The Last Monday

Today is my last Monday at my current job and the busiest day of the week for this place. There are 52 check-ins to process today. Of those 52, many of them will check in on my shift just because I have ‘trained them’ to check in when they get to town as opposed to after work to save the second shift person a huge rush when everybody gets finished with work. It will be my last time checking in ‘my people.’

Most of them already know I am leaving but there was a guest who returned over the weekend (his company had been working here all summer but they having been working another project away from here for the last couple of weeks) and when I told him this morning that Thursday was my last day all he had to say was, “Oh, Sh!t, I don’t like that idea at all.”

I feel bad for the guests who have come to rely on me to get things done for them. They know their rooms will be ready when they get here, that they will have the rooms they prefer, that I will go in and turn on the AC for them while they are at work if it is a hot day.

I have a painting company right now that loves to give me crap about the little things I take care of for them; one of the rooms needs a rollaway and housekeeping doesn’t seem to understand that this also means an extra person in the room so I always go in to make sure that they are left extra towels, soaps, shampoo, etc. I mean REALLY?? How hard is that to figure out. Well, every now and then I get busy and forget to make sure it is put in the room and these boys have NO PROBLEM trying to make me feel like crap. I tell them that if I HAD a heart it would hurt when they give me a hard time, but we all know I don’t! lol This group sent one of their new hires to the front desk one morning because he locked all the keys in their room. He came to me and I looked at him with a straight face and said, “Awwww and you think I care, that’s cute.” I thought the poor kid was gonna cry.

Last night The Boyfriend called me on his lunch break, it was good to see him after the pity party I held for myself yesterday. I told him that taking the boys home early (even if it was only 4.5 hours early) is so very hard on me. There was a festival in their town and the parade and everything that had been scheduled for Saturday was postponed to Sunday. They wanted to spend the day enjoying the festivities and I agreed to take them home early so they could do that with their dad. We watched the parade together and then I took them home.

I do this for them. Although I know divorce means that they will sometimes miss out on a few things, I do what I can to make sure they can still take part in most of it. This is a sacrifice I make, and the price my heart pays is a very high one…that’s my job, to pay the price so they don’t have to. They are paying a high enough price for everything else in their life that they have no control over, why make them pay unnecessarily?

The Boyfriend tells me all the time how proud he is of me for doing all I do. He encourages me that the boys will see things for what they are in their own time. I know this is true, and that’s why I try to not sway them in any particular direction, I follow their leads, their moods, their needs.

Yesterday morning Bubba was having a tough time…the schedule was changed, he was going home early. He wanted to go home early, he knew how fun it was going to be, but even a small, positive change is still a change and he doesn’t do well with change. I tried to tell his dad to be mindful that day as I related our morning and he just blew it off, “He seems fine to me.” He will never understand.

I’ll put money on that little man calling me tonight crying for something…

My last of three job interviews today. I am excited and a little nervous. Everything will be exactly as it is supposed to be and will work out perfectly. I am confident of that.



I am counting down the days to my last shift next week. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bit nervous. I’ve done what needs to be done to make sure my needs are met financially, now it comes down to making sure I have things in place to take care of myself emotionally.

There are still so many changes happening all at once for me and it’s time to step back and reevaluate my priorities and goals.

One of the questions I was asked yesterday in my interview really has me thinking. He asked, “What motivates you?” Seems like a simple enough question, but at that exact moment I had to really think about it.

I took my time and really thought about it. I knew what I am not motivated by, but what is it that drives me, that keeps me going, that continues to challenge me and what do I use to measure my success?

I am not motivated by a paycheck or any amount of money. If I was, I would simply ask for a raise at my current job and go about my life. I would have made sure that I had another job lined up instead of taking this leap of faith by quitting my job. Money doesn’t buy happiness and I will argue that point with anybody. Can it buy you nice things? Sure it can. Nice things don’t fill your heart, they only fill your home.

I am motivated by growth and change. I am not the same person I was two years ago. I am much more laid back, relaxed, and have an ability to see things from many perspectives. I would be a great in debating as I can understand either side of almost any situation.  I understand that people do not view things in the same ways and that just as my perception of a situation is my reality, it is the same for others. Although we may be on complete opposite sides of the fence, I think I have the leg up because not only can I see your side of the fence, I am more than comfortable standing on that side if I need to. In this way I have changed significantly.

To be able to look back on the changes I’ve made (some by choice, others by order of the court) I have been able to see the good that has come from them. They have not all been easy, especially living away from my boys, but they have all been wonderful tools for teaching me about myself and my own needs.

The thing about change is that there are positive and negative changes. Many people are afraid of change, and they should be. Change is not easy. Even when the projected outcome is rainbows and Skittles, change isn’t easy. Instead of seeing the change as a challenge, I confront the uneasy feeling.

Am I scared right now about things working out like I hope? Sure am…but I’m not going to let that stop me. I see the end zone, I see the touchdown, I see the light flashing above the net after the goal. I have the ability to look beyond, “Ya, but The Boyfriend and I want to go to Mexico when he gets home and this will delay that significantly.”

What I do see is the opportunities in front of me, standing up like a tackling dummy just waiting to be knocked to the ground and run over. I see the challenges of finding productive things to stay busy. One of them is definitely going to be teaching Creation Station (Sunday school at our church). I can throw my heart and soul into that class. I can dig deeper into the curriculum we have and make it fit our kids. Another goal is to increase my physical fitness. I’m in decent shape for a mom…but I’ll never get a red-card if I can’t walk a 15 minute mile carrying a forty-five pound weight for three miles. I have the endurance, it’s the strength that will kick my butt.

This would be a perfect time to start my book. For years I’ve wanted to write a book and several people have encouraged me, maybe now is the time. I could also focus a little on my speaking and maybe sharing more of my stories with those who need to hear them. They cover a wide array of subjects and I love to do public speaking. Maybe it’s time to join a service organization or two. The women at our church are trying to set up a women’s ministry team/group. That will be a great opportunity for me as well.

All of these opportunities will make small changes in my life, my goals are fluid and will continue to grow, and change. Mexico can wait, the important thing is being happy.

Although the following Bible passage is often read at funerals, it is also fitting for this new life I am leading:

Psalm 23:1-6 ESV The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

When the passage is read intentionally as opposed to recited, it is easy to be at peace. I shall not want, He restores me, I am lead down righteous paths for Him, I fear no evil, my cup overflows…

How could I ever be afraid when I have that kind of back up? I felt like I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death when the ex was granted temporary custody; God brought me to a new church where I was given new life, comfort, new friends, strengthened faith. I was shown just how amazing my boys really are, they are strengthened by this experience, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

If I can walk through that dark valley and fear no evil, I’m pretty sure this whole job change, priority shift thing is gonna be ok. 😉

What a Day

I’m not sure if I’ve posted much about my experience with wildland fire fighting. Well…I’ll catch you up another day. Today I am MUCH TOO SORE.

I spent all day today at fire school. After completing the course work online, the students spent all day today learning five stations in the morning and then spend the afternoon running a fire scenario.

I became the Squad Leader for Squad 3 (they asked for volunteers and I couldn’t get my hand up high enough of fast enough). I thought of tackling the guy with the radios, but turns out the other four people in my group had no desire to take the lead and I was ACHING for the experience…I BLEW IT OUT OF THE WATER!! The instructors were SUPER impressed with my skills.

I have ZERO fire line experience…all the ‘real’ fire work I’ve done has been in logistics. I told the Crew Boss (the supervisor of all the squad bosses) while we were cutting fire line,”Um, Jake…I don’t belong here, I’m a princess” He giggled as I continued to swing my Pulaski.

Sitting back in the classroom after our ‘fire’ one of the cadre came over and said, “Um…can I tell you something? None of us believe that you are really a Princess, you kicked ass out there way too much to be a Princess.” I told him I had references…BAHAHAHA…I tried to tell him that SERIOUSLY…I AM a princess…my hard hat was SUPPOSED to have a tiara!!

I don’t remember the last time I had that kind of fun. I worked my ASS off. I knew three members of the cadre from when they worked in my area last fall. They were all so happy to see me. They had started encouraging me to get involved in the fire world from the first week they met me last year…over the course of the next 10 months it became clear it wouldn’t happen due to life circumstances. A month ago this class came available and I was approached by a crew boss from last year who got me signed up for the class.

This was EXACTLY the best way to spend my Saturday.

Unfortunately this meant I haven’t been able to see or talk to the Boyfriend for more than 24 hours and I miss him. Times like this I wish I could just pick up the phone and call him, tell him how great my day was, how proud I am of myself, how energized I am…how great I feel…right now, I miss him so much.

Instead…I wrote him several emails that seem like nothing more than a jumbled mess of adrenaline fueled words that don’t even make sense to me…but I had to connect with him and sometimes that’s the only option we have. Now, as he’s reading this he’s wondering WTF he’s gotten himself into…Then I write a blog post that is so scrambled that it hardly makes sense to me, I can’t imagine how it reads to those who don’t know the back story of my “fire life” and I will try to cover in the next little while.

After a week that absolutely drained every ounce of emotional energy I had, I completely kicked ass physically today. I am sore…every muscle in my body is screaming…and they are happy.  I forgot how much I LOVE demanding work; physically and emotionally draining work is where I excel.

P.S. I am leaving this post completely unedited and not even reading it before I post it…sometimes people just need to hear how fast my brain works…


Moving on…

Today I did something I have been praying about and struggling over for months (since January really). I put in my two weeks notice at work. I began working here November 21, 2011 and immediately fell in love with my job. I worked my butt off to learn everything I could about the industry and specifically the brand I was employed by. I took online classes on my own time, studied every bit of information I could get my hands on, made sure my guests needs were met and that they knew I valued their business.

Within three months I was made Front Desk Manager. I got my own office, and a ton of responsibilities…but no raise. I was told the raise would come when the numbers came. As I was already doing most of the managerial duties at that time, the money wasn’t an issue. Money was never the issue. The issue was being able to make decisions for the hotel and the staff to ensure a positive experience for the guests.

The numbers not only came, they flooded in. Sales doubled over the previous year and continued to skyrocket. At the end of October 2012 there were some major wildland fires in the area. We now had state and federal teams in the local area. At first the teams were dispersed amongst all the local hotels and motels, spreading the wealth, if you will.

Within 10 days of the start of the fire I had everybody they could fit in our hotel staying here. They completely moved out of three of the four other hotels and had as many as they could based out of here. I ended up with 94 firefighters, FEMA employees, state employees, etc. staying here. I worked my ass off for this group. I knew who was in what rooms at all times, who was working on which fire (up to five separate fire incidents), the status of each fire, and several other above and beyond tidbits. It was an ongoing joke that they got their REAL briefing from me before heading to the Incident Command Center where they were often quizzed on what I had already told them. lol

The over head team LOVED me. I developed a spreadsheet of the personnel staying here and kept it up-to-date. The Logistics Section Chief called me from his next assignment and asked if I could email him the spreadsheet template to use…he was now working Hurricane Sandy.

I still talk to several of them on a regular basis. They made it known to my boss that I was the ONLY reason they were at this property and that the above and beyond service I provided them was second to none. My boss hated the fact that the front lobby looked like a funeral home due to the number of flower arrangements that showed up several times a week.

I often would do laundry for several of the firefighters in the evenings. They spent 12 hours each day on the fire line…throwing a few loads of laundry into the hotel washer/drier a couple times a week while I was working was no skin off my back. They LOVED it and because I wouldn’t take their money they would buy me flowers and chocolate. I never asked for or expected payment, I saw it as a gift I gave to them. These men and women put their lives on the line, spent weeks at a time away from their families and friends…all I did was wash clothes and fold socks. Our property had an increase of more than $70,000 in room revenue for the month of October alone.

Not long after the fires were out, the pipeline crews moved in. Many of them spend the summers living in campgrounds and move in to the hotels when the weather gets cold. They had heard from others about the personal service provided and the great management (me).

In January we had an issue with a guest not wanting to pay his bill (over $1500) and he decided to use me as a pawn to get out of paying his bill. He used information from another source as well as completely lied about issues he ‘had’ while at the hotel and sent them to my boss in an email. Well, in arguing his case with his credit card company our boss had to provide proof of his stay, etc. On the registration card, whomever had checked this particular guest in did not have him sign the payment agreement, nor was his credit card preauthorized.

When this come to light I was taken in to the office and told that if he got out of paying his bill due to these oversights I was out of a job completely. Well…this princess don’t take shit laying down. I said that while I understood the implications of this man getting a free room for the length of his stay, it was not me who checked him in therefor it should not be me that was punished.

Well, let me tell you…this did not make the boss happy one bit. We looked up the records and there was the proof that I had not officially dealt with this man on ANY level except to take his initial reservation over the phone. The only other time I had any contact with him was off the clock (a few times a week I would sit in the bar and visit with various guests).

Within a week I was again taken into the office and told that ‘the owners’ (there are four owners, one of whom is the General Manager here) had decided that I wouldn’t be the Front Desk Manager anymore. While it upset me initially, I quickly realized that I was the one who came out ahead in this deal.

I did not loose any pay, I only lost the weight of the hotel resting on my shoulders. I no longer spent my days agonizing over ways to improve our steadily increasing customer service scores, responding to requests from guests past and future about concerns or questions, developing and implementing staff training, hiring and firing, scheduling, and the millions of other little things I did. I now clocked in at 7:00am and clocked out at 3:00pm and refused to take after hours calls.

The issues began nearly immediately when my boss realized that he had no idea how I spent my days. He had no idea the time, effort, and dedication I put in to my job which was now for him to worry about it. Several of my ‘regulars this summer were beyond shocked that I was no longer management but they made it clear that several things now made sense (lack of staff training, why I wasn’t available when they had an issue, and things of that nature).

As the complaints rolled in my boss knew he had bit the hand that fed him. He also knew that there was no way he could apologize and make things right with me. My heart was no longer here. I stayed much longer than I should have. I should have left immediately. Instead, I stayed because I love the flexibility, I love the interaction with my guests, and for the amount of ‘actual’ work I now did, the pay wasn’t bad.

The lack of appreciation has gotten to me. I have begun my job search but have found myself not very enthusiastically looking; probably because I have this one already and there is no panic. So today I put in my two week notice.

With tomorrow’s paycheck I will have all of my bills paid through October. I will also have one full paycheck and one paycheck for one week still coming. My next full paycheck will pay my November rent (my largest expense) and I am confident that I will find employment long before December. The recession missed this area of the country completely and right now it is an employees market up here. The cost of living is low and the wages are good.

I can get a job working at McDonald’s and start at the same wage I make right now. I’m not worried, nor am I above a fast food job. I will do what it takes to pay my bills (anybody looking to book a public speaker in the near future) and I will do so with a smile on my face.

I will blog more on the leap of faith this is for me on another post as well as a few more details of my current game plan.

Stay tuned boys and girls…we’re going on a ride, I just hope it doesn’t get too bumpy.

Reality Check

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Yesterday’s sermon at church was a reality check for many. We were asked if we really trust God with our whole hearts. My initial response was, “Well of course I do. He has always provided for me.”

Then came the challenge between my heart and my brain. How can I even pretend that I completely trust God when I am living in such turmoil regarding my current employment situation when I KNOW that where God guides, he will provide.

The above text says, “…and lean NOT on your own understanding…”

That has gotten me through this last six months in one piece. I cannot lean on my own understanding, I trust that everything that is happening right now is a part of God’s plan and that God is good. So how is it that I can completely trust Him when it comes to the futures of my children and the courts, and everything regarding my divorce, yet I can’t find it in me to follow the path He has made for me.

I feel like there is the path He has set out before me, and every time I step off the path…he merely moves it again and places it back in front of me. This isn’t something I can deny.

God is SCREAMING in my ear to quit my job, to move forward. Do I trust him enough to believe everything will be ok? Do I trust Him enough to provide for my needs? My heart says yes, I do trust Him. My brain is wondering if God will pay the rent.

I have filled out applications and am taking some online training that has nothing to do with my current job. These are steps in the right direction. My question is, how long do I allow my current job to drain me emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Do I hold out until something comes along? Do I wait until I snap?

I have a very real fear that staying here will cause a breakdown. I told a friend yesterday that it feels like the boss is doing everything in his power right now to get me to quit. He badgers me, blames me for things that I did not do, gets frustrated when I call him out. My friend said, “Of course he’s brow-beating you, you know way too much.”

I was once a great asset to his business. Everybody knows I ran this place. Now that I refuse to do his job for him (as I had been doing) I am of no use to him even as a peon. This was his decision to change my status and my duties. For him to expect me to do all I had before is allowing myself to be used, and I’m not okay with that.

I understand that with the divorce going on I cannot just up and quit my job without another one waiting. I’m sure the judge would not look favorably on me just quitting my job while asking for custody of my children.

I have court next week. It is the actual divorce trial. As the ex and I have not agreed on ANYTHING, it will be up to the judge to decide on every aspect of the situation. From custody, visitation, who is responsible for what bills, etc. I understand judges hate to make these decisions, they prefer people to work out their own agreements and then rubber stamp it. Judges know that they will never know the whole story, they understand they have no idea what goes on behind closed doors.

“…in all your ways submit to him and he will make your path straight…”

I need to put in my notice. I cannot stay here. If I put in my notice today for two weeks, I am confident that I will find something in time, plus that would give me two more paychecks, a full one and a half one. All my bills are already paid for  September, my next paycheck could pay all of October’s bills…just sayin’.

Lord, I know that you will never lead me astray and that where your path leads, I will be provided with the necessary resources and tools to follow you. Quiet my heart as I learn to submit to you Lord. Amen

Change Happens

We all know that the amount of change I have dealt with in the last two years would have beaten a weaker person into submission. Not me though. I have not only faced the changes head on, I have embraced them as positive life events.

Most people don’t choose to make significant changes in their life without a darn good reason to give up the life they have become accustomed to. I used to be one of those people.

I was extremely unhappy in my marriage but had vowed ‘for better or worse’ so I wasn’t going anywhere. My ex was not that determined to fulfill his promises to me, our children, or even God. This is his second time filing for divorce. The first time he did, I started dating about six months after he moved out which caused him to come crawling back, tail between his legs telling me he was sorry and that I was right (duh), he was wrong (duh) and he would do the things he has agreed to before we got married. He even made a huge list of things to prove he was serious. From that list of twenty-something promises, he kept one.

I used to think my only regret in life was allowing him back at that time. Well, I would not have met the people I have met or had some of the experiences I have had over the last four years. I am especially grateful for the people in my life today. Had I moved on then, I would not have these people in my life now.

I am in the midst of another change that I have been putting off. So many things have changed at my job that it is no longer satisfying, fulfilling, or even enjoyable for the most part. I don’t feel valued or even valuable to the business and it is time to move on.

A little while back our church began searching for a Children’s Minister. This position would deal specifically with ages infant – fifth grade. A WONDERFUL fit for me, I thought. When I used to teach Sunday School it filled me with so much love, hope, promise, faith. As I read the job description and requirements, it became extremely intimidating. I became so intimidated that I didn’t even complete the application. There were just too many questions about my own faith journey when I went through the application. I felt to be a good leader of our most important church members, it should be somebody much further in their journey, much more confident than myself.

Well, now our church is in search of a part time administrative assistant. Although it is only a part time position, I am thinking that the hours may increase as the church grows and I can take on more responsibilities and even some of the children’s ministry tasks until a children’s pastor is hired.

This will also be a great opportunity for me to grow closer to God. How better to grow my faith than in working within the church?

I talked to very few people in detail about this opportunity. The Friend, The Milk Man, and one other friend know the details of my current job and all three think it would be a great fit for me to move on. This position also offers two weeks of paid vacation. I have absolutely no benefits at my current job.

I can likely work part time for my current employer, he’s desperate for help. I can agree to cover vacations and such to make up for some of the lost wages. Either way, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:19

I have spent much time in prayer about this decision. It will have an effect the boys, my daughter, and myself. I strongly believe I am ready for this challenge and the fulfillment of this position if it is offered to me. Change comes in many forms and opportunities for growth are everywhere. I look forward to jumping on this.

My plan is to have the resume finished tomorrow as well as a letter of interest. Feel free to ask if I’m done yet…this NEEDS to get done.

Almost There

Last week when I wrote Creating Calm I talked about my budget and how I’d LIKE to see it work out. I am happy to report that so far, so good.

My paycheck on Friday was less than a full paycheck again (I forgot I had taken time off to go to Fargo for my speech the week previous). It’s ok though. Like I said, I have made my budget to work with a 66 hour pay period so anything over and above just decreases the time it will take to reach my goals.

First goal…new tires. I am so close to having enough that I finally priced them out. The best value was at a local dealership and the price is $428.12 plus taxes. Is it strange that I have EXACTLY $328 in the tire account at the moment? I think so. With buying four tires there is also a $60 rebate as well. Instead of using that as an incentive to buy the tires, I am going to put that towards birthday and Christmas shopping. The boys both have birthdays in the month before Christmas so it can get expensive.

Anyway, my budget has already paid off (in my eyes). I am much more relaxed about that aspect of my future. Just taking the time to plan and the effort to follow through really isn’t much at all. Once the initial plan was set up now all I have to do is fill in the blanks every two weeks.

My budget is probably a little more detailed than some people’s is but this way I can see where my money really goes. The tweaks I had to make last week were so minimal. I realized I hadn’t allowed myself to have any ‘guilt free’ money at all. I think that was just asking for disaster. So I added that line into my budget and will see where that take me. It’s not a whole lot, just enough for little things; for example, I gave the boys $5.00 for the vending machines when they came to see me at work on Sunday afternoon. I had to tweak a few other places too just to make room for this added expense, but nothing major. I can already see that making the budget based on the lesser paycheck was well worth the effort. My goals are being fulfilled faster than anticipated and that in itself is very rewarding.

This also gives me something to focus on that is positive. I am doing ok, I will make it, I am smart enough, I am good enough…not thoughts that readily flow through my head on a bad day.

For fun, I’ve added a poll. My first time trying that so I hope it works!!