After two-almost-three cancelled flights, I finally got on a plane out of the snowy midwest and on my way to California for a work trip/office holiday party. The intent was to go for the entire week, but wintery conditions prevented many departures and delayed others. So if you're reading this over a fresh cup of java, the bitter wind is howling, and white accumulation is covering your walks and roads, do the following: Hit play below, get your Cali groove on and continue reading.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdWYw5JPFoo
But also in the process of boarding my flight, two un-thinkables happened. If you follow me on facebook, my post went like this: "Sitting on the floor at O'Hare, waiting for my delayed flight. Stage Left: a man just wiped out on his crutches and took the cleaning lady down with him. Stage Right: a woman just went into labor. Somebody call the doctor - things are getting weird!"
As if travel during the holidays couldn't get anymore stressful, a birth and a floor dive at O'Hare was just about all the entertainment I could handle for one day. I can't wait to see what the flight home has in store for me. That wild experience aside, I'll continue.
Something about being by myself while cooped up on a plane, flying high in the opposite direction of home, gets me feeling all sentimental and nostalgic, especially at this time of the year. I apologize for any and all sappiness if you don't do sappy. The flight got me thinking of my first flight out to California for my interview with the company I now work for.
If you don't know much about me or about my job, it's a little different than the norm and I'd love to tell you how this all happened. Many people casually ask, and they get the elevator-ride version that goes like this: "A design company out of California contacted me on LinkedIn and I work for them from home." A little vague, but all very true.
If you do know me a little more than just from following NielsenHomestead, I'm sure all kinds of questions ran through your mind when you heard what I was doing. Does working from home for a company across the country even exist? Who does that? How does that even work? No wait, I bet she actually got laid off from her old job and she's making this up in the interim… It's ok if you thought this. I probably would have if I were you and you were me.
But the truth of the matter is that this job of mine is for real, and with the help of modern technology and some pretty sweet co-workers, it's actually not as difficult as it may sound.
Rewind the clocks to last April..
We had been married for seven months at the time and were still working on our big old house. We were also commuting a good 45 minutes to our day job, on top of all the home renovations. Physical and mental exhaustion was getting the best of us, but we unfortunately came to know it as the norm and we just called it growing pains. Painters and contractors were in and out of the house on a daily basis. We hadn't seen the gym in months and were feeling it.
And then on the same exact Monday afternoon, two separate emails in our two separate inboxes caught our attention. Both presented two dramatically different opportunities - one being to move about an hour from our existing location to a very nice community and the other to move about 32 hours from our existing location… as in California.
I remember sitting with Danny in our freshly painted living room that night, laughing hysterically at the irony of this all happening at once. Of course this would happen to us! We were both very interested in the opportunities but knew it was either one or the other. Never did we ever think that they could both work out and improve our lives in such a positive way. It didn't take much discussion to agree that simply going to both interviews to see what the positions were all about was a no-brainer. Being young and up for an adventure without much holding us back (other than our house) left us saying why the heck not?
And on that same Monday night, Roto-Rooter was coming in t-minus 35 minutes (for the third time that week) to snake our main drain line and dig a giant root out. No problem. Tack that onto my list of things to do. Put that right under #1: consider moving across the country. And put it before #3: sell this giant house, pack up everything you own, and then move to California, maybe? Because even our crazy old neighbor Bill knew that if the main drain line doesn't function, nobody on the planet is buying the house.
Are we having fun yet?
And so we both went our separate-interview-ways the following week after two phone interviews each. I flew out to California on a Sunday and met up with the team at a swanky rooftop bar in Laguna Beach. It was beautiful and looked just like the show I watched in high school. Literally. Everything was beautiful - the scenery, the sunset, the people, the cars, the shops. It was like another world. The job wasn't exactly what I thought it might all involve, but the opportunity for a major life-change to a warm place clouded my mind and had me thinking what if?
While I got the job information and saw the beauty of the place and what it had to offer, my heart knew that this inevitably would mean moving our whole life across the country to a place where we knew nearly no one. With a whole lot to ponder, I flew back the day after a whirlwind meeting with them. I was only gone two days and needed Danny so bad. I had so many thoughts to spew out of my head and I needed him to help me weigh the options.
My connecting flight on the way home was in Minneapolis, which was covered in snow. We flew in through the worst turbulence I have ever experienced and then we sat on the tarmac for my next flight back to Ohio for over two hours. We were waiting for our plane to be "de-iced" as my thoughts overwhelmed me, my phone was dying, the plane was getting rowdy and uncomfortable, and I needed familiar territory and Danny. Reality was setting in and the job offer was on the table. California was a very real and exciting possibility, but at the same time I was terrified. It was also 10pm in Ohio and I had to be at work at 7:30am the next morning, but I was still in the Minneapolis snowstorm. My patience was waning and I was slowly ruining the sleeve of my sweatshirt as I quietly sobbed into it and waited for takeoff. I made it home that night at some ridiculous hour of the next morning. Danny's comforting words and embrace never felt so good. Home is a special place, no matter where it is or if it's covered in plaster dust and stripped wallpaper.
The next day, Danny's interview went overwhelmingly well too and another offer was on the table. Ohh jeepers what are we supposed to do and what's the Divine Plan here? Boatloads of prayer and considering pros and cons followed into the next week, along with panic moments and lots of crying. We decided that the job opportunity that was more of the dream job was where we were heading.
Plus, having such devoted family and friends so close to us was a blessing. We simply couldn't imagine walking away from such a gift that we'd grown so used to enjoying on a regular basis. We also looked at our future as a couple and considered what it would be like to one day raise kids and be their only family. To have them not really know their grandparents and other extended family wasn't what we wanted.
It was Danny's dream job! So....... we stayed in the Midwest (and moved about an hour from where we were)! Wooohooooo! Decision made! Major relief.
I politely declined the California job offer and thanked them immensely for their gracious hospitality. Their initial response was disappointment, but they made it clear that the offer still stood if we decided to change our minds.
But the kicker was that the town we were headed to for Danny's job wasn't a huge city that would have a design firm for me to pursue. I was way over the whole long commute to work gig. After another "hey, have you changed your mind yet?" email from the California office, I decided to ask if working for them from Ohio was an option they would consider. So, my over-analyzing self spent a good portion of a day, conjuring up some long novel of an email, politely asking to work from home, noting my promised responsibility, honesty and devotion to the company and the like. But I failed to remember who I was talking to: laid back California people. Their simple quick response of, "Yepp, I think we can definitely make that work. I'll be getting back with you soon." was all it took. My mouth dropped and I contained my excitement at my existing job. I signed my new contract and put in my two weeks. And as they say, the rest is history.
We northern Yankees can be so dang stiff sometimes. I often regret those natural instincts of mine to be so proper and formal and forget all else. Time for another Cali groove. Get into it this time. Maybe surf down a snow hill on a car hood or trash can lid for me? Ok that was borderline "country." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYqcOGPhSvw
I'm forever grateful for the opportunity presented everyday to design out of my home studio, but I'll be the first to say that it didn't just come to me out of thin air. I worked my tail off in college and at my last job to build my portfolio to be something that would catch eyes. I made sure my portfolio and resume was updated on my linkedin page and overall made myself available for new opportunities. I'm in this flexible position today because I gave something new and exciting a chance. I could have easily nixed the initial LinkedIn message without a second thought, simply because it was "a job on the other side of the country." And looking back at that very stressful week of considering the big move, nixing the opportunity right out of the gate would have been the easy way out. I haven't regretted our decision since we made it.
Today is my last full day in California for the week and we're about to hit the course at a little place that looks like this for the Christmas party... I have never actually golfed in my life, but I am a lefty and I hope everyone in the 100 yard radius is ready to duck, whether I yell FORE! or not! This ought to be a riot. Cheers!