Onward and upward

It has been a long time since I wrote anything here, but I wanted to detail a huge change in my life that I am very excited about. As of June 1st, my father, a former coworker, and I are partners in owning and operating a small business. Although I legally became a business owner at the beginning of 2014, we have only just now been able to purchase and take over operations of an existing business where we were employed.

We also purchased a new 12,000 sq. ft. building this summer that we hope to be in by the end of the year. The building required quite a bit of demo and construction to make it fit our needs, but things are rolling along nicely.

As the person who manages and takes care of most of the administrative duties of our new business, I have been receiving a lot of “on the job” training in the responsibilities of business ownership. There are things I never dreamed of worrying about that I now have to stress over in the evenings when I should be relaxing, but I believe most of my worrying will settle down as I become more comfortable in my position.

One of the hardest parts of my new position is being responsible for the company’s finances. We currently have a great crew of six full-time employees, and it is a heavy weight to realize you are responsible for not only your own livelihood, but also the well-being of your employees and their respective families.

I was once told I was a “yielder,” so being a boss isn’t something that comes naturally to me. It is even harder when you were nothing more than a coworker to most of them only a couple of months ago. It is usually difficult for me to say something to someone about being late, or taking a long break, or not respecting the rules, but, again, I believe this will improve with time.

I hope to be respected by my employees and seen as fair and empathetic, but I also don’t want to be seen as a weak pushover. While reading Good Boss, Bad Boss by Robert I. Sutton, PhD, I learned that all of a boss’s characteristics (good and bad) are exaggerated in the eyes of their employees. I am trying to be cognizant of that on a daily basis.

It is nice having two business partners who not only excel at their own responsibilities in running the company, but who recognize what I do and don’t take it for granted. All three of us get along well and have mutual respect for one another.

I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given in life, and it is with a grateful heart that I look toward the future.

A bright, sunshiny day

I loved today. It was one of those extravagantly beautiful days where the temperature is just perfect and there is nary a cloud in the sky. To make it even more sublime, I was given the day off with pay by my superiors. In case that sounds like the result of disciplinary action for misbehavior, it was actually a gesture of appreciation. Knowing today’s weather forecast, I certainly didn’t argue when it was offered.

For some reason, when I don’t have to get up with an alarm, I tend to wake up earlier than normal. My eyes pop open and my mind begins to ponder all the things that I should be up doing. I’m extra-tired this evening because of that, and also because I stayed up late last night thinking I would be sleeping in this morning. No such luck.

Anyway, I spent most of my day working out in the yard. It’s my form of therapy, and (depressing thought ahead) one of the few things in my life that I actually enjoy doing. I’m thrilled to report that some of the flowers I worried about surviving the frigid winter are beginning to poke their heads above ground. Seeing them feeds my spirit and I often take a moment to send a “Thank you” to the nice guy in the sky.

My sister and her kids stopped by this afternoon, and I sent them home with day lilies, irises, surprise lilies, and forsythia. Bessie smiled so brightly that I got a tan.

We are still trying to get our window problems resolved. Right now, we have plastic covering the outside of the windows that leaked during last week’s storm. The installers admitted that they covered the drain holes on the windows, so we no longer trust that they know what they are doing or that they won’t only make things worse if we allow them to try to fix the various problems. It looks like we will be having these windows removed and new ones installed by a different company. Wish us luck.

Regardless of the home improvement problems, I feel happy and content. I love this house, this land, and my wonderful partner. One year here, six years with him. I am a blessed man.

Christmas vacation

I’m off from work this week, but that doesn’t mean that I am lying around eating cookies and watching movies. Well… maybe I am, but we’ve actually been quite busy. I figured this would be a great week to get my Christmas shopping done, since Honey finished his school semester last week and I got my bonus on Saturday night at our work holiday party.

Speaking of the party, it was a blast! I’ve never had the opportunity to dance at a work party before, but I shook my money-maker like nobody’s business and no one even complained. In fact, I think some of them rather enjoyed it. All it took was Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” blaring over the sound system to get me and my partner-in-crime, Christy, out of our chairs and into the holiday spirit. We danced around like the crazed offspring of robots, cheap hookers, and single-mom strippers while the rest of those in attendance howled in laughter. Good times.

Sunday, we went with some wonderful friends to see a live rendition of A Christmas Story. While the movie is a divinely-inspired work of art, the play left something to be desired. The actors put forth their best efforts, but it rather sucked… especially since it cost $10 per person. We licked our wounds (and our spoons) afterwards with a trip to the ice cream parlor, before going back to Alyson’s house where I trounced everyone during a rousing game of Dominos.

Monday’s plans of Christmas shopping were derailed when we got blasted with ice and snow. I’m not sure whether it was due to my fervent prayers or just a stroke of luck, but our electricity actually stayed on the whole time. We were a little gun-shy after that week without power back in the summer.

Things had thawed out enough by Tuesday that we could venture out of the driveway, so we headed for the nearest mall, assuming that there wouldn’t be nearly as many thrill-seekers who were willing to risk life and limb to buy presents for their family members. WRONG. I swear people would brave cataclysmic floods and earthquakes just to save $10 on something they don’t need and their family members don’t want. At least I got some of my shopping done and a Chick-fil-A sandwich to boot.

The rest of the week has been a blur of sleeping late, nonstop eating, watching television, and surfing the net. I’ve also become somewhat of a text messaging addict since getting my snazzy new phone with a full keyboard. My sister and I both have Verizon and can text back-and-forth for free, so we clog the airwaves with the most useless dribble – most of it related to who’s getting what for Christmas and how much we should spend on this parent or that one.

My sis doesn’t have the internet (which she loving refers to as the “sinnernet”), so she sends me requests to look up prices on certain items and I snap photos of the computer screen and send it back to her with the info she needs to make an informed buying decision. It’s sort of surfing by proxy. I figure that she might as well get the internet herself if she’s going to make me use it for her, but I guess she figures I’m already so sinful that a little extra sinning really won’t matter. Kind of like deciding to get whip cream and nuts on your hot fudge sundae.

So, I’ve gotten well over half my shopping done at this point, and already have some of the presents wrapped and placed under the trees (I put up two this year). I even mailed out our Christmas cards. The holidays are definitely here!

But, boy, won’t I be glad when they’re over…

Room for error

I work with some incredibly tight tolerances at my place of employment, sometimes within .0002 of an inch. When you consider that a human hair measures only .003, then you can see that there is literally no room for error. It is rather nerve-wracking to know that even the slightest mistake can ruin an entire day’s work, so I find myself praying quite a bit.

Imagine living life as if there were no room for error, like every decision and choice could potentially destroy everything you’ve worked for. The stress alone would probably kill you.

Thankfully, we don’t have to live that way. God forgives us when we make mistakes and He loves us in spite of our many flaws. Knowing that gives me a sense of peace in an otherwise stressful world.

So I think I’ll try to approach life in the same manner that I perform my daily tasks. I’m going to keep concentrating on making the right choices, trusting in God’s forgiveness when I mess up, and praying… alot.

Fast time

springforwardI have always hated it when the time skipped ahead an hour in the spring. It means getting up earlier after staying up later – at least until my body adjusts to the difference – but this time is more dreadful for another reason.

Ever since Honey and I have started our new jobs, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. The fun starts at 6am and usually ends in an exhausted collapse sometime around 9:30pm. Somehow, we manage to get the necessary chores done in the few hours that are left between getting home from work and bedtime, but just barely. It seems like the days are flying by at break-neck speed now, so I’m sure going to “fast time” (as the old-timers call it) won’t help matters.

I’ve been catching myself daydreaming about a vacation in Florida, where I can sit on the beach and do absolutely nothing, where I can watch all my cares float away into the horizon, and where a minute actually consists of 60 seconds. Pure bliss.

In the meantime, at least I’ll have an extra hour of daylight in the evening.


“Are you happy?”

The question from my father startled me a bit and I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer. I explained that I am relatively happy even though there are some things in my life that I wish were a little different. But, yeah, overall I’m happy.

Since I started working for my dad a few weeks ago, he’s been running around acting like a kid with a new toy. He frequently remarks about how happy he is and how much he likes where he’s at in his life right now. His joy is almost contagious.

Life has dealt me many unexpected blows, but things always seem to work out just fine in the end. Three years ago, I would have never believed it if someone had suggested that I was going to find such a wonderful person to share my life with. One month ago, I’d never have believed someone telling me that I’d soon be starting a new job. Life has a wonderful way of surprising (or scaring) the heck out of us.

Dad later remarked that it was ironic that we are both happy in our lives when most of the religious people that we know think that we will split hell wide open when we die. “I don’t believe that,” I replied.

He paused briefly before saying, “I don’t either.”

What a difference a week makes

I’ve always tried to remain positive during times of despair by telling myself that whatever problem I’m experiencing probably won’t be as important in a week or two. That reasoning has proven itself to be true over and over.

As I left my new workplace last Friday afternoon, I was so depressed and tired that I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was still uncertain that I had made the right decision, I felt useless and worthless at my new job, and I was exhausted from trying to get my bearings in new surroundings. I sobbed all the way home.

I slept in late on Saturday morning, got out of bed and basically did nothing all day before going back to bed at 4:30 in the afternoon. I didn’t get up until it was time to get ready for church the next morning. I could feel depression digging its claws into me.

By Sunday evening – after getting a pep talk from my pastor and seeing a great movie – I had decided that I was going to make the best of my current situation and that I would no longer be looking back or second-guessing myself. That was a turning point.

One week later, I’m still exhausted but my mood is much better. I had a fantastic and enjoyable week at work, I’m starting to feel like a contributing and valuable member of the team, and I am excited about the future.

And… I didn’t cry like a baby on the way home from work.