Thursday, August 26, 2010

Time Wasted is Time Lost

Time...time on my hands. How do I fill the empty hours of my tediously work-filled life. Amazingly with all of the Disneyland desires fulfilled, I somehow require more. My appetite is a continuously growing monster, demanding food from all reaches, rather than just the simple staples of everyday meals. I am not desiring more so to speak, but rather variety.

I am soon to have a break from the monotony of my employment in the hectic world of hospitality. For a manager, especially a kitchen manager, this is practically impossible. There are many reasons for this predicament, first being, the nature of the person taking that role is, in general, a workaholic. I fill my life with work, making everything part of my life, from friends to home life. If you are addicted to the enjoyment of being needed, you feel you can't take a break.

The second reason for never taking a vacation or a break revolves around the type of employees that work in the restaurant business. Although they are all good people, they tend to either have other priorities in their life goals or, worse yet, no focus on their future. This leaves the reliability aspect of the job a bit in question. As a manager of a kitchen in a sports themed restaurant, there is a precariously balanced Jenga Tower built resembling the kitchen; the economy affects the pay rate, the quality of employee, the amount of employees. Weather affects the sales of the restaurant, the hours employees work, the general mood of the staff, and ultimately the desire of staff to actually work. The personalities of the staff need to be intricately interwoven to make the machine run smoothly. With one person missing the machine can run inefficiently. Others that fill in, work too many hours, decreasing efficiency and clashes can occur.

After all of these arrows continuously battering the Tower I have built, I also have to be able to leave that Tower and hope it is still standing when I return. I must choose the best opportune time to take enough time off to recharge and ultimately be sufficiently recharged to begin to reinforce the Tower for more battle. In someways I wish to see the battle end, to simply find a new challenge, to be part of the outside world looking in, with the memories behind me. I would be able to enjoy a dinner out again. I would live a life not waiting for my phone to ring with more missing employees or troubles to solve. Friends and loved ones say I would miss it, probably needing to detox from the insanity of my current situation. Others I work with say that they couldn't do it without me, internally planting the seed of guilt which grows so well in the soil of my addicted brain. That sickly sweet feeling of appreciation built by creating a position that no one could possibly fill, is like a bee attracted to a flower, regardless of the smell.

There is something to be said about being a natural leader. The gratitude and appreciation is addictive. The work needed to reach a level of trust is immense. Being taken advantage of begins as 'doing people favours', which quickly becomes old and you start feeling like that used, torn cloth in the kitchen. It's hard to drop the position of leader when you've been looking out over the world from atop the Tower you've built. I have never walked into a new place of employment in a leadership position. I like to see the whole Tower, or what's left of it, checking every nook and cranny, inspecting the weaknesses. This way, it's easy to fill in the cracks and repair the weak spots before building. Sometimes digging down is better than building on an uneasy base.

My new palette has been starting to eat away at me from the inside out. I have looked at myself lately, thinking about how and why I am where I am. I am no Chef by any means. I am definitely not one to sit and think and breathe food. As a matter of fact I don't even really like food that much. People I work with practically fall over in shock when they actually see me eat. I believe eating is simply an addition to life like music, clothes, decor, and pets. Yes, food can be good, delicious, forgetful, or down right disgusting. These are choices we all make to fill our little profile package to determine our personality. The fact that I do what I do for a living is even foreign to me.

My recent introspection has made me think about the activities I enjoy out of life; things that distract me to the point that I forget about my current situation. Passions, heart thumping moments in my little world that I have created. I turned off my path to peek out beyond the barriers around my street to see if I would be accepted or even noticed. Recently, I took my resume, updated it and sent it out to a possible 'job of passion'. Immediately there was a response, a helping hand over my fence to see what was on the other side. Little did I realize that my path was connected to hands pulling me back. Even though I spoke to the foreigner of my world over the fence, my grip wasn't strong enough to climb over. I did see the immense countryside of freedom and it isn't lost in my memory.

The one passion I followed was animal based, as I have an affinity towards animals of all types. I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was much younger but never followed my passion. The job offered attracted me - Store Director of a Pet Food Supply Store. I answered this advertisement because I felt I had the management experience and leadership qualities they were looking for and my natural passion for animals was a given. Unfortunately, the hospitality industry has quite a good grip and pulled me back in, not being able to attend any interviews during the busiest time of the year. Of course, some friends told me to call in sick, but being on the butt end of that situation, I would never return that agony. I refuse to lose respect of my staff for an interview which could ultimately leave them abandoned. Additionally, there was no guarantee of a job, just an invitation to enjoy the fields on the other side of my fence.

This has not deterred me from my search but simply showed me that I would be accepted in a similar position of leadership, not unlike a student in college who is accepted because of life experience.... I have always known since I was in high school that I found writing to be easy and even enjoyable. I was never afraid of handing in a written project if it involved creative thought and story creating. I have had a journal off and on but never was consistent in my writing. I do use my writing now as a tool to relax, write out my feelings and tell stories. I have always been a good speller and, although it's been years since I have had to practice being grammatically correct, I am able to hold my own. This has had me searching easy lower copy editing positions. Nothing as of yet has passed my eyes in my hunt but i am hopeful.

I digress off the main topic of my upcoming time off... In about two weeks I will be getting time off. Now, a preferred vacation with the man in my life would be great but not possible. He needs to pay the bills and the general rule with the hospitality industry is that holidays happen when it's slow - September, October, November, January, February. Of course, his industry has no set busy time, post production for movies and TV. His industry is dependent on the economy solely. If the Canadian dollar is low, more work comes his way. Now he is balancing two jobs. This means I take vacation alone or keep working until we can match up our lives, work-wise. I need this time off for mental therapy, so alone it is.

Choices, choices. What do I like doing and what will I do? I am needing to deflate and have enough time to empty the bricks of stress blocking my mental efficiency. I need to do something easy, mindless, relaxing, familiar, quiet and definitely away from work. The first thing that popped into my mind was a nice B&B by the ocean with wildlife and in a small quaint town. Qualicum Beach popped into my head as I know the town well, travel to and from the town on my own, friends live close by and all of my core passions are there; beach, wildlife, silence, shopping, stars, and no-stress-living. Although it is a remnant of my past, I believe it has been long enough to revisit this special and beautiful town. Yes, it is my ex boyfriend's hometown, but I will be staying in a B&B and he won't be there. It's not about him it's about me. He showed me the area and now I want to see it. Knowing it inside and out is good in that it is no stress. While I'm here I can practice wildlife photography and spend time writing. I just wonder how many days I want to go for without overdoing the trip or, reversely, not recharging enough.

This way I can 'discover' myself. I hate that saying. I always thought it was an excuse for having no future goals.Well, at least I can say I am going somewhere for an extended amount of time without depending on anyone. No one else. I wonder if I will return wanting out of my cage more than when I started my time off. Only time will tell. So, as I quoted someone's saying, "Time wasted is time lost". Have I wasted half my life figuring out that I need to fulfill my passions? Maybe, but hey, I'm not dead, at least not yet. Hopefully, I can climb over that fence to a free pasture. Hopefully, viewing the hospitality industry from the other side will reinstate the actual definition of hospitality rather causing my shoulders to tighten up into a knot, causing numbness in my fingers.

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