Saturday, October 29, 2011

About the job...

I realize that I have been off-focus for awhile and virtually abandoned our Fall 31 Day Challenge.  My apologies to those of you who committed to join me.  I hope that my poor performance in this challenge didn't derail any of you.

Given that this blog is largely my diary, I wanted to take a moment to write down some feelings of my recent work issues and how things feel so differently now.  I think that my stress at work has affected my workout commitment (and I also know that many of you would not allow work to be an excuse for reducing exercise...we're all different).

Here's the situation.  I am in the housing industry, selling building materials for a large publicly-traded company.   We are the high-end product and NOT the cheapest...a tough sell in this market.  Our sales began to drop in August of 2008.  Layoffs began happening in my company and among my customers.

image of Sword of Damocles
Imagine that EVERY MONTH, you knew of friends and co-workers that lost their jobs (or had their companies close down entirely) and they just went away.  This is what I have lived with since 2008.   I have learned the term "Sword of Damocles".

Every month, I could have shown a running list of people I knew that lost their jobs in my industry and this doesn't mean that they switched companies...they just were unemployed, or if lucky, found a job in some other business.  It feels a bit ghostly. 

Within my company, the layoffs would happen every 2-3 months or so.  And each time, my co-workers on the sales team knew two things:
  1. Our lack of sales were the cause of these layoffs (which left us with feelings of guilt and pressure).
  2. Any one of us could be next, which my boss frequently and gently reminded us.
So, my wife and I have dealt with reduced compensation (lowered sales commissions) and the feeling that EVERY WEEK could be my last with the company and that it would be very difficult to find a new job within my business.  A job in a different industry (where I would have no experience) would likely pay much lower.  Stressful for this this husband and father of five.

It all came to a head about two weeks ago, when it was announced that our local division/factory was going to be shutdown forever.  Dozens of people were given their 60 days notice (but some were let go sooner).  Of the 75 employees (including people in my department, my boss and HIS boss), only 14 of us "worker bees" will still be employed.  Everyone else has either been given a severance package or offered a position with the company in another state.

My new bosses from California have been meeting with us and our customers, as they strategize how we do this transition.  They have been great.

After a long day of meetings, I was dropping my boss at the airport and finally had to ask the question that I never dared to ask since 2008:

"Is my job safe now?", I asked.

He quickly responded "Yes...we really need you".  He explained that there will be no further layoffs and that they have confidence in me to do my job.

I feel like I can finally exhale and leave this worry behind me.  Clearly, I still have to do my job well and our business may struggle with this transition.  But I am no longer bracing myself for impending unemployment.

Time to get back to the Clydesdale Project and get some miles in.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, my friends.

Big Clyde

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Unbreakable

Before I get into the title, lemme explain a few quick things:
  • At work, we are still reeling from the closure of our division and the layoffs of so many people.  Yet, I am soooo grateful to be one of the few who get to keep their jobs.  We are no longer a factory with tons of people...now, about 15 of us will just be a remote outpost, needed now more than ever.  LOTS of work stuff on my plate right now.
  • My eating is decent, but not great.  I suppose I am an emotional eater, but it is a better explanation to say that Honey-Nut Cheerios is easier to grab than making an egg-white omelet with asparagus.  Maybe it just feels easier.  Nonetheless, my focus is elsewhere, not on counting calories.  Got to get back.
  • I haven't run in awhile, but have been on the bike a few times recently...need more of both.
So, where did I get the title from today's post?  From my bicycle accident last Saturday.

We did the "Launch The Loop" ride in Tucson last Saturday.  I did it with Crazy Jim.  We had ridden the same loop a few weeks earlier, but they continue to modify and link this connection of bike paths, surrounding the center area of Tucson.  The connection of several bike paths form a 22 mile loop that is mostly car-free.  In a year or two, it will be 55 miles.  Good times.

In most cases, the bike path is wide...two cyclists can ride, side-by-side, going both directions.  So, there could be 4 cyclists passing each other pretty comfortably.

But when going under a street, you go into this tunnel-type of path, which is a bit more narrow.  I was riding on the flat part of that stretch and starting to come up out of the underpass and was approaching a blind corner.  I couldn't see the cyclists coming toward me in the opposite lane.  They were coming downhill.

I saw a young girl, perfectly holding her line.  Then a slightly older kid.  Then an adult.  I remember thinking "look at these people just popping up from around this corner...", but we were all in our proper lanes.  Beautiful!

And then, the next person popped up, but he was in MY LANE.  We collided.  I braked hard and felt my rear tire raise up as my front tire locked up.  I struggled, then was able to remove my foot from my pedal.  He must not have reacted as quickly, because we hit and he went down.  Everyone stopped.

An older cyclist behind him started scolding him for riding in the opposing lane (my lane).  I was stunned that we had just hit, but amazed that I was still upright on my bike.  I kept looking for damage to my bike or to my body...nothing.

The cyclist was a teenage boy.  He reminded me of Axl on the tv show The Middle.  He was flat on his back and then got up and assured everyone that he was alright.  He started smiling and told all of us "don't worry...I've been through other accidents like this one, but WORSE!   I'm fine everyone, I'm fine."

He didn't apologize.  He didn't get that he put me and other cyclists (including those kids) in danger.  He didn't get that you shouldn't try to pass someone or ride in the opposite lane on a blind downhill curve.  Perhaps he'll learn someday. 

Crazy Jim and I stopped about a mile later and we couldn't believe that there was no damage to me or the bike.  He thinks that I might have reached across with my elbow or arm to protect myself, but I don't remember that. 

It was exciting, no one got hurt and it made me appreciate more than ever my strong and unbreakable bike.   And my kids now think I'm awesome.

By the way, if you haven't yet seen that show "The Middle", I encourage you to check it out.  It is very clever, eventhough it looks like an old re-tread of the typical family sitcom.  Our family likes it so much because we each identify with our tv counterparts.  We are like them, but slightly better.  There may be laundry baskets to empty and counters that need cleaning, but you can tell that this is a family with few fights and a long life together.

Big Clyde

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Shoe Dropped

It is a tough time in the housing industry and yesterday, we announced a big consolidation with our factories.  Many people lost their jobs and our customers are concerned.  Fortunately, I am still employed but have to focus on work pretty heavily to manage through the transition.

I did manage to get in a good ride last weekend with an old college friend.  And I have a longer city-ride this weekend.

Stay well, everyone.

Big Clyde

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Day 11 of the 31 Day Challenge

I have been behind on blogging, but have been doing well on my exercise, compared to some recent weeks.

So, I certainly have earned my 5 Day badge and am now pursuing my 10 Day badge for 10 Days of exercise. 
Not yet mine...but soon.  How about you?
I missed a few days and have some intense work events out of town over the next week.  Could be challenging.  I will come up for air on 10/19. 

I have seen that several of you have been more diligent and I commend you.  Keep at it.  We have 20 days left this month!  If I do something daily, I can still complete 27 days this month.  Good enough for me.

Big Clyde

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day 5 of the 31 Day Challenge

(Click HERE for a new post on my other blog).

For those of you have have jumped in on the 31 Day Challenge, how is it going?

We all have our own goals.  Crazy mileage, daily workouts, eating "clean" for the month, etc.    So, today is Day 5 and I am wondering how you are all doing?

As for me, I am very enthusiastic and doing well.  I have pledged to do some mileage (walking, cycling or running) every day and counting my daily calories.  I would love to have achieved a perfect record this month, but I did not workout yesterday.  I was up very early and drove to a meeting a few hours away.  I got home just in time to see a friend who is going through a very tough time and then to see my daughter get inducted into the National Honor Society at her school.  We are so very proud of her.

So, in my first four days, I exercised three times and ate well each day.  Once I achieve one more good day, I will have earned one of these:
If YOU have achieved 5 awesome days, then grab this image and post it on your blog.  Thanks again to Jess for creating these buttons for us all to use.  There are more to come, so let's all stay on track.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Big Clyde