Thursday, February 11, 2010

Task This

I was at work tonight, working, as you do when you're at work. The usual happenings were going on in and out of the shop, common to a Thursday night. There was a great deal of chit chat due to the lack of customers (most of who were probably in bed), trying on of new garments, testing fabrics, dusting, more chatting, people watching, chatting... the normal.

As I was working I got a thinking, something that is common-place in my day. Serving customers is second nature to me. I don't have to think about it, it comes naturally. I have done this task countless times that it is now routine.

However, when I first began my time in retail, serving customers was not second nature. In fact, I generally avoided any new customer who happened into my store. I would pretend like I did not see them. I would become so engrossed in the task at hand, such as boxing clothes hangers, that I 'didn't even see them walk in'. I would dread the day when a customer requested a discount due to a minor and inconsequential fabric flaw on the inside of a pocket (trust me, I have been asked this before...more than once).

The short of it was, I hated serving customers. I wasn't good at it and it was awkward central, as well as an incredibly painful activity in my day.

Eventually, I had to take a great, big, chompin' bite of the bullet and meet and greet the consumer of our product. The more I became accustomed to serving and meeting customer's needs, the easier it became. I found that I was actually very good at listening to a peoples needs and desires in regards to a fashion top and was able to meet their need with an appropriate garment. I was able to find the right fit, the right colour, the right fabric at the right price and make her fall in love with the clothes, so much so that she bought the whole outfit.

I was good. I was very good. I soon became known as a 'Retail Therapist' (I can neither confirm nor deny that this is an actual job role or title).

Earlier this week I was thinking, a commonplace activity for me, and got brainstorming with a friend (some might say whinging, but for the exercise at hand, let's go with brainstorming). And you know what?

Just like when I first sold my soul to the retail life, stressing about the new tasks to goes life.

There are many things that I am not perfect at. I know, hard to believe, right? But seriously, I miss the mark on things at times, some more than others. Sometimes, I miss the mark so much that it's not even in the same ballpark, let alone the same hemisphere.

But I have found that some tasks and activities in my life require more effort than others to get under control. It didn't take me long to get over the desire to steal marshmallows from the all-you-can-eat Pizza Huts (this may have been due to the fact that all my locals have shut shop...maybe they went out of business because of all the marshmallow stealing...). And I have mastered the task of paying my bills on time. But sometimes I have rampant thoughts of intense dislike towards Andrew O'Keefe from Deal or No Deal that may or may not involve a punch to the throat, or very occasionally I let my mind run wild with the thought of marrying Zac Effron. Only very occasionally though.

What I have realised is this: the more I practice something, the easier it becomes and the better I become at it. I didn't sit at the piano for hours on end learning Mozart to become a hack job. I sat there to become the best pianist I could be. I turned up for work after taking a mouthful of metal bullety goodness and practiced, practiced, practiced selling skills until I was able to sell snow to the eskimoes.

My point is this. Life, sometimes, is hard. There are things that I don't want to do, things that I suck at, things that I need to gain control of. The more I practice doing these tasks, the easier it becomes. Life is full of these lessons. I guess I'm just trying to see the glass as half full.

Anyone for marshmallows?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nothing like the new thing

This morning as I was washing my hair, I opened a new bottle of shampoo. As I was lathering up my locks I got a thinking - I love using new products. I love opening up a new bottle of something or a new jar of something else and using that face cream for the first time. There's something comforting and refreshing about knowing that, no matter what, the shampoo is brand new. The scent, the texture of the product, the benefits of what's in that bottle, it's all new. It's fresh, it's inviting, it's invigorating (I should write commercials or something!).

Am I talking crazy again? To the untrained eye, yes I am. But those with a keen sense of Naomi-understanding, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Recently, I bought a new car. Not a brand new one, but one new to me. And the experience of getting into a new vehicle is strange. I had to learn where the headlights were now located. It took a mild panic in the rain to figure out how to turn on the windscreen wipers. Better still, I have only just figured out how to open the bonnet. It's all new to me, an experience I've never had before.

Like the shampoo, it's inviting. When I opened the bottle of nourishing and moisturising shampoo this morning, I thought about how I opened the door of my little red car. It was a new thing.

Yes, I admit that I am sounding like I'm clutching at straws to be able to write a new blog (ha! I just said new). Maybe I am.

Or am I?

After I washed my hair this morning, I sat down and read my Bible, also another good thing to do, especially whilst drinking a mocha.

And it hit me.

The Bible of full of new things.

Nuh ah Spray-oh-mi. The Bible is an old book full of stories about old people that happened a long time ago.

Oh really? Just humour me for a few paragraphs. If something is living, is it not alive? (Let me answer that for you) Yes. Is something is alive, does that mean it is present and living in today's day and age? (I'll answer that too) Yes. The Bible is called the Living Word of God (You don't have to argue with me on that one, it's a statement). So if it is the Living Word, it is alive in today's day and age. This means, by my reasoning, that the Word is alive and relevant for my life today.

Okay, now we've got that out of the way, we can assume that you understand that the Bible doesn't just have historical reference, but present relevance. Forgive me for sounding like I lecture in a Bible college, but when I open the Bible, words leap off the page and dance and twirl around and flash like a broadway sign, so for me it's impossible to not talk about how important the Bible is in everyday life.

Back to the new thing. Check it.

2 Cor 5:17, "What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons."

Isaiah 43:19, "For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?"

Ephesians 4:24, "You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness- righteous, holy and true."

That's just to name a few, to get you started. The Bible is all about the new thing, new seasons, new beginnings, new life, new, new, new. The new thing is so exciting. Just like when I opened a new bottle of shampoo the experience brought about a sense of excitement, of freshness, of a new adventure. Just like when I jump in the front seat of my new car, I'm still learning how to do the new thing, but I thoroughly enjoy the process of newness.

I will also thoroughly enjoy opening the new things in store for this year.

Do they come gift-wrapped?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Could the real Creative Genius please stand up?

Many moons ago when I was studying at university, I studied a subject about creativity, culture and communication. The aim of this class was to study the different theories relating to creativity in our culture and how this interacts with communication. Sounds pretty bland, right? For the most part, I admit, I found myself daydreaming about what to buy from Pinkie's in my break. But one tutorial is still embedded in my memory, and I fear it may never leave me (but there is always hope).

The lecturer stood before the class and cleared his throat, adjusting his glasses on his angular nose with an age-wisened hand. Slowly, he opened the textbook, turning the pages with a familiar calm, rubbing the paper between his fingers as if to appreciate the texture of every printed page. He lifted his craggy face and I marvelled how the fluorescent light bounced off his shining forehead. Taking a deep breath, he declared in a steady voice the well-rehearsed line he had lectured on so many times before.

"There is no such thing as a creative genius." The class collectively held their breath as they processed his bold sentence, stated so matter-of-factly that the young students were unsure of how to proceed.

"And I say to you today, the author is dead." He placed the heavy textbook on the desk in front of him, lent backwards and crossed his long, chino-clad legs.


Was he being serious? How could he possibly say that there was no such thing as a creative genius? Had he not listened to Michael Jackson? Had he not watched films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, or read books penned by Jane Austen?

Who was this man declaring that the likes of Mozart or Beethoven or C.S Lewis were fraudulent, whimsical nobodies? Was he mad? Maybe he was a bitter man who was biding his time until long service leave, who thoroughly enjoyed torturing his students. And he dared to sit there wearing a smirk and attempting to chair our discussion. There couldn't even be a discussion. It was ridiculous.

The debate began, based on theories that theorists had theorised. We understood the class rules - you can't argue from emotion, you must only argue from accepted theories, you can't argue from a basis of things like God and religion. Those were the rules. The discussion included many different angles, psychology facts and figures, examples of real life scenarios, this that and the other.

But it didn't even begin to look at the truth - there was one Author and one Creative Genius. Being forced to examine the theory without acknowledging the Source of creativity proved futile, disappointing and empty. If there was no such thing as a person who could boast the anointing of Creator God, if the act of authoring a creative work was merely a production line for self-preservation rather than an expression of worship and a reflection of the image of the God, if a person who was seen to be creating profound works of art was actually considered a genetic mutant, then life was simply the act of survival.

If there's one thing I know, it's this - I am a creative person who is made in the image of a creative God. This goes beyond a theory. This goes into foundational faith. I like to think of it like a mathematical proof.

Do I believe God is the Creator of the universe?


Do I believe that God's Word is the Word of God?


Does God's Word say that I am created in the image of God?


Therefore, by my above reasoning, I [insert your name here] am/is creative.

It's simple. There's no powerpoint slideshows needed, no tables and graphs of data, no textbooks of theories required. All that is required is for you to go outside and gaze into the night sky. The stars alone should prove it. Or the sensation of the sun warming your skin in the early morning. Or the sound of the waves crashing at the beach or the feel of the sand between your toes, or the fact that your body is the most complex thing about you.

So, dear lecturer, whose name I have long since forgotten. I have discussed your statement and have decided that your theories have a few holes in them and are missing many elements, such as the truth.

Could the real Creative Genius please stand up?