As I sit in a sea of boxes for our impending move to Virginia. I am compelled to share the story of how this move happened…this is truly a gift from God.
Why I was looking:
For the last year I have been on a journey to find a way to move nearer to my parents. I’ve felt God leading me as well as watching several dear friends lose their parents in the last few years. I love my parents dearly and praise God that they are in good health.
Truth be told, I have been searching for many years for an opportunity to stretch and grow. Also one where I wouldn’t be in demand 24/7. I’ve loved the television news business. I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of talented journalists and been part of exciting events and coverage that is important to the communities where I have lived. It was time for a change.
The job search:
After prayer and many conversations with my husband, a year ago I started applying for jobs in the Roanoke, Virginia area. Most of them were through several employment websites and I was targeting office manager/marketing positions. Last summer I started networking in that community. My parents were a huge help in suggesting people that could share with me what was going on in the Roanoke area. What companies were good to work for? What sort of opportunities were growing? Where I might fit in for a new career? I had the blessing of meeting with so many local business people who shared an hour, a cup of coffee, and in some cases several hours to give me valuable insider insight.
I had many interviews that might be the right fit. My husband and I spent hours looking at apartments to know where we might want to live, where we could take are sweet cats, and all those things you need to know when moving. After a few interviews not leading to a job offer you begin to question the vision. Job hunting is hard work and when it is in a different state it is even harder.
The power of networking:
There was one lady who I hadn’t had a chance to connect with. Her name is Laura Godfrey and she is an entrepreneur in the Roanoke area. She is the owner of Polished by claire v. salons. Laura and I tried to meet on one of my trips to Roanoke for an interview and it didn’t work out. My brilliant mother had read about Laura’s work and said that she was one that was doing good things in the community and perhaps she might be of help.
Read more about Laura Godfrey and the Polished salons in this article published recently in the Roanoke Times. I think you will realize why I wanted to be a part of this organization.
The Laura/Mary Lu connection:
Laura and I did connect one January afternoon. She called me and apologized for the delay in getting together via phone. She and her family had been ill. In fact, she had a terrible cough and I felt a little guilty making her talk so much. She asked how she could help me. I explained I was trying to network with people in Roanoke in hopes that someone would know of a position where my skills might be needed. She and I fell into a very easy conversation with no expectations. After speaking with her for 45 minutes she said that she had been working on creating a position for her Blacksburg salon that would involve overseeing the staff, networking in the community, and a little marketing. She asked me if I would be interested in something like that….and I said YES!
Research for the interview:
A few days later, we set up a time for me to come up and interview with her in Roanoke. Our meeting wasn’t going to happen in Blacksburg and I wanted to see what that location was all about. It started with some research. My mom and I scouted out the location the day before. It is an adorable little shop right in the middle of downtown Blacksburg.
The next day I had myself booked in for a manicure. I figured the ladies who worked there didn’t know me and didn’t know I would be coming so I could go in as a regular person. The experience was great, the shop was absolutely charming, spotless, and felt very inviting. I started imagining what it would be like working in an environment that was so relaxed (that would take a little getting used to!)
One thing I remember about Blacksburg that day was that it was 8 degrees! I thought to myself if we move here I will have to get a new winter wardrobe! South Carolina never gets this cold.
I had my interview in the afternoon that day in a bakery across the street from the corporate offices for Polished. It was cold there..in the 30’s…but not too bad. It was snowing a little too which added a special feel to the day for me. Laura Godfrey and one of her associates met me there. And we had a great talk for over an hour. She told me what she was looking for and I told her that I thought I could do a good job meeting the needs/goals for the Blacksburg operation. She told me that they wouldn’t be hiring until March and they had other people to interview.
After the interview:
I remember walking to the nearby parking garage feeling like the interview went well. I had gotten to the point of not getting my hopes up and this time I handed it over to God. I also have recognized that each of these opportunities that I have been granted to be interviewed are gifts: more practice to improve my interviewing skills, meeting new people and learning more about the area, and another chance to figure out what it is I really want to do.
One thing I didn’t do associated with this interview was to look at housing. We spent so much time doing that before that I thought I would save myself the time and do when I got a job. Looking back, I don’t know that it made a difference but it allowed me to spend more time with my precious parents.
As February progressed, I continued to pray for positions that might come open. Always praying that the best person be hired for the needs of a business. This helps to take away a little of the sting of rejection.
One day in February I received an email from Laura Godfrey who told me she had retained a hiring consultant to help her choose the person to fill the Blacksburg manager position. While that might have scared some folks, I’ve worked with consultants my whole life in television and I recognize the value of having someone from the outside come in and help make decisions. We were to talk via conference call with several people associated with Polished and the hiring consultant.
The day came for the interview. I rushed home and spent time praying before the call that I would not sound desperate for a job, that I would be able to answer the questions intelligently, and remember that this was an opportunity to share ideas with others. For one hour I was asked questions about how I would approach different employee situations and provide examples. After supervising people for 20 years I had plenty of examples. I didn’t find a question I couldn’t answer readily and thoughtfully. When the call was over Laura spoke up and told me that I would know by the beginning of the next week. This call happened on a Thursday…so I figured that I didn’t have long to wait.
The email that began the big change in my life:
Monday went by and I didn’t hear anything. Close of business Tuesday went by…nothing. But Tuesday night my iPhone went ding alerting me to an email and there it was:
Hi Mary Lu,
Do you have time to chat tomorrow?
I will admit I went a little crazy…yes I shouted to my husband that I got an email. Then my mind started being rational. I thought that this lady was so nice she might call me to tell me I didn’t get the job. I shared the news with a couple of friends who told me I was nuts and said things like, “You’ve got this!” “I know this job is yours!”
Day of waiting:
Laura and I were to talk at 4:30 p.m. that next day. I went through my day trying not to be excited, focus on my job, and looking forward to that chat! I managed to get out of work on time at 4 p.m. I checked my personal phone and found that Laura had sent me two emails that she was going to be delayed. I told her not to worry that I would be waiting when she called. I did some errands and made it home.
The phone rang a little after 6 p.m. When I answered she apologized for the delay and told me she hadn’t made it to her computer to send me the offer letter so we could talk about it. When I heard the words offer letter…I REALIZED WOW, IT HAS REALLY HAPPENED! We ran through the details. I told her it sounded great and that my husband and I needed to talk about it before I could give her a final decision. Later that night she sent the letter. Dale and I talked and realized this was an opportunity that we needed to embrace.
This is truly a journey of faith. I asked and continue to ask God daily to guide my steps. Am I perfect, far from it! Do I love the Lord? ABSOLUTELY! Does He answer prayer? Yes, not always the way we want. Does it require patience? YES!
This opportunity absolutely blows my mind. The job will incorporate things that I like to do and am good at. I am the least likely person that you would find running a spa/salon. I keep reminding myself that Laura needs someone to manage her staff—I have lots of experience there. She needs someone to network in the community—this is how I found Laura. And by the way, this particular job was not advertised anywhere that I could find. Marketing is one of the other areas that they need help with—I had the honor as serving as a volunteer with MissionNext. I helped them promote events and activities for their organization.
This last week has been filled with lots of hugs, good wishes, and tears. Monday night there will be a gathering of friends as we say final goodbyes. So many people have surrounded us with their love. We look forward to this new adventure and can’t wait to see what is next!
When I get settled I will get back to regular blogging. I’ve been running a little behind due to all of the changes. I have an interview with one of the owners of The Grain Loft in Greer that I need to incorporate into a blog. Also, I am continuing The Daniel Plan. I haven’t been following it exclusively but I can testify that I have lost 15 pounds! My new job will be half a block from the Farmers Market in Blacksburg that is open Wednesday and Saturdays. So I will have no excuse for not getting locally grown food!
Thank you for all of you faithful readers.