Paul’s journey, part 9

The earliest years of building the business were rough.

Whatever little money he made, he invested back into the business.

He felt like he couldn’t get away. But the business was new and exciting in those days. It was later that we started to feel burnt out. There is so much stress and pressure from the responsibility of owning a business. I don’t even know where to begin. But all of the hard work paid off over the long haul.

Paul went into work on the day our last baby was born. He dragged himself into work with strep. He drove in during major snowstorms. He even went to work after major surgery.

He had a cancer scare. He was having a lot of back pain. He went to the doctor for an x-ray. We didn’t have great insurance, so he didn’t want to spend the extra money on expensive tests. The x-ray showed a mass. They were simply going to drain and remove the mass, but the ultrasound was showing something scary. They thought it could be cancerous. They didn’t want to puncture this mass and have it spread to all of the nearby organs.

Instead they scheduled a major surgery that included the removal of several ribs. Paul spent a week in the hospital. I remember the evening of the surgery well. I sat alone in the waiting area watching the snow fall. I felt empty. This is going to sound funny, but I didn’t feel worried. You all know I am a big time worrier. Maybe I was in denial, I don’t know. He was so young then, too young to have cancer I told myself.

To tell you the truth, I am terrified that he is going to get cancer now. Last year his mother passed away from cancer. She had 3 different types of cancer and battled it twice. The year before last, his uncle died from cancer. His grandma had cancer. Currently, he has an uncle in the last stages of cancer. If I wasn’t worried before, I certainly am now.

They removed a benign cyst that was the size of a football from Paul’s adrenal gland. After surgery, he lost a lot of weight. He was pale and gaunt. I’ve never seen him so thin before or since. He was supposed to take a couple of weeks off of work. This was before the time that working out of the house was remotely possible. He was also taking a 4 credit accounting class for his MBA.

I drove Paul into the office after surgery. I helped him walk down the steps to his office wincing in pain. I left him there and picked him up at the end of the day.

Things got easier as the business grew and with technology. I joined him after a couple years. We have been able to get away. We have staff that can help keep an eye on things now. But there is always a strong sense of responsibility that comes with having your name on the door. There are times that we have to drop everything to respond to work issues. Going on vacation always meant checking emails and working.

I am excited that for the first time now, we will be able to take a vacation without working. I wonder how we will respond without the constant pressure.

 

A smashing idea…

Lately my technology has been going out more than I have.

This month has been a total technology fail for me. Here is the list of things that went out this month alone:

  • My computer at work
  • My printer
  • My monitor
  • My cell phone

Last month my daughter convinced me to upgrade my iPhone 5 at a Black Friday sale. I was hesitant. I hate updates and upgrades. It makes me feel like an idiot. Just when things work perfectly fine, there is another update that I have to spend 3 hours learning. I had the phone over 3 years and just figured out how to use it. Not to mention that it has been almost impossible getting another phone case for my running belt…Knowing my luck, the phone would probably fall out when I am running breaking my new phone and my leg in the process using the old case.

But my phone was starting to glitch out on me. Sometime it would freeze. The worst thing was that I no longer received my WP notifications…Blogging just wasn’t the same without the WP ping. It made me feel like I was writing on paper with a sore inky south paw hand.

On Black Friday, I upgraded to an iPhone 7. I didn’t spend the extra money on the insurance plan for myself, but did for my kids. Seriously, like adults need to worry about cracked screens or smashed phones??

Last week I smashed my new phone.

I was in a hurry like I always am…running late. I grabbed my phone as I ran out the door. My husband was waiting for me in the truck. As I lifted my leg to get into the truck, my phone must have slipped out of my jacket pocket. Once we got to our destination, I couldn’t find my phone. I thought I must have forgotten it at home. It was kind of like a ‘did I turn off the oven’ back burner thought to me. I thought I took it with but second guessed my memory in the rush to get out the door.

I couldn’t find my phone when I got home. Finally my husband found it frozen in the driveway. It looked fine on the outside. I wrapped it in my arms to warm up. But it was too late. It was dead. I took it in to get fixed. Once they opened it up, it was smashed inside.

I had to buy another phone. I also got a new computer, printer, and monitor at work. Now I even have two monitors so I can read your posts when I am sitting half the day on hold at work. I won’t even mention the internet, software, or phone problems at work…just this month. It’s insane!

I spent so much time this month irritated by technology. I even had the opportunity to hear our IT guy swear for hours on end as I sat helplessly watching. What a waste of time!

I want to take all of these items that failed me into a dark room with a baseball bat. I want to bash the monitor…crack my cell phone…smash the computer to bits…and pummel my printer to paper pulp. I might need a padded room. Not for myself! I don’t want to chip the walls.

I can almost hear the glass shatter in my mind. I love the sound of it.

It is so hard to be gentle towards our fragile devices that cause so much rage.

I’ve always had the fantasy of smashing computers…almost like having the car seat burning party I talked about but never had once I was done with all of that.

It sounds like a smashing idea, doesn’t it??

Crossed i’s

I had every intention of posting another day on my travel log. Although I have been working on it for a few days, it seems to be lacking something. Emotion, perhaps? Oh, I think I will more than make up for it today.

It has been a rough week. I haven’t been sleeping. For every good night of sleep, there are 9 nights of not sleeping well. Maybe if I felt rested things would be easier for me.

I awoke this morning crying. My MIL visited me in a dream. She looked the way she used to, all full of life before the cancer devastated her body. We hugged and said how much we missed each other. Then her husband Darryl started giving me his belongings in the dream and we feared he would commit suicide. It was all rather horrifying and something that we worry about.

Loss is hard. It hurts sometimes to care about other people.

I found out this week that one of my best friends is moving a couple of hours away. This weekend my daughter will be leaving to go back to college. I feel pretty bummed out. I feel a little lost actually.

To make things worse in my life…while I was updating my travel post for the ninetieth time, I received a phone call from a friend of a friend. It wasn’t a social call. It was a call asking what my son was doing this past weekend.

Apparently, my son was going to pick up his daughter to go to her cabin for a party. Her dad busted her with alcohol and grounded her. She told her friends to go ahead without her. So about 20 teens showed up at her family’s cabin, did some hard core underage drinking, and trashed the place.

It didn’t go well confronting my son. We implemented a no staying overnight at friend’s houses policy for a month, a curfew of 10, and he would have to contact the parent to apologize for his part in the party. He was really upset when we told him he also needed to contact his girlfriend’s parents. He was afraid that her parents would make her break up with him. Thankfully for him his girlfriend told her mom about it.

It’s been really hard to concentrate at work with all of the stress and lack of sleep. Next week we have an auditor coming in. We need to make sure all of our t’s are crossed and our i’s are dotted. I feel like I’m crossing my eyes.

We had employees take off this week due to illness or sick kids. I felt a little jealous. Is that sick or what?? Maybe if I was sick I would be able to sleep and be oblivious to the world around me.

Don’t worry…tomorrow I will post about travel. There will be a lot of nice pictures and a lack of nasty little emotions.

No escape??

And just like that Angel’s college break is over…she is on her way home(?) even as we speak..

I felt bad since she was sick the whole time she was home. We did get a lot of appointments checked off our list, but we didn’t have a whole lot of fun things planned.

That is why I booked a family outing to the escape room on Friday night. Alex’s girlfriend Baylee joined us too. It has been on my bucket list for awhile. As the event drew closer, I admit I was a little nervous. I had to sign a waiver saying that I wouldn’t hold them liable in case of death, domestic disputes, panic attacks, etc… Wait? What? Panic attacks?? I briefly remembered my extreme fear of being trapped…my panic on airplanes..What did I get my(self) whole family into??

My mind was put at ease the minute I entered the room. They did have an escape emergency release button in case of a fire, natural disaster, or bathroom necessity. Of course, the fire code! Now why didn’t my worried mind think of that?? Must be because I gave up worry for Lent. Ha ha..

We were given an hour to figure out puzzles and riddles to escape. We were in a dimly lit room. It was hard to see with my old eyes to put the codes on the locks. I found myself good at holding up a lantern. But as for solving the clues, I don’t think I think that way. My son Alex was a genius at it. When we finished, they offered him a job which would be a perfect fit for him.

They were really excited to hear that he has some work experience in the field. A few years ago he worked as a zombie for a paint ball place at Halloween time. He got paint in his eyes and mouth, welts all over his body, frostbite, shot at close range by drunk guys, almost got hit by a vehicle because he couldn’t see out of his mask, and I had to pick him up after midnight..He did all this for $30. I don’t even think that Darryl would do that. (Last time I mentioned my step-father-in-law was picking up bodies for $50).

We were successful in escaping the room with 3 minutes to spare.

My friend and her family were not able to escape a different escape room and her kids are all geniuses. Is it bad that I am so competitive?? Challenge accepted.

Afterwards, we went out to eat. When we got home, I was so exhausted that I went to bed right away. I had Paul wait up until Alex got back from taking Baylee home. I was drifting off to sleep when I heard the phone ring. Alex hit a deer with his car. The deer landed dead in the middle of the road and did some damage to the car. Alex had to drag the deer off into the ditch and drove home with one headlight.

I told my mother what happened. She was worried that Alex was crawling with deer ticks. Did I check him?? Well, no.. It’s cute, my mom thinks I don’t get my worrying from her.

It was sad to see Angel off, but things have been better since my last post..

Funereal unreal

When I was in my last month of college before graduation, I took a career and aptitude test. The test results said that I should be a funeral director. Seriously?? I didn’t go to school for that. Was it the school’s plan to have me stay for a few more years?? Why didn’t they do the test before I picked a major??

I could see myself being a good funeral director. I am very serious, calm, and have a deadpan demeanor about me.

But sometimes I have a strong urge to laugh when least appropriate. Maybe that is a common fear of extremely self-disciplined stoic people. Let loose…quit being so serious…but do it to the extreme…laugh at a funeral…swear in church…dance and sing down the aisles of a grocery store…scream in the library..

It probably wouldn’t have worked well for me.

A few months ago, right when my MIL was in the last few weeks of her battle with cancer, her husband Darryl’s job of several decades was on the line. The company that he was working for got bought out. He lost his job as a forklift driver and his hours got cut in half. Just what he needed with the mounting medical bills coming in.

Over the years, he had other second jobs to make ends meet. He cleaned a clinic, plowed snow, and was a chimney sweep just to name a few. He worked as much as possible before work and after work. Plus he maintained a large garden, fished and hunted for food, fixed his own vehicles, and chopped his own wood to heat his house. One time he even cut his leg with a chain saw. He was even good at sewing and stitched up his own leg to save a doctor’s visit. Not at all squeamish…

Maybe you know where I am going with this..

Right now Darryl is working part-time cleaning the meat room. Not a fun job. The last time I saw him, he showed me where he got electrocuted on his finger. Eccentric man, that Darryl. So I didn’t think it was all that strange when he told me he asked the funeral director if he had any work..

Now Darryl has a new second job. He will be picking up bodies. Fifty bucks a stiff. I can picture Darryl now with a couple of bodies in the back of his pick up truck…

We briefly talked dead seriously about starting a new family business…

 

Unbalanced

This morning I went dumpster diving and it was the most joy I found in weeks.

Am I unbalanced?

I was thinking lately about joy, about balance. The main sectors of my life for the last several years has been family, work, and training for marathons, etc.. I like things clean. I am happy when these sectors don’t collide….when they don’t interrupt other sectors..

Now my sectors are colliding and I feel unbalanced.

Yesterday I took time off of work to train..I didn’t get all of my work done at the end of the day.

Work is so busy I feel guilty for doing anything besides work…I don’t worry about money because of my hard work, but I don’t have time. I drive my car fast because I would rather pay a ticket then lose a few moments of extra time. I tell my son not to speed.

Work pulls at me when I am with family. Another email that needs responding to after hours. It will only take a few minutes.

I eat my lunch while driving to work out or while pacing around the kitchen.

Sometimes I am too busy to write. I should be working. I didn’t get caught up today.

Then the kids pull at me. There is always something going on after school that I have to take them to or be at. Then there was the last couple of weeks spending every moment with my MIL as she was in the final stages of cancer. Then I have to decide which kids to sacrifice the other kids for. Do I cancel out on my daughter’s first opera to stay home with a sick kid??

Then there was my son who was having issues with colitis and he couldn’t get treatment until he gave a sample. He couldn’t get a sample. Then this morning after another call to the doctor, I got the idea of taking a couple of specimens and making it into one sample. Great idea, but it involved me going out into the dumpster with rubber gloves and digging around. But I was successful! Now my son is on medicine and I feel so happy about it.

But I was late for work..

It is so hard to keep my life in balance.

Being very busy at work for the last 3 months, having to hire someone, having to train someone, more work, more customer service issues because we are busier..

Being busy at home running kids around, housework, laundry, dishes, sick kids, a death in the family…

Training for an 18 mile trail run, a marathon, and a Half Iron.

This morning I jokingly said to my husband that I wake up with shit on my lips. Sounds disgusting, I know. I wake up stressed. I mutter to myself oh shit off and on all day. I fall asleep at night stressed and exhausted.

Is all of this effort worth it?

Most of the time I can keep up, but I feel so unbalanced right now… I want to do everything well, but sometimes I have to leave some important things undone and that bothers me.

 

The interview

I was nervous.

I didn’t know what questions would be asked.

I looked at 100’s of interview questions trying to be prepared.

I looked in my closet wondering what I could possibly wear.

The schools were closed and the roads were slick.

I didn’t know if I would be able to get there.

Who cancels first? I really didn’t know.

My child was sick.

I called the doctor.

Was her mouth swollen from the strep or an allergic reaction to the Amoxicillan?

I was put on hold.

The minutes tick away…

Would I make it there on time?

Could I even go??

Just strep.

Eight inches of snow fell overnight. It was starting to rain.

Would I go in the ditch on the way?

Would the sidewalks be shoveled or could someone in dress shoes (who was training for a half iron) possibly twist an ankle and fall down?

Break a leg!

I was frantic, but made it to the interview with a few minutes to spare.

This was my first time as an interviewer..

I think I found the candidate I like.

It is hard to turn the other applicants down.

Owning a business is so much more than just doing what you are good at.

A game of chess?

A few months back I mentioned that Paul and I were being courted by a multi-million dollar company that was thinking about buying us out.

It was at that time that I approached a fork in the road. Do I stay or do I go?

I dreamed of going back to school to get my Master’s degree in writing.

I got my hopes up and was disappointed when the deal fell through.

But is it wise to turn a hobby into a career?

Maybe it wouldn’t be good for me to spend so much time alone stirring up my demons. I like to write about a variety of things, so I would hate to be trapped within the walls of a book. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be..

So, I guess you are stuck with me for awhile!

Paul sometimes dreams of turning his hobby into a business as well. He has tossed around the idea of getting his Captain’s license and starting another business on the side. The business would entail chartering sailing trips. Kind of like a bed and breakfast on water. He would cook. I would clean. On rainy days, we could entertain with story and song. I would photograph and write about their adventures. Paul could handle the finances and I would handle the schedule.

After starting a business from the ground up, starting a new business is not that intimidating.

But would the hobby be as much fun if it was work?

I enjoy what I am doing now. I have been working with my husband for almost 10 years now. Working with my spouse has been a wonderful experience 99.9% of the time. It allows us to connect with each other on a much deeper level. I don’t understand why I get so many comments from wives that they could never work with their husbands. It seems so natural to me now. The thought of going off and doing my own thing was actually more frightening.

After the whole deal fell through, this company put out an ad for someone to start a new division of their company. The ad was almost Paul’s resume word for word. The company said that they weren’t going to compete with us. With Paul’s business sense and my distrust in their word, we decided to build a fortress around ourselves.

We are working on achieving the highest level of certification that we can. We are also in the beginning process of buying out and employing someone that has a small business in our field.

Business is booming! We are looking to hire another person to lessen my work load.

Let the chess game begin!

 

Shoveling snow with a fork

Do you ever wake up in the morning knowing that the day’s work is not going to get done no matter how hard you work?? It is a dreadful feeling. It kept me from sleeping soundly last night.

This is usually our slow time of year, but we got a large one time account that will keep us very busy until the end of the year. We all left the office early yesterday for a staff party and my employee that helps me with the work had to take today off. Some of the orders that came in yesterday still aren’t done.

Let’s put it this way…there is a blizzard and I only have a fork to shovel with.

As I was working this morning, I ended up getting timed out and lost almost an hour’s worth of work. I was so angry that more than a few obscenities spewed out.

It is almost like spending an hour writing a post, perfecting it (probably the best post ever), and poof it is gone!

Of all days for this to happen! How frustrating!!

I have so many stories to tell you too, but I really need to get back to work.

I could’ve been a millionaire…

I have been sworn to secrecy about this for over a couple of months now. But it really doesn’t matter anymore. I decided to do the 30 day writing challenge partially to avoid talking about it. I am really good at avoiding things. I should’ve listed it as one of my greatest strengths a couple of posts ago. Or maybe it is a weakness?? Who knows?

Nevertheless, a secret is a secret no matter how hard it is to keep.

It all started back in August when my husband Paul was approached by a multi-million dollar company that wanted to acquire us. We really didn’t think much of the idea at first. We weren’t interested in selling. But they wined and dined us. After a couple of meetings, this company offered to fly Paul across the country (all expenses paid) to tour the corporate office and meet with all of the bigwigs. The meeting went well, REALLY well.

After Paul returned from the meeting, this company requested all of our financial reports. Paul keeps meticulous financial records and they corresponded with each other over the weekend. Over the weekend! Although we weren’t looking for a relationship, they relentlessly pursued us. They even spoke of us moving in together.

We thought things were serious, like we would be getting a big honking diamond ring.

Then we started to dream… Suddenly our small 3 bedroom house wasn’t good enough any more. Our college age daughter already expressed disinterest in coming home for the summer. She didn’t want to have to share a room with her younger sister. I noticed the worn flooring. I grew tired of the neighbor yelling obscenities at his dog. I wanted something bigger. I wanted a 4 bedroom house out in the country. Then I got tempted. I started looking at houses online. We even went and looked at one.

Then I found “the house”. It had everything I wanted and more…It had 4 bedrooms on 6 acres of land. It even had an in ground indoor hot tub and swimming pool. I imagined myself throwing lavish parties there.. But it would be practical too.. I could train for triathlons in my pool without having to spend money on a gym membership. It was almost 7,000 square feet of pure bliss. I know, it seems excessive…But who cares when I could buy it in cash??

Then I started to dream bigger. I had it all planned out. We would go through with the acquisition. I would work many hours over the next 6 months training my replacement. Then I would have the summer off to spend with my kids and train for my races. In the fall, I would start working on my Master’s degree in creative writing. Then I would start writing my book about growing up with an autistic sibling..

Paul started sharing our good news with close family and friends at the time the deal seemed certain to go through. I told my mom my plan of writing the book and she was excited to work on it with me. It seemed so perfect. I wouldn’t have to work or worry about money. I could be a writer. Let’s face it, I am not going to write the next Harry Potter series..I’d probably only sell a few copies…I would do it because I enjoyed it, not for money.

I admit, perhaps I was a bit greedy planning my new life as a millionaire. It seemed like all of the hard work of starting a business was finally paying off. All the years of pouring ever extra penny into our business. I thought especially of the early years when we barely had enough to pay our monthly bills and we had three little mouths to feed. I thought of the long hard hours when we couldn’t get away. I remember dragging Paul to the office after major surgery when he wasn’t supposed to work. I thought of Paul working hard to earn an MBA while running a start up business, raising a family, and still making time to volunteer in the community. Finally, we could enjoy the fruits of our labor. Or so we thought..

Not only were we planning on paying off all of our debt and investing our money, we were planning on helping others. We were thinking of helping out the woman at church whose husband lost his job. We just found out that Martha’s (Paul’s mom) cancer has spread and that the chemo is no longer working. She needs a new medication that she can’t afford. We could help her pay for some medical expenses. Hell, I was even thinking of supporting some of your blogs..

Then the day came and went when we were expecting the initial offer. They kept putting the meeting off. Our patience started to run thin. I became edgy, worried, and depressed. The uncertainty was killing us. What was going to happen? Were they going to offer us what we were worth? Would it be months of bargaining? Would someone else buy the house that my heart was set on??

Then yesterday we heard the bad news that they were no longer interested in acquiring us despite having every reason to believe otherwise. Instead, they wanted to see if we might be interested in consulting with them in how to start their own division. Consult our new competition with deep pockets! Hell no!!

The CEO wanted to go forward with the deal, but the owner said “no”. The CEO said the owner might change his mind and come back to us in a couple of months if things don’t work out. I really don’t want to be with you anymore, but maybe we can still be friends with benefits (without health insurance)… Yippee!!

I was expecting a nice big fancy engagement ring, but instead got a one night stand. Talk about leaving a bad taste in my mouth!!

This all happened yesterday. I felt so angry that I couldn’t even talk. I wanted to be alone because I thought I might scream at the first poor hapless person who stumbled upon my path. I am still pissed. I am disappointed. I am depressed. I want to break something.

How can I explain how it feels? How can I expect sympathy when others around me are struggling?? Losing their jobs…barely able to make ends meet…getting divorced…Woe is me, I am not a millionaire..condolences please..

So we will continue to build our business…slowly placing one small block upon another…until one day hopefully this all pays off.

We will continue to live in debt…mortgage…two car payments…high health insurance premiums…another kid in braces…college tuition, for my daughter instead of me…business loans..

I will continue with my 30 day writing challenge…

Although a few tears still drop for my dreams that died..

At least we still have each other…

Maybe this is for the best… My husband won’t be gone all of the time playing the corporate game…We can come and go as we please now that our business is not in its infancy anymore. I can take a long lunch to train for a marathon without anyone to answer to. I can tell you all of my secrets while I am at work if I want to. I can even leave early to attend my kids endless events…or to go to all of the wonderful orthodontist appointments..

I have to think this is for the best, otherwise I would be devastated.