Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Day Three: Changing the view

Yesterday was interesting since Joy, my mentor and the departing CEO, was out of the office which gave me a day to go through files, review past board minutes, etc. I also sat in on a Quality Assurance meeting with the entire staff, which was productive and refreshingly upbeat. The day sped by.

The job is perfect. I couldn't ask for a better group of people to work with or a better cause to work for. Living arrangements - now that's a different story. In such a small community, there simply aren't very many properties available and the few that are for sale aren't big enough to accommodate our needs.

So, today I'll revisit a property we considered buying last year before we found the place in Red Rock. It's a grand old Spanish house that was built in the 40's or 50's by the guy who owned the local lumber company here. So it has pretty good bones. Years and years of neglect have taken a toll though and just making the place livable will be a super human feat. The stucco is cracked, there are foundation issues, roof leaks have rotted the ceilings in part of the house and destroyed what was a beautiful wood floor in others. The kitchen has to be gutted and redone and a new source of heat and air conditioning has to be installed. Other than that, it's a beautiful old place that could be absolutely perfect when it's done.

The question is, do we want to tackle that? And would it be smart? Oh, and it's literally two blocks from the clinic! It's been a year since I looked at it so I'll look at it with different eyes today since our lives are in a different place this time.

Come to think of it, I'm looking at a lot of things with different eyes these days.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day Two: Home Sweet Home

Whew . . . yesterday was my first official day on my new job. It was everything I expected it to be - exciting, scary, overwhelming, interesting and exhausting. Joy, the departing CEO, is an excellent teacher but about 3:30, we both looked at each other and knew we were operating on information overload and it was time to stop for the day.

I met and re-met all the staff yesterday. What a great bunch! Mostly female, all age groups and a wide range of ethnicity adds a certain richness that's priceless. Thanks to Joy's leadership, each department runs itself while seamlessly working together as one big team. I am so impressed with the scope of services and how driven the teams are to provide better quality care. Plus, they're just really nice people.

My life has taken on whole new dimensions. Having a set work schedule is new for me but welcome. Trying to complete projects for several clients often had me working well past midnight and on weekends - now I work 8 to 5 - Monday through Friday. A great thing. I actually GET PAID for vacation time - an awesome concept I haven't had in years. Plus, for the first time in six years, we have health insurance with a deductible that won't break the bank, excellent copays and only have to pay 40% of the premium. In this day and age, that's every bit as important as salary. So, it's all good.

There are a few downsides to moving to the desert from the tropics - like chapped lips, extra dry skin and dry eyes. Of course, hairspray is ridiculous in New Mexico winds so forget that. If you love lush yards and lots of vegetation like we do, you'll spend a lot of time looking up native plants on the Internet. Not a lot of evergreens around and in fact, not a lot of any greens around. But if anyone can make a yard out of a pad of dirt, I know Mike can.

Oh, and I got a post office box yesterday so I could fill out my paperwork at the office. I realized when I started the process that I was, at that moment, virtually homeless. I'm sleeping on my daughter's sofa and living out of a suitcase so I really didn't have an address.

But I do now! It's a modest little box in a big neighborhood of tidy little boxes that line the walls of a pink brick building downtown. For now, that's my address and I'm right proud of it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Day One: Butta has landed.

The family calls my car, a cream colored Chrysler 300C, Butta. When I first got it, I kept saying how it had a ride as smooth as butta - so the name stuck. Butta is the only familiar thing in my world right now.

When I got into Clovis last night, I stopped in Walmart to pick up a few personal items before heading to Fort Sumner, sixty miles away. The sun was shining, it was 78 degrees and breezy when I went inside. Twenty minutes later when I gathered my purchases to leave, I was confronted with 55 miles an hour winds blowing red dirt like fine pellets across the parking lot and the temperature had fallen to 68 (the windchill had to be in the 30's). I nearly froze in my light denim capris and three dollar flip flops as I ran through the "dirty rain" looking for my car.

An hour later when I pulled into Staci's driveway, the wind was blowing even stronger. No one was home so I wrestled my bags out of the trunk and finally got them over the gravel yard (not a good platform for bags on wheels) and into the house. I had to find some warmer clothes and socks!

Kolt and Johni came home about fifteen minutes later and that lifted my spirits some. But the truth is, I was terribly lonely for Michael and nothing was going to fix that. The anxiety and even some apprehension about this new chapter of our lives was a bit overwhelming.

I'm excited about my new job - concerned about finding a new home in this very different environment - torn about whether or not to sell our home in Texas - happy to have an opportunity to be a bigger part of Staci's children's lives - sad about not being an hour away from having lunch with my girlfriends and a host of other things that just keep running through my mind.

I chose not to go to church with the family this morning so I could have some quiet time with God to ask for wisdom, patience and comfort. Then, I'm going into to my new "hometown" to look around and take some photos of houses for sale to send to Mike. I also need to take a look at Staci's rent house since that's where I'll be staying for the next month or so, until we find something more permanent.

It's a beautiful day for it. Nice and cool and a soft breeze - but I'm clear about one thing. That could change in a heartbeat.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

We're packing our panties AGAIN!

Great news! I got the job. I leave on Saturday, my car packed with the essentials to start work on Monday as the CEO of a rural medical clinic in eastern New Mexico. I am genuinely excited, honored and overwhelmed at the opportunity.

The first few months will be a bit strained since Mike will stay here to finish up his paintings for Leanin' Tree while I stay with our daughter and her family in Fort Sumner and begin my new position. We'll decide later whether or not to sell our lovely new home here right way or wait until the housing market improves. We don't do well apart so if we don't sell, we will rent there and close this place down until we're ready to put it on the market.

Talk about change. Here, it's hot, humid, lush, green, foresty and hilly. There, its hot during the day but cool at nights (good thing), very low humidity (another good thing), some green, flat and deserty. Here, we have no snow. There they do. We're 18 miles from shopping here - 60 from major shopping there. So there will be some adjusting to manage but after all the moving we've done in our lives, I expect it to be relatively easy.

This blog will likely become more of a journal over the next few months as we both deal with our new roles. Mike, who has been lovingly spoiled by me in many ways will now have to "batch it," paying these household bills and doing kitchen duty alone. In return, I've been just as lovingly spoiled and will have to open my own wine, figure out what to have for dinner since Mike usually cooks 4 or 5 times a week. I'll also have to learn to sleep without the rhythmic sound of his breathing next to me, something I find very comforting.

Our porch time sharing will be via cell phones or instant messaging. We're both sure we'll get through it just fine.

I went shopping today for a few new outfits since my current work wardrobe consists of sweat pants or shorts and old tee shirts. For some reason, it seemed like everything I tried on was tighter than it used to be. I only purchased a couple of things because once I'm there, I'll have to take off at least 10 lbs. With money tight and two households to support for a while, I can't afford a whole new set of fat clothes!

Life really, really is a journey so we're "packing our panties," as Mike's mother used to say - and headin' out.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Life's crazy little curve balls....

My goodness, life does throw us some curves! Just when you think you're all settled into a routine . . . everything changes. Big time.

Last summer, after many conversations about the sagging economy, our own financial health, the ever escalating cost of living and the unpredictable nature of being self employed - we decided to make some changes to our lifestyle (especially if we had any hopes of retiring before we're 90!). One option was to invest everything we had into a wine bar/art gallery/upscale deli business in our local community. It was a great idea and our business plan indicated it could become a very thriving business - if we had the necessary capital to do it right, up front.

We quickly realized we would have to go into major debt to get the business up and running and in these uncertain times, that just wasn't an option. The other more practical option was for me to go back to work full time, hopefully in a position that included health and retirement benefits - not to mention a steady, predictable paycheck.

I honestly enjoy working so I had no problem pounding the pavement (or surfing the web), sending out resumes, etc. I soon found out that it was me and about a cazillion other professionals looking for the same kind of job in a town full of college graduates who will work for anything just to stay in Austin. The market is literally flooded with well trained, highly educated people all vying for the same positions.

Then last Tuesday afternoon, my cell phone rang while I was running errands in town. The lady on the other end was asking me if I could make an interview at 5:00 p.m. the next day . . . in New Mexico! I didn't hesitate. Yes, I told her, I could definitely be there - and I was. I met with some terrific folks about a perfect job. Now the wait begins to see if they liked me as much as I liked them! be continued