Meanwhile at home I’m figuring out a few little things I am able to do. Laundry seems to be one activity that has the stamp of approval. It’s not too hard to sort and fold clothes. Alas, pride goeth before the fall. (Well truth be told, this time the fall came first, then the pride at doing such a good job with laundry, then the proverbial fall.)
To give the backstory, just before our cycling trip, I stopped in at the brand new MEC store near us and found a great pair of casual pants. They fit perfectly. I took them on our trip and in the evenings wore them alternatively with my blue jeans. I even told my sister, Mary, about them, thinking she too might like a pair. Since I’ve now been sidelined, these have become a staple in my wardrobe. This week, I dropped them in the dark load for their regular washing. Up until now, I have always washed them regularly and then hung them over a rack to dry. This week, I mindlessly threw them in the dryer along with everything else.
I was horrified when I took the load out of the dryer, began the folding and noticed my nice newish pants mixed in. After my initial panic I realized that it might be possible that these were ‘allowed’ to be dried in the drier. Taking a quick look at the garment tag, I read they could be dried in a drier at low heat. How hot could the dryer have been, I wondered?
The answer to this became all to apparent this morning when I put the above-mentioned pants on. They did go on, but just. Suffice it to say they are no longer my go-to pants.
The good news about my misadventure is that it started me thinking about garment tags. Whenever I am buying some new piece of clothing, I take time to look at the little tag that lets the consumer know what kind of care the garment needs. I have been known to return a beautiful item back to the rack because of what was revealed on that tag. I know how much, or how little effort I am willing to put into the care of my clothes. I know that if rayon is part of the makeup of the item, it goes back on the rack. For me, the wrinkles are not worth it. Hand washing, cold only, no wringing, lay flat items also rarely get purchased with my debit card.
Pondering all of this today, as I was tugging up my pants, I realized that each of us also comes with a little human form of the garment tag; a tiny little pointer letting others know how to best care for us for maximum benefit.
Each of us performs best in this world when we are treated the way that resonates with us. The problem is that just like with real tags, some of the human tags are hard to read; they are written in all sorts of languages we do not understand. Others come only with symbols that we don’t recognize. When we do recognize the symbols, we may not take note of the colour or number of dots giving us more detailed information. And most often, these tags are not placed in full view, so even when we remember to take time to try to figure out what care is needed for our friends and family, we have to make the effort to look for the carefully hidden tags. To further complicate things, sometimes garments that look very much like other familiar garments, in fact have their own special care preferences.
When I was in the clinic this week, one of the receptionists was sitting in her regular chair. Attached to her chair were some large, bright birthday balloons. I wished her a happy birthday. She seemed delighted with her chair and with the kind attention she was receiving. If she had been wearing a human garment tag, I suspect it would have given us permission to ‘make a fuss’ over her. Because I noticed this and have commented on it, it may mislead others to think I too would enjoy this kind of attention. My garment tag, however, would not display the symbol for balloons on the back of my chair!
I like to think I am a pretty good reader of garment tags. I’m intrigued by them. I love that there is so much information displayed in such a small space. I love that sometimes we have to decipher it. I love that different symbols and languages can be used for the same thing. Yet I also know, that just as I completely mistreated my lovely pants this week, pants that I LOVED, I can also misread and sometimes completely miss, the little signs people around me are displaying. I recognize that when I get it just right, when the signs are clear and when my attention is well placed, I have the chance to help others and myself to show up exactly as we are meant to be; in our best form, in our brightest colours and knowing the fit is just right.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What’s on this person’s garment tag?’
Elizabeth creates and facilitates custom workshops for corporate, public and private groups. She provides leadership and personal coaching for individuals and groups. Contact Elizabeth to help you identify and place the correct ‘care’ symbols on your work and life.