Friday, October 25, 2019

How the Worst Day of my Life Turned Into the Best Day of my Life

I realize I never did follow through on my promise to explain my sudden "retirement", so maybe now is as good a time as any.

First a little background.  I worked at Sheltered Living, (SLI) for over 11 years.  I LOVED my job.  Every single thing about it.  It truly was the first time in my career I found myself not dreading going to work everyday.  I shared an office with 2 co-workers who I dearly love.  Amy, Jen and I just clicked.  Which is good, because those half walls dividing our work spaces didn't hide much.  We worked well together, and had a little fun along the way.  So about 4 years ago Amy decided she needed to leave SLI.  It wasn't easy to adjust to life without our missing partner, but Jen and I managed.  It was several months before her replacement was hired.  As in the past, job descriptions were changed (typical anytime there was a change in personnel)  But this time, the change was unprecedented.. Out new 3rd "co-worker" turned out to be our new direct supervisor.  The minute I heard that, my stomach dropped.  I knew this was never going to work.  Well for me, it wasn't.  Having my boss right next to me. watching my every move, literally standing over my shoulder, was my worst nightmare.  See, I'm the kind of person who doesn't need to be micro-managed.  And up to this point, our boss never did that.  She gave us the freedom to do our jobs our own way.  And that's what we did.  The work got done.  

A little more info to consider.  Over the past 5 years I went though a few health crises.  The  big one, of course keeping me completely off work for 3 months, and part time for another 3 months.  After that there were multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and many many Dr. Appointments.  This obviously led to more time off work.  Couple that with my age, and I believe I became a target.  I think my employer was afraid the health problems would continue.  My boss was the only other person who could do my job,  so she may have decided she wanted someone who could work full time, without restrictions, and without frequent absences.  Now, I always had a problem with getting to work on time.  If you know me, you're saying DUH to yourself right now.  But part of my medical condition had a direct effect on my inability to get up and moving every morning.  

So, take one annoying supervisor, times my existing time management problem, add a hostile environment which effected my desire to go to work, as well as my job performance, all totaled up equals "I'm sorry but we are terminating your employment",  And, let me just add that I had seen this sort of thing happen many times during my 11 years there, I clearly saw it coming, and still I couldn't stop that steamroller from running right over me.  I was devastated.  I was embarrassed.  I was walked to my office to pack up my things and escorted to my car, without an opportunity to even say goodbye to anyone.  I was told I was not welcome at any SLI property, and instructed to have no contact with SLI clients or guardians.  These people were my world for 11 years, and suddenly, they were cut from my life.  It was almost like a death had occurred.  

I went home and told Greg what happened, expecting the worst.  But.  My husband told me all the things I needed to hear.  They don't deserve you.  They didn't appreciate you.  You're better off without them.  We will be fine without your income.  You can stay home and help me out on the farm.  It's going to be ok.  

It wasn't long before I realized just what a blessing being fired was.  The relief was immediate.  I still miss my co-workers and the clients, but they eased up a little and didn't say anything when I attended a memorial at their office for one of the clients, and I was even invited to a retirement party for one of my favorite co-workers. (Sorry I couldn't make it JoAnn!)

A year after all of this took place, I became eligible for my full KPERS retirement, and we decided it was the right time to take advantage of that.  

It's been 15 months since that ugly day, and I'm happier than I've ever been.  I'm able to take care of my mom, which takes up a good chunk of my time.  Equally importantly, I'm available to help Erin with my wonderful grandkids at a moment's notice.  Well unless it's harvest time.  Or cattle gathering time.  Or planting time.  Yes, Greg and the farm are my priority, but it's not exactly a full time job.  I believe the best thing to come from all of this is the quality time that my husband and I get to spend together and it's strengthened our marriage.

Thanks SLI.  You know you miss me!





Sunday, January 13, 2019

Short (But Bright) Thoughts

As all of my FB friends already know, the Farm Show came to town earlier this week.  Greg and I went on Tuesday so we could spend our time where we wanted to, and took the grandkids Wednesday when they could dictate how our time was spent.  This works much better than just making one trip.  Greg was drawn in to a booth featuring LED lighting.  He was mainly interested in buying LED bulbs to replace the fluorescent bulbs in the shop.  They also had some LED lamps which are basically a light bulb for the house..  The smallest one was supposed to put out more light than two 100 watt bulbs.  Well Greg was wanting something for the dining room, which is where he does most of his reading.  Now I totally understand the importance of light when it comes to reading papers and magazines, so I had no problem with getting something brighter.  Greg was afraid the small bulb might not be enough, so we decided to go up a step to the next size bulb.  All of the bulbs were delivered Friday, and when I got home that evening and walked into the kitchen, I looked up at Greg and I was LITERALLY BLINDED BY THE LIGHT.  Now I just have to get a basket of sunglasses to leave at the back door and post a sign


DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE LIGHT
YOUR EYES WILL BE RUINED FOREVER
LOOKING AT AN ECLIPSE WOULD BE BETTER 


I mean seriously!  That's enough wattage to light up the freaking Expo Center.  I should have know, since the guys directly across from the the LED Booth looked less than thrilled.

NASA called - the International Space Station is concerned our house has been invaded by light seeking aliens.



Erin and the kids are coming out this afternoon.  Greg's got the sled AND an old truck hood all ready for them.  Hopefully I won't be checking in later from the hospital!!






Monday, October 29, 2018

Catching Up

Well, looks like I'm back.  For how long is anyone's guess.  But I'm here today, and I'll take it from there.

These days you'll find me working for Bryson Dozer Service and/or Bryson Farms.  Which basically means as far as wages go, I'm unemployed.  Ha.

This isn't the first time I've stayed home and helped out on the farm.  In fact I remember one winter when I took over feeding the cattle every morning so Greg could get an earlier start on his dozer jobs.  While I didn't exactly enjoy getting up that early, and I hated that old truck I had to use to feed hay, I really loved seeing the cows and calves every day.  And I loved that they knew me.  Most of the time they are a little leery if I get out of the truck.  All they know if Greg is their sugar daddy!

Back to where I am now.  I left my job at the end of July for reasons that I will get into in another post.  Maybe.  So I spent the month of August mostly getting used to the idea that I no longer had a job that I had loved more than any other job I've ever had.  I was in mourning.  I knew I was going to lose so many people who I loved.  Sure, everyone says we'll stay in touch.  But the reality is we won't.  They are in Topeka.  They are busy with their jobs, family, daily life.  It's hard to sustain a friendship with former work friends.  The only good thing is when I do make plans to see them, we pick right back up where we left off.

Now for the upside of staying home.  I have the time and availability to see my Mom and take care of her when needed.  And at 94 years old, that is invaluable.  A few weeks ago she fell off her front porch.  She has a Home Health Aide, aka Lisa the Angel.  She made mom call me. (yes, that's right, mom had no intention of telling anyone about her fall)  Luckily she didn't break anything, but she was in a great deal of pain, so I stayed a couple of days to make sure she didn't fall again.

I was able to go to the farm shop in Grand Island this year without having to worry about having enough vacation time to cover my days off!  Our friends Kenda and Pat went with us.  It's always more fun when friends come along.  Not that Greg and I can't have fun together, but the more the merrier!  We stayed in an Airbnb for the first time.  The hostess also lived there.  The house was great, and the back yard was perfect.  We spend all of our spare time outside, and the weather was beautiful.  The Airbnb experience was positive, but I think we all agreed we'd rather have a home without a host living on site.  It's not that our hostess was bad, in fact, she was great.  But it didn't provide the privacy we all felt like we needed.  I'll definitely look for an Airbnb in the future before I look at hotels.  The other advantage is cost.  We spent much less money on the home than a hotel would have cost.

Of course we've been to Husker Harvest Days more times than I can count, but this was Kendas first time there.  It's also fun to see it though a first timer's eyes.  She was overwhelmed by the size of the show and all of the farm equipment.  We are officially old timers now, so we rent a golf cart to tour the farm.  Walking miles and miles is just not something we want to do.   Plus, its fun.  Well that is until  your husband takes off while you're just getting on.  When that happens, well, you've got Barb face down in a corn field with about a billion people watching.  I'm not sure if I was more mad or embarrassed.  I do know I made sure everyone watching knew I didn't need any help getting up, and I may have yelled "there's nothing to see here" a time or two.  The only thing hurt was my pride, but I made the best of it.  I told Kenda that my plan was to make sure at least one person at the farm show remembered me, and I think I succeeded.

The golf cart provided more adventures.  Greg decided he needed to be at the other end of the corn field they were combining, so he drove across the field at a speed that was probably prohibited, while Kenda and I held on for dear life on the back of the cart.  After sitting for a few minutes and show employee asked us to move our cart so a combine could come in and finish the rows right in front of us.  Sure, no problem.  But wait, there was a problem.  The engine wouldn't start.  I wasn't terribly worried - after all, I am married to a mechanic.  After a few minutes of looking and such, Pat and Greg realized we'd thrown a belt.  What are the odds that belt would be laying on the ground right under the cart?  Well it was, so they put the belt back on and off we went.  While eating lunch we noticed alot of corn stalks under the cart and pulled out a many as possible.  I just know I've been blacklisted, and next year when I call to reserve a cart, they are going to tell me they aren't ever allowed to rent to me again.

I've also been able to spend more time with my precious grand babies!  I imagine most of my readers are also Facebook friends, so I don't have to tell you how wonderful they are - you get to see it everyday lol!!  Now if you're reading this and you AREN'T my FB friend, well you should be.  Send me a friend request!

Now that we are finally able to get into the fields, Harvest is in full gear.  We didn't plant much corn, which this year, was a good thing.  Unlike most of our neighbors, we waited and combined our corn.  Most everyone around us cut theirs early for silage.  Most of our fields are planted to soybeans, and that's what we're busy cutting now.  Greg's hired man is not able to help this year, which leaves us without a truck driver.  Now, I can drive a truck, but the Semi, not so much.  Oh I can drive it in the field from point A to point B no problem, just don't ask me to back it up.  AND, I can run over stuff with it too!  Several years ago when we were putting grain in a bin that we hadn't moved home yet, Greg left me in charge of auguring grain from the trailer into the bin.  If you aren't familiar with grain trailers, there are two hoppers; one towards the front and one towards to back of the trailer.  To unload, we were using a tailing auger, which is shorter than a normal auger.  The grain falls into the tailing auger, and it then moves the grain into the big auger, which loads the grain into the bin.  Confused?  That's ok.  All you really need to know is that the tailing auger is UNDER the semi.  So you drive the truck up so the front hopper is over the tailing auger, and empty most of the front of the trailer.  Then you pull the truck up so the back hopper can dump into the auger and finish unloading the grain.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  Well, at some point, I drove too far and ran over the tailing auger.  I sat there wondering what to do.  Do I call Greg?  Or better yet, do I flee the country?  In the end, I waited for him to come back for the semi, and let him see for himself.  After he used every cuss word he knew, multiple times, he took the auger home and fixed it.  See, it wasn't so bad.  Sure it cost him a half day he could have been combining.  Sorry Greg!  So back to being short a man.  Now that I'm home, I'm the designated helper.  Taking the header to the field, running Greg and Eldon between home and the field.  Taking lunch to them in the field.  Basically being at their beckon call.  And that my friends, is something you can't put a price on.  Especially when they are trying to get the beans out before it rains again. 

Probably my favorite thing about working on the farm is the cattle.  I've set up pens, caught cattle and hauled them home.  I've chased a bad cow (Emmy's name for her) and her cult (three calves that follow her everywhere).  Once this fall they got out of our pasture at home and roamed clear across country.  After looking for a few days they were finally found north of 56 Hwy.  For those of you that don't live around her, that's about 5 miles north of us.  Greg has never had a good word to say about Facebook, but after that, he saw the power of social media when it comes to looking for lost cattle.  He was shocked at the response to my post asking locals to be on the lookout for them.  We have 2 pastures emptied and hauled home; 3 pastures left.  We'll get them home eventually.

So that's where I'm at for now.  I'm hoping to work writing into my schedule, so be on the lookout for new blogs.  Notifications will always be on FB.









Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Aging, But Not So Gracefully

You know how there are things you always say you're going to do, but somehow never get around to doing them?  I call those my someday plans.  Well number one on my list of someday plans is exercise.  Yes, I know, to look at me, you'd never guess that.  (also on that list is to stop putting myself down, but that's way down on the list)  My pal Amy and I have been talking about trying Zumba.  She searched YouTube for Zumba routines and found all kinds of videos of healthy looking women dancing their butts off.  Wore me out just watching them.  So I searched YouTube for FAT women doing Zumba.  Yes I did.  And guess what!  I found Sunshine.  She's an awesome full figured gal who records herself Zumba-ing in her living room.  Now that's the kind of inspiration I need.  I'm sorry, but watching a bunch of skinny women in great shape do all kinds of moves I'll never be able to do does not provide the encouragement I need to get up off my ass.  In fact, it does just the opposite.  It makes me feel fat and lazy and inferior.  So I've got a date with Sunshine's Journey on YouTube and we'll see where it leads.


In the meantime.....  I've been invited to join a group of women in Burlingame who get together once a week to exercise and dance a little.  Now normally, I feel good when someone asks me to join their group.  But I had to back pedal a little this time - because the group is called the Sassy Seniors.  My first thought was well I'm too young to be in that group.  But guess what?  Just because I act like a kid and feel like a kid (except when I get up out of a chair) it turns out I AM a Senior Citizen.  Their group is for 55 and over, and hell, I'm 56 now.  I'm usually happy to receive the perks of being old, you know, discounts at the buffet, and even the liquor store! But this?  This is the kind of stuff my Mom does, not me!  Right?  I'm still processing this.  This is like announcing to the world "Hey look at me!  I'm OLDDDDDDDD.  Am I ready for that? 


Stay tuned........







Monday, June 22, 2015

June 22

June 22, 2014. 


The day my world turned upside down.  The first of 83 days I would spend in either ICU, the burn unit or rehab.  The Drs. and nurses all marveled at how well I recovered.  I was able to go back to work a week after I came home; albeit part time.  My legs will never look "normal" again, but they've come a long way since last fall.  While I would never have wished for this to happen to me, there were positive things to come from it.  Meeting the incredible people who took care of me.  Seeing the outpouring of love and support from my friends and family.  Realizing that I am one tough cookie!
   


June 22, 2015. 


I'm not really sure how I feel about this being the "anniversary" of "that day".  Somehow I thought I would feel overwhelmed with sadness when I woke up this morning,  but to tell you the truth, I didn't even think about it until I was almost to work.  It's not consuming me like I thought it might.   I was hoping Erin would have the baby today, so we would have something to celebrate instead of mourning the day.  But that's just it - I'm not mourning.  Honestly, it kind of feels like just another day. Getting through this day without falling apart helps me see that I'm at the end.  Maybe I can put this whole ordeal behind me and move on.  Aside from the scars on my legs, (and maybe a healthy fear of grass fires) I don't need to think about it anymore.  And that, my friends, makes me a winner.  (Cue the Rocky theme music) 




So, with this chapter of my life closed, you won't have to read about it anymore! On to bigger and better subjects.  Like my new granddaughter, who will be here on Friday.  There will be a blog about her birth soon! 









Sunday, October 19, 2014

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

By now I imagine most of you know how I spent my summer.  If not, you can read about it on the Caring Bridge site Erin started.  And several of you have asked when I would be returning to this blog.  Wow!  You missed me?  Turns out I have more readers than I realized! 


I've thought long and hard about whether or not I should write about the accident.  More to the point. COULD I write about it?  Fortunately, I haven't had nightmares or flashbacks to the fire.  I've told the story so many times, at this point I'm pretty sure I say the exact same thing, word for word.  No deviating.  No thinking about what could have been.  No concentrating on the fear or the pain.  It's all about the recovery.  Not that I remember much about that.  The first 4-5 weeks in the KU Burn Unit are pretty foggy.  Gotta love narcotics!  What I do remember is the wonderful care I received from the nurses, some of the visitors (sorry if you came early and I didn't remember!) and the tons of cards I received.  


Not so surprisingly, this whole experience has been life changing.  I've certainly learned a lot about myself.  For the first time in my life, people are telling me how strong I am.  The Doctors, nurses, and therapists all praised me for my determination to get better.  They were amazed at how hard I worked to get back on my feet and home.  Well guess who is even more amazed?  Yep - that would be me.  My entire life I've considered myself the complete opposite from the person I became this summer.  The real challenge will be to see if I can retain these qualities. 


My relationship with Greg was also drastically affected.  He's not really the type to discuss these things, but I believe the thought of losing me scared the bejesus out of him!  His caring side came roaring out and took over.  It was nice to be reminded that he really does love me. 


I always knew how strong Erin is, but boy, let me tell you, she kicked butt when it came to taking care of her momma!  I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful, caring daughter. 


Friends.  Boy oh boy do I have some awesome friends.  Not that I didn't already know that, but they not so subtly reminded me just how lucky I am to have such generous and caring people in my life.  I'll never ever take them for granted.   


We're 4 months out now, and things are going well.  I rushed back to work just a week after getting out of rehab.  Turns out that might not have been the best idea.  My employer, who, did I mention, has been awesome throughout this whole thing?  Anyway, they agreed to let me cut back to 6 hour days for now, until I can get my strength back.  It's not easy to accept that your body won't let you do what your mind thinks you can do.  I'm working on that. 


Last thing -- a big thank you to all of you.  When I went back and read all of the FB posts and Caring Bridge messages, I felt the love.  And then I cried.  But they were happy tears, so it's all good. 








                      

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Because I'm Happy*

Hi Barb -- I'm Barb -- nice to meet you.  Or something like that.  Recently I feel like I've seen a new side of my personality that I either didn't know existed or more likely, pretended didn't exist. 


I've always been  a positive person.  No matter how dark and dreary things are, I will always find the silver lining.  Feeling down?  Come see me!  I promise you'll be a happier person when you leave.  If you enjoy wallowing in your pain, you probably don't want to talk to me.   So how is it I never saw the negativity inside myself?  When it comes to making myself feel better?  I suck! 


For the last couple of weeks I've made a concerted effort to stay away from negativity.  Not saying I was 100% successful, but it's coming along.  Change is never easy, right?  You know the old saying "you reap what you sow"?  I feel like the more positivity I project, the more I will attract.  I think that may be the concept behind the book "The Secret" that my bff/sister/cousin Julie gave me several years ago.  She said it would change my life.  It sat on my laundry chute in my bathroom for years, begging me to read it.  And I did.  I read the same few pages over and over again, but could never get past them.  Maybe it's time to try again.  Now where did I put that darn book? 


In other news... I recently did a sleep study, and was diagnosed with moderate Sleep Apnea.  The next step is to get a CPAP machine calibrated and start using it.  I'll let you know how that goes.  I have very high expectations for this treatment.  I've had so much difficulty just waking up every morning and getting to work on time, that the idea of getting a good night's sleep and waking up refreshed has me positively giddy!!!


*The old me would say "I HATE THAT SONG!!!"  The new me says I can't wait till that Pharrell guy puts out a new single!!!