2016: A Year of Challenges and Uncertainty

Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our life won’t have a title until much later

 

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Happy New Year! 

Change is a part of life. Chapters of your story end, only to begin anew, with new adventures ahead. For me, 2016 was full of uncertainty and of new changes. I started the year working at the Science Museum Oklahoma, a job which I loved. I had a lot of creative freedom running a café, and my SMO family was amazing. I was happy, and content. If you would’ve told me on January 1st of this year that my life would be completely shaken up in less than 6 months, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was comfortable where I was at, both professionally and personally. But maybe that was the problem.

In April, we decided to make a huge change in our life. With the oil market crashing in Oklahoma, and the housing market presumably crashing behind it, we decided that it was probably a good idea to try to leave the state for a place with a better economy. In April, Matt drove out to Salt Lake City to start scouting for jobs and a place to live. It is not easy trying to find an apartment in the city that accepted two large dogs, one of whom is a German Shepherd! I went out and visited about a month into his time in Salt Lake, but other than that I spent the next two and a half months trying to get our house in Oklahoma ready to sell, packing and working, trying to work on the next year’s budget for my café, all with the expectation that I wouldn’t be the one to implement the plans I was creating. At the time, very few people knew that Matt and I were planning on moving, so everything had to go on as if nothing was changing. But in reality, I knew that my life was about to be turned upside down. Everything was going to change.

 

Those two and a half months apart were very difficult for me. Before that time, we had never spent more than a few nights at a time apart. My days mostly consisted of getting up, going to work, coming home, taking care of the dogs and making a small dinner for myself. If I had the energy I would pack or do some touch-up paint or landscape work on the house so that we could put it on the market. It was a pretty solitary existence. Matt and I would face time or talk most nights, but it took some major communication to figure out each other’s needs and expectations of a “long distance marriage”.

In June, I knew that the time was getting close. We were planning on moving sometime in July or August, so I started putting some feelers out and putting my resume out on Indeed and Monster. I wasn’t expecting anything too spectacular. My background and expertise has always been in food and hospitality management. I knew those jobs were a dime a dozen, so I wasn’t too worried about finding a job, but I really wanted to make sure I found the right job. About three weeks into my search I was contacted by EcoLab about a job opportunity with a territory opening in Salt Lake City. It was for an auditor position, which meant they needed someone to go into restaurants and basically make sure they were doing their job correctly. They told me it would involve a lot of travel, up to two weeks every month. It seemed almost too good to be true. I was flown out to Seattle, and after interview with several people, the perks definitely outweighed any doubts I had. I accepted the job the next day, and was asked if I could start in 3 weeks! That kicked everything into high gear! I had to pack up a 1300 square ft. house, put the house up on the market, sign a lease on an apartment in Salt Lake City, find a moving company to get all our stuff to Utah, and then drive myself and the dogs 18 hours to Salt Lake.  And I had to do it all in 3 weeks. Fortunately, Matt came back home the week before so that he could drive out with me.

 

Driving into Salt Lake City, after a being in the car for almost a full day was a little surreal. The mountains are beautiful and so close to the city. You can’t help but stare at them as you drive North. It hadn’t quite kicked in yet that I lived there now. It had been less than a week before that my SMO family threw me a goodbye party and walking out of work that last day, I definitely teared up a little. That was the hardest job I’ve ever left, so much so that even now, I miss it some days.

My new job is different than anything I’ve done before, but I think that’s what makes it interesting. I’ve gotten to see some parts of the country I wouldn’t have visited otherwise, like Eugene, Oregon, or Naperville Illinois. I’ve become a lot more independent as I have to travel alone more now. My “office” is my car, so I don’t work with a lot of people face to face on a regular basis. It’s nice because there is no office politics, but it can get a little lonely sometimes! My favorite part of my job though is that I get to train managers and team members of hundreds of different restaurants best practices on food safety. A lot of people that I come into contact with during my audits only know that there are rules in place that they have to follow, but they don’t understand why the rules exist. I love doing audits where I’ve coached managers on how to do something and then when I come back the next time, they’ve taken everything I’ve said into consideration and fixed everything I showed them the time before!

Moving to Salt Lake was a huge change. And to be honest, there isn’t a clear reason why we did it yet. Everything hasn’t magically fallen into place like we thought it would when we decided to move. Things have been hard. It’s more expensive living out here. We’re farther away from our families and I honestly don’t know when the next time I’ll see them again will be. Spending Thanksgiving alone without family was really hard. I’ve always been close enough that I could see them on a weekend if I wanted to. I can’t do that anymore. But I know someday we’ll look back and realize this move, however difficult it might’ve been, was worth it. There’s another chapter after this one. This story could have many different plot twists, but I know, in the end, all the dots will connect, and it will all make sense.

 

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My Sister Sarah’s wedding, March 2016

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