Thursday, October 31, 2013

Great, Big, Long Update

Life has been busy lately, hence my complete absence from the world of blogging. It's not that I don't have things to share, I just literally haven't had the time to sit down at my computer and upload photos or write about what's been going on. It's hard to believe that this is the last day of October. I "lost" most of September and I'm still trying to come to terms with the fact that the year is further along than I think it should be!

In early September David's company landed a large contract that required up to 15 employees to be on site 24/7 for environmental compliance. Not only did the company not have 15 people, but this kind of work had never been done before and there was no infrastructure in place to get it off the ground and running smooth. Add to that a lack of clarity from the client about what they wanted/needed, and it was a perfect storm. David immediately brought me on board full time to deal with the administrative side of things- which meant scanning, re-typing, filling out, and submitting 5 different forms for every shift- sometimes as many as 15 shifts in one 24 hour period. This would have been great fun, but after the first 4-5 days the client decided that our paperwork wasn't what they were wanting so we had to go back and re-do the paperwork for every shift and put it into a report format. On top of the continuing shifts. We brought in extra help and finally got caught up, at which point I was able to stop, assess, and work out a system that ran smoothly and took less time. David and I were both working upwards of 70 hours each week, 7 days a week and we were exhausted. It took all I had to go to take care of my church duties each Sunday and then head straight to work and not leave until 9:30 or later. It really made me appreciate the Sabbath at a whole new level. 
A little over 3 weeks later this contract ended very suddenly (and unexpectedly.) I was sorry to see the work go (we want to keep the guys in the field busy!) but I was also so relieved to finally get a day off. It's my firm belief that the human body is not meant to work for weeks on end without any break at all!! 
That's how I "lost" the month of September. I missed any and all activities that came up during that time, and even missed sending out birthday cards to family members (sorry!!) 

After putting in so many hours for this contract David's boss told him to take us both on a long weekend- at the company's expense! We were in Columbus for a meeting on Friday, October 4th so we took off from there and didn't go home until Monday evening. We stayed the night in the Laurel Highlands area of Pennsylvania (beautiful!!) and went to Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water house. I think the house's setting is my dream home spot. Too bad it's already taken! We also took a walk in the Ohiopyle State Park. We then headed to the eastern side of PA. We toured a coal mine and learned about the differences in coal formations and mining techniques between the different regions. It's a lot different in the eastern part of Pennsylvania than it is closer to where we live. We were quite happy to see that the mining in our area is a lot less dangerous and strenuous, since Aimee's fiance works in a coal mine. 

After the coal mine we headed to Hershey, PA. I've been wanting to see this chocolate mecca for awhile, but was sadly disappointed. It was over-commercialized, crowded, and aimed at a much younger target group than me. The "tour" through the "factory" was fun and comical, but not at all like a real factory tour. I would go back to the coal mine any day, but wouldn't recommend Hershey as a "must see" attraction. Our last stop on our trip was the Pittsburgh Zoo. We were both pretty tired by now from the long month, lots of driving, and constantly being on the go. It may have jaded our experience. Or it may be that the Zoo really is old, worn out, and kind of pitiful. We were happy enough to head home and relax for the evening. We were extremely grateful for the opportunity this gave us to get away, though. It's hard to leave work behind when you're both working at the same place. 

We also thought it was nice to get a little extra compensation for going above and beyond. David's boss asked him to keep track of his hours during the contract and submit them at the end, with the agreement that he would be compensated for his overtime. He figured it up and he worked at least 40-50 hours extra every week of the contract. He was excited about being compensated. That hope was dashed pretty quickly. The owner came back and said "hey, nice job, and thanks for putting in all those hours, but unless you filled out daily forms recording all of those hours and specifically what you were doing every day, we're not paying you anything additional." Yep, give it your all and we'll give you a pat on the back and ask you to turn around and do it again next time another contract comes in....and you should do it with a smile because you're getting paid salary for 40 of the hours each week. Can you tell we're bitter about this? It wouldn't have been quite such a slap in the face except that the company asked for nominations for a "good to great" award...where you nominate someone for going above and beyond in their job. David and I nominated our co-worker (who also put in a lot of hours and wasn't compensated) and the co-worker and I secretly nominated David. At the meeting when they introduced the winners... they chose the boss's pet employee and then gave him credit for working so hard on this particular project (he made up a simplified billing sheet the last week of the project, and that was it) and for his work on an upcoming project...which David has done all the leg work and preparation for!! To say that they have a few disgruntled employees might be an understatement. 

With all of that going on we also realized at the beginning of October that we had only 2 months until Aimee's wedding!! Yikes! Time to kick it in high gear and start getting the planning and details worked out. Between Aimee's schedule and mine, it's been interesting to try to coordinate time to shop, plan, make phone calls, etc. I think we're getting there, but I'm going to be a nervous wreck until it's all said and done. It's a lot of stress, and not nearly as much fun as a I think Aimee thought it was going to be. 

Things have slowed down a bit over the past week or so- I've only had to work 1.5 days this week- so it's giving me time to clean house, plan menus, work on the wedding stuff, plan the Primary Program (did I mention that's in 2 weeks?!) and try to get everything in place for the start of next year in Primary. Every time I think I'm caught up- I remember something else that needs to be done! I don't know how (or more importantly, why) people keep up with this kind of schedule on a regular basis. Honestly, the past couple months has taught me that time has a lot more value than money, and that all work and no play makes for some severely stressed out people. 

Other lessons I've learned is that people respect and are loyal to LEADERS, not bosses. To be a leader means that you connect with your employees and respect them as individuals and people, not as commodities. It means being willing to get your hands dirty and to pitch in when there aren't enough worker bees to do the work alone. To be a great leader, you recognize the contributions those under you make, and you praise and thank them for it. On the other hand, to be a boss means that you wield power and expect your employees to do what you tell them to, because you pay them to. You don't take into consideration feelings, personal situations, or capabilities. To be a good "boss", you order those under you to do whatever you want them do but stay a step removed from the actual work. Bosses breed discouragement, discontent, and disloyalty. Leaders breed willingness, loyalty, and greater effort. The differences are so obvious that I still find it hard to believe that "bosses" don't recognize this and change their style. It's my personal belief that productivity would greatly increase if we had more leaders and fewer bosses.

Sometimes it feels like life revolves around nothing but work, but that's not true. This past Saturday we were able to join our ward for a chili cook-off and trunk or treat. It was a great success! We all had a good time socializing, trying out different chilis (the Bishop's chili won, hands down. I need that recipe!) and the children had a great time trick or treating. I loved seeing all the creativity put into the costumes and trunk decorations. 

One of the highlights of the month was when David and I were able to go to the temple on a Wednesday night recently. We were in town for business meetings and were able to fit in a session. It was so nice to experience the peace and tranquility of the temple. I needed that. And we get to go back again this next Tuesday evening- for Aimee's endowment! I am sooo excited! I have looked forward to going to the temple with my daughter for years. And in only a month we'll be back once more to see her be sealed to Alex. I realized the other day that that will be the first time I've ever been to a temple with my own Mom, and only the second time with David's parents. That alone is enough to make me feel emotional about it. Add to that the special occasion, and I think I'm going to need some kleenex! I'm trying to hold on to the feelings of peace and contentment I get when I'm there. I know this month is going to be rocky and I want to be able to appreciate the good and beautiful in it, not just the stressful and challenging. It helps that it'll be November, when thoughts start turning towards giving thanks and counting blessings. 

I'm working to find balance that will enable me to blog more often, and especially to catch on my friends' blogs. I miss that!

Here are some pics of our trip:
View from Ohiopyle State Park area

Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright 

Creek under Falling Water

Coal Mine

View from Coal Mine Hill

Train at the Coal Mine

1 comment:

Mama D said...

Awesome update!

Sorry about the compensation situation. That sucks! And I love the way you compared leaders to bosses. I have felt that way about many of Ray's bosses...

I so wish I could be at Aimee's wedding. It will be difficult not to be there in person, though I will be in spirit.

Just keep taking one day at a time, and enjoy the little moments. Especially with the planning and time with Aimee.