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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Here We Go Again

I really should be in bed right now. But we all know by now i don't sleep, don't we? I blame Utah. That's where it started. I guess juggling a full time third shift job and full time school during the day will do that to you. Well that and a fierce battle with a panic disorder that mainly shows its ugly face at night. Whatever...i've kind of accepted all that by now. Moving on. The reason i'm up tonight? Stabbing pains in my arms. And the dread that comes along with knowing what that pain means. It means another flare-up on the horizon.  This has been a regular occurence for the past 8 months or so. For those who don't know, I was recently diagnosed with Hidradenitis Supporativa. What is that you ask? Well, you can read about it here.  In short, my glands create abscesses that swell and become very painful until they burst (mine happen to stay under the skin and do not burst). As of recent, researchers are beginning to find supportive evidence that it is indeed an autoimmune disease but has not been definitively decided yet. Mainly because what they think happens is hair folicles or glands or sweat ducts clog too easily and then your immune system attacks with super force, creating the abscesses. I don't know about all that or how it works, all i know is it's not a good time. During a flare, i also tend to battle restricted movement of my arms, a low-grade fever and intense fatigue. There is no medical cure, and they really don't even know the cause. The last flare i had landed me in the E.R. because i couldn't take the pain anymore. The doctor there, as well as the surgeon i followed up with a week later, basically told me i was just kind of in for a ride. Basically its about managing pain as best you can during a flare-up. Isn't that lovely to hear? Yeah i didn't find it very comforting either. Because i believe that our bodies were designed to heal themselves if given the proper tools, i began to research natural cures. As i poured through online support groups and blogs and other websites i found only one way that people became symptom free (outside of surgery...which i was told by the surgeon was a last-ditch effort and only about 50% effective anyway). Raw foods. People that eat a plant-based diet of 80% or more raw, living food were able to achieve complete healing. Interesting. Wanna know the even more interesting part? I've actively been studying raw foodists (anyone that eats 75% of their diet that way is considered a raw foodist) for over a years now. Before i started dealing with this. I don't even remember how i happened upon it, but i do remember feeling intensely that i needed to know this information, and have continued to feel inspired that i need to move in that direction. Just to be clear, i'm not necessarily saying that EVERYONE should eat like this. What i AM saying, however, is that Heavenly Father designed my body and knows the best way for me to take care of my individual body. And maybe He was giving me a heads up this past year...so that i would know what to do when i got hit with this and before it gets worse. That being said, i've been gathering recipes (raw food is WAY more interesting than just eating apples, after all) and reading everything i can about it, incorporating green smoothies in my diet, and breaking my addiction to caffeine (which has been pretty successful if i do say so myself) in order to prepare myself for this transition. I'm excited...and scared. But i look at the benefits to me personally....panic attacks make me feel like i am dying, literally, during them. Part of what freaks me out even further in those moments is knowing i'm not very healthy, so i very well could be. Having my health back would mean knowing that it is indeed just a panic attack. Or better yet...panic attacks and my bouts of night-anxiety could disappear all together. Yes please. It would remedy my life-long battle with my weight, which i am quite sick of really. Yes please. Raw foodists almost never get sick. Yes please. Energy through the roof. Umm...after my battles with fatigue, there is nothing i could want more. You get my drift, right? I thought about not telling people about my decision because then they feel like they need to weigh in on the matter...such as trying to tell me why i'm wrong or extreme. Well tell that to my intestines that no longer tolerate wheat, grains, dairy or even meats anymore. I'm sick of feeling sick, thank you. Or they may feel the need to say something if they see me eat something cooked ("hey, i thought you were raw now"). Well the thing is, i'm not looking to go 100% raw. i don't believe i should completely cut out all meats or grains or cooked veggies. But i am looking at 80% or more...thats my goal. that basically means that just 2 or 3 times a week i would eat something cooked. It also allows for social situations so i don't have to be that weird girl that brings her own food everywhere..even to restaurants. no thanks. Now this is a lifestyle change, a pretty intense one at that, so i'm assuming it will take me some time to really transition into it. But i suspect that what lays ahead is well worth it. And i can't wait.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Goodbye Caffeine (again)

Well things around here have been interesting. Last night included a trip to the emergency room for a very enlarged and VERY painful gland under my arm. I just couldn't take it anymore. To spare you all of the details, i will just say that when they cut into it, it didn't turn out to be what they thought. In fact, they don't know what it is. Meanwhile, now i have two holes in my armpit with a bunch of gauze stuffed up there and can barely move my arm. good times.  They decided to just put me on antibiotics and painkillers until they can find out exactly what's going on. I know an opportunity when i see it. what is it you may ask? The opportunity to cut off my caffeine supply while i'm taking the good stuff for my arm. No headaches here thank you. I figure in a day or two when i stop taking the pain meds i'll have been through the worst of the withdrawal. This is what i would like to call a "two-fer". see? opportunity.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Pursuit of Happiness

There's a paragraph in a book i read that i just have to share, right now while i'm thinking about it. The author was sharing her thoughts during a quest to find balance in her life. Its especially important to me given my dwellings upon my personal happiness lately. I also like how it can also relate to the gospel...although to me, happiness and the gospel are the almost the same thing. Enjoy.

"People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works.  Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.  You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings.  And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.  If you don't you will leak away your innate contentment.  It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments."

~Elizabeth Gilbert ~    Eat, Pray, Love

I Can't Think of a Title

Here i sit, reading a book and being unable to concentrate because i just feel so frustrated. I am literally consumed today by thoughts about my store and how i can make it perform better, how i can hit my numbers until i work myself into a tizzy....and then i realize...this is the struggle. The struggle between having my job be just a piece of me or something i do and allowing it to be all of me.  And then i pull myself back. Back into that space where I am actively trying to shed bad habits and bring on new (well not new, just forgotten) more enriching ones. Back to the place where my job is just a small part of my life, not who I am as a whole.  I've been trying to learn the art of meditation in a form that works for me. My counselor agrees that this would be a wise practice for me to learn given my tendency to be stressed and anxious and obsessive.  He also suggested that maybe it would work well for me to place it right before my scripture studies to help me relax and focus, allowing me to experience true joy and peace in my every day.  So that is what i will try. I will say my experiment is going well...i have spent more concentrated time reading and studying and writing and much much less time zombied out on my couch. I feel like my overall mood and outlook has improved, but everyday i have to keep choosing it. But you know, the struggle of choosing it and bringing myself back is what is making it so fulfilling at the same time. Sure, its hard. But what part of life isn't? It's kind of the point, is it not? The confidence that comes from knowing i am the master of my own mind is well worth the journey.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Breaking Up is Hard to Do (a short story)

Especially when you operate in a customer service world and that person you are breaking up with happens to be a customer. This marks the second customer i've had to break up with. Trust me, the conversations aren't easy. In fact, the first time i had to do it was about 2 months ago. These customers were true regulars...ordering almost once a week.  The problem? They loved everything well done. okay, so that's not really the problem. The problem was that they (and by they i mean the wife) wanted a certain amount of well-doneness. Not a smidge too little or too much. This can be hard to do during a friday night dinner rush (when they happened to order most) when your oven is a conveyor oven and its jammed packed with food for all of our other customers. At those times its not easy to make room to keep pushing the pizzas back..oh it wasn't quite well enough so i push it back a second time....crap its still not quite right. maybe if i move this cheesybread over here and take this pizza out and move these wings i can find room to push it back a third time...crap stuff is gonna fall out of my oven if i don't quit messing with this one pizza and start boxing some of these...you get my drift, right? Just for the record, i will do most reasonable requests for any customer. i enjoy my customers (especially regulars) and like making them happy. Love it even. But Sharon (*name has been changed*) would always call back and talk to me like we've never had this same conversation before, or that we had never met. And the convo would start out with her saying something like this.. "i just don't understand why you can't get the concept of well done. Some weeks its great, and about every other time its just the crappiest food i've ever eaten because it isn't well done when i clearly asked for well done." One time, i burned the pizzas (kind of) just to see what she said, since they were never done enough. yeah, she wasn't a fan of that either. sigh. So what do i do? I have to give them their money back or make them new food. That is our policy and one i never mind doing for my customers if they are unsatisfied (luckily 95% of my customers frickin' rock, excluding certain college kids of course, so this doesn't happen too often).  Well, one night i had had enough. I received the call from Sharon, she again acted like this is the first time we've ever spoken about this topic, she wanted her money back (because she KNOWS our policy, believe me) so she was sending her husband up there to pick it up. I just want to say, for all of Sharon's craziness, her husband is awesome. Totally laid back, very sweet and always smiling. He even rolls his eyes when Sharon is putting on her show about her food. But i was done with her. I figured out i had refunded her money or given them free food like 22 times. We are a business people, we do need to make money or nobody will get pizzas. And its gotten to the point that when they walk through my door i say to myself..crap, i'm gonna lose money...ugh. So in comes her husband, all smiley and nice, and i politely gave him the money and asked to speak to him outside. I won't go through the whole conversation, but it started out like this...
Me: So, it just seems like we can never quite get the order right for you guys
Him: Well, you know how Sharon is...she just believes that if she is paying money for food she deserves to have it exactly the way she wants it. She's very particular.
Me: I totally understand, and i agree that she should get what she pays for and wants. But we can't seem to be able to do that for her despite our trying, and while i love my customers and especially regulars like you, i have to wonder if maybe another pizza place would be a better fit.
Him: This sounds kind of like a break up talk
Me: Yeah that's kind of what it is.

At this point he just kind of shook his head, then (and i was not expecting this at all) he launched into a vent session about his wife and how she does this at every restaurant they frequent and he is always trying to get her to mellow out but she's just so particular about some things and gosh every manager must hate them and fear them when they walk in the door and ...big breath in... he's been putting up with this for 9 years and he's just so sorry and can they please keep ordering food from me because they just love Domino's and they really like me as the manager and i'm always just so nice and patient with them and...

yeah. i avoided punctuation so you would get the gist of how he was just airing it all out. At one point i wondered if he was gonna turn all smurf-like from lack of oxygen. He begged and pleaded..literally...for me to reconsider. I told him that i would be happy to serve them, but if (and only if) they dealt directly with me. Meaning i would do their order start to finish, starting with the phone call. They had to ask for me directly..that was my condition.

The customer today reminded me of that first experience. Maybe being the General Manager of a quick service restaurant is starting to harden me in the business world. i don't know. But i do know that as she complained about everybody involved in her order two weeks ago..with the main complaint being the way my driver knocked on her door in the MOST unprofessional way (yes, you read that right) and accusing my assistant of being ignorant and stupid, that i didn't let it get to me. When i asked her what we could do to be better since we've messed up the last 5 times she ordered, she literally snarled at me and said "how do you know that, why would i remember how you messed up those times". I explained to her that i could see by her order history we had to free out every order over the past 7 months, so it was obvious to be we were doing something wrong, and that i just wanted to know how to fix it so we could better serve her. I guess she felt trapped in her lie (yes, i am accusing her of being a scammer. i've done this a long time people) so she told me i was unprofessional (i learned that this is her most favorite word) and uneducated and that she would be calling my boss to inquire why he would allow someone like me to operate part of his business. Well that went about like i expected it to. I am sure that if you found out the places she is a frequent customer at, she is a problem everywhere. The part that confused me was that she got so mad right off the bat. And i have 2 witnesses that will tell you i was being very polite AND quite professional, thank you.

I guess my question is...at what point is it no longer beneficial to your business to have someone as your customer?  I give people the benefit of the doubt the first several times. But that's why i document this stuff, to protect my store and the morale of my customers and employees. I certainly hope this is the last time i ever have to do something like this...but with the economy in the shape its in and people trying to pinch pennies everywhere they can, we're seeing it more and more. Many people are trying to cut corners and costs anyway they can, and unfortunately this sometimes includes taking it out on businesses to get something for free. I feel for them, i really do. But this is a business. We are here to serve our customers AND make money. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

sweat it out

This is where i'll be working today for 13 hours. Seriously. Don't you see the oven over there in the corner? or the computer and phones? I've got my gallon of water and a towel...i'm ready. wish me luck.