Heading West, Again

welcome to lynnepetre.com // lynnepetre.com

It’s a gorgeous fall day in Pittsburgh; humidity is low, temperatures have dipped and the sun is shining brightly. The kind of day that makes me appreciate spending time in the midwest for this moment in my life, yearning for the crunch of leaves beneath my feet as I walk Philly around our neighborhood, snuggling under a blanket with my husband in the evenings in our poorly-insulated old apartment.

But this is likely my first and last midwest fall day this season because, today, I begin a drive west to move back to Colorado.

Earlier this summer while working in Denver, I knew spending this upcoming year working remotely would not be the best decision for me, professional or personally. Truthfully, I knew this the moment I left Colorado last July.

Working from Home // lynnepetre.com

Being the sole remote person on my team was challenging; I missed interacting with my coworkers and I felt really isolated. Growing and leading a team remotely is extremely challenging and, this summer alone, I added 4 new members to my team and currently have open several open positions for my territory. Things at Ibotta are moving so fast and it’s such an exciting time to be part of this company that I don’t want to miss out on the unique opportunities and experience in front of me.

Alex immediately supported the move; he’s always encouraged me to find and follow what’s important to me in a career. After many thoughtful conversations, we made a game plan and I found a short term apartment in Denver before I left at the end of the summer. I will be spending most of my time in Denver and ‘reverse remote working’ where I’ll work remotely for a week in Pittsburgh every few weeks so I’m able to still spend time with Alex.

I’m as excited to move as I am sad to leave. 

For much of the past couple of years, I’ve felt like I’m in the passenger’s seat, figuring out how to fit my plans into my husband’s school schedule. This, though, is me taking the driver seat (literally) and making a decision about what’s best for me, a decision that sets me up for current and future success and is a decision I feel really good about. I’m excited to continue to grow in my career and be in the office as the next months unfold.

Of course, it’s not without it’s tradeoff. I’ve cried many tears about leaving Alex and Philly. About the life experiences Alex and I will have separately from each other. About missing out on the precious little time I have left with our Pittsburgh friends before graduation in May. About not living a short drive from Cincinnati.

It’s going to be hard and exciting and lonely and rewarding, all a the same time. In the end, these 10 months of long distance will fly by and be an interesting story in this ‘unconventional’ moment of our lives. (And after 2.5 years of long distance dating, 10 months feels like the blink of an eye!)

Moving to Denver // lynnepetre

See you soon, Denver. Just 1500 miles to go.

Currently: New Normal

Wash Park Smith Lake // lynnepetre.com

2 weeks ago, Alex dropped me off at work and continued driving west, bound for Los Angles. Days prior, I’d moved all my stuff into my ‘summer home’ but over the weekend, we stayed at a friend’s house while she was out of town. Coming home to the summer home on that Tuesday evening felt a lot like walking into my college dorm room after my parents drove away that first night. I’d only met 1 of my housemates prior and, walking in on Tuesday night, the other 2 girls were hosting a spirited book club discussion. I quietly sneaked past and holed up in my basement room, unpacking and situating myself.

I felt the, OMG WHAT AM I DOING panicky doubts – should I have rented a place with no roommates? What if they don’t like me? What if our schedules totally clash and I’m always in their way? What if they get tired of seeing me wearing 1 of only 10 outfits I brought with me?

As the book club carried on loudly, jovially upstairs, I talked myself off the ledge. Don’t be inflexible, Lynne! Just like moving to college…the first few days of not knowing where things are, how to get places without a car, what to talk to your new friends about, those days are challenging.

But those days pass quickly. And then you find the bike path to ride to work and to the gym, and you make friends with your housemates, and you realize, no one actually cares that you only brought 10 outfits to wear this summer (but WHY DID I ONLY BRING 10 OUTFITS FOR NEARLY 4 MONTHS IN DENVER?!)

It took a few days but I settled into my new normal and, now, can hardly remember those panicky moments 2 weeks ago. I love starting my day with fresh air and sunshine as I bike 4 miles to work. I love working in the office with my co-workers (and am a little terrified of having to go back to #remotelife at the end of the summer). I love the simplicity of not having a car and having to be very intentional about my plans. I love spending time with friends and putting myself in situations to meet new connections. I love being to consider only myself and what I want to do. I love the independence.

I’ve been at this ‘new normal’ for 2 weeks now and it’s easy to forget this is a temporary normal. For the next 10ish weeks, I’m relishing this moment in my life.

Up Next: MBA School Summer Break

2015 in Review - April // lynnepetre.com

The first year of Alex’s MBA program has officially finished and he is on ‘summer break’! Kind of a misnomer because ‘summer break’ in business school is the time between school and internship. For Alex, he has a month off between classes ending to his internship beginning but other students had just a few days to get from Pittsburgh to their internship (but they have typically have a longer break at the end of their internship before classes start again in September).

Most of the first year of business school is focused on finding a summer internship and we always knew that for Alex, this likely meant not working in Pittsburgh. We spent many hours discussing cities, companies, lifestyles, future goals and more together as Alex identified his target companies for the summer. In many cases, the internship leads to a full time offer so we wanted to set ourselves up for the best post-MBA decision possible.

In March (on my birthday, in fact), Alex landed the best internship for his skills set and ambitions – it’s the perfect bridge between what he had been doing before school to what he wants to do after school. He’ll be working for a super cool media tech company, in Santa Monica/Los Angeles, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that his apartment will be 6 blocks from the beach. Homeboy is living the Summer Internship Dream!

Ibotta Entrance // lynnepetre.com

We also knew, before we even moved to Pittsburgh, that if Alex’s internship was not in Pittsburgh, I wanted to spend my summer in Denver. Working remotely is hard and working remotely and leading a team at an aggressively growing and extremely innovative company is even harder. While I’ve come to enjoy my personal life in Pittsburgh and feel like I am in a good ‘working remotely’ rhythm, I’m missing out on in-office collaboration and career growth opportunities. Plus, it’s lonely! I miss talking to my coworkers in person and socializing. Without Alex in Pittsburgh, I would surely become the crazy hermit lady who goes days without talking to anyone in real life and nobody (especially not me) wants that.

So, all this to say that Alex and I are en route across the country, wheels pointed west! We are spending a couple of days with our family in Cincinnati and then will drive to Denver. Alex doesn’t start work till early June so he’ll/we’ll have a few weeks of downtime in Colorado before he finishes the last, 17-hour leg from Denver to Los Angeles.

Petre Road Trips // lynnepetre.com

These next few months of Summer Break are sure to be chaotic with both of us working at companies we’re excited about and traveling/exploring on weekends and I couldn’t be more giddy. And bookended by a cross-country road trip?

Summer 2016, I already love you.

Ending 2015 On A High Note

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Man, this year!

This time last year, Alex found out he was accepted into 2 excellent MBA programs and in the 365 days since, it’s been a ride. Perfectly happy with our life in Denver and really excited about my then new-ish job and it’s potential, I was not jazzed to think about what 2015 would bring for me, personally, or our little family.

After much deliberation and consideration, I decided in April to tell my company that I was moving to Pittsburgh with Alex. In my heart, I always knew it was the right decision but I dragged my feet, knowing that moving away from Denver would likely mean a stunt in my career growth. It’s been hard to reconcile two very different, seemingly mutually exclusive things: if I moved to Pittsburgh, I’d be limiting my career and sacrificing growth; if I stayed in Denver, I would be sacrificing my relationship with my husband. I felt like I was between a giant rock and an un-budging hard place and couldn’t ignore the weight of the decision.

Fortunately, my company allowed me to stay on as a remote employee and I moved to Pittsburgh in August. We spent 2.5 really great weeks on the road as a last hurrah of our dual income/same schedule life before landing in Western PA. We camped at the Grand Canyon, stayed a few nights in Vegas, swung back through Colorado to pick up Philly and ventured east, seeing friends and family along the way. (More here.)

welcome to lynnepetre.com // lynnepetre.com

The first weeks and months in Pittsburgh were rough, emotionally. I’d ‘lost’ everything I knew and loved in Denver and was in a new city, working remotely, with a husband who was already in the thick of his MBA program and had very little free time. I felt sad and sorry for myself a lot in those early days.

Adjusting to the ‘remote employee’ life has taken some time but I’ve finally found a cadence that works for me for right now. I’ve found friends and am learning how to get around in Pittsburgh with less reliance on Google Maps. I cry a lot less tears these days than when we first arrived – so that’s a plus! But many days, I miss our ‘old life’ in Denver: the city, the community, our friends, our routine.

This past week, I was back in Denver for work and it was especially wonderful as Tuesday brought a snow storm that dumped nearly a foot of snow before the system moved out (PA has been too warm this winter – it’s 65* today!). I spent a week working in the office, staying in an AirBnB in my old neighborhood, eating at my favorite restaurants and feeling so happy to be back. We had a company-wide meeting to discuss 2015 and where we’re going in 2016 – all exciting things! – and celebrated our incredible growth with a really fun holiday party.

In my year end review, I earned a promotion and I’m not ashamed to admit I found myself wiping tears – happy tears, this time! After a hard year, emotionally, and questioning how working remotely would affect my career, it felt really great to know that I’m not ‘out of sight, out of mind.’

To cap off a great week, I spent Saturday flying down the mountain with my girlfriends at Keystone. It was such a blast to be with the friends I’ve missed, catching up and laughing the whole day.

Keystone Skiing // lynnepetre.com

I boarded my flight home on Sunday with a full heart. The week in Denver was one of the best I had in 2015 and was a great way to close out this year of change. I’m excited to spend the next 2 weeks with my husband, family and friends and celebrate the holidays; I’m even more inspired to welcome 2016 and hit the ground running.

I have big goals for making life in Pittsburgh feel more like my own; it’s hard to not feel like 2 years in grad school mean living in limbo while we bide our time before the next adventure. I’ve let myself feel that way for these first 4 months and it’s not helpful or accurate. There is a lot I can do to thrive in PA while we’re here. Gotta bloom where you’re planted, right?

So in 2016, I have no doubts there will be a lot less tears in store and I can’t wait to get started.

Snapshot: Working Remotely at Home

Working from Home // lynnepetre.com

When I moved to Pittsburgh, I began doing something that I think many of us dream about doing, at least on occasion: working from home. As I travel back to Denver this week for work, I thought I’d share a bit about what working from home while still employed by a company looks like for me (vs. working from home as a freelancer or managing your own business).

I am extremely fortunate to work for a company that is willing to be flexible and allow me to work remotely when I moved across the country. When we knew Alex would be attending business school in Pittsburgh, Alex and I spent many hours talking about the pros and cons of me moving to Pittsburgh with him or staying in Denver. Ultimately decided the right decision was for me to move with him and I approached my manager with a proposal for how I could continue to stay on the team while working from Pittsburgh.

I’ve been working remotely since August and finally feel like I’ve found a rhythm. Because my company is based in Denver and my territory is west coast based, I generally still work on MST hours. And while I sometimes go to a co-working or shared office space, I spend many of my days working out of my apartment.

(As a caveat: I work for a high-growth tech company that is growing like crazy so these hours are on the long side as we hire into the growth.) 

Working from Home // lynnepetre.com

Here’s what a typically work-from-home day looks like for me:

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8-8:30a: Wake up, walk Philly, take Alex to school on days he has to wear a suit (all other days, he rides his bike).

8:30-9:30a: Drink coffee and eat breakfast, check work email from last night’s late arrivals. I’ll usually spend a few minutes straightening up (laundry, dishes, hanging up coats, etc) or taking inventory of the fridge to plan dinner before I really hunker down for the day.

9:30a-1:30p: Work. Much of my day is spent responding to client emails, joining internal or client calls and giving direction to my team. I have 1 direct report so we spend a few minutes each afternoon (morning, her time) talking through priorities.

1:30-1:45p: Lunch! Before I know it, it’s 1:30p and I’m starving. Usually I scrounge around in the fridge for something quick and healthy and will build a kale salad and sandwich or reheat leftovers.

1:45-6p: Work. Because I work with west coast clients, a bulk of my client calls and an influx of emails are later in my afternoon. I try to take a 10-15 minute break to walk around the block with Philly and get some fresh air but some days, we just take a quick break to the back lawn of our apartment.

6-7:30p: Meet up with a friend for a workout – most days this is either hot yoga or an Orangetheory Class, both within a 5 minute commute of my apartment. On Wednesdays, I try to meet up with a local run club up the street with a handful of friends and business school spouses. As often as possible, I try to work out with a friend as much for the social aspect as the accountability aspect.

7:30-7:45p: Shower and start dinner. Alex is usually still at school until about this time so we tend to eat dinner much later these days. Most nights, we make an effort to eat dinner together and connect but some nights, he is stuck at school until late so we’ll eat separately.

7:45-10:30p: Back to work! Trying to get a few more items crossed off the to-do list to wrap up and prepare for the next day. I try to make a conscious effort to turn off work mode by 10:30p.

10:30-11p: On some lucky nights, Alex also takes a break from school at 10:30p and we watch an episode of something on Netflix (currently: Longmire). If not Netflix, I will spend a few minutes reading articles/blogs, writing my own blog or generally just winding down from the day.

11p: This is generally the earliest I go to bed but it’s often later. As you can gather, there isn’t much free time for Alex and I to spend together so I often sacrifice sleep to hang out for a few minutes.

And then, it starts all over again.

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Overall, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work remotely. There are obvious challenges – lack of interaction, sad ability to sit inside all day without realizing it – but there are also advantages like a quiet work space and built in puppy snuggles.

This week, though, I am beyond excited to spend to take time off from Remote Employee status and spend a full week in Denver with coworkers and fun company events on the agenda. You better believe I will be soaking up every minute of it!