Day 35: Picking Up Shifts

In case you’re new to reading this blog, or just missed this little detail, I work in hospitality. I’m currently employed by two hotels – one large and efficient and owned by an international entity, and one tiny, independent boutique hotel. I switched career paths a couple of years ago, after losing my mind and hiking the Camino Frances (not that I went on a long walk because I was crazy, but rather because I thought it would be a good way to help cure the crazy, which, in a way, it did).

When I left, I knew that something had to change about my current path as an Internet marketer, since simply logging on to Facebook would often start me down a path to a panic attack. When I got back, after a month and a half of sleeping in a new town each night, I realized that one of my favorite aspects of the journey had been how kind our hosts were at every albergue (hostel). I was taken care of so thoroughly at every stop, and though I am naturally not that demanding of a person, I saw many hospitaleros (hosts) go above and beyond in caring for their pilgrim guests, from seeing to medical needs to just making sure that we had a nice, warm meal in our bellies at the end of a tough day. I enjoy loving people like this, and I enjoy being loved like this, and I thought that it would be particularly rewarding to get paid to be good to others. Of course, I was right. Some days are difficult, but most days, I really love my job(s). I wish that I got paid enough to only have one of them, but that will come, if I can just hold on a little longer.

Anyway, the problem with picking up shifts at the smaller hotel when I’m not working at the bigger hotel is that my bigger hotel job is a traditional, 8-hour shift during the day. I come in around 8am, and leave around 5pm, depending on workload. In order to fit additional shifts into my life, this means that the only time I can work at the little hotel is the front desk overnight shift – 11pm to 7am – or on weekends, as I’m doing right now (7am to 3pm). If you do the math, you’ll see why this is exhausting. My entire life is work, work out, and sleep. I’ve got my life mapped out enough to get a decent amount of sleep, but I’m standing at the front desk for 8 hours, and this is draining. I have a schedule to keep me working out and active while I’m doing the overnight shift, and also a schedule to help me make sure that every single dollar goes to where I need it – paying my rent, saving up for a deposit on a new apartment, buying better work clothes, and paying off debt. Eventually, if I really work my butt off, I’ll have paid down my debts enough that I can consider also saving for my next Camino. Hopefully I won’t be so worn out that I’ll be considering another career change, lol.

This is all going to be worth it in the end, and I have to keep that in mind. My front desk shifts are generally very easy. I don’t have to do very much besides make sure that the hotel doesn’t burn down, and set up breakfast before I leave. If I am very careful to take care of my health (eat, exercise, sleep) so I don’t get run-down, this 70-hour workweek won’t have to be a thing I keep up forever. I’ll get a raise at my day job in November, and I can also start looking to move on to another position with a higher pay grade. But it’s important for me to remember that I am not superhuman. I can’t do everything. I must stick to a very strict budget now, so that later I don’t have to work this hard any more.

My other big fear, besides physical burn-out, is that I will get too busy to meal prep, and will start eating crappy food and spending too much money on meals outside of the house. I already ate a bagel and a couple of cups of coffee with sugar this morning, which is basically poison (delicious, delicious poison). But I’m also wearing jeans, and the chub rub is REAL, y’all. It’s enough to make me reconsider my initial impulse to grab a second bagel out of boredom. It’s tough being a working stiff. But it’ll be OK.

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Day 2: At The Office

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I changed careers a year and a half ago. I’ve changed a lot of things in the last few years, now that I come to think of it, but for the most part, it’s still up in the air whether or not the choices I’ve made have all been for the better. The career change was a definite improvement, though.

Before I decided to do something different, I was the director of marketing for an interior design firm, and later, the director of marketing for an advertising firm. I was good at what I did, but I hated it. The culture is so competitive, and the subject matter and methodology is constantly changing. Practices that can be considered gospel today all go out the window tomorrow. You’re constantly expected to train in cutting edge tech, learn new and exciting jargon, and look 110% prettier, hipper, and more fresh than anyone you meet. It’s exhausting, not to mention expensive, to pay for all of that continuing education and upkeep.

You also never leave work behind when you leave the office – it’s there with you 24/7. Social media never sleeps, and when you have 10+ clients’ social media accounts to manage, that’s hundreds of channels. I’m sure plenty of successful marketers have found a way to let it go when they want to go back to living their own lives, but I never found a way. I would wake up in a cold sweat, worried about so-and-so’s Twitter feed, and whether that new blog post I’d written for such-and-such was trending yet. It consumed me. Marketing was like a chronic illness. There was no stepping away. There was nothing but a constant sense of panic – foot tapping and nail biting and anger and fear – in my case, accompanied by lots of food in an attempt to dull the pain.

Things are different in my new job. There’s still panic, but it’s muted, and it comes from somewhere else – mostly that I now make about 1/2 of my old income. But I make up the financial loss in other ways. I can walk away at the end of the day and not take the job with me, and more importantly, I’m happy when I’m at the hotel. I genuinely love working in hospitality, despite the occasional bump in the road. With time, I’ll also begin to make more money, though right now I’m constantly on edge with how little I seem to be able to live now that I can’t spend a dime on anything frivolous. No date nights, no new shoes, no mani/pedis, no clothes or craft projects. I can’t even afford to grow a little cactus garden like I’ve been dreaming (though to be honest, I’d probably kill it). I only own one pair of work pants, and they’re starting to look ragged.

Worst of all, I can’t afford doctor visits, which isn’t frivolous at all, but rather desperately needed. I absolutely must go to see a GP in the near future, to get my general health checked, get tested for diabetes and thyroid issues, and get a referral to see a psychiatrist so I can get back on the anti-anxiety meds I desperately need. I also need to start seeing a therapist regularly. All that adds up. Even with health insurance, in a single month that’s going to be over $200, not counting meds. There’s no way for me to pay that now, so therapy is off the table until I get a raise or find a free alternative (that’s where meditation comes in, by the way). But if I really watch my pennies, I can pay for the GP. And if I’m really, really lucky, I can get the GP to renew my existing prescriptions, and skip the cost of the psychiatrist. So I’m just going to focus on being really, really lucky – and explain this all to the GP in hopes that she’ll understand.

  • Goal #1 for the week ahead is to find a GP and make an appointment for the near future, so I can be proactive about finding help for the binge eating and anxiety, plus make sure that I’m not suffering from any serious health issues.
  • Goal #2 for the week ahead is to attend a meditation meeting on Wednesday night. It’s time to start getting serious about making meditation a part of my everyday practice. Because even if I am successful at getting back on meds, I still need to be working at being mentally healthy in other ways, for a multitude of reasons.
  • Goal #3 for the week ahead is to watch what I eat and drink at the office. Quality in, quality out. Nothing from the vending machine. No stress candy or soda. Coffee and tea (black), bacon and eggs (hand to God, I get as much free bacon as I want every morning), and whatever healthy thing I bring for lunch – this week it’s leftover veggie curry and hard boiled eggs. Just those steps alone are enough to lose weight, but it’s not really just weight we’re talking about here, is it?
  • And my final goal, Goal #4, is to exercise, even if it’s nothing that impressive. Even just the minimum of meeting my steps goal on my FitBit and just doing some stretching and weightlifting at the gym is enough. As long as I’m trying harder than I tried last week, I’ll have met my goal for this week.

Today’s Weight: 197.8 lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 13,000 steps, 9 minute tabata session, 15 minute yoga session, and an hour at the gym catching up with my friend Theo (she’s brilliant, so that counts as mental exercise).