I stand my ground….

I mentioned this once in a previous post. I feel it necessary to mention it here because of a conversation I had the other day. I don’t remember how the conversation started and I won’t repeat it verbatim because I can’t remember it exactly as it developed. The gist of the conversation was this.

After a few statements between the two of us about minimum wage not being enough for people to live off of, (here in BC minimum wage is $11.35/hour), she commented that as a business owner if minimum wage is raised then she would have to increase prices which would then put what she sells out of reach for the lower income earners. It is a vicious cycle. Raise minimum wage so those making minimum wage can afford to buy what they need, businesses then have to raise cost of products to cover the increase they have to give to their employees, which then puts the minimum wage earners back into the same situation they were in where they can’t afford the things they need.

I mentioned to her my feelings about how every working person should be paid the same salary no matter what they do. I know where people go the minute I bring this up and she was no different. She didn’t agree because what about the people who spend the money to get an education/degree? I’ll say it again and clarify a bit more. I think EVERYONE should be paid the same. This is regardless of education, race, age, sex, all the things they list now for hiring so companies are not considered prejudice.

Let me explain this especially in regards to education. First, when a person is hired, they are hired to do a particular job. Whether that person is self-taught, learned through on-the-job experience, or has a college education, the job is the same. If a person doesn’t have a college degree and is paid less than the person with a college degree but they do the job equally then this is prejudicial treatment. The job is being done. If the job is being done then the person doing the job should be paid the same as ANY OTHER person who does the job regardless of education, race, sex, and so forth. Let me say that again. THE JOB IS BEING DONE.

If I am being paid less because I’m self-taught, then I am not respected for the services I provide. It is as simple as that. The choice to get a college degree is the individual’s choice. As a self-taught person, I just happened to choose a different method to learn what I need to know in order to perform the same function. It doesn’t mean it cost me less and it doesn’t mean I know less. All it means is I learned how to do it through a different method. It doesn’t mean I am less able to do the job. The other part of this is, if my not having education credits for the skills I have and my resume reflects experience, why should I not be considered equal to that of a person who has education credits? My experience proves my ability to perform the job.

On a broader scale I would like to propose this idea even further to span through all jobs within a company. NO ONE SHOULD BE PAID MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE. Being paid more implies a person performs a job of greater value than another person within the company. This is just not true. In fact, if anyone really looked at what is being done by all the various functions within a company one would realize that those who are paid the least are generally those who do the actual labor that creates the product or service that is necessary for the company to exist. Without that product or service there would be nothing.

Granted a CEO may have the top position that makes major decisions for the company but who is the one that eventually carries out those decisions? Usually those closer to the bottom of the pay scale. Why then is the CEO making hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions while those at the bottom of the pay scale may earn only twenty or thirty thousand a year barely enough to feed themselves let alone a family? Without those at the bottom of the pay scale, there would be no service provided or no product to sell. How is this not prejudicial treatment?

Without cashiers, a company who sells products and services to customers, wouldn’t be able to sell their products and services. Therefore, there would be no business.

Without janitors/cleaners, any company who does business with the public or requires customers or potential clients to be in their office or store, would not be able to retain their business due to the filth of their environment.

These are just two I mention because in my many years of experience these are two positions which are paid the least and yet I feel their position is far more important to the company than a CEO. Some people would say a CEO is required. I could challenge that idea by saying a CEO is only as important as the people below him/her make the CEO. Granted the larger the company the harder it is to manage but again, I will say this. Without those who do the leg work or labor to produce the product or services there would be NO company/business. The only reason a CEO can be paid their exorbitant pay is because of those who work so hard and diligently on creating the product and services that the company sells. Take those products and services away and there is nothing and no need for a CEO. Take away the CEO? Oh yes, I’ve worked for a company which ran for about at year without a CEO and it survived. A store without cashiers wouldn’t survive a day. So, where is the logic in pay scales?

I sometimes wonder what would happen if all those at the bottom of the pay scale just stopped working. All on the same day, and those needing jobs refused to be hired. This would mean no company could replace anyone until people were shown respect for the work they are hired to do by being paid a decent wage. Pay me the same hourly wage as anyone else in the company (yes, in the company, not in a particular job).

I could touch on other subjects like pay for part-time work versus full-time, benefits and so on. It is as simple as this. It doesn’t matter whether I work part-time or full-time, the hourly wage should be the same for everyone in the company. A person who stocks the shelves shouldn’t be paid more or less than a person who manages a department. A person who manages a department shouldn’t be paid more than a person who fulfills a cashier’s position or a customer service position. A person who cleans the toilets or mops the floors shouldn’t be paid any less than a person who writes the programs that run the registers or tracks inventory. And the CEO, or President or Vice President of the company shouldn’t be paid more than a data entry person or an office administrator. No company, if managed properly, will have someone performing a job that isn’t necessary to the existence of the company. If the position is necessary then why should the wage for that job be any different than the wage for all the other necessary positions within that company?

The same goes for benefits. If the CEO is given benefits then every single employee (part-time or full-time) of that company should also be given those benefits at the same level.

I know the arguments, but what if so-and-so doesn’t perform as well as I do? Why shouldn’t I get paid more for performing better? Well, why should a company keep around an employee if they aren’t performing their job function? But the opposite is also true. If you choose to do more in your job than the company states for that position then that is your choice. The company didn’t hire you to do that, so why do it? This may seem as though there is no incentive to do better or move upwards in the company. If you feel that way then you are doing it for the wrong reasons.

If the company is run properly under these situations, meaning the pay is leveled out so everyone earns enough money to have a decent living where they can raise a family, have a roof over everyone’s head and food in their stomachs then the incentive changes. It changes to that of people wanting to do what they love to do and work harder to make the business more profitable. With better profits the company grows, with more growth better pay and so forth. Everyone works equally hard and becomes devoted to the company and its business. They are no longer expending their energy on complaining or job hunting for a better paying job and if the company includes mentoring programs then people are more willing to share their knowledge and help each other learn and become better at what they do.

Could you imagine where a company could go if it was built upon this idea? Can you imagine what the work environment would be like for employees working for such a company? I can. Even if for some reason, say a product wasn’t working out the way they had hoped and the company started having financial issues. In this environment adjusting everyone’s pay a bit to help the company refocus and find a solution would (I think) be more acceptable than a workforce reduction. If more companies were managed in this way, then it would create an environment where everyone wanted to work together to find a solution.

This is where I stand. This is where I stand my ground. No situation is perfect. I will admit that. Even this idea has its flaws. But something has to change. There wouldn’t be a need for minimum wage in circumstances like this, except to keep bad business owners from ripping off employees. For 33 years I have watched corporations which are poorly managed hurt and devalue the employees who do the leg work, who do the labor while their CEOs, Presidents and Vice Presidents make half a million or a million dollars or more. Their pay doesn’t get adjusted, they don’t lose out on their bonuses while employees who desperately need what little pay they get to feed their families get laid off and possibly put out on the street. I have experienced it. I have lived it. I have watched people’s lives be ruined by it. I’ve watched people go through every bit of their savings and their retirement to survive what corporations do to them without a second thought while their leaders walk away with thousands if not millions of dollars.

It is time to put a stop to this madness.

On top of that, the digital world today makes it so much easier for companies to not look at people as people. They don’t see me as a single mother who will lose her only income to feed and care for her child. There is no guilt behind the choice to do a workforce reduction of a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand people. To them it is just a number, an adjustment to the bottom line. It is a position where they can pay someone from another country which will translate into lower wages and it doesn’t matter if that person isn’t trained or able to perform the job very well. Especially if it is behind the scenes where the customer will never see or know anything about it. Just show the board of directors that over the year they were able to cut so many dollars out of the budget to raise the level of profit. It doesn’t matter that the morale in the company grows worse each year because they are only concerned about the bottom line for the end of the year, or next year.

Running a company like this will eventually end in ruin. It doesn’t matter how many mergers the company goes through. If the management of the company doesn’t undergo a severe alteration, eventually, it will sink. The name may change but what is underneath the covers is still the same. If customers don’t do their research they may end up being fooled by the cover. Then there are the customers who hang on, hoping what they get for their dollar will change or improve with the new merger. And there will always be the customers who choose the lower bid for the work they want done and expect more than what they pay for. Customers like this will bleed a company dry if the company isn’t managed well and firm on the cost of their services/products.

The abuse that goes on within large corporations is horrendous. Employees are worked to death and paid the same salary whether they work a forty hour week or a sixty hour week, all in the name of giving the customer what they ask for and when they ask for it. Even if what is being asked is unreasonable. I’ve seen timelines shrunk from a year to three months all so they won’t lose the customer. Especially if the customer is their major breadwinner.

I would say I’m glad to be out of this large corporation mentality but I would be fooling myself if I believed I was. I’m not. I am, however, down further on the pay scale within a large corporation, so I have witnessed this mentality from the lowest rung to ( was about to say mid-level but that wouldn’t be true) within the bottom third. The upper two thirds is management or specialists which the company will pay extra for but are rare. I’ve watched restructuring occur so many times, I lost track. Restructuring is just a preamble to workforce reductions. They move management around so when a new manager is positioned over a group of people there is no sense of loyalty to the employee and reductions can be done without guilt. When the manager has no long term relationship with those who work under him/her then they aren’t burdened with the knowledge that I’m a single parent, sole income earner and no savings to live off of because I wasn’t being paid enough to build up a buffer for such a situation. Or that I just went through a hard battle with cancer and need the work because the cost of treatment took everything I had. Or…. Or…. Or… The longer a manager manages people the more the manager learns the employee’s personal situation. Remove this and you destroy the will of a manager to fight for their employees.

Yes, there are times when a company needs to downsize. Something goes terribly wrong and profits dive. Products and services need to be taken out of production or no longer offered because customers don’t want them anymore. But when a company does restructuring over and over again, performs workforce reductions over and over again. Year after year, or every couple of years, there is something terribly wrong within the running of the company. As an employee who performed the same job function for twenty or more years and went through buy outs and mergers so often we couldn’t remember the name of the company we worked for, it was painful to watch. Frustrating to know nothing we said was penetrating the muck at the top. What is that saying? Insanity, is when you do the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

I lived in the corporate insanity. I think I’m out of it now and I hope I won’t have to go back into it in order to earn the money I need to take care of me and my daughter.  Earning minimum wage sucks. I don’t know how anyone can survive off of $11.35 an hour. Working full time at that amount, I would barely be able to afford rent and food, but the job I have isn’t full-time. It is part-time which means I can’t afford rent and food. Until you are in such a situation you have no idea the toll it takes on anyone. Even if I worked full-time at minimum wage I wouldn’t be making the amount I made when I first entered the workforce at eighteen. That is almost 40 years ago!!!!!

Think about that for a moment. I’ve worked for nearly 40 years, been laid off and now making less than I made when I started working at the age of 18.

There is something terribly wrong with this picture.



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Balance, Boundaries, Emotional and now Mental…

I’ve been absent. Not on purpose. It is just how 2018 has begun with this blog. This is the first day of the third month of the year and I thought I would check in. Check in for me means reading over my last post and figuring out where I am now with where I was then. Hopefully, I have learned a few things. In this case I think I have.

In my last post I spoke about choosing the word BALANCE for 2018 and also choosing BOUNDARIES as my word for January. In January, I decided to do some research on boundaries. I needed to learn what some of the professionals advise about setting boundaries. I needed this because I felt at a loss as to how to set boundaries. They have always felt fluid to me. They could change depending upon the person and circumstances. Maybe that is why I have had issues in my life because I let them be too fluid.

I learned there are about four categories Material, Physical, Mental and Emotional. I had problems at first telling the difference between Material and Physical, as well as, Mental and Emotional. Once I got them sorted out it was easier to lay down boundaries.

For instance, during the Christmas period when I was doing my chemo treatments I let a friend borrow my vehicle for a long trip to visit family because their vehicle wasn’t large enough to carry all their kids, their suitcases, their gifts and other paraphernalia. When they returned my vehicle it was a mess. The windshield had a crack in it. The interior was filthy. Even though I have insurance to cover the crack in the windshield with no deductible, their excuse for not cleaning the interior of the car was that the place that replaces windshields will detail the interior of the car. This gave them the excuse to do nothing. I felt used.

After studying the difference between Material and Physical, I learned I needed to set boundaries around my property, like my car. It isn’t that I shouldn’t loan it, but that I should be more discerning as to who I loan it to but also have firm details of my expectations for when it is returned to me. I should have stood my ground and have them clean the interior of the car, and do the necessary legwork to get the windshield repaired. I did none of that. I let it slide. Consequently, though I felt used, I felt it was my fault in not standing my ground to have them fix the issues.

This was years ago and because it is still an irritant in my mind, I know this is a boundary issue I need to resolve. There are other material boundaries which I let slide over my lifetime and until now I didn’t sit down to understand them or try to do anything about them. Researching the different categories made me realize I have similar issues with all the categories. Just learning about the different categories was my goal for January.

When February arrived, I needed to select another word. I chose EMOTIONS. I chose this because of an incident at work that set a particular emotion into a tailspin. I needed to understand why. Emotions are my domain. That means no one can be responsible for my own emotions but me. The incident caused a return of high anxiety which I had felt when I was laid off of my job of 33 years. It took a whole day of journaling for me to understand why. My reaction came from a sort of snowball effect. The anxiety I felt when I was laid off came from feelings of incompetence, inadequacy, not being good enough and worthlessness from childhood. The anxiety was amplified by the fact that I am a single mother and my job was the sole resource of my income to support us. This was also compounded by the fact that I had undergone treatment for breast cancer just a couple years before which left me with a whole range of emotional anxiety. I needed to find some emotional balance, so this became my focus for February.

Half way through February, I felt like I wasn’t paying enough attention to my word of the year and month. I hadn’t felt like I was doing any work to bring about emotional balance and set boundaries. However, I soon realized that though the focus wasn’t foremost in my mind, they were in the background working behind the scenes. When something set me off emotionally, I found I would immediately try to find a way to bring it into balance. Most times this involved setting boundaries. Boundaries aren’t just telling someone ‘no’. They aren’t just about NOT doing something or preventing something. Boundaries are also about doing something that can put things right again. If I felt like I had let someone down, then I apologized. This brought about a wonderful discovery. Apologizing opened up discussion and what I thought was me letting someone down was an over exaggeration in my mind. This person never thought that and wasn’t disappointed in me. The only disappointment was in my own mind and discussing it with her allowed me to put that to rest and my anxiety over that situation disappeared completely.

This was an important learning experience for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t know that talking about things can make a lot of things better. Not at all, I already knew that. What I didn’t know was that apologizing even if I didn’t feel like it was my fault can be very therapeutic. It taught me that I need to set emotional boundaries within myself, that it is my responsibility when my emotions skyrocket out of control, I have to do something about it. Sometimes what I need to do isn’t necessarily what is expected. The last thing this person expected was for me to apologize. It wasn’t the wrong thing to do. In fact, it was so right I walked away from the conversation that resulted from my apology feeling magnificent. Learning I can turn around my anxiety that was spinning out of control and completely remove it by a simple action was something I had never thought possible until I did it. It is a lesson I hope to never forget.

In the end, I realized, I was being mindful of my words for the month and year. Finding them working in the subconscious was such a wonderful realization. It means this is important to me on a much deeper level than I had first thought. It also means, it will continue to work in the background as the year continues and I bring in other words each month.

I sit here now, the first day of March, wondering what word I should choose. Mid-way through February, I had a discussion with my financial advisor and heard some not so good news. I need to find a better paying job. I have started job hunting again. My experience in seeking a new job is limited. I haven’t had to do it for years and in 2016 when I was laid off I felt inadequate. I know this projected into my cover letters and the interviews I had. With this in mind, I realized I need to focus on a change mentally. That being said, I feel it is appropriate to choose “MENTAL” for my word for March.

I need to find balance mentally if I am to succeed at getting the job I want. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. I will need to reach deep and bypass or overcome the feelings of inadequacy, worthlessness, incompetence and not being good enough that have been ground into me as early as I can remember. There is a conflict that goes on inside of me. On the surface, I know I’m quite capable and in fact I know I perform my job exceedingly well. In just three months I was being told I am exceptional at my new job, in fact I am one of their best. I know this and yet, deep down in the dark recesses there are all these feelings from childhood that were reawakened and came back like a dragon in heat when I was laid off. Even though I know being laid off had nothing to do with my performance, it was a result of downsizing before a merger where even the best performers can be put out on the street. In cases like this, it is my own battle. I have to find ways to overcome these feelings or they will project themselves into an interview and cost me dearly. It does help to be in a job right now where I am told on a consistent basis that I am one of their best performers.

The point I’m trying to make here is boundaries aren’t just about keeping people out or keep people from hurting us or using us. They are also about learning to love ourselves, feel good about who we are, and to be able to believe in ourselves. As a child, I didn’t understand this and for years as an adult I never learned it. I thought if I just decided to not blame my past then everything would be fine and I could function without my past effecting my current or future life. Choosing to ignore something won’t make it go away. It won’t teach me how to heal from it or to alter my own perceptions. It just becomes that something that was shoved into a dark corner or in a small dark room where we hope it will stay not realizing it has its tendrils in everything.

It is time to take the mental out and play with it. See what can be done to bring light and warmth and belief in one’s self into the open. There will always be some darkness lurking. That is just the natural by product when light is present. It is my hope to bring them into balance so I can enjoy life a whole lot more.

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Balance and Boundaries…

Since my last post, I’ve been quietly contemplating life as well as observing it. My difficulty with telling someone ‘no’ without having to add an explanation to it has become foremost in my thoughts. My observations of other people has also made me realize I am not the only one. I have witnessed time and again that it is only the rare person who can just say ‘no’ without adding an explanation as to why. Why is it we feel we must explain why we say ‘no’, no matter what it is?

This time of year there are a lot of businesses, fund raisers, and non-profit industries asking for donations. I get it. I understand why they do this at this time of the year. Everyone is so focused on buying presents to give to their loved ones, to ask for donations for those in lessor circumstances, well, it can just make a person feel guilty for not giving. With so many organizations asking, people have to say ‘no’ sometime and when they do they feel the need to explain, “I’ve already given… I give at church… I give in other ways…. etc”. To just say ‘no’ for a lot of people, feels somehow wrong.

I wish I could change this for everyone but I can’t, so I decided to work on myself because it isn’t just in the asking of donations but when someone I know asks something of me which I cannot do, the guilt sets in. It took me three tries to say ‘no’ in a text message without adding on an explanation. This just isn’t right. The sad thing is many people expect that explanation too and won’t accept a ‘no’ unless they are given what they consider a reasonable explanation as to why.

I’m not a child anymore. I’m an adult. Being an adult means I am responsible for my own decisions. That means, I CAN say NO and not have to tell anyone WHY. If I choose to tell you WHY then be charitable and accept it whether you like my reason or not. Be understanding and kind even if I don’t give any reason. No one lives my life except me. So, no one knows what I’m going through, except for me. There maybe valid reasons I feel are private that I want only myself to know about. That doesn’t mean we aren’t friends. It just means I’m not ready to talk about them yet or might not talk about them ever but that isn’t a slant against our friendship. It is just me dealing with life in the only way I know how.

Lately, another situation occurred where I needed to say ‘no’. This made me realize I have boundary issues. I haven’t set clear boundaries for myself, let alone for other people. When I was a child, I had no boundaries. I wasn’t allowed any except those my parents imposed upon me, of which, they were allowed to cross anytime they wanted. As an adult, I have had difficulty erecting boundaries which are important as adults, consequently I have had difficulty in many areas of my life. Realizing this I have decided to make this a priority for 2018. This is how I plan on doing it.

New Year’s resolutions are common for people to make. I’ve made some in the past. In most cases my resolutions were forgotten within a few weeks. In recent years I chose not to make any resolutions because I know they don’t work for me. I’m trying something new for 2018. I have decided to choose a word for the year and a word for each month.

I have chosen BALANCE as my word for 2018. Each month in 2018 I will select a word to support my yearly word, so I can focus on a particular element in my life which needs balance. For January, my monthly word will be BOUNDARIES. I expect these two will go hand in hand throughout the year. I wanted to make my focus for the beginning of 2018 to be something which had come to the forefront here at the end of 2017. I think I have chosen well.

I often find myself out of balance in many areas of my life and I realized my issue with boundaries is that of not having a true balance in my boundaries. I do understand boundaries will shift depending upon certain situations. However, I need to develop a firm sense of what those boundaries are and where they should be before any shifting occurs.

Relationships have always been an issue for me because I have no boundaries at the beginning and then try and erect them later on in the relationship. That doesn’t work and does nothing but confuse the other person in the relationship.

There are so many other areas which need balance and boundaries like finances and health, that this is not going to be a simple task. I could focus in January on what areas require boundaries, listing them and then making each one a focus for subsequent months. There are no hard and fast rules to this. If I need more time for any particular word, I can extend it by just having the same word for the next month.

In reality I know what I am really doing is building a foundation which will be maintained throughout the rest of my life. I need this. And I’m willing to work at it so I will have a happier life, hopefully with much less guilt. I don’t want to choose to do something because I feel guilty. I want to do something because it is truly what I want to do.

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Why do I find life so shocking sometimes?

I knew it was coming but it was still maddeningly shocking. People set themselves up for failure. They sabotage good intensions and then blame others for their failure. It is hard not to blame myself for their failure at times, especially when they point their fingers in my direction. After living a childhood submerged in this mentality, as an adult, it is hard not to be pulled back into it. It makes my blood boil. And it is terribly difficult to let go of and not send myself down a path of justification in why I won’t do what has been requested of me. Family members are the worst at doing things which send me down this rabbit hole. Ultimately, if I allow it, I end up feeling like a “bad” parent or a “worthless” human being.

No sooner did I craw out of that rabbit hole, than they tried putting me back into it. They love trying to keep me subjugated. If I attempt to rise to my own wonderful self, there is always someone there who will try and put me back down “in my place”.

What exactly is “my place”? I remember hearing that my whole life, making it sound like it is a worthless and lonely place to be. “My place” isn’t where anyone else says I should be or thinks I should be. “My place” is exactly that. It is the place which I create. The place where I can be who and what I really am. Not what others believe. It isn’t even what I think others think about me.

What they really mean when they say “put you in your place” is “put you in the place I want you to be in”. They want you to get back in that little box they want you in. The box their minds created so your actions don’t challenge their way of thinking or being. They want you to live your life the way they are living theirs. That means, not living your life at all.

I crawled out of that box years ago and I am constantly amazed at how many people try to put me back into that box, especially people who consider themselves family.

I have learned this. If I ask those people who try to put me in my place, they would deny ever trying to do that. They don’t see their actions or words as disrespectful or judgemental. Not even when they go to my daughter and ask the very same request after I have told them ‘no’. Trying to get to me through my daughter is the worst act another person can do to me and is grounds for dismissing them from our lives.

This may sound harsh. I may sound like I’m a cold fish. I may even sound like I’m a “bad” parent. People who use children to try and get their way in life, to get around a parent’s decision, are people who do not have my respect. I have to do what I must to protect my daughter and our way of life. Just because someone is related by blood with my daughter doesn’t give them the right to disrespect me and the decisions I make.

Since starting my new job, my lagging spirits and belief in people was lifted several degrees above where they had fallen. They are hanging on by mere threads due to this situation. I want to believe there are people who are respectful and considerate and don’t disregard this respect and consideration in the name of family when they try and impose family obligations on their family members. I unfortunately haven’t experienced that within my own family. I have witnessed respect and consideration more with friends and strangers in my life than I have with family.

It has been difficult to side step that rabbit hole where they want to put me in my place. It is hard not to think of myself as a bad person in doing so. I have to keep reminding myself that if I don’t respect myself, my needs, my daughter’s needs, and our choices in life, then I can’t expect others to respect me/us either. If I don’t stand up for myself and my daughter then they will always expect us to succumb and be what they want us to be. Why is it so shocking to them to find out I’m not a spineless creature who succumbs to their every whim?

I find it interesting that the day of the second occurrence and attempt to use my daughter occurred on the day of our first snowfall which began after a sudden drop in temperature.  The roads turned hazardous over night as the temperatures continued to plummet and this morning everything is frozen over. If one believes that our emotional climate is connected to our local climate, it would be a very telling situation.

I used to think I would no longer be surprised by people’s choices in this life but I have discovered the Universe has a way of letting me know I’m not yet that jaded. It hurts to tell someone, especially family, that I cannot honor their request because they chose to make that request at the last minute. It hurts, yes. But just because it hurts doesn’t mean I am willing to jump through hoops or sabotage my working relationship with my supervisor at my new job in order to accommodate such a request. I can’t afford to. I need this job. If I didn’t have this job we would soon lose our home and end up living on the street. And yes, I told them such in not so many words, and yet I don’t think they totally get it.


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I’m an awful parent…

I have come to the following conclusion: I am an awful parent.

Here is the basis for that conclusion:

From the day she was born, I believed she was intelligent. I didn’t hide the world from her. When she asked a question, I answered it with honesty and if I didn’t know the answer, we would look it up together. I didn’t dummy down our conversations, not ever, not even when she had friends over to play.

When we found ourselves alone with no support, going through hard times, I didn’t shelter her. I told her how it was, and we talked about what we wanted to do about whatever those hard times were.

When she had her first realization of my mortality, we cried together and spoke honestly about the truth of it. That yes, I am much older than most of the parents of the kids her age. We faced it and moved on, and faced it again when something reminds her of that fact.

I don’t tolerate disrespect, from anyone. I let her witness this truth even if it means distancing ourselves from blood relatives. And we talk about the whys and wherefores of it all. This means we don’t tolerate disrespect between us. If it should occur, we talk about it.

There has not been a shortage of emotional outbursts, mine or hers. Discussions ensue that usually result in apologies, then hugs, and alone time if a person so chooses. I respect her needs and I demand she respect my needs as well. When this doesn’t happen we both witness things falling apart, we stumble, we fall, we pick ourselves up, and we talk.

Silence is not allowed unless it is to help one discover their own truth so they can speak to it if the need is there.

I have discovered, if respect does not exist, then anger soon rises and over powers whatever existed before it. Reasoning then disintegrates, unless anger is controlled and understood. Respect of one’s time and space is paramount. Respect of what one needs to do must above all else be honored. If not, there is no place for whatever is being requested, there is no required commitment to bring about what is being requested, even if that request comes from blood relatives.

There seems to be a misnomer about the term relatives or family. For some reason people believe this gives them the right to disrespect others who fall into that category. For some reason people believe this gives them the right to make impossible requests and expect the requests to be granted with a joyous smile and a jumping through hoops so outlandishly high it gives the one doing the jumping a nose bleed.

I don’t jump. I avoid nose bleeds. I don’t honor any requests which are not done so with respect to me, my time and my space. This is what I teach my daughter.

And yes it makes me an awful parent, if that is what you choose to believe.

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Time flies… and detours…

It has been over a month since my last post. I’m sitting here thinking about where I am right now and where I have come from over the years with this blog. I started it in hopes of exploring different aspects of myself and now find myself quite intrigued by where this journey has taken me. It definitely has not taken a path I had anticipated. Life seems to have caused a major detour.

Detours can be aggravating or they can lead one to a more scenic route with wonderful views and insights. Many times which version we see greatly depends upon how we choose to interpret it.

My interpretation many times was a view of ugliness, darkness and sometimes felt like I was wading through a huge garbage dump. When I look back on it now, I can see the pure beauty of all the detours and where they have brought me. I will be the first to admit that life works in mysterious ways. What we think is the worst thing to ever happen to us, can often end up being the least worst after we experience what else life has to teach us. This is why, though things appear as though I’m out of that long dark tunnel I spoke of in my previous blog, I hold myself in reserve, anticipating what else might happen.

When I began my journey to explore the submissive aspect of myself, I felt like I was finally on a path that would nurture me and see me into a better life. Then cancer entered my life, which put my journey of exploration into a state of hiatus. It remains in that state today. Once clear of cancer a year later, I celebrated by buying our home and finally feeling like I could breathe and live again. I felt for sure I was now on a path that would nurture me and have that better life. Then six months later I was laid off work. A year and a half later, I have a job and hopefully the finances we need to have a good life.

I have now been in my new job for almost two months. It is surprising how quickly those two months have gone by. For the first four weeks or so I experienced anxiety any time I thought about going into work or on the days I was scheduled to work. I wondered if that anxiety would ever leave me alone. I was afraid it would be a permanent part of my life.

One day, I sat down and thought about how I feel when I am doing my job. It had dawned on me that once I began my shift, I didn’t feel anxious, so I decided to take a deeper look. What I discovered was this. I didn’t feel anxiety at all while at work. In fact, I felt happy. Really happy. I enjoyed interacting with every single customer. Okay, there is the occasional customer who I don’t enjoy but they are short lived. I do what I can to get them through my till because I know, no matter what I do, their experience will not be a happy one. I can’t make people want to be pleasant, so I move them through as quickly as I can and hopefully without me showing them how much their attitude irritates me. I may run into one or two people out of the hundreds I interact with every day and believe me, they are like a small grain of black sand in the middle of a huge pile of shiny glittery grains of sand.

I have found myself often wondering what it is about my job that makes me so happy. I know it isn’t the money because I’m paid minimum wage so I don’t get paid much, only just enough to help pay my bills while on a strict budget. Standing on my feet all day isn’t fun either although it may help due to the additional activity which can help increase those happy chemicals in our bodies. I have to believe it is because of interacting with so many wonderful people every day and being reminded that this world isn’t as dark as the news reports can make it seem.

I often look back at my life to learn and get a better perspective on what has happened, where it has taken me and where I might want to go from here. Of late, I have felt as though my life has been in a very dark place for a long time with only a few periods of being in the light. Emerging into the light after a dark period can often make other parts of my life seem very dark. Where do I want to go from here? It is my hope that I will be in the light for many years to come with only a few small periods of darkness to remind me to appreciate the light I have.

I also recognize this new job is definitely one of a submissive nature. My previous job was as well, however, it didn’t have the rewarding aspects that accompany my current job. Hearing, thank you and please, many times a day, being in a role which is a service to others, and being told on my first evaluation that my performance is excellent and to keep up the good work, these things make me feel really good about myself. There is a part of me which happily twirls and spins inside when I experience these things. The occasional flirtation doesn’t hurt either. *grins widely*

Once I realized these things about my new job, the anxiety vanished. I still went to see my doctor for a refill on my medication, for that “just in case” moment since I haven’t needed it for over a month now. I’m cautious enough to understand, though this may be the end of the anxiety/panic over this situation, it doesn’t mean I am free of any triggers that might bring them back. I realized this just yesterday when my daughter was watching “The Office” and the scene I watched was them pranking an employee about being terminated. I could feel the fingers flicking over the triggers threatening to flip them on. My daughter finds the show funny while I find it reminds me too much of my old job. Those few minutes of watching the show reminded me how grateful I am to not be in my old job any more. I know the show is meant to be a comedy or sort of mockumentary but it is too close to the reality I lived for over thirty years. It is amazing what we put up with because we are too afraid to try something else.

I began to write, “for now”, in regards to my life being good, but I’m done putting conditions on my life. I want to be done thinking things are temporary. Unfortunately, this is the conundrum I find myself within. I want to believe I’m through this and life will be good, but I’m cautious because past experience has shown me how temporary it can be. I’ve been taking one day at a time, enjoying each day as it is, then like today, I look up and I’m surprised by how many days have gone by. Not in a bad way, just in a surprisingly good way.

This is where I am right now. What comes next? Well, my plan is to just try and enjoy life and whatever it decides to put in my path.

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We’ll Be Okay

I’ve had two full weeks at my new job, and been paid my first pay check. Having some overtime pay on this check helped to buffer the shock. I sat down and did some in-depth analysis of my month-to-month income and expenses. Thank god for my financial advisor and that his services come free from my bank. I feel like I can finally breathe again. I’ll know more once I am able to sit down with him and discuss the long term impact on my finances however from first appearances, this part-time job will provide what I need.

Physically I am able to handle the work better than I had anticipated. At first an eight hour shift on my feet took a lot out of me. It still does but it is getting better. My daughter helps on those days by cooking dinner if we have something she knows how to cook.

I expected within the first month to end up sick because I was in the public a lot more and not so isolated in my home. That prediction came true, however, not from the source I had thought it would. My daughter and I went shopping for her to pick out some much needed undergarments and a couple days later, she came down with a major cold. A week later and I started showing signs of getting it. The timing was good for something of this sort to happen. I am hoping to only miss two shifts at work. It hit me on my two days off. I had two days scheduled to work with another day off following it, so by only missing two days of work, I had five days to work on getting well enough to perform my shifts this weekend. So far, I feel as though I am on the mend. My check at the end of the month will be a bit lower than expected but I will be okay.

My last post was filled with a lot of emotions as a result of my situation. I read over it before starting to write this post and I still feel very strongly about what I had written. I work as a cashier and without someone performing that job retail businesses would not be in business. Yes, I know they have automated tills but even with those, someone has to oversee them because they aren’t perfect and there can be issues with product packaging that makes it difficult to scan them. Plus the amount of behind the scenes work that goes on for changes in product pricing due to specials and discounts means the system isn’t perfect. Knowledgeable customers catch these imperfections in the system.

I am surprised how much I enjoy the job. I meet a lot of really good people every single day. It has helped bolster my flagging perception of people.

I don’t really have much else to say in this post other than to say we’ll be fine. Unless I have missed something significant in my calculations, this part-time job is all I need to make ends meet. With it being part-time, I will also have time for my artwork and helping my daughter acclimate to her new school which is as close to homeschooling as one can get and still be under the Ministry of Education.

I’m more at ease these days. The anxiety is mostly gone, although I have moments it flares up, I’m not sure what triggers it. I’ve had moments while I’ve been sick of having flashes of anxiety that goes as quickly as it comes. I am wondering if there is such a thing as post-traumatic disorder from being laid off. The anxiety goes away as soon as I remind myself that I have a job and it is enough even with missing two shifts at work this week, the pay will be enough to fill in the gaps that my retirement income has within it. I don’t know how all of this will play out when it comes to filing taxes, it is a learning curve for me in a completely new situation. The good thing is, even though this job is part-time, I get benefits. I’m still learning just what those benefits cover.

I feel like I can breathe again. However, each breath taken is done so cautiously. It is difficult to feel safe given what I have gone through over the past three years and actually longer. I have learned when looking over my past, that things do indeed happen in threes. Maybe it is just how we look at it that makes them look like they belong together in such a grouping but whether it is or isn’t, it has left me with a lot to ponder.

I have had three, what I consider HUGE life changing events. In 2005, I began my journey as a single parent which took me down a path of making some major decisions to improve our lives. This involved a move across country, taking us further away from family and friends but something that needed to be done in order to give us a place we could call home and put down roots. Single parenthood was and is a huge life change for both my daughter and me. I believe that relationship and the subsequent issues for a year following its breakup were toxic to me and resulted in the cancer that developed in my body which became the second life altering event. At the time, I believed facing the challenge of having cancer was the hardest thing I ever had to do. At least until a year later when I was laid off of work and I was faced with the third major life changing event.

I sat and thought about all of these things Tuesday as I waited to see if the radiologist wanted any more pictures taken for my mammogram on my one remaining breast. It is difficult to believe one is now safe from harm. I wasn’t feeling well, the cold I had contracted from my daughter was gaining its foothold and becoming worse, and I was afraid. Not of the cold but having to face yet another tough obstacle if the pictures didn’t come out clean. As it turned out, they did want more pictures due to an anomaly on the ones that were taken. The radiologist thought maybe I had powder or residue on my skin causing an issue when the pictures were taken. I had no such thing. Ever since having cancer I don’t use products other than soap to wash with and deodorant and I had not put on any deodorant because I knew they don’t want you to wear any when having a mammogram. Either they hadn’t cleaned the machine well after the previous person or they didn’t take the pictures very well. Another technician took the second set of pictures and when she came back she reassured me that the anomaly wasn’t on the new set.

It won’t matter whether my exams are clear of cancer for the next twenty years. Every day of my life I will wonder if there is cancer in my body just looking for a place to grab onto and grow. Cancer is a horrid thing to deal with but what is worse is the treatments they continue to use. I won’t go into that.

What I do want to say is how difficult it is to compare and judge life altering events in our lives. Today, when I look back, what I experienced more recently in the job lay off feels as though it was the hardest thing I have ever had to face, while I also know when facing cancer I felt the same way.

Cancer made me face the reality of my mortal existence and that I won’t live forever. The emotional and mental turmoil I went through this past year made me realize the fragility of the mind. I came very close to losing my mind and not being able to cope. To face your own limitations is difficult. To face them alone is even harder. To face them in front of an 11 year old who grew to be 14 years old during this time, and having her witness my fragility was shattering. She expects to have a mother who can handle anything. I think she still sees me as strong but she now knows I have limitations. We are learning to function with those limitations.

I’m afraid to say I’m out of that long dark tunnel now. I’m afraid to look around and see that we aren’t, that there may still be more to come. I’m afraid to celebrate that we have finally emerged from three major life changing events before I’m really sure they are over. What we will do is celebrate this new job and that we have come through what was for me a very dark period of unknowns. If I read the signs correctly, we have a whole new life ahead of us which has an ever expanding range of possibilities. The main thing I have learned from these major events in our lives is to not give up hope, to not close doors on possibilities but also, and I think this is the most important one of all, that just because something looks like it is the best path to take, it might not be the right path to take.



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