My Least Favorite Jobs

For some unknown reason, recently I was reflecting back on the many varieties of jobs I’ve had. Throughout my life, I have had some of the most unique – and just plain quirky – job experiences out there. Would you believe that I once cleaned a house? That may not sound weird to you, but for a self-proclaimed “organized slob” who hates to clean, actually cleaned a house for a short time. And let’s not forget the time I attempted to be a vacuum cleaner salesman. Oops…excuse me – a salesWOMAN. (Or is it salesperson?) Don’t ask me why I bothered with that job. I’m a terrible salesperson! Both of those were while I was in college, and obviously I was desperate. But despite these two odd jobs, they don’t even rank as the top two worst jobs I have ever had. Those are the ones I want to entertain you with today.

cornfield#1: Detasseling Corn

That’s right. You read that correctly. I can see your eyebrows furrowed together with the confused expression on your face and “what in the world is that?” scrolling across your brain. Don’t feel bad. Ninety percent of America doesn’t know about the Midwest’s biggest kept secret. It’s so unusual that my spell checker doesn’t even provide an alternate word for “detasseling”! So let me enlighten you…

Every summer thousands of people (mostly teenagers and adults desperate for income) load up on a bus at 6 a.m. just to have the privilege of walking through cornfields, pulling the tassels out of the cornstalks. The tassels are those wheat-like looking things you see blooming out of the top (like what’s shown in the picture above). The purpose of this is so the plants don’t pollinate. The reason? I don’t have a clue because I don’t remember. However, I searched the internet and believe it or not, Wikipedia has an article about it. So if you’re really interested in case you ever plan on being a Jeopardy contestant (and I can understand if you don’t care), you can read all about it here. But here is an excerpt I found funny: Detasseling work is usually performed by teens; as such, it serves as a typical rite of passage in rural areas of the Corn Belt of the Midwestern United States. For many teens in these areas it is their first job. “Rite of passage”? Who are they kidding?!

This job is done in pouring rain and in the hottest of conditions. The bus would return anywhere between 4 and 5 p.m. Despite the summer heat, it was always a good idea to wear long sleeves; because I would come home with scratches all over my arms, filthy, exhausted, and sore. You would think that after being tortured for one summer, I never did it again. Wrong! I was just dumb enough – and desperate enough – to do it again for a second summer. The difference for the second summer, however, was a different company who treated the employees just a tad bit better.

food demonstrator 01#2 Food Demonstrator

Yes, I was one of those people who stood in a store, offering free samples to complete strangers. Remember my comment about not being a good salesperson? Well…this job was just plain horrible. Being shy by nature (and the shyness was worse then than it is now), it was challenging for me to greet customers let alone ask them if they wanted to sample something they didn’t come into the store to buy. I was also that annoying voice over the intercom, “Attention customers! Stop by the cheese section to sample Kroger’s in-store made pizza. They’re on sale today, 2 for $5. Thank you for shopping Kroger.” Oh, the humiliation! And I can tell you from experience that in-store made pizzas were not that great, and pawning free samples off onto unsuspecting customers did not increase sales. The only fun part of this job was actually making the pizzas to put out for sale. But it wasn’t just pizza that I would paste a fake smile on my face in an attempt to sell the goods. I also had to provide cheese samples. Have I mentioned I was desperate for a job?

On the upside, I have had many jobs that I enjoyed and didn’t regret. I spent many years of my life waitressing (which helped me get over quite a bit of my shyness) and I enjoyed it. But one of my favorite jobs was working for a scenic railroad on Cape Cod. Besides the fact it was just plain fun since I grew up with trains and love them, I felt like I had followed in my dad’s footsteps by working for a railroad. And of course, I absolutely love doing what I’m doing right now: serving as an assistant pastor. What makes it great is the pastor and pastoral staff I work with as well as the loving people I serve. (A little brownnosing never hurt anyone!)

So what was the worst job you’ve ever had?

Keys for the Journey – Part 2

The time has come to reveal the final four keys to healthiness that I have discovered. Sure hope no one has held their breath while waiting! Just to recap last week’s blog, the first four keys are: 1) a mental or attitude change, 2) find healthy eating habits that fit you, 3) don’t deprive yourself, and 4) portion control. Let me clarify that these keys are not exclusive to each other. I believe all of them together make one cohesive unit to living a healthy life. Ready? Here we go!

  1. Try new things in both exercise and food, but don’t force yourself to do or eat things you absolutely hate. If you’ve never tried a certain fruit or vegetable, try it. You might just end up liking it. I tried kiwi once on a cruise and discovered I actually liked it. So I bought one when I returned from the trip, but it didn’t taste the same. I think it was the way I prepared it. Or maybe it just wasn’t ripe. Or maybe it was the atmosphere of being on a big boat in the middle of the ocean that made it taste good! I don’t care how nutritional something is, if you don’t like the taste or flavor of it – don’t force yourself to eat it. The same goes for exercise. I’m not a dancer by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to occasionally break it out in the privacy of my own home. So when I had FitTV on my satellite channel lineup, I decided to give a belly dancing workout a whirl. Oh my goodness! I got about 5 minutes into it and said, “Oh, I don’t think so!” My body just don’t move that way. It was fun, however, because I was doubled over laughing at myself! Find the types of exercise you enjoy. If it’s not fun, it won’t become a regular part of your schedule.

    Yep, that's a silhouette of me. Yeah, right!

    Yep, that’s a silhouette of me.
    Yeah, right!

  2. Don’t beat yourself up when you indulge or “fall off the wagon.” That’s right! It happens to all of us. Just enjoy the indulgence, and then get right back to the healthy stuff. I can remember one day somewhat recently when I didn’t just go off the deep end; I plain jumped off a huge cliff with what I ate! The challenge here is not allowing it to turn into two or more days of indulgences. I know. Easier said than done, but it CAN be done! If it does turn into several days of unhealthy decisions, then refer to the next key…
  3. Start small and don’t rush things. Be patient with yourself. An impatient person myself, this one is hard for me. Being unhealthy didn’t happen overnight and neither will the transition to a healthy lifestyle. When small steps are taken, new habits are more likely to become permanent and you’re less likely to give up. And if you happen to backslide, fall of the wagon, or whatever you want to call it, starting small will help you get back to those new habits already formed.
  4. Find a good support system. This is probably just as important as Key #1 (mental or attitude change). Have a few people who will encourage you, who you can go to when you want to give up. And trust me…you WILL want to give up. More than once! One time I went to Pastor Jim (my pastor, friend, & boss) and said I was about ready to give up on the whole healthy living thing. His response? “Don’t you dare!” It was almost like being slapped in the face since it was enough to knock some sense into me. The result? I’ve stuck with it. He helped remind me of the progress I’ve made and I’ve worked too hard for too long to just give it all up in a moment of frustration.


Now, I realize none of these eight keys is breaking news or even rocket science; they are just those things that I’ve discovered works well for me. Because they have helped me along the way on my journey to a healthier lifestyle, I hope they will help you too.

Keys for the Journey – Part 1

I’ve had many people ask me what I’ve done to lose weight, and my usual – but brief – response is: eating healthier, smaller portions, and exercising. Makes it sound easy, doesn’t it? In no way on this earth is it that easy! If it were, it wouldn’t be taking me over three years to lose a measly little 50 pounds. But giving it more thought, I have narrowed it all down to 8 keys (yes, not really narrowed down much, huh?) I’ve learned throughout this journey to a healthy lifestyle, which I’ve decided to share as a follow up to my previous blog. So buckle your seatbelts & enjoy the ride!

Roller Coaster

  1. A mental or attitude change. Unless you have the mentality to be healthy, you won’t stick with it. The sole goal of losing weight isn’t enough to maintain the motivation needed throughout the journey. Several years ago when I first found out my cholesterol was borderline high, I made some changes. I cut down on fast food and added exercise twice a week. After one year, I had lost 20 pounds and yet my cholesterol continued to go up. Yes, I said UP! How in the world does that happen? In a nutshell: I did great at limiting the things I shouldn’t eat but didn’t eat the things I should. So what did I do? I copped the “what’s the point” attitude and went back to my old eating habits. And then…I’m not sure what happened, but early 2010 I made the attitude change that I wanted to be healthy. And that has been my motivation from the start.
  2. Find healthy eating habits that fit you. If you like meat, I would not recommend a vegetarian style or plant based diet. The goal is to make some permanent changes in your life. So whatever changes you make have to be changes you can live with for the rest of your life. I had felt this way for years, which is why I never like diets and rarely participated in one. I’m not afraid to admit that I am a carnivore so I knew I could never be a vegetarian, but I have found the eating habits that work for me.

    Grilled Pepper Steak

    That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

  3. Don’t deprive yourself of things you like. Just eat them in moderation. What does that mean, you ask? It means that you don’t eat your favorite candy bar or favorite junk food every day. Turn it into a treat that you give yourself occasionally. Here’s an example from my own experience. At a ball game once, I ate a hot dog, a foot long corn dog, nachos, AND a pretzel! Yes, that’s an extreme – which is why I don’t do it very often. I just have no idea what came over me that day, but you’d think I hadn’t eaten in weeks.
  4. Portion control…even those things that are good for you. If one of your goals is to lose weight, calories are still king. You can eat 3000 calories in only fruits & vegetables but if you do that every day, you most likely won’t lose weight. Just remember: too much of anything is not a good thing. Our bodies need a balance of many different vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. Unfortunately, there isn’t one food that has all of them, so eating the appropriate amounts of different foods is important to our health. Nutritional labels are key in helping with this. If a bottle of soda (or pop for us Midwesterners) says 120 calories per serving, there are usually 2½ servings in that bottle. Do the math…that’s a lot of calories in one 20oz bottle! Here’s another example: in the picture of the scrumptious steak above, the steak is actually 2 servings. To judge the serving size of meat, use the standard size of a deck of cards as a guide (not jumbo sized cards).

I realize I have only given you a little bit to chew on (pun intended) with only four keys, but this is a good start for anyone who wants to transition to a healthy lifestyle. It’s definitely hard work, but it’s also definitely worth it. In honor of the upcoming season premieres on TV: Stay tuned till next week for the conclusion! (At least I’m not making you wait three months!)