Hasta la Vista BYU!

Today is the first day of my new life!

I recently put in my two-week notice at BYU and accepted a position with a non-profit in Park City dedicated to providing resources and eliminating stigma related to mental health, something I have grown very passionate about in recent years.

I have been casually looking for a new position for a few months but was not willing to take the leap unless it was a good fit. My industry is sadly one I don’t really recognize or even like anymore. Gone are the days of creativity and vulnerability. Now, it’s all about who has the prettiest pictures on Instagram, the best analytics and digital marketing. And forget about being paid a decent wage because it just isn’t happening.

Last month, my friend Sheri posted a job position at her non-profit that was for only 15 hours/week with minimal pay. I had a friend who was looking for a job so DMed Sheri for details and she mentioned they would also be hiring a Communications Manager for 15 hours/week. Again, not enough hours or pay but I told her if they managed to combine the two position for 30 hours/week, I might be interested if they could also up the pay. It’s a non-profit so I knew the pay wouldn’t be great but I needed to earn more than minimum wage, y’know?

Well, Sheri moved heaven and earth with the board to meet my requests and I’m thrilled to start training this afternoon. The best news of all is I’ll be working from HOME with frequent runs to Park City for meetings and events. Plus, I adore Park City and plan to sneak in a hike or bike ride every chance I can get.

While I was interviewing with Sheri, two other job opportunities arose–one that was full-time at a non-profit affiliated with my current company and the other was for a friend. In the end, the one I took was the best fit for my family and what I’m most excited about.

But can we talk about BYU?  I truly thought I was at the point in my career where I would enjoy giving back and mentoring students which I did…but academia was just not a good fit and is better suited for someone who prefers a safe, stable, unchanging environment.

Things that I’ll miss:

  • My students. I left two student writers, Grace and Jane, students assistants and an awesome team of students who worked with me in design, web development and video.
  • The staff. Truly, some of the best people and so darn kind.
  • Overhauling our alumni magazine. I learned I prefer writing to editing so serving as editor was a bit of a stretch but I loved being a part of building a magazine from the initial conception to writing to design to publication.

OK, long pause as I try to think of some other things I’ll miss but I can’t at this time, which is a sign that it was time to leave.

Things that I won’t miss:

  • The commute. 1.5 hours/day down Provo Canyon which was often perilous this winter.
  • Utah County. I love living in the mountains and I did not like driving to suburbia every day with its traffic, franchises and inversion. Plus, the Utah County bubble is real and while most people are lovely, there is also a lot of close-mindedness.
  • My position. Overall, my job was a daily frustration with zero creativity. In the beginning, I tried to innovate but was shut down so often that I stopped fighting it and just did what the job required of me…nothing more. The crazy thing is I received RAVE reviews about what a great job I was doing. If only they had let me do what I do best.

I could go on but I’ll stop there. The Dean’s Office staff threw me a lovely going-away party and it was sad for a minute..until I remembered I’ll be home a lot more for my family, can schedule my workouts whenever I want and yoga pants are my new daily uniform.

Bring it on!

This picture is one of my favorites ever of Bode. We were exploring in Evergreen while Hadley was at a birthday party and this was a moment of sheer joy, how I’m feeling right now.

Connections magazine: My first stint as editor

Last week was a complete whirlwind for me. It was Fall Conference at BYU, which is like back-to-school week for faculty and staff (students started school the day after Labor Day). I didn’t have any huge responsibilities but I did have to work long hours helping with our college breakfast and Fall Meeting. In the midst of it all, I hired a new student and was relieved our alumni magazine was printed in time for all our staff to receive them in their packets.

My job has a lot of different facets to it and when I was hired, I was most excited to be the editor our alumni magazine…until I saw last year’s edition of Connections. The articles were long, dry, and scholarly with more footnotes than I ever attributed during my entire time as a student. I hate writing research papers and I truly wondered how I would get through it!

Fortunately, the assistant dean was open to my suggestion of having it be less meaty and more informational, inspirational and even humorous in places (I introduced a fun section called “Elevator Eavesdropping” where we published funny conversations we overheard in the elevator of our 12-story building such as this one from the dean:

After pushing the sixth-floor elevator button for a student.

Dean Ogles: So, are you headed to the Geography Department?
Student: Yes. What’s on the ninth floor?
Dean Ogles: The dean’s office.
Student: Are you in trouble?
Dean Ogles: No, I’m the dean.
Student: That’s awkward.

All was going smashingly until we realized a select few of the hundreds we printed had a few blank pages so it was super fun to spend one afternoon at Mail Services to go through every. Single. Copy.

We found four that had the error and I’m still unsure how many faculty received the “golden ticket” magazines but as luck would have it, one of the professors who was featured received one of them…and it was his story that was omitted.

My print and publications contact was dumbfounded. “We’ve never had any thing like this happen before.”

Welcome to my world, BYU.

Launching into a Week of Work Craziness

The bad: This week is my craziest week of work for the entire year.

The good: After my big event, my stress-load will be almost non-existent.

I oversee our college’s big donor events and this one, The Mentored Student Research Conference, is one of the largest on campus and established as part of the Mary Lou Fulton Chair. Her husband, Ira, was an Arizona developer who made millions of dollars and has donated much of his fortune to universities and charitable causes. The conference I’m in charge of is a poster conference where hundreds of students have submitted posters of research they have done in collaboration with their mentor-professors. Following the poster conference on Thursday morning, we’ll host a luncheon for 500 where the cash prizes will be announced. It has been a big bear-of-a-project to organize, mostly because 90% of the students waited until the last 12 hours before the deadline to submit their posters…and some of them ran into web problems with their submissions.

And guess who was driving to San Diego right as that poster deadline hit? This girl. Fielding problems was a super fun start to our vacation!

My first 2.5 months of my job have been so crazy busy: I have been juggling our two biggest events, as well as wrapping the editorial for our alumni magazine. I’m really excited for the new direction I have taken it.  The challenge with our college is it’s the largest on campus and our departments are VERY different–from psychology to history to neuroscience to anthropology. When I first started, I had major anxiety about the magazine because my predecessor is my polar-opposite. She’s very research-oriented and bookish so the alumni magazine was very scholarly with some loooong reads and extensive footnotes. That is not a knock on her but it’s just not my style; I don’t know how to write or edit that way, nor do I want to.

I’m relieved my boss has been open to letting me revamp the magazine and I’m thrilled how it’s coming together with some interesting feature stories, lots of inspiration and a few fun sections, too. My students are doing most of the writing but between all of our back-and-forth with edits, my hands have been on every single page. I’m even more relieved to send it to another editor at university publications before we meet with the designer to brainstorm ideas and layout. It’s funny because the area I dreaded the most with my job is turning out to be my favorite. I need to infuse more creativity into this position (so much of it is checklists for event planning) so this is my first step in the right direction.

BYU’s graduation is in a few short weeks and then my workload will drop off drastically until fall. In fact, I’m kinda worried about how to keep my student employees busy all summer. My position is three-quarter time but I’ve been working way more than that but the good news is legally, I can’t work more than three-quarter time over the course of the calendar year so that means I’ll have a lot more flexibility to take time off this summer to balance out my total hours.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to be the promotional support for a student-giving campaign where we granted rare access to the rooftop of the tallest building on campus (the Spencer W. Kimball Tower) for “Selfies on the SWKT.” Imagine my delight to discover the day before the event that the student in charge (not one of MY students), gave us the wrong date for all the promotions so it was a frenzied few hours reprinting and republishing everything. But my crash course in student leadership worked out just swell and we had a great turnout. 

(With my students Alisa, Madelyn and Grace)

A few memorable quotes up there:

  • “I saved three lives today.”
  • “You’re making dreams come true.”
  • “Is this where we’re meeting for target practice? #Lookoutbelow”
  • “Can you get a picture of me looking at Y mountain? Gotta get the hipster shot.”
  • “We’re actually adults who want to do kid things.”
  • Student trying to shmooze Buildings Exteriors Manager Kerry Wilson for off-hours rooftop access: “So, I’ve been dating this girl for a while and I need to do something really good to impress her. What can you do for me?”
  • “Don’t shut down the elevators yet. We need to give stragglers their ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ moment.” (mine)
  • “Wait. There’s a backpack left behind. Is it Noah’s?” (mine)

Here’s to surviving my craziest week of the semester. The positive: at least I no longer have to take finals.

Workin’ Girl

It’s my first day working in an office in over 15 years! The adjustment and commute will be steep but my family will be feeling the pains the most. While Jamie has primarily taken care of finances and yardwork while working ridiculous hours at his company, I kept the house running with food, cleaning and chauffeuring. I don’t claim to be Martha Stewart but have done a pretty seamless job keeping things afloat.
But no one will be feeling my absence more than my Fat Kitty. He is my buddy as I work in my office and does not deal well with change. Plus, he’ll be left alone with Jamie all day and those two mix about as well as oil, water and whole lot of dysfunction.
I bought an Instant Pot which will hopefully help out with quick dinner prep but we need to set forth a plan and more defined chores. The kids and Jamie will now take more responsibilities for for dinners, laundry and dishes while Jamie helps drive kids around.  Admittedly, I’m the most worried about the kitchen because I’m a Nazi about having dishes in the sink and my husband and children have a mental block about loading the dishwasher.
I had hardworking parents. My dad had a stable 9-5 job at Chevron Canada and my mom was always busy with odd jobs like a grocery store food demonstrator. She even had a weekly classified newspaper route and I’d join her as we drove all around the city in our little Mini. I’d often sit on huge stacks of newspapers and delighted whenever a convenience store would give me a treat. Mom was always sewing and crafting, selling her amazing creations around the city. She opened her tea room and gift shop when I was in junior high. I can’t remember feeling like things were falling through the cracks in her absence because it became a family business and I started waitressing when I was just 12 years old.
My Aunt Sue sent me some fun memories growing up with her working mother:
Teach your kids to cook so supper is ready when you get home.  Your mom was cooking for us at age 15 and for the widower down the street, Mister Allen, and his son, Bobby. My mom went back to teaching in Stirling when I was in grade one so Chris [my mom] would have been 14. Dad came in from the farm at noon and got some lunch for me and Miriam while Chris started helping with suppers. Dad did all the laundry. We had a ringer washer in the basement and he read western novels while the clothes washed and then he would ring them out and hang them up. Thanks to our progressive mother, we had a very progressive father :)
The kids CAN keep their rooms up and help out a lot. We weren’t allowed out of the house on Saturdays until our rooms were clean, beds changed, the floors mopped and the ironing done. Old fashioned but we all learned to be good workers.
You have been seeking the path and now you are on the yellow brick road. It’s it amazing how our paths come up to meet us.

Here’s to a new yellow brick road that will hopefully be shiny and clean!

A new adventure and the courage to try

We left our beloved Colorado in August 2016 and moved into our Midway home two months later. I haven’t kept my frustrations a secret over my lack of direction. I’ve wanted to just delve into this new life, leaving behind the old but I’ve been forced to straddle both. Though I’m grateful for my continued work in Denver, I have hated having the opportunities I’m missing thrown in my face.

I’ve strongly felt I needed to go a different direction but every time I thought I had the answer, I was reeled back in with the implicit instructions “Be patient. Just wait. Just trust.” For an impatient self-starter this has, at times, felt like agony.

Early-fall, I started looking for jobs at my alma mater, BYU, located about 40 minutes away up Provo Canyon. Though my best-case scenario is to work from home forever, I’ve grown tired of the roller-coaster freelance world, need stability and am not prepared to waste my time with the Heber Valley’s $12/hour wages. BYU has a cap on full-time employees so their way around it is offer 3/4 time positions without health benefits but with some other perks like solid pay, 401K, and a reduced number of applicants because most at this level are seeking full-time.

In October, I felt certain I was going to a receive an offer for that position and when it didn’t come through, I was stunned. There was another job that had been posted around the same time but I had not applied because it wasn’t as a seamless fit and had a lot more responsibility associated with it. I interviewed twice for that position but never heard back, a relief because I really didn’t want it.

And then I saw another posting, THE posting, and applied for it. The pay was less than the other two but the responsibilities were more in line with my talents and passions. I interviewed a few days before Christmas but at the last minute, I hesitated to even go and told Jamie I wasn’t sure I could work for this particular department. Patient man that he is, he said, “JUST GO AND SEE.”

I had just interviewed in some of the most architecturally cutting-edge properties on campus so when I walked into the building with it’s 1970s tile and maze of scaffolding (they’re raising the ceilings), I balked a bit. But from the moment I walked into the office, I felt right at home. The interview with the assistant dean and executive secretary was seamless and we immediately clicked–it felt more like a conversation. Near the end of it, they said they wanted to move quickly and that they did. Within a few hours of coming home, the HR department had sent me a background check form, the next day I received an “emotional intelligence” test (which I somehow passed) and they spent the holidays checking my references.

Last week, I received the offer. With it comes excitement and mourning. It’s a fairly flexible 3/4-time position but when added with everything else on my plate (Mile High Mamas + a campaign with Park City this winter), how am I going to juggle it all? Working from home for the past 12 years has been a gift as I’ve been 100% available for my family. But now my endless summer days of play with them will be limited and it feels like the end of a wonderful era. But I also crave the stability. I’m ready to help dig ourselves out of the financial headaches of this move with so many daunting expenses that include another car, yard and finishing the basement.

My friend Kelly had posted the following on Facebook the previous week and it had really resonated with me. “Affirmation to try: I have the faith to let go of the outcome.”

How difficult is this? One of our frustration wtih Hadley right now is she gets so overwhelmed with everything that she just shuts down…she doesn’t even have the courage to try because of the fear of how it will turn out. But what if we made a new paradigm in our lives that does not define failure as not achieving our goal but instead, failure as not even attempting to try.

In my office, I had a quote from Jane Pauley before she launched her short-lived talk show on the same week that Oprah infamously gave everyone in her audience a car. She said, “Going up against Oprah I warned my kids that this was a long shot, but that I defined success as having the courage to try.”

Here’s for a year of courage and the wild ride ahead!