Monday, February 15, 2010

Phoenix Part 5: Olive Garden, a new job and a certain email I WILL NEVER FORGET!

So just over a week after the wedding, Stephanie and myself went out on a "date" at a very classy and upscale restaurant in the Glendale/Peoria area, Olive Garden. I will always remember that dinner as one of the most nervous dates of my life. Probably had something to what it led to a few years later.

We had previously had dinner before but we knew this was to see if we were going to start dating. Not sure if it now came up since we were both in the same wedding and had been talking more than we ever had. We were trying to get to know each other a little more. We scratched the surface on what our plans were and where we saw ourselves going. We both did agree on one thing, if we were meant to start dating, we would let God take control of that situation.

We left that night as I was ready to start dating and Stephanie left it is as "okay, I need to think about it." OH COME ON!!!! So for two days I sat at the edge of my seat and had no idea what was going to happen. There was a good reason for this as I found out later on in our relationship. She let me know on Wednesday afternoon for me to stop by after work as she had a decision. She decided that she was feeling the same and so, we started dating.

Just before we had been dating for a month, I got an email from Stephanie that would temporarily freak me out. I was in the process of trying to plan what to do for the one month anniversary. (Remember those times? Now we just look at years, thankfully because that gets costly!) The email consisted of her ideal engagement ring. I will take a moment now and let that sink in to your thoughts, as I had to do at the time. I was a little shocked and sat in my apartment in a little bit of shock. I had not thought of us in that type of scenario quite yet. Again, I was looking to CELEBRATE being together for a month. I thought that was an accomplishment for me, let alone looking at rings.

So after breathing heavily into a brown bag for a few seconds, I gathered my thoughts and tried to relax. I just told myself, "This is not that big of a deal. She is just voicing the IDEAL ring for her." That did not work so well. Back to the brown bag.

I look back on that email and I laugh now. Stephanie knew long before I did that we were meant to be. Probably because she fully trusted God when it came to us long before I did. We had both said we would give it up to God; however, it feels like I was trying to control as much of the pace of the relationship as possible. There were some things I needed to learn and understand what God was teaching me. I think I always envisioned that I would move back to Missouri, meet someone and that would be it. What WE have in mind is usually quite different of what HE has in mind. I always believed that I knew how to handle situations. Heck, I moved to Phoenix had to get a new job on my own and I could find the right woman and control when I am ready for that next HUGE step. What I failed to realize is that none of the things I accomplished in life were on me, God had carried me and got me to that point. He cried with me through the toughest times and smiled when great things happened. Most importantly He was and is ALWAYS there!

Another instance where I knew He was there was when my family came to Phoenix for Christmas and the families would have a chance to meet. Back to the brown bag for breathing techniques. We were invited over to Stephanie's father's house for dinner for Christmas. I think everyone was nervous just because this usually is another big step in relationships and I was trying to figure out what milestones in relationships were next before, well THAT step occurred. The dinner ended up being not a big deal at all. It was very relaxing and very good too. My folks and Stephanie's father and step-mom just talked for several hours while my brother, Stephanie and me watched Christmas specials. It was a relaxing evening and also a relaxing trip with my family. I think my dad really enjoyed that Phoenix December as he was able to go out biking a few times on the Arizona Canal. Mom got to do some shopping in Scottsdale and my brother Andrew and I got to hang out.

So during this time of parents meeting and a few instances that took a couple of trees to ease my breathing back to normal, I received an email from my General Manager Sheri. She asked me to help her out with Disneyland passes. A buddy of mine was in the military and he had discounts for friends and family on those types of things. I brought the passes to her house and we stood outside talking for a bit. It was at that time I found out she was going to be leaving and she was going to recommend me for the GM job. I had just slid into an AGM/Sales role with the company and was getting those things down when this got brought up. Again, God had a plan, although it felt crazy at the time.

I went in for an interview with the CEO of the company. I prayed about it for a few days and got the call that I was going to be taking over. What a challenge God had placed for me. I was taking over a hotel that was doing very well in revenue as well as a great staff. Some say, "How is this challenging? This is easy for you." I have experienced both coming in from a GM leaving on her own accord and also on the company's accord. You have a lot to live up to in a successful business. You will be immediately compared to your previous GM. I tried to do as much her style as I could. I emailed her that first month at least once a day. She never had an issue talking with me or assisting me. I will always be grateful to Sheri for what I have learned from her. One important lesson I learned: I was not Sheri. I was Travis and my style was going to be different. I had to give the staff time to adjust as well.

With the staff I had come to consider as family, I was not worried about them adjusting. I was worried about myself adjusting. For my first General Manager experience, I was blessed with a great staff. However, with a great staff, problems will still arise. It is how you react to those issues that people will remember. Isn't that the same in life? Life might be going great and the something rocks your world that YOU try to fix and we forget that God is still there wanting to help out.

Phoenix Part 6: Time to react to some problems. WOW!

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