Switching Shifts

So a miracle happened and one of my co-workers is retiring. She’s a sweet lady, but definitely not the best worker in the world. Besides the fact that I won’t have to follow her anymore, I have also decided to take her job, which my boss is ecstatic about. This means no more nights and swing shifts for me. It does mean consistently more hours, which I’m moderately on the fence about, but the more I look at it, the more exciting it is.

I’ve been working swing shifts for 2 years, and the older I’m getting, the harder it is on me. My body just can’t take it anymore. I’m constantly tired, always cranky, and can never seem to find the time or motivation to get anything done. And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that it’s been killing my relationship! JT and I hardly ever have time together. When he gets home from work, I’m usually going in.

I’m pretty stoked about this change, and I have a lot of ideas of things I want to do once this change happens. I’m actually excited about the fact of making friends with 6am. I’ll be working approximately 4 days a week (only 4 hours one of those days, and usually not having to come in until 3pm) so I hope on my days off, I’ll still be inclined to wake up at 6, and possibly even be able to do yoga! That will also mean I have more off days to go to the gym (who wants to go to the gym after a 12 hour shift? Or better yet, before a night shift?). I also feel like I’ll be able to find more time to meditate and make use of the new Buddhist altar I have in my house.

There are a few downsides, like not being able to attend temple as much, consistant 12 hour shifts, and getting stuck with the 3p-7p 4-hour block. I feel like those things are minor compared to the life I’ve been dealing with trying to make my body understand that we have no consistency in life. I’m really excited to see how this change makes me feel and what wonderful things I can incorporate into my life now (like a normal sleep schedule?).

I’ve heard that things show up exactly when you need them, and I feel like this isn’t an exception to that rule. I really hope to make some major positive life changes in the next few months, and I can’t wait to see where things go from here!!

*~*MR*~*

Depression.

I always hate talking about depression because of the many stigmas, assumptions, and facets of the problem. There are different kinds of depression. There is just general sadness, there’s clinical depression, PTSD, depression caused by a legitimate chemical imbalance, “fake” depression used to get attention, and so on. Depression doesn’t mean just one thing. I also truly believe that too many people are medicated for depression when that is not the true solution. If you have a legitimate chemical imbalance, medication will work. If you just need to make some changes in your life, or need therapy, those meds won’t function in the way they are intended and can actually make things worse.

I believe very strongly that most cases of depression can be handled or dealt with in ways that don’t introduce drugs and outside substances to your body. That can just confuse your insides even more. I’ve been on medications for anxiety, and much like depression medications, they ultimately just make you stop caring about everything. That’s not a healthy way to live life either. It’s normal to be sad sometimes, and it’s normal to feel things. I don’t want to go through life not feeling anything, that sounds even more sad!

Lately I’ve noticed, however, that I have been exhibiting a lot of depressive traits. I find myself not wanting to get out of bed. I have friends, but more often than not, I question how much they really care. There’s very little intimacy in my relationship, and I often find myself blaming the fact that I’m overweight and therefore not very attractive (I am working out, and I’ve lost weight, but I’m still not where I want to be.) I’m starting to really hate going to work, and the thought of it makes me feel like there’s a black cloud over my head. I know all of the methods like re-framing and counting your blessings and all those things. I know I have no reason to be depressed. I have friends, I have spirituality, I have a relationship, home, car, job, family, food, everything I could need, right? I don’t believe in therapy for myself at least because I don’t feel comfortable telling things to a person who doesn’t know me and is literally being paid to sit there and analyze me. Not to mention, I’d have nothing to say to them. As I said, there aren’t any issues in my life like that. Things are fine. I have everything I need, plus a great support system. But none of that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning. I just want to hide, I don’t want to keep doing this anymore. It’s not like I’m suicidal or anything, I don’t want to die, or hurt myself, or hurt anyone else. I just feel like every day is the same thing. Hurry and rush around so I can get to work so I can pay the bills so I can live in my house so I can go to work so I can pay the bills, and on and on and on. I don’t believe that life should be like this. There has to be more to it than just the struggle.

I have hobbies and things I do for fun, but none of those things are sustaining, and I don’t have normal time to be able to do these things. It’s not like I have 2 hours a day to put aside for fun things, or anything like that. I feel like I’m constantly running, being pulled toward things that are not important to me, but are important to the world I live in. I don’t want to talk to my doctor about this because I don’t want medication. I don’t want a therapist. I want a sustainable life. I want a life that I can love, but I’m so trapped in this one that I can’t get out of it, or even step aside for a moment to find something else.

I’m tired of having to struggle if I want a coffee, or having to check my bank account to see if I can go to the grocery store for my breakfast essentials this week. I’m tired of working this hard and rarely having time for family, friends, and myself just because I have to get all of this stuff done. It’s really wearing on me, and I’m way to young to feel this way. I’m so glad I made the decision not to have children, because there’s no way in hell I could handle having one more person need me to do anything. I never wanted to have to say that I’m depressed, because generally speaking, I need to just get over it. This is life and this is how it is. I’m having a very hard time accepting this though, and I need to find another way.

*~*MR*~*

Waiting for my moment.

I just got my pay stub for this upcoming Friday. It’s pathetic. I make a lot of money per hour. My job isn’t hard (but I do work awful swing shifts and the company I work for doesn’t seem to care much for it’s employees). Somehow, every time, I still seem to come up short. Every effort I make to save money, collect freebies, and be frugal, it always comes crashing down.

Part of this struggle comes from student loans, something I never would have gotten myself into without the prodding of my mother, who insisted that both college and the loans were absolutely essential to my survival in the world. I kept pushing through college even though I knew it wasn’t for me, switched schools once, and still only ended up with a certification. I had to finish with something because the only reason I was going in the first place was to keep my mom off my back, which I realized was a losing battle regardless.

I ended up going back to school a third time for myself (with significantly less loans) for an associate’s degree and a coding certificate. I actually wanted to go that time and I worked really hard. I was proud of myself for getting that degree.

That degree helped me get the job I have now. I’m not a coder, but the skills I gained through that course of school definitely influenced me getting this job. I work for the same boss as my mom, though in a different department. I knew that was going to bite me in the ass some day. Pretty much any time I talk about leaving this job, my mom has her two cents to put in, basically that me leaving is going to create problems for her. If I give a 2 weeks notice, why would there be a problem? I’m not going to up and leave, I’m going to leave on great terms because I need the good reference! But the truth is, the time is going to come when I need to go and do something better.

The other part is, they really abuse me at this job. I’m supposed to be part time, but I’m regularly told that I’m the best worker out of the 4 of us and they always want me to work a ton of overtime and swing shifts. I usually do it, because it’s hard to turn the money down, but the truth is it wears on me. I’m not getting younger, and it’s really starting to bum me out that I don’t have any kind of consistent sleep schedule. They had offered me “official full time” but it was split between two departments and I knew right away they were going to make me do back to back shifts with less than 4 hours in between and my body seriously couldn’t handle that. I had to turn it down for my mental health alone.

The truth is, I want to move. I want to go somewhere where I’m not known and where I can make a new start as myself instead of a product of my mom. I’ve told my mom about these plans and she constantly tells me that I can’t, and that I’m just going to go “live in a heroin infested trailer park and work at McDonalds for the rest of my life.” That’s farthest from the truth. Might I have to live in an efficiency apartment for a while with minimal furniture? Yes. Might I have to scrimp and save to build my life back up? Yes. But all of that will be temporary, and necessary to start a better life. I just can’t stay here forever. It’s not serving me well here, and I can’t get away from people who think they know me when all they know is my past.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy or comfortable all the time. Sometimes the biggest risks have the best rewards. It might be scary for a while, but some of the scariest things I’ve ever done have paid off the most. Is there a chance it won’t work out? Sure. But right now, I don’t feel like this is working out. I’m miserable here and I can’t keep doing this to myself.

I’m sure part of the reason she’s against me leaving is because she’ll miss me or whatever, but it would serve her better just to come out and say that instead of making me feel like crap. She literally screamed at me that I don’t have a degree, because in her eyes an associate’s degree doesn’t count. I worked damn hard for that and it does matter to me. And with that plus my work experience, I don’t doubt I can get a job elsewhere. The problem is, my mom is a manipulator, and she doesn’t even see it. She will guilt trip the hell out of you until you don’t think you have a choice but to do what she says. I’ve grown up my whole life dealing with that and now that I’m realizing it, it hurts me to see all of the ways I could have done things differently if I just hadn’t listened to her. For once in my life, it’s time for me to live for me, and not for someone else.

I just hate dealing with this opposition instead of helpfulness. If someone I love wants to do something to better their life, I do everything I can to make it happen. I can’t imagine purposely sabotaging someone just for my own means. I need to get out of here, I need to go explore myself. I just have to wait for the right time. Once my opportunity comes, I’m out of here.

*~*MR*~*

Open the mind, open the heart.

I was reading an article yesterday about plummeting graduation rates at a local inner-city high school in my area. I promptly decided to chime in with my two cents, and while I got a few “likes,” it was mostly opposition. It was interesting to me because it was clear that people didn’t even think to actually read and think about what I had said. They quickly pieced apart the chunk that they disagreed with and ran with it. We all do it, it happens to all of us because that’s how our mind works. The problem is, when we automatically go on the defensive, we miss a lot of other points.

To give you a little background on what happened, I made the suggestion that kids don’t have much motivation to graduate anymore. Right away people freaked out stating that it’s ridiculous to need “motivation” to graduate. Let me ask you, when you were in high school and it started getting hard for you, what pushed you through? Probably the fact that graduating high school was what was going to get you a job, or into college, right? Well, it turns out that these days, graduating isn’t guaranteeing kids any of that.

How many grown people do you know that still make low wages? I’m talking grown people with at least high school, if not college, educations. These are the same jobs a lot of high school kids get, and in many cases if you start at 16 and work up the ladder, you can make more in these jobs than you can trying to land a job after college. Everyone wants experience, but no one wants to hire anyone to get experience.

A lot of kids are worried about their families. When they don’t have food on the table, they start to consider supporting their families, or sometimes just leaving to get away from it all. Some get jobs, which makes going to school tough, especially without a support system. Some turn to drugs or criminal activity to support their family. I’m not saying this is the correct way to do things, I’m saying it is a solid reality for some of these kids. Some of them live in fear, shootings and gang violence is rampant. If it comes to skipping school or going and risking your life to do it, many just choose staying home. Many kids have responsibilities at home like taking care of younger siblings and they just don’t have the help and support to continue with school. Some worry that going to college will burden themselves and their families with student loans. Trade schools or military are options for some people, but those have financial, mental, and physical costs as well, if they meet the requirements and skills to get in.

Our economy has shifted over time from a primarily manufacturing economy (where the money is) to a service-based one, which is different for a lot of the older generation folks. “Back in the day” you got your high school diploma, you could go work in a factory for 30 years and then retire. It was a no-brainer. Go to school, get the minimum, get out and start your family. That’s not the case anymore. These kids are in a school system that teaches them how to spit back information. It teaches them to “repeat after me” instead of thinking for themselves. Everyone has to conform, everyone has to learn the same things. This isn’t building innovative kids. We need to be raising kids that can think outside the box, come up with new business models, and expand our economy. Our education system isn’t cutting it.

I don’t advocate for dropping out of school, but I can see why some kids might think it’s the best option. I’m not too closed minded to see that schools aren’t serving our kids in the best way possible. I’m not too closed minded to see that the government wants to keep schools teaching kids to sit down, shut up, and follow.

Going to school doesn’t necessarily make you smarter or make you a better person. To be honest, most of the stuff I learned beyond my freshman year or so is utterly pointless. Now if there are certain jobs you want to get into, you may need those things, but it isn’t necessarily for everyone. I love Germany’s education model. They have 3 different kinds of high schools. Some kids go to a college prep type of school if that’s what strikes them, others go to a trade/vocational type of school that prepares them for that type of training, and some go to a basic school to learn basic skills for life, but that more than less prepare them for “lower level” jobs. Not everyone wants to be a doctor or a scientist, and especially in today’s age, we need more people willing to do service careers.

Again, I want to reiterate that I do not advocate for dropping out of school. This is where I lose people because they think I’m justifying this. I’m not justifying it, I’m just saying maybe we need to look at things in a different way. There may be a better way to teach kids that actually has them learning valuable skills that they need. My sister in law is a hotel manager and she never finished high school. She makes more money than I do with my associate’s degree. She started as a housekeeper, worked her way to front desk, and is now assistant general manager. She has done very well for herself. I also know people who spent thousands on education via schools just to decide later to become artists or change career paths and they basically just wasted their money. Sure not everyone can make a career in art, music, or sports either, but for some people it works for them. Also, not everyone’s aspiration is to be a millionaire. Some people are fine with a small apartment, used car, and basic needs. We need to quit judging people because they don’t aspire to take on a bunch of extra baggage, get a job they hate, and ultimately create a life they hate because that’s what looks good to society. Sure you need enough money to live and survive, but I can tell you money is not my main motivation for doing anything. It’s more important to me that I have a job that I don’t hate, free time to pursue my passions, and less stress. I make enough money for a roof over my head and food to eat, but not much more than that, and that’s ok!

Maybe if schools were designed to cater to the needs of our students and ultimately our economy, we might be able to get somewhere. If schools helped kids get jobs and helped them with options for continuing education, maybe more kids would be inclined to do it. Basically when you are at the end of high school they drop you on the curb and say, “Have at it, kid!” What kind of teaching is that?

You don’t have to go to school to be educated either. There are these things called libraries where you can find all the information you need. And now there’s this even bigger thing called the internet, where you can find just about any answer. Google isn’t the answer for everything, because there is a lot of false information out there. However, on the other end of that spectrum, I think it is safe to say that in this age, it’s less important to teach kids the answers than it is to teach them how to find the answer. None of us are endless memory banks. We don’t save up every piece of information we have ever learned so we can use it some day. A skill we do need to have is the ability to know that when I don’t know the answer, I can be resourceful and find it. Maybe there isn’t an answer yet, and it’s my job to be resourceful enough to create an answer. I think it’s much more important to teach kids how to do that.

It’s not that I don’t think kids should go to school, I just think it’s important that we find out why they aren’t. I think it’s important that we use those findings to restructure our education system to make it something that works. Our education system should benefit our people, not hinder them. I had a lot of people saying that I had a depressing outlook on things because I said kids don’t have the motivation to graduate now. I don’t see it as depressing, I see it as a legitimate problem that needs to be addressed. I see it as an indication that the lives of future generations are making drastic changes and we need to evaluate how we can meet their needs. They need us, and they need our support, not just a thump on the head from people who think they are “wrong.” What works for one doesn’t always work for all. We aren’t doing a very good job of leaving a positive environment for the up and coming generations, and it’s going to come back to bite us. If we don’t give them a place to thrive and grow, they aren’t going to amount to anything, and we’re starting to see it happen. I want kids to go to school, but I want school to benefit them, teach them, and grow them, not stifle them. I don’t want school to be a burden for kids, but a place for them to reach their full potential. It’s not a grim outlook, it’s being open minded enough to recognize that there is a problem, and boy I hope more people see that before it’s too late.

*~*MR*~*

Laws are Nonsense.

Well now that the title grabbed your attention, let me elaborate.

Laws are supposed to be for the well-being of the people. In a democratic society, typically laws are voted on by what a majority thinks would be the “right thing” for its people. More often than not, laws end up becoming a wet blanket, stifling the creativity of those law-abiding citizens, and becoming a puzzle of loopholes for those looking to evade them. How often have you seen certain people or businesses skirt their way around the law, or blatantly disobey a law and not get much of a punishment at all. There are little to no consequences for people like that. There are some people who are very conscientious and want to do good, but they mess up and end up branded as a criminal for life. This doesn’t seem fair or conducive to a positive environment that encourages people to do the right thing.

My question is, why do we need a law to do good things? Why is it not the natural course of action to do what is necessary without hurting others?  Also, we shouldn’t be punishing people for victimless crimes or something that *might* cause a problem. For example, speeding. How often does someone get a speeding ticket, but they weren’t being unsafe at all. They weren’t texting, playing with the radio, eating, or talking on the phone, they were just moving with the flow of traffic. That person shouldn’t be in trouble. Now the one blatantly weaving in and out while riding someone’s bumper, eating a sandwich and texting, that person is obviously a problem and are seriously putting others at risk. The question I really have is do laws actually prevent people from doing bad things? I’m not convinced.

There are laws against murder, but it happens every day. I know I wouldn’t commit murder whether there is a law or not. Taking another person’s life is totally uncool. I wouldn’t want it done to me, so I’m not going to do it to another. Now the person who does murder, clearly that law didn’t stop them. Most of the time it doesn’t even make them think twice. If they are going to do it, they are going to do it.

I know there is a lot of talk about Trump pulling out of this Paris climate deal. My question is, what’s stopping people from taking their own steps to take care of the climate? What’s stopping business owners from taking it upon themselves to dispose of waste properly, monitor their emissions, and anything else they can do to reduce their own carbon footprint. Oh, right, it’s greed. People want to make the most money they can and don’t care much about the expense. I feel like laws have contributed to this issue.

People don’t like being told what to do, and they certainly don’t like to be backed in a corner, so they rebel. Society has put all of these expectations on people and frankly they are unattainable for the average person. It’s really easy to make life look like a vacation when your life is displayed in still-image increments via social media for all the world to see. What they don’t see are your struggles, your pains, and the effort you put in. Maybe we need to find a way to show those things better. Appreciate the efforts that are put in to get you what you want and where you need to be. Get back to basics. Be happy with a simple roof over your head, be happy with your family. Quit having meaningless sex without birth control and producing children with people you don’t even like. Create deep relationships.

We are all separate now, fighting against each other to see who can climb to the top of the ladder. Once we all become connected, once we all start fighting for each other, it’s amazing what we can accomplish. The thing is, none of this is going to start with Trump, or the Kardashians, or any other figurehead that you might want to attach. It starts with you, at home. Quit worrying so much about what’s going on in the news (which is a royal joke these days) and take care of what you can take care of. Concerned about the future of healthcare? Take your friend to his doctor appointment and help him pay for his medications. Worried about the climate? Ride your bike to work. Unhappy with the food supply? Start growing a garden at home. These are the little things that make a difference, and doing them will make you feel better too. As you start making a positive impact in the world around you, people will take notice. Not only will people take notice, but more often than not, they will start doing some of the same things. This is how we spread love around the world. I can’t make a government official sign a bill (or not sign a bill), I can’t make the healthcare system better, I can’t fix world hunger. What I can do is start at home. What I can do is make a genuine effort to be a better person. I can be conscious of my actions and not accept any less. I can project love into the world. Even if you are a flashlight in the dark cave of infinity, you are still a light. And what if others join you? Along the line, the cave gets brighter until we can all see. Some will be little lights and some will be big, but the end result is all the same. You will  be better for it, and so will the world around you. We don’t need more laws, we don’t even need most of the laws we have. What we need is a desire to be better, and on top of that desire we need action.

I challenge you all to take action. Just do something. Do something good for the sake of doing it. Don’t do it because there is a reward, or because it makes you feel special, do it because it’s the right thing to do. Laugh in the face of the law, and don’t do it because you have to, do it because you want to. Don’t choose not to do something just because it’s illegal, choose not to because it would be wrong to do anything else. Believe it or not, our brains know the right course of action. We’re going to screw up a little, and we need to stop blaming ourselves for that. Things won’t always go the way we think, but if you truly tried to do the right thing, you did well. Keep trying and keep striving. It’s up to us, not the law.

*~*MR*~*