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      Ringing Up Patience at Register Six (Guest Post by D’Anne Hotchkiss)

      Today, I have the honor of presenting D’Anne Hotchkiss.  D’Anne blogs over at LifeIsHOTblog.  Today, she shares a recent STRETCHING experience with The Stretched Community.  A brief bio with her contact links is included at the end of the post.  Enjoy!

      Life is not a road race. When we slow down, we have time to think, and to build our patience muscle. (The photo was taken by Brad Smith, and is used by permission.)

      The other day I made my monthly pilgrimage to Wal-Mart. I picked a time of day calculated to have few shoppers and little road traffic. What is the virtue of waiting three light cycles to get through a single intersection? I love efficiency and I’m not a good ‘waiter.’ My idea of good use of my time would be to have my teeth cleaned, my hair cut, and a mani/pedi, simultaneously, preferably while I listen to a good book. Don’t ask me about lines at toll booths or airport security.

      Shopping list in hand, it took me 20 minutes to pick up my items. Ah, the bliss of shopping off-peak. And then I got to the checkout. I picked a short line. I noticed that the clerk moved slowly and appeared to be of below-average mental capacity. But she was steady. Fair enough, hat tip to the hiring manager. Oh all right, the other lines were longer and those shoppers had more items.

      Over on my blog, LifeisHOTBlog, I write about how being honest, open and true in all things makes us better people and bring us better relationships. So from time to time, I push myself to do something hard because it makes me stronger in my relationships. This was one of those times.

      While the clerk rang up the women in front of me I bid my time and bit my tongue. I tried to find the shiny side of each irritating minute. I can tell you that every item was lovingly picked up by the cashier, carefully scanned, with a pause for the scanner beep, and only then gently placed in a plastic bag, as though it were a raw egg being readied for a long trip. My life has been rushed lately and I should take advantage of this time to slow down.

      As each bag started to get full, the clerk would carefully rearrange items to make room for one or two more things. No sense wasting plastic bags that may end up in the landfill and that cost her employer a tiny slice of profit.

      There was a misunderstanding about which item was being purchased in multiples and so required adjustments. Miscommunication happens to all of us.

      Why, one week before Thanksgiving, did the shopper need a large roasting pan and this particular size of aluminum foil? Oh, to have childlike innocence and curiosity.

      Finally, it was my turn. Yes, the clerk exhibited the same care, if not expediency, with my order as she had with the previous two. I pictured a cat I had who, when she knew she had no choice but to endure the vet’s exam or other indignation, became completely passive. Not a hiss or snarl or claw.

      Honestly, I don’t know how long before I was sprung free, but I’d guess 20 minutes.

      So what did I learn from my experience? Nothing new. But I was reminded of some things that I seem to need reminding of periodically. Number one, remaining pleasant and gracious on the outside lessens my feelings of impatience and aggravation on the inside. Number two, I can embrace my fight and flight emotions and hold them, without them holding me. Number three, hissing, snarling and clawing really get you nowhere.

      What about you? Do you sometimes choose to stretch yourself by putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation? How’s that work for you? Like any exercise, it gets easier with time, so keep at it.

      D’Anne Hotchkiss Bio:  Life is rarely perfect. Sometimes, it is not even good. These are the parts that especially deserve expression. That’s my belief and what has inspired me to create Life Is HOT. I’m on a journey to embrace life through Honest, Open and True living. Come along with me at LifeIsHOTBlog and follow me on Twitter, @lifeishotblog. Let’s see what happens.