9:45 June 5th 2017
I made the break from the rat race. A break from fulfilling someone else’s dreams and ambitions to start chasing my own.
One month ago my days were taken up with soul crushing corporate nonsense; this morning I was instead in the garden with my wife AJ planting Roma tomatoes, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, gourmet lettuce and two types of sunflowers in the raised flower beds I had built with my son last weekend. I also filled my bird feeders and planted grass seed to repair a trail my German Shepherd made while running back and forth in our yard.
PTO day you ask? On a stay-cation? No, this is now my “new normal”.
My job was paying the bills, but crushing my soul. One month ago at this time I was prepping for my morning purchasing team stand up meeting, bracing to hear what electronic parts were now moving from a reasonable 8-12 week lead time to an unrealistic 26 weeks or 52 weeks or longer. You know, “Do the impossible.”
Everything was high priority. We’d hear about how despite our heroic efforts to meet “our numbers” last month/quarter even more was expected now. I’d listen to impassioned pleas to control inventory while trying to tell those non purchasing types that “ demand is demand” in my system and we REALLY don’t want people “gaming” the system it must be accurate and trustable. Really guys? We make widgets.
I’d been a Soldier for 31 years, on Active Duty for the last 14 years. I’d prepared Soldiers for war. I’d trained for war myself and deployed to Iraq in 2007-2008. I’ve worked with grieving families over the loss of loved ones. I had dealt with my own issues over separation and distance from family, isolated on a base outside which, for $25.00, people would lob mortar shells in on us. Now that was serious business.
I’m not asking for sympathy as my brothers and sisters outside the wire endured much worse and performed their duties with courage and honor. I’m just saying I was there, and now back in the civilian world my managers wanted me to be excited over the manufacturing of widgets???
It seemed so ridiculous.
My managers were workaholics, devoting far more time and energy to the company than to their own families and lives, demanding more than I was willing to emotionally offer, but I had been playing the corporate game along with them, but becoming like them looked more like a nightmare than the American dream. They couldn’t imagine as they sat me down to break the news that inside I was feeling a weight lift from my shoulders. My employer, “after conducting a white board exercise matching personal with required skill sets” determined that my position was no longer required. And they we were falling all over themselves to tell me that it wasn’t me, they were happy with what I had been doing, everyone liked me, yadda yadda, but they would not be needing someone in my current position anymore, due to a restructuring.
My boss was promoted a few months back and I discovered that tasked three of MY buyers had been tasked to interview her replacement, without telling me. Well, that was all made clear when I sat down with my boss, her boss and the HR VP. My position was being used to pay for her replacement. And they felt really bad about it. Really they did me a favor.
My wife had suggested several months earlier that we develop a plan to free ourselves of our wage-slavery and start some kind of venture of our own. We had tossed several ideas around about doing things that we found meaningful and important for our lives. So as they were breaking the news I was trying not to show my relief.
Really I’m not whining. I’m actually glad, because we had been talking about working a plan to better our lives, but every night after work we were too worn out to do more than talk about it.
So now instead of working for the widget makers, I’m working the plan. Creating a life of more meaning and excitement that we call The Adventuring Project. In addition to the planting, in last month:
We have focused on healthier eating and are already seeing positive results. I’m down 14 pounds.
My son and I built those two raised flowers beds and now have an intimate appreciation for what three yards of topsoil weighs.
We rode 3000 miles to ride in the Rolling Thunder demonstration ride in Washington DC. We also visited the Flight 93 Memorial on the way there and the Antietam National Battlefield , scene of the bloodiest day on American soil, on our return trip.
We cleaned, de-skunked, (a story just on its own), and sold my parents cabin in Ladysmith Wisconsin. This sale makes possible purchasing land for a scaled down energy efficient home we want to build.
I took a long-needed refresher course for motorcycling including a skills range in the rain with AJ as my passenger on the Road Glide.
We rode to Central Wisconsin for the Honor the Fallen Ride in Ladysmith, a memorial ride benefiting local medical education and honor local men and women who lost their lives in service to this country.
We moved my son back to college and his own apartment, starting our de-cluttering project.
Now I finally have the time to learn something about social media and blogging. I’m still a newbie when it comes to Instagram and hash tags but we now have a Facebook page, an email address, this blog and soon will be adding videos to a YouTube page.
Most important of all, my soul is being filled and nurtured again. I’m growing more confident with each new phase. It’s so exciting to be venturing off the treadmill.
There are many lessons to be learned ahead but we are blazing our own trail now.
I made the break from the rat race and now I’m really living my life, not merely existing.