A Musing…..What Work Is Doing To My Soul

This movie review caught my eye last night:

     “….  He’s a hard-drinking, hard-talking man…. we get a distinct sense from his wife that he puts on a warrior’s face to avoid thinking about what his line of work is doing to his soul.  Indulging any doubts  could get him or those under his protection killed, but not indulging them has made him, in Taya’s assessment, less human….”  From a review of the movie American Sniper


I am a carpenter by choice.

I love what I do.

Love it.

Love the variety.

Love that it keeps me relatively fit.

Love the fact that I’m rarely at one place more than a couple of months….most of the time it’s under two weeks.

Love the intellectual challenges.

I could go on and on.

I’ve also made a conscious decision to stay small as a business owner.

One job at a time.

I will physically be on the job 99.9% of the time.

I’ve come to that decision after watching four different men go from small time to large-scale (and hearing about a fifth this past winter)

My dad’s crew went from  half a dozen to over 20. Multiple jobs.  Lots of stress.  Dad told me later,  he didn’t earn that much more money with that large payroll than he did with a crew of six.  Just  a lot more stress.

I used to frame houses for Brian.  He went from  running solo to  building 15 to 25 custom homes a year.   Instead of being on the job site framing walls, he  spent all of his time meeting with people, and putting out fires. I watched his personal life degenerate right before my eyes.

I graduated with Jerry.  He went from a 5 man framing crew to a payroll of over 40 men.  His payroll was over $75,000 a week.  At some point his meth addiction kicked back in, and last time I saw him, he’d lost his business and was picking up odd work around town.

Last Winter I worked with Jim.  Jim, was telling me about his old boss, who went from a crew of 3 laying brick to doing multimillion dollar projects.  He wound up loosing it all.  He has told Jim numerous times since, he wished he’d  stayed a 3 man crew.

I started out by asking what is work doing to my soul?

It is well with my soul.    But it will take more effort than ever to keep it that way this coming year.

My brother told me yesterday that the frost is out of the ground.

That means, we can start pouring concrete again.

My work calendar was already  booked coming into 2015 and a long-term farmer/client of mine lost multiple buildings in a fire this week.  I met with him yesterday,  told him I would help put one of the structures back together.  I have no idea how I’m going to pull that off and stay on track with my previous commitments.  If I come to mind and you believe in that sort of thing…whisper a prayer in my behalf that God would send one or two young teachable men my way..(soon) 😉

This is really random, but it fits with the flow of what I’m talking about..at least in my mind it does…

Before I go to work in the morning, I bring my wife a cup of coffee while she is still in bed. It is one of the ways I have attempted to stay connected to her emotionally over the years. We’ll usually talk for at least 20 minutes. (She’s not a morning person (I am) but she values this time as well..so we make it happen)

My grandpa used to bring my grandma coffee in bed.

Anyway,  in our pressure filled, fast-moving culture, it is so easy let the cares, riches and pleasures of life choke out that which is most important….


We watched a documentary Wednesday night on migrant farm workers and the inhumane working conditions they have to endure.  It grieved my heart. I don’t have the ability to change that system, but I do have the ability to control the working conditions where I work.  Here is what I want for myself and the people who work with me….


Talk to me about your life and work related pressures.. I love details.  DM

Here’s a picture of the sunrise this morning:

4-4-2015 sunrise (3)


26 thoughts on “A Musing…..What Work Is Doing To My Soul

  1. Hey DM, your picture of the sunrise is beautiful!
    Re all the work- you will get it done. I have seen more good posts to this blog, from you, in a short amount of time, than almost any time in recent memory. Your choice to “lay low” for the very coldest months (workwise) has clearly been fruitful. If you have to work a few days from sunrise to sunset, and the blogs dwindle to nothing, I’d say, so be it..provided you balance that with more down-time and food-for-the-soul time after you get through the heaviest patch of work. We are made to run marathons every ONCE in a while, provided we keep up with our more balanced daily walks most of the rest of the time…Tiny miracles happen all the time, right, if we only learn to expect them?
    Anyway, I don’t know how you will do it, only that you almost certainly will. You seek balance as a nearly daily practice, from what I see. Your inner balance-o-meter is probably pretty good now; presumably, it will tell you what to do!
    For me, this is what I rely on…my belief that knowing myself- more and more every year–slowly leads me to better INTUITIVE responses to situations. This DOES seem to hold true. (Of course, new things arise all the time so I am still frequently humbled by my own inadequacy, but so be it!)…
    Hmm, much to consider, as always…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good morning Lisa! So good to hear from you. Thank you for your vote of confidence and the affirmation to schedule this last 3 months like I did. I’m wanting to do it again next Season. DM

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “it is well within my soul” spoke to me, love it!

    And I think it it’s so tender that you bring your wife a coffee in bed — and that she, not a morning person, accepts it happily because she realizes you (morning person) need that time. That’s ? I take that bad juju and turn it into something good: I’m a very good leader and role model to my employees. I treat them well and they are loyal to me. You gotta take the good with the bad and when you find yourself in the bad, make something of it. If you can, I say.

    Cheers! MJ

    PS – Hubbs is a great listener and my sounding board. He really helps keep me sane and give me perspective 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it is so cool that you bring your wife coffee in the morning and understand that she is not a morning person. I also think it is good that you keep your business small and personal, sending out too many tentacles, becoming big too fast means you lose control and then you end up not doing what you love to do.
    I spend a lot of time with the children of migrant workers. It seems to be a very hard life and especially when both parents work in the fields and have small children. I know here in our area in the summer, they will pack up the entire family and go to Oregon and Washington state to find work, and everyone that can work in the fields will. They return in the Fall.
    I work in a specialty outpatient clinic with children. I think the biggest stressor for me is trying to stay on time, and not get too far behind. But I have a tendency to goof around with the kids, and that gets me behind. Also it seems recently, families are having a harder and harder time getting into their Primary Care physician, so they come in with other concerns that are outside our specialty. But I don’t believe in one question per visit, so I do get behind. But then people get a little irritated that they have to wait, and I spend half my day apologizing for keeping people waiting. That and insurance companies are my biggest stressors, oh and documenting on the computer – that takes forever as well. Thanks for the great post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you have not lost the personal touch with your patients! I’ve crossed paths with so many good, thoughtful people this year in the medical profession. Makes me smile when you say that you have a tendency to goof around with the kids…good for you 😉 Keep it up. DM

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, I love that comment. I even blow them bubble, big bubbles when they are upset, and then they smile through their tears, and I know I have the best job in the world.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Found this post partcularly relevant today. Our contracting business faces the exact issues you mention here. We really do try to run our business with intention and good energy. Every year, we grow and grow. This is wonderful. Also stressfull. And every year we talk about needing to grow. I keep describing it as this bubble we’re in. We are at full capacity. We either need to turn work away and just commit to stay small so our bubble doesn’t “burst”. Or we need to take the “leap”, hire supervisors and grow. Both are tempting. Our society values growth and, I find, that we feel the desire to grow. Like, the opportunity is there …so why would we not? Does that make sense? Everytime we try to find a supervisor or someone that can handle the oversight, it doesn’t work out. Then my husband ends up doubly stressed. So, I hear exactly what you’re saying about staying small. About paying attention to what work does to our soul. This is such a tough one!

    Liked by 2 people

    • what you say makes total sense to me…I guess in my case, having a dad learn some of these lessons right before my eyes, lessens the temptation somewhat..that and I have a pretty good handle on my “risk quotient” (or risk tolerance level)…ie. In certain areas of my life, I can step out in faith with the best of them, but when it comes to borrowing and debt load, I sleep a lot better at night when those numbers are down. Keep me posted on your decisions. I am genuinely interested, and wish you the best! DM

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hey, DM, my husband brings me coffee in bed in the morning, too. Maybe that’s what’s behind the strong connection I always find to your writing! 🙂 If I could figure out how to do so without moving from my iPod to a computer, I’d add a picture of our back 40 this morning, still under masses of snow. Happy Easter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember seeing pictures a few years ago of you and your husband on one of trips…(You are both runners as I recall) I remember thinking the two of you seemed to have some healthy energy in your relationship. thanks for stopping by the blog Jane! DM


  6. Beautiful post DM. You are a tender-hearted man – we need more of you in the world.

    You don’t mention, but I imagine, one of the advantages to staying small is the quality of the work you and your employees produce. With a larger crew and multiple jobs going at once, how could you manage it all well?

    I suspect you will find a way to attend to all of your committments – things will fall into place for you, especially since you are working from a place of generosity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • thank you Michelle! I appreciate your comment. You are absolutely correct in terms of monitoring quality control. The buck does stop with me .


  7. Still thinking…it is a good question to ask what our work does for our soul. Whether it is the work of our chosen “career” or the work of raising a family, producing food, creating art…thank you for making me think this morning!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Love it when I hear I’ve shared something that has made you think. From reading your blog posts, I sense your internal compass is pretty well fine tuned and knows what’s most important in life as well. thanks for stopping by the blog. DM


  8. Simply put.
    I lived in the 24/7 world of the military and beyond into a similar life.
    I loved it and tiring as it was, there was only the physical stress to endure.
    I slept, eat, and sh’t when I could, and was content in body and mind.
    (The bad of mind came later)

    After that came civilian life.
    There from working to live, to living to work.
    Funny bit about it was living to work that almost killed me.
    Except for the life of me I can’t work out why I let it!
    (Thus it awoke my bad mind).

    Why is it that the civilian world can’t find a balance?
    What drives folk into ill and some into their graves?
    Is it the fear of debt or the pursuit of wealth?
    When did living to work become the way of life?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Some great questions there! Physical exhaustion for me leaves me with the best sleeping ever, whereas mental exhaustion leaves me unable to sleep and a tortured soul. Good to hear from you. DM

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Great post DM. Of course your comments about work resonate with me. I spent 26 years in a job that produced prestige and high income, but also high-stress and days filled with worry, anger and conflict. It took me a long time to find the courage to walk away from it but finally doing so, while scary, was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done (hopefully I’ll always think that).

    I’m a firm believer in the value and importance of work. But only if it’s good work–work that is satisfying and helpful to the community. It’s good that you have work like that. Your reply to thoughtfully reminded me of this bit of wisdom, “The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • That last verse you quoted is one of my personal favorites. I learned it in a slightly different translation, but it packs a good punch…and helps me keep my bearings when I’m tempted to pursue money for money’s sake. Good to hear from you. DM


  10. society pressures us to “think big” in order to find success, and when that’s not enough we feel forced to think even bigger. i believe i watched the same documentary as you did about the farmers — i felt disgusted and boycotted shopping at one of the major industry players mentioned in the film. but anyway, i admire your decision to stay a small business owner. we need to stick with our own personal definitions of success and happiness rather than allowing external factors get in the way of living a life full of content and maintenance of one’s sanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your affirmation! The older I get, the easier it is to swim upstream against society’s pressures in these sort of choices. I am all about cultivating and maintaining peace and quiet in my heart. Peace and quiet is under-rated 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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