8 years in the making…

Last week marked the first actual vacation I’ve had from work in eight years.

It’s uncomfortable to even read that sentence. But it’s full of truth. I’ve never pegged myself as a workaholic, but I have to own my part in the situation.

I work for a small law department nestled within a medium-sized company. Our department, at best, has always been thinly staffed. When I started in 2012 there was our General Counsel…and me. I came in as a paralegal — a jack of all trades so to speak. I took my first vacation that fall and logged in each morning and each evening to make sure nothing was blowing up. The position wasn’t even that busy back then — we were just getting started.

Over the years, we’ve hired more attorneys and my role has changed. I’m more of the legal operations director now-a-days, managing everything from litigation to metrics and everything in between. But this past year has been both a difficult and a fabulous ride.

About a year and a half ago, my boss, the person who hired me, left for a new opportunity. As happy a I was/am for her, that left a bit of a hole in our department and really, in my job satisfaction. At the time she left, we had an interim CEO. An older gentleman who preferred to hire older gentlemen in open positions.

For a time, our second in command, Chris, was the interim GC. He’s awesome and really smart, and I would have been happy to work under him from the start. That lasted about 9 months. Until our CEO made a poor hiring decision bringing in a new guy who, after a year, never really got our business. So much so that he was checked out the last few months.

I work from home on the regular — nothing to do with Covid. Our corporate offices are in Colorado. We decided to move to the South a few years ago and the company kept me on as a telecommuter. However, I’ve always had great communication with everyone, even from the distance.

Once Covid hit, I stopped having regular interaction with my new boss. I mean zero — nada — for eleven weeks. Four phone calls, all lasting under five minutes in eleven weeks. I could have been on vacation that whole time — my boss had no idea what I was doing.

Don’t get me wrong, I had nothing personal against the man — he was a perfectly nice person — he just didn’t understand our business, or what each of us brought to the table. And that’s frustrating to work under.

On the pro-side of this year…we hired two new paralegals. One to handle contracts and corporate and one to handle litigation. They started in April and are both pretty well trained these days, which leads me to the heading of this post. I finally had enough support to take a real vacation.

Since moving here three years ago, I have been a part of a Friday morning bible study. About the time we arrived, one of the ladies from that group had moved to Dallas. Her name is Brooke. Brooke enjoyed our group so much that over the years she has maintained her place by FaceTiming in to the meeting.

Last year we took a girl’s retreat to the beach and Brooke and I met for the first time in person and really clicked. Towards the end of the retreat last year we all agreed to take July 11 – 18 for this year’s retreat and I offered our place in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Then Covid hit.

Of the group, only Brooke was able to join me at the condo. But as much as we mourned missing the others — we had a fabulous adventure.

I arrived early on Saturday morning and spent a few days with a good friend from back home. Brooke came in on Monday and I picked her up at DIA and up the hill we went.

Tuesday I took a brief call for work and that was the last work thing I did for the week — miracle.

After the call we headed out to check off a weight-loss bucket item of mine. Three years ago on July 31st, I had weight-loss surgery. Weighing in at 300+ pounds I could not horseback ride. A favorite activity of mine, and one that reminds me very much of the good side of my childhood with my father. He and I spent many weekends over the years riding together.

Having lost over 100 pounds, I can now comfortably ride a horse. I both physically meet the weight requirements and I mentally do not feel like I’d be punishing the horse with my weight any longer.

We rode for an hour and a half through the forest on peak nine of the Breckenridge ski area. And it was magical. I smiled from ear-to-ear the entire time!!

We left the horses at the end and walked back to the car, up a small hill, about 100 yards in total and upon our arrival, we both collapsed into the car totally out of breath. We had some acclimating to do being at that elevation!!

Wednesday we decided to hike at Blue Lakes. This is a serene, clear and lovely body of water created at the bottom of a dam.

Once we got there and found the lake, we quickly realized there was only one way to walk around it. We had to navigate logs and boards in order to walk along a path that would eventually lead to a gorgeous waterfall.

My knees are many years past confidently supporting me in such endeavors. And Brooke has stability issues of her own, but in this moment, she was much braver than I was. She risked it to prove she could! And she did!!

I was so excited for her. And I think she was excited for herself, as well!

After a short time, we climbed back up the hill to our car and started the journey down the incline. We quickly came to a second trail head and decided to explore it for a bit. When we parked and started walking, we realized the path took us to that other side of the lake that would eventually lead to the waterfall. We were so excited. We took it slow — again — still acclimating to the high elevation (around 10,000 feet at that point) and we just kept trudging along, talking and enjoying the cooler, non-humid weather.

Along the way, we were walking through a grove of trees and it got a bit chilly. Next thing we knew, a white cold spot landed on Brooke’s hand. I couldn’t place it at first, thinking she was the unfortunate target of a bird — but turns out — it was SLEET! Sleet in July in the mountains!! Craziness!

And then it was over as fast as it started!

After just a bit more time, we arrived at the waterfall — and it was so worth every step and every breath we took to get there.

And the sound! It was all amazing.

We left the falls and headed back to the car and down the hill to lunch, which was just a burger joint in downtown Breck — but while there it started to rain (and we of course, were eating outside). The rain messed with my head a bit — living in the South, rain is warm. Being in the high mountains of Colorado, rain is freezing cold! But oh so refreshing!

We returned to the condo and I grabbed a nap.

Thursday was kayaking on Dillon reservoir. Another amazing adventure. We paddled for nearly two hours. And it was gorgeous. We finished before the typical afternoon storms rolled in, but not before we’d explored all the inlets and took a bunch of pictures!

Friday was our final full day and we decided to head up to the top of peak 8 (11,303 ft) and hike down the switch-backs to our condo at the bottom of peak 7. That was a two-hour endeavor and my shoulders are now peeling from the amount of sun exposure they received throughout the week. But it was so worth it.

There’s nothing quite like the blue skies of the mountains. So clean and clear. Breathtaking.

As fun as all these adventures were, I think my favorite part was getting to know Brooke better. We share a lot in common. And we started each morning out with a devotional that lead to deep discussions. It was so good for my whole being. We’re ready to plan next year’s adventures already!

On a side note – I did get one text from work while I was gone.

Our company decided to resolve the issues they were having with our boss. They released his employment moving Chris into his rightful position as our GC. After a refreshing and restorative vacation away from the office I was super excited and re-energized to return to work this week.

It absolutely was one of the best weeks I’ve had in a long, long time.

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