Heaven on a Stick

Don’t blame the fence, blame the gardener.

White picket fences don’t just happen.

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“That’s heaven on a stick!”

– Mrs. Jane Young, my first boss.

Mrs. Young liked perfection.

One Saturday in 1985, I arrived to work at 8 AM, and Mrs. Young gave me the day’s instructions.

“I’d like you to organize and display all the sterling silver and crystal in the display cases.”

She pointed to the hand-carved, mahogany, floor-to-ceiling shelving behind the waist-high, enclosed glass jewelry sales cabinets.  I knew from a prior conversation that Mrs. Young adored the cabinetry since it was a family heirloom and it was the primary design fixture of her family-owned jewelry store.

With no further instructions, she left for the day.

To say I was intimidated, at age 16, handling the fine silver and crystal and placing the valuables in the gargantuan, cherished cabinetry, is an understatement.

I worked a straight 8 hours, right through my lunch hour. I remember being a nervous wreck the entire day –

Am I leaving fingerprints?

Is that too high?

Does that look good next to this or does this look good next to that?  

Is this lighting going to help this sell? 

Fifteen minutes before the 5 PM close, Mrs. Young entered the store.

Arriving in her blue, crisply-ironed pantsuit with a silk, floral scarf tied at her neckline, she, an ex-NYC runway model, was exquisite looking, and she, herself, downright intimidating.

She gazed at the shelves, inspecting the design, and as I recall, after only 2 minutes or so, she looked me in the eye and gave her appraisal,

“This looks like crap. Now let me show you how it should be done.”

We worked overtime, transforming what I had made look like crap into what Mrs. Young expected and envisioned.

And on that day, I learned a valuable life lesson.

We may think we know what perfection looks like, but it takes more than hard work.

It’s takes listening, learning, accepting criticism, and paying attention to detail, plus a whole lot of practice.

It also takes heart, respect,

and a whole lot of desire,

and if it has true value and worth

we may have to focus for an entire day – maybe even weeks, months and years –

if it’s going to be deemed

“heaven on a stick!”

“That’s heaven on a stick!” (not “that looks like crap,”) has stuck with me since my inaugural design day in Mrs. Young’s jewelry store.

Mrs. Young left her perfect mark on me, and I credit Mrs. Young for teaching me a secret of sales –

how do you make others want what you have?

Invest in good gardeners.

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Te Amo

A man stopped at a red light on a one-way street at a Puebla, Mexico intersection and turned on his car’s hazards. Lights blinking on his VW Golf, he began to negotiate, through the car window, with a balloon salesman on the sidewalk.  The light turned green.  He remained parked, blocking a line of traffic trying to move up the street. Horns began to sound, and in unison, the blocked cars’ right blinkers lit up. Annoyed, the trapped drivers tried to maneuver around the stopped VW Golf, stuffed to the gills with adults and young children.

The traffic light turned red and then green again. Finally, the  VW Golf’s driver continued through the intersection, parking out of the line of traffic. The salesman hurriedly escorted his balloon bouquet across the street and over to the parked car. The children in the VW Golf moved to the left side of the car, hanging out the windows, handpicking their favorite balloons.  With each selection, the balloons were deposited into the packed car.  Almost as if the tiny VW Golf had a secret belly, the balloons were swallowed and added as cargo. 1-2-3-4-5-6…

It blew me away – how did it all fit?!

As the thrilled children in the balloon-filled car excitedly chose their balloons and the driver readily paid for and accepted the balloons into his overfed car, I couldn’t help but notice-

the Te Amo balloon, at the top of the balloon bouquet –

out of the sight and reach of the VW Golf’s tiny passengers – it wouldn’t be chosen, yet with each adored balloon’s entrance – Te AmoI love you – seemed to inflate the tiny car.

No wonder there seemed to be endless accommodation in this tiny car – that’s what happens when you welcome love inside.

No blowing horns or hazards here –

Where “love is patient, love is kind,” the possibilites and capacities are endless.

What a breath of fresh air!

img_0098“Te Amo”