When Life Gives You Lemons…..

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You’ve all heard this saying before, “When life give you lemons, make lemonade.”  Personally I prefer lemon bars, but that’s another story.  

Yesterday turned out to be much more challenging than I originally anticipated.  Usually this is my day off, a day I get to kick back and take it easy.  I’ve been preparing for a trip to Northern California where I’m going to be doing some more continuing education.  For this course I’m required to bring a lot more “stuff” than I usually travel with – winter boots, 10 days worth of clothes (no laundry access, usually I’d take just a few things and wash them throughout the trip), and blankets.  Since I decided to save myself 3-4 days worth of driving time and fly instead, I was bound and determined (for some reason) to not have to pay the airline fees to check baggage.  Plus, I never replaced my last suitcase which had had the life beat out of it, and I didn’t feel like spending the money to buy a new suitcase either.

Thinking I was brilliant, I decided to pack a box of all the stuff I couldn’t fit into my carry-on and ship it via UPS.  Oh yeah, not having to check a bag or deal with my luggage at the airport, arriving at my destination with my box already there and waiting for me – it all sounded great.  Plus I could schedule a return pick up!  Awesome, I thought.

So I bought and packed the largest box UPS will take at the regular per weight rate.  Online I scheduled the pick up from my house (what a great idea!  I would hardly have to deal with all this stuff!), but when I got to the “print the label” part of the process, it didn’t work.  Now I don’t know if it was a glitch in the system or an error on my part, but no matter what I did, I couldn’t figure out how to print the label.  No worries, I thought, I’ll just print my own address label.

Luckily I was home when the UPS man showed up to pick up the package, at which point he told me he couldn’t take the package without the tracking label.  He advised me to go back online and try to print again, and if I could get the package to Office Depot just up the road from me before 4:30 it would still go out today and arrive on time.

Again I went online.  Again there was no way to print the label.  I attempted to void the scheduled pickup, but it wouldn’t let me and told me to contact UPS.  So I grabbed the box and headed to Office Depot, hoping their friendly staff would be able to help me out.  We went through the same procedure again, but no shipping label would print, we could not void the shipment.

Next I headed over to the other side of our neighboring town, about 7 miles away, to see if the UPS station proper could help me.  I’m not 100% sure what was going on over there, but the woman who eventually let me in was not someone who usually helps customers.  She certainly tried to help me, as did the woman on the customer service phone line she connected me to, but no matter what we did, there seemed to be no solution to my problem.  By now I’d been trying to solve this for over an hour and was starting to feel very frustrated.

At this point I had to take a step back.  Old Tracy would have easily gone into freak-out mode and probably ended up being rude to or yelling at this person, but I’ve since learned that although that may have eventually gotten me what I thought I wanted, it was certainly not going to create a “win” situation.  Plus there was no reason for me to get upset with this person who really was trying to help me, she just wasn’t the person I needed to talk to.  So I decided that since this was getting more complicated by the moment, and that sending the box rather than checking the bag wasn’t really going to save me more than $10 at the very most (I did not know this when I started the process), that it was time to just suck it up, buy a new suitcase, pay the baggage check fee, and be done with it.

Lucky for me UPS is close to the largest mall in my area.  So I headed over there and found the exact suitcase I needed, in the color I really wanted, at a reasonable price.  Yes, I may still have to dispute the charge on my credit card for the prepaid shipping fee I paid when I get home, and yes, this was not the way I thought things would turn out, but I’m positive that this has happened for a reason and that ultimately it will end up making my life easier in some way shape or form.

So what’s this got to do with organizing, you might be thinking.  What it really comes down to is this – what serves you better – pushing, pushing, pushing against what you want in order to get it; or stopping for a moment, taking a step back and asking yourself, “Is there an easier way?”  Organizing doesn’t have to be hard.  Sometimes what I do for clients is just give them a fresh set of eyes – give them a new way of looking at things so that they can more easily move forward themselves.  They were so convinced that things needed to happen a certain way that they weren’t able to see the far-easier solution.

I challenge you to ask yourself that important question when you feel like you’re just bashing your head against the wall trying to get things done – Is there an easier way?  If you’ve ever run into an event like this where you allowed yourself to change paths instead of continuing to push against the situation I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Holistic Professional Organizer and Coach at Synergy Organizing, LLC

©Synergy Organizing 2012

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