Over the last month or so the same ‘lesson’ keeps presenting itself to me, namely ‘good things come from stepping forward’ (G.T.C.F.S.F – hmm that acronym needs work).
For example, I’ve already mentioned the super-stylish, Canadian mama I met on Instagram who’s helping me kick my wardrobe into touch. This purely came about as both of us were willing to ‘put ourselves out there’. I fell in love with some images she’d posted of her capsule wardrobe so I made the effort to connect and left a
gushing complimentary comment. I then left a follow-up comment to tell her she’d inspired me to do another clear-out of my wardrobe and as a result of my ruthlessness I was almost rendered naked, the situation was dire, the services of the John Lewis personal shopper may be required. As she too is someone willing to put herself out there, she DM’d me and tentatively offered up her services, for a modest fee, to help style my wardrobe, having recently done the same for someone else. I bit her hand off! And so, a really lovely, creative, connection has been made, and only because we both took the risk of stepping forward towards the other, extending our reach beyond our immediate comfort zones.
Other recent examples of where I’ve stepped forward and been rewarded, are growing in number:
- There was this dress I’d pinned on Pinterest from the US that I became a little obsessed with, it was out of stock everywhere so I emailed two recent stockists and told them I was in love with the dress and asked if it was likely to be restocked. I got helpful replies from both, but one of the them said whilst they weren’t going to re-stock (boo) she thought she might have one left in my size in the warehouse and would be happy to check (yay!). Low and behold she was true to her word and it was in the post to me the next day. I would have been ‘THAT DRESS’-less had I not made an extra push or written a less impassioned email. PS I love the dress, we’re getting married.
- Then I got a great deal on the Little Chap’s new bed by asking the supplier if they would match a discount they had on a very similar package but in the colourway I wanted. They went off to ask their powers-that-be and came back with the same great deal saving us £60 and giving us our ideal bed combo.
- An Ebay supplier who sells pre cut / set sizes of brass sheet was happy to custom cut some sheet to my specifications when I explained what I wanted them for (making my bangles) and gave me a great price.
- I fell in love with a pillowcase I saw in a Next display for the Little Chap, I searched the shop for the set but couldn’t find them, I might have given up but I asked a shop assistant who kindly went to great lengths to track it down and eventually order it (even though it wasn’t even showing on the website). (No hyperlink as it’s still not on their website, spooky, mystery, ghost bedding that it is).
- We recently ebay’d some old photographic slide boxes of my grandfather’s and one got damaged before we posted it out. I felt awful and contacted the buyer to let him know how sorry I was about the breakage and that I had gone ahead and posted it along with the other items he’d bid on but had refunded his bid and his postage. He was so sweet about it and this lead to an unexpected, poignant exchange of emails. The buyer was a man in his 80’s, he didn’t have long to live, his ‘lovely wife was clearing out things from his old life and had just taken a car load to the charity shop that day’. He was taking pleasure from looking through his old slides collection from the 50’s and revisiting those memories; clearly bittersweet. I truly believe because he and I were both open to connection, the few emails that we exchanged about life and change were meaningful on both sides.
- And my latest endeavour involves me trying to get in contact with the originator of the Operation Bloom roses photograph, used as the header. It’s an image I found several months ago and fell in love with. As I felt the first flutterings of Operation Bloom (before this project even had its name) the image in my mind that accompanied that delicious feeling of being on the edge of something exciting was of roses in full bloom, opened wide, wide, wide to their fullest potential. I found myself searching for images of roses and I came across this one; it leapt out at me as the perfect one to represent the image in my head. I saved it as my desk top image and each time I looked at it, it made my heart lift. So when it came to starting this blog it was the only image I wanted to use. I hadn’t made a note of the original source so I had to do some
super-sleuthinggoogle image searching and eventually tracked down the photographer to Instagram. I sent a message asking for her permission, and meanwhile took the risk of going ahead and using it, but I felt very uncomfortable not yet having her go-ahead. Morally I knew I would have to change it if I wasn’t able to track her down within a month. Almost three weeks passed and then I got a sweet message back from the very kind Sheila Peterson saying she’d be flattered. I was over the moon. I’m so, so happy to have the image I absolutely LOVE and have her blessing – such a relief. Again, another lesson in putting myself out there and having the courage to ask, and risk rejection.
One last note about one of my earliest learnings to step forward… I was in my early 20’s sat face to face with my boss, a fairly formidable Scot (total pussycat underneath as it turned out) at my annual review where I was getting my first promotion at the film production company I worked for. He favourably reviewed my work and told me what my salary increase was going to be. I nodded and said thank you but as we continued talking I had this rising feeling of crushing disappointment at the figure, I felt I deserved more. Just as he was drawing our meeting to a close, I plucked up every ounce of courage I had, it was now or never, and I blurted out that I was a little disappointed with the increase, and gave him my reasons why I’d hoped for more. To my amazement, his face broke into a beaming smile and he said the words I’ve never forgotten, “I’m SO pleased you spoke up, I wasn’t allowed to offer you more but was told if you asked I could”. And lo, I got the salary I’d hoped for. So at the ripe old age of 23 I learned ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. And likewise, if you don’t step forward you miss all those opportunities for meaningful human connection or even getting that perfect dress, pillowcase, bangle sheet size!
Asking for our needs to be met can make us feel vulnerable, there’s a chance we’ll be rejected, told ‘no’. But I truly believe life becomes all the richer for stepping outside our comfort-zones, stepping forward, taking relational risks, investing a little more of ourselves and seeing what happens in response.
I’d love to hear your examples of when you’ve put yourself out there, or what holds you back from asking for something or taking those emotional risks…