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Labors of Love...A Labor Day Weekend Story

In case you have never really thought about the origins of Labor Day it is obviously a day off from "laboring" but we have the labor movement of the 19th Century to thank for this last hurrah for the end of the summer holiday.

To say I have been "laboring" a lot since the first holiday of the summer, Memorial Day, is really an understatement. And that's coming from someone who thrives on productivity and can work 7 days a week indefinitely if required...or maybe it's more about when you have endless energy like me and no issue with running and going and doing all day and into the night until my eyes finally start to flutter. That or when I cause a small oven fire at 11 pm because I thought that was exactly the time to start baking a bunch of cakes that I had planned to deliver to several people the following day.

Yeah, that happened during the holiday season last year and was shared in a blog. I'm not proud of moments like that, but I do believe it was still worth it to be able to get stuff done that will make others happy, smile, grateful, whatever.

Anyway, this has been a very busy summer for me and #TeamIJS. We were booked most days and the bulk of the jobs were for move management clients, especially a lot of last-minute ones to help people pack when they were suddenly confronted with a mover that bailed on them or, in most cases, the realization that they simply weren't going to get everything packed in time despite attempts to do it themselves. We stepped in and did our thing.

In the midst of everything, I received an opportunity to be an independent contractor for the past 7 weeks for New Hope Network in Boulder. Among the many things they do, they are the producers of the largest natural products tradeshows in the world, Expo East (in the fall) and Expo West (in the spring). I had the pleasure of working on Expo West right before the pandemic hit. Sadly, it was one of the first major events to be shutdown, and had to cancel the show less than 24 hours before it was due to start. I had truly been hoping that they were going to be able to hire me permanently but alas...COVID...sigh.

So when I got this latest offer at the beginning of July I contemplated whether I could juggle both running my own business and being in an office every day for almost two months. I had complete faith and trust in my team but really needed to make sure I wasn't going to be biting off more than I could chew. And after walking out this past Wednesday I can honestly say there were a few days that didn't go exactly as planned but overall this particular experiment was a complete success thanks, in part, to the amazing job that my friends at My Clone Solution have been doing at getting more automation and integration into the actual running of my business.

Having systems in place is obviously crucial to the success of any business but I am so grateful to have the founder of My Clone Solution, Brook Borup, and her team continuing to refine everything so I can spend less time working "in" and more time working "on" It's Just Stuff and having more opportunities like working on the NEXTY Awards for this year's Expo East in Philadelphia at the end of September. I truly loved being even a small part of this year's preparation for revealing the "Best New..." product in 23 different categories. It tapped into my "it's all about the details" organizing brain and I would do it again in a heartbeat...if they ask me of course. I will say, though, it was quite different energy from the last time I worked in their office that can accommodate about 250 people. I think there were 5 people there on average every day plus a few dogs since most of their permanent employees are still working from home.

Some days I was literally the only person there and that meant a little singing and .

dancing while listening to everything from classic rock to current pop at my standing desk. Then again, a building filled with people never stopped me from singing and dancing at my desk. Hey, #iamwhoiam 😊 Besides if I didn't move at least once every 30 minutes the lights would go out so I would have to activate the motion sensors anyway...just saying.

In the middle of my 7-week stint I got the news that a friend had been exposed to COVID and since I had been with her a few days before at an outdoor event that I now admit I should have been wearing a mask. It meant notifying everyone I had been with in the subsequent days that they could have been exposed and that included my direct supervisor at New Hope. A week before she had actually called me and started the conversation with "I just spoke to Human Resources..." and I thought to myself, "Am I being fired?" I know...a little irrational but nevertheless, nothing good usually follows a statement like that. Apparently, a few people who had been part of the preliminary judging for the NEXTY's had been possibly exposed at a conference that week and even though we were wearing masks and had the giant doors open in the kitchen for ventilation where I would prepare a lot of the nominated products for the judges to sample, I still went and got tested. The anxiety waiting for the results for both incidents was intense. I actually quarantined for 4 days the second time because it was a much more direct contact and the last thing I wanted was to be responsible for spreading the virus to others.

Being quarantined, though, meant working from home and while I could log in to New Hope's Microsoft Office account and do almost everything without skipping a beat, it was not nearly as productive as being in the office given the fact that part of my job was to check in dozens of samples that were arriving for the next round of judging. But my supervisor was so understanding and I am just so grateful that neither one of us ended up sick.

At some point during this time period my son decided he was accepting a job in Oakland, CA and would be leaving Telluride where he has been living the past two years. I knew he could make the drive by himself but remembered what it was like doing the cross-country trip from Florida to Colorado 5 years ago to start my new life here. I had my dog with me but still, in retrospect, I wish someone had done the trip with me. I volunteered to drive with him but that meant adjusting plans that were already in motion to visit my daughter in New York and possibly my father in Michigan, leaving after the Labor Day weekend and Rosh Hashana which starts at sunset tomorrow evening.

So I pivoted to heading west instead of east and arrived in Telluride yesterday. But getting here proved to have many challenges as I found out that to rent a car for one day from Boulder to Telluride was over $300. I obviously couldn't drive my own car because that would have meant leaving it here and having to somehow get back after my now two-week journey ahead. Clearly, that didn't make any sense so I thought I would fly knowing full well it would be even more to come directly to Telluride and booked a flight to Montrose which is about a 90-minute drive and would mean having my son pick me up. I know that was the last thing he wanted to do on one of his last days here but he sucked it up. I'm still not sure if he did it because of unconditional love or the fact that I promised to take him out for a really nice dinner last night but I will still take it as a parenting win except for the fact that he was late picking me up...

Packing for this trip got rather complicated as we were trying to figure out...

  1. Would there even be room in my son's car for my rather sizeable duffle along with all of his belongings?

  2. What route we were even going to take to get to Oakland because of the wildfires severely impacting everything around Lake Tahoe and threats of flash floods in the midst of monsoon season in Arizona and southern Utah potentially impacting the only other route we could take?

  3. Despite learning all about the art of layering clothes after living in Colorado for 5 years I am actually traveling to 7 different locations in 7 different states and I had to put my professional organizing skills to the test for so figuring out the weather along the way not to mention making sure I had clothes to attend Yom Kippur services in MI was proving to be the biggest challenge as I really didn't want to go over the 50 pound limit and have to pay the fee on 4 different flights. You can only imagine how happy I was when this number came up on the scale at the airport yesterday morning...

Talk about nailing it!!!

Suffice it to say, when I finally got home late Friday night after a week of wrapping up at New Hope and some last-minute clients that took longer than anticipated I really just wanted to go to bed and hope a fairy would sprinkle some pixie dust over my apartment living room and get everything packed and ready for me overnight. Yeah, that wasn't happening so I put on some motivating music...and in my world that usually means anything I can dance to...and hyperfocused for about 2 hours. I finally got into bed around 1 am and set my alarm for 7:30 am only to wake up around 3 am and never fell back asleep...ugh! I laid in bed hoping I would eventually get at least another hour but clearly I should have just gotten up and been productive including writing this monthly blog that I just didn't have the time to even begin to think about up until this weekend. It's not like I was going to be even more tired right?

So here I Telluride sitting outside on the deck of the place where my son has been living on an absolutely spectacularly gorgeous Sunday of Labor Day Weekend writing this blog, yet one more of my "labors of love".

The spectacular view from my current doesn't suck I promise!

I would rather be hiking or hanging out in town where the Telluride Film Festival is taking place and a few of the events are open to non-festival ticket holders as I found out when I went to get a late breakfast for my still sleeping son and myself a few hours ago. I gave myself the gift of sitting in on a panel discussion that included Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kenneth Branagh among others.

My daughter is in the film industry and it was my hope that she would have made it here for this festival while my son was living here but thanks to the pandemic last year and the last-minute decision to leave this year, it didn't happen. But when I texted her this morning with a "wish you were here" message she said she is definitely going to plan to come back here and bring her brother to which my response was "What about me?" She never really answered so I will just be inviting myself it seems to that eventual party.

My son just got back from picking up some things he had been storing at a friend's place and sat down with me for a few minutes to discuss a little strategy for the next few hours and few days. He has been living in what is essentially a room that you can't help but bump into yourself moving around. Think the smallest cabin on a cruise ship, divide by half and that is the space. Living in a space that small takes a very minimalist approach to life and I don't know if he was able to do it because of whatever influence I may have had on him through the years or he is just a 24-year-old living his dream in this amazing mountain town and recognized how much of his life revolves around being anywhere but in this boarding house style building. It shouldn't take long to get everything packed but I sensed some degree of hesitancy. After all, he is leaving a place that he always dreamed of living in and I know he will miss it at times. When I left Florida I never looked back but if I had to leave Colorado? It would be tough for sure. There is something about this state that gets into your blood and it is hard to give it up...or at least in my opinion. But I am so proud of him for taking this leap of faith and hope he never loses the desire to move on when the time seems right.

I am actually sleeping in his room since by the time I found out I was coming here there were no hotel rooms or Airbnbs because of the film festival crowd and he is sleeping in a friend's room in the same building who is away this weekend. When I woke up this morning I raised the blinds and saw the 3 buddhas I had given him when he first landed here exactly 2 years ago tomorrow. I also noticed the penguin on skis which I sent to him at the beginning of the year and was part of another blog story about a job I had clearing out a client's mother's storage unit filled with among other things hundreds of various penguin items. I have been a little weepy the past few weeks thinking about the fact that my son will be leaving Colorado but seeing what I hope carrying some degree of meaning to him made me smile...and then cry.

Even though we weren't able to see each other nearly as much as I imagined primarily because of the pandemic there was a certain amount of comfort knowing he was a 6-hour drive away. So, yes, I will miss that but am so happy for him as he embarks on another phase of his life. I will say that if I had to pick a place for him to move, Northern California is definitely one that I will enjoy visiting. And I know it will make it a little easier on some level getting both of my kids together since my daughter never really embraced coming to Colorado to visit. She loves to ski but that's where her sense of adventure in my adopted home ends. Getting her to the west coast or my son to the east coast will be our future and I will happily travel to either.

I could spend the rest of the afternoon writing about all of the feels I'm feeling but it's time for me to go do what I came here to do so we can leave tomorrow morning and make it to our first stop along the way in Park City, a town I've never been to and am really looking forward to exploring for about 24 hours. Fortunately, the Caldor fire does seem to be getting under control as of this morning so we will venture on to the North Lake Tahoe area the next day and if it's not too smokey we will explore there as well. I've been there but my son hasn't so I'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed we can at least get to see the lake and then land in Oakland sometime on Wednesday and get him settled before I leave on a red-eye on Friday night to head to the east coast where it's possible my daughter with have a few "labors of love" tasks for me as well.

It really is true...a woman's work is never done, but I wouldn't want it any other way. I love what I do for my clients and will always do my best to balance those "labors of love" to help my family and friends as well. It takes a lot of organizing, especially for a trip like I am currently on, but the experiences along the way or even just the views like this one...

...always make it so worth all of the craziness leading up to it

Hope you are having lots of your own experiences this holiday weekend but please do them safely and yes, that does include wearing a mask because mask mandates are back whether you believe them or not.


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