Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Lifelong Cosmic Lesson in First Impressions

Do you ever look at someone and just dislike them on sight? It's not a very kind way of approaching the world but sometimes it just happens. Whenever I feel this way I remember a lesson that I keep finding myself being taught -- over and over and over again.


The first cosmic lesson of this sort that I remember was Jocelyn Wolfe. It was the week before 7th grade. The air was hot and muggy in the low-slung cafeteria building. Flies pestered the hot and intimidated and generally lost incoming middle school students as we waited in several lines to get our schedules for the school year from the advisors sitting behind lined-up lunch tables. The girl in the line next to me annoyed me on sight. We kept eyeing each other in an unfriendly way. Her teeth were a little on the buck side. She wore glasses and an unfriendly smirk. I seriously disliked her on sight. I got the impression that she didn't think too highly of me either. Guess who ended up becoming my best friend? Jocelyn and I survived some of those awkward early pubescent terrors together -- you know, like boys and impending boobs and periods. Kind of like combat buddies!


Years later, in my early 20's, I was involved in an adoption search and support group. The monthly meetings were held in a large church meeting hall. We pulled chairs in to a large circle -- sometimes 50-60 people around -- and shared the joys and sorrows and frustrations of our searches as we got closer and closer to finding and reuniting with our birthfamilies or children relinquished for adoption. It was always an amazing process of blindly embracing strangers/newcomers who gradually became friends with whom we shared our hearts and souls and our common goal of finding our parents and our children -- and the side effect of finding ourselves in the process. I loved to here these people tell their stories. I loved that they listened to mine.

At one large meeting, I found myself seated across the circle from two women in their 40's. I couldn't help but look at them a lot because they were in my direct eyeshot. I think I ended up staring a lot. Particularly at one of them. Something about her fascinated me. Was it her short, whispy ash-blonde hair? The mischeivious. twinkle in her blue eyes? Her nervous mannerisms? I ended up focusing on her perfectly manicured, long, red finger nails. She was the definition of good grooming. I loved that she took such good care of herself. But she made me uncomfortable for some reason. I decided that I didn't like her and had no desire to be around her. Again, guess who turned out to be my best friend? Guess who knows me better than I know myself, who pushes me to face sometimes uncomforable truths, who shines a light on the really deep issues. That's my beloved Marty Smith. She has been "family of choice" to me for the last twenty years. She has enriched my life in many deep and magical ways.

Marty Smith


I have a little side business called Upstage. I stage houses. This means that I optimize them with furniture and accessories to look their best so they will sell faster and for more money. Before I became a realtor, I had staged a house for a builder. The house was listed with a realtor, Dave Bevis. I saw his name on the sign many times as I worked on the house but I did not meet him until much later. When I got my real estate license and started working at Bassett Mix, I finally crossed paths with Dave. I introduced myself and he gave me a brief, gruff hello. I decided I didn't like him much. He seemed gruff and unpleasant. What I didn't realize until later was that most of my issue with Dave was my own jealousy that he had the listing on the house I staged. I guess I had gotten a little territorial about the house and, in my wanting and working to become a realtor, I envied how far ahead of me he was. That "gruff and unpleasant" man that I thought I didn't like turned out to be a warm, funny, kinda-shy-at-first kind soul who has, out of the goodness of his heart, given me lots of opportunities in real estate and has become the first person I turn to for real estate advice. I owe him a lot.

Northwest Arkansas Real Estate

I've been given enough of these cosmic lessons that I have finally learned. Now, whenever I meet or encounter someone new that I don't like, I remind myself and I get a little excited -- I may have just met my new best friend! At the very least, I treat them with more kindness and compassion because I have learned that you never know what wonders might lie behind a bad first impression!