Melissa Schmalenberger, Published August 11 2013
Sometimes the teacher is the studentWhen you hold yourself out as an expert, at times you forget that you also a student. I love knowing that when I interact with my clients and customers that I often walk away with life lessons. Sometimes I feel like I am learning more than my clients are and I should be paying them.
But, in all seriousness I do appreciate when there are takeaways for me to share with my future clients.
Lesson in cleaning with children: Sometimes children don’t like to clean. Well, nobody really enjoys it, do they? What I learned was from a mom of young children who would play Cinderella. She would play the role of the “evil stepmother” who would force poor Cinderella – her children – into doing household chores. This was done in a fun and light-hearted manner and would make for bouts of laughter and smiles, no tears. And the magic was that the chores would get done without screaming and tears.
Lesson in habits: I found a handwritten sign in a client’s home with tips and examples of habits for her children to learn. Some of my favorites were “stay at it when everyone quits” and “do the next thing when it isn’t the easiest thing.” How powerful are those words? Her children are living the list on the wall every day. What kind of world would we have if we all lived those words? I can see examples in my life when I want to quit and just do something easy. But in order to live a fuller life, we need to learn to create habits of pushing on and working through life’s challenges.
Lesson in don’t judge a book by its cover: When I walk into a client’s home, I usually don’t know them and I have no clue what their story is. What I do know is a home is never a home with clutter or disorganization. There is usually a reason behind the chaos.
Maybe it’s a painful divorce, or perhaps abuse of some kind. Or maybe someone in the home is trying to be the caretaker of the family story. You know – the member of the family who has been entrusted with making sure the family “treasures” don’t disappear.
So often they are filled with guilt of how to properly care for the history of items like a rocking chair or a wedding dress that they forget to live their own lives.
My lesson is these homes are never occupied by lazy people. They are homes filled with a rich history and amazing stories. Of course my clients don’t think they are special. But every single one of them is.
I am amazed at what they have survived. I have learned to enter with an open mind, and to be open to what they have to say. Because a house that is filled with clutter is often a house filled with amazing stories. My new theory in the past five years is to try to figure out what I can learn from the people in my life. They are in my life for a lesson for me to learn.
My child is sick with a chronic disease, my lesson is to not make it chronic, but to find ways to have it go in remission and eventually disappear.
My husband is very patient and thinks things through with great thought. My lesson is to pause and think, not just jump and figure it out after the fact well, I still like to jump but I know he is there to catch me.
My oldest going away to college and learning some hard life lessons are my lesson in learning to love and nurture from afar. I have reoccurring themes that keep entering my life. I need to take the time to pause and think about the lesson for me.
So wherever you turn today, see it as a lesson in learning. What can you learn from the people you meet on a daily basis? Does the person checking you out at the grocery store have a lesson for you? I bet they do.
We can learn from our family and our children as well as our friends. Some of my strongest lessons come from people I don’t really care for. What in them bothers me? Maybe it is a flaw in myself that I see in them? I am always looking for ways to apply what I learn from others and make myself into a better person.
I know that I am not perfect. But with the help and guidance of those that I surround myself with, I hope to at least be a better friend, wife, mother, daughter and sister.
MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger, operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity. She is a professional organizer based out of Fargo. Her website can be found at http://www.mssimplicity.com/
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