As you know I own a florist. My little business is in a little parade of 4 businesses over the road and around the corner from a local parade of about 20 shops - including 2 co-ops!! I'm in the middle of a chip shop and barbers. The chip shop has thick black window frames with glass that go from floor to ceiling, you can see the heating units they have to keep your cod, fishcake or sausage in batter warm. The barbers next door have dark brown window frames with posters in the full length windows advertising her prices. I have white pvc (is that right?) windows with 3/4 windows that always has a floral display behind it; this is full of lights so that the display can be seen over the other side of the road. I have planters running down either side of my forecourt area (the other 3 businesses don't have such a thing). There are flowers and plants everywhere inside and outside, yet for some reason at least 2 people every day come in to my shop when they want the barbers and a couple each week come in to me wanting the chip shop. I know we all spend our days with so much on our minds that it's easy to not pay attention, but I can't re-iterate enough to you how distinct all 4 of our businesses are. I don't get how they could make a mistake. I had a guy one day who came in and said to me "where is she then today? Out the back?" before he walked through my shop, directly passed where I work (I have my work area within the shop - that way people can see what I'm putting in their orders while htey wait for me to make them up). As he got level to the office (I have an office behind the shop/workroom that some computer guys run their IT support business from) I stepped out from behind my counter to stop him going any further. "Sorry" I said "where are you going and who are you looking for?" Ignoring me he tried to push by me before saying "is she coming out". It took me a good 5 minutes of the same conversations between us back and forth before I finally realised he wanted the barber next door. No matter how many times I told him he thought the barber was at the back of my shop. My neighbour would have the best dressed and prettiest barbers in the country if she was working in my building :)
My reason for telling you all this is because I've just this minute (well in the few minutes before i sat down to write this) is because I have just had another guy in wanting next door. This time he was quite funny and laughed about how he could have made such a mistake when it's "blatantly obvious" he was in a "flower shop". Told him he 'wasn't the first' and he wouldn't be 'the last'. He got me thinking though about how blinkered we all seem to have become. How we all walk around in our own little world. I have a high school at the top of the road and I watch the kids wander along paying no attention to anything. I want to yell at them sometimes to "Look up" when there is a sunset sharing multiple colours across the sky. I want them to notice the leaves on the trees when they change in the autumn months. It's the very reason I am making the guide books for the kids with the challenges in. I want them to look up from their phones (not that they will be allowed them during the trip - I don't allow them when I take them out for an evening either) but I know if they don't have their phones they'd just sit in the car staring into nothing. By setting them the challenges they will be looking out of the windows, taking in their surroundings. Social media plays a big part in our world and there is room for it, but it's not the b-all and end-all. I come from a generation that managed without the internet, without a phone glued to my ear. I'd like to say people of my generation only use theirs (like myself) for emergencies but sadly that is not to be. Just yesterday as I was in the middle of serving a customer her phone rang and she picked it up and answered without a second thought. This happens so often and aside from being extremely rude and bad mannered it shows how insular some people are. Let us not become so wrapped up in ourselves that we stop taking notice of things - our behaviour being one of those things also. Yes I want to travel to the USA to see and experience the things I dream of; to feel the air on my face, smell the sulphur that lingers in Yellowstone, hear the rustle of a moose hiding in the bushes. I yearn to do these things, to soak up each and every moment, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate what I have at home, in the town where I live. Maybe if we all looked skywards now and again, switched our phones to silent - or better still switched them off - breathed deeply a bit more we might find ourselves being people again, rather than the zombie-like creatures that roam our pavements and sidewalks on a daily basis. My kids - the nieces and nephews that is - live in this bubble. They walk into the wrong shops, they don't look up from their phones that often, yet when they do, when they take note they are like different kids completely. The stresses of their everyday lives disappear from their faces before my very eyes. That's why it's so important to take them with me. I want them to see there is more to life. I want them to know that the lives they are forced to live don't have to be as sad, depressing and lonely as they are. I want them to learn to laugh, feel, love and experience and I know being away with me over in the states will be a great stepping stone for them both. They'll learn about other cultures and realise that the struggles they face - while real to them - are nothing to the struggles of others. They lack compassion (something else I've noticed of the 'Zombie generation') I think being away with me they'll come back feeling whole, which is something they've never felt before. I know when I did my whistle-stop tour out there I didn't feel like me. I felt free (it is called the 'land of the free!!') I felt exhilarated; I had feelings I didn't even know existed and while being back in my everyday world was/is hard at times those feelings have stayed with me. They made me a better person; they made me appreciate each and every day. I don't ever want to become so blinkered again that I go back to who I was before I went out there, and I desperately want the kids to learn there is so much more to life. That they can laugh, love, feel, and breathe - something that seems to stifle them in their lives right now.