Archive | July, 2012

Timing is Everything

27 Jul

On March 2, 2012, I had an interview with a radio station in Grand Rapids, MI. I had a pretty good chance to land the job and was really debating on whether I would want to take it or not. I was seriously debating moving 2 hours closer to my family for the same amount of money. It was a lateral move but there were certain perks and I was also ready for a career change. Although I really loved my current boss, I just knew that was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And I try to practice what I preach; if you’re unhappy then make the steps and changes necessary to achieve happiness. Given you know what you want (that is another tricky part of life, worthy of it’s own blog post).

Amidst all of this struggle, on March 9th my boss sent out this e-mail, which I like to refer to as “the article that started it all” which you can read here. I got to thinking; if waitresses make $300-$750 per day, I would only need 2 shifts to make what I make now per week. If I work as much as I can, I could feasibly pay off my student loan debt in a few years. And then I started imagining life without my student loan debt and boy, did it look appealing! I kind of shoved the thought to the back of my mind. I’ve always kind of thought that I had great ideas, but that I lacked the follow through. And plus, this idea was crazy! It wasn’t until after I spoke with our business consultant at my previous job that I gave it some serious thought. I brought it up as kind of a joke but then she looked at me and said, “are you seriously thinking about doing this?” and I just kind of brushed it off and she said, “well, I think you should take a serious look into it”. KB is one of the most responsible and reasonable people I know. If she thinks there is some validity to this idea then it really made me take a serious second look at it. I googled bars in Williston, ND and just started calling around to see if what I read about was true. A gentleman at DK’s Lounge told me that there were plenty of jobs for the taking but the main issue was housing. He said to not even bother coming if you don’t have housing.

So then I asked myself, “what is a solution to this problem?” And I jumped on my local craigslits for shits and gigs just to see how much an RV or a camper might run me. I found one listed for $850 in Lewiston, MI. So on March 17th, my good friends Tracii and Blain went with me to check out the motorhome. It needed a little work done to it and some TLC but all in all the thing was in great shape. Especially for $850! Turns out the owner bought a pole barn in an estate auction so that he could have a place to store some work equipment and when he won the bid and finally looked in the barn there was this old motorhome, a Dodge Durango, a smaller truck, and a motorcycle. So he didn’t even know he purchased it! He just put it on craigslist hoping to get some money out of it or else he was going to scrap it. So I offered the gentleman $700 for The Bonanza and he took it! Housing problem 50% accomplished.

Apparently, this was enough to make me decide for sure on what I wanted to do. After doing the math and knowing how much it would take to buy, repair, and drive the Bonanza out to ND as well as all of the other expenses I would incur and my savings that I had. I logically worked through the decision and per Dale Carnegie’s instructions I asked myself, “what is the worst thing that could possibly happen if I do this?” And my answer was essentially, I would move back home, find a job, and be left in the same exact situation as when I left. If I could deal with those ramifications then I should do this. And I thought that was a very small price to pay if it could potentially lead to financial freedom. I basically said screw it. I just made the decision to do it and decided that the variables would all fall into place.

On Tuesday, March 20 I gave my boss a six weeks notice. I would leave Traverse City, MI at the end of April, spend two weeks with my family and prepare for my journey, and I would leave for ND by May 14th, which I did. I landed in Williston on May 17 started working at the Lounge on May 22 and landed my second job by July 16. Two months after I got here. It has been such a whirlwind of a spring and summer and I am finally starting to feel settled.

So just a little timeline breakdown for you all;

March 2, 2012 – Interview in Grand Rapids and I was planning on moving to GR and changing jobs for the same pay.
March 9 – I read the article and started down the whole Williston journey rabbit hole
March 13 – KB the business consultant prompted me to do further research
March 20 – I gave my six weeks notice

In the span of three weeks I had made this life altering decision. Although I miss my family and friends dearly, giving up my old life was a small price to pay to gain something completely new and unexpected. Sometimes you just have to have faith. My journey is no where near complete and I have a long road ahead of me, but I couldn’t have dreamed of a better start. I have the tools necessary to accomplish my goal while still building my future. Life is good in my hood, folks.

It’s easy to get complacent and fearful of the unknown and of change. But sometimes you just have to work through it logically and go with your gut. If you keep making the same decisions consistently it’s like following a cooking recipe, you always know what you’re going to get. But if you start to add new ingredients you never know what the end result might be and it may be the best dish you’ve ever tasted in your entire life. Or.. conversely it may be the worst. And some people enjoy and feel comfortable knowing what they’re going to get but for me and my life, I want to stay scared and to keep mixing it up. It’s all about doing the things that I truly want to do and to be brave enough to try for the life I that I want to live. People – there is no reason we cannot have the life we envision for ourselves! I believe a Kennedy once said that the future is not a gift, it’s an achievement. You cannot always plan out your life step for step but you can always keep working towards a better life. Whatever that may mean to you. You have to reach out and grab it, be intentional, and embrace that fact that you can make things happen in your life that you want and moreover, believe that you deserve them. We all deserve amazing lives! And if we’re unhappy with our lives then point at the man in the mirror, my friends (insert Michael Jackson song here), because your happiness depends on only one thing; you.


Double Gainfully Employed!

23 Jul

Well, it’s official.  I landed a pretty sweet job.  Like a big girl, real job!  It is a pretty fantastic opportunity with a great company.  I am the assistant to the Director of Operations for the North Dakota region and I will also eventually merge into the supervisor for all the administrative positions at some point in the near future.  I do not want to disclose the name of the company just because.  I’m not really sure why but I just do not want to.  I will say that it is an environmental and energy services company that specializes in many facets but primarily in oil and gas third party servicing for their United States and Bakken region (my region/NoDak).  Basically what that means is that we are a third party vendor that offers a variety of services for the oil and gas industry.  And son.. business is a’ boomin’.

I am very excited about this opportunity for a few reasons.  First, my boss is amazing.  He is very knowledgeable in the industry and just an all around great guy.  He is also the farthest up the totem pole for our company without going to the U.S. headquarters or the Main headquarters in Canada.  He also has his hands in a lot of pots and in all areas of the company all the way from operations to development to communications.  This basically means that I will have a bird’s eye view of this company by being his right hand man.  Another reason is that this company is taking off at an incredible rate.  We are growing so fast and there is so much to learn!  This kind of stuff really excites me.  I am a geek at heart.  This is a prefect opportunity to see the inner-workings of a multi-million dollar company.  Finally, well not finally, but finally for the sake of this post (because there are many great reasons to be excited about this), is that I get paid really well and have a realistic shot of hitting my two year goal of paying off my student loans!

This has morphed my overall strategy a bit though.  With an opportunity like this in my lap I am no longer of the mind-set of “get in, get mine, and get out”.  Now I am of the long-term mind-set.  Who knows where this could take me.  This is a growing, global company and there are a myriad of possibilities and I’m not even going to pretend that I  have a clue what I want in life past my two  year mark.  That is all a work in progress.  But with this opportunity and the people and knowledge I can acquire, the future is looking bright regardless where I land geographically.

In the future, I’d like to post my salary, a budget (kind of waiting on stable housing because right now my rent could be anywhere from $400-$1500 a month), and a possible debt-free date.  Now, I am still planning to work at the Lounge but I cut back to three shifts a week which is still going to give me a supplemental income of about $1300-$1600 per month.  Which should cover most of my living expenses given that all current variables stay the same thus leaving my salary from my full-time job to start chopping away at that debt.

I know this is a very general post.  I hope to specify more in the future, but I just wanted to share the good news!   I’ve also made a personal goal to post at least once a week.  Even if it is just “Yo!  Keep reading this blog, man!”  or “Horse walks into the bar. Bartender says, “Hey!  Why the long face?”.  Ok, probably not.   I will most likely find something interesting to write about.  Well hopefully something that you all might find interesting anyway.  Because I’ve decided that even though this blog is more for me and documenting my journey, it’s also about you too.  Because if I don’t keep you all in mind as I try to share my story, thoughts, etc., then this whole deal is pointless.  And if I am anything in life, it is purposeful.

So again, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to share.  And make sure I keep posting!  Until next time, my friends… keep on keepin’ on!!!

Revolving Doors

15 Jul

Life is nothing more than a revolving door of people in and out of your life.  Williston is a constant reminder of this.  People come and go on a frequent basis and without warning in this Boom Town.

There was a regular in the Lounge named West.  He was one of my favorites; always sat in back at the blackjack table, drank Coors Light in a bottle, and let me harass him to my hearts content. He was in just about every weekend since I started.  He was a lot of fun.  Well, West fulfilled his monetary goal and decided to head back to his home and family back in Idaho indefinitely.  He decided to spend his last weekend in North Dakota with us at the Lounge.  I considered that a privilege and decided to “forget” to put a few beers on his tab and offered to be his DD for the night so he could go all out.

When my coworker and I dropped him of at the Haliburton mancamp, he handed me twenty bucks.  I refused to take his money for the ride and reassured him that I was more than happy to do it.  But he said, “Ashley, I’ve been here and made my money.  I’m doing well.  I want you to have this.  I’m going to miss you and remember to not take any shit from anyone.”  What an awesome dude.  I’m going to miss West!

His parting was bittersweet for me for a few reasons. First, I hated to see him go but glad he was able to get back to his family a few bucks better for the wear.  I was also glad to see he actually reached his goal.  It gives me hope.  But it’s also a reminder that, say for the locals, there are very few of us that are here in Williston to fulfill a lifelong career.  It’s a boom and bust economy in every sense.  Get in, get yours, and then get out.

It makes it difficult to make any deep seeded roots here.  I have made some connections with great people and there is this unspoken bond that we’re all in this fight together.  Williston is like the island of misfit toys which promotes a certain sense camaraderie.  And the people who end up making meaningful connections, although in some cases brief, create a very interesting family dynamic.  I know that there are a handful of people in my life out here who would go to bat for me and come rescue me should the need ever arise.  As I would for them.  Most of us are so far removed from our families and our old lives that it’s nice to know there are people we can count on and to be counted on here.  I’m thankful for the many great people here in Williston fighting this fight with me.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about the people who come into our lives in general.  I went back home to Michigan last week and got to see many friends and family members.  I miss them SO much!  A part of me wanted to give up on my quest and just curl back up in my old comfortable life surrounded by the people who love me.  But I realized that it’s the sacrifice that I must make in order to have the life I want. They’ll still love me even though I’m 1300 miles away and they are always just a phone call away.  As I was traveling back I saw two gentlemen who were on the plane ride out of Williston with me,  we started talking like we were old friends.  “How was your trip?”,”How’s the family?”, “Ready to be back in Williston?”, etc.  I don’t even know these men apart from our 4 hour delay in Williston but yet I was glad to see them and to catch up.  Which got me to thinking that the time in which people pass through your life is irrelevant.  Whether it’s 4 hours, 4 years, or 40 years.  What matters is the human connection and what you can bring to each other’s lives.

So the next time you’re in a hurry and someone talks to you… take a second and listen.  Because by you being kind and thoughtful, you may make their day.  You just never know what you can bring to someones life just by being open and willing to share.  I say this over and over and some of you who know me well probably get annoyed by my philosophical rants, but life is too short, my friends.  You only live once and cherish each and every encounter you have with the human race and mother nature.  I’m no doctor but I promise you, you will have a much richer life as a result.