This post has been a long time coming. I’ve put it off until after the end of 2017, obviously, because how can you have a year in review before the year is officially over? You can, it just won’t be as review-y.
Ya’ll remember we got married and moved to Portland at the end of 2016, right? Here’s your reminder.
Most people define their success in life, their stability, their “status” by their job. When I don’t have stable income, or I’m constantly having to worry about where my next check is coming from, I understandably start to freak the fuck out. Some people deal with that kind of stress with a spring in their step.. Not a care in the world. Not. This. Kiwi.
I knew I had plans of completing the Dr Sears Wellness Institute online for my health coach certification, it was only a matter of finding the motivation to enroll and then the savings to pay the course fees. I opted for a three month payment plan, instead of paying a large lump sum. It’s hard to save when you’re living paycheck to paycheck, having just moved clear across the continent, refilling our home with necessities (and some not so essential…), so it was easier for me to do it this way. Almost like a guarantee it would get paid, instead of waiting until I had the full amount saved (what if something happened? IDK, this is just my brain.)
Anyway, as much as I love it here, and as much fun as we had camping, hiking, and exploring in 2017, last year wasn’t the greatest for us. A new home with new neighbors, new friends.. New jobs. A lot of new jobs.
SO MANY JOBS.
I should note that Ryan has had constant employment since we arrived; I’m really not sure what I would have done without him. He’s allowed… I say allow, but his tenure and stability have enabled me to follow my heart and to keep us healthy, both financially and emotionally.
I’m leaving out names, and certain details for privacy reasons, and to attempt to keep it as concise as possible.. My attention span is little but fierce… so here’s the gist of it.
We arrive to Portland a little before the new year and begin our positions mid-January that had been negotiated before we moved. As an aside, I was astounded to hear the amount of employers that asked us to get in contact with them after we moved…
IIIIIIIII’M sorry… but who moves 3000+ miles across the country without at least some sort of job security?
Plenty of people, surely. I’m just not one of them.
I worked for OrangeTheory as a sales associate and I personally didn’t find it very stimulating. Too much focus on sales tactics, not enough one-on-one member engagement besides dealing with troubleshooting issues. A lot was asked of both full and part-time employees on top of requiring 3 workouts a week that can’t be while you’re on the clock, as long as there’s space available. If there isn’t, you’re outta luck.. SOOOO, if I couldn’t get a spot on a day I worked, I’d have to come in on my day off… I don’t know what I expected, but when I was offered a position at GNC with a strong possibility of (assistant) management, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.
Unfortunately, GNC was more of the same only worse. Manipulating customers so you can work your pay plan and make the most money, while drive the most sales on specific brands and products, regardless of your opinions on certain companies/ingredients/whatever. OK, it sounds like a typical sales job, but turns out it wasn’t for me. In addition to working beneath a chauvinistic pig, no amount of money was worth looking like an ass every day because I wasn’t being trained on anything besides opening/closing procedures and how to work the cash register. Never once was there a mention of a new-hire training portal, daily emails I should have been looking for, conference calls, upselling and sales techniques.. So when a large-scale manager came in (district area, general manager, I have no idea) I ended up looking like a lazy piece of shit when I was only doing as I was told by my direct supervisor… I digress.
I kept scouring craigslist and indeed for different opportunities. I wanted to work for a smaller, more locally-bred company. Something with a proper sense of community. I would find it, but it wouldn’t last long.
I was hit over the head with a perfect opportunity to work for a small, local woman-owned meal prep kitchen as a prep cook; chopping, slicing and prepping veggies, garnish and the like and packaging them for delivery. I applied and was hired almost immediately. I made no hesitation to admit that I have no formal training or kitchen experience. “I’m a passionate home cook, but that’s about it” I said, “But with enough support, I can do anything.” To which she replied, “Knife skills I can teach anyone.. It’s the hustle I need.”
I felt like I had found my place in the world. I was getting paid to chop veggies and cook and all this stuff I love doing anyway… surrounded by people who share the same love for food, fitness and nutrition. It was amazing! Think of all the experience I would get!
Weeks went by and while I can’t say how everyone else felt because they never said anything negative to me, but after about a month or more, I noticed a shift in atmosphere; the girls weren’t as talkative when I was around, never said hello or goodbye as I left. I chalked it up to being the new kid and not finding my spot in the shop.
If you’ve never worked in a full scale, high volume kitchen environment before… it can get… CRAZY at best. Hot stoves and ovens, making sure the timers are set, in and out of the walkin, making sure everything is getting prepped, cleaned, and stored the right way, portioning, plating and packaging… anything and everything in between. It was a lot, and when my position came to an end, I didn’t feel as though I had people supporting me or giving me the resources I needed to really succeed.
Small examples include; when I would be prepping something, doesn’t matter, say its a case of potatoes. I’d be chugging along, doing things how I would see to be helpful and after an hour (or only when I was close to being finished) I would be told there is a better, more efficient method of doing said chore. I said on numerous occasions to everyone… if you see me doing something wrong, TELL ME NOW, not when I’m almost done. I’d rather know NOW than waste time. But it didn’t get much better from there.
When I first started, the owner was insistent on finding time to have dinner with Ryan and myself as a family (us, her and her husband) as a way to get to know each other better.. Several weeks in, the planning came to a halt.
Small quips and comments that I can only look back on now and see as backhanded compliments, insults and jabs at my inexperience, with no real teaching opportunities. The owner was only really around on packaging and delivery days, which were insane and totally not the right time for coaching, but never once was I ever brought aside to be told “Here’s what you’re doing…. Here’s how you can do better.”
The last 3 weeks or so, my hours kept getting cut; I wasn’t being assigned on days I knew there were big catering gigs scheduled, wondering why they didn’t need ME as the extra help.., having me leave early or not come in at all, “We’ve got it under control, enjoy the day!” I pushed it to the back of my mind…. For weeks I figured, “There’s nothing wrong. They’d tell me if something was wrong.” I remember texting friends about it… talking to Ryan about it. “Everything is going alright at work, right?” As far as I know!, I said. I knew I still had things to learn, but I would never be ready for what happened next.
June 21st, 2017; the first day of summer. I go into work for my scheduled shift and the owner meets me at the door. My heart is already in my throat. She lets me know there have been “mounting frustrations” among the other employees, which was news to me, about my lack of attention to detail. My head was spinning, my worst fear was coming true. “We’re going to have to terminate your position.”
I remember trying to breathe… I remember walking away to the corner when I could sit on the curb and cry.. Trying to process what had just happened. What.. why? What’d I do? Remember to try and breathe.
I go back to the kitchen, still sobbing, asked for a hug and let the owner know how much she’s inspired me and how much I love her and what she’s built for herself. Totally not bullshit, by the way. Her boss lady game is unlike anything I’ve seen.. A female entrepreneurial dream. She swears up and down that she sees “So much potential” in me as far as my cooking, baking and coaching goes, she’s happy to provide any references I may need for future positions but I’m just not the right fit for this kitchen. We parted with her telling me to, “Enjoy my summer.”
I would not, in fact, enjoy my summer.
Feeling utterly defeated, worthless and foolish, a week after being fired, I mailed back the key to the business with a card thanking them for everything, because the wound was still fresh and I was embarrassed to show my face. Self doubt is a bitch. I never heard from any of them again.
I got started again quickly. Remember how I said my mental stability is directly linked to my financial stability? Well.. I got to work looking for interviews, pumping out my resume to as many places as I could. Only eight days after being fired, I interviewed and was hired on the spot for a position at Ready, Fit Go (previously from Eat Fit Go rebranded… and now officially back to Eat Fit Go again) with the caveat that the open date wouldn’t be until the end of July. Corporate logistics, health inspections, menu/cook training, and other things, I’m sure…
This shouldn’t be so bad though, right? The Dr Sears Wellness online courses started mid-July, I was set to start my new position at Ready (or Eat), Fit Go at the end of July. I would get some downtime to reassess myself, explore our new city and focus on getting back on track with a normal routine!
I’d be wrong.JULY-SEPTEMBER 2017
Our first training day was sometime in July. We’re getting a few hours in to learn the menu and get to know the brand. You know… normal first day stuff. A few hours of that and we’re done. We’re also told the opening has been delayed until the end of August.
Great. But what’s another month? I SHOULD HAVE ABANDONED SHIP HERE.
I’ve taken the following information, dates and quotes from saved correspondence.
- July 25th, a second quick training a week later to learn the POS systemAug 1st a third training.. Piggybacking on our first day. I have not been paid yet.
- Aug 7th the manager sends a text letting us know that training for the 8th has been cancelled. They are getting an influx of employee applicants and want to make sure there isn’t too much redundancy. The remainder of training has been put off until the week prior to Grand Open.
- Aug 13th, I text the manager asking about training… they were still waiting on inspections and shit. No training. I also asked about my check from the few hours of training in the month of July. I am assured it will arrive Thursday and I will be called/texted when it comes in.
Its mid-August. I’ve now gone two months with no income. I can’t apply for unemployment because… I have a job. But my job isn’t open yet so I can’t work…. See the problem I’m having? Starting to freak out a little more.
- Aug 23rd, I get a text from the manager to be on the lookout for an email with final updates, dress code, etc. I never get it.
- Aug 24th I text the manager back to ask about the email. “Sometime today I’ll let you know when it’s sent!” She never let me know about the email, but I got it later that night. September 6th is our new training day with a GO date of a few days later; that weekend. Another text to remind her about my check. I have not yet been paid and it’s been a month. No response.
- Sept 5th, its Tuesday.. I text the manager to express how excited I am to finally be getting started and I get: “Karen! Goodness! I’m so sorry I meant to call last Friday! I’m working on getting a check for you this weekend (our next pay date)
Also if you’re available to chat, we can chat. But things got moved [back] two weeks. I don’t foresee any more delays to it will be 100%. Training will start on Wednesday 9/20.”
I’m, understandably… furious. What was supposed to start in July has now been moved twice to the end of September. HOW MANY MORE WARNING SIGNS DO YOU NEED, KAREN??!!
I immediately respond that I can’t delay any longer, I’ve been out of work for two months now and literally broke. She verifies the amount of hours I worked in July in order to get a check to me… a whopping 8 hours.
- Sept. 10th, I hear back from the manager about my check and that she will transfer the funds to my bank account. WTF… but OK? I get a bank transfer for the hours I worked… no taxes taken out.. Just… a deposit into my account. ::shrug:: At least I finally got paid! I get the deposit on Sept 11th for hours I worked in July and Aug 1.
- Sept 16th I text the manager, she’s notorious for not responding or not giving up info unless she’s being prodded… so I prod. “What’s the plan for the 20th?” Bruiser had his dental extraction that day, so I needed to make sure I was available to pick him up asap when they were done. No response.
- Sept 17th, I text her… again. What’s the plan? I.. kinda need to know. She says, “We will update everyone on Monday [tomorrow] with final details.”
- Sept 19th, I never get an email. Are you surprised yet? I text her again which is now the before we are supposed to start training… and here is the reply:
“I know, I’m sorry! I just got final updates…. Things for moved [back] to the following week so we will not start work tomorrow :sad cry face: I know it’s last minute, but I just found out last night and wanted to let everyone know this morning! I can give you a call later to chat and give you more details!”
Kiwi… has officially lost her shit.
I reply, “I’m not interested in a phone call, I’m interested in a paying job :shrug: fuck me, right? How do I know after three months of ‘promises’ that anything is going to happen next week when you said LAST MONTH we’d be starting. This isn’t the kind of company I want to work for. Good luck finding another employee to deal with this kind of mental abuse. :thumbs ups:”
The last thing she texted me was that it was out of her control and understands my frustration. If I’m still interested once they open, I can still have a job!
I kept tabs on them, for funsies. They didn’t end up opening until the end of November – mid-December.
During this whole waiting game, I successfully completed my entire online health coaching certification, launched a fundraising t-shirt campaign to help make the final payment but, MAN was I depressed.
I literally felt like I had been spun and torn into so many different directions with Eat Fit Go, wishing I had seen the warning signs earlier (but how could I have, really?) and I just REALLY wanted another job already. I felt useless. I wasn’t bringing in any money, bills were starting to pile up and I had no job prospects, and unable to apply for unemployment, I’m on the verge of a mental breakdown.
I see a listing on indeed.com (maybe? probably?) for open interviews at Sierra Trading Post. I get offered the position, again, on the spot buuuuuuut of course, the store hadn’t opened yet. I had my reservations. This one, though… had a date set in stone. We started two weeks or more before Grand Opening by setting up the displays, hanging clothing and making sure its ready for when we open the doors on October 19th.
I’m brought on as a part time employee, promised 25-30 hours a week, which would be perfect for what I wanted to do with coaching, baking and cooking. The brand new opening, plus the looming holiday season meant that there was a stiff rise in alloted payroll. HOURS FOR EVERYONE. I was working 35-40 hours a week, consistently. It was more than I had intended, but hey… I’ve got bills to pay, this is cool. I charge on.
Christmas eve, our GM lets us know that because the holidays are over, payroll has been cut (duh, anyone who works in retail knows January takes a nose dive), but I assumed I would still be getting 25-30 hours like I was told in my initial hiring. I was cut to 16. Four 4-hour shifts. I couldn’t even get a second job if I wanted one, for all the effort that’d be going into STP.
I voice my concerns, take extra hours as they become available (because, really, who can live on 16 hours a week?) and immediately start looking for another position, just in case.
Three weeks go by with little to go by as far as an increase in hours, so when I see that MINI of Portland is hiring a full time receptionist, you’re goddamn right I applied. I’ve worked at MINI on the east coast as a product genius, I know the brand, I LOVE the brand, I drive the brand. It’s a familiar environment, with reliable hours and stable income. Will I stay here forever and retire? Probably not. But it’s an environment that I enjoy being in, literally surrounded by cool cars that I LOVE with time to spare for my own interests, weekends off to bake and experiment and subsequently provide more content for this here blog you’re reading.
I answer phones, greet guests and help the managers make their spreadsheets and other documents look better. Ryan is a salesman at the same dealership, his office is right across from my desk, separated by a car, but we rarely see each other because of our duties. I work four 10-hour days with weekends and Mondays off so I have plenty of time to cook on my days off. Even on the clock, I’m required to stay at my desk, and I’m allowed to work on other projects whatever they are, as long as I can greet customers and answer the phones, so I blog, read, research and brainstorm.
TO THE FUTURE
All of 2017 it felt as though I was breaking out of my shell, working in different environments, seemingly chasing my happy and getting nothing but bad directions along the way. I love cooking, baking and feeding people. Why not turn my passion into something that makes me money? Isn’t that what most people are striving to do? Find something they love and be able to live the life they want? If you’re going to be at work for 40+hrs a week to provide for yourself and your family.. Your pets… shouldn’t you at least be enjoying how you’re spending that time? At least a little?
Now that I feel as though I finally have some certainty in my life, I know where my money is coming from and even though I’ve got some bills in collections, I feel… OK. I’m a certified health coach, I meet with a handful of clients off and on (for now) as a way to gain experience and gather reviews for my website and I’ve also been in contact with a community kitchen to work with them getting my business up and running to provide small-batch handmade baked goods for local coffee shops in the Portland area. They offer small business courses in exchange for a reduced rental rates so you can get your biz off the ground from the start. I’ll be taking their classes in March, so I’ll update you when that comes around!!
Eventually, I would like to also become a certified yoga instructor, on top of being a health coach so that I can continue to build my practice of self-love and spread that joy to others. At the moment, I’m focused on settling into my new role as receptionist, continue working on my coaching business and develop a plan for my cooking projects.
We are continually a work in progress.
I guess the big question now is….
WHY AM I TELLING YOU ALL OF THIS??
Social media is funny, right? You build relationships with all these strangers and sometimes some of those strangers actually start to give a shit about how your life is. Posting EVERY detail of EVERY moment of EVERY day “live” on social media is mentally fucking exhausting for me. I want to be able to live my life, leave certain moments private and be able to analyze some shit on my own before I jump to crazy conclusions and post them for everybody in the world to see. Seriously.. If I posted half of the shit that comes to mind on a daily basis as it happens, you’d think I was crazy, too… so. HOORAY for knowing when not to over-share!
HOWEVER, I do believe it is important to share the good the bad and the ugly with people to help others realize that it’s OK to feel like you’re failing sometimes. Other people feel that way, too. Most people simply choose not to share it in favour of a rose-tinted and carefully curated feed. There’s nothing wrong with that, either. You do you, booboo, I’m just saying not to believe everything you see. Even the happiest people have moments of insecurity.
Anyway, if you were able to make it through all of that I truly appreciate it. Most days, I’m in disbelief at how much love and support I receive from people I’ve never met. All because we have something to learn from each other. I am so grateful for every single one of you! Without this community, I don’t know if I would have found my passion in food, wellness and the love I have for helping others make health their hobby, too.
If you’re feeling generous, donate to The Joy of Mindful (tr)Eating! Any donations would go to keeping the blog running for another year. Some future fundraising plans include a possible collaboration with a tattoo artist to produce stickers are a way to help pay for my business start up costs; licensing, course fees, my WordPress subscription. I am also open to other fundraising suggestions!
“Asking for help with shame says:
You have the power over me.
Asking with condescension says:
I have the power over you.
But asking for help with gratitude says:
We have the power to help each other.”
― Amanda Palmer, The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help