Month 2 – Gratitude


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For the second thirty day chunk of happiness, I’ve chosen to focus on gratitude. It’s so easy for me to forget that I intentionally chose to have another desk job in order to save up for teacher training. Instead I get stuck in the whole, “Blah, having a job sucks” spiral, when in reality, I could be flipping my attitude around and feeling grateful for the fact that I have a means to fund my dream.

I’m still going to yoga every day, but I decided to add daily gratitude as my next 30-day “layer” of happiness, so to speak. I took some blank pieces of paper, stapled them together, and created a little Gratitude Booklet.

Since I love doing things incrementally, I started the first day by picking one thing I was grateful for (I picked Green). I then went through and added one number on each page, the final page is numbered 1 through 60. Even though I’m only spending thirty days “focusing” on gratitude, I want to keep in incorporated in my daily routine, just like the yoga. So, like the yoga, I opted for 60 days, adding one thing each day. After that, I plan to put together another Gratitude Booklet where I list sixty things a day. My hope is that it will keep me busy the whole day, so that I am constantly seeing things and thinking, “Oh, I’m grateful for that! How lucky I am that this is in my life!”, and writing it down.

I’m halfway through, on day fifteen, today. (Which means, if you’re keeping track and I explained well enough, that I had to list fifteen things.) I’m trying to list different things each day to push myself to really realize just how much I actually have.

For some reason, this exercise is harder than it has been in the past when I’ve done it. Usually, it instantly pulls me into the present moment and turns my focus on abundance rather than lack, and I can list things forever. Right now, however, it seems like a struggle to come up with my lists each day. I don’t know why this is. On days when I am excited about something, it’s easy. For example, when I went to see the Hooping Life in Austin (which was FANTASTIC and well worth the wait, by the way), I filled the page with ease.

I’m finding that I have a mental block that’s keeping me from viewing work favorably. It’s almost as if something in me doesn’t WANT to be grateful for work. Like admitting that work is a good thing will somehow be admitting defeat, or joining the dark side or something.

Logically, I know that’s not the case, and that it would be much better for me emotionally to look at work from a place of acceptance rather than resistance, and I’m hoping my gratitude lists will help with that. And if they don’t, at least I’ll be reminded on a daily basis that I have plenty to be grateful for, and I also have ten more months after this to get to that place.

I hope you are having a wonderful day!

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The Happiness Project


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I recently finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. The book was my reward to myself for not quitting my job in January. It didn’t quite live up to what I was expecting. I certainly liked the CONCEPT of the book (taking a year to explore happiness and what that means to the individual, and how to create more of it), but I really didn’t like the author and the things she chose to work on for her happiness project. I read the whole thing (despite wanting to give up because it was making me more upset than happy at times), and while I enjoyed the chapter where she focused on writing and books (clearly her passion, so it made for the most interesting reading), and some of her conclusions at the end of the project, I didn’t enjoy her overall tone and default attitude about things. Particularly the way she acted as if it were such a huge task to not yell at her husband all the time. *shakes head*

Regardless, the project is a good idea, and like Gretchen says repeatedly in the book, “Everyone’s happiness project is unique.” That is very true. I am definitely NOT Gretchen Rubin (I probably wouldn’t even be friends with her), but I do know what makes me happy.

I also know that recently, due in large part to working behind a desk, something I swore I’d never again do, I haven’t been the happiest person in the world. I haven’t been the happiest me I can be, and I know, because I have experienced real happiness, and this ain’t it.

I’m working behind a desk in an effort to save up for the Bikram Yoga Teacher Training I’ve wanted to attend so badly for so many years. I’m working behind a desk in an attempt to earn a job that will help me keep my promise to myself to never work behind a desk again.

In an ironic twist of fate, I am sitting in a chair (which is horrible for your body) eight hours a day, answering phones and directing calls for the healthcare system. A system I myself constantly buck in favor of doing yoga and eating healthy.

The job has made me so miserable that I hadn’t been going to yoga, I’ve barely touched veggies, and I’m pretty sure I’ve gained at least fifteen pounds since being here. (They said I would, too. With an almost bizarre sense of pride, while showing off their fitness equipment, even, they laughed as they mentioned that we new hires would likely gain the “company fifteen”.)

In other words, I’m in danger of succumbing to the system I’m working for but otherwise carefully avoid. It’s a battle with my conscience on a daily basis, that’s for sure.

I keep telling myself that if I can just stick it out, the reward will be so wonderful and I will be so proud, but the cost is a year of misery.

Reading The Happiness Project reminded me of something I already knew: That I could not settle for a year of misery, I had to figure out how to get and STAY happy during this time. I can’t just wait for happiness until I get to teacher training. I have to BE happy when I get there. Or else it won’t make me happy, either.

I had started a new 60 day yoga challenge on January 11th, and I realized I’d inadvertantly started my own happiness project. I’ll be approaching mine differently from Gretchen. Instead of picking a whole bunch of things to focus on each month, I’m picking one. One thing, for thirty days. The goal is to have each thing carry over into the next month, so that by the end of the year, I’ll be more in tune with my own happiness. And instead of doing it each month, I’ll do each thing in thirty day chunks.

Included in this happiness project is blogging, because I’ve realized just how much I gain by blogging, even if no one reads it. Whether I like it or not, there is a writer living in my head that won’t leave me be. When I was a kid, it would narrate everything I was doing for a future novel. These days, it narrates everything I think for a future blog post.

Blog posts I’m not writing.

Hopefully blogging again will help clear up some of the mental clutter I’ve gathered since having this job, and also inspire me to think thoughts that would inspire (in turn inspiring me) others rather than depress them (or myself). Blogging regularly, though, is not on the schedule until May. Before that, I’ll be working on some other projects (and blogging when I can make myself).

My happiness project is as follows:

Jan 11th – Feb 9th: Yoga – Go to yoga every day. (completed)

Feb 10th – March 10th: Gratitude – Write down things I am grateful for in my life as it is every day, to remind myself how lucky I am and that everything is perfect as it is. (in progress)

March 11th – April 9th: Food – Re-introduce veggies and juicing into my eating habits.

April 10th – May 9th: Hooping – Hoop every day, and post videos at least once a week.

May 10th – June 9th: Blogging – Blog daily.

June 10th – July 8th: Meditation – Meditate for fifteen minutes daily.

July 9th – Aug 7th: Hug Nation – Watch back episodes of Hug Nation daily, download Halcyon’s Morning Meditation and listen to it in the morning.

Aug 8th – Sept 6th: Creativity – Start and work on This is Not a Book daily.

Sept 7th – Oct 6th: Friends/Socializing – Go to Open Stage every week, make efforts to attend other social gatherings.

Oct 7th – Nov 5th: Writing – Write every day, participate in LJ Idol.

Nov 6th – Dec 5th: Knitting – Start a new sweater, and/or work on the Masters Knitting Program from the Knitting Guild Association.

Dec 6th – Jan 4th: Singing – Sing every day. Possibly in front of people.

Ask For Help, Part II

Click here for Part I


“I’ll give you all I can…”
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Before I get to far into this, I feel it’s important to say just how stressful it can be for me to ask for help. Somewhere deep down, I don’t feel like I deserve help to get myself out of my own messes. I mean, things wouldn’t be quite so bad if I’d just sucked up my pride and kept my job. Or looked for a new one with more gusto. What right did I have to ask anyone for anything when I clearly couldn’t help myself?

(I should mention that Green had also quit his job, and for a span of at least a month and a half if not more, both of us were unemployed.)

I continued struggling through each day, determined to be solely responsible for digging us out of this mess, too embarrassed by my own foibles to even fully reveal the details of our situation to anyone.

I’d been reading a lot, and one of the books I’d been picking up for a few pages a night was Live the Life You Love by Barbara Sher.

In the book, Sher lays out ten steps to take toward putting your life in the direction you actually want it to go. In lesson seven, “The Idea Bank”, Sher writes:

“This is probably the simplest and most effective way of getting great ideas that I know of. All it requires is that you tell as many people as possible – friends, colleagues, people on the bus – what your wish is and what obstacle you face.”

She goes on to say that the reason this works is because when people hear someone talking about their wishes and their obstacles, they immediately go into problem-solving mode and try to come up with ways to help. Even if that person can’t help directly, they may be able to point you in the direction of someone who can.


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I read this and thought about a group I’d recently joined on Facebook called DFW Bartering Artists. The group encouraged artists in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to connect with one another, asking for things they needed in exchange for their artistic skill, or whatever they could provide. The only rule: No monetary exchanges. Bartering only.

The creator of the group set it up because she wanted a haircut. Within one week it had 500 members.

I’d spent the week of the group’s inception scouring the page looking for barters I could help with. I didn’t find any, but I did know people who might be able to help with some, and I pointed those people in the direction of the group. Watching everyone trading with one another so willingly really touched me, and reminded me just how good humanity can be.

So when I read Sher’s description of asking for ideas, I realized that I’d just watched that very concept in action.

It occurred to me that I didn’t have to ask anyone for money, or to fix my situation for me. But I could definitely ask for help with ideas, for nudges in the right direction. I began to compile a list in my head of the things that would help me out the most: a job, tubing to fill some hoop orders, but more than anything else, I needed a morale boost. I needed help remembering that the world is on my side.

I wrote up an open letter and posted it to Facebook, describing my issues with asking for help and how I could really use some good vibes and help coming up with ideas. I addressed the letter to friends, family and the Universe. I felt that if nothing else, putting it out into the world that I was finally open to help could shift things up a lot.

It did.

Within minutes, I got comments from friends sending their well-wishes, which reminded me that no matter how bad things got, I had people who cared about me. I had people tell me about places I could try applying. I had people offer to donate rolls of tubing in exchange for their own hoops or payment when I could afford it.


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But the thing that made the whole endeavor worth it for me came in the form of comments from people who related to what I said about being too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help. I had people I’d never met before tell me they were inspired by my note, that they saw themselves in it and felt they could have written it themselves.

In other words, my asking for help directly helped others.

The note signified more than just a request for help, it was a declaration of upward momentum. From that point on, I would look at what I had, the things I was grateful for, and watch things get better.

A couple of days after I posted the note, I got a call back from the interview I thought I had bombed. The next day, I received an e-mail inviting me to interview at the company my friends had told me about. I got hired on at both jobs. I went from feeling convinced I may never work again to having to choose between two excellent job offers. There is no doubt in my mind that the abundance came as a direct result of changing my attitude about my situation and opening myself up to aid from the outside. They may have come otherwise, but would I have been in the right frame of mind to receive them? Would I have gone into the interviews in a bad mood and continued my unemployment streak? Very probably.

I’m now working at a company I am EXCITED about. A company that rewards its employees for a job well done, that shows its workers in innumerable ways how it values them as human beings, not numbers. It’s helping me change my attitude about employment, as well. Soon I’ll begin receiving paychecks, which will continue the upward momentum as I begin putting things back in order.

The moral of this story is: If you feel like you are stuck and you can’t get out, think about the things that you need and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is a second step that might be even more important: Don’t be afraid to be open to receiving help. It’s the openness that allows opportunity to flow into your life. Getting rid of the resistance that’s keeping you from asking opens more doors than you might expect.

Try it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Ask For Help, Part I


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Yesterday marked the first day at my new job.

If you know me, you know that work and Jess do not mix. As a general rule, I spend most of my time trying to figure out how to avoid having a job.

It’s not that I dislike working. I actually spend the first several months of my new jobs enjoying the work, trying my hardest, and making an effort to impress my bosses. When it becomes apparent, however, that my best efforts receive very little in the way of praise or acknowledgement of my value, my morale begins to drop. When, the first time I try to call in sick, I hear terseness and disapproval on the other end of the phone, I begin to realize just how much my employers actually value me and my health. Read: Very little. When the icy weather comes, the stuff that I am on occasion unwilling to drive through, and I call to ask whether I can stay home, the voice on the other line tells me they’d really prefer I try to make it in, which shows me that they do not care about my fears or concerns, or that they even acknowledge the increased risk involved in coming in to work on that day.

In short, the longer I work for a company, the less important I feel as a human being, and thus, the less effort I am willing to put into my work. It gets so bad that waking up every morning becomes a momentous task, and the drive to work and subsequent eight hours behind a desk feel like handing over my soul for the right to have a roof over my head.

There have been times when I’ve happily traded that roof for my soul again.


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For a long time, I’ve thought that perhaps there’s something wrong with me. I mean, so many people do this every day for their entire lives, until they’ve earned enough to retire and live their own lives. Was I wrong to think there had to be a better option? That people deserve more than to chain their hearts to a grey cubicle for half of their lives?

I ranted quite a bit about this on my LiveJournal, frequently and with much the same anguish over the years. I’m pretty sure people became aggravated with me, especially those who viewed hating your job as one of the facts of life, those who told me I should consider myself lucky to even have a job. I began to feel guilty about my opinions on work, but it didn’t stop me from looking for something better.

In May, I tried quitting cold turkey. Again. That decision cost me my annual trek to North Carolina for the Hoop Path Retreat, but it’s hard for me to regret it because of how much I enjoyed having my life to myself. Still, the money ran out and eventually I knew I needed to get a new job.

The search seemed more awful this time around than it ever had. It felt like any job I could possibly find would be a means to a paycheck and nothing more. I didn’t want to do it again, and thus my motivation flagged. Severely.

Things got bad. And then things started to feel bad. And then, when each day seemed like it would be spent wondering, “What’s going to go wrong today?”, I decided I had to get serious about looking.

It’s not easy to find work when the last thing you want to do is actively seek out the thing you willingly traded in for poverty, but I did my best. I received a nice kick in the pants from a friend who told me her office was hiring, so I forced myself out of bed for a 9 AM interview (quite the feat considering I’d been waking up at 1 PM).

If you’d like to know how to fail an interview entirely, just ask me about that particular morning. When you’re battling extreme exhaustion from only two and a half hours of sleep, and you’re not even entirely sure you want this job in the first place, answering questions from a well-meaning interviewer becomes about as easy as picking up anvils with your teeth.


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I knew I had blown it. I knew there was no way they would call me back.

I spent some time later with friends, telling them about my botched interview and listening to them talk about their new jobs. They told me about how the company they worked for put the morale and well-being of their employees above everything else, and my ears perked up.

“Are they still hiring?” I asked.

“Yes, they’re about to start a new training session, actually.”

I printed out my resume right there and asked them to take it in.

But when I didn’t hear back from them either, I began to fear that perhaps I’d waited too long this time, perhaps I’d quit one job too many, and that I might have become un-hirable.

When our home situation grew all the more desperate, I knew something had to give.

 

I asked for help.

 

My Favorite Hoops I Have EVER Made!

After a drought of hoop orders, I suddenly got five orders all around the same time. All of them needed new tape, so I had to place a HUGE tape order before I could get to the fun part of actually MAKING them.

The tape arrived on Monday and I was like a child on Christmas day. After giggling happily, tearing open the box and examining every roll of the largest hoop tape order I’ve ever gotten to make, I set about taping and spent the rest of the day making hoops. I made four hoops, and I got to do something new and unique with all of them.

It was the happiest and most productive I’ve felt in a while. I truly, genuinely adore the process of making hoops. But these were a particular blast to make, because they had each been special requests, and I loved making them knowing that these hoops were each unique to the people who would soon own them. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the process of creating something special for very special people. I really hope I get to do this more often, because this kind of customization filled me with an incredible sense of joy and fulfillment.

Since I’m the type of person who will leave the mashed potatoes on my plate for last because they are my favorite, I’m going to present these hoops to you in the same way. I love all of them, but I’m saving my favorite for last.

New Something #1: New color combination and a collapsible hoop with only one connector

I was excited about this color combination from the moment it was originally suggested. Blue, green, and brown. Normally, if I heard these colors suggested for a hoop, I’d go for the blue or the green as the shiny colors and the brown would be a grip.

However, my tape supply was dwindling and I had to work with what I had. Luckily for me, I had a gorgeous metallic brown that I don’t get to use very often, so I suggested the brown be the shiny and the blue and green be the grips.

The result, I think, came out GORGEOUSLY (Is that a legitimate adverb? Because it is now.). As soon as I snapped pictures of it, I named it “Electric Chocolate”, because that’s what it looks like to me. Delicious chocolate infused with a zap of bright, electric color.

Again, thanks to dwindling supplies, I had only one connector for a collapsible hoop. My original plan was to go ahead and make the hoop using the one connector (because I was having so much fun making hoops and I didn’t want to let a silly thing like lacking connectors stop me), then when I got more, I would cut the hoop for the new connector, put it in, then trim the edges.

But after I’d finished taping, I remembered seeing a hoop one of my friends had that collapsed with only one connector and I decided to see if it would work with this hoop.

IT DOES. This is incredibly exciting to me, because in my opinion, it makes the hoop look nicer since it’s not broken up in two places, and it also will help keep the collapsible hoops from forming a more oblong shape (as opposed to the circle they are supposed to be). Not only that, but I wouldn’t have to wait for more connectors to deliver the hoop. It could be delivered as-is!

New Something #2: Using two tapes I’ve never used before, but have eyed forever, on the same hoop

One of my friends and favorite clients came up to me at the weekly spin gathering we attend to ask me if I could make her a new hoop. She’d previously purchased the black and yellow hoop from this batch, named it Bumblebee, and proceeded to love it into a beautiful battered pulp. She wanted a new hoop, something special, pretty, slightly bigger, something shiny she could love and enjoy, a hoop to indulge in.

I showed her my sample tape book, which has not only tapes I presently own, but also tapes that I can order if someone wants them. Among those tapes was a jaw-droppingly opulent holographic tape called “Fire Opal”. In the sun, it refracts in the most incredible shades of pink, blue, magenta and orange. (The pictures of it on the hoops above DO NOT do this tape justice.) I’ve seen it on other hoops and have been dying to use it myself for ages, but it’s a pretty pricey roll of tape.

She saw it and immediately said, “That one. I have to have that one.” She then proceeded to point a tape with little hearts on it, slightly raised from the metallic surface. “And that one.”

I don’t normally make hoops with double shinies. And when I do, they don’t usually have two super-special-fancy tapes like that.

Nine times out of ten, when someone is ordering a hoop from me, they will pick a tape they like and when I tell them I’ll have to order it, they drop it and work with what I have. They want their hoops quickly, and I don’t blame them.

Not this girl. I told her I’d have to order her chosen, and she said, “That’s fine!” She also decided she wanted another hoop, with a different grip accent, for her friend.

When I got the tape, I spent a while just staring at it. Then I took a picture of the tapes and sent it to her. I knew she’d be just as excited as I was about it, and she did not disappoint. When I finally got to deliver the hoop to her, she was literally bouncing around with joy. THAT is exactly why I love making hoops for others. She knew exactly what she wanted and I was able to provide it to her. Happiness. 🙂

New Something #3: Drawing inspiration from something special to the owner; new taping techniques

I got a message on Facebook that said, “A little bird told me you make hoops.” She then went on to tell me she wanted a hoop to match her favorite pipe. I’ve never created a hoop design from something specific before, and I immediately jumped at the challenge of doing so. I asked her to send me a picture of the pipe, and she sent me an image of one of the coolest piece of glasswork I’ve ever seen:


Piece by Mike Fro

My initial instinct involved using metallic tapes for the colors and white and black for the grips. After mulling it over more, however, I remembered that the company I order my tape from had sent me samples of a high-gloss vinyl tape in solid colors. Colors that are bright, but also slick and shiny, like…GLASS.

I was so excited about this idea that I went ahead and ordered a roll of tape in every color. I also wanted to capture the way the pipe had swirls, stripes, and solid chunks of black. I decided to try something I’d seen on other hoops but never tried before myself, making stripes of colors.

The hoop that I produced from this inspiration source, tape, and design technique is easily the hoop I am most proud of to date:

New Something #4: Making a big hoop/minis matching set

The same day I got my tape, I also got a message from the girl who ordered the pipe hoop asking if I could also make her a set of minis in the same design theme. I said OF COURSE. I’ve never gotten to make a big hoop/minis matching set before! I made them the next day.

When she came to pick up her hoops, she saw them and said, “Oh wow, they look just like my pipe!” I heard that and knew I’d done my job. Creating these hoops using a unique and creative inspiration, and attempting to make them look like the source material while still utilizing classic hoop designs, I felt like I got to truly be an artist. It may sound strange, given the limitation of having a specific model to work from. But that was oddly freeing. I could create the hoop however I wanted to, and the process of coming to the final result is the most fun I have ever had making something for someone else.

I hope that this is not the last project I get to do that way. In fact, it would be thrilling to do nothing but super exclusive, incredibly customized orders from now on (though I love making hoops regardless of the amount of customization involved). I loved the uniqueness of this hoop, and more than that, it was a rush to know that it would be all the more special to the person that ordered it.

Creating for others is a fantastic feeling. I think there is an extra thrill in making something as simple as a plastic circle into a magical work of art that lights up people’s faces.

I’m a Professional EVERYTHING.

I’ve decided that the answer to all of my problems ever is to just declare myself a professional. A professional what, you may ask? It doesn’t matter, because if there’s a subject out there, I’m qualified to talk about it because I’m a PROFESSIONAL.

Do you need help installing your new plasma flat screen or something? That’s good, because I’m a PROFESSIONAL FLAT SCREEN INSTALLER and I can give you GOOD TIPS.

Do you want to know what the largest body of water in the world is? That’s good, because I’m a PROFESSIONAL BODY-OF-WATER KNOWER and I know that it is that one that surrounds all of the continents.

Do you want to know how to train seeing eye dogs? That’s good, because I’m a PROFESSIONAL SEEING EYE DOG TRAINER and basically you just teach them not to walk into oncoming traffic.

I also know that this post is fantastic because I am a PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER. I’m also a PROFESSIONAL WRITER, PROFESSIONAL EDITOR, and PROFESSIONAL SKITTLE-EATER.

Do you have a problem that needs solving? Let me know, I’ll help you out, because I’m a PROFESSIONAL EVERYTHING.

Now I want Skittles.

THE END.

The PERFECT Job.

It’s getting to the point where Green and I are going to have to start looking for “Real Jobs” if we are going to continue eating and living in a place with a roof. Theoretically, this shouldn’t be that big a deal. I’ve had a billion jobs. I know that I can do any job I am hired for because most jobs that don’t require a degree are not hard at all. Unfortunately for me, it’s not a matter of hard. It’s a matter of I’ve had SO MANY JOBS that I just don’t wanna anymore.

Here’s the present scenario:

-I think about something I want.

-I realize I can’t currently acquire said thing due to the present state of my bank account.

-I think, “That’s okay, money will materialize out of nowhere and I can get the thing I want.”

-Money fails to materialize out of nowhere.

-I think, “Hmm, maybe I should get a job for a little while to pay for the things I want.”

-I consider nearby options for jobs and realize I have no desire to pursue any of them.

-I play Plants Vs. Zombies to avoid thinking about jobs.

-I get hungry and think about food it would be awesome to eat were I to have the appropriate amount of Federal Reserve Notes to exchange for it.

-I log into Craigslist and poke around for jobs that wouldn’t make me want to claw my eyes out. I send a few e-mails and pat myself on the back for being so responsible and productive.

-I get overwhelmed by how hard it is to look for jobs and play Animal Crossing to forget about it.

-I ponder how much simpler life would be if all you had to do for money was shake fruit off of trees and catch bugs, then sell the fruit and bugs to a local raccoon.

-I make a feeble attempt at crafting something other people might want to pay for.

-That’s hard so I stop.

-Green and I watch some re-runs of Buffy.

-Then we’re both tired so we go to bed.

I’ve decided I should be a bit more proactive about this whole “job” thing. What components would a job need to have so that I’m not miserable with it? I’ve decided to go through all the jobs I’ve ever had and determine what I liked and disliked about each of them to see if I can solve this problem.

HERE GOES!

ALL THE JOBS I’VE EVER HAD:
~A list by Jessica Wagstrom~

1. Subway Sandwiches

I LIKED: My manager thinking I was the best employee. Knowing how to make every single sandwich very quickly and getting to show off my skills to the customers. Eating cookie dough I stole from the freezer. Making “meat sandwiches” with meat and cheese and dressing, but not bread, because the owner counted the bread. Goofing around with coworkers on rainy days when no one came into the store.

I DISLIKED: Sweeping. Closing (I was really slow about it and always left an hour after I was supposed to). Having to come in when I wasn’t scheduled because someone else didn’t show up and at the time I was too polite to say no. Recording the food temperatures. Cleaning the oven. Working with employees who didn’t know the store manual front to back and did things wrong.

2. YMCA Swim Coach

I LIKED: Only having to work one hour a day. Not having to do much of anything on swim meet days other than watch my kiddos be awesome. Theorizing about Harry Potter with the older swimmers. Making up silly inside jokes and rituals with the kids (mostly involving lemurs and Harry Potter). Doing team cheers. Being largely left alone by the YMCA higher ups who didn’t know anything about swim team.

I DISLIKED: Fearing the parents might notice that I never actually planned anything for practice. Having to stay organized and remember things. Having to get up insanely early for swim meets. The stress of trying to keep track of kids’ times and when to run time trials so that they could enter all the events they wanted to at state meet. Trying to come up with things for the kids to do on days when I didn’t feel like coaching.

3. Assistant to a CPA

I LIKED: Learning how to use QuickBooks. That he didn’t care what I did as long as I was there to answer the phone. Being alone most of the time because he was usually off meeting with clients. Having a boss that was insanely laid back and low key.

I DISLIKED: Pretty much nothing except that he couldn’t afford to keep me on, so I got laid off.

4. Alamo Garage Door & Repair

I LIKED: Being alone most of the time, therefore getting to listen to whatever music I wanted, generally as loud as I wanted, until customers came in. Lots of free time to futz around online. Figuring out how to thwart my boss’ attempts to keep me off the internet. Getting to eat at my desk.

I DISLIKED: Everything else.

5. RAZ Imports

I LIKED: Learning how to do different things in the company. Getting to decorate my own cubicle. Having lots of free time to futz around on the internet. Getting to wear whatever I wanted to work. Getting to dye my hair however I wanted. Getting to listen to music and podcasts while I worked. Getting to eat at my desk. Having an exercise room to go to on my breaks. Eventually getting laid off and getting to file for unemployment.

I DISLIKED: Having to be on time every day. Having to work five days a week. Having to submit vacations for review rather than just saying “I’m going on vacation so I won’t be here.” That girl who came to talk to me on her breaks regardless of whether or not I was on my break and didn’t get the hint that I never listened to a word she said. Having to hide the fact that I spent most of my time online from my bosses. The fact that they tried to shame and guilt me into get the flu shot (it never worked). Hiding from my bosses to avoid getting assigned “busy work” during the slow seasons.

6. Tom Thumb

I LIKED: The flexible schedule. The people I worked with in the cash office. Getting to work with money. The process of going from knowing nothing about the workings of the office to knowing almost everything. Being alone in the office for long stretches on slow days. Getting to eat in my office. Getting “perfect” reviews when secret customers came in. Challenging myself to get all the closing procedures done as quickly as possible. Not having to get up early. Managers with good senses of humor.

I DISLIKED: Having to work on Christmas for the first time in my life. Getting written up for being late all the time. Getting written up for even stupider stuff. Customers who tried to manipulate the system and bitched at me when I wouldn’t let them. Having to sell lottery tickets. Having to sell cigarettes. Managers who felt they weren’t doing their jobs if I was smiling too much. Getting called away from the comfortable office to work the cash registers from time to time. Getting hours cut because other departments went over. Not being able to futz around on the internet.

Having tabulated the results, it looks like a job that I could actually stand would: Either allow me to spend most of my workday alone, or surrounded by people I like and enjoy. Allow me to eat on the job. Challenge me without placing too much singular responsibility on me. Be flexible enough for me to take time off when I want or need. Not make me work holidays. Not chastise me or discipline me for my difficulty with being on time. (This is probably my biggest weakness when it comes to working, one I try to be upfront about. However, most jobs still bitch about it despite me doing an amazing job that they love once I am on the clock, and essentially saving them money since they don’t have to pay me for those fifteen minutes.) Have lots of down time for futzing around on the internet without getting in trouble. Allow me to eat on the job. Not require me to get up early. Have laid back upper management that largely stays out of my business once the training period is over.

It’s nice having it all laid out like that. Now comes the part where I actually need to find this mythical Perfect Job. Even if I don’t come up with anything that fits all the above criteria, I feel a bit of relief seeing the patterns and knowing what I can tolerate and what I can’t. Still, it narrows the job market considerably. On the other hand, perhaps I can figure out a job that encapsulates all of it and start working toward that! Any suggestions?