Spain: Facing attachments and eliminating gaps doing merchandise work for Shen Yun

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Greetings, venerable Master!
Greetings, fellow practitioners!

This year in Spain we had a new challenge: 11 shows in 4 different cities and therefore, our first Shen Yun tour in Spain! This meant a change in each of the practitioners involved in ShenYun in our country. Everything was going to be different, from promotion and ticket sales, to the organization of tasks and logistics.

Understanding the role of merchandising in the theater

As the person in charge of merchandising this year, the first thing I thought was that organizing the stands in so many cities was going to be a big challenge for us. Shen Yun has been coming to Spain since 2014. During these years we have always occupied a small space inside the theaters, always thinking that merchandising was an almost imperceptible but precious complement.

There used to be only 2 or 3 practitioners to manage the merchandising table, which was no more than 2 meters long, and we ordered a very moderate amount of products. In 2022, we dared to order a little more and we were surprised that the public was more receptive and more interested in buying. So we decided that this year we would make a bigger order with wider variety of products and that our table would be bigger.

But it wasn't until talking to practitioners doing merchandising in other countries that I realized that I was not focusing correctly on the importance of merchandising during the show. I had always thought of it as an area of little relevance and as a small flower in Shen Yun's big wonderful garden.

During a meeting, the person in charge of merchandising in New York said something that made me think how wrong I was: "those of us who manage the merchandising desk are the first contact the audience has with Shen Yun when they enter the theater. It is a great responsibility to welcome them attentively and live up to Shen Yun's excellence because to them we are part of the show." I finally understood, and I got to work.

Our team this year consisted of 5 practitioners, one of whom is my mother and another my daughter. A few of us got together to decide on what products to order. Then, my mother and I calculated the selling prices of each product. I drew up the price list. I made a dossier translated into Spanish with the descriptions and prices. In addition, another fellow practitioner, my husband, helped me find an online program to manage the stock and keep track of sales.

We also bought a barcode scanner with the idea of speeding up the sales process and saving time. I had to enter each product with its photo and prices into this online program which took quite a bit of time. We purchased black velvet fabric to cover the tables. I purchased display busts for the jewelry and different accessories for a nice table presentation. Many of these accessories I had to line with black fabric or adapt them.  Getting everything ready for merchandising was a lot of work and took a lot of time.

When the merchandise arrived, we did the simulation of how the stand would look like and set up the whole table in the office of our family business. I also did the inventory, made price lists and many other things. I was under a lot of stress and tension as I wanted everything to be perfect.

Recognizing the attachment to self-validation and recognition

When we were a few days away from the start of the tour we shipped all the merchandising on a pallet directly to the theater in the first city of the tour.

Since my whole family was traveling, the logistics were not easy either. We indicated to our clients that we were closing up our store for vacations and I spoke to my daughter's school to ask them to keep her up to date with all homework and exams. It was also not easy to get my husband's family, who are not practitioners, to understand that we were going to do all of this.

The only way to carry all our luggage and the things we needed to set up the stand was to mount a portable trunk we had on the roof of our car. The very morning before starting our trip we wanted to mount the trunk on the car but couldn’t find the keys we needed to open it! Where were the keys? It was impossible that they were not in place. We looked in the office, at home and in the most impossible places.... they had magically disappeared and after hours of searching and delaying our departure we opted to rent another trunk.

Meanwhile, our Shen Yun general coordinator was waiting for us to arrive as soon as possible for my husband to attend the local media for interviews about the show. We finally left 5 hours late and my husband did not arrive on time.

During the trip we shared and went over and over how we would set up the booth and thought about everything that needed to be taken into account. We felt prepared and I felt satisfied with myself because I thought I had everything under control. Then suddenly something happened that made the feeling of control disappear.

It was already night and we were half way along the journey when we entered into a windy area. Suddenly at a speed of 120km/h the roof trunk, which we had rented that same morning, broke with a huge bang that scared us all. The displays we had lined with black fabric, the bar code reader that was going to speed up our sales, the assembly material such as scissors and small utensils, the labels with the names and prices of the products were all blown away. When we finally managed to pull over on the side of the highway, the only things left inside the roof trunk were the black fabrics and, luckily, a backpack with a computer.

It was an extremely stressful time and we all clearly felt that this, coupled with not being able to find the keys to our trunk, had been a major interference. But we also felt very clearly that Master protected us from this danger, which could have been far worse. Not being able to stop in time, we could not pick up anything that had fallen on the road because it was too far behind us. Besides, it was night, there was traffic, it was very cold and very windy. We could only tear off the loose part of the trunk lid and continue on our way. We decided to do FZN and calm down. 

An inner voice said to me: "Do you realize? Just 20 minutes ago you were feeling satisfied about all the work you had done, about how organized you were and that you had everything under control". In an instant all that security, satisfaction and control disappeared completely and I had a not good thought: "I would have been able to prove that I can perfectly organize the merchandising, that I am very capable, that I am worth it and that I do a good job", and now everything had flown away in the darkness of the night.

This helped me to realize my attachment to recognition, to fame and to validating myself. Why do we do things? Who do we do them for? Don't we do everything to help Master save sentient beings? Does it matter who does a job as long as it is done well? The result should be the best possible and we should be perfecting ourselves and adjusting to Shen Yun's level of excellence, but without losing sight of the fact that we are only the tools that help Master. If we could see this whole matter from higher levels, we would surely realize how tremendously ridiculous our attachments are and we would even feel ashamed.

The next day, we arrived at the first theater without half of the tools. Luckily all the merchandising products were already waiting for us at the theater. When we met the rest of our teammates and I explained to them what had happened, they immediately encouraged me. Together we set up the stand as well as possible. One fellow practitioner immediately brought us the tables, others helped us bringing in the merchandise and opening all the boxes, others set up the television.  We looked for alternatives for the things that flew out of the trunk, we spread the cloths on the tables and set up everything in time.

Truly valuing my colleagues and supporting them will make the job go better

When the public entered the theater that day, the avalanche of people at the merchandising booth was enormous and sales were much higher than we expected. Everyone wanted to buy. By not having the barcode reader the online program was useless.  Therefore the whole sales process was very slow and some people left without buying.

I was able to share with my team while the audience was watching the show and I explained to them how hard the work had been in the months leading up to the show. I told them about everything we had done at home and how I tried to get everything ready and how I was saddened by what had happened. Surprised, they asked me why I hadn't asked them for help. They told me that I shouldn't have taken on all the work. They didn't understand why I didn't divide the work among all of them.

At this point I realized that I really hadn't had enough confidence in my team. I realized that I insisted on doing everything because I thought I would do it better. How ugly is the face of an attachment when you see it in front of you. How ugly is this part that we still haven't cultivated. Why didn't I trust my teammates? Why didn't I see all their qualities and skills right away? What kind of team leader doesn't delegate jobs? We are all Master's Dafa Dizi and it is Master who puts us where we should be for a reason. Who am I to question this?

I changed my thoughts and attitude thanks to the help of my teammates (including my mother, daughter and husband) and their unconditional hearts despite my mistakes. I saw how they were compassionate with me, did not judge me, provided solutions and were working with pure and righteous hearts. Their eyes were shining with excitement because they were able to participate and help. They wanted everything to be perfect, just as I did. They all contributed with ideas and improvements that made the work much easier.

When the shows in the first two cities were over, we all went home because Shen Yun would perform in the last two cities of the tour in Spain one month later. Having realized these two ugly attachments I actively decided to change immediately. I realized that all of us, Master´s Dafa Dizi, are very valuable tools and that we should not underestimate how enormously necessary we all are.

A fellow practitioner told me: "where one doesn't reach, the others do". That is what teamwork and forming one body is all about. If we learn to value each other and see our qualities, as Master does with us, we can do our work better and more effectively.  We are all part of one body that functions in perfect harmony when each of us does our part.

A change in thinking changes our environment

We had to reorder merchandise urgently, as we had sold almost everything and we were short of merchandise to sell in the second half of the tour (we still had 7 shows to go).

While we were waiting for the new order to arrive from New York, I decided to delegate as much as I could to my teammates. One of them became responsible for all the inventory and also for correcting and modifying the product dossier. Another became responsible for price calculations. One was in charge of taking notes of all the meetings we had and drawing up a list of suggestions for improvement. Also each of us was responsible for a merchandising section, so each knew exactly the characteristics and sales arguments of their section: one for scarves and fans, one for jewelry and mirrors, one for bookmarks, albums and music, one for the men's section and handbags, and one for the cash register. At this point we finally started to work as a united team. Each one focused on and took responsibility for their bit.

Four weeks and two thousand kilometres later, we arrived to the last two cities of Shen Yun's tour in Spain. In these cities we were able to set up large and very nice booths, well organized and with all the necessary tools. We had good sales and we found a very appreciative audience and incredible experiences from many people who had traveled a long distance to see the show.

Changing our perception about the importance of merchandising within the theater was fundamental to totally changing our attitude and conversations with the audience. We became the point of information for the audience before the show and were able to enjoy the audience's first impressions at intermission. We experienced the magic of Shen Yun in their eyes, in their comments and in their desire to take Shen Yun home through merchandising. 

We sold as many scarves as ever in all these years. We sold almost all the jewelry, the entire men's section, the children's section, the albums.... We had never sold as much as in the last two cities.

Remaining united and looking to the future as a consolidated team

Today, in the merchandising team in Spain we are in constant communication with each other through a group chat, where I share all the news that Shen Yun Shop presents to us for the coming year. We have had very interesting meetings with other merchandising managers from other parts of the world, where we have learned from their experiences and we are going to implement ideas and suggestions they have made. For the next season we are going to incorporate another fellow practitioner who has already expressed her unconditional heart to help Shen Yun. Each of us has a clearly defined area of responsibility within the team.

I am deeply grateful to Master for continuing to trust me and giving me the opportunity to experience situations that make me look inside and realize where I am not doing things right.

I am also very grateful to my fellow practitioners and family for helping me improve every day. I have realized that some deeper attachments come up again and again and we are removing them layer by layer.

The attachment to validating myself and seeking recognition from others is something I have been detecting in myself for years and I thought I had pretty much eliminated it. But I have seen that although I have overcome it in the past, this was only one layer at the level I was at. There are still more layers and I must always be attentive for the sake of my cultivation and for the sake of the work I do.  If I don't give importance to certain attachments, they can turn out to be serious gaps that evil can exploit to harm the project I am involved in. This is very serious.

I must first of all be responsible for my cultivation, be diligent and realize that this is not volunteer work but a solemn promise I made to Master and that if I do not fulfill it, it will harm many beings who depend on me on many planes. This is something so immense that from high spheres my attachments and selfishness are surely unbearable.

Master tells us: “It’s a problem if you forget about your cultivation because of doing too many things. You are cultivators. I’m not talking about your past, what you once were, or what you display on the surface. I am talking about your core and the meaning of your life, the responsibility you shoulder, and your historic mission. Only thus are you truly a Dafa disciple.”
What a Dafa Disciple Is - Fa Teaching Given at the 2011 New York Fa Conference

It was a leap of faith for me and my family to close the business, take our child out of school and also face the financial expenses that this entailed. We are Dafa Dizi and our hearts are devoted to assisting Master. When we truly put Dafa first, help comes to us. This is what we clearly felt because when the Shen Yun tour in Spain ended this year and we returned home suddenly more orders started coming in to our business, my daughter was able to take her exams and got very good grades, and my husband's family has seen that closing the business for 2 weeks didn't hurt us and commented on how nice the Shen Yun commercials looked on TV.

There were some difficulties and interferences in several areas this year during the tour in Spain. My understanding is that going from an average of 4 shows per year to 11 means a big jump and more responsibility. Evil doesn't like what we do and even less if we do it on an even larger scale. We must first and foremost take care of our cultivation and avoid leaving gaps at all costs. I understand that this is the responsibility of being a Dafa Dizi.

Thank you Master!
Thank you fellow practitioners!


(Selected article for the European Fa-conference 2023 in Paris)

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