Craig: Your question to me when I asked you to do the interview was “Why me?’ And my answer was because quite often I look for everyday people who I find to be very positive or doing positive things. Many people are not able to identify with Oprah Winfrey, Depak Chopra or Joel Osteen. People will think, “It’s easy for them to be positive, after all they are rich. That’s what they do for a living, they are experts.” But when I focus on someone like you, the lady working at Meijer as a cashier, then maybe they can get it. They will see someone more like themselves choosing a positive path, maybe even a new way of living.
Am I the only one noticing how positive you are or do you hear it often?
Karen: Well actually, I do get it a lot. My nickname from many of the customers is Smiley or Happy Go Lucky. Most of the time it’s Smiley. Customers will call in and say, “My cashier Smiley was there and once again she helped us out.” My director will say “O.K. Karen enough’s enough.” I will say, “but I am doing my job.”
Craig: I have a small gutter and window cleaning company. Sometimes customers will come out and say, “You all are having so much fun. I came out because I want to laugh too.” Its sounds like that’s how it is with you here at Meijer.
Karen: One of my coworker’s Cheryl, works my shift and we get along really well. Both of us are quite positive. If one of us is down the other is going to bring them right back up. So sometimes people will look at us like “will you shut up.” Some will say we are too bubbly. It does not matter if it’s 4:00 in the morning or 5:00 at night.
Craig: Well that’s good. You all have each other to bounce off of. I think that’s important to have other positive people to help us along.
Karen: It helps a lot it really does.
Craig: Do you have days when you don’t feel like being up beat. Is it for the job? What I mean is with my business I tell all my guys we should always speak and be friendly to the customer because we are in their territory. The least we can do is speak and be upbeat. So I wonder for you, is it for the customer or is it more natural?
Karen: For me it is more natural. I was not always like this. When my father passed away over 23 years ago I took it real hard and sometimes it is still rough. He was the one who always said don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff. He would always look at me and say Karen there is something positive. I don’t know what it is. If God closes the door, he’s opening a window somewhere else. Keep looking.
Craig: I agree. Even if something bad happens I always ask what is the hidden opportunity in this? There is always something good in it. Even when family members have passed, I try to ask Why now at this particular time? What am I supposed to get out of this?
So in a way it sounds like the way you live now is a tribute to your father. Am I right?
Karen: I believe it is. He is the one who really pushed me towards this. And with my health history, I am the oldest of six. My brother two years younger than me, had a major heart attack two years ago. He had a triple bypass and he should not have been here today. A year later to the day my third brother six years younger than him had a heart attack. He had a triple bypass also. His doctor said with both of you having it and your dad dying of heart disease, have everyone checked out.
I walked in to have a stress test and I was not even on the treadmill for 5 minutes when they threw me off of it, because I was going into a heart attack. Right there.
Soon after that my brother had another heart attack and his son gave him CPR and saved his life. He was in a coma for six weeks. He and his wife were never supposed to have children according to what the doctors said . His son is 18 now and once again saved his life. I said to my brother, this is why you had him. Something else was going on.
Craig: It’s funny because I have a theory that positive people have certain philosophies in common. One you mentioned is this whole idea that things are inter-connected. That they are not haphazard. Like your brother and your nephew saving his life. And the thing about not sweating the small stuff. A lot of positive people seem to feel that same way.
With the inter-connected thing, that’s how I decided for sure to interview you. One day while I was shopping I told myself I would chant my mantra and soon would have the answer as to what to do next for my blog. So I shopped and chanted in my head. I forgot that I told myself this. Then I ran into you and you asked how I was doing. Then you said “Is today an easy day? And it was in the winter, which for me it was my slow time for my business. So I thought and said “it is an easy day.” I can do whatever I want to. Then you said “the easy days are the good days.” I said “you are right”. As I walked out I said “she is always upbeat. I am going to interview her.” Then I said “that’s the next thing I am going to do with my blog. That is my answer that came from me chanting my mantra.” Suddenly, I got this feeling I get when I need to pay attention. Then I knew for sure.
But the way it all came together seemed interconnected.
Karen: Everything is interconnected. My son and daughter had to move back home. I feel like I am blessed to have enough room for them to move back. My son is 33 and does not like having to move back home. I told him, “honey just be glad that I can do this for you.” He and his wife totaled both cars and she is not working. Here recently he came to me and said “I just got approved for food stamps. Now you don’t have to pay for our food. Mom I think things are finally starting to look up.” I said “that’s your first positive.”
Karen: There is a higher power. Whether we want to admit it or not. My husband has had two bouts with melanoma. It started to spread. He is now a survivor. But all these things that are going on, it happened for a reason. I don’t know why yet. I don’t agree with it. But it is always to the point that I agree with the fact that God never gives you more than you can handle. Sometimes I look up and say “I am at my breaking point. I need a little help here.” Somehow things calm down and I get into a better frame of mind and I get better with it.
Craig: That’s good. I agree. On the health end, Do you feel that being upbeat prolongs your health? Do you think this gives you better health?
Karen: It’s just a better way of looking at it. I think. I am not down because I have heart disease. I am trying to take better care of myself. Like with my husband. He has diabetes to the point where he should have been in a coma or dead. He survived that. I got down and prayed. And that’s all there is to it.
Craig: Do you ever think that your being upbeat changes the environment of the store or people you come in contact with?
Karen: I don’t think about it, but I know it happens. When you are waiting in line, its easy to be crabby as heck. I greet you with a smile, a sincere hello, and that will disarm 99% of them. At the service desk, I say sorry to keep you waiting can I help you? I know it does affect others because I can watch older shoppers, you can see if they have been through my line. They will look and be happier. There are people who will wait in line 5 an 6 deep for me.
Craig: I have a guy at another Meyers who teases and jokes with me and I will look for his line.
Karen: It makes you feel better and I get as much from them as they get from me. Most of the customers recognize me by name.
Craig: I personally feel that when you do your work with sincere care for the work and the customer, your work becomes a ministry by a higher power.
Karen: Yes as a matter of fact, when Christmas came we were supposed to tell everyone Happy Holidays. I told sincerely told everyone Merry Christmas and if they were Jewish I told them Merry Christmas to me and Happy Hanukkah to you. No one complained at all.
Craig: Is there anything you want to share with readers in closing.
Karen: Yeah. Always look for the positive and try not to get frustrated. When I get frustrated I try to take ten minutes to myself and block out my mind. Everything then seems to calm back down. I don’t know if it’s meditation, but whatever it is, it’s just my way. Even when I come home, I need ten minutes to myself, and then I can transform from working woman into Mom. The kids understand and it works out well.