Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Guilt of Paradise and finding Malu

So here we are in October. Andy is still unemployed and depressed. I'm employed but going crazy with stress from my job and a little bit too from knowing that I am the only one bringing in a salary. That in itself is enough motivation to not say no to every project coming your way even though you are overbooked. But we are on vacation in Hawaii and I'm looking for some "malu" or peace. At least for the two weeks here in paradise! Expensive paradise. In the middle of my biggest project at work.

The guilt, of course, is a bit overwhelming. But why shouldn't we take a vacation? Yes it eats into our nest egg that we've utilized quite well since Andy's lay-off. We've done the due diligence our finances. We've cut out unnecessary expenses -- no cleaning service, no landscaping projects, more cooking at home/less eating out. We have consolidated our mortgage into one 15-year low interest loan. I make a very decent salary. So why should we feel guilty about a vacation?

Well, for one thing, everything is so expensive here! I had a mani/pedi yesterday and didn't ask how much it cost before I got it. I thought how much could it be? Well, you can imagine my surprise when I got a ticket for $150!!! The little flower on my big toe cost $25...for each toe! But it was a wonderful mani/pedi...they rubbed a delicious pineapple and sea salt exfoliation treatment on my legs and then a nice massage with pineapple scented oil. The same for my hands and arms. Plus I got acrylic pink and white on my nails. I'm used to paying about $80 for these services at home. I guess I got the premium Hawaiian service for the extra $70!

My husband tells me to not worry about it. I deserve the pampering. Honestly, I agree with him! I have been so extremely stressed out and this vacation has done wonders. I don't really care how much we spend. The guilt comes because I think I should!

Everyday the news shows more and more issues about the economy. More job losses, more people evicted, more people going hungry. I have many friends who were victims of the same lay off as Andy at that big blue company. They are out there looking for jobs and wondering what they are going to do after the severance pay is gone. Andy has applied for so many jobs online and the only responses he's had have been for selling insurance or personal financial services.

I feel guilt that I am not happy in my job right now. I am overstressed, got too much going on to do the kind of job I want to do and I want to do something different! I want a promotion! I want to move up in my company. I keep telling myself, "At least I have a job." But you know what? That is so unfair that I'm not allowed to have goals and expectations. I think some companies use this as an unfair advantage. Let's get rid of the people that make this company what it is and then the people we have left will be so fearful of keeping their job they'll take on everything we throw at them. I'm not sure all companies think this way but it sure feels like it. From a company financial perspective, looking at figures on paper, I'm sure it is easy to cut spending by cutting employees. Publically traded companies have an obligation to their stockholders to be profitable and an easy way to drive profits if sales are not there is to cut expenses. Employees being one of the highest expenses. As a stokeholder in several large companies, that doesn't really give me Malu. I'm not sure what the Hawaiian word for agita is but...I feel it.

So, I'm taking almost three weeks off in the middle of my biggest project's most busy time. And I'm spending money on luxuries and gourmet dining. And I'm having a great time and de-stressing. And hopefully, I can keep a little of Hawaii's "malu" (peace) with me when I'm completely underwater in everyday life.

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