In the fall of 2007, my freshman year of college, I took on a project for a Christmas production that promised a lucrative paycheck and entry into a field I was very interested in pursuing: technical theatre production. My task was to program and synchronize a 30 ft tall “tree” equipped with 500,000+ lights in which stood a choir, to the music of the program. (You can view an example of what it would have looked like here.) The process was complex and required much more than what I had been told.
During that process, while trying to complete school, I developed a stress induced ulcer. In the span of one month, I lost over 50 lbs as there were many days I was bed-ridden with acute nausea. For days at a time, I could not sleep or eat. One particular Saturday, I worked from 0800 to 0500 the next morning, caught one hour of sleep in an empty classroom and arose at 0600 to begin prepare the day’s services.
When it was all said and done, the directors of the production seem to skip town, my pay was delayed by three months and was less than what was promised. Further, with the departure of those in charge, I was thrust into the head position of the media department at age 19. This new work load did not greatly aid my stress or health and it took me four months to recover from my ulcer and put a dent in gaining back the weight I had so alarmingly lost.
Fast forward 6 years to my work as a teacher.
This past year had placed me in such a great deal of stress that I could feel the ulcer returning. Knowing what it had cost me the first time, I was not eager for a repeat performance of feeble and bedridden Mr. Bluebaugh.
What brought about such stress?
Some of those factors will be explained in Facet #2, but essentially, the academic politics of the administration drove me to the brink.
I had begun looking for openings at other schools, but every application seemed to be greeted with silence. It became evident fairly early on that a change of career might be necessary. Though I loved my students, coworkers, and teaching, the road to continuing that profession seemed bleak.
Then came my emergency surgery.
The weekend following the summer end of school, I awoke one morning to a rather dull pain in my lower abdomen. At first, I assumed I had merely tweaked a muscle in my sleep, but as the pain grew throughout the day, I self-diagnosed appendicitis. By nightfall I was admitted to the hospital and scheduled for a surgery in the morning.
While recovering from that surprise, I had a lot of time to take stock of where I was in life. I came to the realization that I was quite thoroughly burned out from the school year, and my body was in agreement with that. Further, once the bills started greeting my mailbox, I learned that contrary to what I had been told, the hospital I had chosen was not in my insurance network. (Though I was only in the hospital for a total of 23 hours, the room alone came at the tune of $25,000). Even though bill was greatly reduced, the out-of-pocket cost wiped out what I had been able to save on my meager salary. (I have successfully paid 5 bills, and two remain). If I was going to a) pay off my bills quickly, b) provide for a future family, and c) continue to save for my homesteading goals, a change had to be made.
Sure, I could have chosen a host of other options, but what drew me to trucking was the fact that I am responsible for the quality of my work; to a degree I am my own boss (yes I have a dispatcher, but they get me loads, they don’t determine if I am on time or not). It’s also nice to be paid to travel the country; I can get some travel out of my system while I am yet single (or scoping out future land…). Further, it is a hands on skill with equipment that will come in handy in the future. A CDL is an exceedingly useful item to have; it will pay itself well beyond the time I spend in trucking.
Since the change three months ago, a marked improvement has been made. Stress is minimal and I have worked to steadily lose weight to the tune of about 2 lbs a week. Every step of the way, I have received countless confirmation that I made a wise choice. Much fruit has already come from the move.
Health and Finances are but the third reason and I deem them to be the least on the list, but they were important contributing factors nonetheless. Soon we will look at Facet #2 – Integrity
From the desk, while on home-time in KC! (Insert obligatory Royals boast)