Wanted: A Prescription for Patience

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“Out, dog! out, cur! Thou drivest me past the bounds of maiden’s patience.” ~William Shakespeare (Midsummer Night’s Dream III, ii)

For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been a pretty impatient person. My Dad read this story at my first wedding: “Over the years, Kristi and I have remembered and recalled one small but very important event from her childhood. It was the time she wanted to learn to jump rope. It would seem that learning to jump rope would be simple, but Kristi, then as now, was impatient with herself and when she first tried it, she got tangled in the rope. She wanted to quit trying to learn how to jump that rope, but I encouraged her to try and try again, and in a short time she was the best rope jumping little girl on the block!”

What he didn’t say was that I think I threw a pretty big temper tantrum, throwing the rope on the ground, making a little fool out of myself with my little girl hysterics. The outcome however was a good memory for me and my Dad, and the moral of the story of course is to persist – to be patient, and with that patience will come success. So I guess I’m wondering though: why doesn’t it get any easier to be patient as we grow up? I still find myself getting impatient all the time – with people, with processes, with life in general. I wish someone could write me a prescription for patience (not that my new high-deductible health insurance would pay for it).

I guess it’s a part of who I am, and while I accept this, I don’t like it. My impatience is usually either accompanied by or results in stress, unhappiness, regret, and even rage (of the road variety). I wonder if impatience is a genetically inherited trait; I tend to think it is, but then maybe I’m just making excuses. And if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of my impatience-induced rudeness, I sincerely apologize. As someone who has said (and believed) in the past “Most people in the world are idiots,” patience with other humans is not my forté, and is definitely something I need to work on.

The one exception to the duration of this character flaw was when I lived in sub-Saharan Africa during my time as a Peace Corps volunteer. Over there, time stands still, literally. If you don’t slow down – both physically and mentally – to match the creeping crawl of life, your impatience will literally drive you insane or you’ll just keel over from stress-induced hysteria. I learned, and even appreciated eventually, how to become a more patient person while I was there. Hakuna matata is real, people.

Unfortunately, that acquired level of patience and “no worries” attitude seemed to shrivel up and die once I arrived back in America – land of the never-ending go-get-’em fast pace of life. Settle in, chase “the dream,” bypass vacations, battle the traffic, worry worry worry. And then before you know it, another decade has passed. Years full of wasted moments that you can never get back. And through all of it, being impatient for…something. Everything.

When I decided a few months ago to make changes and pursue meaning in my life again, I knew that impatience would continue to be a personal foe for me. I spoke to my therapist at the time about perceptions and reality, and giving myself TIME to adjust and pursue the new directions in my life. I expressed worries about how others would perceive me and my efforts – that they’d think I was a “slacker” for quitting my job without having another one lined up. People want to know what I’m doing with “all this time” on my hands. It’s not easy to explain, this transition phase.

I don’t blame others for wanting to know how I’m filling the hours in every day or what the next step of “the plan” is – but as I told someone the other day, sometimes there just isn’t that much to tell right now. It’s not that I mind the questioning so much, because I think that’s part of normal human nature to be curious, but I then start to feel guilty somehow that I don’t have a perfect outline to hand to them that will make them feel better about all this change (because from my end, I usually feel pretty fine about it). I’m learning to be comfortable with saying “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know.” It’s ok to not know how something is going to turn out!

Yes, it is very nice to not have to trudge back and forth from the miserable job I recently quit. I’m happier than I can say to not have to fight the long and stressful morning and afternoon commutes. But I do find myself getting impatient with the anticipation of “what’s next.” I’m impatient that I haven’t heard back yet about the internship I applied for a few weeks ago. I’m impatient that a part-time job I’ve been anxiously waiting for hasn’t been posted yet. I’m impatient for the 2014 Tour de France to get here, now that I’m in withdrawals from the Tour that just finished…

Each day I feel like I make a few more small strides towards an UNunhappy future, but I also don’t want to discount the here-and-now part of the journey. When I get too impatient with myself about where I or others think I should be at this stage, it inevitably leads to more stress and distress. I love to tick the “completed” boxes on my to-do lists, and those lists help guide me with goals and objectives, but letting my lists get too long and out-of-control is something I need to work on.

So instead, I’m trying to be patient with myself and my own expectations, which really are the ones that count the most after all. These new directions and desires I have for my life aren’t going to happen overnight, or in a few weeks, or even in a few months. Giving myself time is ok. The days fly by so quickly though don’t they? We get so caught up in the “down-the-road” goals that we sometimes gloss over what’s right in front of us, right now.

The favorite in-front part of my day today was a fromage sandwich on a fresh-baked baguette from a new-found French cafe and getting to know the owner, a nice lady from France. What was yours?

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

PS: The family klutz gene (which I know IS inherited) struck strong this past week, so I just wanted to pass along get-well wishes to my three ailing family members:

  • My Mom, for her hairline-fractured leg she was awarded after slipping on a watery sidewalk at an Oklahoma casino;
  • My nephew Truman for a river rock-induced gargantuan foot slice that took 9 stitches to close; and
  • My nephew Wyatt for a bad tongue laceration inflicted by a spectacular chin fall from the kitchen table.

At my brother’s prompting, the rest of us are considering rolling ourselves in bubble wrap just to be safe.

The Future is Blooming – Part 2

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“To strew thy green with flowers: the yellows, blues, the purple violets, and marigolds…” – William Shakespeare (Pericles IV, I)

A few days ago I related my historical and renewed interest in trying my hand in the floral design field (you can read about it here if you missed it).  It’s a pretty far cry from anything I’ve ever done before.  Most of my working life, I’ve been sitting in a cubicle and consoling myself with Dilbert cartoons.  My brother was always the artist in the family, and yet here I am wading into a field that requires an eye for the art elements of color, form, and perspective.

But – maybe some of his artisan ability also filtered into my genetic code and I just haven’t discovered it yet (one can hope)?  Maybe this is a path I should have taken a long time ago and life has just taken me down different roads so far?  I’m willing to gamble on the maybes.  Now that I have the opportunity, how could I not at least give it a try, after all this time?  If I don’t give it a shot, I think I’ll always regret it.


Purpley-pink orchid at the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

So slowly but surely, I’m exploring this new realm:

  • Earlier this summer, I enrolled in a beginner’s floral design class at the local community college and have learned some new techniques.
  • Over the past few weeks, I’ve been conducting informational interviews with several local floral designers who came recommended to me by a good friend (thank you Rachel!); I’ve been asking for their advice & recommendations, making future networking connections, and asking lots of questions about what it’s really like in the industry.
  • I’ve contacted and looked into a few career/intensive floral design programs around the country to figure out if I want or need to make that investment.
  • I’ve reached out to express interest for an upcoming summer internship with another local designer.
  • Every day I usually spend a few hours doing internet research and self-study on the floral industry, design techniques, and product details, as well as connecting with florists all over the world on Twitter – I love Twitter! (I think I’m a bit of a Twitter addict actually, help.)
  • I finally (!) signed up on Pinterest and started a board called “Fantastical Floral Designs!” for those beautiful, quirky, and memorable designs that catch my eye and inspire me.
  • I’ve toured some of the wholesale flower businesses in town to ask questions, view products, and buy my first floral tools (including a Swiss Army floral knife!!):

floral tools

I have no idea if I’m going about this the “right” way but I’m de-perfectionizing, remember, so it’s ok.  And although it might not be considered by everyone to be a “real” job, floristry is in fact a huge industry and a multi-billion dollar business around the world.  I hope enough of that profit eventually comes my way to be able to support myself in this endeavor, but in the meantime I’m probably going to have to take other non-floral-related jobs to help pay the bills, at least for a while, and I’m open to that.

It’s scary of course – for the first time in a long time, I have no set plan.  A few weeks ago I was volunteering for an Austin Shakespeare event and discovered that another volunteer there was also a freelance floral designer.  When I told her of my circumstances and aspirations, she said “I love when people say they quit their jobs because they didn’t like it or weren’t happy.  Trust that you will be provided for and taken care of now that you voluntarily released all that negativity.”  Wow – no one has ever said anything like that to me before, or at least not in that way.  It was just what I needed to hear (thank you Rachael).

I don’t know yet what my exact end-goal is, and that’s alright with me.  Right now I’m just wanting to learn as much as possible about design and really get into the creativity aspect of it all.  I’d like to develop my skills and work for several different designers to gain varied perspectives.  Many floral designers have their own business without ever having a retail store, and right now I’m leaning toward that option.  Although I must admit, the possibility of running one of those cute cottage-y flower shops in England or France where the locals stop by to purchase their daily or weekly flowers doesn’t sound too shabby either.  I’m putting it on the “someday” list.

Paris Fleuriste

When you boil it all down, flowers have an important job: to make people feel better.  No matter how simple or complex the design, flowers provide joy and beauty and meaning – during times of great happiness or deep sorrow, during times of celebration and revelation…they convey messages and speak volumes when people sometimes just can’t.  That appeals to me.  I’d like to try to help flowers do their job to make people UNunhappy.

Because who couldn’t use a little more joy and beauty and meaning in their lives? 

I’ll continue providing updates as my journey continues…and a big thanks to all of you who have supported me thus far and encouraged me to pursue this path.  It’s much appreciated!

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

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