I know it’s late in the day, but I wanted to wish all a Merry Christmas and joy in the year to come.
So much has changed since I last took the time to update this blog. A whole new life has begun. The biggest external change is my location. I am no longer living in close proximity to the White House. In fact, I am not living in close proximity to much of anything. I have moved to the outskirts of Whitefish, Montana.
Why, one may ask? Because of a job.
My grams used say “Work is a blessing.” Never has this been more true for me than now.
A brief history:
On September 30th I was called into a meeting with my supervisor, his supervisor, and her supervisor. All day I had been feeling that something was coming and that it did not bode well for me. That feeling turned out to be justified, sadly, and at that meeting I was told that I was being laid off from The Gazette.
Losing a job is painful. Even when the people around you reassure you that you have done nothing wrong, it is impossible not to review every mistake, every possible misstep and wonder which of those faults or flaws is the “real” reason you were selected.
I cried when they told me. With what is happening with the economy job loss now is especially painful because of all the uncertainty that goes with it. Now what? What will I do? How will I live? How will I pay my rent? How will I pay for anything? How will I survive? Why did this happen to me?
I was also sad to lose that job because I genuinely like the people I worked with. The Gazette has a great photo crew and I miss them. And there are plenty of reporters and editors that I liked as well. Good people that I was glad to know. Losing the job means losing my daily connection with them.
I don’t remember how long it took me to start putting things in order, but I don’t think it took long. That is my survival mode. It’s something I learned from my father. Think. Then act. “Decide what needs to be done and then DO something about it.”
I needed to let people know, starting with my brother, because anything this big that hits my life is going to have an impact on his as well. We still own the house my parents left us in Kentucky and worst case scenario at least I am fortunate enough to have somewhere to go. Somewhere to retrench and start out fresh. That becomes the basic plan. I had just paid my rent and I had a place to stay until the end of October. I needed to let my landlady know that I would be moving out. I needed to let me friends know so they could pray for me. I needed to let my bank know, so that I could hopefully get my loan payments lowered. Arnie (my contact at First Southern) was great and got that taken care of for me. And then the big thing that has to be done — I have to learn about being unemployed. There is unemployment insurance and other benefits to those who are out of work. I have never availed myself of these benefits before, but this was certainly the time for it. And on top of all of this I had a wedding to shoot. On October 10 I had already promised to go to fly into Kansas City and photograph the wedding of two dear friends. Rob and Tiffany. Not like I don’t have enough to worry about but I was already committed and I didn’t want to not go.
The day before I left I received a letter from the state outlining the rules and regs of being unemployed. One of the rules is you must apply for at least two positions every week. I was about to leave the state and if I waited until I returned I would have missed my deadline. So I got on journalismjobs.com and found two positions I could apply for; one in Montana and one in Wisconsin.
The very first position I applied for is the one that I really wanted. Kalispell, Montana. Before I apply for a job I look it up on google maps and consider if that is a place I would want to live. Kalispell is up in the Northern Rockies. The paper — the Daily Inter Lake — is so named because this region is filled with lakes, and Kalispell is just north of one of the largest: Flathead Lake. It sounded like photographer’s heaven to me and I immediately started daydreaming out what life might be like out West.
On October 20 I got an email from the editor of the DIL telling me I had made the first cut. He outlined the salary for the job and wrote to find out if I was still interested. Yes. Still more than interested.
On November 3 he called and we set up a time to do a phone interview with him and two of his editors the next day.
On November 4 at 11:24 I started my interview. I can’t remember now what all was said or asked, but I had a good feeling about it. As the call was coming to an end I asked if they had any idea when I might know whether or not I had the position. He told me they would contact me by Friday. Two days of not knowing — I was in actual pain about this, but I tried to keep that out of my voice. Then he must have started calling my references because a little while later I got a call from Greg at the Gazette telling me that he had gotten a call from an editor in Montana and that at the end of the call he told Greg “Unless something unexpected turns up it looks like she’s on her way to Montana.”
Joyful! Joyful! How hard is it not to scream when you are this happy!?!
At 4:41 he called me again — the job is mine, when can I be there?
That was Wednesday night. I spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday packing and saying goodbye. Sunday I went to church to say goodbye to my church, and that afternoon I left Maryland behind me.
In all of this I have felt so blessed and protected. There are too many good things that happened to me to list them all here, but there is a list, a very long list of things and people that I am grateful for. For my church that prayed for me. For Erika who was such a friend. For Tina and Darren who made so many things possible. For Marcia and Medalit, without whom I would not have been able to get out of there on time. For Oscar who did so much of the heavy lifting. I am so grateful, and so thankful, to so many.
It took me four days to get to Montana. I got to my brother’s house on Monday morning and stayed there visiting with Eric and Jennifer and Madison until Tuesday night. I made it to Kansas City by noon on Wednesday and stayed with my friends Jon and Michelle. Thursday was my first 12 hour day. I left in the morning and drove straight through to Gillette, Wyoming. Friday was another long one but I made it all the way to Kalispell. I had the weekend to meet my new landlady, to unpack, move in, try to get settled and then if you can believe it I started work on Monday.
Grams was right. “Work is blessing.” I had been with her when I went to interview for the position at the Gazette. She had said, “If it is for you, may it come to you. If it is not, may God swiftly show you the path He has for you.” That was the prayer that started my three years in Maryland. It has been the prayer I have held onto while job hunting. And my prayers have been answered.
There is so much more to write, so much more to tell and to share. My new home, my new life, all that I am having to learn and grow accustomed to. All of that is coming. I promise. I will be updating the blog more frequently. But for now please accept my apologies for the long silence. Soon, very soon, I will be posting photos of this incredible place that I have come to. Not only have I been blessed with work, I have been fortunate enough to relocate to my own personal heaven.