Monday, February 28, 2011

What goes around...

Years ago, I was telling GoodBuddy about setting up my altar in my new home. I was explaining how it was annoying that I didn't have a good compass to tell me where North was, so I could position the elements correctly.

At the time, Good Buddy thought it entertaining that I practiced witchcraft. After all, his group of friends didn't stray much into the occult...

Fast forward. GB and I have been through A LOT. And recently, we've been sharing each other's burdens as we both fashion a new life for ourselves. He's moved physically, from Boston to Florida. I've moved emotionally, from corporate America to entrepreneurship. We both have experienced times of doubt and insecurity. We've also been relying on one another for motiviation, confidence, advice and support.

Today, I got a gift in the mail. I opened the envelope to find a simple note: "To keep you on the right path." It was a compass. On the back, he had written, "Find YOUR true north."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ugh - stress

My whole "change of life" has been, in part, to reduce day-to-day stress. And, for the most part, it has. But recently there are two huge stresses that are really taking their toll.

1) Money. I've been covering 100% of utilities for awhile. On a salary, no probs. On unemployment, prob. I want to talk about it, but apparently, confrontation cest'ne pas bien. 2) Big fight with one of my best friends. She wanted me to validate her point in an argument. But the reality is, she had unreasonably expectations.

A true Leo would stand up for her rights and beliefs. So why can't I? I feel like I need to minimize my financial needs with the roomate and apologize for my response to my friend.

I guess what I TRULY need is to strike the balance between compassion and self-respect. How soon can that lesson be learned? How soon can it be put to use?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Knowing my place...

So far, life at the restaurant is good. I'm learning a lot - not necessarily explicit, but more of what I'm picking up behind the scenes. I haven't yet been "accepted" by the staff, but fuckit - they're all 10+ years younger than I am and, frankly, I don't need their approval.

What IS driving me crazy is the inefficient and impractical way things are managed. I certainly can't walk into a situation and tell the powers that be how things should be done. But, oh, if I could...

They expect us to know wine and wine pairings, but they don't offer any concrete suggestions. I.E "Suggest the Riesling when...", "the Malbec is good for..." And then they test us on our knowledge and we get in trouble for not having the answers.

Same goes for the food. I know a lot about the dishes I've ordered. And a fair amount about the dishes I've served. But there's no "menu bible" that shows what each dish looks like and what the ingrediets are and how it's cooked. Let's be honest - you can read a menu till the cows come home (buh dump bump cha) but it's not until you see it in real life can most of us actually grasp it.

These and so many other things I would like to suggest. I'm not in a place to do so and that pains me - both from a personal perspective but also for the restaurant's greater good. But what can you do?

In the meantime, I pray that I make much money. I'm wicked broke - to the point of not being able to pay rent. I need to talk to ye olde roomate about the utilities, but both of us are too uncomfortable to bring it up in person...

So much going on, so much going through my mind.. The GM is manager on duty (MOD) tomorrow, so maybe I can casually mention some of this stuff.

Sucks being the smartest person in the room, eh? LOLOLOLOL

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In, ss they say, the weeds

Third official shift and it was a double. And, oh!, what a double it was.

Seemed mgmt hadn't thought to take into account it was a 3-day weekend.

10:30 the doors opened. 10:30, the onslaught began. It ended around 9:30. P.M. Do the math. By the time the restaurant was cleaned and re-set, it was a solid midnight.

Long day and, yes, I am making good use of my Tiger Balm. But it was also a good day.

Sure, there are still lots of things I need to learn about the menu and the computer and...

But, I also showed my true colors today. It was rip-roarin busy and only once did I slide into the weeds. And more times than not, I was able to take on more than I offloaded.

And by the end of the night, the GM came up to me to thank me. "Not many newbies would have handled tonight as well, much less with a smile. So thanks."

I take it less as praise and more as validation, if that doesn't seem too vain. Tonight also showed me many lessons that will be hugely important as I look to build on my "personal vision."

And, let's be honest. It was a hella day. But I have $200+ in my pocket I ddn't have this a.m. Guess I don't need to grovel for a loan just yet. Just yet...

Friday, February 18, 2011

I am Beet Girl

I had my second "official" shift at the restaurant yesterday. Unlike all the other lunch shifts I've seen, this one was jammin'. I had more parties in the first hour than I'd had total the day before. And these peeps were buying glasses of wine and beers and starters and desserts. Cha Ching. Not to mention they all seemed to be totally chill - which equals more cha ching.

Here's where the beets come in. We have a couple of great salads on our menu, but two fantabulous ones: A warm beet and spinich salad and an organic mixed greens salad. For me, I love beets, but sometimes spinach makes my mouth feel dry. So I usually get the mixed greens add beets. It's a fantastic combo but I don't really suggest it.

When diners order a salad, I often try to upsell by suggesting grilled chicken or a bowl of bisque to add to it. Never "why don't you add beets?". But for some reason, every salad I sold yesterday asked to add beets.

After awhile - no surprise - the kitchen started asking questions. "What the hell is up with the beets?" "Are you pimping the beets?" When we had only two orders of beets left, my last party of the day ordered ... drumroll ... two beet salads. No lie. The second they told me their order, I burst out laughing, right at the table.

Best way to earn a tip ever? Sign their bill "Thanks, Beet Girl" when dropping it at the table. Never fails.

PS - walked with $75. Not too shabby for a winter's lunch shift!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How to be Type Lowercase A

I know I sound like a broken record, but it's been so great to get so much time to focus on my own stuff. Getting back to the gym, fixing up odds and ends - like FINALLY changing the lightbulb in my kitchen overhead... - and sorting out my life.

Problem is, I've got so much backlog from when I was slaving at a desk that I've got tons of "my stuff" to attend to. And, because I'm me, I want to get it all done. This Week. And that's causing almost as much anxiety as life in a cube.

My stand-in therapist (yea - regular Amazing Therapist back in March!) had a great suggestion: make every decision on a case by case basis. So, do I go to the gym in the late morning and hang around feeling grubby? Or do I blow of the gym to shower and feel fresh and clean? These questions may seem so mundane, but they really do help alleviate the heart attacks.

I've had a couple of things - big and small - on my to-do list. What I'm slowly learning is that I really do need to think about them in manageable chunks. I made it to the gym today. I got a replacement bulb for that damn kitchen lamp. That was enough - just having the bulb. But, then, I got the inspiration to try to install it and, voila, there was light. But I would have been satisfied if not proud just to have bought the bulb.

And, yeah, I still want to build a shelf to organize my pint glass collection or a filing cabinet to tuck away all the rapidly accumulating unemployment paperwork. But that can wait. I'll do my best to spend the rest of tonight reading, chilling with the kitties and basically bumping on a log...

I'm not going to fix or organize or unwind my tangled life in one week or even one month. But, I'm (painfully) learning the patient approch to getting things done in the right priority. Without killing myself or winding up in the hospital.



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's a Brand New Day

No, I'm not quoting the Dr. Horrible song (although it IS fantastic and if you haven't seen the movie yet, what is wrong with you?). But that is truly how I'm feeling.

I spent most of last week wallowing. Work was on hold for a few days because of schedule issues and, for that reason, I seemed to hit a wall. Maybe it was because I was once again in limbo and I am sooooo not good at being in limbo. True Leo-style, I need to be in charge and on the prowl.

But this week is already so much different. The new schedule is out (although the scheduling process is already making me twitchy. People can be SO disorganized! But more on that later...). And now that I'm on the schedule, I can have a structure to my day. I know what days I have commitments and what days I don't and what I need to get down and how I should go about getting those things accomplished. Feels purdy derned good.

There's lots of progress on the other front too. Met today with a Business Strategist who specializing in advising entrepreneurs. He gave me some fantastic ideas for setting out on my research, identifying options and obstacles and concrete next steps. All at once, I feel like my dream isn't really all that far off.

So, it's strange to say that I am busier now than I was when I was "working." Perhaps because the work I'm doing now is building My Life Business. And not serving someone or something else. I have a chance to work with and for things that make me feel good - like the Farmers Market and the Time Bank, organizing my "stuff" that's been laying around in piles far too longs and FINALLY getting back in shape.

So, it's been several Brand New Days and I am confident they will keep on comin. I'm sure I have a little more wallowing in me, but I'm hopeful that those are the exception and not the rule.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Milkbone Underwear

Over the past few weeks, I've really been struggling with this "life transition." I know in my heart and soul that escaping "corporate America" is what I need to do. But there is so much baggage connected to that. I've been feeling grief and fear, worry that I will disappoint, worry that I will fail. Carving your own way is difficult enough, what with the thorns and brambles that threaten to tear at you. Add to that the concern - lack of confidence - from your immediate family and, well you can figure the rest out.

But, here's the rub. I was having dinner with a wonderful friend (you can never know how wonderful) tonight and this realization hit me like a brick. The world of business (as Scrooge would have said) is about competition - coming out ahead, climbing the corporate ladder better, quicker, more adeptly. The life-view that I hold (you may call it spirituality or religion or mantra or whatever) is that we are all in this together. We are all pieces of a giant, brilliant, radiant whole and that when we support one another, we support all.

A few years ago, when I was suffering through a painful breakup from a lover who had all but alientated me from my friends, I attended a ritual for the Celtic New Year. I felt alone and barren and bereft. And this very same friend reached over and rubbed my shoulders, took me into her arms. She had no reason to reach out to me - I had abandoned her without cause or explanation. But she saw my fear and pain and bore it with me.

The long and short of it is this: those that get ahead in the "business" world - corporate or educational or any other hiearchical structure - are those that know how to compete. And those of us that live to serve humanity and a higher cause, well... we're basically just fucked.

But, in being fucked (metaphorically of course) we have so much to gain. We are free to pursue our own paths, to forge new directions, to join forces in unexpected ways, to create a network of people supporting people.

It may be a radical notion, but one I can hope for as a better way ahead.

In the ever-echoing words of ancients before me: "So mote it be."

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

And this is why I love Canadians

If you haven't heard, I am somewhat obsessed with Canadian Stand-Up Comedy (See here for proof). I don't know why. But XM LaughAttack 153 is my go-to whenever I need a giggle. It's DEFINITELY an XL channel but the humor is usually much more insightfully vulgar than gratuitously vulgar.

A good example of this is Darren Frost. Unfortunately, none of the bits that are my favorites are available on youtube. I'll keep trying and update when appropriate.

BUT - here is the amazing thing. I listen to Darren's show and enjoy his stand-up tremendously. But he's not readily available on YouTube or iTunes. So I emailed him. And he sent me his DVD. ...BEFORE he asked for payment.

If you're in the States, that's a sign of a lunatic. If you're in Canada, that's a sign of a human being.

I mailed the check off today. If it gets where it's going, well, that's a case for the RCMP. But I held just as true to my end of the deal as he did.

This isn't the only Canadian Comedian who has offered this kind of deal.

In addition to the laughter, this has taught me one fundamental thing: why is humanity - and specifically US-based humanity - so cynical? He mailed me the DVD. I mailed him the check It's right and honest and fair and enjoyable, Wouldn't it be a great world if more things were like that?

I truly think Darren would agree with that. But he'd still call me Fucky if I sat in the front row...

Flowing with Grace and All that Other Nonsense

The style of yoga I most love, Anusara, has one central theme: soften and open to Grace. The theory behind this is, if you open to Grace, grace will lead you the way.

This morning, I was having a VERY hard time getting out of bed. I'd had another bout of my infamous insomnia and, after finally falling back to sleep, I had nightmare after torturiously realistic nightmare. I woke up, still exhausted, and really wanted nothing more than to stay in bed all day. If I didn't HAVE to be anywhere, I didn't WANT to be anywhere.

But then, on a whim, I checked out the schedule at a local yoga studio. And, snap!, one of my favorite teachers was teaching at noon. It was 9. Plenty of time to do the annoying little things I'd put on my "to do" list and still make it to class. And then, class was only 10 minutes away from a theatre showing a film I wanted to see, The Rite." PS - don't make the same mistake I did.

Then, I got a call from a local Time Bank friend who can offer help on start-up businesses. And then I got a call from the contact of the PR firm working with the CAFM this year. And she invited me to a Women and Wine networking event this Thursday. Then I chatted with the admissions counselor from the nearby community college about their entrepreneurship certificate. And then I talked to someone from the Time Banks about promoting their annual fundraiser. And then...

So, I forced myself out of bed for yoga. And all this other "and then's" happened. And people STILL doubt the power of the Universe and the laws of attraction and the theory of karma? Seriously? Doods, I am living friggin proof!

PS -- Kitty curled up contentedly on my bed. She hasn't journeyed upstairs in weeks. She MUST be feeling better. Yea!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Musing on Mortality

A few years ago, upon the eve of my High School Reunion, I made the comment that it would be odd to show up with no husband, no children, no family. A very insightful and very dear friend took that opportunity to point out that the 'traditional" were never things I'd aspired to. That's not to demean those choices - just that they were never right for me.

And I know this is not nearly the same thing as a mother for her children. But, Peepers is sick. She's got a kidney infection and, while the vet seems confident of her full recovery, I am petrified. I keep watching her, obsessed that she seems sullen, lethargic or miserable. Of course it's not the same as having a child. But with her in the vet office today, the house felt unmistakably lonely. Sure, Eliza is there with her cries and nudges. But the staid and aloof attidtude of the Peeps was definitely missing.

I've joked for a long time that I am a "crazy cat lady." Guess it turns out that there's more to it than a joke.

I'm sure there is some deep, insightful metaphor or meaning to all of this. And maybe tomorrow I'll figure it out. But tonight, I'll settle for watchin my Lamby Pie Petunia sleep on the edge of the bed...

Right now, she seems so content and restful. Here's hoping that it is a sign of things to come...

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Difference Between 3 Brooms and Kim Crawford

I'm really enjoying my new stint at Alchemy. It sounds strange to say that I get a lot of pride from ... waitressing? But I do. There's something satisfying about meeting strangers and giving them a memorable experience. And all this while they're doing one of the simplest functions of humans - eating.

I'm still in training because business has been so slow. But I've worked out a great deal w/ the restaurant. Because I don't want to screw up my unemployment checks, I'll train for the cost of a meal and a drink. Not too shabby when a full meal and glass of wine normally costs ~$40. Plus, truffle risotto, sweet potato gnocchi and a glass of Lolonis Fume Blanc is freaking fantastic.

I know the name and producer of that variatel because, at the end of every shift, I get to sample wines from our menu to "experience" them. Serious perks to working in a high-end restaurant.

For so long, I've been wanting to belong to my community, enjoy living on a gorgeous island, and spending time on some random things. Now, I have the chance. And it involves drinking wine as homework...

I start my class on entrepeunership on Tuesday. Details will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Nostalgia and it's meanings

So, in May, I was priveleged enough to witness 2 of the 3 concerts A-Ha performed in New York City during their Farewell Tour. It was amazing and a memory I will carry to the end of my days. I had the privelege (or tenacity) to meet all three of the ensemble and will never, ever, forget the experience.

Their last -- final -- single was finally released. The video can be seen here.

At first, it made me sad. Even angry. But then, I realized that these three individuals didn't just exist to give me pleasure. They had feelings, thoughts, ambitions of their own.

Still, as I watch their videos and listen to their songs, there is a part of me that grieves. Americans' don't know much about these men except their one-hit-wonder song. But, for me, it was the soundtrack of my life. And, as lame as it may be, I finally broke down and bought that CD. And loved it. And hated it. And will cherish it forever.

We all have memories or thoughts or experiences that shap our existence. We should mever be madeto feel afraid of them.

I hope that will ring true for times ahead.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Oh, so long. Oh, so many changes

It's been ages since I've posted. And I likely have no more followers or readers at this point. Still...

I have officially - for now - given up corporate America. CBL was removed but her replacement was far worse than she could ever be. Worse in different ways, but ways that I could not reconcile.

As example, I would have called in today as a day unsuited to travel. (Read: a foot of snow.) He would have told me I had an office job and any day out of the office constitutied a sick/personal day.

Now, I thankfully don't have to worry about that. What I do have to worry about is the way corporate America seems contect to F'me over on things like unemployment or health insurance.

Still and all, I feel like bitterness and anger doesn't really serve me.

I am trying my best to concentrate on the ways - and there are SO many - this is serving to heal my heart, I am meeting my "home town peeps." I am pursuing goals in the local community. I am taken classes to help me build my own business plan. And, more than anything, I am taking myself out of the corporate wheel.

I need to keep reminding myself of this. Days where I have no work and no plans, it gets a bit difficult. But I have to keep reminding myself of all the things that make me me. So, I apologize if there is a fair amount of gratuitous youtube sharing in days to come, It's been a long time since bloggin and I just might need the buffer YouTube can offer.