Such a Hard Thing To Do

Every which way I look at this situation I don’t see myself as being in the wrong, but one thing I can say for sure that I’m guilty of is not keeping record. Over a month ago, I had a verbal conversation with the billing office manager, who also happens to be over us front desk receptionists. I’m blessed to work for a company that does monthly work schedules as opposed to the standard two week work schedule. Because I know I’ll be leaving soon, I was really eager to get my leaving date all situated so that I’d have ample amount of time to rest and get my affairs in order before I left, but not go broke in the process. I also wanted to not leave my place of employment hanging so I wanted to get their say in it as well.

The topic was brought up on the manager’s end in a very casual way- through Facebook of all things- just simply asking me if I was still going. I took this as a great opportunity to tackle the topic of my leaving date, so the next day at work I messaged her saying that I was still going, then paged her office to have a verbal conversation with her. I asked her when she would be starting the hiring process and if it was even worth it to for me to be put on the May schedule. She was very polite in the matter and told me that whatever day I wanted to leave would be the last day that I was on the schedule and that nobody would fire me or show any bias toward my scheduling, because they knew I was leaving soon. That made me really happy to hear and confident in the security of my job these last few months I’d still be here. She asked if I knew what day I wanted to leave and I said I’d like my last day to be May 16th. I followed up by asking if I needed to submit a formal resignation letter or if this verbal resignation was enough. She told me if I wanted to I could, but that it wasn’t a necessity now that she had all the information she needed. Now, mind you this was over a month ago and I still have a month left until my stated end day. Submitting a resignation letter at that time would have been dramatically premature, but I fully intended to hand in my resignation letter two weeks before the 16th. After the events of today I’ll be handing in my letter tomorrow.

What exactly happened today? So today, maybe about an hour after I got into work I received a message from the manager asking why I haven’t handed in my availability for June. That was really weird to me so I reminded her that I’m leaving the 16th of May so there was no need to answer the June availability email that had been sent out recently. No sooner had I sent that, did my coworker call to me and say, “I didn’t know you were working til to end of May”. I reply back negating his statement, but he answered back with, “But you’re on the schedule til the end of May?” Really!? Sure enough, I check the company wide email with the schedule attached and there I am on the schedule until the end of May. I go back to my messages and the replies from the manager are both shocked and accusatory, but at the same time needy, asking if I can finish out the month of May. I’m leaving on the 6th of June, so that’s just not an option. At this point, I really want to be accusatory right back, but I get my mom involved (bless her heart) by asking her advice and she says that being accusatory is not the way to go. Instead I reply back with a simple, “May 16th is the latest I can work. After that I have to start preparing to leave”.

To my shock, even more accusatory messages pile on and I’m busy trying to find proof of our past conversations until I remember that they were just that, conversations. I have absolutely no proof that these conversations have transpired between us already, except for my own word, but yet I feel really upset that my manager would accuse me of not caring about my job and putting her in a difficult situation. I remind her of the conversation and that’s when- just like I had been searching for for my own piece of mind- proof that this conversation did in fact happen. Well, of course you can’t prove a verbal conversation happened. unless of course you’re dictating the whole thing, which I wasn’t.

I’m not mad about the ordeal anymore, not even numb to the accusations. like I was awhile ago. It doesn’t bother me in the sense that, “Man, I can’t believe I was attacked like that at work”, but in the sense that “Man, if only I had proof to cover myself this would have been avoided”. I feel no malice toward the manager or the company, because in a month I’m done. If they do or don’t have coverage after my leave is none of my concern. I gave ample warning of my impending leave date, even if the manager doesn’t recall, but even if you take that bit of information out of the equation, I’m still not at fault. Conventional courtesy states that it’s best to give an employer a two week notice before you decide to leave. That in itself is not required. It helps to keep you in good standing with the company you leave in case you ever need to return or need them to submit a good referral to a potential employer, but it’s only a courtesy. Like I stated, I fully intend to extend that courtesy, tomorrow, an entire month in advance.

This situation has become one big lesson for me. The lesson learned: when it comes to business, document everything. Having proof is the best way to protect yourself. Save, save, save. Document important conversations and inversely if you don’t want something you said to come back to you don’t email, text, Facebook, instant message or leave voice mails that could be considered incriminating. I would love to leave my place of work on good terms. I came back once after China. Who knows between returning from Peace Corps service and trying to find another job or apply to graduate school, or whatever it is I decide to do with my life, I might actually need to come back. I’d like not to have to come back, but I’d be glad if it was a viable option. On the same note, the though after being burned like this so close to my departure, I’m a bit weary toward the way middle management handles things. I am not even kidding when I say that I was hire with management knowing that I would leave for the Peace Corps. I’ve been saying that I’m leaving early June since forever and going over and over in my mind if I’ve done enough professionally to make that clear. There was certainly a disconnect in communication and in the future I’ll remember to keep record to cover myself.

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Eat to Live: Three Weeks and Counting

When I went to my primary care physician to receive a physical for the Peace Corps, one of the concerns that I talked to her about before I left was my weight. Back in February I worked out four to five times a week and my weight never changed, although I did feel healthier. After the month ended I decided to take it a step further and cut processed sugars out of my diet, but saw no change in overall health or weight either. My doctor listened as I explained this and afterward asked me a question that I could’t help, but be excited over: “How does losing 25 pounds in six weeks sound?”. Uh, fabulous. Freaking awesome. Yes, just yes. Then she followed that question up with one that shook me to the core: “Are you willing to go vegan to lose weight?” Uhhhhh…

I’m telling you that was my exact reaction, followed by “Yea, I can do that,” lacking all the self-confidence in the entire world. My doctor preceded to inform me that if I was going to do this it had to be a lifestyle change and not just a one-time thing. She left the room for a minute and came back with this book:

Credit given to original poster at thezacorner.com/

Credit given to original poster at thezacorner.com

Let me tell you about this book…no, I’m not going to do that. You should read the book for yourself. Instead, let me tell you what I got from this book and how it’s affected my life these past three weeks. Before that, a bit about my health background and ideology. I don’t believe in counting calories, weight loss pill, or fab diets. I do believe that surgery is a band-aid method and not a solution, and I believe the only way to lose weight healthfully is diet and exercise. I lost a lot of weight when I was in high school when I eliminated junk food from my diet and joined my school’s soccer team. I gained nearly 75% of that weight back when I went to college and have been on a upper climb ever since. I know what it takes to lose weight, but haven’t really been motivated enough to change my habits until now.

So now to talk about my views on this book. Being that I don’t believe in fab diets I approached Dr. Fuhrman’s layout for healthy living with more than a grain of salt worth of skepticism. After all, most of the crazed diet fads that we already have were created by doctors, but this book is different. It’s different, because even though about 90% of it centers around health studies that the general public has probably never heard of, the overarching theme is 100% common sense: “Americans eat way too much fake food and fake food is slowly killing us”. Emphasis is placed heavily on eating vegetables and whole foods. That’s mainly what the first six week vegan diet is about. In fact, vegans probably have more food options than I do at the moment. Yet as restrictive as this diet is, it’s very eye-opening.

I ate very unhealthy as a child. I was basically raised on McDonald’s (there was one right up the street from my daycare center) and when my dad did decide to cook, meals would usually consist of any number of fried foods, a carb like macaroni and cheese as one side, and a starchy vegetable like potatoes or corn as another. Vegetables were always a side item in my world and if something was considered healthy you probably wouldn’t find it in our house. Not to mention portion control was another problem. As a kid, and even somewhat now, I’d use any excuse to eat. If I was sad I’d eat, happy I’d eat. I’d even eat, because I was bored. One part of my overeating, that I learned from the book, could possibly be due to a nutrient deficiency I was experiencing. Even though I was eating more than enough food calorically, my body wasn’t getting the nutrients it craved, causing me to eat more of the unhealthy food to compensate.

On the six week diet prescribed in the book, there is no starving. I can literally eat as much as I want of whole foods (fruits and vegetables). Some foods like avocados, nuts, and grains are limited and others are totally off-limits like animal products and oil. Despite that, I don’t really feel deprived. Because I’m having to make my meals now, I’m having a lot of fun creating new dishes and experimenting with new foods. I’m surprised over and over again that the delicious foods that I’m eating are also healthy for me. Just the other day I had these two foods:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake

Salad!! 🙂

The milkshake is completely vegan. I’ve made it three times after discovering the recipe on this site. The salad is my own doing, a mixture of iceberg lettuce, orange bell pepper, onions, a mushroom, walnuts, and strawberries. It’s the prettiest salad I’ve ever made and it was super healthy and super delicious to boot. It was a rather large salad, think the size of a popcorn bowl. It was hard eating that much salad when I first started. The book raves about the healthy benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, but it never warns against the bloat you can experience by upping the vegetable intact. For the first three days I couldn’t understand why it felt like I was getting fatter on a diet basically devoid of fat.

As of now I’ve been on the diet for three weeks. I’ve lost just over 10 lbs and I’m really excited to see where the next three weeks take me health wise. I’m also really excited to be off the super strict vegan diet and not just because of my love affair with bacon either. For me, my long term dietary goal would be to eat a mostly vegetarian diet. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with eating meat. In fact, even in the book Dr. Fuhrman cites a few nutrient deficiencies that can occur with a 100% vegan diet, such as B-12, omega 3, and vitamin D. I could see myself living on a diet where I ate meat between three to five times a week. I say that yet, my entire diet is about to be turned upside down in a few months. Although the Peace Corps has given us a general overview of what the Kosovar diet consist of, I have absolutely no idea what’s eaten on a day to day basis in Kosovo.

Even with that being said, I suppose my main goal in these next two months is to develop the skills and the knowledge on how to live a healthy lifestyle. Kosovo is a country not far from the Mediterranean Sea so it may be influenced by a Mediterranean diet. It’s also a majority Muslim country so there may not be access to pork in the country. Despite the location and cultural differences that may have an impact on the diet, I believe that maintaining healthy eating habits is a goal that can be achieved in any part of the world. Learning how to tailor the country’s dietary cultural in a way that positively benefits me will just be another part of the adventure that comes with living abroad.

When is it Okay to Spoil Yourself?

Two weeks ago I wrote a huge check to pay off the rest of a private student loan. It’s not the first student loan I’ve paid off in the last two years since graduating from college, but it is the largest. I’ve had a lot of help from my family, but the bulk of the success has come from me saving like crazy on top of sending in payments three times the amount of my monthly minimum. Over the few last months I’ve given up little non-necessities that other people take for granted. In February I did a frugal, fit month where I actively worked out and saved like crazy. In that month I only spent a budgeted amount on needs (i.e. groceries, gas, etc.) and saved everything else. I also had a one-month membership that I bought in January to Pure Barre. Thanks to birthday gift cards and my Pure Barre membership I was still able to have a productive February, which would have been the case even without the gift cards.

At the end of February, even though I didn’t manage to lose any weight, I felt great and I was able to spend nearly my entire month’s earnings toward my loan. It was such a great feeling and having the entire loan paid off only a month later feels just as great. In hindsight, part of me wishes that I would have waited another month due to the financial security I gave up these past few weeks paying off my loan in bulk like I did. Now that I’m about to get a little of that security back with my next paycheck, however, I’m very interested in spending just a little bit of that money on a luxury or two.

My relationship with work these next few weeks is going to be a bit of an interesting one. I have exactly a month and a half left to go and with the end of my private student loan I don’t actually need to work anymore. I’m not working, because I necessarily want to keep working, but there are things that I’d like to buy before my trip and working is a way to keep myself busy for the next few weeks. Even though my last day is in mid-May, I’ll still have exactly three weeks of freedom before I leave for the Peace Corps. In the meantime, I only work three consecutive days a week so it’s kind of like I’m on this weird half break with work anyway. Lots of time to spoil myself with rest and to prepare myself for Peace Corps.

But before I go totally off track, I started this post asking a question and in the general scheme of things the answer is going to depend on a range of things. For me I have to take all of the recent facts into consideration:

Recent Financial Facts 

  • Just paid off second largest student loan
  • Financially stable (no impending bills, money in savings)
  • Employed
  • Practice general frugality

All in all, I’d say that those are pretty sound reasons to justify a one time spurge. So when I’m sitting in a nail salon next week or heading to a music store to buy those guitar accessories I’ve been eyeballing since Christmas, I won’t feel too hung up about the purchases.