Life Quest

There is us, and then there is them.

Who are they? They are those who live in a world surrounded by hundreds and thousands of people, mostly people they do not know. There is not a minute in the day that doesn’t tic on by without contact with someone else. Every comment, every like inflating that ego; if gone a unnoticed, a pinprick. Alone time scares them. To them, it is an infinite darkness tightly wrapped in an anxious silence. These people have settled in life. They have obtained what they felt they needed but nothing more than that. Falling in a pattern of life that only allows them to come across life’s basic necessities, that to them is enough; content with living the social “norm.” Every morning they wake up and tend to their responsibilities. They eat, shit, sleep, and then wake up the next day and do it all over again. The most they do to spice up their day is to socialize with other’s of their same caliber. No one greater, no one who pushes them to strive for more, just mediocre people who allow them to coast just so they can have the upper hand. These people surround themselves with people, places, and things that do not serve them.  These are people who ignore their inner self. They don’t look to nourish their soul but instead their bank accounts. Instead of filling their homes with love and adventure, they fill it with stuff that ends up collecting dust.

On most days these people complain. They hate their jobs but it provides a way to eat. They gorge while complaining about the food they eat, wishing for whatever else except for what is on their plate. They complain about their “friends” or about the bills they must pay to keep their oversized house that they bought up and running. They complain about the debt they have accumulated for things that they no longer have or care to have. They complain about their closet and how it’s full of last season’s outfits. Most days they complain about it all, while other days they simply ignore the empty feeling they keep stored inside. These people live a daily sham, an unnoticed cycle they cannot rid themselves.

Then there is us. We are the mindful few that strive to be aware that today is anew. We have battles within ourselves because being aware and mindful isn’t easy. It is a struggle but we know the fight is worth every bit. We have limited people around us because we understand that we don’t need a world to stand with us; the world is us. Alone time is precious. It is a time in which we fill up our cups and replenish all that we have put out. We use this time to listen to ourselves for what we need and for what we so desperately want. To be constantly surrounded by others, especially those who don’t carry our best interests at heart, that is punishment. We stay away from the constant because what is constant is numbing.

We are those who like to feel life, whether it is a humbling time, a struggle, a moment of pleasure, we enjoy feeling what it is that we are going through momentarily. We understand that no period in time lasts forever and so we take each moment for what it is and embrace it, live it, then release it back into the Universe. We cherish those small and simple gifts of life. We may not have a castle full of jewels and riches, but instead we are the palace, full and rich. We have a couple trinkets that remind us of a memorable time. Nothing collects dust because we revisit and touch and think and love that little piece of trinket that we cherish so much.

We are those who take on journeys. We challenge ourselves, making sure we are evolving. We know being stagnant is death. We understand that life is a quest, one we purposely set out to be in and we take its mission seriously. We are life’s true warriors.

They are them and we are us.

Surviving The Game

Before you ever think about quitting something give yourself an extra week or two, because in a matter of 14 days, things could actually turn around for you. Two weeks can seem like a long time when you’re struggling but the rewards you could possibly benefit from are really worth the sacrifice.

The week before the busiest weekend of the year for us at my new job was honestly one of the most annoying work weeks I had had at any job ever. So much so that I had started sending out resumes to places that I knew I could quickly get hired. I had immediately gotten two interviews for doing what I’ve always done, serving. Was I thrilled about a possible new job change? Nope, not one bit. I mean I had wanted to take a dip out of the restaurant world for a while so going back to serving wasn’t something I was particularly thrilled about. It was however comfortable for me. I knew the server world and so it wouldn’t have been such a struggle like the challenges the floral business was presenting me. Not only was the comfortability there but so was the insta-cash. There was no waiting two weeks for a paycheck. After every shift, there it was, a wad of cash for you to bring home and do whatever you wanted (or needed) to do.

I went on one interview. The other I set up for after Mother’s Day weekend. No matter what I decided to do, all I knew was that I would not like to leave the floral job before or during their busiest time of year. The owners had always treated me well. To be honest they all had treated me well. Minus a couple hiccups between the manager and I (two strong, like minded woman can at times bump heads) I could say that I enjoyed the people that I worked with so screwing them over right before Mother’s Day was out of the question. I did however struggle with communicating the fact the after the holiday I was planning on leaving. Should I give them a letter of resignation? Or should I keep it to myself and deal with it afterwards? I decided to stay quiet about my plan until I had something legit materialize. I’m so glad I did.

Mother’s Day craziness started that Thursday. The amount of orders that were coming in was something I hadn’t expected. Yes my coworker’s had tried to warn me about what to expect but I have come to realize that in life most people often exaggerate even the tiniest of things. They were not exaggerating. I had been put in charge of phones so that meant dealing with customer inquiries, taking their orders, completing orders, as well as any random miscellaneous things that needed to be done around the shop to help expedite the work of others. My headset had stayed on me the entire time I was working with only bathroom breaks giving my ear a small moment of freedom from the constrictive device. I noticed that much of what I was doing was using many of my server qualities. I shined when it came to dealing with the customers. I was able to quickly guide them through our ordering process, sometimes even guiding them in certain directions. If there was a particular piece that the owner wanted to push out and get rid of I could easily talk a customer into purchasing it. The organizational skills that were needed in order to keep everything moving smoothly was something I excelled at. Compliments from my coworkers and the owners were given to me since they hadn’t seen anyone handle the chaos as well as I had. To be fair, I have always excelled when work is at its busiest. To keep my mind and body moving from one task to another is what has always worked best for me. Working under pressure is when I shine.

The weekend came and went in blur. We all were pulling 16 hours shifts and by Sunday it was like a new wave of emotions towards my job came over me. During the four days we had all bonded. Working so hard together as a single unit gave it a more family feel. We executed what needed to be done and we had done it harmoniously. Even though we had been slammed with work for hours on end barely able to take breaks in between, there ended up being no fussing and no fighting. Had we walked out of there exhausted? Of course, but we had gotten through it, and we had done it well.

I had quickly started rethinking my moves. I started feeling as though I had also proven myself to not only my coworkers but also the owners of the shop. The vibe between them and me had changed. I felt as though I was a part of this close knit family and I liked it. I no longer felt the pressure of wanting to get out of this place. If anything, I wanted to stay. I had an interview scheduled for that Monday after Mother’s Day weekend and I decided not to go. I thought to myself that I would instead stick this out and see how it went for me. That Tuesday I was called randomly into the office by one of the owners. Fuck… “Am I about to get fired? Should I had just gone on that interview and then I wouldn’t be so worried about being fired right now?… I should have gone on that stupid interview..” were my thoughts as I was walking towards the back office.

I sat down in the chair directly across from him. I never get nervous. I don’t get nervous on job interviews. I don’t get nervous on dates. Yet, here I am sitting eye to eye with one of the shop’s owners knowing that I’m about to get fired from a job that just a week before I was already contemplating leaving, and I was nervous. I couldn’t stop fidgeting with my fingers. I picked at my nails, I played with my rings, none of which made me feel any better for what was about to come.

“Natalia, I want to start off by saying that you did  great job working for us over the holiday weekend…” Here it goes. The compliment before the let go. Why do business owners do this? To soften the blow? Jesus…let’s just get this shit over with shall we? “..I wanted to let you know that I was really impressed by your work…” Impressed? Do you fire people that impress you? I never fired anyone so I wouldn’t really know. “The way you handled the workload for someone who has only been here a little less than two month’s is something that genuinely shocked me and I don’t get shocked often.” Great.. I shocked him into firing me. Good going Natalia. “Before I continue on with where I’m going with this, I do want to ask you something?” I just stare at him. I may have blinked, I don’t think I did. “How long do you plan on staying with this company?” His cold blue eyes bore into my soul. Now was the moment of truth. I either fight for my job or easily walk away from it.

“Well..” my voice sounded weird. We sat in a small office but it felt like my voice was echoing down a long hall to reach where he was sitting. “…I would like to stay with the company for as long as you all want me here. I have always been one to like a challenge and that’s why I applied to work here initially. It hasn’t been easy but because of that I feel as though a good day here super exceeds a good day anywhere else I’ve worked, because I’ve excelled at something I had no prior knowledge or experience doing before. I know that at the moment your company may be small but I also know that it’s growing and I would like to see myself grow along with it.” He stared at me for a little bit. Maybe for one more second too long. I was about to fidget in my seat when he started talking again.

“Natalia, I foresee a lot of things happening with this company, and you are right, it is growing and it’s happening rapidly. I would like for you to to stay with us and because of all the hard work and effort you have shown I am going to do something that I do not typically do for people that have been here for as short of a time such as you have been. I’m giving you a raise.” What the fu….. Did I just here this correctly? “I’m increasing your pay by a dollar. The manager has also brought to my attention what an asset it has been having you here and so I do want you to know that although there are times in which you two may bump heads, she is in your corner. There is something that she will be giving you at the end of the day before you leave so make sure you see her on your way out.” The smile in the corners of his eyes were like a soft warm blanket on a cold winter day. I don’t know how many times I thanked him. I can’t even tell you exactly what I said before leaving his office. I was overwhelmed with shock because it had not been something I was expecting. Not in the least bit.

For the rest of my day I felt like I was walking on clouds. It had been rainy and ugly out but sunshine was brightly beaming from inside of me. Before I left at the end of my shift I met up with my manager in which she thanked me for all my hard work and handed me an envelope. “This is for you. Just a little extra something so you know that you are appreciated.” Was this a bonus? I wasn’t sure but even the simple compliment and “thank yous” was enough to inspire a hug out of me. It wasn’t until I got to my car that I opened the envelope. Inside was a check addressed to me for $300, I shit you not. I was ecstatic. Not only would this allow me to catch up on certain important bills I had left unattended due to lack of funds, but there were people I wanted to pay back for helping me here and there with the little everyday things of life. I was so happy.

Since that day, my moment’s at work are always positive. The entire vibe between the other girls and I has changed for the better. I no longer feel like an outsider. I am now creating arrangements and even surprising myself at how well I’ve been doing at it. There have been moments of guilt though that I still live with. Throughout the time that I was getting a raise and praise, I lost two of my fellow coworkers. They had gotten let go due to one reason or another. Sadness and guilt engulfed me because it was of course the two girls I had gotten along with the most. Both had been there slightly longer than I had. Both had placed a lot of time, dedication, and frustration into this job. I felt as though maybe the decision to keep me had maybe played in the decision to fire them. In an odd way if feels like a sort of survivor’s guilt. Do they feel the same? I know one in particular does. She did mention in a moment of anger that I “beat her” in the race. They were cold words that hit my heart, especially coming from someone I had thought I had befriended in a time in which I felt so out of place. I do understand the roller coaster of emotions  when unexpected displacement happens and I know she probably didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, so I try not to really think about it. Maybe she was right though, in the end I had survived a game I hadn’t known I was playing.

For now, I continue each work day doing the best I can. I still struggle a bit here and there but they are challenges I welcome for challenges are what keeps my mind and soul strong. My advice for people out there that are maybe struggling with something new, keep at it. Keep trying and give yourself time. Remember that no one is born knowing and that to even have set out in trying something out of your comfort zone keeps you one step ahead. Don’t be so hard on yourself for we are our own worst critic and most times our inner voices are what keeps us from feeling good about what we are doing for ourselves. Remember that by trying something new you are opening up doors for yourself that you would have never come across if you would have stayed in the comforting monotony of what once was. Keep at it with a positive mind and heart and life will reward you with much more than you ever thought possible.

Paint6.2

 

I Can Assure You This Much

In my 31 years of observing life , one of the many things I have noticed with human beings is that no matter how kind or good-hearted you may be, you will always have at least one hater among the friendly faces.

People will hate you for your honesty.

People will hate you for pursuing a better life for yourself.

People will hate you for going after your dreams and not settling for less.

People will hate you for your happiness, especially if it outweighs their own.

They will hate if you chose to walk the unbeaten path.

They will hate you for putting your feelings and goals above their own.

Maybe you weren’t there for them the one time out of the 80, and because you weren’t a help that ONE TIME, they now hate you for it; stating that you were never there for them when they needed you.

Maybe your priorities are set a little different, different from their own. Don’t worry. They will hate you for that too.

Have you been sharing your stories, lets say, for constructive purposes? Have you been sharing in order to help a greater good? Yep, they will hate you for that too.

Let us take a look at some of the greats: Buddha, Jesus Christ, Princess Diana, Bono, Mother Teresa, all of which are some of the greatest humanitarians that this planet has ever seen. Yet even they have people with a list a mile long stating the things they hate about them.

I am no Mother Teresa I can assure you that much, but I can relate as I am sure you all can (yea, I’ll have a hater for this statement too) . We all have a hater or two (or 20) hanging around reminding us why we are “terrible” people. For many of you out there the need to please everyone you come in contact with is great, but I can assure you that you will drive yourself crazy trying to satisfy the many personalities that roam this planet. No one entity can make every human being happy, not even God, so how could you?

This life is your only life to live so live it to your truth without concern and without regret. You can still be a good person and selfishly live your life. Our time here is limited so the worst thing you could do is worry about what others around you make think of you. Most times they are lost as to what they should be doing with themselves, with their lives. Live your truth. Go after your own happiness. Do not resent those who hate you for what you are doing. Instead show them that they too can achieve the things they want out of life if they decide to one day tune out negativity. Be that example and show the world that no matter what, no matter how tainted and imperfect you are, you are still able to dance among the stars.

 

 

Love That Bad Situation

I don’t hate you. How could I ever? You taught me exactly about what I would never want out of life.

Please do not get me wrong though. If I see you coming, I’ll dodge you like the murdering bullet that you are, for all you do is kill a good situation. All that you touch you tarnish even if the intention isn’t so.  Your caked on prints are all that is left behind everywhere you go; an icky reminder of a painful and intolerable “what once was..” and now thankfully isn’t so.

Happiness courted me almost immediately. Walking away had been easy. Accepting this new found bliss and joy? That was even easier. Never looking back, I keep one foot in front of the other. There is no bewilderment as to why things happened the way they did. My intuition had always expected it. I never ask they question “why?” or “where are you now?” I know that in the darkest parts of a shadow cast is where you sadly linger. Keeping myself surrounded by the whitest of lights keeps every bit and part of you at bay.

I do not hate you. Why would I? You taught me all about life and how foolish we all can be. You taught me not to believe in the illusion of that  which easy comes. You taught me the importance of what it means to stay true to that which is me.

The Hourly Side Of It

Many close to me know that it has been for quite some time now that I’ve had an urge to leave the food and beverage industry in pursuit of change. Working in restaurants is something that I have been doing for most of my life now, more than half of my life to be exact. Although serving and bartending can be extremely lucrative, for me it had gotten to the point where it was a mindless job. Now matter what bar or restaurant I began working, it was all the same to me.

I got my chance to switch up my occupation but it wasn’t easy obtaining this new job nor has it been an easy transition.

I went on three interviews for this place. The first two were just days apart. By interview two I was stoked. I figured if they called me in for a second interview they would for sure hire me.

They never called me back. A week had passed and I had heard nothing from the place I had interviewed with. The confidence I had walked out of there with had pretty much vanished and what stood in its place was the feeling of worthlessness. I had always been able to land any restaurant job I had ever interviewed for but when it came to doing something different with my life, it seemed as though no other type of establishment would hire me.

I went on vacation for a week to go visit family. Throughout that whole time I kept thinking to myself how much I was really dreading going back to my serving job. Honestly it wasn’t as though I was working for bad bosses or that I couldn’t tolerate my co-workers. I did truly enjoy working with the people I worked with. The clientele was a bit more upper class than I would have liked, but even that I could tolerate. I just wasn’t feeling the service industry anymore. I decided that I wouldn’t let this job I had interviewed for get away from me that easily. I made a decision that when I got back home I would email the business a “follow up” letter. What would be the worst that could happen?? That they would respond and tell me, “I’m sorry but the position has been filled..” or simply not respond at all. I could deal with that. At the very least I would know that I had truly tried.

I arrived home on a Monday afternoon and within minuets of arriving I had sat at my computer and composed a lovely follow-up email. As soon as I sent it, I closed my laptop and tried to forget about it. It was just a few hours later that they responded. They wanted me to meet with the owner of the company the very next day. I was thrilled.

The following day came and as I got ready for this interview I reminded myself that this could go either way. Either she was going to love me and hire me or she was going to be unimpressed and I’d never hear from them again. I tried to keep high hopes while also knowing that I had to be realistic in this situation. What was the situation? The fact that my resume consisted of mainly restaurant work and hardly anything else. The truth of the matter was that if she did hire me it would be a huge risk on her part due to the simple fact that I had no experience in the field I was interviewing for. Either way, I went in with my head up high. Hopefully she would see that although I had no experience in what I was interviewing for, I still had wonderful qualities and attributes that I could contribute, while also having the capability to learn quickly.

Interviewing with her was easy. She was very down to earth and natural to talk to. She asked about my work history, told me in detail about the company and what she was looking to build within her team. To be honest, it hadn’t felt as though we were on an interview but more so just chatting. By then end of it, I walked out not knowing if I had gotten the job but feeling as though I did. Still, I kept it realistic. I had left the two previous interviews walking on clouds and never got called back so why would this be any different?

The phone call came two hours later. One of the managers I had previously interviewed with called to tell me I was hired. I was to start the very next day. I was ecstatic. Being relentless and not taking “no” for an answer had really worked out in my favor and I was happy to have been given an opportunity to prove that I was capable of doing the job even if I didn’t have much experience.

Fast forward to a month later and the thrill and the excitement has almost diminished completely. Starting a new job is hard. Starting a new job that you have no clue about is even harder. Add to the mix, the fact that I went from making nightly cash to now waiting every two weeks for a paycheck that pays a fraction of what one used to make, and now life is one big ball of stress. I will not lie, I have my good days, when everything seems fine and dandy. Those are the days I make no mistakes doing my job while also having a good time with my coworkers. Then I have the days that everything I touch I seem fuck up.  These are the days that I feel like I am not good enough to do what I was hired to do. These are the days in which I feel like “why did I even bother to force myself into a situation I was clearly not qualified for?”

The grass is not always greener on the other side. I now understand, that because I had been serving and bartending for so long, I had taken it all for granted. The money, the scheduling, the connection with my customers, all of that I overlooked and now that I’m on the hourly side of life, I crave it all back. Will I stay at this new job that I struggled so hard to get? In all honesty, I will answer by saying no. I was good at what I did and I made money doing so. It won’t be long before I find my way back to what once was. For now I will suck it up and make the most I can out of this frustrating situation, because let’s face it, why make it more miserable than it has to be? I have learned a lot about myself  by pursuing something that was out of reach, out of my norm. When you go outside of your comfort zone, you may not always strike it big but you will always learn something about yourself that you never really knew or ever paid attention to before.

I have no regrets on any of the decisions I’ve made that have landed me where I am at this moment in time.  Everything I do and experience adds to the value of my life. It all serves a purpose and although at times it may be frustrating to go through some of these adventures, they are none the less adventures, and isn’t that what we live for in the end?