Tag: Work

Myth of a Sick Day

sick day

Have you ever had a sick day?  I don’t know if I have.  Yes, I’ve certainly been sick and yes, I’ve taken sick days off of work but they aren’t really days off, and I don’t even have kids.

Yesterday was a good example.  I woke up with a stomach ache and spent the morning emptying my stomach.  I had emailed my boss to let him know I would be out for the day.  I answered a few emails and then crashed for about 3 hours.  I have never taken naps even when I was little (my poor Mom).  Pretty much when I take a nap I know I am either sick or on a mission (only time in my life I took naps).

When I woke up I realized I had a notice on my email that estimated tax payments were due that day.  I called my accountant but was having trouble reaching them.  They had told me previously that they weren’t due until July which didn’t seem right but I was so busy with a new job that I shrugged it off.

Sick-Day

Finally I was able to reach the secretary for the accountants and the two of us were able to go through all the figures and thankfully I could make the state and federal payments online.  (The accountants got a piece of my mind don’t you worry!).

This took hours to figure out and the whole time I really just wanted to sleep.  I hadn’t eaten anything all day but finally at about 8 pm I stomached some crackers and ginger ale.  After watching 24 I fell asleep.

I wish I could have taken an entire day off to recover but it nearly always works out this way.  I know I am not alone in this.  In fact, I have it easier than you Mom and Dad’s who really never get a day off to recover.  I guess it’s just being an adult.

I’ve always said the only time I miss my Mom is when I am sick. I’m a pretty independent person but to be taken care of like only a mother can is perhaps the best part of childhood.  My roommate was kind to bring me some crackers but just nothing beats the sympathy and care of a mother for her daughter (even at 33 years old!).

At least with my new job hopefully the work distractions will be fewer.  The downside to accounting is there are deadlines that don’t go away if someone is sick.  Today 5 checks had to be written and it didn’t matter if I was recovering.  The mail had to be gotten and a wire had to be written.  This could not wait.

There are definitely deadlines with marketing but it seems to be a slower pace and be a little more flexible than accounting. I could be wrong but that’s just the vibe I’ve gotten so far.

I know some people have 9 to 5 jobs so when they are home they aren’t at work whether it is the end of the day or a sick day but I think a growing number of us telecommute which means there is no end to the work day, sick or not.

My favorite thing about my job is that I can telecommute.  I am by  no means complaining just talking about my life.

I guess what can be difficult is making sure you get better while still doing all the stuff that still has to be done.  What strategies have you found to be helpful? How do you guys balance work and other demands?  I’d be particularly interested in hearing from other telecommuters.

At least this was just a 24 hour bug and while I was a little tired today it wasn’t too bad.  What was really rough was this last Christmas when I was sick as a dog and had to work the entire time.  I’m sure that is why the illness stretched on for over 9 weeks.  It was brutal.

If only sick days were like this:

First Day Jitters

So today is the first day of the new job!  I started to write this post many times but then would stop because it was seemingly more tweet than blog worthy.  I am part nervous, part excited, and that’s basically it.

It’s something entirely new as a career and I have no doubt that transitioning from hobbyist to a career in digital marketing will be a challenge.  However, I also know I am starting small, part-time and we are all committed to being patient with each other.

It feels strange starting something new.  It’s probably been since starting the job in accounting which was way out of my wheelhouse.  I also was thinking back to the the first day in the MTC and the mission field.

Wondering what it was going to be like and if I could do it.  On one hand I want to give both of the Rachel’s at those points a hug and say ‘you’ll get through the tough times’ and also say ‘you do it and you do it well’.

Looking back on those experiences I realize the worrying was justified and it wasn’t.  Those were some of the toughest times of my life beginning but the worry of failure wasn’t really justified.  I wasn’t perfect but I think I turned into a good missionary and then accounting clerk.  Regardless it all worked out for the best.

What about you my friends?  What in your 30’s+ have you started anew, afresh? Whether a new marriage, job, child etc?  Were you excited and freaked out like me?  Any advice?  How has it been different starting something new in your 30s vs 20s?  It seems like it could be more challenging and yet more rewarding.  Would love to hear your perspectives.

This morning we had a conference call to go over the company I will be working for and in the next week will be filling out forms and starting projects.  It is a new position so there will be some moving and stretching as we figure out what works best for everyone.  I will probably be going out to Georgia sometime this summer to see the facilities and meet my co-workers.  The main offices are in Dalton Georgia so that should be a fun place to visit.

So that was basically it.  We did a basic orientation of the company and most of the answers to questions were ‘I’ll get back to you on that’.

I think I may just have to read Julia Child’s book My Life in France.  It’s one of my favorites for a lot of reasons but I love that she had the guts to change her life later in life.  She didn’t graduate from culinary school till she was almost 39.  Then she spent the next 10 years of her life working on Mastering the Art of French Cooking and in 1961 when she was 49 it was published.

Everything we know about Julia Child started then.  At 50 she became the Julia Child we all know with the debut of The French Chef.  How many people do you know that have started something so big at 50?  It’s so inspiring to me.

Her marriage to Paul Child is another inspiration to me. They met when she was 32 and married at 34.  He seems to have been worth waiting for.  As an artist he no doubt wanted to be creative and energetic but he chose to work as a bureaucrat for his job so that Julia could go to culinary school and write her book.  What a wonderful example of love and support.

Most people would find the notion of a housewife going to Le Cordon Blu in the 60s to be silly but not Paul Child.  In fact, it was his insistence that  kept her motivated when it got difficult.

I wasn’t planning on talking about Julia and Paul on this post but they are an inspiration to me and as I start this new journey I hope to embrace the adventure like them.

Read My Life in France.  I know you will love it!

So share with me your new experiences.  What you learned from them?  What your inspiration was?  What was tougher at 30 than at 20? What was easier?  Thanks in advance.

New folder6

 

 

A Nonworking Vacation

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Wednesday this week I am going on vacation!!!! Like a real vacation.

I am not exaggerating when I say I haven’t been on a real vacation since Japan in 2005.

I realize I’ve been a lot of places during those years including Hawaii three times but each time I was working at least at a minimum level.

Anytime I see my folks I end up working because my Dad is my boss. I’ve usually brought some checks with me, written wires, checked emails the whole nine yards.

My problem is letting things go that only I can do.  I never have had a sub or back up so if it needed to be done I had to do it.  That is hard to let go.  One time my boss told me ‘get off the phone and enjoy Hawaii!’.

It’s a problem many Americans are having.  See article

But not this time! My work responsibilities for Poler are minimal and can be done by other people while I’m gone.  My roommate is kind enough to get the mail and make deposits.  My supervisor and Dad are taking over wires and checks so that’s taken care of.  And as far as my new job goes it hasn’t started yet so no worries on that front!

2 of my Hawaii trips I was actually working and going to school so that was interesting.  My first trip I tried to get people to fill in for me but it was a disaster and I had to do an entire team project in 3 days or fail the class (sigh…).

Last year I got pretty close to real vacation in the trip to Disneyland but I still did some work and I will probably still check my email on this trip out of habit more than anything else (plus it goes to my phone so kind of hard to not check it)

Anyway, I’m very excited to be taking a true vacation and to a place I know very little about.  I never thought about going to Tampa or traveling to Florida but my high school friend Kim was kind enough to invite me and probably to her surprise I accepted.

She’s taking time off from her job and has purchased tickets to baseball games and other activities.  Thursday we are going to Harry Potter World in Orlando!

Mostly I am greatly looking forward to the ocean.  I love the ocean.  The first time I went to Hawaii was one of the toughest times of my life.  I was so unhappy and I went to the North Shore and called my Dad the day I was to leave and cried my eyes out.

It had been so beautiful and going back to the cubicle dungeon of my life seemed to much.  I can’t even tell you how many times I have been sad and thought of my beloved North Shore and felt happy again (I even have it featured in artwork above my bed and in my office).

I love the sound of the beach.  I love swimming in the beach. I love reading and then swimming and then reading.  I love wearing floppy hats and big sunglasses soaking up the sun and hearing the wish-wash of the tide.  It is heaven.  Last year I got to spend one day in Seal Beach, CA and realized that was the truly happiest place on earth not Disneyland!

I also hope to just relax, maybe go to a movie or two, watch the Survivor finale, go to good restaurants and have a great trip!

How fortunate I am to be in this position to take a trip.  I am so grateful for my friend for having me and to have the resources to travel.  I am also grateful that I planned the trip, accepted the invite and am making the effort to go.  It was such perfect planning right before starting my new job.  I could never have known it would work out that way but it worked out great!

I’m so excited to have a non-working vacation and hopefully I come back to you more tan than burned and full of great stories of my trip.  I will update the blog while I’m away but there will be a gap in videos.

If any of you have been to Tampa and have some suggestions let me know.

To travel!!

TAMPA mural

A Chance to Work

dream-job

I must confess I have been keeping a secret from most of you.  About 3 weeks ago I interviewed for a new position at the company I used to work for Kobayashi.  I couldn’t mention it because my prospective boss was looking at all my social media and I didn’t want to appear over or under-confident about the job.   Well, I have very exciting news after 3 weeks of waiting I found out that-

I Got the Job!

This is really a dream come true.  To even have the chance to do something other than accounting is so thrilling I can’t even put it into words.  Years ago I had resigned myself to a life as an accounting clerk.  In 2008 I tried to make a change but nothing came through and I ended up back at accounting but working from home.  It seemed like the compromise I would need to make.

In 2012 I said:

“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 still agree with that.  We all have to make sacrifices to live.  Even if you get that dream job you still have to make sacrifices because nothing is free. I am continually fascinated by themes of work because it is such a tricky formula to master.  If a happy life is made of work, family, and experience than how do we know when the work is taking things over, or family, or whatever.  Balance is impossible but the hope is we come close.

So we make sacrifices.  We do things we aren’t crazy about because we need money, or we like the people we work with, or get to work from home, whatever the compromise might be.  And you are left hoping that the right sacrifices are made but never being 100% sure.

And then every once in a while an opportunity comes your way where maybe the slope of the compromise  will not have to be so steep.  A chance to do something new, a chance to live your dreams.

I got such an opportunity today.  Basically I am going to be working 30 hours a week for Kobayashi in their marketing department.  The main emphasis will be content creator management.  I will also continue to work part time for Poler doing their accounts payable.  I’ve worked for 2 companies before so it shouldn’t be a problem.  Fortunately, both companies are eager to help me make things work.  I am so blessed.

During the interview with the marketing manager we went over the brands placement on various retailers and I told him about my experience in youtube.  He then asked me to do what I called ‘homework’.

The main question was ‘how do we engage with youtube content creators?’.  Just a couple of months ago I wouldn’t have known how to answer this question.  However, in January I was inspired to start taking my youtube videos more seriously.  I invested time and money to improve them and saw immediate results.  I learned a ton about google ad words, search engine optimization, making video and how to interact with content creators (I have a giveaway going on now on my facebook page).

This became a new layer to my skillset which included this blog and all I’ve learned from writing my silly thoughts for 7 years.  I had mastered twitter, facebook, pinterest, blogging, youtube and instagram.  I thought it was just for a hobby or to perhaps help me with my job at Poler.  Never did I think I could do something else for my job. Never.

In fact, in December I was some of the sickest I’ve ever been and yet I worked the whole time.  There was just so much to do but mere weeks after things began to change and a lot of my responsibilities became automated.  It became clear I was going to have to find different full time work before too long  (Poler is so amazing to work with me and keep me busy through all this).

After I had worked on my youtube page, gotten some semi-serious hits, my Dad took notice and mentioned my skills to the marketing director at Kobayashi.  After giving the referral my Dad stepped aside and told him that this had to be a good fit.  Definitely no nepotism for this job.

Then I had to be patient.  I think I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog about waiting and that was what I was referring to.  I waited to see the job description. Waited to set the interview, and then the interview came.  I was very nervous but I tried to study hard on the lingo and be confident, and I felt good about my performance.

Then I turned in some homework about engaging with youtube content creators and I felt it was strong but waited another 3 weeks wondering if I would get the chance.  It was really hard.  I kept envisioning having to go back to corporate America and feeling nauseous at the thought of it.

The longer it took the more I figured I was out of the running. Preparing for the worst you might say.  Finally today I talked with the marketing manager I had interviewed with and it turns out:

I got the job!

I know I said that before but I am so thrilled!  I can’t believe it. It will be a little less pay but for the opportunity I would do just about anything.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I never thought I would get a chance to do something else.  I feel so grateful I was inspired to take the risk on my videos.  It was inspiration as I see it.  Inspiration to go for it and learn as much as I could.  Without that youtube experience I would not have gotten the job.  My Dad said he didn’t talk to them at all after the initial recommendation.  He said if I got the job it was on my own merits not his.  Yes!

I am so excited and grateful. Overwhelmed really.  I can’t believe it. It may be a simple little job but the chance to do something creative and still work from home- holy heck! Pretty amazing.

So I worked for 10 years in accounting and out of the blue a chance came.  Lesson to all of you- don’t give up, keep trying new things, work hard at what God has given you now.  Take all the inspiration you can from my experience! Good things can happen!

Yippeee!!!!

Resume of Life

So I try to constantly keep my resume up to date.  You just never know what will happen and I like to be prepared.  Plus, I’ve had moments in my current employment where it has come in handy for a project or two to show my skillset.

resume

I was looking at it today and I hadn’t done so in about a year and lots has happened.  I changed jobs last year from Grabber to Poler and changed my references around, updated addresses etc.

Anyway, as I was looking at it I realized my whole adult life is on this 2 page sheet. How weird is that?  You can summarize a life in 2 page outline.

Sometimes this makes me sad because I thought the list would be more grand by 33 but this is it and yet, it is pretty great too.  And yet someone may look at this and think ‘hmmm…not enough, or not the right stuff’.  I know over-thinking it but it really is weird.

There’s a lot of learning, experiences, friendships and faith hidden in this list of my life . There was some heartache and deep wounds inside a sentence or two.  It looks like an ordinary event but I know what it meant.

It is the Resume of my Life….What would your’s say?   It is meant to qualify me for something but I’m not sure that it does or what that is?  What is all this meant to open a door to the next event on the list? Who knows!

Anyway, it’s just kind of strange moment to see it all out there on 2 pages  the story of a life, my life. I hope I have done enough, experienced enough, lived enough?  I guess it is done so nothing I can change about it now!  Still, it’s my life…

This is my life on 2 pages.  Whoa….but then again it’s pretty great too.  In a way you could say it’s the story of my life…

And yes, I like One Direction so kill me!

How Spaghetti Changed My Life

spaghetti singing

I know this is an odd post for the holidays but I am working on a personal essay for the BYU Studies contest and it is due Dec 31st.  I was wondering if any of you would be willing to read over my rough draft and offer me some guidance, editing.  Whatever you feel comfortable or have the time for would be great.  I can email you the .doc if you would like.  Just put your email in the comments section and I will send it your way.  Thank you in advance.

Most everyone has heard this story.  I have posted it in 2 different forms on this blog but this one is more personal and in depth than the 2 others.  I love it.  I think it is one of the best moments of my life.  I hope I have captured it even a little.

(and don’t worry I don’t love it too much to be unwilling to have it critiqued).

How Spaghetti Changed My Life

The stack on my desk seemed to be screaming with each piece of paper “Go home” and yet the existence of the stack meant I could not go home.  My boss Tanya had already read me the riot act about entering all the AP by the end of the day if you ‘can do something right’.

“I’m sorry.  I will try” I mumbled.  I had given up arguing with Tanya years before.  She was convinced I was an idiot along with most everyone else in the office.  If she had her druthers she would do everyone’s job because it would all finally be done right.

Normally I didn’t mind working late and doing the mind numbing work but today I had a reason I had to be out of there and the longer I stayed the more frustrated I felt.  It was like each invoice was a slap in the face.  I wanted to speed up but that would make for more mistakes so a slow well-done data entry was required.  Ugh….

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.  Every now and then I would look at a photo of me at graduation and the excitement on my face would both inspire and confuse me.  How had I ended up here? I wasnt supposed to be the girl with a stack of papers to enter and boss breathing down her neck, yet here I was

The truth is I looked around, interviewed and the only offer I had was to work in accounting for our corporate office.  It was the last thing I ever imagined I’d be doing, balancing books and entering AP but it was a job and in 2008 you took what was offered and felt grateful.

It was never a great fit, but I worked hard and gained many new responsibilities.  In fact, 2 people had quit and I had absorbed most of their work in addition to my own. This despite receiving little to no training and working with a manager who treated me like a bug she wished she could squash.

Somehow I had managed to last 2 years but each day I felt lower and more despondent about my life.  It seemed like madness to quit my job and dive into nothingness but the staying was like one of those Roadrunner cartoons and I’m Wyllie Coyote getting hit with the anvils of misery and depression.

Indeed, God had told me to make a change many times. Prayer after prayer I heard the words ‘make a change’, but I set it aside as impossible. Sometimes I would ask God ‘how?’  ‘How does a sane person quit their job that has benefits in a recession?  That’s nuts!’ but on the other end, ‘how does someone live life with a cloud surrounding their every movement, a cloud of stifled dreams and confusion that weighs you down until you  want to cry.

So on this day, like many others, I continued down the pile until all the AP entry was done.

“There!”  It was 6:30.  I had worked overtime again but I had done it and at least Tanya knew that my 10 key was insanely fast, faster than hers, so if that’s how long it took me that was the fastest it could be done.

Of course she didn’t praise my speed but offered me a curt goodbye.

Like a prisoner getting a pardon, I grabbed my bag and raced home.

You see there was particular urgency to get home tonight because I had a meal to prepare.  Most of the times I was too exhausted to cook, but when I did I loved to make a big to go of it.  There is nothing grander than the large pot of soup simmering for hours or a turkey with crispy skin on the outside but moist meat on the inside.  Yum! My roommates and I lived in the tiniest apartment in a basement with basically a bar-sized kitchen, but I could make masterpieces when given the encouragement.

Luckily such encouragement had come a few months before.  My ward did a service auction every year to raise money for sub 4 Santa.  It was something I had spearheaded many times, even in high school, and I would have liked to this year but I was too busy at work, especially in the busy holiday accounts and end of the year reconciling.  January, the month of my birthday, was even worse.  I thought about it with a shudder….

At the auction I didn’t know what to donate but I knew that many knew what a great cook I was so I offered up 3 meals of your choice made by Rachel Wagner.   The bidding started and it was pretty brisk than Darren came through with the win.  I must admit I groaned.  He was the last person I wanted to win. Not because he wasn’t a nice guy but he was so boring.  I had tried so many times to start up a discussion and nothing, no opinions or thoughts on anything!  It kind of made me nuts (and not a nuts you kind of like him nuts, just nuts!).

After the auction I met up with Darren and I asked him what meals he would like.

“Well, whatever.  I’m sure it will be great”

“No, it says your favorite 3 meals?” I pressed him further.

“I don’t really have a favorite”

“Ok.  Is there something you don’t like?” I asked

“Mustard.   I don’t like mustard”.  I was honestly proud of the boy.  An opinion had been shared for the first time in 2 years of our friendship.  The boy didn’t like mustard!  But that really doesn’t help me with my meal.

“Well, if you aren’t going to decide than I will.  I will make my favorite 3 meals without mustard, which is basically all my favorite meals!”

So he agreed and I made a couple of unmemorable if tasty meals and tonight was the coup de gras- my favorite food period: spaghetti and meatballs with homemade marinara sauce.

This was to be a meal never to be forgotten.  A sweet and spicy sauce with tender meatballs, spaghetti, parmesan cheese.  Perfect.

I had done all the shopping beforehand but by the time I got home I had an hour to make the entire meal.  My roommate doubted if I could pull it off and kindly said:

“Maybe we should just go out to eat”

“No! I’m tired of mediocre food.  I had promised this meal to myself (and Darren) and I was going to get it!”

“Ok.  Let’s help.  I’m mixing the meat and then we will be rolling meatballs.  Can you fill the pasta pot up with water and get started on the sauce?” I asked my roommate.

At this point my hands were submerged in meat.  Going against the grain I used pork, beef and Italian sausage (which I realize is pork but different).  Veal was out of my budget but the sausage has a bit of spice and tastes great.

I had learned that both dry and wet breadcrumbs are key to a moist meatball and a cookbook I read also suggested putting a tablespoon or two of water when you are mixing.  How can water not make something moist!

Eventually the meat mixture was done and I started rolling.  It was already 7 by then and I had just started. The sauce was bubbling and smelled great.   My phone kept ringing but as long as it wasn’t Darren I kept my head down and rolled as fast as I could.   Finally, after what seemed like forever it was done and the raw beauties sat out in front of me ready to go into my Dutch oven for browning.

The meat sizzled as it went into the hot oil and all the spice and fat smelled delicious.  I felt myself deeply breathing in the glorious aromas and my cloud of anxiety and depression went away for a few minutes.  I felt lightness and happiness I hadn’t felt in many months.

Unfortunately as I looked up the pasta water had boiled down to nothing and our kitchen looked like a sauna with the windows fogging up.  So I filled the pot again and literally waited for it to boil.  It really feels like it will never boil!

Eventually we had pasta cooking and I moved the meatballs into the sauce to cook together for a time.  Darren was there by now, and he was giving my roommate his normal annoying answers- poor girl.

I cooked with a form of devotion veering on madness.  This one thing in my life I would do perfectly right.  I was tired of screwing up all the time and having my boss remind me of each and every last time.  Goodness knows she’s totally ignorant of all that I do and how to do it so it’s easy to criticize me for my flaws.

I took a deep breath and said to myself ‘I need to not think about her the rest of the evening.  No more’

Easier said than done but I sat down in a dining room chair waiting for the meatballs to finish cooking.  I felt exhausted.  My whole body hurt.  My brain hurt.  I was ready to hibernate for months, preferably until summer.  I was totally spent.

Eventually the water bubbled up over the pan so I checked the pasta and it was al dente.  The meatballs were cooked all the way through and we had a light salad made on the side.   It was finally done and only 1 ½ hours late!

So we sat down my friends and I and said a prayer over the food and then dove in…

The spaghetti noodle rolled around my fork for a few minutes until it was about the size of the meatball.  I cut the meatball in half and it became the perfect bite.  As I feasted on all those flavors I tasted acid, sweet, earthy parmesan, hearty pasta.  The meatballs were light and full of flavor.  Everything was delicious and I said to myself:

“This is the best meal I have ever made and I feel sublimely happy. I feel like I could conquer the world!”

And then in one of those moments of clarity we all have in life, I looked up at my friends and said

“Why isn’t the rest of my life this good?”. The question hung in the air like the steam from the boiling water.

Indeed, why wasn’t the rest of my life as good as this amazing plate of pasta? I had every life advantage and there was no reason to be miserable all the time. It was a question I pondered on for many weeks.  Eventually I realized that I could either be keep being unhappy and have a true nervous breakdown (already had a panic attack so it was coming) or I could start having joyous experiences again. I could find things that make me as happy as that spaghetti.

So I quit. I quit and I’ve never looked back.  It was the best decision of my life and it was all from a bowl of spaghetti.

Speed Dating and Sisters

Tonight I am exhausted but wanted to give you an update on my last weekend.

It all started on Friday with my most recent 8 at 8 singles activity.  I was expecting  around 15 people and to my shock 56 people came.  I felt kind of bad that I wasn’t more organized but luckily everyone was easy going and the restaurant was very good to us (especially because I had been confused over the reservation).  I am also very grateful to a girl in the group named Carly who took a leadership role on the activity and saved the day. I still can’t believe that so many people came!  Who knew speed dating would get such a crowd?

speed dating 3 speed dating 1 speed dating 2

Saturday and Sunday I spent with  my sisters Megan and Anna.  Meg was in town for the weekend on a special discounted airfare from a an airline called allegiant airlines.  I think her ticket was around $100.  Just as a point of contrast my last ticket to California was nearly $400, so its a tremendous bargain.

Sometimes I think the small breather of a trips are the best and most refreshing.  Doesn’t give you enough time to be sick of each other and you don’t have to do as much bending to change work, school and other schedules around to accommodate  visitors.  We kept it pretty simple but went to my favorite bakery Bake 360, watched Best in Show and then Sunday took a walk on Draper trail, taking a photo by the dinosaur a resident has in their backyard (random I know).

meg and I anna and meg bake 3602

One last update, I have been having success in my work and in preparing for Slam the Dam.  I feel confident in both.  Just today my boss said I was a ‘lifesaver’.  It meant a lot to me especially given I was gone for so long.  The other great thing was that I truly took a vacation and hardly worked at all for the 10 days I was gone.  I haven’t done that in nearly all my adult work-life.  I’m not exaggerating with that statement.  When I worked for JWA I worked so much my boss had to tell me to get off the computer and enjoy Hawaii.  The same when I was doing the rentals full time and definitely true when I worked for Grabber.

I’m not trying to sound ungrateful for my past work experiences.  Far from it.  I’m just grateful to Poler for allowing me to take a real break from work.  It may also be that I am learning to let go and relax a little more but I doubt it?  Either way, I’m grateful for my job.

Happiness: A Journey

Happiness-quotes-31097737-500-441

Today I was visiting with my home teachers and they asked me an interesting question.  They said ‘we’ve met many single individuals over the years but not many who seem to be as happy and content as you are.  What is your secret?’.  After thanking them for the compliment I had a hard time putting into words why I am happy.  Its kind of a hard question to answer?  There are lots of things that make me happy.  How do you sum it up?

They then talked about all of the different activities I’m involved in and how I take control of my life.  I again thanked them for the compliment and made a fumbling attempt to explain why I am happy.  Here’s a better explanation:

About 7 years ago I was seriously unhappy.  I think only God knows how low I really got.  Its again hard to explain because I wasn’t doing anything wrong per say I just felt this cloud over my life.  I hated my job.  I didn’t get to spend enough time with my friends and things I loved like school and church callings were getting crowded out by long work days and other responsibilities.  In the end, it doesn’t even have to do with that particular job.  It was this ghost of unhappiness that haunted me every day.

I related many times on this blog the events of that period- how I pushed the feelings of depression inside until they burst out in full blown panic.  It still amazes me that with all the challenges I had on my mission and being bullied at school the thing that really broke me was a perpetual stupor of unhappiness.  It makes no sense to the outward observer.  In fact, one could claim I was suffering from first world problems and should be grateful I had a job, and I was. Still, that feeling of grayness in my life is something I will never forget.

Once I had shown the world my unhappiness I had little left to gain by pretending and started to take the leaps of faith necessary to remove the cloud-cover from my life. I lowered my hours and eventually quit my job.  I graduated from school with my MBA. I moved to Draper.  Found out that working from home was right for me, started taking voice lessons, was introduced to open water swimming,  and started a book club, the list could go on and on.  cs-lewis-quotes-sayings-god-happiness-peace

Everything good in my life is because I learned what it felt like to be unhappy and chose to never allow myself to hit that kind of funk again.  Of course, I have unhappy days, even months and been through severe disappointments and anxiety in the last few years but nothing like it was in 2007.

So that’s why I am happy now. I am happy because I know what it feels like to be unhappy and the great thing is that God was with me through it all.  He never stopped telling me that He loved me and He helped me learn the lessons I needed to learn.  He kept reminding me that I needed to make a change.  He never gave up on me.  He never will.

Probably most importantly I learned from that period that God’s plan of happiness is not simply a checklist of big things to do, ordinances to make but literally a plan for our happiness down to where I worked and what I do with my life.  If he is so involved in these microdetails how can I not faith in the big things such as finding my Mr Sunshine out there.  Regardless, I will never let myself feel that way again for an extended period and that is a life-changing lesson.  I am happy because I learned that I mattered to God and His happiness requires my happiness not just my obedience.

To happiness! (Hopefully someday I can find someone to share that happiness with.  All in God’s timetable).

Inspirational-children-quote

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…)