Hey! Long-time, no see! That’s my obligatory “sorry I haven’t been blogging” intro. First, a lot of things happen and there isn’t time to blog. Then, life gets a little overwhelming and I don’t want to blog. And then exciting things happen but I think, “oh, I can’t just jump back in with *this!*”
However, onward and upward.
Today was the last day of sixth grade for Kepler. Now it’s time to plan our summer. The highest priority for us this summer is to work on Kepler’s articulation so that everyone can understand him and appreciate his humor and sweet spirit like we do.
So I’m recruiting a village. I want people who want to help me be faithful to practice speech exercises with Kepler every day this summer. The challenge for me is two-fold. First, having a system in place that ensures I get it done without having to make a big decision about it every day. Second, persevering when progress is slow and when Kepler resists.
I’m people who are willing to receive a quick text message from me on predetermined days so I can tell someone I completed today’s practice. That’s it. You don’t have to do anything. It’s my job and I want to do it. I just need some help.
The ideal situation is for me to spend thirty minutes every day practicing the exercises together. Are you up to be part of the cheering section? Leave a comment, send me a text, send me a facebook message, whatever works for you!
I’ve been thinking about this post from July 2013 because I’m back in retail, although not stocking the band-aid shelves any longer. Now my job is to select the band-aids (and the cereal, and the water, and the canned tomatoes, and the bread) that the ecommerce customer has asked for.
Did you ever play store when you were a kid? We did. We would climb up onto the stove top and pull canned goods, oatmeal, teabags, cereal, and more out of that upper cabinet. Then we would go get some paper bags out of the closet, and carry it all into the living room to set up our store. There were three of us kids so we had a bagger, a cashier, and a customer. Sometimes we would strain the cashier’s capabilities and have TWO customers in line. Ah, it made for hours of fun.
I remember how fun it was to set up the store. When I started mulling over the possibility of getting a job in retail, my local grocery clerk actually asked me out of the blue if I would like a job, so I pursued it. There are some fun things about stocking shelves. Making everything look nice, filling in empty spots. The best part is being able to direct a customer to the product they are seeking.
And then the band aids happened.
Let’s just look at Johnson&Johnson, a popular brand of band-aid. The line that my local store carries includes comfort-flex plastic (60 count), medium comfort-flex adhesive pads (10 count), large comfort-flex adhesive pads (10 count), comfort-flex sheer (40 count), comfort-flex sheer assorted (40 count), comfort-flex sheer assorted (60 count), comfort-flex sheer assorted (80 count), comfort-flex extra large (10count), comfort-flex clear (30 count). And so on to the tune of over 40 varieties of type, size, and use.
Ah, but we would be remiss if we only offered 40 types of one company’s product. So we also offer another 40 or so similar products of the generic house brand.
Even if you skipped those last two paragraphs, that means EIGHTY types and varieties of band aids. And band aids don’t come in those sturdy metal canisters anymore. No, indeed. They come in paper boxes.
Paper band-aid boxes fall over at the whisper of a touch. So, the poor sod who gets the job of restocking the band-aid shelves — it’s like playing that children’s game “Operation” where the buzzer sounds if you touch the sides of the “incision.” But in this case, the boxes fall over, mix themselves up, turn their backs on me, slide, fall off the shelf, stand on their head, and turn on an angle. Anything but stay where they are PUT.
Of course people need band aids. And no doubt the magic Market Research has shown that people need band aids to come in all one size, and assorted, and waterproof, and extra large, and medium, and sheer, and clear, and flexible, and sport, and pre-treated with antibiotic ointment, and shaped for fingers, and shaped for toes, and extra-sticky, and less sticky, and the all-important travel pack.
But I don’t need to be the one who messes with the incredibly tedious job of straightening and
restocking the band-aid shelves. I felt the sand of my life descending into the bottom of the hourglass as I conscientiously did this job. NOT enough sand in the top to make this job worth me doing.
Not only band-aids, but allergy medicine, shaving cream, lotions, shampoos, vitamins, diapers, chocolate bars, hairspray, feminine products, toothpaste. They all come in MULTIPLE multiple sizes.
Not enough sand, my friends, NOT ENOUGH SAND.
As is my wont, I am questioning how I am spending my time. For a long time, i wanted to have my own business, and dabbled in a couple of ideas, but i just never felt like having my own business was a good fit. I am good at support, at following, at editing, at improving. Not quite as good at facing rejection, setting boundaries, pursuing self-care in the face of the needs of others, persevering through the difficulties, waiting for the business to grow, dealing with the paperwork, and making money through having a business.
And yet, in retail, there’s this disconnect between corporate and store-level employees. Store-level employees are paid very little and are there to advance the bottom line of the company. I’m sure I can’t solve the many management/labor issues that plague our society, but I can certainly observe that they are there. So even a store-level employee who loves their job is faced over and over with ever-increasing demands from corporate. And me being the frog that I am, I was quite comfortable in the pot of cold water I started in and didn’t really notice the heat being turned up and up and up until finally my physical self started to rebel. Even then, I ignored the symptoms in the name of doing a good job at my work.
So, now, here I am, questioning. Is what I am doing worth spending the limited sand in the hourglass? In some ways, I still say yes. In other ways, I say, not a chance. If I believed there was really a chance to be successful, that is, to provide excellent customer service, then the answer is yes. But I don’t know how to lead a team to provide excellent customer service, at least not in the petri dish of my employment. Talk about sacrificing the important on the altar of the urgent.
Everything is urgent in my job. Time deadlines from morning to night. Some are reasonable, and some are not. And when they are not, mistakes are made, customers are dissatisfied, and metrics are not adequately reached. In my very, very humble opinion, the ENTIRE reason for my job is customer satisfaction. But that is a slippery, slippery slope.
Customers have learned to express their dissatisfaction. They have learned that they will receive monetary benefit if they don’t like something. There are customers who exhibit an attitude of entitlement. I love providing excellent customer service, but I also recognize that the greater good isn’t necessarily being served in the job that i do. That’s kind of a hard thing to acknowledge.
I believe in accepting what comes my way. There are plenty of times when I have to work hard to get to a place of acceptance (note: several issues occurring as I write today), but I believe with all my heart that acceptance is what brings healing, and health, and unity, and hope, and peace.
The Universe seems to be offering me another opportunity to accept things as they are. I’m not sure yet what the ultimate outcome is going to be, but I recognize at least that I want to be true to the deepest values that I hold, and that could mean making some different choices about how I spend my time. I’m thinking …
or how I lost and found my car and what happened in between.
I don’t know how these things happen. I guess I’m usually looking ahead to the next step and I miss some of the details of the step I’m on right now. Anyway …
after driving around the entire parking garage twice, because “parking ➡️“ apparently means “we have parking spaces but NONE FOR YOU,” I finally espied a spot and backed in, as my UPS driver taught me when I was a driver helper. Hopped out and didn’t look back, although I was pretty sure I knew where I’d parked.
An hour and a quart of water later, I re-emerged into the parking garage and strode purposefully forth. Hmm. No car. Kept walking. Suddenly realized I REALLY should *not* have passed by the restroom in the office without stopping. Definitely should have stopped. Seriously definitely adamantly urgently should have. And also, dude, where’s my car.
My thoughts bounced from bathroom, should have stopped, and car, where the heck is it, back to how far is the nearest bathroom to where did I park my stupid car. Well, all that bouncing about meant we were going to have to abandon the idea of an *actual* bathroom and just look for a secluded corner.
Yes, that’s right.
I did an emergency pee of the floor of a parking garage. Crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t hear the clip clop of high heels bringing someone closer and closer, I found that sweet relief.
With that need finally met and one last review of how I really should have stopped in the bathroom in the office, I could focus on where my silly car was.
As I walked away from the scene, I reached for my phone. Hmm. Not in coat pockets, even after checking three times. Hmm. Not in my jean pockets. Still not in coat pockets. Not in jeans pockets. Not in coat pockets. No matter how many times I checked, it wasn’t in my coat pockets and it wasn’t in my jeans pockets.
Retraced my steps and yep, you guessed it, picked up my phone from the ground I had just rained on. Phone kind enough to land on case so no damage.
Now finally I could find my car! Walked and walked. And there it was, right where I left it.
Five hundred twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes. (Be sure to sing that to the “Rent” tune.)
Thats how long ago I rid myself of the high-carb diet I had favored and despised for so many years.
Many of my memories involving my dad are precious and also involve food. Regular stops at Bonnie Lynn Bakery for “emergency rations,” afternoons spent watching NFL football with him while munching Husman’s potato chips and drinking Pepsi, many homemade breakfasts featuring blue or green buttermilk biscuits because of his love of whimsy and food coloring, and of course truckloads of LaRosa’s pizza over the years.
Food has been part of the celebrations of my life all along. But gradually food became more than celebratory. It became more of an addiction, something I craved, then caved, and regretted my actions time and time again. The cycle of craving, using, and loathing exists for the foodie just as much as any drug addict.
Emotional eating was my bailiwick. Eat the crunchy things to process the anger. Eat the soft, gooey things to try and feel better. Eat the doughnuts because of the feel of those first bites in my mouth.
I tried to change. I knew my body wanted more vegetables and fruits and far fewer chips, but my mind refused to cooperate. Being a SAHM with a kitchen full of food right *there* made food an easy choice for solace.
When Dear Husband sent me the information last November about the research project studying the relationship between memory and diet, it took me less than a minute to call the researchers to get screened. I already had experimented with eating low-carb and knew it worked for me, but had never added the extra fat the ketogenic diet includes, so I always crept back into high-carb eating, relapsing as it were.
The ketogenic diet, as I understand it, has a few basic features. Most importantly, the daily consumption of net carbohydrates is 20 or fewer. Next, i eat adequate protein (.7-1 gram/lb of body weight). And finally, fat (the sworn enemy of most of us) plays a prominent role in what I eat. Sugar, white flour, grains, most fruit and some vegetables are now left on the shelf. It’s all about the insulin response and what that does to our body. We have an insulin reaction when we eat sugar, whether that’s in the form of a caramel sundae, or a hunk of watermelon.
So without further ado, I present the Top 10 Things I’ve Learned Eating Keto.
1. I actually can live without pizza.
2. I don’t actually have to live without pizza; I just make it a different way.
3. Thanks in large part to Maya Krampf at Wholesome Yum and her many recipes, cooking keto foods can be so easy and delicious.
4. It feels good to feel good. I don’t know that I have ever felt good before. I spent many years sloughing through emotional muck and didn’t even feel not-bad, let alone good.
5. I love being fit. My job helps me stay in shape, but this way of eating has given me a better shape than I had as a 25-year-old.
6. Keto foods taste as good and often better than traditional versions but omit the guilt and shame.
7. I still have some issues with food. I no longer overeat carbs, but I still catch myself sometimes processing stress by putting food in my mouth.
8. Keto is easy! No fancy ingredients or hours slaving over a complicated recipe. I’m sure they are out there, but who needs them!
9. I am still learning and improving and I see that as a permanent condition.
10. Finally, never say never. While it seems unfathomable now that I’d ever go back to the Standard American Diet with its preponderance of carbohydrates, I keep open hands and heart in recognizing that life happens and the curveballs always come. For now, for today, for this hour, keto is for me.
11. Bonus amazing thing is what it feels like *not to crave food.* To handle or smell foods I used to salivate to and be unable to resist, and now not even want them. That to me is powerful.
Everyone is on the keto bandwagon right now. Well, ok, not everyone. There are plenty of people helping the ice cream and chips fly off the grocery shelves right now. But if anyone is on a diet, they’re on keto. I don’t see this as a fad for me. I anticipate small changes, maybe shifting into paleo for periods of time, but I don’t know why I’d give this up. The rewards are too great.
The rewards are too great. The food is too good! And I am humbled by the gift I have received and continue to receive of life, and life abundant.
There’s not much these days that gets under my skin. For the most part, I take things in stride. I guess I’m learning — slowly — that things have a way of working out.
Remember this post from the other day? Remember how excited I was about that discovery? Well, lo and behold, today I noticed the Colored. Bars. ARE. GONE.
Now the problem came when I jumped to an erroneous conclusion. Someone suggested that I was working too fast (with not enough accuracy) and part of that conversation referenced the colored bars. And so the problem was then exacerbated when I took it personally. (Girl, see Agreement 2 of The Four Agreements.)
Once you jump to a conclusion and take things personally, it’s harder to “let it be.” Harder to say and mean, “perfect, what’s next?” Hard to remember “yes, and.”
As a matter of fact, the experience of jumping and taking creates an almost tangible thing that you have to carry around with you. What I was carrying was a black bag, possibly full of cats. The bag was moving an awful lot. Like someone was inside punching outward. Or the cats were trying to escape.
So now we have not only the jump to the conclusion and the taking it personally, we now also have this black bag requiring attention and physical presence to keep from dropping the jumping thing.
Finally, the official word comes back. No one knew the bars were gone and they had most likely disappeared during the most recent software update.
No one was targeting my speed. No one was trying to impact my work. NO ONE WAS EVEN THINKING ABOUT ME AT ALL!
And while I could immediately drop the erroneous conclusion and realize it wasn’t about me (AS PER USUAL!), the black bag remained for awhile as the cats slunk out one by one.
That silver lining though. When I decided they were targeting me (ludicrous, I know), I decided to switch out of super-efficient mode into more of an “ok, I will do it your way, precisely, to the letter.” I stopped doing all the little tricks I do to more efficiently and went back to the job exactly as it was designed.
I like being efficient, but I discovered after a few hours that my little tricks have been contributing to the stress of my job, something about which I have been worrying lately.
I love this work, but I don’t love what it does to me physically. Always feeling pressured, always revved up inside, skipping breaks, and allowing the adrenaline to be a raging river within.
When I simply gave up, simply submitted to doing it as designed, the stress went away. I’m looking forward to my next shift when I won’t have to juggle the black bag and can just calmly do the job without worrying about anything.
And who knows — maybe the colored bars will return at some point. Whether they do or don’t I’ll be fine. They were a fun little puzzle to solve on every item, and therefore were a pleasurable part of the day, but I learned that I will be fine without them.
“Yes” the bars are gone, “and” look what came out of that!
You know how it is … the people who set policy are not always very in touch with the people who have to carry it out. There’s probably even a name for the phenomenon. The disconnect occurs in government, schools, companies, anywhere there is an org chart.
Unfortunately, there are way too many times when the policy that is set is actually not possible to implement successfully. No matter how much the policy makers want it.
I do think I have lived in a state of some privilege not to have experienced this phenomenon much at all. I realize that there are people for whom this is a reality; people who cannot extricate themselves from difficult situations.
Now I’m almost always up for a challenge. I am energized by meeting and exceeding expectations. But when you have the responsibility but not the authority, that’s a recipe for disaster.
I may have recently been told about a metric I am to meet. As much as I would like to succeed, I am not the only person involved. Others must do their part in order for everyone to succeed. And for whatever reason, when all the puzzle pieces aren’t on the table, you can’t possibly finish the puzzle.
(Whew, I’m full of metaphors today.)
And I let this expectation get into my head today. For awhile. But ain’t no way that unrealistic expectation gets to steal my joy.
I’ll admit; I had to do some fancy footwork to shift my internal state. But I knew it was possible and I decided to focus on the possible rather than the impossible.
So like Rainer Maria Rilke said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
I’m always behind in my housecleaning. You know how it is. You complete one thing, and not only does it get busy right that second getting dirty again, but there are items EVERYWHERE that need to be cleaned, dusted, straightened, folded, put away, and trashed.
I decided that since it’s a reality that I always feel behind, maybe it would be helpful if I created a chart where I could simply note the date I last did a chore. It’s kind of the same idea as a to-do list, which I love to make and cross off items one by one.
One might think that a chart could contribute to self-judgment, and I suppose it could, but it’s not like I’m not already judging myself because I haven’t gotten to the … floor, windows, vacuuming, dusting, you name it. The chart actually soothes me as it shows me concrete evidence that these things ARE getting done. Maybe not as often as the Perfect Homemaker® might do it, but nobody likes her anyway.
Having the chart is motivation to me to do the tasks listed thereon. I have a chart in the bathroom, two in the kitchen, and one down the basement. Here’s an excerpt:
With the actual data there, I am FREE to decide to do something more often because I don’t have this nebulous free-floating anxiety about Not Being Caught Up.
Each year at our family reunion, we enjoy a newsletter with updates from each family member. Mostly, people talk about vacations they have taken, new jobs, retirements, the usual suspects. One person’s news this year consisted of the fact that she is retired and spends her days watching tv and playing games on her laptop. (No judgment here! Just stating a fact.)
Watching TV. Playing games on her laptop.
Now, I watch my share (or probably more than my share) of Netflix. And I do enjoy me some Toon Blast pretty much every day. But that description strikes me as a life of pretty much leisure time, and even though I do those same activities, I don’t see my life as having much leisure time. As a matter of fact, I’m busy, busy, busy. All. The. Time.
I read these things about downtime, the value of relaxation and recreation, taking a “sabbath” day. Maybe it’s time to reread some of those things. I love my life — my wonderful family, my job, the opportunity to blog, my friends, podcasts, books, movies.
Of course there are seasons in our lives. But aren’t seasons supposed to change? What would we miss out on if we had endless summer? Or unending winter?
I’ve let this post simmer for a couple of days because my posts tend to be about lessons I have learned, not so much about things I am in the middle of. I’m going to have to chalk this one up to being mid-situation, pre-resolution.
The one thing I have found that helps is to take a piece of paper and write down all the tasks that come into my mind. Once I get them out of my head and onto paper my brain seems to settle down. And while they are in my brain, everything seems urgent and the tasks seem unending. When I write them down, voila, there are still plenty and some of them are urgent, but everything seems a bit more manageable.
While making a list addresses the practical aspect, I still haven’t even touched what it would mean to act as if I have all the time I need, that relaxing and leisure time are not only justifiable but even essential. My housekeeping needs aren’t going away any time soon. Opportunities to work with and teach Kepler are myriad and have the potential for long-term impact.
All I know right now is the sheer volume of details is getting to me. While I can’t imagine ever wanting to spend my days playing games and watching tv (still no judgement), a less frenetic pace does have a certain appeal. In keeping with my philosophy, it’s time to look for something to move toward, some non-frenetic thing that I want to go toward. What is that for you? What tips do you have for a busy, working mom and wife to be something other than a perpetual motion machine?
i haven’t posted much about work but I made a discovery I am really excited about so I’m going to write here, on my blog, about it.
Clicklist selectors use a handheld device called a rad which tells you the next item to pick and includes the mapping location for the store. Location is as follows: aisle.shelf.spot. It’s designed to be able to be used by the greenest, newest employee from the get-go. The whole system is set up to be as mistake-proof as possible and it works pretty well.
Anyone who knows me at all, though, knows I’m interested in continuous improvement. I like to do better and be better with each passing day. After five months I’ve learned a few ways to work with the system to be more efficient.
Here’s how it works:
I scan six tags which are on totes. The totes are numbered 1-6. After this step, the first item appears on the screen. Maybe it’s some kind of shampoo. The item is listed, along with the UPC code, and the location. A lot of times, the location is correct, but there are a number of reasons why it might not be. Anyway, off I go to the location to find the item. I find it, scan it, and then and only then the rad tells me which tote to put it in. Then I put the item in the correct tote and scan the tote. Only after that does the rad tell me the next item and location. All along the way there are built-in safeguards to keep you from picking up the wrong item. You can’t scan the wrong item or the wrong tote without a tone letting you know YOU DID IT WRONG, BUCKO.
Just like every piece of electronic equipment known to man, we run into (LOTS OF) times when we have to wait for the “server” to respond. So, I might stand there for a few seconds waiting to find out which tote to put the item in. These few secondses add up.
I just discovered that the rad has a colored bar across the top on every entry. Well, actually, I knew the rad had a colored bar but I didn’t know it meant anything. But it does! It means something important and helpful and cool! The six totes are color-coded. Tote 1 has a maroon bar; tote 2 has a green bar, etc. What this means is that I now know without waiting which tote the item is going to go into.
Corporate has set up standards for how many seconds it should take to pick each item, and how accurately we complete the task. The goal is 38 seconds per item. That may not mean much without context — each selector pushes a large trolley through the store up and down the aisles, so part of the time is moving from location to location through the entire store. There is a huge range of seconds-per-item among selectors. I’ve been hovering around 38-42 seconds lately. With this realization about the color coding and utilizing it on the job, my pick time today was significantly lower per item.
Selectors don’t get any extra incentive pay for being fast, but truly if i was only working for money, there might be other jobs that pay more. But this job is just a great fit for me!
This post is probably a little “niche.” Probably along the line of two plumbers joking around about someone using a particular wrench for a job. (h/t to Steve Martin for that idea) Probably this is the kind of thing that most people aren’t really going to be able to appreciate the significance of. But I wanted to write about it because to me this is a very exciting discovery and has some pretty cool benefits.
Ooh, and one last thing. The “big boss” (supervisor over several stores) was in today and my supervisor had me tell him about the effectiveness of using the color-coded bars the way I am. He didn’t just take my word for it, but said he was going to do some research about it, because he hadn’t heard this from anyone else.
Cool thing was when I mentioned that totes 1 and 6, and totes 3 and 5 are very close in color, he said he is able to change those colors to any color we want! That will make the process even better! I look forward to that happening.
If you haven’t already tried clicklist, do! The $4.95 fee for the first three orders will be waived. There is no upcharge for your items. Kroger has a very nice produce section that is restocked constantly all day every day. And if we provide a substitution you do not care for, you do not have to pay for it. Give it a try!