Tag: jobs

Accounting Goodbye

In the Apartment Jack Lemmon learns what he will sacrifice to not be one of the 'office masses'

Today marks the end of an era in my life.  It is my last official day working in accounting (at least for the foreseeable future).  It’s been 10 years since I got behind a desk taking a simple secretarial job never dreaming it would dictate the next decade of my life.  I still can’t believe it!

If you had asked me when I was growing up or even in college if I would work in accounting for 10 years I would have said you were nuts.  I’ve always been cluttered and bad at math.  Little did I know that accounting actually has very little to do with math.  It has everything to do with routines and organizing data.

In some ways it was a good career for me and maybe not a surprise I ended up there.  I am great with routines and am extremely fast at data entry.  I am also someone that can do the same thing over again and not grow tired of it.  I could eat the same thing, see the same movie and be fine.  That part of accounting never bothered me.

What was difficult was I seemed to be prone to errors especially at the beginning because it was all new.  It seemed at first I was inventing new ways all the time on how to mess up the check run (I can’t believe no check runs! Wow!).  These mistakes were always caught by one check and balance or another but it was still humiliating and it didn’t help that my manager at the time rubbed them in my face and made me feel ashamed of my work.

She was the wicked witch of my life.  Not only the worst boss I’ve ever had but one of the worst people.  She manipulated me (and everyone else) so that I found myself apologizing when I had actually done good work. Imagine what it was like when I made mistakes.  I put up with her for 3 years because I lacked the courage to quit my job but finally in December 2007 I had enough!  In one of my proudest moments I walked out and into nothing to begin the great economic year of 2008 (seriously who quits their job in 2008.  That’s how bad it was).  Kierkegaard talks about the great leap of faith and how it has to be perfect or it is illogical to believe.  That moment in my life was as close as I’ve ever gotten to the perfect leap. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind it was the right thing to do.

Everything good that has happened to me in my life has been a response to that leap including starting this blog! I was unemployed and decided in May 2008 to blog how I was feeling.  Honestly I felt like I needed healing after such an intense period (some of you may think I’m exaggerating but it was a time of deep depression and anxiety for me working in that job.  Only God knows how tough it really was).

At that time I graduated from my MBA and thought I would go work in marketing or maybe human resources but over 40 interviews and nothing.  My Dad asked me if I wanted to help manage his properties and I did that full time for about a year (thanks Dad!).  I learned that even if I was doing some accounting work I was happier working from home and being my own boss.  I felt free and it was exhilarating.  I also moved to Draper during this time.

Then I got the offer to work part time in marketing for Grabber, which I did giving at warmers at local events (remember my old Grabber van?).  But that was quickly dissolved and they needed help with accounting so back I went but this time I was working from home which was pretty good.

My next boss Kevin was a delight and I began working full time for Impact, Grabber and my brother’s new company Poler.  I would go up to Syracuse, Utah once a week and print checks and do other mind numbingly boring tasks that nobody in all 3 companies wanted to do.  That’s the history of my time in accounting.  Because I was so fast if there was someone who didn’t want to do something I would get the job which was generally okay with me.  One of the worst projects was entering 27,000 lines of inventory into quickbooks for Impact.  So boring!  (it was then that I got into podcast listening because it distracted me a little bit without being too much).

Then the company’s were sold and Kevin moved over to exclusively Impact while I stayed working for Grabber and Poler.  Each week I did more and more for Poler until I was working for Grabber only managing their sales tax.  I became the queen of sales tax.

Then they sold Poler and eventually Grabber was sold to Kobayashi.  In 2013 I went from working at Grabber to Poler full time and then to part time last summer.  My boss at Poler is a woman named Kelly and she is a total delight.  I will really miss working with her.  The part time work was a little bit of a safety net as I am working 30 hours in my marketing work for Kobayashi and it gave me a full 40 hours with Poler but it feels good to sever the ties and focus solely on my new  job.  (well except for my Dad’s rentals).

The problem with all of this work is it was never ending.  I was grateful for it but because I worked from home there was no separation between my life and work and if I didn’t do certain things they just didn’t get done.  In the case of accounts payable that is a major problem or payroll.  It has to get done! So there was many a time when I was sick as a dog and printing out checks or entering data into a computer in Hawaii or California.  It was also sometimes hard to go home because my father was my boss and it meant I couldn’t relax because I was always working or thinking about work.  No breaks.

But I got to work from home so it was worth it.  The very idea of going to back ‘cubicle Hell’ as I like to call it makes me nauseous.  It will be very tough for me after working from home for the last 7 years. I pray every day that nothing will change in that department.

Fortunately things are looking great in my new marketing job and I really feel like I have scored the job lottery.  I couldn’t be more happy.  Every day I am learning new things and honing my craft.  It is so satisfying!

I am nothing but grateful for those years in accounting.  It was a journey I needed to go on and it sustained me for 10 years.  It helped me buy my home and do so many amazing things.  I never felt completely whole doing accounting and had decided it was just a compromise I was going to have to make in life.  It was the card I had been dealt career-wise and at a certain point (8 years in!) you have to accept what God has given you and not be miserable all the time.

So I am grateful but getting this new job has taught me to always maintain a sliver of hope.  Good things do come to those who wait and work in the sphere God has set them in.  I wasn’t anticipating a career change.  It came out of nowhere but like I said it has been a dream come true.

And now one door is closed and another is 100% starting, no safety net.  I hope I can eventually be made full time with my new career but I will wait patiently and do my very best.  In some ways it is actually nice having 10 more hours a week to do personal projects like my youtube channel (but I want the 40 don’t get me wrong!).  There are times and seasons for everything and just like my accounting career morphed and changed I’m sure this new job will do the same.  I can’t wait to see where it takes me!

10 years of accounting is done!  Hurray!  (I don’t know if anyone but me will read this rambling post but it is my story which I needed to write out).  Sure love you guys and to 10 years of marketing!

Why Stories Matter

storytellingI’ve been thinking this week about stories.  Why are stories so important in our life?  Why do they matter?  And why do some stories create such an impact on me and do nothing or the reverse for others?  Why do we care so much about these stories?

Of course what made me ponder on the topic was my disappointment at the end of the story for How I Met Your Mother.  A story I had invested 9 years on and did not end the way I wanted it to.  It is after all just a TV show.  What’s the big deal?

Well let me tell you a story and maybe it will make a little more sense why it was such a big deal.  After my mission I got a job working in a cubicle, entering data and printing checks.  It was supposed to be a temporary position till I could find something else but a year stretched into two and then I started school so two became three.

I wanted to quit everyday, and I knew that God wanted me to quit, but I lacked the courage.  The courage to dive off into an unknown while going to school.  At least the horrible job was something and the unknown could be even worse?

I was scared and fear is an evil little sucker.  I was also unhappy but I saw no break in the unhappiness if I quit.  It seemed like I should be happy.  Other people were unemployed and had no job so what was my problem? Why couldn’t I feel happiness any more?

I did have a manager who was extremely manipulative and treated me like a bug that needed to be squished, but even if she would have been a saint, I would have been unhappy.  I usually am when I am scared and not doing what God wants me to do.

So I kept going, and going, and the anger and resentment built up inside me until I was scared I would explode.  Finally, one day in Feb 2007 I kind of did.  I grabbed my purse and I ran out of the office.  Then I called my head boss and let it all out.

I proceeded to then have my first panic attack.  I felt like I would lose control and all those feelings would come out and I would embarrass myself.  I couldn’t breathe or speak and for a second I wondered if I was going to die.  It was awful. One of the worst days of my life.

The next Monday at the office things were awkward but I made it through and things started to be better.  I had a new manager, less assignments, hours and even a desk by the window.  I made it through the summer and yet the nagging feeling of unhappiness didn’t leave me.  It was less a boiling point and more of a steady simmer.  It still wasn’t what God wanted me to do and I was still afraid to take the leap.

Finally in September, I made the decision- I quit.  I gave my notice and helped them train a new person and December 21, 2007 I walked out of the office with a box of desk nicknacks and shouted in the air ‘I did it!’.  I had quit my job.  I was diving into the unknown and looking for work in 2008.  Only crazy people quit their jobs in 2008, but I did and it was one of the best days of my life.  I knew it was right.  I knew for sure.

That day my friends and I went and celebrated my freedom at Bucca di Beppo’s and a weekend at the Marriott in SLC.  This isn’t the greatest picture but it is one of my greatest memories.

bucca

But you know what happened after I took this great leap?  It took me 6 months of interviews before I found a job, and even then it was only because of the mercy of my Dad letting me manage his properties I found anything.  I knew I had done the right thing but it was scary nonetheless.  God does not always iron out all the wrinkles when he gives you a new shirt to wear. At the end of 2008 I said on this very blog (I started the blog in May 2008):

“It has been a year of healing and growth, and I am immeasurably stronger as a result.  It all started last December with my taking the big leap of faith and quitting my job.  I knew I needed  a change and that the Lord wanted me to be doing something else, so I left everything in His hands.

Not knowing where life was taking me I entered the job hunt- interviewing for nearly 40 companies over 6 months.   There were so many jobs that I thought for sure I would get and then I wouldn’t.  The Lord definitely made me wait and show my faith before helping everything to work out.”

So, you perhaps can understand why it was so meaningful mere weeks after quitting that I saw this:

Someone got it.  Someone understood my story.  That’s why I stuck around for 9 years.  That’s why it meant so much to me.  It was the story and just like my story ended well, I wanted to see Marshall and the gang’s end well.  I’ll get over it.  I promise.

We all have our stories, and they all matter.  Stories matter.

Grabber

Tomorrow is the end of an era for me.  It will be my last day working for Grabber Inc.  I will be moving over to Poler  and have actually been working there as pretty much full time employee for the last year and half.  Now it will be official.  I feel a little bittersweet at the change for a lot of reasons.  Mostly I am happy because I love working with the gang at Poler including my Dad (I worked with him at Grabber and he’s my greatest cheerleader).

I guess it just feels a little sad because I’ve spent my entire adult life, aside from my mission, working for Grabber in some form or another.

Let me tell you a little bit about the journey of Grabber and my own path within the company

Brad Wagner

My Grandfather founded Grabber Construction in 1967.  It all began with an invention of a new kind of drywall screw that ‘grabbed’ on to commercial steel studs, creating a stronger building.  (Don’t ask me too many questions because I really don’t understand the difference!).

My Grandpa- the inventor!
My Grandpa- the inventor!

My Grandpa and I have never been super close but I have to say basically everything good that has happened to me in my life can in some way be traced back to him.  I owe him a debt of gratitude I sometimes forget.  First of all, he opened the doors to the missionaries.  It was close to the same time as the invention of the screw and for whatever reason he was open to their message.   I don’t think my Grandma would have done it without his approval and involvement and  I am beyond words grateful for that.

Grabber screws
Grabber screws

He also has continuously challenged his own creativity and is fearless in meeting new people.  Starting with just him, my Grandma and 2 other employees (I believe) bagging up screws and making cold calls to construction sites all around California, my Grandpa eventually built Grabber to a successful international brand with branches all around the US including Hawaii.  You can see the company today at http://www.grabberman.com/

The Grabberman logo for Grabber Constructions was evidently based on my Grandpa and was a 'streaker' for the Grabber streaker screw
The Grabberman logo for Grabber Constructions was evidently based on my Grandpa and was a ‘streaker’ for the Grabber streaker screw

While he was in Japan sourcing the screws my Grandfather met Dai Hiorota who ran a postcard/novelty company and the two immediately became fast friends.  They started both a personal and business relationship that still remains.   Eventually Impact Photographics was created, which is still operated out of El Dorado Hills California and is the leading supplier of photographic memorabilia to the national parks and other attractions.

With a photography company in tow my Grandfather became an avid landscape photographer, particularly loving to shoot panoramics of Hawaii and San Francisco.  My father and brother are also all excellent photographers with professional experience.

One of my Grandpa's posters.  He loves using filters and getting bright colors.
One of my Grandpa’s posters. He loves using filters and getting bright colors.

While he was in Japan he became familiar with a product called a handwarmer.  These nifty devices were invented during the Korean war to help soldiers stay warm.  They have always been more popular in Japan than here but sensing a good idea my Grandpa became a distributor and the company still thrives today. Go to www.warmers.com to see more

0802_crup_12_z+heated_clothing_buyers_guide+grabber_warmers

My Grandfather of course has gotten older and with that the company needed to change and adapt.  In 2009 Grabber Construction was sold to the ESOP.  Then in 2011 Grabber Handwarmers was sold to Heatmax (makers of Hothands).  In April 2012 Impact Photographics was sold to the ESOP and then finally in Dec 2012 Heatmax announced the closing of the major accounting offices for the Handwarmer business and the full administrative merger of the 2 companies (although both products at least for now will be sold).

So now the Wagner family is no longer officially an owner in any of my Grandpa’s enterprises.  (He is still alive and pushing forward.  Don’t want this to sound too much like a eulogy!).   My father still works for Grabber and my uncle Jeff  is still president of Impact so there is still the family influence but it isn’t as much as it used to be.   That’s why it’s a little bittersweet.  My Grandpa’s legacy, the thing that gave us so much good and helped our family become what it is, has served its course and is moving on to new owners, new situations.

My Story

Since 2002 I have ridden this roller coaster along with Grabber.  I started out fresh out of college working as a web designer for a little company my Dad founded called Linguatronics. My work is long gone but you can still see the company at www.linguatronics.com.

Then I went on a mission for my church to Indiana came back swearing I wouldn’t work for the family company, but I looked around and despite having a college degree no job offers came up in California.  So, I was forced to turn to the only place available to me, the corporate office at JWA (the old parent company for all the businesses)  in Alpine, Utah.

I worked at the office for 3 years and its no secret that I struggled with personal anxieties during that time period but that was mostly due to my own issues not the office environment.  Everyone I worked with there, with one notable exception, was fabulous and basically taught me how to work in accounting from ground zero (and I mean zero!).  Probably my favorite part of my job back then was getting to know all the managers for all 3 companies.  Plus, it was a wonderful experience to work with my Dad, Grandfather, and uncles (my uncle Tom worked in the office with me and he is a character).   I had a great boss in Roland and the best coworker a girl could ask for in Sandy.

However, it reached a time for me to move on and challenge myself more, so in Dec, 2007 I quit and dived again into the job pool with similarly fruitless results.  After 6 months I said forget it and moved on to start my own business.  Originally I thought I would do events and catering but it didn’t work out, so I ran my fathers rentals for about 18 months full-time and then was offered a part-time job for the handwarmer division, Grabber Inc.

I first started in the marketing department setting up booths at festivals and areas around the west.  This was very satisfying and I enjoyed it a lot.

Here I am manning the booth.  That is hard work!
Here I am manning the booth. That is hard work! Btw, isn’t my sign clever. A play on twilight cover

When the company split in 2009 from Grabber Construction there became a need for more accounting help (with the loss of the corporate office it was perfect timing for me).  Slowly I was offered more work in accounting and less in marketing until the whole division was basically dissolved leaving me with only accounting.

This proved to be fine because I kept getting more work until Feb 2010 when I was added to Grabber Inc full-time.  It really has been my dream job.  Yes, it is boring, but I get to work from home and that makes all the difference.  I can have music on, take a break if I need to, talk to someone on speaker phone without bothering people, and most of all I don’t have a boss breathing over my shoulder.  To me, it is the ultimate American Dream.  Freedom mixed with hard work!   I LOVE WORKING FROM HOME!

This has been basically me for the last 3 years(and at my desktop in my office!)
This has been basically me for the last 3 years(and at my desktop in my office!)

The downside of working from home is you are kind of constantly working but to me it is worth the sacrifice.  You get to have freedom and it has allowed me to train for swims, see doctors when I had poor health, and just be myself.  I don’t know how I’m ever going to go back to corporate America if I ever have to.  It gives me the chills and makes me feel nauseated just to think about it.  I hope I never have to return to cubicle life again!  Working for home isn’t for everyone but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

In 2011 my brother Ben and his friend Kharma started a new brand of apparel and camping goods for the urban camper called Poler and I began working with them as well as the other 2 companies and running my Dad’s rentals.  It was crazy but somehow I got it all done.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with the accounting team at Poler so far and was thrilled when they offered me a job as Grabber closed down.  I have basically already been doing that job since February as my Grabber responsibilities have gotten smaller each day.

poler 1 poler product

I just want to say thank you to everyone at Grabber Construction, Impact Photographics, Grabber Inc and Poler for helping make my worklife a good experience.  I’ve learned a ton about myself and gotten to work with some outstanding individuals.  With each separation I’ve missed working with people who have left with the company such  Sandy, Roland, and Kevin but they took the time to teach, praise and critique me and for that I am so grateful.

jb

I am also grateful to my father for always having my back.  When I was in college I idolized my professor, Dr Holland, because he believed in me and gave me a shot as a teaching assistant (I still idolize him).  The more I think about it my Dad has done the same thing time again but without the benefit of my fawning praise.  He gave me a job when I needed one after quitting (what some might have seen as a dumb move he never criticized me for it).  He gave me opportunities at Grabber, pushed for my hire at Poler and has always stood beside me.  I hope I have repaid him for all he has done for me.  My Dad has made it possible for me to live the life I love.  Can you ask more of a parent?

I also want to say thank you to my Grandfather.  He can be gruff around the edges but when the tough decisions come he has made a lot of good ones.   Thanks Grandpa!

So onto Poler and a great career as the unlikely accountant (that would be a good title for a book The Unlikely Accountant by Rachel Wagner…)

Feminism and the Workforce

I am writing this using my touch typing because honestly I can’t see much.  My eyes are puffy and sore.  I’m not sure if this is normal.  I will call the doctor in the morning to find out.  I know a week to 10 days of recovery is not uncommon.

I just finished reading The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella for the 6th or 7th time.  It is not an award winning book plot-wise but I think it is funny and when I’m sick or feeling down I reach for Kinsella’s writing every time.  I listened to it on audibook and lately I’ve had a lot of time with my audio books 🙂

So, the main story behind this book is a woman named Samantha is just about to be made partner in a prestigious corporate law firm in London.  To get to this point she regularly logs 60+ hours and never has time for social gatherings or even time to think for herself. She doesn’t know how to toast a bagel, iron a shirt or replace the bag in her vacuum. The only time she gives to herself is an occasional viewing of the Waltons for comfort.

Then through a massive mistake Samantha panics, flees to the country and ends up working as a housekeeper in a big lofty house. It is admittedly ridiculous but if you can get behind all of that fluffy plot and think about the questions Kinsella is asking, it is a thought provoking book.

It touches on one of my favorite topics- work.  Why we work, how we work, what motivates us to work, how does money, power, control figure into work?  What do we lose in work? What sacrifices are worth making for work and which one’s aren’t? How do we find that elusive balance between work and life?  These are all questions that fascinate me.

Kinsella’s book made me think about work and feminism in a new way and has left me pondering…

My entire life I was taught in school that pre-feminist women were disenfranchised (which they were) and unhappy mainly because of their unequal share and positions in the workforce.  Men had the power and money at work; therefore, they had the eventual satisfaction and happiness. By confining themselves to the home in unpaid labor, the traditional woman, could not contribute all she could to the world; thereby leaving her unhappy and unfulfilled.

I remember reading Betty Friedan:

“Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question– ‘Is this all?”

I wonder if Mrs.  Friedan would have the honesty to ask this same question of a lopsided career woman like Samantha in the novel who works, works, works?   Couldn’t you make a similar list full of the daily deadening tasks of the career woman and ask the same questions at the end? I wonder what she’d think of such a problem?

In some ways the modern career woman asks the Is this all? question even more frequently than her predecessors because they attempt to do all in the work-world and at home. One commenter on this very blog said of her life:

“I feel…I don’t know…a societal pressure of sorts to make mothering a priority. As a working mom, I feel as though I have two full time jobs (and neither gets done to its full need). No one is pressuring my husband, or men in general to find a better balance between work and home”

This highly stretched living ends up leaving a lot of women feeling that they do many things but don’t do them particularly well.  I think every woman has moments where she feels mediocre because she’s pushed too far, too fast, with limited time.

When I was young (high school or college aged) I readily assumed my greatest accomplishment in life would be from my work. Nobody ever said ‘you will get your greatest satisfaction from your hobbies or from serving in the community’.  Think about it- what do we ask children about their future lives?  It’s what do they want to be someday, what do they want to do for their job.

People at church said I’d get the most fulfillment from my family but this was largely ignored as passe sentiment by the young me.  Also family is not a controllable outcome; therefore, depending on it for your contribution to the world can be a risky enterprise.  Work is at least more in our control.

In the book, Samantha finds, to her surprise,  that not working actually gives her the most joy and fulfillment- taking weekends off and having a life are what make her truly happy whether her work be in the domestic or corporate sphere.  This seems to defy everything I was taught as a young girl?  Fulfillment from the weekends? Those are just for play?

For both men and women, the world is telling us to focus on work, work, work but our hearts are almost always telling us  life, life, life.  Easier said than done.  Whether your a teacher, nurse or accountant, work has become such an overwhelming part of most modern woman’s lives.  For someone like me this is especially true as I work from home.  I think this leaves most women feeling unsatisfied with a huge part of their lives. Just the opposite of what the feminists told me.

I think feminism added another layer to the work myth by saying that great female accomplishments in the workforce would make our entire society better.  So now its not working for your own happiness but your entire sex and even all mankind. If we have a normal but necessary job it can feel like such a let down- like you haven’t done that one thing you were called on to do in this life, when you may have, just not at your paid employment.

I work hard but it is way down the list of my greatest accomplishments.  I get satisfaction from everything else in my life and that motivates me to work, not the other way around.

Maybe some women have these great empowering jobs but nobody I know.  Most work to provide sustenance and to allow them to pursue their true passions in the rest of their lives.  Maybe men already knew this for hundreds of years but they’ve had more time to evolve mechanisms to cope with the demands of work?

I’m just throwing this out there, but maybe feminism missed the mark when they focused so much on work as an equalizing force? Maybe our problem wasn’t working in the home verses working in the office but just a general lack of self-worth and recognition?  I guess we have more options now which is certainly a good thing but it also can leave women floating in a sea of undecided and unmet aspirations.

Why is it any less ennobling to dedicate one’s life to something we might not get paid for?  Does getting paid somehow eliminate the ‘Is this all’? For instance, why does having my life work be this blog seem somehow lower than what the feminist theology espoused? It has all the elements of an empowering voice, freedom of expression, and ability to influence others that the housewife role supposedly denied women.  Why does the fact it is unpaid make it any less important for a life?

I don’t think it does and I think the scores of workaholic, frazzled, stressed out women out there would agree with me.  Could it not be the saddest moment of all when you get to the top of the career world and still find yourself wondering what it was all for? I speak only in hypothetical here as I am clearly not at the top of any field or career.

It makes me glad I was taught a bigger answer to that question ‘Is it all?’, an eternal answer. My faith gives my life meaning when the world would see little value. What a great comfort that is.

That said, I still deal with deflated feelings about the workforce and my participation in it.  Anyone else struggle with this? Finding our own way to contribute can be very difficult? Do you struggle in finding value in what you do contribute, or are you left asking Is this all?

Ok. Now I will try to get to sleep and rest my poor eyes.  Got to get back to work in the morning…

The Curse of the Should Be’s

Frequently I have people say to me ‘you are a great ______’ and then followed by ‘You should be a _______’.  Some different variations:

You are a great cook.  You should open up a restaurant.

You are a great writer. You should be an author.

Your blog is great.  You should do it full time.

Your state your opinion well.  You should be a political writer.

You should be an editor, lawyer, politician, speech writer, teacher, PHD, fiction and non-fiction author, event planner, singer, ect. (Ironically nobody has ever said ‘you would make a great mother…)

The sad part is they are all right.  There are so many dream jobs I have.  There are so many things I should be doing and would be genuinely good at, even brilliant, but how did I end up doing accounting?  Basically I took the first job that was offered to me after my mission and I ran with it.

In 2008 I tried to make a change and get something in marketing or event planning.  Something a little more creative and had no luck.  Its a tricky cycle you get into because you need experience to get most jobs and to get that experience you need experience.  So even if I went back to school my position really wouldn’t improve much because I’d still have the same experience.

I don’t mean to seem ungrateful because I’m not.  My job has tons of perks and it gives me a lifestyle I love. It’s just not what I envisioned for my life. I didn’t have some specific dream but I never thought I’d be an accounting clerk my whole life.

Now I’m buying a house and that makes it all the more difficult to make changes.  Sigh…

I guess a side of me feels like a sell out but I don’t know what else I could have done.  I took the only job offered to me. I get to work from home and have flexibility.  I’m pretty lucky in many ways.  Plus, I’m good at what I do. I work as hard as I can and have overall a nice life.

But always in the back of my head is that nagging question of all the things I could have been and done? Do any of you struggle with unfulfilled dreams? With what you have settled for in your life?  We all have to make compromises in order to live.  At least most of us do.   How do you reconcile your wishes with reality?

I know there are ways to contribute outside of my job, so I’m looking out for that right now. I think it is how I will have to do all the ‘should be’s’.
When did we decide that the only way to contribute to society was through your job or family?  There has to be other options for people like myself?   Got to start writing all those books and articles I dream about 🙂 .

Btw- thanks to everyone for all the encouragement.  It always makes my day!  I think my friends often see more potential in me than I do in myself.  In fact, I know they do. Thank goodness for great friends.

Visiting Bryce, Cedar City and the Classic Famiy Road Trip

05 Take Me Home Country Road

As I have mentioned many times on this blog that the last summer has been crazy for me.  I have gone from having one job, to thinking I had no job, to having 4 jobs!  In the next few weeks things should down as we have 3 of the vacation rentals converted into long term rentals.  I am glowingly proud of my work with these rentals. I think it is amazing I found 3  long-term tenants in under 2 months without a real estate license.  All I did was use Craigslist and KSL classifieds!  It has also been shocking at the level of  interest in a 6 bedroom furnished rental.  We are easily getting 3-4 calls a day on the house.  If I had my license I would go around Suncrest and call all the homes for rent or for sale and offer to manage their property.  I certainly have experience to brag about! I finally had to mark the homes  as sold on the old ads because I felt bad at disappointing people.  In addition, the two families moving into our homes in Draper are very nice.  They are great people- the best.

With all this work, (I have only begun to describe everything- it has been 7 days a week, long hours!) I was eagerly awaiting our family trip down to Southern Utah.  I think I could have been happy going just about anywhere but it was a particular treat to go to Cedar City and attend 3 plays at the Utah Shakespearean Festival.  It is a Tony Award winning festival with a traditional outdoor theater, renaissance food and a green show with entertainment before the plays.  It is one of my favorite things in Utah. In fact, attending the festival is one of the first theater experiecnes I remember.  When you are from a big family there isn’t a ton of alone time with parents.  This made it particularly special when my dad took me at 8 years old to see Taming of the Shrew, Blithe Spirit, Merchant of Venice, and Volpone.  I am not sure why it was just me but it was a great memory.  I still have the old programs.  Since that first trip I have been 5 or 6 times and just love it!

Before arriving at the festival things were a bit bumpy.  The original plan was to take the Greyhound down to Cedar and meet up with my family who would be arriving from California (they had to make the trip anyways because Anna was coming out to BYU).  Tuesday night (the night before their expected departure) Madeline got very sick.  We were even afraid she might have the swine flu but it was a different  infection (still not fun but better than the alternative).  At first we thought the entire trip would be off, but after a restful day  and antibiotics she was able to travel comfortably in the car.

This delay meant I arrived on the Greyhound (which despite all the horror stories was quite pleasant and affordable) and saw the first play by myself.  It worked out great because the hotel had  a shuttle, and I had food ordered to my room.  It was nice to have one day of vacation all to myself.  That night I saw Henry V, which was excellent.  It was probably  just as well that the kids couldn’t make it because it was a pretty serious and war-torn play.  I don’t know if they would have liked it.

On Friday the rest of my family arrived and we saw 2 plays- Comedy of Errors and As You Like It.  The former was our favorite.  It was funny and in an air conditioned auditorium.  (As much as I love the quaintness of the outdoor theater, it was brutally hot and muggy).  I have heard the festival is loosing funding and the shows aren’t able to get the professional actors they used to get.  I saw a little of this in As You Like It.  You think with all this stimulus money programs like the festival could get a little stimulus.  It is after all a tourist attraction to the city and generates income while being an artistic gem.  Oh well, that’s a topic for another post (btw, I have been selected to write  a guest post for the blog http://rightwingchicky.wordpress.com.  Still working on it but if you have any ideas let me know).

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After the festival we set off to see Bryce National Park and Capitol Reef National Park for 2 days.   Even with the car sickness, it was  beautiful-red rock formations bursting of more than just red.  Purple, orange, yellow, black, white and more.  We even saw some petroglyphs and laughed about an ancient pictionary game gone array.  Can’t you just picture someone carving in the stone and their wife saying “that’s supposed to be a warrior?”.

It was a lot of driving and we did grow weary of it after a while, but it was still a nice trip overall.  The one hick-up we had was on Sunday my dad decided to take a dirt road to show us some of his favorite camping sites.  Naturally I asked “why are we taking this road, when we can take the regular road”.  My dad responded “Because it is beautiful and it is a smooth road”.  I still can’t believe that a grown man was debating with me about taking a dirt road vs a regular road.  To me it makes as much sense as selecting a horse and carriage over a car!

So, we are going down this dirt road and all of the sudden I hear a hissing noise- almost like a rattle snake but it keeps going.

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My  dad  stops the car  and yes, you guessed it- we had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere.  To make matters worse we had borrowed the car from a friend and didn’t know where the jack was or any other items.   We also had tons of stuff in the car, which we had to remove in order to the get the jack.  It was one of the more complicated spares I have ever been a part of changing, but in fairly quick time my dad had it figured out and changed.  Unfortunately as we were getting back in the car dad checked out the other tires and noticed a bubble in the another one.  Clearly we only have one spare tire.  I can’t over-state that we were in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road.  It was the kind of place where you would expect to see a flying saucer!

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We only had one car pass us on the dirt road as we changed the tire and they didn’t even stop to see if we are ok.  Can you believe that? Rude!  My dad kept saying we could camp out overnight but we had no tents or pillows.  I am sure all of you can just see me camping out in the middle of nowhere waiting to be rescued.  Naturally I prayed extra hard we would get out alive and without having to camp out.  Thankfully we did just that, finally ending up in Price, UT.

There is a canyon going from Price to Spanish Fork and we were so nervous about the bubble in the tire that we decided to stay the night.  It was just too risky going on a narrow highway without a shoulder on a bad tire.  We ended up at the Price Holiday Inn in a double suite.  The room was nice and we even got to swim before the night was over. Big O Tires was open at 8 am Monday morning, so we had  the tires fixed early and got on our way early.  As much as I enjoyed the trip, I was definitely grateful to be back home, safe and not stuck on a dirt road in Southern Utah. I certainly will not need to take the scenic route again for a while!

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My family has been in town the rest of the week helping get Anna checked into college at my Alma matter Brigham Young University.  It was so great getting her settled into her apartment.  Today was the last day before my parents left and it was quite the goodbye.  It brought back so many memories of my first year at BYU.  It was a happy time in my life.  I was so excited and ready to be out on my own. I am almost envious of Anna and all the great experiences she is going to have.

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So, this has been a long, rambling travelogue.  My apologies, but it was an eventful couple of weeks.  Now I am back to work on sales tax, vacation rentals, real estate school, and Grabber events.  Busy, busy, busy, but happy.

What’s Going On

Hello blogging community.  It has been a few days since I last posted.  This is due partly to my sister Anna’s visit but mostly to the recent chaos that is my life.  Let me explain.

Ever since I got back from Hawaii there has been one stressful crisis after another.  I don’t want to get into it but do you ever feel that you are having a losing streak?  It’s like everything I try fizzles.  The yards haven’t been good enough, the houses not well enough maintained, the tenants have been difficult, I’ve made some stupid mistakes, tenants have lied to my face, I’ve had squabbles with people, gotten my feelings hurt, and the home owner’s association is now threatening to make us stop our vacation rental business.  My dad has taken the brunt of all of this and for that I feel even worse because the last thing he needed was a time-eating legal process.

The other thing that makes me sad is my best friend is moving to California to start law school.  I will miss Melissa Noyes a lot.  She has been a solid support for me over the last 3 years and on my mission.  I appreciate her optimism and the way she makes me forget my troubles.  The thing I love the most about her is she is not a worrier like I am.  In a very non-cheesy way when I am with Melissa I forget my problems and have fun. I will miss our near-weekly dinners at Wingers (although my waistline won’t!) and the barrage of stupid romantic comedies we saw together.  With Melissa’s departure I will have more friends outside of Utah than in.  While I am able to keep in touch with these friends and they are SO important in my life, I do miss having the nearby interaction.  I am grateful for all my friends and all the support they continually give me.

For the moment, it looks like I may not be working in September and October on the rentals.  I will have Grabber work, which should be a enough to live off of.  Plus, I will be starting a real estate broker class that will keep my busy.  In addition, there are other potential business opportunities that could also develop. Anyway, it has just been a lot to deal with in basically a months time- particularly when you think I got a nasty sinus infection, a family reunion, and had other commitments as well.

I am trying my best to be calm and take each day as they come.  Almost all of the things that stress me out right now I can’t control, so I know I shouldn’t worry about them.  I also know everything will be Ok.  I’ve just never been a big one for change and that is particularly true when something that has made me so happy (my job over the last year) is changing.  Stepping into the unknown is scary and uncertain, but I also have to remember that it is exciting and full of potential.

I am trying my best to remember the Lord’s hand in all things and that without change I will never grow.  Already this situation has caused me to pray more fervently than I was before.  Please include me in your prayers.  I know my problems may seem small but the power of friends at prayer is strong.  If anything it will help me be strong.

In the end, I just have to increase my faith. I like to control things- to set a plan and micromanage them until they are accomplished.  Now I am in a situation where that control is impossible.  I must have faith.  My Heavenly Father brought me to this job, and He will lead me to my next assignment.  I don’t think I have ever felt the spirit more strongly than when I quit my old accounting job.   Then I spent 6 months in the unknown, interviewing for job after job, with nothing coming from my hard work.  Then this opportunity to manage vacation rentals came and it has been awesome, difficult in some ways but mostly awesome.  Hopefully things will remain the same, but I just need to believe in His plan for me, be creative, and work hard. Having faith in the unknown can be the hardest thing to do but isn’t that the definition of faith?

I don’t want to sound melodramatic.  I know others face far more stressful and devastating situations.  This is merely an unknown career change.  Nevertheless, it is difficult in its own way for me.  Again, thank you for your thoughts, support and prayers.  I will keep the blog posted on what happens.

Here’s a poem about faith I like by Emily Dickinson.

My Faith is larger than the Hills
My Faith is larger than the Hills —
So when the Hills decay —
My Faith must take the Purple Wheel
To show the Sun the way —

‘Tis first He steps upon the Vane —
And then — upon the Hill —
And then abroad the World He go
To do His Golden Will —

And if His Yellow feet should miss —
The Bird would not arise —
The Flowers would slumber on their Stems —
No Bells have Paradise —

How dare I, therefore, stint a faith
On which so vast depends —
Lest Firmament should fail for me —
The Rivet in the Bands

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