Wednesday, October 01, 2014

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: Mom uses positive thinking to be a good role model

By AMY NEWMARK, Chicken Soup for the Soul | 4/11/2014

Shawnelle Eliasen loved her neighborhood: “Neighbors chatted over fences, newcomers were welcomed with brownies, and it had been easy to find friends there,” she wrote in her story “Moving Forward,” published in our book on positive thinking. But she and her family decided to move to shorten her husband’s commute.

Shawnelle didn’t expect to have any difficulty integrating in her new community. But several months after the move, neither she nor her sons had made new friends.

Shawnelle Eliasen loved her neighborhood: “Neighbors chatted over fences, newcomers were welcomed with brownies, and it had been easy to find friends there,” she wrote in her story “Moving Forward,” published in our book on positive thinking. But she and her family decided to move to shorten her husband’s commute.

Shawnelle didn’t expect to have any difficulty integrating in her new community. But several months after the move, neither she nor her sons had made new friends.

“I’m so alone here,” she told her husband Lonny.

Her husband is a good listener, but “he also has an engineer’s brain,” Shawnelle wrote. “He’s a problem solver.”

“What have you done to meet people?” he asked.

Shawnelle told him about going to readings at the library, striking up conversations at the park and participating in neighborhood events like garage sales.

“Sounds like you’re doing the right stuff,” Lonny said. “Keep at it.”

She did, but nothing changed, and her mood soured.

One day, Lonny noticed that Shawnelle looked sullen, and they talked about her frustrations. “I’m not going to have friends here,” she said, feeling defeated.

One of their sons chimed in: “Mom’s right, Dad. We’ll never ever have friends here. And we just want to go home.”

Shawnelle was stunned. “His words mirrored my attitude. And I didn’t like the murky reflection.” She was concerned she had modeled this negative attitude for her sons.

So, during the next few months, she smiled even when she didn’t feel like it and focused on enthusiastically making a new friend. She found it was easier to meet strangers when she didn’t feel down, and she noticed that her sons’ moods brightened, too.

One day at the library with one of her sons she bumped into a woman who had a son the same age. They chatted and wound up going back to the woman’s farm for tea and a play date for the boys. Eventually their two families became close, and Shawnelle was able to give her sons a real-life example of how positive thinking can turn around a frustrating situation.

•••

If you’re a business owner, read this carefully. The last thing you want to do is turn an employee into a competitor, which is just what happened to Kara Townsend’s mother after her boss demeaned her for years. Kara wrote about her mother’s success in “Making Her Own Way,” in our book about thanking our mothers.

After Kara’s mother divorced, she got a job as a secretary at an insurance agency. At first, answering the phones and taking messages was fine, but over time she learned a good deal about the business and felt she could do more. Customers often called with questions she could answer, but her boss wouldn’t let her. All calls had to be forwarded to him, or, if he wasn’t around, messages were to be taken and no further help provided. Sometimes Kara’s mother would take down a question that she knew she could answer in just a few minutes if only she were allowed to.

Eventually she started asking her boss if she could study to get her insurance license, but her boss always refused. As Kara wrote in her story, he “made it clear that she was only a secretary, only a woman, and should know her place.”

Kara’s mother endured this attitude until one day she asked to take an early lunch. Kara was to be honored at a school assembly, and her mother wanted to be there. Her boss refused, and Kara’s mother quit on the spot.

She got an insurance license and started her own agency. She hired a wide variety of people, including a door-to-door photocopy machine saleswoman and a pharmacy night manager. She trained her new employees and taught them that they were valuable to the business and could do any work she did herself. Her company grew to be “one of the top agencies in the state,” Kara wrote, and her mother’s employees have stayed with her for years.

Kara wrote, in conclusion, that watching her mother’s transformation from an undervalued employee to a successful business owner taught her to value herself no matter how anyone else viewed her.

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at www.chickensoup.com

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