Look up at the trees

Have you ever stopped and looked at the trees, to more than pass them by and simply admire them? I know very little about trees, but I know there’s a lot of different kinds of trees. I count three very different kinds of leaves in my backyard right now, and there’s a dark purple tree or bush across the street that’s different from everything else on my block.

Despite my aversion to camping and being covered in mosquitos, I have always been fascinated by trees. They remind us that we all go through seasons – new life, bright change, what feels like death, and fullness. New trees remind us that greatness takes time, measured in years, decades, and sometimes centuries instead of minutes and number of likes.

Their root system goes deep and wide beneath the surface, teaching us there is always more to a person or situation than what we can see. Their trunk and branches will sway with the winds and storms, and even if the storm bends them sideways, they will still grow as long as they are connected to their water source.

Trees are often a symbol of strength – offering shade, oxygen, and sometimes fruit. They hold nests, birdhouses, tree houses, tire swings, and a complex jungle gym. They remind us the potential of what happens when we choose to stay instead of leaving. They climb higher towards heaven, forcing our eyes up to the sky where they belong.

I find the beauty of the trees are in their differences. Walking through a forest I notice the variance in heights, widths, fullness of leaves, number of branches, spots with knots, and I stand in awe. I think to myself, “Does this tree compare itself to the one next to it across from it, wishing it could be taller or have more leaves? Or does it embrace how its made, and grow?”

I admit I compare myself to others, almost all the time. I spent so much time on the outside, that my biggest desire has just been to fit in. I’ve spent years minimizing my differences and trying to be like everyone else, but things like my laugh and my unwillingness to participate in anything Twilight-related keeps me from turning into a clone. But what if my differences aren’t reasons to isolate myself from the masses, but just another part of who I am?

But what does all this comparison do? It’s a cycle of telling myself I’m not good enough, and even my best is not good enough. I will never be thin enough, short enough, tall enough, cute enough, smart enough, quick enough… fill in your blanks. These are poisonous thoughts watering my soul, rather than life-giving water feeding my growth. So what do I do when I catch myself in that destructive loop?

I stop.

I close my eyes.

I take a deep breath.

I exhale and look up.

I look up at the trees and then to the sky, and remind myself that different is not always bad. Sometimes different is just different.

Dear Starbucks Customers

Dear Starbucks Customers,

Thank you for visiting our store! If it wasn’t for you I’d be out of a job, so I really appreciate you choosing us. I know our menu is large and constantly changing, and we employees can seem intimidating because we’re so focused on our tasks. It is not our intention to come off as unapproachable, but instead the opposite. We really do want to help you!

When you order, it is helpful to know what basic drink you want – latte, caramel macchiato, espresso, mocha, white mocha – first. Everything else is an easy change for me via buttons on our screen, but that is one thing I can’t change. So when you order a grande nonfat vanilla, with an extra shot, at 180 degrees latte I may not always get it right the first time because I’m waiting for the magic word “latte” or “mocha” while remembering all the other pieces. It would be very helpful for me if you asked for a venti mocha, iced, with 3 pumps raspberry and an extra shot.

Have you ever wondered why you see four Starbucks employees and not one has offered to take your order? The simple answer is – none of them were assigned to take your order. Basically, all of our roles look like this:

<photo credit: pixabay>

We all have small areas we are in charge of and together everything happens. When I step out to do something that isn’t my role it affects the whole ecosystem back here, and so I’ll look for the person assigned to take your order.

Also, the person taking the orders is often the newest person on staff. So if they ask you to repeat yourself several times, or don’t seem to remember you after the 50th visit, please be patient, as they are still learning and trying to wrap their heads around the whole menu.

Speaking of the menu… It’s larger than what is written on the boards behind and above me. Don’t see the Cascara Latte on the board behind me? I’m glad you asked if we have it – because we do and a barista would love to make it for you. Never heard of a doubleshot on ice? That’s ok, it’s not on the board either. Just because it’s not on the board does not mean it doesn’t exist, so please ask! If you’re planning on staying awhile you can ask for a “for here cup/plate” and you can enjoy your food/beverage in a glass (for iced drinks), ceramic mug (for hot drinks), or on a plate. We have them in all sizes, and will wash them when you’re done.

Don’t know what you want? We would love to help you create something, but we need your help to know what you like. I don’t like overly sweet things, so I cut all of our pumps in half, but I know my taste preference isn’t the same as everyone else’s. Almost anything is customizable – milk, temperate, number of pumps of syrup… it can be overwhelming and we’re happy to help you find something you like.

For the record, the “secret menu” is not a thing. We are not In N Out; We are Starbucks. If you can give me the directions of how to make a Twix frappuccino, we are more than happy to do so. The pink drink is a thing. The dragon frappuccino is not. I’m sorry you’ve been lied to by the internet.

Did we give you an iced coffee instead of an iced latte? Please let us know, and we’ll remake it for you – no extra charge. It’s actually the company policy – if your drink has too much ice, not hot enough, or needs a little bit more heavy cream on top we’ll stop what we’re doing to correct it. We honestly want you to love your drink. Tried something new because the barista who took your order recommended it but you actually hate it? Let the barista making drinks know and we’ll make you something different.

Have you ever waited a really long time for your drink, either in the drive-thru or in the cafe? I’m sorry about that, but I have no control over what other people order and we’re doing our best. If your Starbucks has a drive-thru, I call this the invisible line. There is a whole other set of customers you don’t see ordering drinks and we only have the one person making drinks. Or we have two – one making hot drinks and one making teas, refreshers, and frappuccinos.

Those last minute requests for water from the person making drinks is also slowing us down. I will put a smile on my face, but I’m secretly angry at you for disrupting my flow to do something the newbie at the register could do. If you want water, please ask the barista at the register. PLEASE.

Unsure if you should tip? Most people are and there are many debates online over whether you should or not. I will happily take your spare change, but know my paycheck does not depend on your tips. Most people don’t tip, and I’m personally ok with it. But if you’re ordering several frappuccinos, more than 3 drinks/food items that need to be warmed, or asking for more than a free glass of water, please tip. Even a quarter is appreciated.

Lastly, please clean up after yourself – especially in the bathrooms. No one likes to use an unclean bathroom, so please help us and not leave confetti pieces of toilet paper on the floor, wet paper towel shreds in the sink, or wads of paper towels anywhere that is not the trash can. We don’t have enough people to constantly monitor bathroom tidiness, and your help is greatly appreciated.

Again, thank you for choosing Starbucks. I hope this helps you understand things better and if you have any questions, always feel free to ask your barista.

Sincerely,
Your neighborhood barista

 

 

Bonus: What am I drinking?

* iced carmel macchiato upside down with extra caramel drizzle
* Starbucks doubleshot on ice, no classic sub cinnamon dolce and with soy
* grande cool lime refresher with no inclusions, no water sub lemonade, 2 pumps peach and blended
* iced chai with coconut milk

Myers-Briggs and the car model

Myers-Briggs goes beyond the 4 pairs of letters I discussed last week. When we zoom in on sensing/intuition and thinker/feeler and view them through introvert/extrovert we are able to see ourselves in a new light. Using the car model, it’s not either/or but in what order. 

Picture a convertible with its top down. From above, we see there is a driver and a co-pilot in the front, and two people who will fit comfortably in the back. In the car model, these are children – a 10-year-old and a 3-year-old. The 10-year-old sits directly behind the co-pilot and the 3-year-old sits directly behind the driver.

The driver is going to be your most developed part – it’s easy and makes you feel good. So you do it more, and those skills develop even more. Your co-pilot is your driver’s opposite, so they can (ideally) work together as a great team. Sometimes the differences can feel too great for the driver and the driver will turn to the 10-year-old for advice because the 10-year-old has the most in common with the driver. The 3-year-old has the least in common with the driver, and that is the skill set that is least developed. You have the tools for these skills, but it’s often uncomfortable to operate in that space for long periods of time.

So how do you figure out what goes where? Great question! Are you extroverted or introverted, and are you a thinker or feeler? As an EFSJ, I am an extroverted feeler. This is my driver. Now, are you a intuitive or sensor? Take the opposite introvert/extrovert and pair it with your answer for you co-pilot. As an ESFJ, my co-pilot is an introverted sensor. Make sense?

Let’s move to that 10-year-old in the car, shall we? It’s your extroverted/introverted and the opposite of your intuitive/sensor. My 10-year-old is an extroverted intuitive. This leaves us with the 3-year-old: your opposite introverted/extroverted and your opposite thinker/feeler. As an ESFJ, this is an introverted thinker.

To help make sense of these new pairings, there are names for each one:

Introverted iNtuition – Perspectives
Extroverted iNuition – Exploration

Introverted Sensing – Memory
Extroverted Sensing – Sensation

Introverted Thinking – Accuracy
Extroverted Thinking – Effectiveness

Introverted Feeling – Authenticity
Extroverted Feeling – Harmony

All 4 of these people exist in your personality, and it’s important to know they are developed at different stages. If life is a journey, this car is your vehicle through it. If you plan a 10-hour drive with a 3-year-old, a 10-year-old, and a person that compliments you, you would also plan rest stops and snacks. You would not expect the 3-year-old to navigate at important intersections. The same is true with yourself – you need to know who to turn to in different situations and know the signs when a child starts to get fussy.

As an ESFJ, my driver is Harmony, my co-pilot is Memory, and my 10-year-old is Exploration. If I’m frustrated with a situation or the people around me, Harmony tells Memory, “I don’t want to hear from you right now. You don’t get me. Exploration, what do you think we should do?” Exploration, the other extrovert, exclaims, “Road trip! Ice cream!” Harmony says, “Great idea. Everyone, get in the car. We’re going as far away as possible for ice cream.”

What does a healthy reaction look like? Deep breaths, giving Memory time to recall previous times I felt this way and how positive the results were to tell the people involved how I was feeling. Extreme unhealth looks like running away from your problems, which I definitely have done. It takes knowing yourself to set yourself up for success and knowing the signs when heading toward trouble.

For me, I schedule a day to explore – a city, a part of town, or a road trip. It’s like a treat for me, and allows my 10-year-old to frolic and enjoy herself responsibly. Have you ever interacted with a 3-year-old or 10-year-old? The development of this ages is about the level of your development in those specific areas. It’s not wrong, just good for you to know.

Interested in learning more about this car model? Check out Personality Hacker and all their resources. Do you want a 1-on-1 consultation, to help you move past some roadblock in your life? Reach out to an amazing coach, Betsy Garmon. Have basic questions, or want to know how I’ve used this for my own personal growth? Message me!

An intro to Myers-Briggs

The first time I was informed about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) I was a sophomore in college. I had taken the self-assessment, tallied my answers, and the few paragraphs describing an ESFJ. Has someone been following me, able to read my thoughts??  I had never had someone understand me – the way I think, make decisions and judgments – so detailed and accurately.

MBTI was never meant to be an all-inclusive personality test, and while several people use it as a means to scan, tag, and categorize people around them, I’ve utilized it as a self-discovery tool and as a way to better know and love someone. We are not all the same, and sometimes I forget that. People energize me, but others are drained by parties. I love to-do lists and schedules, but for some people will feel trapped and suffocated by these things.

One common complaint I often hear about MBTI is how individuals feel pegged into stereotypes when that really isn’t him/her. Myers-Briggs, as it is commonly referred to, is not black and white but a sliding scale. You can have an extreme extrovert on one side and an extreme introvert on the other side, with everyone in the middle. Just because you and I are extroverts does not mean our people tolerance is the same. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Your Myers-Briggs is a combination of 4 letters, and for each letter there is an option between 2. This is where the scale comes in – each pair is a scale, so while multiple may result in ESFJ, we will not all operate identical (plus a long list of other reasons why). But we are similar enough to be grouped together. There is a total of 16 personalities, each titled differently – e.g. ESFJ is the Caregiver. Once you start familiarizing yourself with the types, it’s fun to look at the variety of pop culture charts like this one or this one. So what are the 4 pairs?

Extrovert / Introvert

Sensing / Intuition

Feeler / Thinker

Judging / Perceiving

Extrovert vs Introvert is more than people skills, it is about how you recharge and how you process. Your energy level is often compared to a battery, and what drains or recharges your battery is different for introverts and extroverts. Just like a battery, if a person’s level is empty, they are no longer able to function. This is why it matters – not only for your own self-awareness and self-assessment, but to be able to love others well, especially when they are different from us.

Introverts start the day with a full battery and every interaction drains a percentage of their battery. Depending on how extreme of an introvert someone is will determine the percentage drained – a higher introvert will have a higher percentage drained from each conversation. Time alone for large periods of time is an introvert’s fantasy.

Extroverts start the day with a half full battery (or, at least I do – sleep only charges so much). Each conversation charges the extrovert’s battery, and often the more people involved the better. Parties for extroverts are similar to plugging in your phone – a steady stream of recharging. Time alone for large periods of time is an extrovert’s nightmare. I literally went 12 hours without talking to anyone this week and felt I would disintegrate on the couch. I started calling people before I hit the depression level.

Sensing vs Intuition is about what you trust – what is available to any of your 5 senses or your gut. This then leads to what you focus on – the details or the big picture.

We all have that friend (or you are that friend) that doesn’t know why x is the right answer, but they just do. Intuitives have that gut feeling that is always, or almost always, right. When quick decisions have to be made, they trust their gut. Intuitives often live their life, then, not worrying about the details of things, knowing it will all work out. They focus their attention on the big picture, on the 20-year life plan, or the next big idea. And they are always bursting with ideas! They think of what could be, not limited by what is currently.

Sensors do not have that gut feeling, and therefore rely on their 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch). They are hesitant to make decisions, often falling back on what has been proven – why fix what isn’t broken? Sensors, relying on their senses and facts, then find comfort in the details. They are the ones coming up with a 10-step plan to get from here to there, and the mile markers we need to hit to stay on track.

Feeler vs Thinker refers to the way we process information and how we make decisions. Being a feeler or thinker does not mean you have a heart and no brain, or vice versa. An old co-worker and I would often bicker about this, myself the strong feeler and him the strong thinker. We finally agreed to disagree on the matter, both thinking the other person was wrong.

Feelers relate to the world through – you guessed it – feelings. Decisions are made based on how I’m feeling at the moment, toward that person or group, or how I think I will feel in the future, or a combination of any or all of the above. High feelers can be seen as a roller coaster of emotions, wearing their hearts on their sleeve, and often deemed as “too sensitive.” As a feeler, I care about how I’m feeling, how you’re feeling, and how my actions will affect other people’s feelings. It’s more than a web – it’s an eco-system of feelings.

Thinkers, then, relate to the world through facts or logic. Information is power, and a thinker explain why a decision was the most logical outcome. Thinkers do have feelings, but do not consult them when making decisions. Thinkers are not interested in the back story of a decision, but the black and white solution, and will move forward appropriately. Thinkers often love debates, an opportunity to show off how much information he/she holds and ability to outsmart his/her opponent.

Judging vs Perceiving refers to time – and more than just showing up on time. Each side wears a different pair of glasses, in a sense, seeing the world extremely different. Judgers see the world as black or white – something to be named, tagged, and placed in a nice labeled box. Perceivers view the world as a variety of shades of grey, and it all depends on what you’re comparing it to as to what color the original topic is.

Judgers love lists, color coordination, and schedules. These are the people who expect a printed out agenda for the retreat they are attending, including exact times, speaker names, speech titles, and addresses. These are the people with the multI-tabbed binders gleefully handing copies out at a meeting, and may have a not-so-secret obsession with post-it notes (or maybe that’s just me). Judgers view the world in either/or with very little wiggle room. Clearly defined lines and people following the rules would make the world a better place.

Perceivers, on the other hand, are much more fluid. Time is all in relation to everything else that is going on. P’s, as they are often called, love spontaneity and can’t remember where they last saw their cell phone. Schedules suffocate them, taking away the mystery of the future. P’s also love a variety of fun things, and find it hard to sit and listen or sit and write emails for long periods of time.

So what do you do with all this information? First, start learning about yourself. Read more about your MBTI and learn what makes you different. Self awareness is definitely a tool to help you succeed. Low battery? How can you make space to recharge it? Once you know more about yourself, start learning about friends or family. How can you better love and serve them with the information you now possess?

3 months

I can’t believe three months have passed, and I’m already halfway through a fourth, here in Washington. I feel as though I have lived here six months, and I have to remind myself that it’s only been three when I get frustrated with myself that I still need Google maps guiding me or I’m not fast enough when making drinks at Starbucks. So much as happened since my first post… I have much to update you on.

I work at Starbucks and genuinely enjoy it. I work with a great team that is constantly encouraging one another and thanking each other for little things like refilling cups or for taking out the trash. I love that is a norm here! I have made some friends at work, and their idea of a good time is bowling and wings (which is awesome). Many of these new friends are 21 or younger, an age group I love being around, and until recently when I finally confided my age, they all thought I was 23. I still don’t know how to make frappuccinos, but I’ve picked up most things pretty fast, and I’ll get there. I still have questions when I make cold and hot drinks, but they trust me enough to make them for real customers occasionally.

I tend to work 20-25 hours a week there, so I have picked up a second job as a dog sitter. It’s a pretty great second job and has been a big help to my bank account. It has allowed me time to write – both this blog and a book that is in progress – and forced me to get to know the area better. I have also made some friends through it, which has been an unforseen bonus. I dog sit through Rover.com, which a friend of mine does in Atlanta, and it’s similar to online dating – but for dog sitting. Pet owners can search nearby and look at a variety of profiles and prices, then message the dog sitter they want to meet with. A few messages turns into a meeting, which turns into a booking, and then the service. I have been extremely blessed to have so many people contact me, since I am unable to self-promote. I think God knew I needed more than Starbucks to pay the bills and eat in one month.

That book I mentioned earlier? Yes, I’m really writing one. I have been talking about writing this book, a collection of my roommate stories, for five years and I’m finally doing it. I have no idea how it’s going to get published, but my first step is to write the stories. One of my roommates, who has quickly becomes one of my close friends out here, has been encouraging me and keeping me accountable to writing it. I have two friends who have offered to help edit it, but I could always use more experienced editors. When it’s written, I will worry about the order and how to publish. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about publishing, would you?

I have also found a church. It took longer than I expected, and without one I felt extremely lonely and disconnected (espeically when I didn’t have job, too). My church is Rain City Church and they have a heart to reach people who have not grown up in the church. They make the gospel and big topics accessible and easy to understand. They also have a huge to heart to serve the community, without strings attached. I love the honesty, vulnerability, and the transparency of not just the leaders, but everyone in the church.

Is my life what I expected? No, not even close. But am I happy? Most days. I have my own room, roommates I like, money in my account, friends from a variety of networks, a church I love, two jobs I enjoy, a gym I’m comfortable working out in, and a big goal I’m pursuing. I’m surrounded by new people, friends, coffee, and friendly dogs every week, and both Target and Trader Joe’s are nearby. I sometimes feel like I’m not making a difference and wonder why I’m writing a book and if anyone would read it, but overall my heart is light and happy. I feel closer to God, pursuing him instead of trying to make everyone around me happy and hoping to catch some of their happiness. Sometimes starting over is the best thing for you.

Daily habits

At some point in my life I got used to discovering something new, telling my friends, and then being told that was old news. I took on the mindset that if I know something then everyone else must know it, too. In the last few years, however, conversations have shifted. I have mentioned something – say oil pulling – and my friends don’t know about it. My old way of thinking has been challenged over and over again.

In a bible study during college, we would begin our meetings with an ice breaker. I will forever remember the week when a girl in the group posed the question, “What is your shower routine?” What a silly question, I thought, because we all shower the same. As each woman listed the order of their shaving, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner routine I was perplexed by how different we all were in our routines.

This week I wanted to share with you my morning and evening routines – things I’ve picked up over the years. You’ll see I love coconut oil, coffee, and natural remedies. I am always looking for ways to improve, thus why I recently started the apple cider vinegar concoction in the morning. I would love to hear from you, a habit you do and think I should try or if you’ve learned something new.

 

Morning
My mornings looked different when I didn’t work and could spend 3 hours getting ready for the day. One thing I miss is yoga, and I can feel it in my hips. I keep meaning to add it back to my life, but I can’t seem to get myself out of bed early enough or remember before I return to sleep. One day…

As a creature of habit, my mornings (in order) look like this:

1. Once I finally make it out of bed, I pee then brush my teeth. I brush my teeth first thing because somehow I always forget later. I think my mom spent all of my school years reminding me to brush my teeth before running to the bus. Some things never change.

2. I return to my room and weigh myself. (Yes, I do this every day, because as I continue to experiment with diet and exercise I can see how it affects my weight. I used to do it weekly, but you don’t know if it was one bad day that caused the weight gain or a lot of little things that added up over the week.)

3. Then I eat two gummy vitamins because vitamins are fun when they’re gummy instead of a pill.

4. I walk upstairs for my apple cider vinegar concoction

5. I drink a glass of water, because the concoction doesn’t taste great and it helps hydrate me before I drink my morning coffee.

6. Make and drink coffee. Working at Starbucks has not helped my dependency on coffee, and now I feel more justified than ever. I love my drip coffee, although I know many coffee snobs that use all sorts of methods.

7. I drink coffee while journaling and read my bible, called a quiet time in Christian language.

8. Then I eat breakfast because I’m finally hungry.

 

Evening

1. I remove my makeup with coconut oil. I put about a teaspoon”s worth in my palm, then melt the solid by circling a finger from the opposite hand in the coconut oil. Then I can easily spread the oil over my face and closed eyes. This works especially great for waterproof mascara.

2. I wash my face, now makeup free, with a face wash from Lush. It’s all natural and helps balance the oils in my face.

3. Then I floss, because flossing is important.

4. I spoon out about a tablespoon of coconut oil (and yes, I have a jar of coconut oil in my bathroom) into my mouth and swish it around for 20 minutes. This is called an oil pull. The concept is that the oil will pull the oils out from between your teeth and gums, as like attracts like. Some people have claimed a reversal in cavities, but that hasn’t been my case. It’s also a natural whitener, and it makes my mouth feel clean.

5. Spit out the coconut oil into the trash can, NOT your sink. If it goes in your sink, the oils will harden inside your pipes. And don’t swallow it, because it just pulled out toxins from your mouth. I rinse my mouth with water and then brush my teeth.

6. I pop in my retainers and head to bed. After I got my braces off when I was little I was threatened by my orthodontist if I didn’t wear them I’d need braces again later in life.

7. Before settling into bed I slick on coconut oil onto the bags under my eyes. I’ve read this helps make them less noticeable, and I haven’t decided if it does or not. But I like to think it’s making a difference.

8. With a different finger I put a little bit of vaseline in my nostrils. My nose seemed to get super dry and I’d have crazy painful boogers (tmi? sorry). I tried coconut oil and different lotions, but ultimately settled with vaseline. A little bit at night helps me throughout the next day.

9. Last but not least, I put lotion on my hands, arms, and elbows and then set my sleep app. I track my sleep, which has helped me link why some nights I sleep well (exercise) and other nights I don’t (alcohol or coffee before bed).

 

Every single day does not look like these lists. Sometimes I don’t wear makeup and skip straight to face wash. Sometimes I don’t floss. Sometimes I have a busy morning and barely have time to make coffee, so I talk with Jesus in my car while drinking coffee out of a travel mug. This morning I finished this blog before having a quiet time. And that’s ok.

What does your morning or evening rituals look like? What can I learn from you?