So here it is the year 2017 and time once again to talk about my One Word. Last year my word was Mindful. I started out doing quite well in being mindful of what I was saying and doing, but then Life interfered, as it so often does. In late January I accepted a part-time position which allowed me to work while my kids are in school, which is fantastic, but it leaves me very little time to write. You may have noticed this quite extreme decrease in posts on my blog. Or maybe not.
Anyway, with my time during the day occupied and having a generally lazy attitude most of the time as it is, I decided to choose one thing to concentrate on this past year and to be Mindful about it.
I have two school-aged children who (apparently) do not eat much for lunch at school so when I pick them up afterward, they are ready for what I call “second lunch”. There is a nearby McDonald’s between school and home, so many (many, MANY) times we go through the drive-thru on our way home so they don’t perish from starvation in the 7 minutes it takes to get home. Don’t judge. Seriously, you’d think they hadn’t eaten in a week. I noticed that it is very easy to order, pay, and pick up an order in the drive-thru without even making eye contact with any of the employees, and it got me thinking. People feel noticed when you make eye contact. In fact, if you are trying to capture the attention of the opposite sex, one tip you will often hear is to make eye contact. Let them know you see them. Make the connection that comes with locking eyes.
So my goal for the year was to be deliberate (or mindful) about making eye contact whenever I was buying something or making a business transaction. It’s so easy to look at your wallet, the credit card machine, the signature slip – anything but the person behind the counter. I’m not sure why that is. Anyhow, I decided that any time I dealt with any kind of service personnel, I would make a point of looking at their eyes. At first I made it a sort of game by looking to see what color eyes he or she had. And then I added a smile, for good measure. Who knows? Maybe someone was having a bad day and they needed that little bit of contact. And after all, it couldn’t hurt. Later on I found myself looking for things to compliment, just to see if I could get a smile in return. I thought about how many people might go through a drive-thru window without ever really seeing the person inside, and I thought about how invisible it might make that person feel. Everybody wants to be seen, right?
How did it go, you ask? At first I had to remind myself to look up. It felt a little awkward, almost like staring, to look at the other person until they looked back at me but it seemed less creepy with a smile on my face. I suppose there were some who still thought I was a bit weird, but I’m used to that. My kids even noticed what I was doing and asked me why I was being so friendly with the McDonald’s (or Starbuck’s or Target) crew!
In my unscientific observation, roughly 99% of the time I got a smile in return. That’s a pretty good success rate, in my book. It’s just hard not to smile back when someone else smiles at you. Furthermore, this little project made me take my eyes off myself and concentrate on someone else, for at least few seconds anyway. And then I just kept going and started holding eye contact with ANYone who was having a conversation with me. I often had to turn my cell phone face down to keep from getting distracted, but I found I actually started LISTENING to what other people were saying and not just formulating my responses. Occasionally I took it a step further and asked pertinent questions just so the other person could explain themselves further and I could understand more. What a revelation!
(You know what? Other people are interesting!)
I have to admit here that once I got into the habit of looking for someone’s eyes and really seeing them, I sort of forgot about my One Word. It started to become such second nature that it didn’t seem much like a campaign any more. In fact, when I sat down to write this year-in-review I actually had to look up what my 2016 One Word even was! That’s how topsy-turvy my world has become with working a measly 20 hours per week. I was planning to write a post about how I lost my way with my One Word 2016. But when I looked up my word it all started coming back to me. I didn’t lose my way at all – I found it.
Now here comes 2017 and it’s time to choose a new word, or for a new word to choose me. Some years the word comes more easily than others and this is one of those easy times. You might say it fell right into my hands. My new One Word is OPEN.
When I think about Open the first thing I wonder about is what in my life is closed up. I think about open hands and something my pastor said about opening our hands to let go of the things God wants us to stop holding onto, and also opening our hands to receive the plans He has for us. We can’t simultaneously hold onto the old and still have room for the new. I also think about open eyes to see things more clearly, and open ears to hear, and an open heart to love more deeply, open arms to embrace those around me, and an open mind to consider opinions other than my own. And then I think about being open, or willing, to try new things and that’s a little scary. But I’ve heard if it doesn’t scare you, you’re not aiming high enough, right?
Let’s swing those doors wide open and see what 2017 brings!