As I've mentioned before, I really enjoy reading magazines.
This week I was lucky enough to have a couple of days to go to a large trade show in Toronto, which would have been a shopaholic's greatest fantasy (except that it is strictly against the rules of the show to purchase and remove anything while on site.) There was everything from Royal Doulton china to the tackiest possible souvenirs; clothes to cradles; fudge to fine crystal and silver; anything that could be found in what is described as a "gift" store. I attended a seminar about identifying trends and being able to use this awareness to predict what colours, styles, options will make our customers comfortable...6 months to 2 years down the road! What a responsibility. The presenter did say something really interesting, which while being old wisdom seemed to fall on my ears with a new freshness: none of us actually needs any-THING, but we do need and want to feel good. And there in lies my job as the owner of a knitting store: to help my customers feel good...about the project that they choose, the yarn that they buy, about the support that we can offer if they need it, about their abilities and sometimes even about themselves.
And by coincidence, I had just purchased this month's copy of Psychology Today which featured a cover article about society's longing to feel happy. (You can link to the complete article on-line by clicking on the title of this post. It's very interesting.) This article got me thinking about what it is that makes the people that I see every day happy about being in the store (as most of them are, I hope.)
Many of our customers just come into the store for a colour/fibre fix...they need to replenish that feel-good quota within themselves with some hands on, eye absorbing experiences. But most need to commit by bringing something home to accomplish. I know, it's not every knitting project that brings us treasured bliss, some patterns can be an actual pain in the butt, for any of many reasons. But generally we look to any relaxing and/or creatively distracting occupation to take us away from concerns that we might be carrying around, to stimulate us if we're bored or tired, to comfort us if we're feeling sad. But there is no question that learning and perfecting any skill is a true path to what can be called happiness.
And of course, then I had to ask myself what it is that makes me happy, and I realized that just like all of you that I meet everyday, I love developing new skills...for me these are perfecting knitting techniques and pattern writing skills of course, but other skills that give me a real sense of having fun are writing this blog and putting together the newsletter, learning to kayak, learning more about meditation and yoga, learning how to be a good parent to young adults, learning how to run a profitable/sustainable business in difficult times, learning how to avoid being overwhelmed with trying to keep up with details, learning how to make the cardio and weight machines at the gym work for me, learning how to be a good wife in our empty-nester years, and being a caring adult daughter and sister, learning how to identify what I want to be when I grow up and working towards achieving those goals even if it means that I have to let go of some of the things that I've gotten into the habit of doing, or if it means getting up earlier, or going to bed later, or watching less TV, or having one of the staff work out a fun pattern that I'd like to do myself.
None of us can do it all, but we can choose what we really do want to do and hope that our family doesn't notice that they're getting leftovers or take-out dinners a bit more often while the afghan seems to be growing a bit faster than it had before.