Nice article in the local paper, The Missoulian, about the resort and my new position here. We are trying to recruit some active retirees for summer employment and last week's job fair was very successful, mainly because this article appeared on the front page the day before!
It has been a difficult year in which to find time to blog regularly but I'm going to make a New Year Resolution to try to do so more often in 2013.
My time in the Caribbean came to an end in August. While I have a personal motto that "no experience is bad experience", and I learned a lot during my tropical period (including how to drive a boat!) there is definitely truth in the saying "horses for courses". At heart, I'm not really a desert island kind of horse and when the mountains and rivers of Montana beckoned, I was drawn to them like a moth to a flame.
So in October, a new adventure began as I was invited to join The Resort at Paws Up as Chief Executive Officer. Initially I was here on a part time basis, for two periods of two weeks, returning to Waterloo, Canada in between assignments, where we now have a small place close to Ginnie's kids, mother, brothers and grandsons. We then drove from Canada to Montana in late November (5 days, 2300 miles) to begin full time on 1 December. Since then we have been to Las Vegas for a sales meeting and staff Christmas party and Ginnie spent Christmas back in Waterloo while I have been working and successfully guiding the team here through their busiest holiday season to date.
During the year, we managed to welcome many members of the family to our many abodes throughout the world (USA, BVI and Canada), and share in the safe arrival in late August of our second grandson, Oliver. Furniture has been moved from WIsconsin to Canada to Montana. Personal belongings were shipped back from BVI to Montana and we are slowly settling in to our new abode on this spectacular ranch.
The photographic opportunities here are so many and varied and although I haven't had much time yet, here is a sampling of some of the views we have!
In the very early hours of last Friday morning, 9/9/2011, my step-daughter, Lora gave birth to her first baby, making me a step-granddad, Ginnie a first-time grandmother and starting a new generation for this little family.
Kieran Thomas was born by C-section after a long labor. He weighed in at 8lbs 11oz and was 20.5" long. As you would expect, both Lora and her husband, Matt are thrilled.
Lora stayed in hospital until Monday and now she is at home. An unexpected upside to my layoff is that we are staying in Canada right now, close to the new parents and little Kieran, so Ginnie has been able to help out with some practical stuff around the house and I have the added advantage of being able to see them much more often than if we were still in Wisconsin.
I have already taken quite a few photos but am looking forward to doing a proper "session" in a few days. A selection of the early ones are below.
I never cease to be in awe of new babies. I have three beautiful daughters of my own and now a new generation has begun. I hope we can work together to make this a world in which they can prosper and thrive. For now I am going to enjoy seeing this little new life begin to flourish and hold him as often as I am allowed!
The last couple of months have been a whirlwind. We sold our beautiful home in Sheboygan and the buyers wanted to close very quickly. In this market, it doesn't pay to be too inflexible and so we finished the packing that we had started several weeks earlier, booked a moving company and watched as our possessions were loaded onto a 53' semi. It was a bitter-sweet moment; we were happy to have sold our home, considering the current state of the real estate market, but sad to be leaving it after less than three years there. But as we said to friends and family, in the end it is just a building - the memories of happy times there remain, and we had some extraordinarily happy times entertaining in that house.
We elected to leave the furniture on the truck and pay a daily fee to store it there rather than unload it into storage, given that a couple of job prospects were looking quite promising and I was progressing well in the process. Hopefully, we thought, one of them would crystallize and we would soon be on our way to new climes. In the short term, we would travel north to Ontario and stay with various family members for what we hoped would be a short time. What we didn't figure into our calculations, was that the month of August seems to be the worst time to arrange interviews and trips to see resorts and hotels as so many of the senior teams take off on vacation.
So four weeks after our move, we are still in Canada playing the waiting game (we did take off to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City last week to give our relatives a rest from us) and hoping that will receive some positive news on the job front very soon. Effectively, right now we are homeless and jobless, a fact that was not lost on us as we listened to Bob Dylan's lyrics to Rolling Stone, the other day. How does it feel? Not great, but we are confident that this situation will be short lived and we will land somewhere soon. At least we are close to my step-daughter, Lora, whose baby is due next week.
There is a silver lining to every cloud!
After leaving Cayucos, we had planned to drive north up the famous Route 1 through the Monterey Peninsula to see the Big Sur and Pebble Beach on our way up to Napa where we are staying for a couple of days. Route 1 is just at the north end of the town and so off we headed. Soon we saw a sign that said that the road was closed 35 miles ahead but we figured there would be a detour that we could follow, so off we went. The road is beautiful and it literally follows the coastline, sometimes at sea level and sometimes high in the mountains, hugging the hillside. At least when heading north you are not at the side of the road that drops sharply many hundred of feet to the Pacific. The sun was shining and everything was looking incredible. The temptation is to stop at every single lookout and take photos but we resisted and drove on and on for thirty five miles reveling in the views and scenery.
As we turned another hairpin bend there was a sign that said "Road Closed in 1000 feet" then another saying "Road Closed in 500 feet". Where was the detour? Then it occurred to us that in this part of CA there are no roads that lead to and from Route One. This is the only road and so there was nothing to do but turn around and drive the thirty five (windy) miles and to return to whence we came! At this point I was slightly concerned about gas (and our naivete!). I had 1/3 of a tank but you never know when you will see a gas station on these roads. We had passed a hotel en route, The Ragged Point Inn, and so we stopped there to take photos and have our lunch. The location of this place is amazing and I wondered how they got staff to drive up the mountain every day. They also had a gas pump. Gas prices are high all over USA right now and I have been amazed to pay $4.20 a gallon, but up here it was a staggering $5.55 a gallon. The cheap part of me kicked in and I decided I had enough to get back to Route 101 without paying those silly prices, and I just made it to a gas station without running out - the first time in the whole trip where I have allowed the fuel light to come on!
During our 70 mile scenic Big Sur detour, we also stopped to see a colony of Elephant Seals that beach along the coast at this time of year. They are freaky creatures, lying in the sand and flipping it over their backs to keep cool. Hopi was at first fascinated and then suddenly took a huge dislike to these marine mammals and wanted to run away. They are almost prehistoric in some ways, and smelly too, but quite fascinating unless you are a 12lb Teddy Bar doggy!
On we drove, taking a strange route (per GPS Woman) through Sacramento that at least avoided going through downtown San Francisco at rush hour, and we have arrived at out St. Helena cottage. I cooked pasta with chicken and mango sausage and tomorrow I will hit the wineries. Although Napa is the archetypal United States wine country, I still love it and feel very much at home here. If anyone knows of any jobs in this region for an unemployed hospitality guy with a Certified Wine Educator designation, lemme know!
Three weeks ago I was laid off from Kohler as part of an economy-driven restructuring. The hospitality industry is having a tough time right now and the luxury market in particular is suffering, and so while I was shocked at the time, I understand.
As with anything in life, we have choices. I could choose to be negative and bitter, after all I had been with the company for almost ten years, or I could choose to look at this as a new opportunity to open up the next chapter of my life. My wife, Virginia is a stalwart supporter of positive thinking and together we have decided that we will embrace the future, whatever that is, with excitement and anticipation.
There are of course some practical things that cannot be ignored. One of these is our house. Although we absolutely love it and have put an enormous amount of sweat equity (and a sizeable chunk of real money) into making it feel like home, we are realists and understand that we will probably have to move for the right career opportunity. And so last week we put the house up for sale. Now, as the Wisconsin snow melts and spring begins to blossom, a big white sign adorns the front lawn and a lockbox is on the door.
I've spent the last three weeks going through a lot of emotions, but now feel that my search is beginning in earnest. I have received invaluable advice from some wonderful career specialists at Right Management (thank you Laura) and have a resume that I am happy with. I have been working the LinkedIn route diligently (a whole new way of interacting and networking that was not available when I was last in the job market) and I have made this website which has proven to be a lot of fun!
Being "in transition" is OK. I am confident that doors will open and for now, it is time to find those doors through my networking connections and whatever means are available. As an exponent of the principles of Emotional Intelligence, I know that I have choices. As I go through this transition, I CHOOSE to be optimistic.
Stephen Beaumont CWE