Choosing Health Today over Health Insurance

by | Oct 13, 2021 | Mindfulness, Organizations, Social Justice | 0 comments

I hung up the apron for the last time.

If you’re tracking, I quit working at Starbucks just six weeks after starting. I’ve had many jobs, but I don’t think any of them lasted for such a short time.

The primary reason Iapplied to and went to work for Starbucks was benefits. At 20 or more hours per week, partners (what Starbucks calls employees) can access full health benefits plus a matching 401k program. As a single solo-preneur, this is very appealing. I had health insurance through healthcare.gov, but this insurance would be better and I wouldn’t pay for it. Having a matching contribution to a retirement plan also helps stretch the money I have to save. I’m sure you can understand the appeal.

Then the reality set in. I had agreed to work mornings, which is the busiest time at a Starbucks store. I was starting between 5 and 7 a.m. up to 5 days a week, moving faster than the speed of caffeine. I came home exhausted by mid-day, but I still had to work a second “shift” at my business. I was working 10- to 13-hour days without much time for a break.

Layer onto this reality a happy problem: My business was experiencing a sudden growth spurt. I was now contending with scheduling conflicts between business client requests and my Starbucks schedule. There was one day that I worked 5-10 a.m. at Starbucks and then taught a mindfulness workshop for a client at 11 a.m.

I was not going to thrive under these circumstances. So I quit before they even had a chance to train me as a supervisor. I felt terrible about this decision for that team of wonderful people I was just growing to know and care about. They were already terribly short staffed, and my absence would make things worse for a while.

Even with my reluctance to leave the wonderful team, I preach over and over to you about the importance of self-care and setting boundaries around your time. Keeping that job would NOT have been practicing what I preach. Choosing the health of my body and business was more important than disappointing some wonderful people and the promise of better health insurance and retirement benefits.

You know what? That wonderful team of mostly young adults understood the situation and offered me grace and well-wishes as I left them much too soon. I will continue to pay for health insurance through healthcare.gov and advocate for better access to health care for all. (It would seriously help small business owners like me.) 

I also know being able to make this choice puts me in a place of privilege. Many people would not have other work to fall back on if they quit this job. So they keep doing work that’s harmful to them.

As I write this, it has been 3 days since my last Starbucks shift, and my body is so very grateful that I’m not jacked up with adrenaline at 5 a.m. most mornings, regularly lifting very heavy carafes of coffee and staying on my feet for 5-8 hours at a time. Even with a regular yoga practice, I couldn’t counter the effects of that intense physical labor.

I tell this story not to whine and complain, but as an example of the values and priorities that I teach: Value yourself enough to make choices that care for your body and mind, even if you will disappoint people. It gives you an opportunity to give and receive grace. Value the people in your periphery who get your coffee, make your food and absorb a lot of people’s emotional off-loading. Treat them kindly, tip them well, and advocate at your favorite restaurants and other service providers to pay employees better, even if it means your prices go up. Advocate for better health care for all, so that people aren’t wrecking their bodies just to get decent health insurance.

Choose Yourself: I have two free offerings this month to help YOU prioritize yourself. 

Register now for Yoga/Meditation of the Month (8 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 17) and Brown Bag Lunch (1 p.m. ET Tuesday, Oct. 26) that will help you make time for at least one healthy thing AND help you eliminate something you don’t need. Can’t make either of these events? No problem, just schedule a time to chat with me.

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