Dear Grocery Store Workers: Be Well & Thank you! ~xoxo

April 4, 2020

According to the website Data Wheel the United States employed nearly 3 million grocery store workers, in 2017, who earned an average salary of $25,975. These days that seems like little compensation for the never ending list of hazards “essential” retail employees are faced with. My sister lives in the Midwest and she can’t operate her cleaning business, due to the 2020 pandemic. As a result she has considerd working for a grocery store, because she has kiddos who need to eat and a mortgage to pay. Honestly, it scares me for my sisters health and wellbeing, but, also her family, and our mother who lives there. You see my mother has a laundry list of health problems, including a history of lung problems, despite never smoking a day in her life. It scares me, to think of my sister going to work everyday and spending it with the toilet-paper-hoarding-public and potentially becoming exposed to the virus and potentially being repeatedly exposed to it. And the effects on her and her family. Everyday I hear of more and more health care workers contracting and dying from the virus. And I fear it is just the beginning.

“My heart goes out to all essential employees. You are true super heroes. And you are forever in my thoughts and prayers…. and I pray everyday for your health and wellbeing. And my hope is you are finding some time for self-love and self-care”. ~JGGR

My first job was working for a popular grocery store chain, in New Jersey. I began as teenager and worked there through college, and even after I began my professional career, because the job offered a decent wage for a non-skilled part-time job, and the flexibility in my schedule was great. I was eager to make extra money and genuinely felt like my co-workers were family. Working in the grocery industry is hard on an average day. Over the years, I worked in nearly every department. And actually after I graduated from college, which happened during the Great Recession, jobs were scarce, and I happily accepted a full-time administrative job with the supermarket. I enjoyed that job, it was fast paced, every changing, and I had countless opportunities to use my creativity, and then even gave me a 401k and great medical benefits. In those days, I was responsible for payroll, signage, weighs and measures, sales reporting, computerized inventory, and my favorite job of all: using my creative talents to generate promotions, and merchandise items into beautiful displays. But, the nature of the job, left little time for a social life. I often worked 6 days a week, up to 50 hours a week, going in at 4:00a.m. on Sundays (I could forget having a night life on the weekends) and then I would have various schedules throughout the week to accommodate the needs of the industry. Working six days a week is no joke, and heaven forbid there is a news report of an impending snow storm, and every loaf of bread in a ten mile radius is stock piled in someones pantry or freezer. I still stay in touch with some of my co-workers from those days, and during a recent conversation, my old co-worker said every day is like the day before a snow storm or major holiday, times 10. He told me countless stories of employees who just can not handle it and quit, the constant dealing with the public, and just walking into this uncharted territory. The store is paying these essential workers an extra $2 an hours, during the epidemic, and I know the profit margins in a grocery store are generally only 1-3%, but….. MAN…….those folks actually coming to work everyday are worth far more than $2 extra an hour.

My heart goes out to those working in retail and their families. I’ve had concerns for years about cashiers who regularly handle register receipts, which studies have shown contain measurable levels of BPA, which is an endocrine-disrupting chemical used in plastics. AND NOW they have been working for weeks in an environment with an unknown number of people carrying the virus. I know stores are continuing to add layers of protection, but for many it may already be too late.

And as a majority of the country is under some version of a stay-at-home order, the grocery store is one of few places left to shop and thus allowing the virus to spread and potentially causing repeated exposure for workers. And then there is the reality that few if any employers provide paid sick time for these hourly wage workers. I remember during my tenure in retail, there were time I was sick and struggled with deciding, “do I go to work and not get paid” or “do I stay home and get well, but worry about how to pay my bills”. During those years, my income was under $30,000/a year. I was young and had lived paycheck to paycheck, with nothing to fall back on, or no one to bail me out. And I remember that missing a day or two of pay was enough to set me back for the whole month. When I had my first job in the “corporate world” and received ample paid sick leave leave, I felt so blessed and lucky to be able to stay home when I was sick and not have to worry about whether my bills would be paid. Because grocery stores are one of the few stores you can still shop in and these hourly workers often can’t afford to miss work, it just seems like the perfect storm to continue the spread of this virus. I don’t know how or when this ends, but I do know we have learned much and there is still much to learn about navigating our new reality. ~ Thanks for reading! Be well. Keep an eye out for my next post.

Surviving the 2020 Pandemic for Introverts

Based upon a You Tuber’s recent Instagram “poll” most of us are self-isolating with others.   I know an Instagram poll is unscientific data, but that’s what I had available, and based upon personal observations, I feel the results are plausible.  Anyway, according to her poll 92% of people were self-isolating with other people.  Seemed most people are with family and some with roommates or friends.  

As an introvert, I would described my perfect morning as a day that my husband is at work and I have the house to myself, to enjoy a few lazy hours of sipping lattes, reading, catching up on the news, or a TV show, or simply basking in warm sunlight as it cascades through our windows.  In the mountains of New England, winter is still very much alive and well and continues to be a part of daily life and every bit of warmth from the sun feels heavenly on my skin.  But the general theme here is I’m ALONE.  Not only do I love alone time, I require it to operate.  If, like me, your recent days have been filled with chaos every morning, because your house is crawling with people, children, pets, who all are a bit stir crazy and bored, then hopefully I can offer you a few suggestions or stir your immigration to find solutions to help your introvert-ness thrive during these times.  This is crisis is going to end, and hopefully we can maintain most of our sanity until that time comes. While I have been an introvert my entire life, I never really identified with being introverted until I met and married my husband. My husband needs constant engagement and constant interactions with people.  I could go weeks without seeing another person and feel totally content and connected.  I believe we are all connected through the energy of this world and I believe those connections are just as strong regardless of our individual locations.  My husband on the other hand, who is a health care provider, and even in the midst of a health crisis, when we are constantly told to self-isolate, he keeps shopping at every store in town that is still open, visiting the neighbors, and having social outings.  And praise the Lord that in these times, he really can’t criticize me; when I say; “no thanks I am staying home”.  But his mother also came to our home to “hunker down” and between them both, I’m definitely feeling overwhelmed.  To my husband I want to scream relax! He is always “ON”.  I do not require constant feedback or dialogue.  And this results in him constantly poking and prodding, me, as if he’s making sure I’m still alive. Just “OUCH”!  And then my mother-in-law, wants to clean everything all the time and is probably telling her other children she is Cinderella.  I’ve really come to terms with the fact that my life needs more balance and I can’t be the maid all the time, because then my priorities lose focus and it’s unfortunate she’s here now and desires a level of cleanliness I can’t maintain.  But it’s all overwhelming and I’m writing this post hopefully as a way to help other introverts and myself during these unchartered times.  The following are my tips (in no particular order of importance) on embracing and being true to yourself while stuck inside with others. *And disclaimer I’m no expert on any particular topic, these are just my opinions.

  1. Daily Alone Time: As an introvert, my “batteries” are depleted when I am around a lot of people and activity.  I need solitude to energize, and recharge. I know, especially for those in tiny space, it may be easier said than done, but, try your best to find a spot to decompress, alone, even if it’s only for a few minutes each day. Whether it’s a spare bedroom, the patio, under a tree in the backyard…. One of my favorite places is in the bath tub… I don’t even have a fancy tub, just a little old tub, not even deep enough for me to submerge… but what is heaven for me: is to lay in the tub with the shower head running, because, like I mentioned its not deep, so this gives me a warm experience and the sound of water and the feel of the water on my skin is heavenly. Truth be told, I have been known to enter the tub in the morning with coffee in hand…. Or at night with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, now I’m not advocating you eat ice cream everyday, but if your feeling overwhelmed give it a try! Oh, and make sure you lock the door.
  2. Self-Isolation Within Self-Isolation:  Ear buds. The End. But seriously, people can be so “extra” with mindless conversations and I don’t think there is anything wrong with just tuning everyone out once in a while.  I find I’m less likely to be disturbed if I am wearing headphones.
  3. Exercise:  Take your dog for a walk, go for a run, yoga, You Tube offers many free work outs.  There are endless options here. It’ll be good for your mental and physical well being.
  4. Creative Outlets:  Many of us seem to have a lot of extra time on our hand and making it a great time to tap into your creative talents, which I truly believe will relax and feed your soul. There are easy things to get started with like Adult coloring books or adult paint-by-number. You could even design a positive message on a poster to display outside to encourage other people or thanking all the essential workers keeping things moving along in our hospitals and grocery stores, etc. And if you are more advanced maybe try refinishing a piece of furniture or painting a room at home a new color. And you can even do your own private version of: “Paint and Sip” meets social distancing. 
  5. Communication: A lot of us, are not used to being with our loved ones or roommates for such an extended period of time. I totally acknowledge that we all are different and have different needs and it may be as difficult for the extroverts in your life as it is for you, just for opposite reasons.  Now is as important time as ever, to work on honest communication and owning your right to maintain your needs during this time and being understanding of those who’s needs are different. And also be honest with yourself and what you are feeling. Let yourself feel the feels.
  6. God / Spirituality – God should always be the first thing on our minds and I admit, I’m far from perfect, but in recent years I have strived toward a more constant connection with God. I have found in those times when the chaos and “noise” is unavoidable, and it feels overwhelming, awkward, and like I have no control, sometimes the best thing I can do for myself and those around me is to simply stay in God’s grace and pray to our Father for him to guide me and to give me the strength: to be, and to interact with my environment, in a positive and loving way.   Also, meditating can help too, just by sitting still in the midst of the chaos and watching your breathing and being aware of the aliveness within you can help bring you back to a place of balance and peace.

My goal is continue writing more posts on a variety of topics, so check back soon. In the meantime, stay strong, be brave, and keep your heart open. See you on the other side 🙂

Feeling Sooo, 2001

I totally missed the whole blogging hype of the early 2000’s. I didn’t see any appeal in sharing my thoughts with total strangers. I’m still not sure of the value, but since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to “write”, despite this I’ve never given myself a platform to do that. So this free blog site is my first platform. Ideally, I want a you tube channel. I would really love an outlet for my creativity. And lets be honest, I need more productive ways to spend my time!