The downside of working

Working for the census was downright difficult at times. It wasn’t just the cases themselves. Although I will not downplay the fear of dealing with my anxiety. I did find myself in some really dangerous situations at times. Just doing the job during COVID was scary enough. I had to face the fear of things I could and couldn’t see such as the risk of getting sick. The uncertainty was difficult. I never knew what I was going to be dealing with on a day to day basis.

While I was working, my mom didn’t really want anything to do with me. She viewed me as high risk to getting her sick. My mom is a hypochondriac. Not that I didn’t understand her concerns. But it was still difficult and painful. She is living her last years in utter terror of leaving her house. She will stop by with her mask and sunglasses on wearing gloves or with hands full of handwipes. She won’t even pet my dog because someone infected might have touched him. She is battling crippling anxiety and insomnia. It is difficult.

The night before I had my census training, my husband and I admitted our daughter to the psychiatric hospital for the first time. It was stressful because I knew I couldn’t be there when she got home because I had to work. That is really when I let things start to slide. I allowed Arabella to stay at her friend’s house more than I would’ve liked because I felt she was safer there than home alone.

My husband was working his seasonal business that he started. At times he was gone for several days in a row. We couldn’t deal with a suicidal child at home when we were both working. Then later we struggled to get her back home.

I felt like I needed to work because the investments we were banking on to start our new business didn’t come through with COVID. We were planning on taking a small trip for our anniversary in the middle of summer, but I had to choose between the trip or doing the training for the job. Plus with our daughter, a week of sailing turned to a day or two on the boat. It was just another thing cancelled because of COVID.

I had to deal with a lot of things I was afraid of. I had to interview people in dangerous neighborhoods. Then there were dogs. Some days I had to drive for several hours. I’ve always been a nervous driver and had to face that fear. Again, not to mention COVID when I could hear people coughing. At times I felt like I was putting my life on the line.

As a census worker dealing with colitis, I was fearful when I couldn’t find a bathroom. When I was out in the middle of nowhere a lot of park or public restrooms were closed due to COVID. It was a real nightmare at times.

I had to get over the anxiety of talking to people I didn’t know. I had to overcome this fear of being out of my comfort zone by myself. It was also very intimidating doing things I’ve never done before such as purchasing a ticket for the car ferry. With every adventure comes a little apprehension.

In all of that, I still had to find the energy to go to the grocery store, cook, clean the house, and get the laundry done. It’s a big adjustment to go from not working to working 40+ hours a week.

I have to say though that it was a wonderful experience. I did earn a fair wage for the work I did. My supervisor was awesome along with all the other census workers I ran into along the way. I’m sad I didn’t have the time to write about this while it was happening, but I knew there would be later. Now.

Paul’s journey, part 8

When you decide to take the first step, you never know where it will lead you.

Paul had a dream. He was at a dead end job. He used up his vacation time to cut back his hours at his job so he could start a business on the side. He worked after work. He rented a small office nearby so he could work over his lunch hour.

Eventually Paul ran out of vacation days. They gave him an ultimatum. Either you come back full time or you leave. Sink or swim Paul.

For awhile, he stood at the edge of the precipice. What am I going to do? Should I start climbing even though I can’t see anything at the top? What if I fall? What if I fall further than I am right now? What if I fail? How will I provide for my family?

“Should I climb?”, he asked. Climb, I said.

Taking that first step on his own was the scariest. It was risky. There was a mortgage to pay and little mouths to feed. We were already living on one income.

Paul immersed himself into building a start up business. He was working towards a Master’s degree in his field of study. He took a couple of sales training classes. He knocked on many doors.

Over the years, he attained every accreditation, certification, license, and joined every industry association that he could. He started working on his MBA one class at a time while running his business. He oftentimes would start his day at 5AM doing homework before work. Then he worked until the work was done. He earned his MBA. He still grabbed at every opportunity to learn more. He worked hard and became an expert in our state.

It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It took decades and years of climbing not knowing what was at the top. When the recession hit, he thought he was going to lose his footing. He managed to hang on.

Over time, Paul got used to and became very good at climbing. He is always looking ahead, always striving for that next goal. Sometimes I wish he would take a glimpse back to see how far he climbed.

All it took was being brave enough to take that first step.

Day 3: Our journey to Washington Island

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We had another late start this morning. George was having electrical problems and issues with his inboard motor. Capt. Tom was able to solve his electrical issues, but fixing the motor would involve taking it out. That wasn’t going to happen, so George tried to sail as much as possible on this trip so he wouldn’t have to use his motor.

It wasn’t long after we left the marina that I got a message about a problem at work. After all, it was early Monday morning. I felt frustrated. I wanted to be able to get away!

But is that really what I wanted?

I hardly slept the night before due to worrying about my teenagers at home. I felt a lack of control being away.

It would take many hours to get back by sailboat. Once we got to Washington Island, it would take a long time to get home by car. You need to take a ferry to get to and from the island. If there is bad weather, sometimes the ferries don’t run.

It can be a difficult passage by boat through Death’s Door. It is the point where the waters of Lake Michigan and the bay collide. There are 3 marinas on the island. This trip we are going around Death’s Door and not through it.

Washington Island is very secluded which is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

On our way, we passed a schooner full of tourists.

Wisconsin is a truly strikingly beautiful home state. There is nowhere else I would rather spend my summers.

I was in paradise and found myself to be feeling completely miserable. Is this all there is for me?? Worry?? I couldn’t seem to let go of the worry about my kids or the stress of work. More than anything I really wanted to enjoy this time away.

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Near the end of our journey for the day, we stopped at Schoolhouse Beach. The water was 150 feet deep near this rock formation. Once we rounded the corner, we sailed into the cove to get to the beach. I’ve heard that there is only one other beach in the whole world that has the same geological rock formation, in Iceland.

We rafted up in 20 feet of water near the beach with 3 other sailboats. It was a hot day and it felt good to jump into the icy water. There wasn’t any sand on the beach, just smooth white rocks the size of the palm of my hand. The water was clear and it was amazing to see the rock bottom.

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I took a picture of the beach from the boat. I didn’t want to take my camera or my phone to shore on the dinghy. This picture does not do it justice.

Most of us jumped into the water from our sailboats. We had an incredibly hard time climbing the rocks to get to shore and kept falling into each other. It was easier to crawl or slide to a place to sit. Some of the rocks had paint splattered on them but I am not sure why. The rocks were comfortably warm against my skin.

We spent an hour at the beach until the rumble of distant thunder prodded us to get back on course.

Why worry?? Why?

I really shouldn’t be here talking to you right now. I simply don’t have the time. But if I don’t tell you what has been going on the last few days I will go absolutely crazy! Oops…sorry…CRAZIER..

My daughter Angel is home for spring break…it has been absolutely freezing out by the way..It all started Tuesday…I was going to leave work for an early lunch to go train. The plan was to swim and then bike 20 miles. When I stopped at home, Angel said that her ears hurt and she needed to see the doctor. I set up the doctor appointment…there went my work out over lunch..

Technically, I didn’t need to accompany Angel to the doctor since she is an adult. But her brother is being treated the second time for a bacterial colitis he picked up from being on antibiotics while visiting his dying grandma. Seeking treatment meant the possibility of catching something a lot worse. Plus she didn’t have a car.

How could my day get worse??

Then Paul told me that he was coughing up blood. Since his mother died last month from lung cancer, I told him to get it checked out. I am terrified that he is going to work really hard and die before he sees the fruit of his labors. Lately I have been telling him that I don’t want to retire and walk the beach hand-in-hand with someone else. Harsh, I know. Although he is also a runner, he has the tendency to drink and eat too much under stress. A couple weeks back he wolfed down a whole bag of chips.

I worry…He drinks..

For Lent, Paul decided to give up drinking during the week. He said that he wants to be more self-disciplined like me. I want him to be healthier. That is when I decided to give up worrying, or should I say excessive worrying because I want to be more carefree and positive like him.

So far it is not working out as well for me as it is for him..

Paul made a doctor appointment for the following day.

How could my day get worse?? Then my mom sent me a text saying that my aunt had a stroke and is unresponsive. Perfect!

After Angel’s doctor appointment, I decided to swing by work to take care of a few things that I needed to do before hitting the gym. There was a big problem with a new large client that I ended up getting sucked into. I missed the open swimming time. I barely had enough time to squeeze in 20 miles of biking.

I missed my last scheduled run on Saturday. The kids had solo and ensemble. My son was one of the few kids to make it to state for a very difficult band solo. We realized for the first time how gifted he is in music. I have 2 kids that are extremely talented at music and one that is not. Arabella did a vocal trio. One of the girls didn’t show up and it didn’t go well. All of Arabella’s friends from the theater watched her and she was mortified.

I had planned to go to the gym when I got home Saturday afternoon. I got back later then expected and had been battling a cold for a few days. Instead, I fell asleep for an hour and a half. Paul said that maybe I should give up all my racing and just be like everyone else since I seem to be having such a hard time finding balance in my life.

After my 20 mile bike ride, I left the gym and drove 40 minutes in the opposite direction to pick up Arabella from her after school activities. She played her music really loud on her cell phone. I told her to turn it down. She said that I was annoying and that is why she hates me which was frustrating.

This all transpired on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning I awake to a text from Arabella’s coach saying that her drama team is going to make it to state. The top two teams competing in each challenge make it to state. There are only two teams competing, so they automatically go to state. This wouldn’t be a problem except that they changed the date of state this year because of Easter and moved it to the weekend that we are going to be performing in a musical. Of course, I didn’t find out about this until a commitment was made to both events. So I am faced with either pulling her out of the musical last minute for one or two shows OR have the team go to state without her and having to rewrite the whole script without her in it last minute.

Maybe things will be better at work…When I get to work, I drop my keys between the seat and the console. They wrap around under the seat and I can’t fit my hands in to get them out. I spend the first half an hour of my work day trying to dislodge my keys. I cut up my hand and get blood everywhere but can’t find bandages. I also lost my key charm in the fight, but got my keys out.

Work is the busiest I have seen it this year. We had to hire a new employee and if it doesn’t slow down we might have to hire a few more. This is all wonderful, but stressful especially since one of the employees called in sick yesterday.

The doctor said Paul has an upper respiratory virus. He came into work with a fever. I need him to pick up the slack from the employee that called in. Then I am faced with the decision to either stay at work late or go with my mom and uncle to visit my ailing great aunt. I walk away from a big pile of work and choose family.

After I drive my mom and uncle over an hour to visit my aunt at the nursing home, we get there 15 minutes too late. She already passed away. We walk in through the closed door to find the nuns and nurses anointing Aunt Doll’s head with holy water. They put water on my finger to anoint her too. Then we sing Amazing Grace over her body. We cry. Enough of the death and dying already!

The most horrifying part was that it wasn’t the stroke that killed her. I found out last night that it was a genetic lung condition that killed her. The same lung condition that claimed the life of my oldest aunt. One or two of my mother’s cousins are also afflicted with this disease that renders them wheelchair bound and hooked up to oxygen. Oh my!

Is everything that I am doing right now in vain?? All of this eating healthy and working out…Will I be like them? I don’t think I could handle it. Will I have to watch my mother die this way?? My daughters?? It seems to present itself in females more than males.

Last night before going to sleep, I said my nightly prayers…as I was praying to God I could hear my dog puking outside my bedroom door…

God, I can’t take this anymore..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That bites!

I feel overwhelmed by the busyness at work. I like being busy, but I don’t like feeling like I can’t keep up. Paul and I have been working hard together, alone. We have been arguing for days. It seems like the stress is bringing out the extremes in our personalities and right now we clash. I have been holding myself tight and my body aches from it more than it does from a 12 mile run.

There is no sanctuary.

At home, my pets still have fleas. They are licking and scratching themselves until they bleed. It disgusts me. I don’t want them around me. They sit in my chair and scratch. I can’t relax. I feel crawly when I sit down. I can’t stand to be in my house. It is unnerving.

The vet said there was nothing I could do, that I might still see a few fleas all winter even after treatment. I never would’ve guessed that something like this could happen. Was it the unseasonably warm fall temperatures??

I blame myself. My husband asked me why I blame myself for situations I have no control over. I really don’t know why.

If only I would have treated the pets a few weeks back when I suspected but didn’t find anything. I only put flea treatments on my pets if I have to. Maybe I was wrong.

I have been strongly indoctrinated as a child that the use of any chemicals was wrong. My autistic brother Matt was supposedly allergic. We weren’t allowed to wear bug spray. My brothers and dad had to take down wasps nests with the end of a rake and run or spray them with a hose. Chemicals were not allowed. Instead of weed killer, we put cement blocks on weeds to kill them.

I am not that extreme, but it is hard to change my mindset.

The one thing I am excited about is picking Angel up from college for winter break. We are heading out to pick her up this weekend and then having a family Christmas party at my brother Luke’s house.

We are also supposed to get a snow storm this weekend. We are expecting a foot of snow. After it is done snowing, we will have strong winds and dangerously cold temps. This is going to make the 6 hour drive downright treacherous for us.

Why can’t my life ever be boring!??!!!!!

Regardless, it is certain to give me something interesting to write about!

7. What is your dream job?

7. What is your dream job, and why?

When I was younger, quite a bit younger, I wanted to be a counselor. I earned a Bachelor’s degree with a counseling emphasis. I had every expectation to get my Master’s degree and become a licensed counselor, but didn’t.

To tell you the truth, I wanted to fix broken people. I wanted to change them. I wanted to take their weaknesses and make them strengths. I wanted to make flowers grow in a patch of weeds.

I never told you this before, when I was younger my mom would pair me up with younger girls that also had difficult sibling situations. Sometimes I would visit for a few hours or a weekend. I think that the purpose was to counsel and console them like I did with my mom. There was no doubt I would be a counselor.

Then my last year of college happened. We had a professor that was a counselor. She made me doubt my career ambitions. She took away my unrealistic expectations and told us what it really was like being a counselor.  She told us how her holidays were interrupted because she had a take calls from suicidal clients. She told us of the times she lost clients to suicide and spoke of how difficult it was to handle. I questioned my ability to change people. I mean, I couldn’t even change myself or my loved ones who were struggling.

Really, who did I think I was? God?? To think that I could save people?

I thought about going back to school to be a counselor off and on over the last couple of decades, but no longer have the interest to do so. I don’t think I could listen to people talk about their problems and not do anything to fix them. I really lack compassion for those who are unwilling to change and just want someone to complain to. I think it would be incredibly hard to watch someone spiral down into mental illness and not be able to pull them back out. I would take every suicide personally as a failure on my part.

I also dreamed of being a librarian..surrounded by books in quiet serenity…organizing books..

I dreamed of being a lead singer in a band…exciting weekends being a star.

I even dreamed of working alone in a lab analyzing samples…checking for little details that might be off…water samples…pap smears…biopsies…DNA testing…being away from people using my analytical skills.

But right now, more than anything, my dream job is to be a writer.. I have been considering leaving my job of nine years and going back to get my Master’s degree in writing…The first thing that I would do is write my story…growing up with an autistic sibling… I would make it my life work… I would tell my mom…receive her blessing…get all of her journals that she used to write in to compile with mine… then write…offer hope to (without trying to fix)  people who are struggling…it has been something I have always felt compelled to do… then I would be free from it and spend the rest of my life being a freelance travel writer…travel the world off the beaten path…take many pictures and write…

That would be my dream job..

 

A little down

I think I am depressed. 

One of the signs of depression is losing interest in hobbies. What if you just can’t do the things you enjoy anymore?? 

If I spend too much time at work, type a lot (write), shuffle cards, or work jigsaw puzzles my carpal tunnel acts up. My hands ache. I need to wear a brace. If I exercise with weights, sometimes I can’t grasp them. Several times a week my hands just let go of items and I drop them. I’ve dropped my phone several times. Lately, I’ve dropped containers of foundation or eye shadow shattering them into powder so I have to throw them out. I have problems opening lids on jars. 

Sometimes my acid reflux gives me a hoarse voice and sore throat which makes it very difficult for me to sing, another hobby of mine.

I have enjoyed running and competing in races, but now my knee hurts so much that I might have to cut back or stop altogether. 

It seems like everything that I really enjoy doing to deal with my stress is being taken away from me. 

I feel depressed that my daughter will be graduating from high school in a few days. She is a lot like me. We have so much in common and have become close friends. Now she will be moving several hours away and starting a new life without me. I am happy for her, just sad for me.

My relationship with my other two kids sucks. My son is currently failing all of his core classes. He is angry at us or depressed when we give him consequences. The hard part is that he has a brilliant mind, but is too lazy and unorganized to put any effort into his studies. I have no control over this. My youngest daughter and I have nothing in common at all. She takes pride in annoying me and arguing with everything that I say.

Work is stressful. Running our own business, having employees, and demanding customers takes a lot of energy.

My mother-in-law has terminal lung cancer and at best has a few months to live. 

I am starting to see my own parents age in new ways that worry me.

Every organization that we belong to thinks that they are the only organization that we belong to. Everybody wants our time, our money, a life blood commitment. 

My husband and I have both been irritable and stressed these last couple of months. I honestly don’t know how much more of this we can take. Instead of people helping us through these difficult times, they drain us of whatever we have left.

So, yeah, I guess I am feeling a little down. 

  

The hard sell

Tonight is opening night for the show. Thankfully, Angel is feeling a little better. She took two days off of school to rest and finally went back today. By tomorrow she should be able to hit her high soprano belt. However, I heard that the main character is sick with a bad case of laryngitis. I am so glad that I am going to see the show next weekend! LOL

Tomorrow morning, I have to get up at 5:30 AM to spend half a day at a trade show for work. It is also supposed to be the warmest day so far this year! Oh well. If my husband wasn’t in the show, he would be going. Instead I will be sitting inside a booth with our sales guy. As operations manager, I will be answering specific detailed questions that he might not have the answers to.

Did you think I was going to be doing sales?? Oh my gosh, no way! At my age, I know myself pretty well. There are not a lot of surprises anymore as far as my strengths and weaknesses go. Sales is not my strong suit. I can’t talk anybody into doing anything. I couldn’t sell a 50 cent cup of lemonade to a millionaire runner on a very hot day. Usually if I really want to convince someone to do something, I send my husband or youngest daughter Arabella. They both are phenomenal at sales. Arabella recently sold 80 candy bars in less than a week. I sometimes have to hold her back. No, you can’t take candy bars to sell at the dentist’s office. LOL I really wish I knew how Paul and Arabella can be so convincing. They both have a gift!

Last year around this time, I went to a women’s retreat. It was all about our different roles as women and the spiritual gifts that we have been given. We had to choose our top 5 gifts from a list. A majority of the women said that they had the gift of being caring, giving, compassionate, and empathetic. Not me! Then I started feeling bad because I didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the women. Some of the gifts that I had were being discerning, disciplined, and athletic. Well, whoop di do!

When someone is hurting, these women come over bearing gifts of food, giving hugs, and crying with them. Again, not me. I am the one that says that they should’ve seen it coming. While you are at it, drop down and give me 20 push ups! Damn it, pull yourself out of it and fight it. Well, maybe I’m not exactly like that but that is sometimes what I think. I asked everyone what good my gifts are. I mean they only seem to benefit me. But someone said that was not true. She said that I motivate others to be healthier.

Then I noticed a few other things. A couple of months after visiting my friend in Texas, she started training for a marathon. When I saw her, she was overweight and out of breath walking a couple blocks. Now she is into eating healthy, weight loss, and training for a marathon. Coincidence? I honestly don’t know. Another non running friend mentioned lately about wanting to give running a try. 

I asked Paul today why it seems like I can’t sell anything but people want to do things I’m doing without trying to sell them on it. Paul said it was all about being passionate about what I do. So I hope that tomorrow I am passionate about work. 

 

 

Spring feverish

I feel crabby. 

Work was busy and my employee didn’t come in today, or yesterday for that matter. Her sister’s dog died over the weekend. So I stayed at the office a couple of hours later than usual to catch up. Add in a staff meeting, fitting in an hour workout, finding time to vote, and having a sick child makes me feel crabby. Accuse me of having a lack of sympathy, but I could have used an extra hand at work today.  

Business owners have to drag their ass to work when they have a sick kid, when they are sick, after having a baby, after having major surgery, after a death in the family, etc.. I check my work on the weekends, on vacation, heck even right now. Sometimes I am tempted to check my emails during church. I know, what a sinner!
This summer after Angel graduates she will be working for us until she goes to college. I plan on teaching her everything I know. She has a great mind for business. Alex is great with computers. Arabella is incredible at sales.  My future employees live in my own house. We’ll see. 

Some days work is slow and at others times I can barely keep up. When work is busy, there are tons of customer service emails and calls. I am great at what I do, but sometimes I get frustrated. Sometimes I have to deal with difficult customers that are upset. I am good at diffusing angry people on the phone. It just seems like I get nothing done. Yes, we suck, now can I please get back to work?? LOL. Or my favorite is when people ask when the work will be done but I can’t get to it because I am answering tons of questions about when it will be ready. We have great employees and clients, but some days when work gets bottle necked I feel stressed. 

I printed out my son’s assignments from school before I left work, then forgot them there. I realized this after I took my shoes and jacket off. Then I sped back to the office in the blowing snow to pick it up. Yes, it is cold and snowy again. A couple of weeks ago we had two days of sun. I had forgotten how bright it was. Since then it has been cold, rainy, or snowing. Thankfully, we have an office close to our house.

I think I have a case of spring fever! This is always the hardest time of year. It sure is a lot easier being at work when I don’t want to be outside though. 

1oo followers!

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Thank you, thank you, thank you to my 100 followers! 

A few weeks back my employee gave me a 32 fl oz can of Badger State chocolate stout for a special occasion. He often brings back beer from around the state to appease me. So I said to myself that when I get one hundred followers, I will crack it open and share some with my husband. Somehow I thought that time would stand still for a couple minutes but apparently once again I was wrong. It happened last night before I went to bed and I couldn’t justify opening it right before bed. So seemingly by magic when I woke up I had 101 followers which was good because maybe one would back out and then I would have to let the beer sit longer.

Along with opening a special occasion beer, I am going to upgrade my wordpress account to make it more user friendly. I thought that I would have time to do that this morning, but after I got in to work it became quite obvious that wasn’t going to happen. There was problem after problem after problem. I took the afternoon off to run to appointments with the kids. This morning at work the employee that covers for me called in sick, so I became bottle necked at work. While at work I received a call that the 40 mph winds that we are having ripped my hot tub cover off. 

I did get the appointments and errands run efficiently then drove home through a blizzard. Yes, winter did finally make it to Wisconsin. We still have strong winds and are expecting a foot of snow tonight. Bring it on! Maybe I can finally use those cross country skis! Until then, I am cracking open a beer too celebrate.