Once Luke and I agreed we were ready to head back north, it was hard to think of anything else. The biggest pieces of the puzzle were selling our house and landing me a new job, but the sequence wasn't clear. Ditch the house to act quickly on a job lead? Find a job and negotiate relocation?
In the end, it didn't matter. It's not like either goal could be achieved overnight. There was no reason I couldn't start my job search at the same time we were preparing the house to sell. If there was a development on either end, we could revisit things then.
Technically, though, according to the inaugural entries in my "House" and "Career Planning" notebooks, the job stuff came first.
Even before the Chicago revelation, I was thinking about a career change, shortly before the New Year, as a result of some major changes at my company. For years I took my job security for granted as Luke and I went through the financial ups and downs so familiar to young married couples with children. Now, though, it was doubly time to leave the nest and try something new.
This was not easy.
When you are with a company for seven years, when you enjoy your job and love your coworkers, and also when you are baby-stepping through major life transitions, it is very easy to avoid thinking about your next move. When I started this process in January, I had a dusty LinkedIn page and a resume from 2005, both of which were as sad as an empty bag of cookies. Plus, when I took my job in Indy, it was after a casual sit-down with the CEO, whom I knew well from my time at Saint Joe (Pumas stick together, yo). My resume came into play after I signed the offer letter, and only for HR purposes.
In other words, I was starting from scratch. And man, did it suck.
I had a terrible time summarizing the first ten years of my career in neat little bullet points. I sat for hours at the computer, typing and retyping while Luke and the kids slept, blanking on what I was good at and how to position myself to a potential employer. I struggled with the format of my resume and how to use LinkedIn. I was connected to people from my past I wouldn't have coffee with now, let alone vouch for in a professional setting. I didn't even know how to find jobs these days. Were the cool kids still using Monster, or was that site retired along with my hair straightener?
(Random aside: I combed through two years of blog entries to find that gem, and OMG. WAS FREMA ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES OR WHAT. Please to ignore all postings before 2006. Thank you.)
Based on those early attempts, I wouldn't have hired me.
But I was leaping, right? Better to start with amateur than nothing at all.
But it wasn't just my resume. I also had to reactivate my career network after spending the last few years head down, focusing on the minutia of my workload and all the moving parts at home. Maintaining relationships in my industry wasn't tied to my performance review and shockingly wasn't covered in my wedding vows. But as a mid-level professional and the main breadwinner for my family, I couldn't afford to put this development area on a shelf anymore.
That's where my notebook came in, writing down the names of people I wanted to reconnect with and those I wanted to meet, recording our meetings and any resulting action items. It was hard to reach out to people after years of no contact, and a handful of emails went ignored, but overall everyone was quite gracious and eager to help me.
Plus, it was FUN. So much fun. I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoyed talking to people, and that networking doesn't have to feel like work when you keep good company.
One of those "good company" folks was my boss. With a tentative game plan and an active resume, it was time to tell her.
Again, NOT EASY.
The entire time we worked together, Raquel and I maintained a very special relationship. We hit it off so well that you would have thought we hired each other instead of inherited each other. Which was good because we spent a lot of time together managing the company's brand, doing everything from late-night photo shoots to out-of-town press checks to growing our department with more staff. She gave me the freedom to do my job and welcomed my ideas, but she wasn't afraid to offer constructive criticism.
It can be tricky to make friends at work, especially with someone you report to, but because we had so much respect for each other, it was never an issue.
And work aside, Raquel was (is!) a wonderful friend. A friend who brought doughnuts to celebrate my birthday and flowers to welcome me back from maternity leave. A friend who shared my passion for All My Children and would send me episode updates from her iPhone so I could stay in the loop after Luke and I canceled satellite and broke our VCR. We watched the series finale together at her house over Italian beefs from Portillo's. We were in constant contact while I was in gallbladder hell, and she came with her husband and mom to Liam's first birthday party in June.
I could never in good conscience walk into her office one day and blindside her with two weeks' notice. So, I took another leap and told her, through tears, over lunch in Februrary. And I never once regretted it. It was hard for both of us, knowing there would come a point when we wouldn't see each other every day, but I couldn't have balanced work and a job search as well as I did without her friendship and support.
Next up: the house.