Spending time in a hotel was always such a kick for me. Starting in my early career, I ended up traveling thousands of miles over 35 years. I began my ‘on-the-road’ gig when I was about 23. In 1979 it was a rare phenomenon to see a woman with a briefcase running through the airport, who wasn’t a flight attendant.
I snagged the job of traveling from show to show to set up the show booth for the sales team. It was the step I needed to take to become a full fledged sales rep. So, I dutifully lugged my stuff on and off airplanes, blew-dried cold sheets (yes with an actual blow dryer which I highly recommend) in shit-hole motels in the likes of the tundra they call Buffalo, and shared rooms with strangers because my flight may have been cancelled (who would do that today?!). I ate a lot of cellophane-wrapped food and drank hot water in the morning pretending it was coffee. With all of that, I still loved the fact that I was in a man’s world and lugging along with them.
The Road is A Lonely Place
Of course, all this travel left little time for a social life. I met a lot of people when I traveled. I think I was different then. Not just younger but different. I remember being away and missing a lot of occasions — birthdays, parties, and dates. I liked the solitude of the road and enjoyed strangers. There’s just an hello and then a good-bye without a personal obligation. I believe the difference is that at that time of my life I was seeking to be as disconnected as possible. It was just easier.
I received the accolades and finally the coveted sales job as a thank you for my sacrifice but ultimately left the company. I ended up riding a desk for the next 4 years but continuously longed to be back on the road. I always kept my eye on the prize and my resume up to date.
Career of a Lifetime
I finally grabbed the brass ring and landed the job of a lifetime. The one that would change me and my life forever. Jobs are like that – I’m not sure if it’s the people or the job itself that shifts the paradigms of our lives, but they certainly do shape who we are and how we perceive things.
This career choice put me back on the road — albeit locally, I was still a free spirit in my car with my bag. Although I didn’t do as much traveling as I had, I did get to pull out a boarding pass and run through the airport several times a year.
This time, however, the ROI was much better. My travels took me to exciting cities and countries. I stayed in the finest hotels, ate at the best restaurants in each city and had a limo-guy carrying my bags.
Then it happened. I met someone who changed my way of thinking and operating in the world. He turned my head a different way and let me see something I’d been missing. My life.
Now that this guy was in my life I had to rethink how I was going to live and still be able to satisfy my personal need for travel (am I using travel here instead of freedom? – hmmmm). It was a struggle at first, but the emotional side in me persisted and this time wouldn’t let go. This man and these new feelings began to allow me to loosen my grip on the career of a lifetime and realize I was actually missing my lifetime.
He taught me to breath, laugh, and live. He was adamant and actually had to force me to stop working at times. I just didn’t see it. I think I didn’t want to because the career was feeding something in me that was starving. Realizing now that what I was starving for was acceptance, applause, and appreciation. You know…ego love.
Having a life was actually one of the hardest struggles of my life. It was like learning to walk again. There are times when life changes just ebb and flow naturally, but there are others when the struggle is so powerful, it becomes a process. For me it was one trusted step at a time, but he held my hand through it until I said ‘I do’ and he’s still holding my hand today as we take each new step together.
What Goes Around
Yes, the career was fabulous. The awards, the recognition, the money and the life was all that I could have prayed or asked for. I got it! I made it!
However, as quickly as I rode the career rocket, I found each year there were faster rockets passing me by. My family and home responsibilities were constantly testing me. I tried everything – bringing my husband along to make mini-vacations for us but the job just wanted too much. As time went on, it felt like I was being torn apart. Being home was becoming more appealing and necessary. My husband and home life came with considerable responsibilities and they became the priority.
Fast Forward about 20 year and at this very moment, I find myself, once again, sitting in a hotel room. I’ve been on the road since Monday with an ETA back at The Compound Friday afternoon. Retired and blogging about what was while I wait for my husband to finish his on-the-road work day.
Honestly, this has been the hardest paradigm shift of my life. The irony is incredible, and alas, I never really expected that the one who threw me a life saver would be the one drowning in the corporate bullshit.
The expectation of the corporate beast has grown and grown over the years. They want more, they train you more, they call you more, they want more and guess what? They’ll take whatever they can from you because if you won’t, tomorrow they’ll hire and launch a faster rocket. I see it daily and especially when I’m kissing my husband good bye as he heads out for another tour of duty.
I sat at the complimentary hotel breakfast among all the roller bags and backpacks. As I casually sipped my coffee, I watched my husband wolf his breakfast down with one eye on the clock and listened to all the strategic and value added conversations going on at the tables around me. People, it’s only 7:30AM! The company is okay without you’re working for them all the time. They’re not listening right now anyway…..or are they?