Balancing Chaos

balance act

Did I mention that I’m a professional human juggler and this is my circus act? Welcome to my circus called life! Cue the circus music theme. We all have busy lives. Balancing a healthy life isn’t easy.  I run and manage a big business. I manage and discipline employees. Before or after work I try to maintain a clean house and car (not always easy!). Sometimes my car and house look like a tornado had just run right through it. And I also run a non-profit blog and some how I manage to the find to eat three meals a day. And squeeze in 8 hours of me time called Sleep! And take care of two small Chihuahuas.

Some days, I don’t know how I do it all. God only knows, what I will be like if I became a mom. I would need more 8 arms like in the picture. Life isn’t easy and will never be. But the right balance of calm and chaos takes a lot of work. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could go without chaos in your life completely? Every day is stress free. Wouldn’t life be great? I could sleep in as late as possible. Then muster the courage to get my giant lazy self out of bed and plop it to the nearest comfy chair and just chill all day. Or chillax as the youngsters nowadays call it. Or is it Netflix and Chill? I’m old. 35 is old compared to today’s young teens. I have aches and pains now because I’m old and quite the hard worker.

Obviously, I don’t live in heaven. Oh darn! But I live in an imperfect world. So here comes the balancing act. For the record, enjoy your childhood for as long as possible. Watch what happens after you graduate from high school and from college, then you graduate to the “real world.” And the real world is complicated. But you’ll find that out the hard way. Me? That’s how I learned. Through blood, sweat and so many tears, I made it. Being a grownup is fun but also very stressful. Establishing your career can be tough depending on what you want to be. I wanted to run my own business or an established business. I did it. I do both. I manage a Starbucks and run my own non profit blog. I don’t have a clear schedule when it comes to my job. I work everyday for more than 8 to 9 hours a day. My other job aka my blog, and I set my own hours.

My typical day starts like this: the alarm is blasting so loud that the house actually shakes. Then I throw the alarm clock out of the window and try to get some extra seconds of sleep before getting my giant sleepy noncaffeinated body to the bathroom to get ready for the day ahead. Then take two Chihuahuas out for their potty break and the youngest one will wake you up before your alarm clock actually goes off. I call it the “Chihuahua alarm clock.” Picture an annoying little yipping dog whining because her tiny bladder needs to be unloaded or else it unloads in the house. Once that’s over, I put on my clothes for work and stumble my way into the kitchen and grab my stuff. Depending on how late or sleepy I am, I will skip breakfast and rush out the door. Next stop is the car. How many of you have already missed something before you get in your car? Me! Sometimes, I forget to lock or alarm the house before I leave. Oops. At least the house is thoroughly guarded by two pit bulls. Well, two Chihuahuas that claim they’re pit bulls, but are nowhere near that. Other times, I will forget my keys, my phone, my purse and various things like my brain. I would forget like my own head if it wasn’t attached. Life is busy. But it’s important to slow down and take it easy like the Eagles said in their hit song.

Luckily, my commute is 5 minutes. Yay! For those who do long commutes everyday in Houston traffic, my dearest sympathies. I don’t even want to know what your day is like before the workday starts let alone ends. My father drives a 30-45 minute commute daily and he always has the funniest stories about commuting in Houston traffic. After I park my car at the store. I enter the premise and run to the nearest brewer. I get out my ice coffee pitchers and start brewing the java. Depending on what day I’m having, I will make a mad dash to the espresso bar and set it up and chug down a couple of shots of espresso to wake my sleepy brain up. Sometimes it works, other times, NO. A good ice-cold shower in the backroom always does that. From the moment the business is open and customers are a coming with their needed caffeine fix, my day just keeps going. After work is over, I drag my tired self out to my car and drive home. Sometimes, I take a cat nap before driving home or else I fall asleep at the wheel. Then come home to two Chihuahuas wanting attention, food, and a trip outside to go potty. Then the fun part starts: what to do next? Eat. Sleep. Or both. Deciding on what to have for dinner can be a pain. You’re exhausted from work and you tummy is screaming at you for nourishment. Have you ever fell asleep making dinner? Me. I usually will eat and then sleep because my eyes can’t stay open any longer.

When it’s time to pay bills, that’s where the hilarity comes in. Let’s see I get paid this week, so I can pay this bill, but not this one until two weeks from now. Or I can spend this much on groceries or other things like stuff that I want. Balancing a healthy lifestyle is like a juggling act or a magic show. It’s like balancing your checkbook. I hate that. Thank God, for Excel. Life is easier with this. Doing it the old-fashioned way is brutal.

Right now, there are too many acts on my show it’s making my head spin. I plan out my days including my day offs. I decide what needs to be done and set a deadline. If I have to publish the next three weeks schedule by Friday, I make sure I give myself a lot of time planning all schedules. FYI, this is by far the worst part about being a manager. Working on schedules and making sure you use all of the allotted hours and stay within that budget is not always easy. Especially, when the company decides to do Happy Hour specials every Thursday until the end of time. Then I have to sit at my screen and look over everyone’s availabilities and start scheduling. One day, I thought my head was going to explode. I was working on a schedule and my boss was hounding me and needed the final edit before I left the store.

Before I knew it, my brain was fried, the caffeine evaporated from my body and realized that I was over in hours. Ugh! Then I had to go back and recalculate and revise. The second time, I was under in hours. Cue a frustrated version of myself banging my head against the refrigerator door in frustration. I wouldn’t recommend do this because you can give yourself a headache. Finally, the third time was the charm and I was able to save it and leave. Nope. I couldn’t get my butt out of my store when I realized that I didn’t send the schedule. Oh damn. So I have to walk all the way back to my office and log back into the computer. Of course what happened next was even funnier. While I’m waiting for the computer to load, the power goes out. Why? More time at work. Why me? Cue the now angry scream that comes out of my mouth because I have to wait until the power comes back on and then log back into the computer and then send my schedules to the boss. Boy, can running a store let alone having a job really be a pain in your royal butt. That’s adulthood for you.

Some days, I just head straight to bed and try to sleep. Sometimes, I sleep and other times…I wish. If I have a stressful day, then my head will be racing faster than NASCARS on a racetrack. If I have an easy day, then I can try to relax and go to sleep. My internal clock or circadian rhythm is goofy. It shutdowns when it wants to, not when you want it to. In the nice confines of my dark and cool bedroom, I drift off to sleep (or try to) and start the day over again. It’s a vicious cycle. But I can’t complain. I am doing something that I enjoy and went to school for.

One of the many things that needs to change in my life is my lifestyle. I’m a fast paced person. Always on the go like the Energizer bunny. It’s like I’m always running on too much fuel. Maybe I take on a little too much but I can’t stand things to be slow. Working in a slower paced business really bores the crap out of you. My old job was like that. I managed a business that was in an outdoor mall and had to wait for customers to come in. That’s really boring sometimes. So boring, I just may sleep while I wait for business. I always eat something quick and sometimes not healthy, but anyone can change. Change for some can be hard, but therapeutic. I had to give up quite a few things such as soda, limit my caffeine and sugar intake, but I did it. I wasn’t a happy camper.

The last three years of my life were the hardest. My job with Corning ended after twelve years because it was bought out by another company. That company went belly up not too long after and another company resides there. I was not thrilled to be told that I was going to be out of a job and had to find another one. I hate job searching as much as the next person. My anxiety and depression were out of control. I kept wondering: “Where am I going to find my next job?” Hilariously, it wasn’t that far away. The manager of a Starbucks that I used to go to at my old job was looking for managers and he loved the way that I worked. He was shopping one day in my old store and loved my work ethic and my passion for running a business. He said: “Why not try Starbucks?” I said: “Really? Foodservice?” Running a restaurant or a hotel isn’t something that I would enjoy, but when you have no job you can’t really complain. It’s like the old rule of thumb: Beggars can’t be choosers. So, I said yes and started looking into Starbucks. Honestly before working there, I never went there. It’s very expensive. During my college years, I couldn’t afford a $5 latte. Maybe once in a blue moon, I would go there but not often like others. I was really surprised by Starbucks. I did my due diligence and did my research of the company.

Future employers will always ask you in interviews: “Why do you want to work for this company? Or why should I hire you?” Always do your research and be prepared to answer those questions. I met with the manager and district manager and got hired very quickly. I think it was a Friday and I started on a Tuesday after my background check came back clear as day. I’ve never worked in foodservice and this was all new to me. The Debbie Downer in me said: “I don’t think I can do this.” When in reality, I can. You can do anything if you set your mind to it. It didn’t take long to adapt to Starbucks and not very long to memorize the menu and their recipes. It does take time to build relationships with customers because some are very specific about their orders. Trust is something that you work on everyday with them. Everyday is always something new at Starbucks. It’s never a dull day there. In three and a half years, I’ve seen and experienced a lot. Most people would quit after the first day, but it’s really not as horrible as some make it out to be.

Running a business requires a lot from you. You’re responsible for maintaining a profitable business. Make sure you reach your sales goals. Coach all of your employees and also delegate tasks to each employee. What I do hate is when health season is in order. Most foodservice establishments hate it when the health inspectors come. My first foray in that came during one day during Happy Hour. God, I wanted to die that day. This health inspector was inspecting my store from top to bottom. I had to follow her everywhere with a clipboard and a pen. If you were in violation of something, you would get marked off for it. Anything below a 90 is considered failing to company’s standards. Anything below a 70 is when the state comes in and shuts you down completely. Fun isn’t it.

But I can say that I was certainly challenged to a tee throughout my career thus far. I started out in the workforce as a lowly sales associate to a manager. I must’ve done something right along the way? Okay, maybe I’m not a magician but I try to be. I try to balance my world, my life, and my sanity. I didn’t say it was easy. But I manage.



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