Decidedly No Longer A Hamster


I could see by the glazed look in Jordan’s eyes this past Wednesday, he was under pressure…The pressure  of trying to juggle all of the variables that come with coordinating a large remodel.

He looked at me mid sentence and laughed…”You really don’t care do you? “

I grinned, told him, “My mind was on  zeroing in a new scope I bought for my gun and picking the green beans in my raised garden bed….”

We never know what  pressures go with a particular line of work until we find ourselves in the middle of them.  And at that point, it is often too late to do much about them, at least short-term.

One of my sisters is an RN.  She used to work  on the intensive care floor of a regional hospital…commute 45 minutes each way, and often time found herself pulling a shift she would rather not pull, but because of staffing,  and the fact she had a house payment to make, she was stuck.  Stress. Eventually, a new job opened up at a hospital closer to home with 9 to 5 hours, no overtime/ no weekends, dealing with people in rehab.

Have another friend  who used to fly for a mid-sized private charter company.  The guy who managed things was….dare I say it?…an “Ass”   Absolutely no  concern for how his decisions  affected the families of the people who worked there…17 days away from home at a time was the norm.  Everything was all about the almighty dollar.   On top of everything else he was a bully. Verbally abusive.  My friend gutted it out for several years before finding another flying job….and again, house payments, and other financial pressures were in the mix.

In my line of work (construction)  work pressures can bury you.   Scheduling, dealing with suppliers, cash flow, weather, conflict,  help that doesn’t show, inspections, etc.   And if you multiply that by more than one job at a time, it can be quite a ride.

My dad ran a construction company for years.  At one point, they had twenty five guys on the payroll.  Looking back, dad said  they didn’t make that much more money than when they had a crew of nine or ten, just a  lot more headaches.  (Don’t think I didn’t tuck that little tidbit of information into my grey-matter.)

In the mid 1980’s my workaholics  / people pleasing, unable to say “no” to anyone but my wife behavior came to a head.   I was over committed/ burning the candle at both ends, with four little ones in tow.  To this day, I just shake my head when I think about what I was doing…

Put this picture on the wall in front of my desk as a reminder:


bucket list- hamster wheel picture

Business does not equal progress…I can be spinning that wheel like a crazy man, and going nowhere.

Words are powerful.

Came across the following the same time…

If you make it to the top of the company ladder and lose your family in the process…you are a fool.”

Felt like someone took a two by four and rapped me across my nose.

Here are some new words I introduced into my vocabulary during that watershed season in my life..




Here is a workaholic survey.

Check it out.

It really is possible to retool your life.

I know.

I am a first-born, former workaholic and I just scored 36.

Question… What are some of the unexpected pressures that are part of your life you never anticipated ? Could be work, family, or other.  DM


21 thoughts on “Decidedly No Longer A Hamster

  1. We lost several ‘friends’ when we said the N word, but then we realised they weren’t friends anyway, just chancers out for what they could get.
    Pressure these days comes from so called professionals who don’t reply to phone messages or emails, and don’t keep us in the loop about maintenance repairs. We are still waiting for the boat engine/gear box to be fixed and both of us are annoyed that we’ve missed the festival this year beacuse they couldn’t come when they said they would. We are not unreasonable people, and accept that ill health occurs, but to be told that the bits are still on someone’s desk, then they’ve been delivered to the alternative ontractor but to the wrong address, well, our patience fuse is almost out.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ben started his home repair business in 2008, when he was 63. Hello!! What were we thinking?
    Rough going, especially because the economy went flat right after he started the business. Due to a small inheritance we should have invested and gone traveling, he sunk it into maintaining us and the business–in part, of course, because mom was still alive and needed our care and we weren’t yet ready to sell the house and go traveling.

    Soo, he built a 30 x 36′ shop that he’s not been able to use except to store tools and equipment and a thousand cans of paint and a million and three small screws and bolts he was sure he was going to use, and rosewood slabs he’s kept since his brother’s jacaranda tree blew down in 1978 in Oakland, CA (we live in Washington).

    Over the past eight years, he built the business to the point that he was still doing custom repairs, but was remodeling kitchens and bathrooms, doing beautiful tile work….then he decided to build room additions, and took on a 350 square foot deck five feet up, plus elaborate railing and a pergola, he build by himself. Just saying’.

    At 71, he has built a busy business–but he’s still working on his own, still up on ladders and on the top of a garage in 98 degree heat putting down metal, was still working weekends on bids and estimates, and we aren’t any further ahead (probably behind) than we were five or six years ago. And we didn’t have time to go visit family.

    So, he’s going to finish this garage in two weeks (God please be willing), he’s cleaning out his shop, selling his truck and a lot of tools, and all those d…. nuts and bolts, doing the repairs around here to sell the house–and then we’re taking this show on the road–getting off the hamster wheel.

    I know you know this, but I just needed to process. LOL. Sorry I took up so much space. You could say, go write your own blog post!! Love the was great confirmation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The details of Ben’s hamster wheel look differently than mine….same end result, just different specifics. When you say, “taking this show on the road” I’m guessing you’re leaving the nuts, bolts and tools behind? 😉 you never know when they might come in handy! Make sure, if it works out, we are still on your places to visit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha. I can’t believe you suggested he keep the nuts and bolts. He’s keeping tools and bring some with us, and yes you are on our list. Not sure when we’ll get east because by the time we get off the wheel it will be October.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I find most of the pressure in my life these days is to still please my boys who are not boys. I have a hard time saying no to them, but I am learning and it is getting easier. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kettles on? I like that. But I’ll up that and offer a boat trip.

    Not saying no is one quick way to find out who are your friends but I was musing a few days ago. Jobs I’ve worked at I gave it everything. Useful guy, slap on the back, bonuses, works till he drops accolades, until one day I did.

    Same for SWMBO except that was a business decision.
    Lose the good workers, Indian labor is cheaper.

    Then you see another view to the faithful work hound, the bullet to the head when no longer useful aka “retirement” due to ill health or redundancy.
    They always said “no good deed goes unpunished”.
    What they meant in business terms was “surplus to requirements”.

    Pressures from that? You’d think so wouldn’t you.
    ill health, broken spirit, betrayal of loyalty, more bills than the monthly pay off.
    Except that’s not quite what happened.
    What happened was it generated a release from all things of work pressurise.
    Hence the boat trip, one that will probably last for ever.

    Today I heard and saw a kingfisher sat on the bow of our boat.
    What price beauty?


  5. God has blessed me with just enough physical limitations to slow me down some and say “No” more often.
    I never thought ( I was a gymnast in my youth) that I’d be seeing a cardiologist before I was 50. One unexpected responsibility was being a single home owner and dealing with sometimes, more than minor maintenance issues. Thank goodness for Dads!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I scored 55. But I did it not from the view of “work” my day job, but working on my house. I guess that’s all right. 
    I took last week off, and Sunday night tucking my 5-yr old boy in, I told him I had to go to work the next day. He groaned and asked me, “When do you not have to work?” I told him I’d be home for dinner. “No, I mean how long til you don’t have to go to work?” 🙂 A very apropos and insightful question. Hope soon, kid, I hope soon.
    (since I took last week off, I haven’t had a data connection with time to read and comment… We live in the “land of no data” sigh…)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My score is shameful. It puts me in the “highly workaholic” category. And it would have been ever higher 15 years ago.

    I’ve made some radical changes in my life, but I still have a lot more to do (I originally typed “a lot more work to do”). My wife once pointed out that I even turn my hobbies into stressful things.

    I appreciate this post DM. Like you I retooled my life. But now I have to step back again to prevent turning down that familiar path again.

    Liked by 1 person

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