When I was in my early teens I had a Saturday job in a flower shop. I loved this job and worked in this little shop in the middle of a bustling retail community in the centre of Leeds for almost five years. As a young woman, dipping my toe in the working environment provided me with a small income and increased independence but most of all, I was exposed to many valuable lessons in life that I still carry today. From the best way to ask your boss for something (never in front of others), being rewarded for never taking sick time (2 days in 5 years and that was with glandular fever), calculating wholesale to retail price (in those days double the cost and add VAT) to making ribbon extra curly using a pair of scissors. This job taught me about responsibility, commitment, loyalty and trust. Many of the things that yoga has continued to reinforce. It was a small family business that had been established in 1969 and being part of a small team made me feel valued and nurtured during a time in my life when I needed all the guidance I could get. For my part, I was always on time, I worked hard and gave my all. I even used to take time out of school during busy periods such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day to carry out deliveries on foot. This experience instilled in me a work ethic and a sense of pride at a job well done. Obviously seeing the smiles on customer’s faces as they took their flowers was an added benefit.
I hadn’t been in their employment very long when I was handed a set of keys to the shop. I couldn’t have been more proud. I remember my Gran saying “you know Claire, you can’t just open up and then stand in the middle of the shop swinging your keys thinking you’re great. You’ll have to start setting up”. I laughed because she knew me so well. Heeding this gentle warning, I made certain I caught the earlier bus to work. I arrived at 830 am and by 9 am the flowers were displayed on the steps outside the shop in fresh water, smelling and looking beautiful. The plants had been arranged and watered, the counter was cleaned and fresh paper for wrapping the flowers was topped up. I even managed a little moment of standing there in the middle of the shop, hands on hips surveying my good work, feeling so proud to have been trusted and valued and reflective on how welcoming the shop must appear to prospective customers.
I was reminded of this when I taught my first yoga class just before Christmas at the studio where I have learned to be a teacher. I had a set of keys and on this occasion I needed to open up and bring the studio to life with light and heat, no mean feat on a dark and dreary December evening.
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