Friday, October 11, 2019

#NotesFromTheOffice: What Working At Suncoast Designers is Really Like

As you know I've been pretty quiet on here for the most part. Well, that is because I worked for people who were extremely judgmental and only curious as to what I was up to to make fun of me for it...
On November 26, 2018 I started working at my first full-time job. With stars in my eyes, I couldn't believe I was finally able to hang up my hostess shoes for a desk job. I would get 40 hours a week starting at $10 an hour.

Sure it was close to home but sometimes the farther you go from home, the better the job opportunities are.

I remembered the day I interviewed for the job as clear as bell. As soon as I met her, I knew I was going to be in for it from the get-go. She didn't come out of her office at first and that would always be what she did during my duration of employment there. She introduced herself as Stacy and her scarf pretentiously stole the show.

Forgive me but since my memoir has yet to come out, you guys don't get that women who wear scarfs casually and indoors remind me of a roommate I had in college that utterly betrayed me and turned out to be incredibly fake.

   With that character mold already being introduced by her scarf, I had to try to focus. The interview was done by Stacy Heyen, wife to the general manager and business owner, Jeff Heyen, and his sister, Robyn Giordano. I was there interviewing as a formality since the job was already promised to me by Robyn who met me at a Carrabas Wine Dinner nearly six months prior when she met me while sitting next to my mom and I and finding out that not only was I single but this pretty girl had a college degree and was working at IHOP. She couldn't believe that. She asked for my name and number and I waited for six months to hear from her.

Yet, once I interviewed for the position I wasn't so sure about it. It seemed so fucking boring. You answer phones, you scan and file paperwork, you do customer billing, and cash out customers. Yet, it was a job made for a high schooler. Nothing fancy and nothing that would require I use my college degree. Sure it wasn't IHOP, I wouldn't be expected to buss a table or ring in a food order but it still seemed elementary for someone with my intelligence and creativity.

The only perk to the job was that I was promised verbatim in my interview: "You will get a raise after 90 days, no problem." Plus, I was told about my first week: "You won't be expected to answer the phones at all your first week since you have no knowledge of windows."

Then, Stacy kept awkwardly saying, "I have never done an interview so I don't know what to ask."

Usually, you ask the job candidate to pitch some strengths they bring to the table as well as discuss some of their weaknesses and how they think that job will help them overcome them.

Me, I always look at a new job opportunity or a new job as my next assignment for doing God's work: spreading love, showing kindness, slow to anger and relentless with mercy and forgiveness.

Stacy walked me out into the shop to show me some more of what would be expected of me. There was a guy in the shop but the shop was dark so I couldn't really see him that well. Then, as if reading my mind about him me instantly curious of who this guy may be, Stacy introduced him as the lead tech. After that, he stood up from the floor and I got a good look at his face. Instantly I thought he was handsome but I kept that to myself. As if he could read my thoughts, he smirked and goes, "I'm the guy that's always here." We all laughed. Funny and handsome? He's probably not single. 

I wouldn't realize how true his words were until I made it past the busy season.

The only perk to the job was that Stacy was the only other woman I would have to work with so instantly I felt better about that since women, especially in an office job, tend to be catty, small-minded, and petty with useless gossip.

I came in and they said to let them know by Monday if I wanted the job, and if I did, I would come in that Tuesday to fill out my new hire paperwork.

I really didn't want the job as I said. I was instantly disappointed with it. No benefits, 40 hours at $10 an hour, paid holidays but no paid time off until you made a year. And the day to day seemed so boring. Would there really be enough work to fill eight hour shifts?

My first day November 26, 2018 went horrible as expected. Most of the day I was forced to do stuff with no training and it seemed like I was just expected to get right in there. I was even told I had to answer the phone. The first thing they showed me was how to answer the phone:

Suncoast Designers, how may I help you? was what I was told to say.

Yet, I remembered IHOP's greeting: Thank you for calling IHOP of Trinity. This is Chelsea. How can I help you?

So I would eventually answer the phone: Suncoast Designers, this is Chelsea. How can I help you?

More courteous and business professional.

I told my mom how much I didn't want to go back and she said, give it until the end of the week.

At this time, I still was working at IHOP which after working all week at a boring office, I could not wait to get in there and host and run around for the six hour shifts Saturday and Sunday being busy the entire time and not even being aware of the time other than to note it on the waitlist.

So I went in the second day and a miracle happened. The lead tech from my interview walked into the office right when I needed help. And I awkwardly said to him, "Do you know what to do?"

He probably thought I was an idiot but he didn't say a word, he just greeted the customer and put their paperwork on the counter. He didn't put me down in front of them or make them think I was less than because I didn't know. It was this act of unspoken kindness that would keep me fighting for this job for ten more months.

He goes to me, "Go get Stacy. She'll show you."

I smiled and said, "Thank you." About this time, Stacy came out of her office (She was always in there but she was always too good to come out when a customer walked in.)

"This is Chelsea. She's our new hire. We are showing her the ropes." As if it was that complicated of a job or a process.

So for the rest of that first week, Stacy was always over my shoulder showing me the ropes. And I just wanted to hang myself from one.

As for that lead tech, I quickly found out he wasn't single from other employees around the office who volunteered the information. He'd been with the same girl for three years and he would even drive far just to go see her after work.

Taylor was Stacy and Jeff's son and a fellow college graduate. He dealt mostly with the insulated glass units but in busy season, he was working in the shop. For someone so smart, he seemed very miserable and almost as if, he didn't know why someone of his talent and intelligence had to work there either. I instantly tried to befriend him since we shared common interest: He liked to read, he was smart and educated, and he also had a sarcastic, smart ass comment for any and all situations.

I made the mistake in believing that because they were Robyn's family they already knew my backstory. That  I was a college graduate from Saint Leo University. A former teenage author who recently launched her own PR firm and book and music publicity site and community. I was wrong.

All they knew and would make mocking comments about was IHOP. The GM apparently had made a joke that my first day I had to bring them all IHOP pancakes. I was a writer with a day job who happened to work as an IHOP hostess. Don't get it confused. Instantly, I could sense the arrogance.

I made the mistake of telling Stacy that I wrote and published two novels while still in high school. Then the next day or it may have been a few days later, I said that I had a book and music blog that I ran, and two author clients that I do PR for. There has not been a moment when I've shared this with anyone where I didn't regret it eventually, and this was no exception. The day I told Stacy that I was a writer she followed me on Instagram and then added me on Facebook. I don't know why being social media friends was the level she thought we were on but nonetheless, I figured there was nothing else I could do but add her.

As time wore on, I saw how old everything around the office was. And as soon as it was cold enough, and I had been there a little bit, one day in the office, I heard scurrying in the ceiling. Stacy let me know that they had rats in their ceiling and had since the office opened. That's a whole other disgusting part of the story I will gladly share all the details about but back to the old equipment.

Around the end of the year, I started to notice that my computer was insanely slow. Stacy's suggestion: "Just defrag it and clean out your disk drive. And always clear your history and cookies." I did those things but still noticed that there was a major lag when I went to print anything from quickbooks.

I even mentioned this to Taylor and he just excused it as not that big a deal. My office was open and the first office that customers see when they walk in. That was not an issue at all as most day jobs I've had made me the face of the company or facility. I'm never afraid of customers. As someone who went to college to get a marketing degree and who is already a writer, I enjoy people watching more than anything so having the office in the front of the building with absolutely no known privacy, was something I welcomed because I truly love connecting with people.

The next thing I noticed is how petty they were, and how they would demean their employees. Quickly I found that they loved to talk bad about that lead tech who we will call Mr. Suncoast. They would talk about his body in a demeaning way, and made fun of the fact that he wore crocs. Even the music he played in the warehouse was seen as a problem. It almost instantly reminded me of the bullies I had dealt with throughout my grade school years, or even like frat guys in this one fraternity at Saint Leo.

And it wasn't just the manager, his wife, and their son that would talk badly about Mr. Suncoast but the assistant manager who was an expert at insulating glass and being a kiss ass. Although I will admit, I liked him in the beginning because he was more of a manager than the general manager was. He at least didn't beat around the bush. If he wasn't happy with you, you would know it because he would tell you to your face.

The general manager was someone, as said prior, I didn't like right out the gate. He was arrogant, he drove a hideous jeep, and he did nothing other than pace around the office asking when it was time for lunch. I barely spoke to him the first seven months I worked there.

Then, I lost my dog Katrina and he came up to me and hugged me and said, "I'm sorry about your dog." And it was the nicest thing I ever witnessed from him. Then, a few days later, he gave me his chair to sit in, and that was the last nice thing he did for me in the office.

The first incident where I felt like they were definitely out to fire me was in February 2019. It was Thursday. There was an incident with a customer not being satisfied with something on their coach. I should have kept my mouth shut and let the chips fall where they may but this was when I still gave a fuck about this job so I grabbed Mr. Suncoast and told him what was going on, and he said to tell JL that he should over there and check it out. Technically, Mr. Suncoast should have went out there himself and inspected the coach. Yet, I texted JL but got no answer. Those customers came back into the office and I ran down the hallway to find Stacy. I did all I could. It was time for management to take over and do their job. I popped in Taylor's doorway and was surprised to see he had been in his office the entire time, and could have easily stepped in and resolved the matter.

"Do you know where your mom is?" I asked him.

"I have no idea." Taylor said.

I went back in the shop and grabbed Mr. Suncoast for the second time. By this time, he was as irritated as I was that no one was doing anything about this.

He spoke to the customer and reassured them we were sending someone out to their coach.

Yet, they asked to speak with a manager, and so Mr. Suncoast told me to call JL to track him down and at the same time called down the hallway for Stacy, who was in Jeff's office the entire time and could have taken care of it anytime but the prince and the queen of the Suncoast don't think they owe anyone anything including helping them resolve an obvious issue.

That's when I realized their true colors so I started to apply for other jobs and unfortunately, I had left IHOP at this time but couldn't go back because the cost for ubers or lyfts would have been outrageous.

Before this though, I slowly started to see that this place was not a good place to work.

In December,Taylor egged a window tech on and then got him fired because he was accused of fighting.

Then, my friend JL got into an altercation where a knife was used against him by another window tech who got fired in late January.

Then, I brought my laptop to work with me starting in the new year and instead of getting me a new computer, they just made fun of my laptop being an old refurbished Dell that I had got from Saint Leo for living on campus.

On my ninetieth day, I was told that I wasn't getting a raise but instead they were hiring Taylor's fiance part time.

I was absolutely thrilled that my raise got put to better use. Hire someone else to work here, collect a paycheck, while there was about enough work to do in this office for two people.

Sometime near the end of February, JL asked me to help him into the supply closet. I helped him in and the phone rang and thankfully there was a phone in there. I answered and while on the phone, he grabbed me from behind and I felt sexually harassed. It disturbed me for the rest of the day because first of all, don't touch me. Second of all, I was trying to help a customer so don't distract me from doing my job. Third, I only saw JL in a friend despite that the whole staff probably thought we hooked up. Nope, I had a crush on someone but it wasn't JL. It was never JL.

Around this same time, I answered the phone for a glass company we did business with. The lady I spoke with said she was making up for the driver damaging the unit they had picked up and on the way back to the Tampa facility it got a hairline crack in it because it got jostled in the commute. She said enjoy the lunch. I didn't know what she meant but said thanks?

Next thing I know, the driver walked in with a pizza and a whole appetizer like platter of small tea size Cuban sandwiches.

Right away, the Heyens started saying that I gave away free glass, and I knew I never told the woman from this company that we would fix the unit free of charge. I never actually said anything I wasn't told to say. Everything I was told to say by Taylor I repeated to this woman.

Jeff and Taylor went into the clean room and I knew they were going to tell Mike that I gave away free glass. So I decided I was sick of them making up lies about me. I walked into the clean room and said " I just want everyone to be aware I never gave away free glass. They happened to misunderstand or whatever and it was generous of them to provide the food but I NEVER GAVE AWAY FREE GLASS."

I walked back into the office and heard Stacy and Lindsey saying shit about me giving away free glass and I yelled out loud enough for them to hear, "Just to set the story straight I never gave away free glass, and I also just told Mike, Taylor, and Jeff the same."

It was the only time I boldly stood up to them.

Then, came the great Newell debacle: On April 15, 2019 a guy was checked in with 10 Newell windows and for some reason, when I did his estimate I gave him the total for 10 regular priced windows despite being checked in as a Newell coach. As I said, the lack of training would definitely be a factor, and instead of checking my work like normal, Taylor never checked my estimate. So on Friday April 19, 2019 when the guy came into to pay, he used that estimate to argue that he should only have to pay this amount but in his appointment notes, I had put that he emailed with Taylor and that email also showed that he was originally quoted the Newell window price. So basically it was a simple mistake that didn't need to be made into a company mountain but it was, and that customer was still there on Monday morning.

He greeted me and was polite and he goes, "You know she blamed the whole mess on you." gesturing toward Stacy's office

I politely nodded and smiled and said, "That doesn't surprise me."

He replied with, "I just wanted to warn you for when she comes in today."

April 22, 2019 was the day I had printed my resignation letter and was going to quit working at Suncoast because I could see that they would rather blame their employees than do any actual work toward satisfying their customers or even going out of their way for them.

I stayed on another five months and finally drafted and prepared to quit September 30, 2019.

What set me over the edge was after getting invited to their house and even to a Lightening game with the Heyen family, I was still treated like absolute garbage.

It started with sexual comments being made toward me by the General Manager Jeff. It did nothing but creep me out. I mean I knew that he was unsatisfied in his marriage to Stacy by the abusive way he would talk to her loud enough for the entire office to hear but I never gave him any inclination that I was interested in him that way.

Matter of fact, my singleness and the fact that I wasn't married was a constant joke. A customer I will call J.D. mistook me for Jeff's daughter so I didn't correct him because he seemed like the elevator didn't go to the top floor enough to grasp that I was just a hired employee.

Then, J.D. said he was going to bring his son because he thought I was a good match for him.
He meant it as a compliment because I'm pretty, smart, and unmarried but the rest of the staff at Suncoast made it into a joke and started saying his son was my boyfriend.

I hated that the most because of all that I've accomplished in my 28 years, I don't ever want to be defined by a man.

Of course, it would be nice to fall in love with a nice funny, handsome guy who could love me for me despite all my flaws, failings, and works in progress but I instantly hate anyone who puts me in any sort of box especially one that defines me by my relationship status.

You all know I've been single my whole life. I am waiting until marriage and I haven't even kissed anyone.  It's not for any other reason than my personal promise I made in faith with Jesus and I've stuck to it, even though there have been plenty of kind attractive young men who have tried to get me to consider a compromise.

Beside that, there was always demeaning comments made toward me if I ever dared to dress business professional for this job. Since I was making decent money, I started getting clothes from Stitch Fix because I wanted to look nice for work to represent the company well and for myself because I like looking in the mirror knowing I look good not for anyone but me but instead I was always mocked for wearing a dress or dressing up:

Oh, she looks all dolled up. She must have an interview to better herself.
She looks so nice she makes me feel like I need to clean up.

You look fancy today.

You got a hot date tonight?

Hubba Hubba, you in that dress.

Then I couldn't make the FRVTA meeting in August because it was the day before my Mom's birthday and instead of being ok with me not going, the comparison comments started:

We are so used to Donna she used to go to all the meetings. 

or Stacy had to always compare me to Taylor's fiance':

L likes purple.
L likes butterflies.
L did dance.

It felt unfair because it's like they expected me to want to be L but I was Chelsea and always trying to be Chelsea.

It came to the point where I could clearly see that I wasn't ever going to be enough for these people and neither were any of the guys that worked for them.

On more than one occasion, I heard the General Manager clearly say, "You want a tip. Go work somewhere else." or

"I can just fire them all and start over. Taylor and I can just do windows in the meantime."

They even put their dogs shit in the Mr Suncoast's trash can multiple times.

What pissed me off most was the demeaning way they would talk to me, specifically Stacy. She had this way of talking to me like I was a child. For example, when I started she walked me through the writing of an email as if I hadn't used email before let alone didn't work in public relations.

She even went and told the entire staff that one of the window techs shit himself instead of just telling the GM and keeping it to herself. It became the company joke and surprisingly, that guy still showed up to work despite knowing everyone knew that he did that.

When I had a be my own boss fund on my desk:

Maybe I should put a quarter in there for you so you will truly know your worth.

Or when Taylor's fiance' got lavender in her hair after I had purple hair for my birthday:

Oh, you aren't the only one with purple anymore.

As I worked there and found out some of Stacy's backstory, I started going out of my way to be extra nice to her since she was going out of her way to make my life miserable. Turns out, she had a rough childhood, and she got knocked up by Jeff at 16, and basically never finished high school, and truly never got to live a life without being a mother.

But she had money now and always went on trips. She even drove a custom Hot Wheels camaro. She had everything anyone could want but she still wasn't happy.

No one at that company was.

The first of two incidents led to me resigning:

  • I asked Robyn if there was a way I could get a new computer since it had been 9 months and I still didn't have a new computer. Busy season was right around the corner. She said that it was already arranged that I get a computer that they had over in her office that they barely used. 
But the day after the computer was delivered, Stacy claimed that it wasn't the computer they discussed and this one would be for L, Taylor's fiance. Her computer was so old it didn't even scan. Yet, to be fair, she was a part-time employee, and could scan to Taylor's computer in the meantime.

I decided I wasn't going to argue about a stupid material object because hey, if you want to provide bad business to your customers, that is on you.

  • On September 25, an accusation was made that was unfounded. I had been working there for ten months. I would not have given a customer false hope. Yet, a customer had said that "the girl on the phone said with 7 windows I would be out in 2-3 days." This claim was confirmed by Mr. Suncoast and told to my mortal enemy Stacy. And instead of seeing the profound impact such a question would have as two women working in a male dominated workplace, she actually had the audacity to ask me if I had said that.
       I answered honestly and as a foreshadowing for what a good statement could sum up what working at Suncoast Designers was like: "Of course they blame the woman. They always do."

And it was in that moment where I seen the truth of the situation, they were looking to fire me.

And everything I did was wrong. And no matter all the work I had done for their business, they didn't see me as an asset. They would publicly shame me for my mistakes and they made EVERYTHING into an issue.

If I used purple dry erase marker on the board in the shop, it was a problem. 

If I booked somebody and forgot to book it as Flushmount, Newell, and Prevost, it was a problem.

The final straw happened on September 27, 2019. 

I was presented with this note by L, Taylor's fiance', none other than the part-time employee (Basically, the lowest blow they could have done): 

I am not going to argue that I never did personal stuff while I was working but according to the employee handbook that isn't a policy I violated or grounds for termination. As I stated in the beginning of this story, I was entirely bored with this job from the interview. There wasn't anything challenging about it (outside of having to work alongside the awful Heyens) and there wasn't enough work to do to need 4 people in the office. At most two people were needed because one could do the billing and answer the phone and the other could interact with the customers and deal with the glass customers. There is no reason you need 4 people working in that office. Matter of fact, I answered most of the phone calls, took care of the customers, cleaned the microwave in the office breakroom, stocked the bathrooms with toilet paper and paper towels, and even did all that with a smile. 

Recently there had been some shifts were I didn't get a chance to eat lunch and still worked through it. 

Stacy had said two separate occasions: If you ever need help, don't be afraid to yell out. Hey I need help.

Yet, from past experience and as I said, I didn't think I needed help, I usually didn't ask because the few examples I provided here show that Stacy always stays with her fat ass in her desk chair and she will not leave her office for anything. 

Mostly, I will miss the guys I worked with there as they were the hardest working dudes I ever met. They always made me laugh and joked along with me, and Mr. Suncoast always went out of his way to help me whether it was with a customer, or understanding a coach and the type of windows it had, or even how to help a customer take out their windows. 

Thank you Mr. Suncoast for everything. The kindness you showed me will follow me the rest of my life for I will never forget it. And thanks for the laughs and for the talks about good music. Wherever you are, I hope you stay laughing and hold your head high no matter what people say or think. And please be happy!
 As you can see on the bottom, I violated no ground for termination according to company policy. And 

I gave them no notice but it was something I noticed right away when I signed this form, no notice is needed or a cause of resignation. Any company that puts that in their by-laws must really suck to work for because any company worth staying with would ask for two weeks notice.

I mean, I even gave IHOP an extra month to find someone who I trained before I left.

One thing I never told my boss is that I was doing off the books marketing for them. In June thanks to my efforts, they saw an 83 window week during slow season. 

And the summer was a lot busier than usual thanks to my marketing efforts.

They did ask me to design graphics for their FB page but only when they wanted them. I mean if you look at the graphics I designed compared to the ones they were using, you can see how as a whole they were stuck in their ways and weren't going to ever hire me to do their marketing for them.

I even bought gifts for everyone. As I mentioned in a previous post, I only stayed working there to do a work in these people's lives by showing them God's love. Even on my last day, I gave one of my favorite shop guys a birthday card. 
 I gave Stacy Rae Dun dish ware for her birthday. This collection isn't cheap, and I don't understand why anyone would want it because it's ugly. Like it's just labeled stuff.

As for those rats in the ceiling they were still there when I left on Monday September 30 2019. And on multiple occasions, I found rat droppings in the breakroom where I was supposed to prepare my food. 

One of the bookshelves in my office was covered in rat feces so bad that I almost vomited the morning I cleaned it with clorox wipes. 

This was taken from their BBB business page where they argued with a customer on there who left a 1 star review for them. This was a customer who rubbed Stacy the wrong way so she had to have the last word because she's five. Sadly, this is Suncoast Designers business model: instead of greeting and helping their customers, the Heyens argue with any and all customers who dare to question their poor business practices.

Sometimes they even make Mr. Suncoast do it and that is far beyond his pay grade.

As far as me, I never argued with a customer because I know that is not a professional way to do business let alone a healthy way to live.

They did make me call a customer and tell him we would be calling the cops on him. Even though he was about to head into the office to pay his bill, and had no intentions of running out on them. 

It was the most unethical thing I ever had to do and I honestly felt ashamed of having to do it.

Then, the way they lie to their customers about when their glass is coming in. Just pathetic. 

Despite that I officially worked at the WORST place I've ever worked, and know it will only get better from here, I will miss the people I met there, being a light there, and going out of my way to make someone's day even if that person just got done talking shit about me in the clean room. 
Here are some customer surveys I received while working there:
 This came in after the great Newell debacle and it made me believe that I was making a difference.

 This came in after a rough few days working along Stacy and her putting me down any chance she could. A customer wrote in and said I had a nice smile. It made my heart melt.

 These were the last two surveys I got in. The one came in on my last day, and it truly made me see that this place will miss me and the good work I did despite that the owners were always looking to get rid of me, anyway.

Matter of fact, I got a call from a customer that I had been following up with all month regarding a window he wanted done and would be dropping off. He called out of the blue and said, "I just want to say that you people have the most outstanding customer service I've witnessed in a long time. I don't know if it's been you that has been calling me but I think you are one of the nicest people alive to check in with me each week to see if I was going to bring my window in. I had forgotten both times you called but you reminded me so kindly, and that is a level of customer service you just don't find anymore, and I just wanted to compliment you on that." Thank you Mr. Spillard for your kind words. I did meet a handful or two of good people while working here and it was these words and surveys that kept me holding my head up high despite the dirt being thrown on me and my name almost daily.

As you know I always tie my message back to a faith based message and the day I resigned, I came home and read my Bible like normal and found this in one of my devotionals:

Before I resigned, I was prepared to grit my teeth again but God had bigger plans for me. 

He showed me this:

And lastly, I was reading Joyce Meyer's confident woman devotional and her piece on October 2 really spoke to me but before I share it with you, I want you to know that yes, I had to resign before I had time to find another assignment so I would ask that you pray for me.

I forgive all those I worked with at Suncoast Designers but specifically the Heyens for the part they played in making my life miserable and for the evil they wished toward me.

Until next time, I pray that I find a great job that treats me well and offers me the potential to grow, while offering me great benefits, and I pray that if you are working in a job right now that isn't treating you right, making you consider suicide, or just plain making you hate the fact that you woke up to see another day, let this story help you see that even in the darkest places or workplaces there is hope and you can find a better job if you have the courage to try.

In Christ-Like Love and Confidence,
God Bless!

~Just Keep Swimming~

Sunday, August 4, 2019

#WriterRevelations: Life Lessons I've Learned In My 28 Years by Chelsea DeVries

As I head into 28, I've come to the realization that I've learned a lot thus far and since I am always looking for ways to help someone else through a hard day or a hard time in their life, here are 28 life lessons I've learned.

Whatever life throws at you is absolutely nothing compared to who is for you and what you have within you. Don't quit. Don't give up!

With the popularity of social media, it's become such a common thing in our culture to brag on ourselves and the things that happen to us. Why I believe that some good testimony does the soul good, an excess of bragging on yourself or on the things we have only serves to weaken the soul of a person. Stay Humble at all costs. It will make you the wealthiest person in the room.

Work Hard and don't apologize for it. So what you have three jobs and no time for friends? Chances are, if they are truly your friend, they will support whatever endeavors you pursue and be their for you when things slow down.

Show mercy even when it doesn't seem right. God sees all and will right the wrong no matter what.
Forgiveness will allow you to live in peace.

Life is way too short to not celebrate. Celebrate the fact that you still are breathing, that you still have a heart beat, that you got up and went for that run, that you chose not to eat that for favor of something more healthy and nutritious, celebrate your progress, your growth moments, celebrate that you chose to speak up for yourself. 

Honestly, so far in my life I've loved and lost two furry friends and it felt like someone shot me in the leg and expected me to walk five miles right after without stopping. It was a pain I never felt and an uneasiness in my gut that had me not wanting to eat for days. Dogs love with all they have so losing them from this earth when they cross the rainbow bridge just absolutely stings.
I've lost people in my life too and nothing compares to losing a dog.

Take that cruise. Buy that bus ticket. Visit that landmark. Get tickets to that game show. Shake hands with a legend. One of the most eye opening experiences I've had so far in my life is when I decided I wasn't going to keep waiting to visit California but instead go on a cruise and now Grand Turk became one of those places that ended up making my heart smile from the inside out.
Grand Turk also broke an eight month writer's block for me so for that, I will be forever grateful that God provided the means and the perfect time for me to visit that beautiful country.

Sometimes life gets hard and you don't have the monetary means to take that trip you've dreamed of. That's where books come into play. They take you to places you've never been even while you sit in the here and now. You even may end up with a few new friends from books. Some fictional; some real life friends. Either way, books open so many doors and offer an escape like nothing else I've ever experienced. Reading has always taken me far in life. It is now the premise behind the passion of my very own company, The Smart Cookie Philes. Being smart is cool and reading is rad.

Fear will actually hold you back from living a full life if you let it. I've still not fully allowed my fear of driving to get lost but I did say fuck off to my fear of roller coasters and ended up having a really fun time at Disney two years ago this September. Have faith and let the adrenaline rush through you. It will give new meaning to being alive.

 I've always fallen in love without a thought. Right now, I've fallen in love with a guy who may never know how I feel about him and who may never feel the same. And that may make normal people run away. But for me, it signals that my heart (which was badly broken and believed it may never fall in love again) has found a reason to beat rapidly again, to smile again, to sing a song, to hum a new tune, to dance like no one is watching. Falling in love is something in life you don't get a choice in and it's something I've never apologized for. The fact that I've got such a giant heart who longs to love someone and be loved back. As long as that longing still yearns within me, I will keep on believing in love and accepting all forms of love in my life, even if they aren't romantic or fairy tale like.

Someone went to bed thinking of you last night. They smiled because of something you said. They believe in themselves a little more because of how you looked at them. Stop focusing on the poison and instead focus on the remedies that this life provides. Sure, the good moments come and go but during the hard times, the joy experienced during the good moments will help you get through the hard times.

Sometimes life gets complicated and if you put away a little bit every week, eventually it multiplies and can help you through a rough patch.

My last blog post truly expanded on this lesson but love people. Accept them for all they are. People are never going to be perfect because we were created as works in progress and just like a writer's literary work, growth and exploration play a role in  the human being's journey toward greatness.
Respect what makes someone who they are, and chances are higher they will do the same for you.

With that being said, you should care less what people think of you because at the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you and your life's journey and not follow blindly down someone else's path. Dare to be unapologetically yourself. If people get offended, they aren't meant to be in your life.

Prayer works. Don't believe me? I prayed every single day for my coworkers at my last job and I've been praying every single day for my coworkers at my current job and I've watched the entire atmosphere of the place change for the better. Everyone has become more polite, communicates a lot better, works as a team, and respects that you can't always agree on everything. God works for the good of those who love him. Cast the care. Pray about it today!

Towards the end of my college career, I fell into a deep depression. It was all because I finally realized this guy I was chasing after didn't even care about me at all. So I had to go back to basics and those basics included realizing that Jesus loved me with a love so great he can't love me anymore in this moment than he did yesterday. Now that I've matured, I've realized that being single doesn't have to be a season in which I spend in self-pity because it looks like no one will ever love me back in the same way I love them or I can let Jesus's love for me be the foundation for my identity as a person and let my season of singleness count for something great. God will reveal the guy in his perfect time. And even if he doesn't, I am forever loved by a guy who thought I was to die for. Nothing else written in romance novels and in movies compares to that and never will. Sure, society will say that's absurd and unheard of. Your uterus doesn't agree. You may never have kids. Blah Blah Blah. To all of that I say loud and proud, "Jesus is the answer."

Life is meant to be lived loudly. So dye your hair, wear that outfit, wear those shoes. Blast that song. Sing along. Scream at the top of your lungs. Have a beer. Sip a glass of Pinot. Be loud and proud of how you live. So what that you live differently from someone else. At the end of the day, we all feel the same things and just want to be loved for who we are. Everything else is white noise. Take the chance today!

Do you wear glasses? Do you like wearing crocs?
Do you like reading the end of books and reading them backward?
Do you drink your coffee black?
Do you eat ramen with a fork?

Whatever your weird is, own the fuck out of it.

I learned at a young age that I wasn't born to be normal or to fit in any box that people wanted to put me in. Now, at 28, I wear purple in my hair and let the colors that make me ME bleed loud and proud for the world to see, be inspired by, and to fall in love with.

This world will give you a million reasons why whatever you want to happen can't happen:
You are African American and from a poor area of the country. You can't afford to go to college they will tell you. 
Don't let them tell you who they think you will be.
Show them all you are.
Prove them wrong.
And do so with a big bold smile on your face.

 Don't chase money; chase goals. 
The money will eventually line up with the passions and projects that bring those passions to life.
Keep at it.
Even when you aren't sure how you will keep your lights on or how you will eat tonight.
Hard work and perseverance always shine bright and pay off in the end.

 There are some things in life that I will never understand:
Kids who get cancer
Kids born with disabilities
Homeless people
Homeless veterans
How animals can be abused
that teachers have to pay for the supplies for their classroom and get paid so little
how librarians are no longer valued and may never have been
why actors make so much and servers and manual labor jobs end up with people who struggle from paycheck to paycheck

Support the causes you care about. Some that I support include:
anything animal related
anything veteran related
anything to help those who can't help themselves
anything education related
anything to help further the arts

It really takes next to nothing to make someone's day. Tell a funny joke. Make fun of yourself before others do. Compliment someone. Build them up. Make them see their own potential. Buy someone lunch. Bring a coworker coffee. Pray for someone. Hold the door for a stranger. Smile more.

Once you believe in yourself, you cannot fail. There will be forces and days when this world will actually make you believe the doubts and the fears. Those are the days you will have to dig down deep into the reservoirs of what strength you have, and remember who you are.

You won't regret it. Take that chance. Tell that person how you feel. Send that manuscript out for publication. Audition for that show. Write that story. A life lived on the edge is never a life you should feel sorry for.

Throw out the to-do lists. Go for drinks with that guy who you've been talking to. Get coffee with that girl from your church group. Turn off your phone and look someone in the eyes. Connect. Be present. Live in the moment. Life is too short to not notice the small but steady blessings all around us.

Dare to just do whatever sets your heart on fire.
And stop apologizing for it.
If they can't handle it, let them eat cake.

Be yourself 100%.

I'm a bookworm.
Heart full of love 
Heart of gold
Purple hair
Vote for Pedro
Jesus Lover
Child of the one 

In Christ Like Love and Confidence, 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

#WriterRevelations: Come As You Are (What I Learned So Far Working in an Office)

Well, how you doing?

I bet you thought I was never going to post another real blog post again.

Sorry if I made you feel alone and unloved for even one moment.

I had all intentions of posting my usual content but then it got harder with my full time job and all the things I've been up to this year...

I've been working. I've been doing Smart Cookie content. I even took a month or so off social media to focus on my writing career.

Basically, I've been just living day to day but I've been meaning to come back to share something special with all of you.

No, unfortunately, I am still single and not really looking to mingle.

I mean, if I met a guy who made me forget what day it is, then maybe...

I'm back because something I've learned working at my new job has really proved to be weighing on my heart.

I have witnessed what it is like to work in an office. I have witnessed what it is like to work for a small company. And I have witnessed how lonely it can be being a full-time employee.

There have been some months since I began this job where I did not know how I was going to face another day because my anxiety and depression got so bad, I couldn't see the light anymore.

I even considered quitting BUT God and his grace absolutely saved me from all that.

It all started when I lost sight of how much Jesus already loves me and how my identity is solely found in how he sees me.

Before this, like some high school freshman looking to become popular among the upperclassmen, I was eager to get these people to like me.

But from the first day, I literally felt like a fish out of water, struggling to breath and drying out from within. The only saltwater I could muster were tears that would sting at the corners of my eyes.

Yet, I didn't want to go back after that first day, but something said: Just Keep Swimming.

So I sat in the shallow puddle prepared to face a prolonged death sentence upon the shore wading in and out of the water, not sure what fate await me, I showed up that second day and a guy I met for like two seconds the day of my interview spotted my confusion and mustered not a word as he came to my rescue and that small but sincere act of kindness has stuck with me.

This guy, I am sure, has no idea that it was him who saved me from quitting and was the hero who showed me that this job was worth one last try. I've considered quitting a few times following his small kind deed but whenever I think of just leaving this job, I am reminded of him and how he literally didn't put me down in front of those customers, he never pointed out that I was an idiot and should be fired, but he just offered me help when he barely knew me.

And just like that, i witnessed a miracle within society and in a place where the cold tense air of poor communication could quite literally cut glass, and I have started to see why God put me there.

I am a writer with a heart for people. I know what it is like to feel unfit, unqualified, rejected, betrayed, talked about, used, abused, and hurt by the words and judgement of others. God put me here because he wants me to be a light for these people. To teach them how to communicate effectively but with a sense of empathy for the other person. To teach them how to encourage each other and work as a team. To smile, to inspire, and to pray for them. 

Of course, no matter where I go in life, I always want to leave it better than when I arrived but it seems like I walked into a rosebush if you will, the thorns and weeds were quite thickly ingrained in the way these people went about their day, that I almost felt that no matter what I did to brighten their day, it would and could not make a difference, hence why I've returned to the notion that quitting was the answer.

It honestly felt as though I may never have a friend here or someone I could trust but the craziest thing happened. Since I've been nothing but kind to these people, I've witnessed how powerful love given freely is to soften the hardest hearts.

And that guy who saved me from just going back to part-time employment and a life of being a literal starving artist, he is now someone I consider a friend. 

God asked me to pray specifically for him, build him up, and make him see his own infinite potential. 

And in the process of all that, I gained a friend.

I am someone who is open to just about anyone being my friend. I can honestly say that I don't judge people with the same standards that other people usually do. Like I don't care what you look like, what you believe in, or even who you love, if you accept me for the very strange bird that I am, I offer the same acceptance to you, no matter what.

Strange birds should always flock together.

Ultimately, I don't know how long God wants me here but for now, he does. And I will stay until the mission has been served here. Until he sends me to my next station of serving others.

If you happened upon this post, and you have no idea how to deal with someone who is just completely different from you. For example, they are materialistic, self-absorbed, entitled, and undermines and questions everything you do, I am reminded of Jesus when he said to turn the other cheek. 

Sometimes you would love to tell that irate co-worker: Get ready to clock out for the knock out.

Yet, that wouldn't solve anything. Anger leads to broken hearts and relationships.

If I've learned anything these last seven or so months it's this:

1. People aren't perfect and they will disappoint you.
2. Judging people unfairly makes you a weak human.
3. Respect people for who they are, not who you want them to be. (Any type of shaming toward someone is out of a critical spirit and actually stems from an inadequacy being sensed within yourself.)
4. Communicate with people honestly. And be the first to apologize even if you weren't directly at fault. And be the first to show mercy and forgiveness. Free yourself of all that negative bullshit.
5. When dealing with others, use your heart. Show compassion, always be kind, and empathize with people.
6. Stay true to yourself no matter who judges you. If they honestly are that hot and bothered by the way you live or do things, then you don't need them in your life. Be polite if you have to continue working with them but remember not everyone you meet is meant to be a friend. Some people choose misery as their default setting. Such a pity really.
7. Love yourself. Accept yourself. Believe in yourself. After all, A GREAT GOD made you in his image so there is GREATNESS in you.
8. Go the extra mile.
9. Stop allowing fear to keep you from opening up to people.
10. A warm smile looks attractive on most anyone.

Other notes about being a good employee include to show up, don't be late, speak up, don't argue, do what your asked, and don't steal. Also, the adult world is plagued with people who will ask you to do something and then take credit for your hard work, smile and let them. God's got bigger and better plans for you on the horizon.

Keep me in your prayers and if you need a specific prayer, please comment below or message me.

Until next time, remember:

PS: Will try to not be a stranger here. Thank you for welcoming me back with open arms.