Looking back, the past year has been filled with transition. My wife and I knew that she would be finishing her fellowship program. We knew that we would likely move to California at the end of the year. We didn’t know that half way through January, I would learn that my job was being eliminated as part of a corporate restructuring. This made our year of expected transitions a little more complicated, but it also brought a series of blessings along with it.
Act 1: The Layoff
A year after his hiring, our CTO called a department wide meeting and announced it was time to restructure. I joined the conference call from my home office where I had been working for a year and a half since moving away from the company headquarters. No restructuring plans seemed directly relate to me or the project I was working on at the time but I assumed we’d learn more in my breakout session. On that follow up call, myself and about two dozen others were informed that our positions were being eliminated.
Naturally, it was a shock, but it unfolded in the most helpful way possible. The project I was on would be wound down over the next three months, I would be given severance pay, and I could update my professional profiles without betraying the trust of my coworkers. Even as it unfolded I felt grateful that I had a better opportunity than most to land on my feet.
Searching for a job was still highly stressful. It felt like taking on a part time job to search for open positions, fill out applications, send emails, and write cover letters. Since my wife and I were ultimately planning on moving closer to family, I looked for position as a contractor which would last until Bekah completed her fellowship program. Just before my old project wound down, I had another position lined up. In between jobs, my wife and I took advantage of the time off to visit some of the national parks in Utah.
Despite starting our trip by blowing a tire in the mountain snow, we were able to cover a lot of ground. We started at Arches National Park and hiked at sunset to the iconic Delicate Arch. From there, we drove through Monument Valley into the Navajo lands of Arizona, taking a tour of Antelope Canyon, seeing Horseshoe Bend, and stopping at Glen Canyon National Park. Next, we traveled north to Zion National Park which was our favorite part of our trip. We spent several days hiking around the dramatic canyon. Finally, we finished our trip by visiting some friends in Salt Lake.
This trip help me realize that we had been living in a truly beautiful part of the country for almost two years and needed to take advantage of our remaining time there. Personally, I find time in nature to be a great contrast to computer work. Having the chance to take a week off early in the year was really impactful for Bekah and me. Seeing these parks was a unexpected blessing of changing jobs and was a nice reprieve from my technical work.
Act 2: The Contract
There were several aspects of this contract that made it a great job. First of all, I felt like I had the backing of my manager. He hired me knowing I wasn’t as experienced with Java but recognizing my understanding of programming fundamentals. Secondly, the extreme programming practices allowed me to quickly get up to speed with the codebase. Pair programming (working with another developer on the same computer) meant that I always had someone to ask questions and to discuss ideas with. Test driven development (writing test cases before writing our code) helped us stay focused on the feature we were working on and not worry about breaking other parts of the application. Thirdly, the team was self organized and all team members were encouraged to give feedback on how the team could improve. We had discussions weekly to review our progress. The developers had time set aside each week to discuss ideas. And the project managers worked hard to break down the work into pieces the developers could understand.
Despite the work itself not being my passion, I really enjoyed working with the team. The diverse team lead to high quality discussions. The ping pong game was top notch. The downtown office location was a short bike ride from our home. And the project management isolated us from the corporate politics, allowing us to do our best work. However, I knew that my wife and I would be leaving town soon, so I began to search for longer term employment. Since we hadn’t determined exactly where we would settle, I began looking for remote work to allow us some flexibility.
Finding a remote position was more difficult than finding a local tech job in Denver. Because the hiring process is also remote and the candidate field is much larger, it can be hard to stand out. Thankfully, I was able to make a personal connection through a community software project I had been managing. I saw that someone who contributed to the project worked at a remote company with open positions. I was able to reach out to him and make an initial connection before starting the interview process.
As I lined up my next position and Bekah graduated from her fellowship program, we again took the opportunity between jobs to visit a few more national parks. Ever since I was young, I had wanted to go to Yellowstone National Park. So, we jumped in the car and drove through Wyoming. On the recommendation of a friend, we stopped at Grand Teton National Park. With its striking peaks and pristine waterways, it was a great intro to the stunning landscape of the area. Once in Yellowstone, we took several days to make our way around the park. We were able to witness the amazing geothermal features as well as see bears, bison, and birds of prey.
Even though much of the park suffered from a high number of visitors, it was a great experience. Some of my favorite places in the park were also the least busy. We didn’t book hotels until the night before we left, but we ended up with a fun variety of places to stay – a bed and breakfast, a luxury tent, a simple cabin, and a comfortable hotel room. After Bekah graduated from her fellowship and I landed my new job, Yellowstone was a great way to cap off the summer and lead into our final few weeks in Denver.
Act 3: The Move
Following Yellowstone, I began my new job. In some ways, it was a typical first day; I spent a lot of time acclimating myself to my new employer. My new team was very friendly and welcoming. However, without ping pong and face-to- face meetings, getting to know my coworkers took a little more time. As I waited to get assigned to a larger project, much of my initial work was self directed. I am thankful for a time of transition where I could start my job before moving and get settled in. Still, the combination of a new job and preparing to uproot our family was a lot to handle.
In many ways, the move was harder than I was expecting. We had a lot of packing to do. I was trying to sell off everything I could before we left, from beds, to plants, to my car. At times, I was completely maxed out, however I am glad we prioritized seeing our friends. In our two years in Denver, we had made some really great friends. Many of us were millennial Christians, trying to figure out how to live out our faith in a city we didn’t grow up in. It was our friends who kept us grounded on many hard days. And on moving day, our friends came through for us to help us finish our packing and cleaning.
On September 15th, we left behind the community we had found in Denver and headed west. My brother flew out to help and drove the moving truck behind us as we drove across mountains and deserts. We made another stop at Arches National Park before heading southwest to California. We were still unsure where we wanted to land long-term, but were fortunate to have family who allowed us to live with them for a few months. It felt weird loading up a storage unit with our life belongings but it also symbolized that the next period of our life would be very different than before.
Over the next couple months, we flew back and forth across the country visiting friends and family for weddings and holidays. When we were home in California, I had a place in the house to work and I was able to settle into my new job. Bekah focused on working towards her master’s degree. We even took on fostering a puppy in training to become a service dog.
While we had a roof to sleep under, we still felt very unsettled. We missed our friends and hadn’t yet developed many new friendships in California. We had to learn to live in a shared space that wasn’t our home. And, we were still trying to figure out our next move in life. However, we had a lot to be grateful for. We had a church that we could attend; I found a group to play ultimate frisbee with; and we had an extended period of time with family.
This past year, there was much I was grateful for. I make a point to say this because, considering all the change, God really took care of us. At times it seemed to fly by but I want to make sure I slow down and recognize all that we were given.
Even as an introvert, I enjoyed the extra time we spent with our friends in 2018. Whether it was hiking, camping, going out to eat, hanging out in our backyard, or just watching a movie on someone’s couch, we always enjoyed ourselves with others. Personally, I appreciate the friends who made a point to reach out to us and ensure we got together. While Colorado is pretty great on its own, it was our friends that made it a great place to live.
I am grateful for how our family took care of us this past year. Both sides of our family traveled halfway across the country to visit us in 2018. My family helped me stay calm as I worked through prolonged job transitions. My wife’s family provided us a temporary place to live. I am grateful for everything our family did for us and I am thankful that we have been able to spend a lot of time together despite living far away.
A stable job
I cannot be happy enough to say that I am no longer looking for a job. I am grateful that God has provided for our family in greater ways that I ever expected this year. Though employment has been one of the defining challenges from this past year, it is also one of the biggest successes.
At each step this year, I have had supportive co-workers. Whether it was writing referrals, getting me ramped up on a project, or simply welcoming me to the team, my co-workers have been the anti-acid to my employment heartburn.
The opportunity to see multiple national parks
There is a lot of beauty in the world. Even just within the western U.S., there are hundreds of square miles of beautiful and dramatic landscapes. I am so glad we were able to go out and visit many national parks this year. I highly recommend making it a priority to get away from the stresses of daily life enjoy being out somewhere new.
My awesome wife
Through all of this, my wife kept us focused. She had her own list of challenges and accomplishments during the year – working at a non-profit, finishing her fellowship program, building a conference from scratch, working on a master’s degree – but she always looked ahead. Honestly, she kept us on top of the changes that were coming. She also encouraged me to take care of myself on stressful days. Her love and hard work made this year come together and I am thankful to walk through life with her.
She also deserves credit for all the fantastic pictures from our trips.
So, thank you to all who supported us this year. I don’t have too much to take credit for, but I want to thank those around me who made this tumultuous period come together. I thank God for his blessings to me and my family in 2018.