The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

I Just Got Laid Off August 2, 2010

Woah woah there, hold the hugs. You’re going to make me cry. Step back a little bit. Let me just collect myself.

Ok, listen, it’s not as bad as all that. Haven’t I told you before that I hate my job? Oh? I haven’t? Well it seems like I told everybody. Everyday I arrived at 9:00, booted up my insanely slow, company-issued lap top, checked my mail, and then started working with spread sheets. I did work that only eight people in the whole world cared about.

I could feel my soul slowly draining out through my black high heels. I would replenish it on weekends with my friends, with work-outs and yoga, with laughter and art and reading, only to have it drain away again from 9 to 7 everyday. My favorite part of the workday was jogging or biking before it even started. It was a rare lunch stolen away from the desk. It was whispered conversations with my friend on the floor below about our weekends. It was having the time to write and blog about living well, my passions.

The job wasn’t challenging (ok, I guess it was, since I obviously wasn’t able to master it), it definitely wasn’t inspiring, and it wasn’t what I worked four years for in college. I listened to my supervisor tell me that to get to her position I had to come in early and leave late, I listened to other associates tell me I had to learn how to suck up to our passive-aggressive client whose main goal seemed to be to spread misery around and stonewall any attempt and doing vaguely creative work, and I thought, “For what? I don’t want to be in your position in three years, in ten years. That isn’t life and it’s not happiness.”

Like any other person, I was scared. I was scared to admit I had failed at choosing the right thing. I was scared to say “This isn’t success. This isn’t happiness. This is not my dream.” I was scared to quit without having a solid plan. I’m lucky that someone forced me out the door, instead of letting me stay.

So today is different. I woke up at 6. My new supervisor had told me to come in early, so I skipped my workout and just biked to work. Before I went to my desk, though, I went to the roof. It was still cool outside. I sat and I meditated, feeling the cool breeze across my face and thinking about anything but work. I felt the sun come out from behind the clouds and warm my face. And then I slowly unfurled my legs after fifteen minutes and walked down to my desk. It was only two hours later when my boss called me down to a conference room and told me that he was letting me go.

I managed to keep my face fairly expressionless until my boss left. It’s hard when someone tells you that you aren’t good enough, even if it’s at something you hate. After he left, I teared up a little and the HR lady looked at me with such pity. “I’m so sorry,” she said.

“Don’t,” I choked out. “Just don’t.” I took a deep breath. “This is good,” I told her. She looked confused. “This is good. This job wasn’t for me.” She nodded, and told me that they would give me three days pay, which is something they don’t usually do. I didn’t ask why. She tried to console me by saying that other places were surely hiring.

And she’s right. I had interviews at other agencies before I took this miserable job. But I’m not going to sell my soul again. This is going to take courage, because once I publish this post it’s out there for everyone to see. Grey won’t come knocking now. But I’m going to say it: No more working for clients on stuff I don’t believe in. No more meaningless work. No more, no more, no more. I would work for an agency doing work they believed in for companies that want to improve the world. I would do PR for a company that is trying to educate consumers about how to truly live better lives. But I won’t do what I’ve been doing for the past eight months again.

I went upstairs to gather up my stuff. It’s a good thing I carry two reusable, fold-up bags with me at all times, because now I had something to put all my things in. I untacked the little card from Holstee and read it again. I placed it on the desk. I underlined some things.

This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, then quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching tv.

If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop over analyzing, life is simple. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite.

Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is. And share your inspiring dream with them.

Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once, seize them.

Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating.

Life is short. Live your dream, and wear your passion.

I tucked it in my bag. I walked over to say good bye to the one person on my team who I think would understand. She is always so cheerful, she just wants to make people happy.

“I haven’t done it yet,” she said when she saw me, “I’ve just been so busy – ”

“Hey,” I stopped her, “I’m leaving.”

She grabbed me and pulled me outside of the doors. “What? Why?”

“I’m not good at this job,” I told her.

“Don’t say that,” she said.

“No, this is good that I’m leaving. I was a journalism major!”

“Oh girl, yeah, this is not for you,” she said. “You need to find a place that is a little bit less…..”

“Soul-sucking?” I offered.

“Yes!” She laughed. “I saw Matrix this weekend, and I thought…I thought, ‘Oh my God, something that is how I feel.”

She gave me a hug. “Go find something that you like.”

So I grabbed my bike out of the garage, hung my bags on the handle bars, and biked uptown to the apartment. I turned on the CD that my friend Parks made me before I left for South America. I’ve been trying to work my way through it. Cat Steven’s voice drifted out as I made a list:

1. Do some yoga

2. Write a plan for my cool new website that I’ve been wanting to do for 10 months.

3. Go to the farmers market

4. Call Katherine and tell her I’m coming to the beach early.

6. Have lunch with Jake [my friend I’ve been blowing off for months now because of my job.]

7. Sign up for some classes: photography, drawing, graphic design, sewing, anything.

8. Talk to my friends in Europe and see if they want a visit.

I leaned back to think some more. and I started listening to the lyrics of the song playing.

Well
if you want to sing out
sing out.
And if you want to be free
be free.
‘Cause there’s a million things to be.
You know that there are.
And if you want to live high
live high.
And if you want to live low
live low.
‘Cause there’s a million ways to go.
You know that there are.

You can do what you want.
The opportunity’s on.
And if you find a new way

you can do it today.
You can make it all true.
And you can make it undo
you see.
Ah
it’s easy.
Ah
you only need to know.

Well
if you want to say yes
say yes.
And if you want to say no
say no.
Cause there’s a million ways to go.
You know that there are.
And if you want to be me
be me.
And if you want to be you
be you.
Cause thee’s a million things to do.
You know that there are.

I offered up a little thank you to Parks, wherever he is at the moment, for making me this CD. He knows what it’s like to wonder where you are going, and if you are making the right decisions.

I’m only 23, I’m lucky I’ve figured this out so early. I just wished I had been fired at the beginning of the summer so I could have taken advantage!

So please excuse me, I’m all written out right now. I have a lot of things to do today, and I can’t wait to get started.

Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

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Food Washing: Like Greenwashing, but grosser June 22, 2010

Have you read In Defense of Food yet? If you have, then you know the injecting Froot Loops with calcium and vitamin D doesn’t do bumpkus for your health. I mean, that should be obvious. But apparently it doesn’t take much to convince people that it’s OK to feed their kids sugary cereal and Wonder Bread for every meal.

The healthiest and happiest people know that in order to get your vitamins in minerals, you should just go ahead and eat whole foods: fruit and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and humanely-raised meat. Science doesn’t fully understand how vitamins nutrients interact to help or hinder each other within the body. So pulling out one vitamin and saying it might prevent cancer is like saying holding hands and singing kumbaya might prevent a war.

Tell that to the food industry. Now that people are starting to become dimly aware that you need to eat healthy to lose weight, food companies are flailing about, trying to make their crap offerings appear not-so-bad. According to this post on ecosalon, there is nothing to prevent a packaged food brand from making all sorts of crazy claims. Do women actually believe Crystal Light will boost immunity. Guess what drains your immunity? Chemically derived sugars. Wait, isn’t that what Crystal Light is made of?

Ok, sorry. I’m being harsh. Sometimes we just want an excuse to eat what we want to eat. You better believe that if Reese’s said “Made with Real Peanuts!” I would be like, “Hell yeah, that counts as my vegetable for the day!” But still, I think we should be aware of what kind of messages are being used to manipulate us.

Read the post for more goodies like:

  • “Lightly sweetened Frosted Mini Wheats, which are 20% sugar by volume
  • Healthy Choice minestrone soup, which is only “healthy” if you eat half a cup, their recommended serving size. The actual bowl is twice that, and packs a huge punch of sodium.
  • Rice Krispies boost immunity. Really Kellogg’s?

The FDA has only gone as far as to send warning letters to some of the offending parties. In absence of any sort of regulation, I’ve given you a five step process for sorting through the claims of food manufacturers.

1. Read all labels carefully. Keep a look out for claims like “reduces risk of cancer,” “lowers cholesterol,” “weight challenge,” or anything similar.

2. Laugh heartily.

3. Set box back down, walk to the outside aisles of your grocery store.

4. Fill bags with fruit, vegetables, bulk grains,  and freshly butchered cuts of lean meat.

5. Go cook something. Anything. Stick a potato in the oven with olive oil. Throw some brown rice in a pot with soy sauce and chopped onions and carrots. Whatever, just don’t believe a word of what those fools tell you.