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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

In the air tonight

Having just returned from an evening of Astrodynamics with my dear friend Sarah Jane Grace things are a little clearer and the mind a bit less cluttered. Being not just a Cancerian, and triple water sign, but also a woman, I am very much ruled by the emotions and think with the heart rather than the head. At the autumn equinox last weekend we moved into the airy sign of Libra, which is the complete opposite, and this is what we worked with tonight.

It is late and I am tired, so I won't go into too much detail. Posts like this are more for my own benefit than anyone else's, to help me remember in the cold light of day. If I do not write about it now then the moment and the clarity that comes with that moment will be lost.

Libra is one of three air signs, and the only one which is symbolised by an inanimate object (the scales) rather than a living being. This gives us a clue as to the nature of this sign, and its ability to rise above what may be seen as the animal nature - to be in the higher mind as opposed to the lower emotions and intellect.

As an element air can be both turbulent and passive. Air signs are thinkers, who have the ability to create ideas and plan, they follow the pursuit of truth, justice, harmony and order and have clearly defined ideas about right and wrong. They bring clarity and understanding to situations by viewing things from a detached perspective - what I would call the higher mind, where we let go of thoughts and attachment to thoughts, but rise above that to a higher plane, an almost visionary, detached like state.

Air signs, in particular Libra, find it very difficult to feel their emotions, being ruled very much by the head rather than the heart. They are more concerned with day to day matters than survival and our primal instincts - which water signs such as Cancer (which I am) feel very strongly. Water signs feel very deeply, almost too deeply, and are at times overwhelmed by emotions, struggling to keep them in check, and being almost afraid to let go and open the floodgates. It is a fear of loss of control, and what will happen if we really do let go, will we and others that get swept along with us, be able to cope and deal with the aftermath.

During the meditation I struggled to make contact with my own Libra. I was aware of her or maybe his (I cannot remember which gender Libra is) presence, but could not allow myself to feel. The emotions were too overwhelming and would not get out of the way, and the mind as well would not keep still. What I need to do is find a way to get past these emotions, to reach the higher mind, and see the bigger picture from that higher perspective.

Sarah suggested a one to one session with her to try and get through this block which is obviously holding me back. It seems the only way to break this pattern of problems which seems to bug almost every job that I have had. This is a pattern which I know I have to break for my own health and sanity, as well as my partner's, who has been fantastic today, holding the space, and listening without judgment.

Tomorrow I shall ring Sarah and get the ball rolling.

When push comes to shove

My partner and I had a long chat about my situation last night and again this morning and came to several conclusions. What has also become apparent is that despite the recession and the so-called credit crunch (when customers come into the shop and pay cash for expensive items I refuse to believe it is all that bad), they need me far more than I need them. What I mean by this is that I know than when push comes to shove, if I had to, I could get another job quite easily, but I would be a lot harder to replace.

This is not me being big headed or anything like that, but comes from the heart. I have been there for almost a year now and witnessed the problems that they have had with both getting and retaining staff. I have seen the struggles they have faced to get people to fill the shoes of people who go on holiday, or as I did, off sick. This is not then borne from ego, but is a statement of fact. They need me far more than I need them, and if they think they have problems now, you just wait until I leave. They won't know what has hit them.

The tables are beginning to turn, and from now on I have resolved to do no more than I have to. Don't get me wrong, I will do my job as best as I can, but what this means is that I will not make any more effort than I have to. If I am asked to do something then I will do it, but no more than that. As far as I am concerned, this job is now a means to an end, nothing more. They have shown through their actions that they have no loyalty towards me whatsoever, so why should I show any back?

A funny thing happened this morning - my partner and I went into town to run a few errands, and for me to look for another job. Walking up and down the High Street, I noticed two signs - one in the cookware shop and one in one of the building societies. I know the Manager of the cook shop well, since my ex colleague the waffler, used to work there. When he left she was advertising two jobs, but I chose not to apply, as I did not want to continue working with him. After he left there her budget was cut, so she no longer had the money for a replacement. I thought then that she was fully staffed and the only jobs available were part time, but I guess someone must have left, as this job is for 32 hours a week - the equivalent of four full days. This is the same as what I currently do, and so tomorrow when I go the gym, I will take her in a copy of my CV.

The other job in the building society is full time. I had the opportunity to meet the Manager for a brief chat, and he seems very nice and personable, as do the rest of his staff. Before I apply though, I need to do some more research about the company and find out who actually owns them and what the state of their finances is. Forewarned is forearmed, and with the current banking crisis (I see that an Icelandic bank has crashed as well now, threatening many UK retailers), I do not want to go out of the frying pan and into the fire.

After that we walked up to the camping shop at the end of the High Street. There was no sign in the window, but nevertheless, something propelled me inside. Imagine my surprise to see the waffler standing by the check out. We had a long chat and it transpires that he is now the Assistant Manager, splitting his time between here and another nearby store. He was friends with the Manager when I knew him, and I know had spoken to her about a job, so this did not altogether come as a surprise. It was lovely to see him again, and I was surprised I felt that way after all that has happened. It left me feeling that I have misjudged him, based on what others have told me rather than on what I have actually seen and felt for myself. He was always courteous with me, well, compared to the others anyway, and told me things that I know he did not say to them.

Yes there were problems with him towards the end, and he did seem to be on a path of self destruct, but he was not one to be pushed around, and a lot of the arguments and conflicts with Management were because of this. If he was late in the mornings (9am rather than 8.45am) and out of there at 5.30 on the dot, this was because he refused to do unpaid overtime and work when he wasn't being paid. It was this that helped foster the belief that he was lazy and unreliable, when all he was doing was doing was sticking up for his rights. I saw no sign of the slovenly, don't care behaviour that we saw; unwashed uniform, unkempt appearance etc, and I suspect that this is because his new employer does not muck him around. They treat him with respect, and so he gives it back.

There is a reason why he has come back into my life, and I said this to him, when I rang him back later on, and that I suspect was to show me that I also need to stand up for myself. He did me wrong if that is the right phrase to use (one hates to be a victim) once before, by walking out and leaving us in the lurch, so it is time to even up the scales - what goes around comes around, and maybe the universe feels that it is time for me to be paid back (in a good way). It is another opportunity that has come my way and one that needs to be looked at.

The funny thing is that as soon as we got home, I was overwhelmed with this feeling of nausea and tiredness. My partner gets this all the time, and so was able to recognise it as a symptom of clearing. The body is beginning to let go, and now the mind needs to follow.

The long and the short of it is that we have exchanged phone numbers and the waffler has promised to call me when a job becomes available - which he thinks may be very soon. He doesn't know what the hours will be, or even what branch it will be in, but it will be one that he works in. He knows me though and the way that I work, and because he is in charge of the interviewing, any interview will therefore be a formality.

Needless to say, I will not breath a word of this to my boss - there are some things that he doesn't need to know. Despite or perhaps because of what has happened, at this moment in time it feels he has begun to lose my respect (I may feel differently tomorrow after a good nights sleep), and so I don't feel that I need to keep him in the loop about what is basically my business anyway, and not his. Yes, he has gone to the trouble of "as good as, without putting it in writing" securing a job for me at another branch, but why the hell would I want that after what I have seen and witnessed this past month?

Time to go

Since I returned to work yesterday, it has become apparent that very little, if anything has changed. I have only managed to get them to concede on one point, and I suspect that that is only because they realised that if they didn't I would sue them!

The last time I experienced problems of this nature at work I was working for a major supermarket - where take it from me, life did not taste better for the staff ... There were a lot of reasons why I had to leave - boredom, lack of promotional prospects, loss of creativity, scan and pack, but most of all the abysmal way in which the staff were treated by the company in general, and also by the customers, with no comeback, since to do so was treated as insubordination. I tried to discuss these issues with the Store Manager and asked for a transfer to another department, but because my partner at that time was seriously ill, with severe weight loss and other problems, and I could not work unsocial hours, was told that I was being deliberately obstructive. It didn't matter that I had a very good reason that the Personnel Department were aware of. I ended up taking two weeks off sick there as well, and came back there to find that nothing had changed.

The last straw was being left on the check out for over an hour calling to say that I needed to go to the toilet. It gave a whole new meaning to the term pissed off, I can tell you. By the time I did get off the till, I didn't care that it was 4.55 on a busy Thursday afternoon (or whatever day it was, I can't remember, and it doesn't really matter). I exploded with rage and told them exactly what I thought. I then marched upstairs (by then it was time to go home anyway) and into the ladies where I burst into a flood of tears. One week later I handed in my notice.

Company procedures stated that you had to have two separate interviews, which says a lot about the company - one to find out why you were leaving, and then an exit interview when you finally did leave. I was looking forward to these as a chance to vent my spleen and tell them a few home truths, truths that I had not been able to express to my Manager, who was too busy managing the 200 odd cashiers (not her fault I hasten to add, as like the rest of us, she was over worked and underpaid.) I always had a grudging respect for her, as she had worked her way up from the bottom, as a single parent, and had started off a cashier herself.

But I digress. Because I was denied these opportunities and the company chose to ignore their own procedures, it left me so I thought, with only one choice; to write a long letter detailing everything that was wrong with both the job and the company. This letter was sent to three people - my own Manager, the Store Manager and the Chairman. Desperate times lead to desperate measures.

I do not know what the response was or what they thought about it all, as I never did hear back from them, but when I re-applied a year or so later to work in a different department in a different branch, my application was rejected. When I had a reading and asked the reader what the reason was, I was told that it was because of this letter that I had written, and that I had been "black marked". I cannot go back now even if I did want to, which lately, I have been tempted by. That shows me just how bad things have got.

Bearing all of this in mind, and how I tend to clam up at meetings and not say what I wanted to, on Sunday evening, the night before I returned to work, I sat down and wrote a letter to my own boss detailing the points that I felt we needed to discuss. I was shocked when he tore them apart one by one and accused me of throwing everything that he has ever done for me back in his face.

It is true that he had worked two 50 hour weeks during my absence (his choice, as legally he didn't have to), with very little help from other stores, but that is not an excuse. I was shocked by his attitude and some of the things that were said, which really upset me.

The gist of it was that we were never categorically told that we would be closing, and all of my thoughts around this were and are based on little more than assumption. Well, yes they were based on assumption, the assumption that I was being told (by him and various others) was the truth. You do not expect your Manager to lie to you. I mean, what reason would there be?

When you are told that your company are a) closing stores that are not profitable, b) that your store is not profitable, c) that the lease expires in 2 months time, and d) that a named coffee chain are negotiating for the lease, and members of the public continually come in and ask when you are closing, what else are you supposed to think? Any reasonable person would jump to exactly the same conclusion that I and everyone else there did.

I then raised the point about our budgets being cut and having no money to take on extra staff . He tore that apart too, by saying that this is a company wide thing and we are not the only store affected. That may be true, but it does not make it alright and it does not make it acceptable that we have to struggle on in the way that we have done. It is whether he likes to admit it or not, exactly as I pointed out, namely that the combination of lack of communication and lack of staff is the direct cause of my sickness. If these issues are not addressed then there is a good chance that this will recur, with other staff affected as well as myself, and I include him in that.

I could go on going through the various other points, but well, there really is no point. It has become apparent that nothing has changed, and no matter what I say or do, nothing will. He is not prepared to push his own boss, as if he make too many waves then if he decides to stay, then it may make things awkward for him. At the end of the day, he is a married man with a young family, who even though he hates every single day that he spends there, needs a job. It is sad, but that is the situation, and there is not a lot I can do to change things. It is his choice to make, and so now I also have to make a choice, the choice to go.

My partner says that I should try and discuss this further and let him know how I feel, but since I have now apologised (it seemed like the right thing to do, since it cleared the air) I do not feel it is wise to re-open this can of worms, He has made his choice and there is nothing I do to change his mind. He has to come to the point himself where I am now at, where he no longer cares about what they may or may not do.

I feel sorry for him in a way, for he must feel that the rug has been pulled from under his feet. After our Assistant Manager left, I was the only one that remained, his only support mechanism, and it looks like I too am going. He is angry and feels that he is being attacked. When people get like this, they respond in the only way that they can, by atacking back. It is though very much a case of crossed wires and non communication, but also mixed messages. In one breath he tells me that I am wrong to feel the way that I do, and it all in my head, and in the next one he is saying that the way the company have handled this is atrocious! I thought it was women that could not make up their minds, and men were supposed to be strong and decisive!

In life it always boils down to two different options - put up with it or go. I choose to go. It the only thing I can do.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A long hard look in the mirror

When the Doctor agreed to sign me off work, just over a week ago, it seemed like forever, but I am painfully aware that those 2 weeks will soon be drawing to a close. With this in mind, I thought it was a good idea to try and talk to someone at the CAB to get advice as to exactly what my rights at work are.

I was relieved to hear that I was and am quite correct in thinking that almost everyone is entitled to a minimum 20 minute break if they work for 6 hours or more. There are certain exceptions to this, mostly those who work in the transport industry and emergency services, but none of these apply to retail workers. Furthermore, those 20 minutes have to be uninterrupted and away from the work station. The Manager's office, with one eye on the security camera does not constitute being away from the work station!

If the company fails to provide this then you can lodge a grievance, or if everything else fails, take them to an industrial tribunal. This is of course a last resort. It is also worth knowing that the company cannot sack you or make your life difficult for taking steps to ensure that you get what you are entitled to - to do so constitutes unfair dismissal. If you do decide to go down the tribunal road then you have to do so within three months of the problem or breach of contract taking place. This afternoon then I have to sit down and read exactly what it does say in both my contract and the employee handbook, which forms part of my contract anyway. As they say, forewarned is forearmed.

The last week seems to have to passed in a bit of a blur, and I am feeling more relaxed than I have in a long, long while. Usually it takes a week on Lundy to get me feeling like this, and I feel a lot better knowing that it is only 6 weeks on Friday until I return to my beloved island again.

The weather in that first week off was glorious, and my partner and I (he works from home) took full advantage by going for long walks and picnics on the Heath. Winter after all will soon be with us, and having missed most of the summer through being shut in the store, I felt the need to make the most of all the sunshine and fresh air that I had missed. Yesterday we drove down to Portsmouth for the day, and it was so refreshing to dip my feet in the sea and walk for 2 miles down the beach and back to where we had parked the car. I could feel the waves washing through me, cleansing the mind of the accumulated junk and clutter. It was just the tonic that I needed.

The last week has been about some finding some much needed me time, to do all those things that have been neglected for months. Things like sorting out my wardrobe, having a real deep massage, trying out some different classes at the local sports centre, meeting friends for a girlie chat and a cup of tea, and just lazing around in the sun with a book. Some serious changes will need to be made when I go back next week, and the first of these will be a return to the four day week. It is time to start putting myself first, as no one else will do it for me. The pay rise that I have recently had (with more to come in October) will compensate in part, and there are more important things than money anyway.

The key is learning to control my situation rather than the situation controlling me, and that has always been my problem. All of my life I seem to have had problems with work and various bosses dumping on me, taking advantage of my good nature and the inherent work ethic that I seem to have inherited from both parents. I have been dumped on more times than I care to mention, and some of the stories I could tell you would not believe. One company closed the showroom that I managed without even bothering to inform me, while another went bankrupt while I was holiday, having failed to pay my tax and national insurance for six years - thankfully I had the pay slips to prove otherwise. Then there was the time that I was left sitting on the check out for over an hour requesting relief so that I could go to the toilet. That gave a whole new meaning to the term pissed off, I can tell you, and the day they did that was the day I made up my mind to resign.

All of this has done me no favours at all. It seems to be a repeating pattern, where everything is fine for a while, and then it starts to go wrong. The resentment builds up and builds up, with me too afraid to speak out, until I quite literally explode and end up creating further problems for not just myself, but for everyone else as well. They are left wondering what it is about, and why I didn't say anything, and so am I. I end up writing angry letters which get just get people's backs up, and ultimately feeling forced to walk away. Of course this gives me the perfect excuse not to look at what lies behind all these problems - a lack of self worth and self esteem, and feeling that I do not deserve to be treated any better. I must feel this way, or why else would I put up with it? The truth is that I have been all these years, too afraid to speak up, and ask for what I need. This needs to stop and it will stop starting on Monday. I am no longer afraid, but am actually looking forward to the challenge and opening up an honest dialogue with my Manager and if necessary his own bosses, to see what can be done to work out some solutions and find some common ground. It is not about doing this for others, but about doing this for myself.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The straw that broke the camels back

I have been thinking about the situation at work all night and tossing and turning wondering where it will all end. I spoke to my acting Manager last night, who shed at least some light on the problems, but when I woke up this morning, I still felt very edgy and tearful, as if I just could not face things.

It is almost as if working with another woman for the past 2 weeks, has allowed me to open the floodgates and express all those feelings and emotions that I have been bottling up inside, ever since I started this job, and certainly since the announcement was made about the closures. We have been waiting four and a half months now for something, anything to happen, with not one single word from anyone as to what the hell is going on. That is not strictly true, as as have had some communication from our Area Manager - one week he tells us that the lease is about to be signed, the next he tells us that we will closed by Christmas. What he doesn't tell us though, is which year!

All this, combined with the last fortnight and everything has gone on has proven simply too much for me to bear, especially the latest incident. Alright, I was stupid and I should have made sure the door was locked, but given the situation, where I am being pulled this way and that, and have one million people demanding this, that and the other, what the hell do they expect. It is all too easy to get distracted when you are in a situation like this, and let things slip. It may not be an excuse, but it is a reason, and I believe forms strong mitigating circumstances.

There is this atmosphere of fear though throughout the whole company, with no one willing to speak up and make decisions for fear of them being the wrong ones and the buck stopping very firmly with them. Everyone above Area Manager level is living under intense pressure and fear from the new Chairman, who seems to be on these people who sees things in black and white with no shades of grey - you either perform and do a good job or you don't, and if you don't, no matter what the situation or the circumstances that led up to your poor performance or your mistake (in his eyes they are the same thing), then you are hauled over the coals. In this atmosphere of fear and dread, no one is prepared to stick their head above the parapet and tell him the truth of what really goes on, and how the staff at floor level really feel. I know they are under pressure, but the pressure travels downwards, as they pile the pressure on the Area Managers who in turn place it upon the Store Managers, who in turn place it upon their staff, in one endless cycle of fear, despondency and despair.

It feels like I have sunk into this bottomless pit of despair with no way out and no end in sight, so given the circumstances, I am not surprised that I reacted this morning in the way that I did.

I feel so useless and lethargic, as if there is just no point in anything any more. I feel as if I am being controlled on every level - I cannot get out of this situation, as I can't get time off to look for another job, and the ones that I have been interviewed for have not got back to me. Half the time I cannot even get out of the store, to get something to eat, to visit the library, to get my glasses adjusted - activities like this have to be planned around the days when we have three people in, as these are the only days that I can get out of the store at all. If seems like the whole summer has gone by without my having the chance to enjoy it, as I am so busy and so tired from work, that I have no time for anything else. I don't have a life - I just get up, go to work and come home again, before it all starts again in this endless cycle of repetition and despair.

That has to stop, and stop it has, since as of this morning, I have been signed off for 2 weeks. I don't know what my own boss will do, and at this precise moment, to be quite honest, I don't really care. I have been putting everyone else first for far, far too long, and it is time to look after myself. These 2 weeks will give me the chance to get my life back, by doing things just for me, things like going to the gym, going out for a cup of tea and a walk, visiting friends and just relaxing with nothing else to do except read. I may even be able to start writing again. When I think of the way I effectively sacrificed my writing for the sake of this job, it makes me want to spit, just at the time when it seemed like I was about to break through, and then whoosh along comes this job and my life goes with it. No, it is time to claim it back.

I can imagine then what has gone on there today, the frantic phone calls trying to get some help so that the store can remain open. I wish them luck in finding someone who is mug enough to fill my shoes. Before they agree to it, they should go for a long, long walk and see how it feels. Maybe it would do the powers that be good if they did the same thing, preferably off a short pier ...

Monday, 15 September 2008

What a night it was

At last I have the time and the space to sit down and write about the events of the past few days, and what a couple of days it has been.

I must be one of Stevie Wonder's biggest white fans outside of North America, and so it was with great excitement that I heard about his concert tour for 2008. I have seen him three times before, twice at Wembley Arena in 1987 and 1988, and once at the Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road in 1995. It has been 13 years since he graced these shores for a concert tour, and once the tickets went on sale, I was straight on the Internet to try and get some seats. I certainly wouldn't have paid £65 for anyone else, but in Stevie's case, it was worth every single penny.

What with the problems at work, it was touch and go as to whether I would be able to get the time off to leave early in order to get there, but I managed it in the end, and my partner met me from work just before 4pm on the day. I changed into my outfit of navy track suit bottoms with lilac flowered white cotton tunic and lilac three quarter sleeve top, and drove to the station, where we got the train to Waterloo, and from there, the Jubilee Line to the 02 Arena at North Greenwich.

My partner has never been a good traveller, and I was half expecting problems. Unlike me, he has never been a big Stevie fan. He knew how important this was to me though, and as the day drew near he seemed to be looking forward to the event and making the effort to try and get to know Stevie and his music a bit better. On the way to the station, he told me that the fears were returning, and that he had been feeling dizzy and more and more unwell as the day drew on. As he had had very little to eat, we both hoped that it may be nothing more than low blood sugar, and that he would feel better once he had had something to eat. Sadly this was not to be.

On arrival at the Arena we were greeted with what seemed like hundreds of people queuing up at the various outlets for food. After half an hour we gave up and went to get sandwiches from Starbucks before venturing upstairs at around 7.40 to find our seats.

The 02 is an impressive venue, and I was pleased to see that we had an excellent view of the stage, considering how far back we were. As the lights dimmed at around 8.45 and Stevie walked on stage, we were greeted by a roar from the crowd, as he launched into an impromptu version of London Bridge is Falling Down. The noise and the crowds proved a little too much for my poor partner, who bid a hasty retreat to sit at the imitation golf course downstairs near Starbucks. We arranged to meet back there after the show had finished and I did my best not to feel self conscious at his departure.

The concert seemed to take some time to get going compared to other ones that I have been to, but all the favourites were there and Stevie played for 2 1/2 hours. The last half hour saw everyone on their feet as the Arena swayed to the rhythms of 60's classics Uptight (Everything's Alright), Signed, Sealed, Delivered and My Cherie Amour. The crowd erupted in a frenzy when the band struck up the chords for I Wish and Sir Duke, with 23,000 people on their feet singing all the same time. Looking around the Arena it was like one huge Mexican wave, with everyone swept away with the energy that this remarkable man generates. By the end of the evening I was hoarse from singing and sweaty with exhilaration.

I knew that I may have to leave a little early to try and get the train home, but once Stevie had played those old favourites, plus Living for the City and Superstition (the closing song) I minded a lot less. The only other songs I would have liked to have heard were Love's in need of Love Today and What the Fuss, which would have been the icing on the cake, and made the Arena absolutely erupt with 23,000 sweaty folks high on the drug of Stevie.

With the concert over, the events of the night were only just beginning, as when I got back to golf course, my partner was nowhere to be seen. I had been there barely one minute when 23,000 people began to pour downstairs, and frantic with worry at not knowing where my partner was or being able to contact him (the silly man had not brought his mobile phone with him), I seized the nearest security guard to see if he could help. He explained that as my partner was an adult and not a lost child, he could not put out a security alert until everyone else was out, by which time we would have missed our train. Absolutely distraught and frantic with worry (being in an already heightened state due to the concert did not help) I started to push through the crowds in case he had gone to the lobby to meet me there, and after a few minutes there he was. I rushed to his arms and sobbed out great big tears of relief that he was safe and okay.

Once outside we joined the scrum for the tube and it was then that the trouble really began. With 23,000 people all trying to get on the to the underground at the same time, there was a very real risk of crushing, and so the authorities temporarily closed the station to keep everyone safe, leaving everyone pinned outside. With the last connecting train to Waterloo due in less than 10 minutes we both began to panic until it got to the point where we could take it no more, and my partner had to escape from the situation to get some fresh air and calm down.

I was not best pleased, as I was due at work the following day, and as the reality of our situation began to sink in, we both wondered what on earth we could do - stuck in an unknown part of London late at night without transport home. The cost of a taxi home being totally prohibitive, my partner decided to ring his sister and ask her to come and collect us.

We spent the next hour walking round and round in circles around Greenwich watching drunks fighting and being sick, until she eventually turned up, with her husband at around 12.50am. As we passed near her house, my partner who had gradually been feeling worse and worse as the evening wore on, began to hyperventilate and complain of chest pains, and asked to be taken to hospital. I was now more worried than ever, and in turmoil, racked with guilt as having put him through this, just so that I could have 2 hours of enjoyment.

The next 9 hours were spent in Casualty being prodded and poked and subject to blood tests, ECG's and all manner of other tests to rule out the possibility of a heart attack. It didn't help that there had been a major incident that night - a young man was fatally stabbed outside a nightclub and killed, and his friends had carried out a retaliation stabbing on the perpetrator who was responsible for this senseless murder, and was under Police surveillance, refusing to talk. The doors had to be closed at one point, as the vigilantes tried to get in and finish off the job, and place was crawling with armed Police. We were there when the young mans mother was informed of her son's death and the cries were truly heart rending - what a senseless loss of life.

It was all in a nights work the nurses and doctors, who also had to cope with a suspected overdose and a self harmer with arms were marked with razor marks. My partner and I had to spend the night in this place, he on a hospital trolley and me in a chair, attempting to sleep surrounded by a refugee couple who spoke only Swahili and an elderly woman who kept muttering to herself. He was finally discharged at around 10am, having been given the all clear, and we rang his sister for a lift home before crashing straight into bed. Of course my own sister was ringing as we got in, her timing as always impeccable, but we let the answerphone get her call.

Needless to say, I didn't make it to work on Saturday, but my acting Manager was very good and understanding. I didn't realise just how much this had affected me until I got to work today, my regular boss having returned from his holiday. It feels like the rug has been quite literally swept from under me, as I felt so low and miserable all day, with no energy and no enthusiasm to do anything at all. I found myself wanting to just lock myself away and cry. I suppose given the situation, and all that I have experienced these past few days, this is to be expected, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am not normally like this, bouncing back from setbacks very quickly (with a family like mine I had to learn to do this, or otherwise I would have done stark raving mad a long time ago).

What didn't help is the realisation that I may have to face disciplinary action for some items that were stolen from the window last week - the thieves got in through the front window, which I thought I had locked after putting out some new price tickets. I know that someone has to take the rap for this, and it is a serious stock loss, but it seems so unfair given the way I have worked for this company in the past 10 months. I have worked my arse off for little thanks or reward, at minimum wage in awful conditions, frequently without lunch breaks. This was a sitting time bomb waiting to go off, as my boss has told them, and it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Now it looks as I will be the one to take the blame. It doesn't rain, it pours.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

What's up on planet June

Karen Bishop may say in her latest update that the energies have not changed much, but it certainly doesn't feel that way to me.

According to her, we are at the stage where we have been "unplugged" from one outlet and are waiting to be plugged into another, leaving us dangling in mid air. While we are in this unplugged stage, we are preparing and re-aligning in preparation, preparing for a new role or new aspect within our current role.

Being unplugged means that things are still, as we have to hit the bottom before we can begin again. When things are still, it can feel that there is more going out than coming in, but this Karen says, will change when we plug back in again. Things may be still without, but not within!

During this preparation period, we are being given the opportunity to open and embody much more light. After this is complete, we will begin to feel the glimmerings of a very new connection.

She goes on to describe some feelings and symptoms that are very familiar to my partner and I, and which I in particular, can definitely relate to given my current situation at work. For example, feelings of being empowered for no particular reason, and also feeling like taking a stand. Feeling ready to let go of the any of the old that has entwined itself around you or that perhaps you interacted with out of politeness. You may feel like you did your part in a higher way, but you were the only one, and now you must move on ready to dis-connect completely from any energies that were in a very different space than you. You may feel like it is time to have your way.

I can certainly relate to all of this, as these feelings have come flooding to the surface during my Manager's absence. It is almost as if working with another woman opened the floodgates and gave me permission to express so much of what I have been bottling up inside. Men do not talk about their feelings in the same way as women, and so much has remained unsaid. Spending time with another female at work has enabled me to express these feelings which I never knew I had, at least not to this intensity. I have found myself at times almost crying with frustration, but also with joy when I heard that we may finally get some news (the landlord is due to visit the store tomorrow to carry out an annual inspection).

With everything that has gone on - the problems with getting cover first for my interview and second for the Stevie Wonder concert that I attended on Friday night (more about that later), and also with my acting Manager's health problems (she had food poisoning and could not time off to go the Doctor), my rankles have been raised. It seemed as if the company was willing to put profit before the welfare of its staff, and made me feel, well, like Karen says, as if I was and am ready to let go of the old that has entwined itself around me and that I have been interacting with out of politeness, or in my case, misguided loyalty.

I may not have had the dreams of empowerment or reconnection that Karen speaks of, but it is time for me to start setting boundaries, as mine have been encroached on quite severely of late, and that has to change. The past year and a half has been challenging indeed, and is time that I started to look after myself and stop putting others first - they have to look after themselves and fight their own battles - I cannot and should not do this for them. Perhaps my speaking out will encourage this.

I have allowed myself to disconnect almost completely from what Karen refers to as "my true and authentic self", as I have been so distracted and tied up with knots dealing with all these perceived problems and negatives. It is now time for me to move into a purer and higher vibrating version of who I am. The more I do this, the more I will allow others to do the same - as it is a case, quite literally, of sink or swim. This disconnect has left me feeling weak and disempowered, as if others were in charge, fragile, lost, weepy, and frightened. Thankfully I have realised what is going on, and know that it is within my power to change. It is a bit like having a heart transplant, as when the old heart is removed (and my heart has felt literally ripped out these past few weeks - my heart has certainly not been in my work), all the blood is drained from a patient before a new heart can be implanted. It is time for my own change of heart and a change of perception.

I no longer have to carry the light for others, or see myself as responsible for their evolution, it is time to hand things over to them, and know that they are ready. In the past, higher energies have bombarded the planet at frequent intervals, creating drastic shifts in energy. This is no longer happening, as we are embodying much more light within. It therefore no longer needs to come from outside. The scales have tipped, so that we are the light; it is the same light as before but is being distributed and dealt with differently and in a much more appropriate way, as God intended.

We are then being encouraged to do what we need, and what is best for us. In the past when I needed guidance or had a decision to make, for example, whether or not to take the job that I was interviewed for last week (I have yet to hear if I was successful), then I would have looked for a sign, or maybe even had a reading, but this time I tuned in to my own guidance. I was told that it was impossible for me make a mistake, and that whatever decision I made would therefore be right for me; there was learning in whatever decision I made and there was no right or wrong. This as you can imagine, brought a great sense of relief.

It is then about seeing love in all situations and knowing that I can choose a different reality. Yes the situation at work has been stressful and difficult, and it is not over yet, but I can choose to see the positive. It is a wonderful opportunity to live for the moment, and not wait for a better day to arrive; not to spend my time waiting for a closing date but to make the most of each day as it occurs and to see the gift within each moment. It is there if I choose to look, and the more I practise this, the better that day will be as the light will flow through me to those that I serve and interact with. This will bring about a monumental shift for all concerned, and the knowledge that I am the ultimate creator.

As the equinox of September 22nd draws near, brighter and better things will depend upon each and every one of us, more than ever before. Connecting to our passion, to our true and authentic selves, to what makes us feel great, and to good and special friends are the ultimate ways to connect to more light. And knowing who we really and truly are, while bringing that gift to the planet, will automatically place us in one big and awesome alignment.

Karen will be visiting her grandchildren in North Carolina from September 15th until September 25th, where she has no Internet access. Unless there is incredibly exciting news before that date, there will be no further updates until she is back. The same will doubtless not be the case for me!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The good, the bad and the ugly

The last few days have once again been a roller coaster of emotions, mostly as usual to do with work.

A few weeks ago, I had a call from an employment agency to say that they had seen my CV online, and had a job that they would like to put me forward for. The job was as a Customer Service Advisor for a building society, and they were looking for someone who had pretty much all the skills and attributes that I need and use in my current job. I said I was interested, and they agreed to put me forward. I then heard back a week or so later to say that they would like to interview me. The interview was arranged for first thing on Thursday morning, 4th September. I asked for this time, as I thought it would make things easier given the situation at work, rather than having to rush off halfway through the day.

I knew at the time that it may not be easy arranging the time off, but did not realise just how difficult and frustrating it would be. Neither did I realise that my Manager had booked this week off for holiday. He actually had (has) 2 weeks booked, the first of which he planned to spend at home.
He did not expect given the staffing situation to be able to get both weeks off, and therefore thought that we would be able to sort something out. However, he did get the week off, since a stand in manager was found. For the next 2 weeks she and I will be running the store together with our weekend assistant, who works on Saturdays and will I hope also do some odd days next week (he is also on holiday this week, before his return to college tomorrow).

I was having kittens thinking I would not be able to go, and had to ring the agency to explain what the situation was. I asked whether it would be possible to change the date to today, since we open at 10am on Wednesdays, but this was not possible. I then had to ask my acting Manager to try and sort something out. We eventually managed to arrange cover, but when I rang the agency to tell them this, and they went back to their client, the client had cancelled the interview, and is now offering me next Tuesday instead.

This really has been a total nightmare, which has left me mightily fed up. There is just no point in worrying about it though, since if things do not work out then there is nothing I can do, and I will just have to chalk it up to experience. I am okay now, but yesterday I wanted to hit someone, something, or anything, I was so angry and frustrated and spitting blood. I already feel cheated out of my pay rise, and then to have this happen as well was just too much.