Just when you think you can’t keep your head above water, a life raft comes.
Not that life is going to slow down, or that I’ll get to have a weekend with the husband any time soon, but I feel encouraged. I feel like the future is coming a lot quicker than I expected.
My volunteer internship has evolved into more than just me being an office assistant and into a full-blown educational experience (with lot’s of office assisting combined). AND IT’S PAID!!!!
I went into the office a few weeks ago to meet with the boss and it turned into an interview with the boss, a designer and the owner.
I sat down in the board room and people just kept coming in. A question was asked, there was silence, three sets of eyes on me, and I was let out the gate running. I was intimidated for the first while, but the words just began to tumble out of my mouth. I saw their eyebrows go up as they exchanged glances followed by slight nods of the head. Because this is a career change for me, I think I bring a whole different outlook to the job. I know what I want and I am passionate about it. If that passion isn’t shared, then that’s not the place for me. But the interview turned a corner when I discussed how I have always loved to create and that design has always been a passion for me, but I have always wanted to help people and, when I was younger, I didn’t see how the two could be combined.
When I walked into the group home (that I would eventually come to pour everything I had in me into that place until there was nothing left of me) for the first time, my heart sank. It was dirty, dingy and soooo depressing. In no time I was bringing stuff in from home. It started with some dishes, and magazines and it escalated into nicer leather couches than I’ll probably ever own.
I started tearing wallpaper off the walls. I painted. And when Christmas came around, I cut my decorations in half and put them up there.
The girls changed too. They spent less time on the streets, and more time hanging around the house. Staff morale went up. We all took ownership and pride in the house. And as more people got wind of what were were doing, the more things we got donated (hence the amazing leather couches).
Our homes got upgraded too.
When I came, the belief was that girls who had lived on the streets, been in and out of jail, and struggling with addictions would trash whatever we had, so things were kept to a bare minimum. They were already in poor shape so if anything was destroyed, it wouldn’t feel like a loss.
Working in that industry is so hard. There is so little that you can control. I think I started bringing stuff in to spruce the place up out of an unconscious need to gain some sort of control- it was a bit of a coping mechanism for me.
As girls came and went (28 girls lived with me over the 3 years I worked there), word began to travel: our house was the place to go and rumour had it that some girls were trying to get kicked out of their permanent placements to get back into our home (it was an emergency/transitional house).
Landlords came out of the woodwork, and started to offer up much nicer living living arrangements. The icing on the cake was a brand new home in a very wealthy neighbourhood. Now, I found that returning to my personal home meant a serious step down in luxury.
Having that experience showed me that design can, without a doubt, change people. There’s a place for me in this industry. I could go on and on about doors that have flung open, strangers that are so eager to help me. I know nothing is coincidence.
This internship is no different.
I could tell that I hit something that resonated with the designer, boss and owner. After I talked about my journey from being a group home manager to a design student, the interview turned into a discussion. One that lasted over an hour.
I am just finishing up my first year of design school. I don’t even have AUTOCAD skills to offer, yet they’re not only willing to take me on as an intern, but they’re also creating a position so that I get the opportunity to learn all the stuff they don’t teach you in school. And they’re putting me on payroll!
Just when I thought I was going to drown, a life raft came. Relaxing is not in my future- but this has given me new motivation, vigor and energy.
Sometimes we don’t know what we need. (This is so much better than any weekend off!)
No one tells you just how much you have to sacrifice.
Tuition. Homework. Obligations.
I won’t sugar coat it. This year has been tough. Money has never been so tight, and time… where is it? Neither of us feel like we can manage to find any extra.
I think I’m finding it to be a little extra struggle lately. I’m tired. Very very tired. I want a weekend, a WHOLE weekend with my husband that doesn’t involve late nights at the restaurant, or homework, or meetings.
I know we’ll look back on this time and feel so grateful that we put our personal lives on hold (for many of my friends, it’s been almost a year since I’ve even seen them!) in order to get “the job” done and put ourselves into careers we’ll love, but right now, I feel pretty parched.
What I can say is that I am grateful for the future. I can’t wait to see Scotty graduate this year. I have never been more proud of him. The guy has been working off his feet. I don’t think he’s had a “day off” (the term is used lightly because there is always homework to be done) since Christmas. He has been going at his max for months now. I don’t think anyone could feel better about what they’ve accomplished than him.
So there’s that. Pretty proud over here. Broke, tired, stressed, but proud.
Perhaps it is because it brings to mind the tiny closet-less apartments you read about in Paris, or just that I like having an excuse for making those vintage purchases I am quite sure I’ll never wear, but I am rather fond of decor that involves displaying some of your most loved clothes. I’m not talking about your favourite pair of jeans or your favourite sweater- I’m talking about that dress that makes you sigh deeply or your mom’s vintage jacket. It seems a shame to hide them in the back of your closet. Last summer I converted a simple set of ikea shelves into a little garment rack so that I could hang my dresses out in the open. I am a pretty serious thrifter, and I’ve come across the most amazing vintage pieces from time to time (a 1940’s wedding dress, this ballet tutu I bought when we lived in New Zealand, a red petticoat and various sequined things)- I see the art in clothing, and I admit that I am a bit of a collector (if I had the money and space, I probably would be a lot of a collector).
Whether it’s dresses, hats, shoes, or a collection of vintage levi’s- I say pull that stuff out of the closet and put it on display.
Look at the spread on that skirt! I would love to see something similar with a black dress in a black and white colour scheme. Tres Parisian!
And leave it to the BRILLIANT girls at A Beautiful Mess (seriously, is anyone getting sick of me singing these girls’ praises?) to come up with a cute idea of using 3M removable adhesive squares and clothes pegs to create such a cute way to display your hats.
Pinterest is choc-a-bloc full of ideas for DIY clothes racks. If I had my choice, it would be this DIY done with bright copper pipes and black wood.
The genius’ at Droog have created a lamp that allows you to use your own clothes as the lamp shade- very cute for the corner of a room (something lace and embroidered would look incredible).
And I’ll leave you with the Snake Wardrobe- a strand jumbo of beechwood beads that can be strung any where you like:
This ‘occasional wardrobe’ is perfect when you have limited space or simply want to keep your favourite garments in sight.
(from the Story North Website)
I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Simple, unexpected and sweetly playful.
Now go get into your closet and Coveteur yo’self.
Sources (clockwise from top left for collages):18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.17.18
A very lovely elderly gentleman comes into our restaurant about once a week and has the same thing every time: a glass of chardonnay, a starter caesar salad followed by a light rib dinner and then a cup of coffee. He used to do radio and he certainly has the voice for it. He has had a lot of issues with his eyes and has even come in with bandages over them from having had surgery.
He always eats alone, always has a very soft smile when he speaks to me, and he always remembers our last conversation.
Last night another regular of mine sat at a table near to him. A woman in her 50’s. She drips with that nurturing type of nature that the best nurses always have (yes, she is a nurse and she lit up the face of my husband’s Grandma every time she came in to care for her when she had a stroke a few summer back). Her husband died suddenly last fall. She comes in about once a week with a friend, or one of her adult children, or her niece.
She is always warm and gentle.
The two regulars exchanged a few words. I served my gentleman customer and we talked about my school. I found out that he had spent Easter alone. My other woman customer was treating an elderly couple and a friend to dinner. They finished first. Before my lady customer left, she caught me at the door:
“Does that gentleman come in here often?”
“I’d like to pay for his meal”
“I just know what it’s like to eat alone”
As he drank his coffee, I printed out a blank bill and wrote:
A customer wanted to pay for your meal. They could tell that you deserved to be treated tonight
When he pulled his credit card out, I folded the “bill” and placed it face down on the table. I served another table before coming back to him.
“I’m having trouble understanding this”
“Who would do this?”
“I have never had anyone do anything like this for me”
His eyes were teary and he had a stunned expression on his face. He couldn’t get over it.
“No one has ever done anything like that for me before”
Was repeated over and over again.
He said that he wished he could say thank-you. I told him that he’ll come across somebody somewhere that he could do a kind thing for and that would be what the person that paid for his meal would want.
I’m cashing out at the end of the night. I find out one of the young cooks had his car break down on the side of the road on his way into work. He has two little kids. Money is tight. He doesn’t have BCAA. I call my mother in law and explain.
“Give me a few minutes to change out of my pj’s”
He gave me that same stunned look as I asked for his keys and asked him what auto shop he would like his car towed to.
As my mother in law and I sat on the side of the highway waiting for BCAA to come, I told her about my customers. She knew the nurse (as it was her mother that the nurse cared for).
“Her husband used to go to Safeway every Sunday morning before church. He would buy food and put it in the trunk of his car. He always found someone who needed a bag of groceries as he was leaving after the church service.”
I was reminded last night to care for others. Life can get so insanely busy and it can be so easy to be too distracted to miss those opportunities to help someone out.
Little things have a huge impact on others when it’s offered in the spirit of thoughtfulness.
The spirit of that woman’s husband was in her paying for a meal. The ripple was in the server (and her mother in law) helping out a young dad.
Not only did her kindness impact that man, but it impacted the person who witnessed it.
You never know who’s watching, and you never know the ripple effect your actions can have.
Image Sources: 1.2.