Archive for the 'It’s a paycheck' Category

And then I jumped.

A year ago today I stood at the edge and looked over the side.  I’d been to a similar cliffside many times in the past, and I’d jumped with no problems.

I’d always landed with perfect form.  Every move calculated, the result expected and achieved.

But this time was different.  I wasn’t going to be leaping toward something tangible.

The excitement of the unknown not only threatened to eat me alive, it made me feel more alive than I ever had.

The urge to jump was overwhelming.

So, what was holding me back?

I’d done all my research, the Pros to Jumping weighing so much more than the Cons that it nearly pulled me over the edge.

I didn’t want to be pushed.
I wanted to jump.
There’s a difference.

It took all my strength to stand there, the different choices blowing about me like the winds coming up from the canyon floor.

The sun was shining warm on my back.
The breeze was blowing softly on my face.
My heart lit up with a smile, and my head started to breathe.

And then I jumped.

It’s really only three days…

Daddy is going to be gone this week for a business trip, and Claire is very sad.

Technically, he’s leaving today (Monday), and we’ll pick him up on Friday…so in reality, we won’t see him Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.  That’s only three days.  Technically.  He’ll call us every day, so that will lessen the blow…but still.  She’s very sad.

Every time I hear myself explain how long Daddy will be gone, and how it’s a week, but not really…it’s only three days, I remember a client I had when I was an Adventure Vacation Travel Consultant.

In a former life, I sold adventure vacation packages.  I worked with outfitters and clients and acted as a liaison for their travel experience.  It was a super-fun job until that fateful day in September of 2001. On that day, and the days that followed, I had clients stranded all over the world (literally), and it was a hectic, frightful time that led to a downturn in the travel industry that never truly, fully recovered.

But, this isn’t about that…this is about one of my wonderful clients.  *cough*  He’d been a pain from day one.  Nothing was going to be right about his trip; I could tell.  This man was going to a developing country and was expecting to go directly from his first class seat on the plane to the resort as if by magic.  The resort he was going to was top notch, but getting there would be an adventure for him.  (Hello!?  It’s Adventure Vacation Travel!  What do you expect??)

I was trying to explain to him that because the resort was so remote, he had to jump through some hoops to get there.  There was no way around this.  He had to take this flight, and then transfer, and then take this flight and then transfer.  Then, from that little tiny airport (which was actually more like a dirt runway), he’d have to take local transportation to the resort.  We referred to the “local transportation” as a “taxi,” but it probably wasn’t yellow.  Or even a car.  And, I could only hope that there weren’t peasants with their chickens riding on crates… 😉 Actually, I’m pretty sure it was a standard vehicle, and it was reliable.  Plus, we’d arranged all of this for him.  Everyone else who had done this trip was pleased with the experience, so I wasn’t too worried.  (Well, I wasn’t worried about my client.  I was more worried about the poor taxi driver…)  🙂

The notes I had about this trip indicated that the resort was an hour and a half from the airstrip, and this was mainly due to the roads…not the actual distance.

As I was explaining the transfers to the man, I got to the part about the “hour and a half taxi ride” and he FLIPPED OUT.

He started yelling.  He was huffing and puffing about how it was ridiculous for him to be expected to ride in a taxi for an hour and a half to get to the resort, especially after making so many transfers.  “Surely that’s wrong!” he shouted into the phone at me.

“That’s what it is, and don’t call me Shirley,” I thought in my head. 😉 Out loud, I said, “Well, let me check…” and I found the documentation.  “Yes, here, if you look on the page I sent you…under ‘ground transportation’ it mentions the taxi transfer.  It says, ‘The resort is a scenic 90-minute drive from the airport…'”

“Well, that’s much better than what you said!”  he yelled, sounding relieved.

“What?” I said, confused.

“You said it was an hour and a half!  I can’t do that!  But, 90-minutes is much easier for me to handle,” he said.

And, he was serious.
He honestly didn’t realize that 90 minutes WAS an hour and a half.
So, I kept that little piece of information to myself…

His taxi ride, was indeed, the 90-minute adventure he was anticipating, rather than a hideous hour-and-a-half-long journey.  And, he had a great time.

I can only hope that Claire handles Daddy’s week-long business trip with as much ease.  I mean, it really is only three days.  😉

Today is the day

I would say, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life,” but that’s just a little too cliché, don’tcha think?  Plus, the Zen Master part of my brain would quietly ask, “That describes every day, yes?”  😉

That being said, today is a big day.  Today is my last day of work!  (You can read about that here.)  We all know that productive things rarely happen on the last day, so in reality, yesterday was my last day…and because I’m such a perfectionist, I had things wrapped up on Monday.  Yesterday felt like a day of freedom, and it was a nice taste of what’s to come.

Today is the day that I make sure the people I want to stay in contact with have my non-work numbers and information.  Today is the day I make sure everything looks in order before I pull the plug on my business line and shred all my documents.  Today is the day I make a run for the door and never look back.

Oh wait…I live here.
🙂

So, I won’t be driving away from an office with my cardboard box of office knick-knacks on my seat and glance one more time in my rearview mirror…but I will be making a clean break.

Claire won’t remember this day.  All she’ll remember is that Momma used to be really stressed and she used to type all the time, and then one day that changed.  Claire has even started saying, “I’m just so busy.  I have so many files to do!” when she’s playing.  Hopefully we can replace that dialogue with something that’s a little less stressful.  (How about, “I have to work on my book!  Can’t you be quiet in there!?”)  😉

Claire and I leisurely made dinner for Daddy last night, for the first time in I don’t know how long, and we actually had fun doing it.  Today, I woke up earlier than normal (oddly enough) and actually figured out a meal-plan in my head.  On purpose.  For fun.

Maybe this transition won’t be so hard after all…  😉

What’s that?

This afternoon, Claire and I had the great fortune to take a walk to the lake. The weather is gorgeous today…sunny and in the upper 60s. We live just up the street from a really nice lake, and lately, I haven’t had a chance to take her for any leisurely nature walks.

But, because I’m a quitter, I have all the time in the world! Ha. Just kidding. I’m not a quitter. I’m a re-arranger-of-priorities…and there’s a big difference. 😉

It’s amazing how many things you can see just on the way to the lake. Did you know that if you walk slowly enough, you can watch the ants and other little bugs, running for dear life? All those rocks that appear to be the same by the neighbor’s sidewalk are all different? There are also all kinds of interesting things to be found down by the lake.

Claire kept exchanging one magnificent stick for another, each one a little better for digging around in the dirt than the other.

Speaking of interesting things we discovered on our nature walk today, here is one of my favorite conversations of the day:

Claire, pointing to something on the ground: “What’s that?”

Momma: “That’s a feather.”

C: “What’s that?”

Me: “That’s a feather.”

C: “What’s that?”

Me: “That’s another feather.”

C: “What’s that?”

Me: “Oh, that’s a piece of goose poop.”

C: “Goose poop is not a feather.”

I guess you had to be there. 😉

A gap on my résumé

Last week was a huge milestone for me and my professional life. For the first time since I graduated from college (almost 12 years ago), I’m going to have a gap on my résumé.

I gave my two week notice!

I’m going to be staying home with Claire full-time!

It’s been a week since I’ve given my notice, and I have one week of work left. It’s taken a while for me to process this information and come to terms with my fast-approaching new reality. Needless to say, I’m extremely nervous and excited about this new role.

I had my reasons for working from home, and I actually really enjoyed it…when it worked for me and our situation.

The reason I was working from home was so that we didn’t have to put Claire in daycare. I wanted to be the primary caregiver.

The reason I was working from home was so that I could raise a child and have adult interaction throughout the day and stay “busy.” That was easy when Claire was a newborn. (I started with this company while pregnant with Claire, took a 6-week pseudo-break after giving birth to her and then started right in again. I’ve been there for almost 2.5 years.) And, it was somewhat challenging when Claire was a baby, but I made adjustments. I thrive on deadlines, challenges and multiple obligations, and I always have. I’m organized, and I like being busy.

The reason I was working from home was so that I could feel productive and like I was contributing to our financial goals. I made really good money at my job, for what it was, and extra money is very rarely a bad thing.

So, why the change?

Claire had always handled my working from home with ease. She was an easy newborn and an easy baby, and she really likes playing by herself and keeping herself occupied. We set up a play area in my office so that I could easily keep an eye on her while doing my job, and it worked great.

I was able to fit all of my allotted work into Claire’s naptimes or her quiet playtimes, and it worked great.

I was able to juggle all the responsibilities of my new role as a mother and my already-established skills as an independent contractor, and it worked great.

I was really good at my job, and it gave me a feeling of satisfaction, and it worked great.

Again…why the change?

Well, things started not working so great. Because I am the way I am, I was determined to make things work. I tightened my schedule and honed my organization and buckled down. I got up early, stayed up late, and worked like a crazed madwoman to make it all look seamless to the outside world.

Failure was not an option. Period. We had a plan, and I always stick to the plan.

Things were working, and I convinced myself that as long as they were working adequately, they didn’t need to be great. Unfortunately, it’s hard to convince even a casual perfectionist that it’s okay when things aren’t perfect.

The summer proved to be the breaking point, and I was overwhelmed with a workload that was unacceptable to me. Although I was an independent contractor and could turn away work if it was too much, the thought of putting others in a bind was not an option. I took on more than I could handle and handled it anyway. I started working weekends and got things done. I was nearly at my wits end, but they don’t call it work for nuthin’, right? Right?

Plus, as an independent contractor, the money is awesome when the workload is incredible. Again, extra money is very rarely a bad thing. It made the sacrifices seem worthwhile.

I knew things would slow down to a more manageable rate when summer ended, and they did. So, I made some adjustments, and I hoped that things would fall into place again.

But, then something unexpected happened. All of a sudden, Claire became a real person. She started growing and changing and although she was really good at solitary play, her naptimes started to shift, and she became even more verbal. Hearing her say, literally, “Momma, stop typing. Please don’t work on files. Stop typing, right now, Momma!” was starting to break my heart.

I started to question whether I could do this anymore. I didn’t think I could handle this. It was getting to be too much. I had to find a way to make this work!

It was then that my hubby, always the calm voice of reason, reminded me that I don’t need to do this job. I was doing it because it was fun and challenging and brought in some extra money, but it wasn’t required to put groceries on the table or pay the bills. Maybe it’s served its purposes?

“I don’t need to do this?” I remember gasping at the concept. “Oh, right…I’m doing this because I want to…” The light bulb went off in my head. “And, so if I no longer want to…what am I doing?”

It hit me like a ton of bricks, and I started plotting my escape.

As shocking as this is, 😉 once I put my mind to something, it’s almost as good as done. Oh, and I have very little patience when it comes to things I’ve set my mind to…those are two dangerous combinations. 😉 In fact, it’s best to just get out of my way at that point. 🙂

To the people on the outside of my head, my decision seemed to come out of nowhere. I thought you liked your job? (I do.) Don’t you need deadlines to function? (I hope not.) Haven’t you always worked? (Yes.) Why this sudden change? (Well, it’s not sudden…it just appears that way.)

I doubt I’ll look back on March 12, 2008 and say, “You know, I wish I could have done more files…” And, it would break my heart to not quit, and look back years from now and wonder where the time went that I didn’t spend with Claire. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

So, I’m quitting one full-time job to focus on my “real” full-time job. I only have a couple years left of just “me and Claire time” and then she’s in school. Maybe by then I will have figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

Or maybe not. 😉

Either way, I am so thankful that we are in a position where I can try this new adventure. I think Claire and I have earned this time together, and I think my husband deserves to come home to a less stressful home. (And, really…the man needs a break from doing all the grocery shopping!) 😉

Everyone will benefit, and that’s worth more than any of my paychecks.

I’ve never dealt with a gap on my résumé before, but I’m up to the challenge. I can’t wait to see what it holds!

Where, oh where…

…arrrrrrrrrrrrre you toniiiiiiiiiiight?
Why did you leeeeeeeeeeeeave me heeeeeeeeeeeere all alone?
I searched the world over and thought I found true love…
Yoooooooooooooou met another and pppppppppppt
you were gonnnnnnnnnnnnnne.

Yes, that’s a song from Hee-Haw. I loved the re-runs of that show when I was little. Anyway, that’s the song that popped into my head today when I realized that I really have no voice again! It’s left me.

I don’t get sick for almost three years, and now I’ve lost my voice again? It’s barely been a month since the last time!

Boo!

By my calculations, I have enough left to squeak through the five files I have on my desk. I’ve put a hold on the ones coming in for today so that I can rest. (Granted, I have A TON of files to type, but typing doesn’t require a voice. Okay, well, sometimes it does, but I can make an exception this time.) 🙂

I could feel my voice starting to pack its bags and empty its drawers yesterday, but I refused to acknowledge what was really happening. Spring Cleaning so early? Rearranging stuff to make more room? Leaving? Oh, no…don’t be silly. You’re not leaving…

Claire was really cute yesterday. I would tell her that she had to be good because I didn’t want to yell, and she’d say, “You don’t wanna yell, Momma? So, don’t yell, Momma!” Well, that’s a concept! In all honesty, I try not to do a lot of yelling at her anyway, because I realize that it loses its effectiveness after a while. I try to reserve the yelling for the really important times.

I have perfected The Look and Finger-Point. And all I have to say (in my quiet, calm, I-mean-business voice) is, “And this is your warning. Do you know what happens if you do that again?” That’s when she runs around screaming, “I don’t wanna go to time-out! I don’t wanna go to time-out! It’s NOT my warning! It’s NOT my warning! It’s NOT simple, Momma!” (Because she knows that what I say next is, “It’s very simple. Don’t do that, and you won’t go to time-out.”) Ha!

She always calms down and goes about her business. If she does whatever it was on purpose, again, it’s straight to time-out, and she knows I mean business. Said offense rarely happens again. And, for a toddler, she really is pretty well-behaved.

I hope my voice is just on a business trip and will be back soon. In the meantime, it’s going to be a lot quieter around here…from my end anyway. 😉

Yes, I’m being facetious

I love it when it snows 10-inches, even though all the news channels say we got 2-inches of snow. I shoveled it. I’m not sure where they measured, but it wasn’t outside in my driveway. Maybe they were holding the ruler upside down?

I love it when I get a Puerto Rico file and a Hawaii file on the same day. One is from a time zone three hours ahead and the other is from three hours behind. How convenient!

I love it when I get a file that appears to be written lightly in pencil, smudged a few times and then faxed on a fax machine that is almost out of toner. Awesome.

I love it when my husband is gone for the second week in a row, and this time, he’s in a time zone seven hours away.

I love it when Claire agrees to go down for her afternoon nap and then yells, “I hate you!” from her crib. Over and over. a) I’m not really sure where she got that from, and b) she’s too young to really mean it…yet. But, still it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Is it time to go home yet?
Oh that’s right.
I live here. 😉

Edited to add:  Maybe I posted that last one too soon?  Now, she’s yelling, “I love you!” over and over.  Such is the life of a toddler.  🙂

Book Idea

“So, have you been able to start your book yet?” he asked.

“No, I haven’t had time…it’s hard to focus on that with the files and Claire. But, I have some ideas…” I said.

“Really? Like what?”

“Well, I was thinking about writing a book where the main character is this woman in her early 30s. She’s trapped in suburbia with an at-home job and a toddler while her husband gets to travel the world while leaving important items that actually belong to his wife in random hotel rooms…”

*gasp* “I told you to write fiction!”

“What?”  I said innocently.  “What are you talking about? Any similarities between my book and our life would be purely coincidental.”

😉

I said. He said.

It’s Wednesday afternoon. I’m sitting in my office, looking at the pile of files that need to be completed. The week is half over, and I’m glad we’ve both made it to Wednesday with Daddy gone on his business trip. Claire is playing, but not too loudly, so I put my headset on and press the speaker phone button. Time to make some business calls.

I hear the dial tone in my ear. I find the number to call and press the 1 button. All of a sudden my cell phone rings in my purse.

I jolt with surprise. I press the speaker phone button to hang up the call I was about to make, grab my phone and flip it open.

I see his name.
Smiling. He’s calling me? In the middle of the day?

My heart skips a beat, because I still get butterflies when my hubby calls me. I love calls that are just for me. He’s thinking about me.

Wait, why is he calling in the middle of the day? Isn’t it 4:30 there? This is much earlier than his normal calls. This is odd. Concerned.

I press ‘talk.”

“Hello?” I said. Questioning? An “are you alright” tone.

“Promise not to be mad,” he said.

Umm, okay? No, “Hello.” No, “Hey, how are ya?” Straight to business. Should I make a promise I can’t keep? Mad? Why would I be mad? Are you okay? Did you wreck the car? Wait, the cars are here. Is something wrong? If he says not to be mad, I need to trust him. Did his flight change? Is he getting back later than anticipated?

“Okay, I won’t be mad,” I said.

“For real. Please don’t be mad, and promise me you won’t cry,” he said.

Okay, this is serious. He knows that nothing makes me cry quicker than telling me not to.

“I won’t be mad. Are you okay? What’s wrong?” I said.

Jumbled words. Bits and pieces. Yes, he’ll be back on Friday as planned. London. London? London! Emergency work project. This has never happened before, but they need him. Sunday. This Sunday. As in you’re back for barely a day and then gone again, Sunday.

“For how long?” I said.

“I don’t know,” he said.

Tears. I can’t stop them. I only promised I wouldn’t get mad. I made no promises about the tears. Oh, please don’t let him hear them in my voice.

“What does that mean? A week? A month?” I said. Oh, please don’t let it be a month. I can’t live without him for that long. Suck it up. Yes you could. Yes you can. Stop crying.

“Probably a week or so. I’ll know more later. I just wanted to talk to you about it first. I really need to do this. Please don’t cry, babe,” he said.

Questions. Concerns. No answers. Answers will come soon, but not now. Now is not the time for answers. Now is the time to control my emotions.

“Please don’t be mad,” he said.

“I’m not mad,” I said. Insanely jealous. I’m so jealous. A whirlwind trip to Europe is so exciting. A lot of work, but really cool. I’m stuck here with a toddler and a pile of files. I chose this, so I can’t blame him.

“I am insanely jealous, though…” I said. Laughing through my tears.

He knows me, so he knows I’m jealous. He hopes I’m not mad, and I’m not. I promised him that I wouldn’t be.

All we’re missing is an alphorn*

I don’t remember the last time I was sick. By my calculations, it’s been at least three years! I was fortunate enough to go through my entire pregnancy with Claire without so much as a cold. Granted, the ‘morning’ sickness was horrid, so it wasn’t like the experience was all butterflies and rainbows.

But still. The restrictions are horrible – and necessary – when you’re pregnant and/or breastfeeding, so I was glad I didn’t have to try to fight off disease with something weaker than a Tylenol. And, I’m glad that I’m out of the ‘is it okay if I take this?’ phase of my life!

Fast forward to yesterday…

My throat felt kinda ‘tight’ this weekend, not really scratchy, and not sore. I just thought it was because I’d sung my little heart out in our Rock Band. Monday, it still felt ‘not quite right.’ Yesterday, it didn’t hurt, but it was definitely irritated.

Then it happened. One of my biggest fears. While on the phone with a client, I felt a catch in my throat. That’s the only way I can describe it. Thankfully I was able to choke through the rest of the call. I put my phone on mute a couple of times trying to clear my throat, knowing it wouldn’t work, but trying desperately to hold onto the phone call and sound as professional as possible. As soon as I had all the info I needed, I said my good-byes, hung up, threw off my headset and sat in my office hacking up a lung.

Every breath would touch that catch in my throat and cause a coughing fit. Every coughing fit would make it so I couldn’t breathe. Every gasp I was forced to take would then make me cough, and thus began the vicious cycle. My eyes were watering so much that the tears were streaming down my face. Yes, that’s a lovely added bonus to these types of fits. Have I mentioned how happy I am that I work from home?

(Oh, and I had one of these fits in the middle of one of my Biology classes in High School. I had to run to the water-fountain down the hall and nearly died of embarrassment. Come to think of it, I’m not sure that I ever got over that. Obviously.) 😉

Anyway…

From that point on, it was as though my voice-meter was set at a 3-minute limit. Approaching the 3-minute mark, and that catch would activate. This made the afternoon quite exciting. With every call, it was like I could see a little battery-low indicator light flash in my brain. When will it start? In 15-seconds? Do I have half a minute?

Whatever I have, I don’t feel it in my lungs. I had bronchitis as a child, quite a bit, and I know what the ‘rattle’ sounds (and feels) like. It doesn’t feel like this. I’m staying on top of it, because the last thing I need is to be sick, especially when my hubby is going out of town for work next week. And, with a toddler, there are no sick days. It hasn’t reached the point where I need medical intervention. And, I really hope that whatever this is avoids Claire. She has yet to be sick (ever), and there’s a first time for everything. But, I’d like to wait a little longer, thankyouverymuch. (Knock on wood!)

So, I’m on a self-imposed voice-rest today. HA. Yes, that makes me laugh too, which unfortunately makes me cough. I’ve called the company where I’m an Independent Contractor, and they’re taking good care of my files. I get to take a break…from one of my jobs at least. I can’t not talk to Claire, but there will be no singing. (I did my best Milli Vanilli impression in the kitchen today while ‘singing’ Paranoid by Garbage, and she didn’t even seem to notice. As long as you have your fake mic up to your mouth and dance, she’s thrilled.)

I feel fine. I sound horrible…unless you’re into truck-stop waitresses with an old smoking habit…in which case, do I have a sexy voice for you! 😉

So, the funniest thing that happened yesterday was when I was trying to find the cough-drops. For the record, I hate those things, but they work. And, I was desperate. Whenever we look for something around here, we say the name, like we’re calling a puppy. For example, if we can’t find the remote, we say, “Reeeeeeeeeeemote! Remoooooooooote! Where are you, remote?” It’s funny and lightens the mood. Of course, when we find whatever it is we’re seeking, we say, “Oh, there you are!” 🙂

So, I told Claire that I had to find the Ricola. So, she runs around the house saying, “Riiiiiiiiiiiicola! Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiicola!” and she couldn’t figure out why Momma thought that was so funny. 😉

*You didn’t think I knew the name for that long horn they play in the commercials? Google knows everything.