Sunday, August 30, 2015

Intro to the Raleigh Recap

The last time I took any significant time off from anything was 1995, and that was the first time since the 1970s when I lived under my parents' roof.

We spent three days in Door County and a week at Round Pond (my uncle's sportsman club) in the Catskills. At the time, I was a seven-day a week, full-time homeschooling mom doing everything by myself except bringing home the bacon (and a large portion of that bacon never made it to the household).

In 1998, I decided I could do a better job of bringing home that bacon, too. So I began a single mom, by choice, for the first time. My kids were 15, 13, 12, 7, 4, and 2, the youngest not potty-trained and barely verbal.

Yes, I did this by choice. It was a good choice, and there isn't one of my kids who would say otherwise.

I worked seven days a week. I delivered newspapers, wrote for newspapers, sold newspapers, and baby sat, all those activities every day, in the same day. Something had to give, and two things went: homeschooling and sleep. Eventually, as I accumulated routes and and story assignments, so did the selling and the babysitting.

In 2000, I married my children's stepfather, and we built a wonderful life in Channahon, a life that included working seven days a week, returning to homeschooling, being active on our church board, running the church's religious education program (and teaching two of its classes), and founding and running a youth group.

My husband and I had a great partnership until he could no longer do the partnership. We lost our home (which his parents had built before he was born), altered the relationship, and built a new life together in a different direction. And, thus, I once again became a single parent, by my choice again, to three young adults trying to get through college.

The kids, BTW, have all become outstanding adults. Just had to get that in there.

Delivering newspapers stopped in January 2013 when my husband left, and, while the freelance assignments came thick and fast, the money did not. At the end of 2013, I decided that, after the first of the year, I would start applying anywhere that paid, and that would not be writing.

Lo and to my surprise, I became an employee in January 15, 2014, the first time I had been an employee since I was 19, and the first fulltime position ever. I had five vacation days to use last year, but since I could not afford to go anywhere, I took them sparingly here and there and stressed out over the work that was piling up during each day off. I decided I dreaded and hated vacation days, so you can imagine my reaction when I learned I had TEN vacation days that I had to use.

Sigh, through clenched teeth.

As my familyi is still in recovery mode, I can't afford a car, and I can't afford to travel. I took back the promise I made to Sarah last year that THIS YEAR I would finally come to Raleigh, where her family relocated for employment reasons six years ago. But she and Rebekah put their heads together and planned the vacation, including the booking of plane tickets and payment of those tickets.

Now, I'd already taken a "practice" trip with a little writer's retreat in June. I was caught up and slightly ahead before I left, so the return was relatively painless. I was ready to plot and plan the big league vacation.

I went on mega-write that summer and stockpiled work for my absence and my return, thus ensuring little could go wrong. Yes! I was on top of it. :)

Then, in that last week, I made two un expected doctor trips, which cut into my work time and slowed my warp speed (because the health incident made me feel "off").

Trip number two meant an antibiotic that produced a really horrible reaction. We figured out the cause, skipped the dose the morning I left to keep me feeling well (although the kids assured me if something went horrible wrong, they would land the play, yeah, and good-bye vacation), and resumed once the plane landed, as Sarah is more than capable of handling medical stuff. But since we figured out the cause, the side effects gradually dispersed until they disappeared altogether, and I simply took the antibiotic.

And then, it really happened. I had a great vacation and a (fairly) starightforward return to work. Okay, Rebekah came back sick with a bad virus, which spread through the house, but we're getting through that, too.

So tomorrow, I'll share the details of that wonderful trip, but I have to tell ya. As a former independent contractor, I found it hard to wrap my head around the whole "paid vacation" concept. When one is paid by the piece, work is a simple cause and effect. I work, I get paid. I don't work, I don't get paid. If you want a day off (which, except for surgery, I just did not do), better get the work done first.

To think a company would actually give an employee paid time off is...well...too awesome for words, a blessing I cannot take for granted.

I. Am. So. Thankful.

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