Count Your Blessings

By: Tim Wies

January 2012

I am glad 2011 is behind me. The year was difficult for all of us—some more than others. Last December I had one my most difficult periods as a family man and as a business owner. On what I call "Awful Tuesday” I had to downsize our office and management staff by 25 percent. Some employees had been part of the company for 15 years. They were friends and co-workers and none had earned the right to not work here. Through this experience I have gained a profound respect for our industry’s field superintendants who have to cut workers on a regular basis.

Fortunately my employees landed on their feet in a short time. Some went outside the industry while others embarked on new careers in the field, but all of them are excited about their new opportunities. For this I am extremely grateful.

Two weeks after Awful Tuesday, my mother passed away. Her health deteriorated rapidly within a 10-day period, but my sister, I and our families had the opportunity to spend those last days with her. Though her body was failing, her mind was still sharp, and we all had some quality time alone with her before she passed.

My mother was quite the character. She was very much the social butterfly; she could walk into a room of strangers and leave with several newfound friends. But first and foremost she was a teacher, and she placed an extremely high value on education.

Even in her passing, she was still teaching us. The night she passed, my sister found a file on my mother’s computer titled, "Who Am I?” It contained seven single-spaced pages of entries of what she liked: "I like White Castle sliders—three please. … I like going to daily Mass. I get up early and sometimes go out without my ‘face on’ or my hair done (wear a hat), but after 60 some years, I’m preparing for my finals for one last time, I guess. … I love to talk to intelligent people—more intelligent than me—in fields that I’m not well versed. … I love seeing old friends and having them remember fun and silly times we had together.”

My mother knew herself well, and more importantly she took the time to reflect on the good things in life and to document them for all of us to see. Her notations showed me that even though work is difficult, bad economic news is unrelenting, and we are working harder and achieving less, life is truly good—so count your blessings!

Following the example set by my mother, I have started my own list. Each night I write down five or six things that I enjoy, like or love doing. It has helped me through these tough times and inspired me to continue to look at the world with optimism and a positive attitude. I invite everyone to try it; you will smile at the end of the day.

Until next month, work hard, work safely, enjoy family and be strong!

In addition to being the 2011–2012 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Wies is president of T.J. Wies Contracting, Inc. in Lake St. Louis, Mo.