Hard Knocks and Little Foxes

November 15, 2017

The school of hard knocks is a great one for actually learning a lesson.

I have not written here in a short season as my time was taken up by more urgent matters at hand. Fortunately, there were no family members in the hospital or natural disasters that distroyed our existence but sometimes it is the seemingly small matters that can knock you right out of the game. They require the most attention and energy. There is a verse in the Bible stating that the “little foxes ruin the vineyard”, emphasis on the word little.  (Song of Solomon 2:15)

For me, the months of September and October were completely exhausted by my husband and I personally filling in holes left by a staff member who left her responsibilies with no notice. It was one of those seasons like wartime, a blizzard or a forest fire when a person being at their assigned post would have been of utmost importance.

In the end, things worked themselves out as they always do but I find myself thinking about what if anything I learned and how we could avoid a similar situation in the future.

Had I allowed a little fox into my organization? Was a hard knock in the head the result?

In short, my interpretation of a little fox would be a distraction. A distraction is anything that settles off the clearly marked path leading you to your God ordained destiny.

When practiced in marriage (which is the Bible context) these principles promote healthy, long lasting communion. But allow me to expand the principle into education and business. A solid education and a long standing business must also be free of “little foxes”.

I must spend tremendous amounts of time in God’s presence, gaining a clear, unmistakable vision of what lies at the end of my path. When I am confident of that picture, little foxes are easily recognizible. They don’t fit into the picture. I may never be able to stop them from entering but the ability to recognize them quickly and efficiently can at least save me a few months of clean up.

*The writing below was taken from another online source which seems to confirm my thoughts on the matter.

 

Song of Solomon 2:15 is a wise and beautiful verse.  The Beloved desires the “foxes” to be rounded up and destroyed—all potential threats to their relationship must be removed. And she specifies that the foxes are “little”—it’s the little things, the things overlooked, that often spoil things of value. The Beloved wants her lover, Solomon, to address and remove all dangers, obstacles, and threats to their love. As they pay attention to the “little things,” the lovers will continue to pursue marriage and intimacy.
Solomon’s readers considered foxes to be destructive animals that could destroy valuable vineyards. The bride is saying, in essence, “Let’s take preventative measures to protect our love from anything that could harm it.”

 
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It’s been a long year. They say it rains about 9 months out of the year in Seattle but this year felt like 20 months out of the year. The wetness was a record breaker but I didn’t get too excited about such a claim to fame. It’s hard to be excited about so little sun. That being said, my mind starts to wander. Shall I move to a sunny climate? Would I have a job or any friendships if I did so?

In my normal state I can see that I have a beautiful family, home and life in general. But this year, I think I started to crack. I found myself asking God some questions and hoping that He has some pretty good answers.

All the while I do my best to put on a happy face, show up for work each day, keep my house clean and remember everyone’s’ birthday. I don’t know why the birthdays are such a priority but I feel guilty if I don’t at lease get a card in the mail when someone has a birthday. I do honestly enjoy sending the greeting but I also suffer the feelings of inadequacy when I don’t.

In May, things really ramp up for most dance studio owners and I have joked (although it is not that funny) that all studio owners go crazy in May. We should start doing recitals in March to avoid that plight. I have solemnly pledged to be the exception and not go crazy in June because I have Jesus and He will help me to be a victorious overcomer in all circumstances…….. I sincerely mean this at the beginning of May. Each day I faithfully perform my tasks. I am on time. I am courteous. I communicate details to my staff and clients. I keep the energy up in the classes I teach. I feel that I have managed my time well so that we don’t have a big truck load of tasks to be done in the very last few days before recital. Dress rehearsal actually ran seamlessly this year which in itself was a miracle. I mean, who runs a seamless dress rehearsal? The days between rehearsal and recital offered the silly moments when a student might say, “Recital? You never told me there would be a recital!” at which time a director has to smile and just shake her head. These things are cute and flow like water off a ducks back …….at first. But when 2 nights before the show the girls on your own performance team start copping attitude (because they are probably tired but don’t want to admit it), one day before the show you have a 3 hour meeting with one of their moms, on the show day the house manager that you are paying to run the technical side of things has either left his tech notes at home or refuses to read them, causing the show to start 10 minutes late (Our shows NEVER start late!)  and inside your head, you thought things should run smoothly because it IS your 20 year anniversary as a dance school which means you have been at this for a really long time……….. one might feel a bit of strain.

What did I do? I put myself on automatic pilot and soldiered through because emotionally, it was hard to swallow. I thought once the show was over, I would retreat to my peaceful home and loving family to recuperate. Ya think?

Listen to me laughing people. The show was on a Saturday night. I was back in the studio on Monday, after having gone to church, celebrated Father’s Day and driven over an hour north of here to support my friend’s studio recital on the Sunday, because I am a little ridiculous that way. A group of pre-school moms who would obviously have no idea all that goes on behind the scenes, had gathered in the waiting room. I enthusiastically greeted them to congratulate everyone on a recital well done when I was met with less enthusiasm. Slowly but steadily I was approached with questions, concerns and suggestions on how the recital could have been done better. I listened. I answered. Finally, I got real. I said, “Ladies, I am SO sorry. Things happen. Personally, I am exhausted right now. Please forgive me”. No response. They turned and went into the hallway where they could speak to each other privately. My 15-year-old daughter was watching. I waited for the inevitable. We were about to receive our first bad online review. I texted my husband to inform him because although I am not perfect, after all these years, I CAN read the minds of pre-school dance moms.  A short while later, there it was. Online for the whole world to see, my shameful one star rating, coming from the expertise of the mother of a 4-year-old who had been with us only a matter of months.

What did I do? What else is there to do? I went to the kitchen to do a little baking for end of the year thank you gifts for different folks. I unwrap a few Dove chocolates which I intended to melt and drizzle on top of the brownies. Dove puts fun quotes inside the wrappers and this is what I read.

Solve all arguments with a dance off”

Providence!

The answer to our first ever bad review. The answer to the grouchy, non-compliant grandparents at recital. The answer to the pre-school student who refuses to listen. Is the challenge of a dance battle. Bless the Lord O my soul for Dove chocolate!

 

 

May 12, 2017

 

 

April 30, 2017

 

 

April 8, 2017

 

 

March 2, 2017

 

February 25, 2017

 

 

February 18, 2017


 

How much is your $25 worth?

February 9, 2017

My desire is to live completely free as Jesus instructs us to live. Every once in a while I will notice a “hang up” in myself or someone else and I acknowledge that in that area, I need to be set free. Too many of us get hung up with money.

The Bible directs us to be slow to speak and quick to hear. This applies beautifully in business and customer service. I say that for myself as well. When a client stands at the desk with a need to challenge something, I am tempted to feel defensive and push back rather than patiently  hear. My mind may race and my mouth may want to blurt something out. For most folks, when it comes to their money, the race and the blurt escalate at an alarming rate. One part I find amusing is the amount of money they will fuss about.

How many people will really lose their composure over 20-65 dollars? (This is the most common range of charges within our studio for leotards, tuition, etc.) How much is your $25 worth, really? Is it worth losing your patience? Is it worth loosing your dignity when you have a public outburst of emotion? Is it worth loosing a relationship? How about your health? Do you feel your pulse rate go up and your blood pressure rise when you think about your $25? I know these are a lot of questions but let’s just pause and think, people.

A few years back a gal got herself offended about something that was really no concern of hers in the first place but she sent off a disgruntled email demanding her money back because she was leaving the studio. The requested $25 refund was for a service that had already been given. When this fact was drawn to her attention her response was an email of more snide remarks on our character and integrity. This was one of those times when my mind could conjure up multiple entertaining responses but my favored response to  such an encounter is silence. I was confident that I was not in the wrong and I had no need to use up precious energy trying to explain the fact. I encourage you to have the self control to hold your tongue. (Or these days, your fingers from texting and emailing)

Although there was no further contact with this individual, I must confess that in my purse, my smart aleck self carried $25 in cash in a white envelope with this ladies’ name printed on the outside, for the longest time. I am talking over a year, in the event that I would see this former client at the grocery or a school event. I planned to simply smile and hand it to her. We never did cross paths and I eventually emptied the envelope for some noble purpose I’m sure. But I regularly remind myself that it is just paper and paper really does grow on trees so there will be more of it soon. The Lord does provide!

 

 

I just want to teach dance class. It’s what I love and it’s what I do. It’s all the other stuff surounding that I find complicated. The lobby, for instance. Exactly how welcome should people feel? I have had a mom set her little girl up at the reception desk to do homework. I suppose that made sense to her because it is in fact, a desk. But what happens when a guest comes to the studio with questions? Will the 7 year old be able to answer those questions or know how to process the tuition money? I have walked in to find a toddler standing on top of the desk so that he could get a better view of the classes in progress. I had to excuse this one because the family was from another country and for all I know, it is cultural for them to walk on top on reception desks when the business owner is not present. On another day I came out of the classroom to find one of the dads with his bottom planted in the reception chair. This gentleman was not at all familiar with our studio, but somehow he was the new self appointed receptionist. He seemed so comfortable there. In my head, I thought how fun it would be to jog to his house to grab a snack, use the bathroom and sit in his personal Lazy Boy chair but on second thought I realized I did not want to know where he lived or what his bathroom looked like. EEEwwww! We’ve got another gal who who brings her toddler to play in the lobby while the other sisters are in class. This little baby is as cute as a button and it seems that she is always happy. The reason she is always happy is that she  gets what she wants. I promise I would also be much happier if I always got what I wanted. We have snacks available for sale and on a regular basis this little baby uses the snacks for her toy. Now she does not eat the snack, because of course that would be rude since she does not pay for them. After she has used the chip bags, one in each hand, as cymbals for a rhythm band (Crunch, crunch, crunch!) and put gentle tooth marks in the Snickers bars her mother nicely returns them to the shelf for a paying customer to enjoy on another day.

So, you see, it is complicated. I want to tell folks to please make themselves at home, but don’t! I want to encourage them to get comfortable but not THAT comfortable. When the Bible tells us to express hospitality, just how far does Jesus want me to go with that?