rhythm of the body, the mind, the soul, and allowing the journey to unfold, rather than pushing it open. I'm liking this pace - I'm not frustrated, I'm getting better, and I'm remaining in that "travel mode" just a little bit longer.

So no epic blogs this week, no travelogues, no photos from our trip. Just a lesson I'm learning - one that I continually need to be taught, but one that's sticking with me just a little longer this time around.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Travelocity - AirBnB - TripAdvisor - Google Maps - WhatsApp -

These four sites are imperative to decent travel. I was able to book all of our travel through Travelocity and AirBnB, and with the ratings, reviews, links, we were not disappointed. TripAdvisor came in very handy when looking for some place to eat - I may not have used it to locate a place, but before stepping into a restaurant, I made sure to look it up on TripAdvisor, and check the ratings and reviews before dining. We were not disappointed in any of our choices.

And Google Maps - hallelujah for them. Not only was I able to calculate directions and distances, but I could find the timetables for the public transportation, and since we traveled solely with our Swiss Pass, this was very very important. I was able to find the stations, platforms, train numbers, times arriving and departing, and this saved us so much time and headache.

Public transportation is amazing in Switzerland. Clean, ran like clock work, and the folks working at the stations and on the trains were very kind and willing to answer questions. We did not miss a train, take a wrong train, or not understand what we were looking for.

The use of these apps and this Swiss Pass really made our trip a great vacation. With these apps and with reservations in hand, we knew where we were going, how to get there, felt secure knowing we didn't have to hunt for a place to stay, and we were able to communicate with our hosts.

Oh the wonders of cell phones and technology!

With that said, I was also able to communicate with kids and Mom via WhatsApp, Instagram, and good old texting. And take pictures!

Below are a few photos, just for the sake of posting some:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Home -

Switzerland was incredible, stunning, spectacular, generous, amazing, glorious.

As is Home.

More later -

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hit "Reset" -

"You have the right to start the day over at any time." 

I find I have to start the year over, or begin a new year, every May. And so beginning tomorrow, I'm hitting the reset button, and taking some time off to reflect, get energized, and decide what direction/s I'm heading this summer. 

As usual, I have a few irons in the fire, and, oddly, I've taken a few out. So now I need to decide just what it is I want to be doing, how I want to spend my time this summer, and honestly - I need to find time to "be." 

Seems like I'm at a crossroads, again, with choices, options, and I need time to review, and then hit reset. So, here's to recharging and renewing, and reflecting, and moving forward! 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Culture - Respect - Discourse

I'm a respecter of cultures and people and their ways of living. That is how I would best describe me, and how I would best describe my aspirations. This is my daily drive - it's why I get up in the morning, and why I can't sleep at night.

I was taught, and I have taught, that while we don't need to approve of everyone's lives and lifestyles, we do need to accept others, and do our best to understand their stories, a very simple simple lesson ingrained in me from my very beginning. And not only was that lesson taught, but the actions were there. My grandparents and parents were genuine examples of tolerance and acceptance, and curiosity. If you don't understand, if you want to know more, ask. Most people are willing and happy to share their stories.

Life is good, and life is great when judging is thrown out the window and appreciation, or at least curiosity, for differences, becomes the norm.

And when that becomes the norm, then understanding takes place, and stories are shared, and songs are sung, and tales are told, and ways are explained, and meals are shared, and lives are lived in tandem, out of respect. And then we become authentic people who care for discourse and lives. And for our stories - once told, we will remember them, and live them. Therein lies the magic of acceptance, appreciation, alive'ness.

And this is my hope, my dream, my drive.

“It is only when our old songs and old tales are passing from one human being to another, by word-of-mouth, that they can attain their full fascination. No printed page can create this spell. It is the living word—the sung ballad and the told tale—that holds our attention and reaches our hearts.”

~ Richard Chase

A side note - my tattoo symbolizes this; happy for it. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

End of the School Year Anxiety - Unwinding -

At the end of every school year Scott and I usually pack our bags and head out of town as soon as grades are posted.
We've been to Southern Utah, Alabama and Tennessee, Northern California, and this year we're off again (details to come).
Leaving is a good way of regrouping - clearing the UVU files from my brain, changing my focus from go go go to a possibility of relaxing. And it takes me a few weeks to do so. While in this liminal space, this transition from one level of earnestness to a level of relaxation, I suffer from anxiety.
And I really do mean suffer. I've had a couple of panic attacks the past two weeks. I can't breathe, my heart races, the walls come closer, I cannot focus, relax, or sleep.
This is new to me. Only happening post-cancer, which, interestingly, does coincide with school ending.
So right now I'm aching, tired, anxious, and I can't focus. I hop from one project to the next, attempting to complete, but almost like a caged animal - I pace and I fidget. I glance around, wiggle while sitting, wander, eat like I shouldn't, I'm cranky, and although I am kinda numb, my mind won't stop. I have a hard time carrying on a conversation, I want to be alone, and I don't really want to do much of anything.
I do think anxiety and burnout are synonymous with focused energy over a long period of time, a mindset that says "when school is out," and then the realization that school is out. I push so hard that it's really difficult for me to reframe.

Hence the need to leave town. Away is where I can refind myself. Engage with me and my honey. Decide what is important, what my priorities are for the summer, where I see myself in August, and then figure out a plan.
But that's not all that happens while we're away. It's a chance to really "chill." And typically with a long drive or plane ride, by the time we've arrived, I'm breathing a little more slowly.
So Scott and I have a chance to be "us." Not a chaplain, a professor, a mother, a daughter, not even a wife. I'm Ronda, Scott's Scott, we're lovers, wanderers, explorers, tourists. I like this us, and this time to gather myself.
And come home clean, ready to be a part of the world where I'm not hyper-focused, hyper-vigilant.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Semester's Over!

Things I've learned this school year -

There is such a thing as entitled students. As much as I didn't want to believe this, and as little as I've seen throughout my 15 years of teaching - there are students who think they deserve more because of where they come from, rather than what they do.

My syllabus isn't credible, tough, strongly-worded, enough. No matter how powerfully I state my course beliefs and my class rules, there are still students who don't believe me.

Some students you love, some you don't, and vice-versa.

Students cannot be friends during the school year.

College professors are under-paid, particularly adjuncts.

Adjunct professors teach what they do - and do teach because they love to share their knowledge with others. There's a big difference between spending 40 hours a week on campus and spreading time between workplace and campus. Students get quite the deal when they get an adjunct professor who works in the profession they teach in.

Students are still "kids" with lives that aren't necessarily tied to school. They need adults who understand this and will be available to them. The best conversations I've had this year are when I ask, "What do you think about . . . " and listened.

Sometimes a student just needs a little slack. Just as I need a little give sometimes, so do my students.

"Compromise" isn't a dirty word. Neither is the phrase, "Read the syllabus."

"Creative" and "Critical Thinking" can go hand in hand. But students need to be taught and guided.

Students are eager.

The classrooms in the LA building suck. IT is erratic at best, and the Help Desk is more than a phone call away.

Everyone needs a break from being in a classroom. Attending school, or teaching, more than two semesters in a row is tough on everyone. Take a break.

I love teaching; even as a professor I am a constant student, and I learn so much from my students.

Now to get to my reading list!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Complex - Complicated -

I've been thinking about these two words quite a bit, since a student used them in a paper, interchangeably. And they're not twins/synonyms, they can't be used in place of the other.

Yes, it's complicated and complex. I'll try and decipher the difference.

Complicated - Today's schedule - workout early this morning while wanting to sleep, hospital, UVU, chaplain meeting are the logistical issues, with patient visits, chaplain meetings, papers to grade, papers to write, whiny students to listen to, finding an LDS employee to give a blessing, volunteer appreciation day and Admin appreciation day gifts and kind words, stay bright and cheery on 6 hours of sleep, directions for roasted veggies to Scott, field chaplain calls that are not mine to field - in kindness, order cake for party tomorrow night, and have the energy and serenity to oversee a meeting this evening. And lunch with Tom and Jenna.

That's complicated.

Complex - My breast pain scare - anxiety it produced, that still hasn't totally left me. Sorting out in my mind what is truth, what is real, and what that truth and reality mean. Attempting to keep this from my loved ones, so I don't have to explain the complexity of my fears. I can't explain the unexplainable.

That's complex.