On Change, in Life and Blogging
I’m sure you all have noticed that I’ve been largely absent from blogging for awhile and have fallen almost 12 months behind in reporting what I’ve been up to. The main reason for that is that the past year has brought some unexpected changes, the biggest of which was accepting a job as construction supervisor at Mesilla Valley Habitat.
A brief summary of events: Tom and I arrived in Las Cruces the third week of last September expecting to work through April (both of us) and continue learning how to manage a Habitat site while gaining more experience on the tools (me). But about a month after our arrival the sole construction staff member left and the affiliate asked myself and Steve, another volunteer, to step up and continue working on the houses – 3 in various stages of framing, and 2 not started. We both agreed immediately in hopes of helping the affiliate and the partner families, and thus co-managed the site through the end of the year. In that time we began work on the next 2 houses, finished framing and shingling on the first 3, and even began drywall on the first house. It was crazy trying to figure out all the things we needed to know but Steve and I gained confidence as we passed our first 3 framing inspections and began receiving positive feedback from the volunteers on site. But around New Years Steve was suddenly unable to continue working, and with that development I went from being a volunteer in October to co-manager in November and December to the only person in charge by the time we returned from holiday break.
When we arrived at the end of September I had a timeline in my head in which I’d spend another 3 or 4 years learning various aspects of building and managing before moving into a leadership position at a Habitat – and then I’d always thought I’d work at a small, rural affiliate that built 1, maybe 2 houses a year. It’s not only the scenario I kept picturing when thinking about my professional goals but the one which I felt I was best suited for. It literally never crossed my mind that I’d go to work – now – at an affiliate building 5 houses simultaneously, with an average of 20 to 35 volunteers each day, and to have the homes completed in 7 months. Honestly it felt overwhelming, but I quickly realized that despite the (continuing!) challenges and the steep learning curve I could do it — and that I truly loved it. And so even before the houses were complete in April I accepted a seasonal, full-time position there and will be returning in a few weeks to begin preparing for the construction of the next 5 houses.
Going forward I don’t anticipate blogging as much in general, specifically not as much in relation to building in Las Cruces now that it’s my job. But I had some personal reasons too for letting my blog go this past year in addition to the new time constraints, and I will continue to give myself permission to not-write or write as I feel like it. Despite having fewer adventures and hikes this past year I still have plenty to catch you up on however, especially the past 3 months in which we’ve been traveling and hiking and also building in Montana and Colorado.
So, more pretty pictures are on the way! Promise. Until then, below are some shots of our first few months of progress on site. I was actually building the first month as I said and Tom captured a few shots of me doing so, but after October I would only pick up tools to demonstrate or help fix something and so I had plenty of opportunities to capture the volunteers on site as they framed up the 5 houses.
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I really admire what you do. I hadn’t head of the Care-a-vanner program before, but am intrigued. While I am not much of a carpenter, when my husband and I renovated homes, I was designer/painter/tile layer/landscaper/second pair of hands. My Dad helped to build a few Habitat homes when I was growing up, so the program has personal meaning to me. Hopefully this program is something I can be a part of in the future.
Hi again Marsi. I’m sorry for the delayed response. I had scheduled posts but we were visiting family so I wasn’t really checking comments.
I looked at your blog- so are you not traveling anymore? The care-a-vanner program is wonderful and all the affiliates are different but usually there’s reduced-cost or free RV parking in exchange for 2 weeks work. We’ve volunteered at dozens of affiliates between us and love doing it. With your experience you’d be more skilled than most who show up; you don’t need ANY experience and affiliates will always teach you how to do tasks involved.
I’d love to work with you someday! If you’re ever coming through southern NM sign up to build in Las Cruces! We’d love to have you. Especially your tile skills! 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions or would like information on the program in general or specifically my affiliate in Las Cruces.
Hi Meghan! No worries on the comment delay. We all should to take some time to disconnect (I did yesterday!).
We are no longer traveling full-time, though since January we taken several 1-2 week trips. My husband’s office job doesn’t allow us to move about as freely now and at some point I will also have to return to a gig with a regular paycheck. Until then, I will fit in as much time on the road as I can, enjoying seeing new places but also doing research for a potential new home.
Thank you for the information about the care-a-vanner program. Until we have an RV, I don’t think we could be a part of it, however that doesn’t mean that I cannot work with habitat before then. I will definitely be in touch in the future if we plan to come through Las Cruces. We seem to be spending more and more time in Northern New Mexico, so it wouldn’t surprise me if we actually end up living there in the not-to-distant future. And that’s not too far from Las Cruces 🙂
I hope your plans to become more mobile and/or get to Northern NM work out! I love the mountains up there and hope to visit again soon. And yes, let me know if you’re ever coming through Las Cruces!
Thank you, Meghan. I hope we get to work together one day!
Wow, nothing like being thrown in and rising to the occasion. You are an inspiration; congratulations Meghan! I know how time consuming blogging is and I also am falling way behind. I like what you said about giving yourself permission to not write or write. I look forward to reading your posts whenever you feel like writing. All the best to you and Tom!
Thank you, Caroline! Its been very exciting. As for blogging, I think the key is to not feel obligated to write (at all or in a timely fashion). When it starts to feel like a job I think the key is to take some time away.
Thanks so much, Janet. I’m happy to have accepted! 🙂
Congrats on the career changes! And I hope Tom is doing ok 🙂
I know all too well how much time Blogging takes up so we all understand! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts over the years. Still a follower here in Utah 🙂
Thank you, Alicia! Blogging can be so time-consuming! Especially when you’re putting together all those trail descriptions as you do!
Nice pics Meghan, you look like a real construction worker. Hope all is well.
Thanks, Michael! All is well! I think the hardhat and safety glasses are a better look for me than suit and heels. 🙂
Congratulations! I was a licensed general contractor in Pueblo, CO for 15 years and although it was stressful at times, I loved it and feel fortunate to have run my own business… a successful award winning biz.
Look forward to your updates, however few they may be.
Thank you, Ingrid. Looking forward to catching up on your blog soon as well. I hope to get my license someday but first I’m still catching up on a bunch of things!
I was glad to hear how you are doing, Meghan, and about your new challenges. Life has a way of interrupting our plans:)
It sounds like you are happy and challenged which is great.
I always enjoy knowing what you are doing and seeing the pictures you post.
Best wishes to you on your new job!