Saturday, September 05, 2015

Solo road trip to Tahoe

I recently took a solo road trip and vacation. I realized as I drove through Nevada (perhaps the most boring part of Interstate 80, with the drive through Nebraska as a close second) that driving by yourself in a car is sort of like a traveling insane asylum. You're in your own little confined space with padded walls, harnessed in, and bored out of your mind. You end up singing and talking to yourself trying to pass the time, with more time than you've ever had to think....and sit and do pretty much nothing.
Every once in a while you get to get out of your "cell" and get some fresh air. I found myself breaking free of my harness, slipping out of the car and locking the doors behind me and hoping no one messes with my stuff or notices I'm gone.  A quick break, and I jump back into the car and re-harness myself. Then I began to pass people I had already passed on the highway and I wonder if they're thinking
"Hey, did you get out?"
"No, I've always been here...see, I'm still harnessed doors are locked"
I've digressed. Anyway, it was a long trip and I felt like my sentence was over when I arrived in Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe is an amazing place, and a great way to end my long journey in a confined space. It's a mix between outdoorsy adventures and beauty, with the man-made traps of casinos to take advantage of the people who want to sacrifice being mesmerized by sitting in front of machines. Most of them probably work long hours at an office sitting in front of computers and they most likely sat for hours as they drove or sat on a plane....only to sit inside in front of computers for hours, except now they're paying for it instead of getting paid for it. I don't get it.
I hit a gambler with my car as she crossed the street, but I didn't really feel bad because when she got up that morning, she said to herself, "I'm going to take some risks and see what happens today. I make take a hit or pass, but either way I'll have fun." I mean, really, she knew what she was in for when her day started. She was on a good run, so I cashed her out. No, seriously, I didn't hit any gamblers and I didn't gamble myself. Just hung out and enjoyed an amazing resort, live music, and some great food.
Lake Tahoe is definitely a great vacation spot, with pretty reasonable prices on food and lodging, plus tons of different activities (yes, including gambling). I had to get use to constantly crossing from California to Nevada, divided down the middle of Lake Tahoe. So, you can walk down the street with liquor (Nevada side) and once you cross Stateline Street, you're suddenly breaking the law. Go figure. Anyway, I managed to get away without any tickets for drinking or speeding on my way there. If you're looking for a great spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors, put Lake Tahoe on your list.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why I left the corporate world to serve tables

With a college degree and 15 years of experience in the corporate world, I made a huge change. After running sales departments, selling everything from houses to books, and sitting behind a desk for years it was time for some new scenery. I needed something drastic despite the societal norms of working your way up the corporate ladder to achieve some sort of accomplishment which many label as success. So what's the motivation to "take a step back" in many people's eyes?
Ultimately, my security is not found in a title. It's not how many people I manage or what level I am in a company corporate ladder. I wanted an opportunity to interact with people, earn every dollar I make and not have my work run my life.

Face-to-face with my customers

Sure, my clients/customers are a bit different in the hospitality industry, but after years of working in a corporate environment (mostly sales) I have a sense of customer service that gives me an advantage over most. I can interact in a different way, with professionalism and foresight of opportunities, problems and how to provide guest satisfaction. I am ultimately responsible for their experience and get to actually interact with those I'm serving. I realized that this was a crucial part of what makes me happy in a job.

Goodbye desk and the paperwork I dreaded

Regardless of the role, I was always frustrated when I got trapped behind a desk staring at a computer screen. I gained weight and got depressed and overwhelmed as I shuffled papers that didn't matter, and monotonously accomplished the daily tasks that had to be done. Now, I'm active and on my feet, using the few muscles I have and free from the barriers of paperwork and processes that actually kept me from interacting with customers.

I'm going home now....and not working

Probably one of the best feelings ever is clocking out and being done with my day. I don't walk away with problems, reports, and projects that need to be done. I don't always feel like I need to be checking email or working when I'm "off" work. I walk away and it's over - perhaps on of the most freeing feelings of working in a restaurant as a server.

So long 9 to 5

I'm a night owl - I have energy, creativity, and motivation from about 3pm - 3am. But the corporate world doesn't love that schedule like I do. Instead, they often regulate when you need to be at your desk and it often starts early in the morning (at least for me). I've finally found a niche where I can work the hours I'm most productive.

Ready to go - anywhere

I'm currently waiting tables at a Marriott hotel restaurant. This means that after 90 days, I can transfer anywhere in the world. There are a vast amount of job opportunities and variety within the hospitality industry, and specifically within the Marriott's across the world. I'm providing myself the chance to relocate and experience a different city, different life and an adventure I don't even know.

Time to eat some humble pie

There have definitely been challenges and obstacles to overcome, perhaps the most significant is others' views of the change I've made. It's been a humbling experience as people make comments like, "Wow, that's quite a step down from a real career to waiting tables" or "How's the job search going?" It's been a refreshing chance to not care about what others think and not try and fit into the box of what a career looks like for a college-educated male. Truly, it comes down to this:
If you need to redirect your path and find something that you enjoy doing, the opinions of others will only get in your way until you're ready to be honest with yourself. 
Plus, I usually shut most people up when I tell them I don't have to take my work home with me as they frantically check their email on their phone, worrying if they've missed an important communication or a deadline that has slipped through the cracks.

Sometimes our career path chooses us...and then you're stuck....or are you?

Whether it's your college degree, your first job out of college, a connection that landed you a job, or "what you've always done" sometimes our career chooses us. But don't lock yourself into somewhere or something you're unhappy with. Life changes and your interests change - take a step to dare and do something different. Yes, it's a risk and you may not know what's next, but what's the loss? The money? The status? The security? We too often focus on the negative risks instead of the benefits, many of which you won't know until you pull the trigger and do something daring.

Ultimately, I wanted a change in career which means you start over - you start at the bottom and work your way up, concentrating on everything you've learned from past experiences to make yourself the best. From day one at my initial interview, I expressed my desire to work my way up in the hotel, whether that means management or simply new roles and opportunities. Now, I've got to put in my time and enjoy the ride.
So what's your story? Do you need to restart and blaze a new path? Don't be a drone to what you think is expected and following the norm. Find something new, take a risk and be the person others talk about.
I'm not giving in or giving up: I'm giving myself the opportunity to discover, explore and restart with a fresh new energy that motivates and inspires me. Do the same for yourself.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Adding to the "Random Job List" on my resume

Well, I've done a lot of random things and I somewhat pride myself in having unique jobs that make great stories. For instance, here are a few of the things I've done:

  • I've been 3 different costumed characters, including Chuck E Cheese
  • I've been an actor in a T.V. pilot (that never aired)
  • I've worked at 3 radio stations and been a radio DJ
  • I've played the piano as a volunteer at a nursing home
  • I've given guided tours
  • I've worked in a hotel
  • I've worked at an insurance office
  • I've been an assistant manager of a shoe store
  • I've been a janitor/maintenance guy
  • I've taught improv skills to major corporations like NASA, Mars, Cochlear, Anti-Doping Agency, etc.
  • I was the "try a chicken sample" guy in the mall for Chick-fil-A
  • I've been a real estate agent
  • I've handled key accounts and called on clients including Target, Groupon, Wal-Mart, Amazon, etc.
  • I've been an improv comedy actor for 10+ years
  • I've sold booth space, advertising, corporate sponsorships, homes, shoes, books, Bibles, food, etc.
  • I've emceed various events including weddings, parties, silent auctions, dinner-dances, etc.
  • I've been a Couchsurfer, staying at random people's homes on trips and vacations (not really a job, but sometimes it's not exactly a vacation :)
  • I've done social media for companies like Chick-fil-A
  • some failed businesses which all gave me more experience and life lessons
.....and now, I'm driving for Lyft. If you're not familiar with Lyft, it's much like Uber (except better) and provides a cheaper and more friendly alternative to taxi cabs. It's a total disrupter for the transportation industry and seemed like a great place to meet new people, have new experiences, and collect some amazing stories.

I'm excited to start another venture, and if you're interested in giving it a try as a rider you can sign up and download the app (plus take a ride) to help me out.

Even better, if you want to join me on the road as a driver we can both get a little spiff if you join and drive.

But seriously, this isn't an advertisement, more just an update in my latest journey as I'm back in Colorado trying to figure out the next thing. Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers as I continue in my journey.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I don't need what I have

I've just finished reading The Man Who Quit Money (by Mark Sudeen) which describes the journey of a man who saw how money, possessions and materialism were a burden. He now lives in a cave, dumpster diving and finding ways to survive without begging, but also without holding a job or relying on government welfare. I'm not there yet - and probably never will be, mom, so don't worry - but it made me look back and realize 3 key points in my life that caused me to stop and think: I don't need what I have.

Many of us can relate to this one. Each time you move, you look through your heaps of possessions: old college textbooks, trinkets that sit on your shelf and take up room, clothes overflowing out of every drawer, power tools you've used once, and relentless piles, closets, and garages stuffed to the brink. With every move, I skim down a little more yet still stubbornly hold onto things I haven't used for years. I've furnished a house and everything that comes with that, now sitting back in Colorado mostly being unused. I've had friends ask (as I wander around the country) if I've considered putting things into storage? Here's the deal: if you pay to store your stuff, you have too much. By the time you get it out, it's going to be outdated, damaged, and you've probably forgotten what you even have in that tin room an already bought another one . Plus, if you've lived without it for years already, you can live without it forever. Take the tax write off and donate it, or sell it on Craigslist. 

Waldo Canyon Fire Evacuation
Spoiler alert: I didn't loose my home or any possessions in the fire (although sometimes I think it would have been an easy, clean start to lose it all). However, I was evacuated during the fire. I went from watching it on the news to being told I needed to evacuate immediately. I scurried around the house with my video camera in hand, trying to quickly capture my possessions on film for the insurance company. As I went through each room, skimming past my mounds of stuff, I suddenly stopped and thought: there is nothing here that is so important to me I can't live without it. Sure, there are memories and expensive toys, but nothing that really mattered. With that realization, I was on a different mission to only grab things that would be a pain in the ass to replace like my passport, laptop with important files, and social security card. I barely filled half of my Mazda 6 (R.I.P Mazda - it was totaled in May 2014) with some basics that I could survive on. It was a long emotional day, not to mention the fact I went to a friends house upon being evacuated and an hour later was evacuated from there as well. He was gone (actually fighting the fire), so now I had the task of trying to figure out what HE would want and packed up random items from his house only to drive further east to another friend's home where I lived for 4 days. The best moment of that crazy day filled with moving my stuff all around the city, was when my friend came back safely from fighting the fires, not all the stuff I have "saved" from burning. My most vivid memory of that day was watching him walk up the driveway, covered in soot and smelling like campfire. I went outside and gave him a huge hug, telling him how glad I was he was home safely.

Living in Seattle
I still haven't decided if this is a temporary or permanent move, but when I had the opportunity to live in Seattle for 3 months in an apartment in Capitol Hill, I jumped on it. Again, rifling through stacks of meaningless clutter, I filled about half of my silver Mazda 3 with basics that I needed to live for 3 months. I'm living just fine with a suitcase full of clothes, a few kitchen utensils, and basic hygiene products (you're welcome Seattle). 
You have to understand too I'm somewhat of a pack rat and my mindset is typically "I could use this sometime, I just don't know when, so I'll hang onto it" but my mindset changed with each of these experiences. Sure, there are things I miss in Colorado like my piano and guitar, my bike (which i would have brought if I could have), and my printer. I learned to make sacrifices instead, perhaps a little less convenient, like walking to FedEx/Kinko's to print my resume instead of printing it in my living room. 

Overall, it's the realization that the things I miss most are not things at all - the things that are most important are people who I left behind. I've had to change my focus and realize no matter where I end up, the less selfish I can be and the more I concentrate on relationships, loving others, and connecting to them will result in more happiness than I could ever gain from sitting around my house with my stuff. It's a general apology and a commitment to changing my priorities, so prepare yourselves. If my possessions help someone else, I'm ready to give, donate, and provide to others without limits. What "thing" could possibly be more important than people? If the things you're holding onto can be a tool to help you show love, connect with and bless others then why do you still have them?

Thanks for listening to my deep thoughts - if you want some lighter humor you can check out some of my old blogs of other life lessons, which may inspire a laugh today:

Monday, May 11, 2015

New server job at local gastropub in Seattle

Well, I found myself a job. I haven't worked since I left CBA in November and it's been a good time for me to figure out what's next, travel and relax. But all good things must come to an end.
I've been looking for a server/waiter job and they're actually pretty tough to find here in Seattle. Mostly, because they all want you to have 1+ year of experience and I haven't worked in a restaurant since college (yes, I was Chuck E Cheese for those of you who didn't know. That's another story - here are 4 posts of mine that will shed a little light on this amazing experience). Other than Chuck E Cheese I worked at Chick-Fil-A and Cracker Barrel in high school and college, for about 3 years total between the jobs.
I'm now a server at Traveler Montlake
Anyway, I found a restaurant about 5 minute drive from my apartment and they were willing to hire an inexperienced server and train me up. I went in for a "working interview" and when the bartender suddenly got sick and went home, it was just me and the manager serving the entire restaurant. She told me I could go home, but I asked if I could stay and help and it was a good thing. We were totally slammed and I got to do just about everything: pour beer, run food, learn the restaurant POS system very quickly and more. By the end of the night, she appreciated what I did so much and saw the fact that I picked up on things quickly, was good with the customers, and had good common sense she offered me the job. The restaurant is called Traveler Montlake, a gastropub located in guessed it...Montlake, an area of Seattle.
Traveler Montlake fireplace at the back of the restaurant
It's about a year old, and make the Thrillist list of Seattle's Best New Restaurants.
So here's the weird thing about Washington State: all servers are required to take a course and get a food handlers card, plus their MAST certification (Mandatory Alcohol Server Training). Eight hours later of online training and useless information like where warning signs need to be posted in a restaurant, I now have both permits (oh, and $30 in fees). I've heard the theory that since there's no income tax in Washington, this is a way for the state to bring in additional money, but regardless, some of the training was helpful especially for someone who hasn't been in the restaurant business for a while.
I'll be working there Wednesday and Friday nights (they're only open from 4pm - midnight) and hopefully pick up some additional shifts in between. It should be a good change- I was in much need of a self-esteem boost and motivation to do something. So, thanks to all those who prayed and had best wishes for me finding a job. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

$15 Well Spent in Tacoma

Archway to Museum of GlassI'm still getting used to walking everywhere, carrying groceries home, and dealing with various weather conditions. Overall, it's been very sunny here with only a few days of overcast skies or rain. But after walking everywhere for a few weeks (and getting a parking ticket for being parked more than 72 hours in front of my apartment), Matt and I decided it was time for a road trip. We headed to Tacoma on Saturday (I thought it was the state capitol - obviously I didn't pay attention in elementary school).
See Chihuly artwork in TacomaSummary: it's a really cool city and it grew on me just during the few hours we were there. Lunch at a local brewery called Harmon Brewing and then a walk around to explore. We found the museum of glass across the railroad tracks from the brewery, which included a bridge of Chihuly's work in the ceiling above. If you know me well at all, I'm not the guy to spend $15 to walk through a museum, so we glanced around and kept walking. Few blocks later we found another brewery called Pacific Brewing and Malting Company, where I spent $15 on beer. It had a really cool history - the same location was opened in the late 1800's and then with prohibition in the early 1900's was shut down. Just last year, it reopened in the same location after being closed 98 years. That was worth celebrating with a beer and a picture of the doors opened wide with the logo engraved into the cement at the door.
Pacific Brewery and Malting Company in TacomaWe also had a run in with the police. Thankfully, it didn't involve a ticket but instead an off-duty police office who grew up in Tacoma and told us the best spots to hit during our short day trip. He recommended a large park called Point Defiance which is a 702-acre park including a zoo, beaches, hiking trails and more. A short drive later, I was standing on the rocky Owen Beach and driving around a 5-mile loop of some of the prettiest scenery I've discovered in Washington. It was the perfect weekend trip and great way to spend $15.
Shoes of the rocky Owen Beach in Tacoma   Seagull perched on a rock at Owen Beach   One of the many lookouts along the 5-mile loop through Point Defiance Park

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The best Tweets of Take Your Child to Work Day

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Meeting people and knowing no one: A humbling experience

Most of you know me as an outgoing, funny guy that everyone likes. Most of that is right :) but I'll have to admit I've never been in a situation like I am here in Seattle. It's amazing how my life has suddenly shifted from knowing everyone around me, getting invites to parties and gatherings, and having to choose what events I can make it to on a weekend night - to - knowing no one. I'm now forced to figure out ways to meet people, create friendships, and let people know I exist in a huge community I could very easily get lost and go unnoticed.
So, it begs a question, how do you meet people? How to you build relationships and expand your circle of friends? I know in Colorado Springs I became too comfortable in my circles and didn't often make the effort to reach out further than my comfort zone. Now, even after 10 days here, I'm convicted to be more intentional to welcome new people to my circles. I was born and raised in Colorado Springs and for the first time I'm having to experience being the new guy in a city, and quite honestly, it sucks. I'm open for suggestions and ideas how to build my social circles so I can do more than just sit around the house, sit along in a coffee shop, or walk the streets aimlessly.
Granted, there are plenty of homeless people around here that seem really friendly and always talk to me as I walk by, I'm hoping for some friendships and relationships that are a bit more.....sane. It is nice to have a roommate here from Colorado, so we're able to explore and discover new places together. Plus, I have a friend from high school here, so we've been able to connect and she's introduced me to some of her friends. It's still a bit depressing to only meet 1 or 2 new people a day. I've got to find some larger events where I can meet multiple people, hopefully cool people. The extrovert in me is getting anxious and annoyed.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Week 1: People and places of Seattle and so much more to learn

Pike Place Market at sunset #nofilter #seattleguy #pikeplace #androidphoto #perfectnight

A photo posted by Toby Lorenc (@ejucatedguy) on

Hard to believe I've already been in Seattle a week today. It's been a busy week of exploring and figuring out where to shop, dine, and park. I've already caved and done the touristy Pike Place Market which was a pretty cool spot at sunset on Friday night.
It's about a 30 minute walk from my apartment which is nice because it's close, but I'm not right in the heart of downtown craziness on a daily basis.
There are plenty of interesting people here indeed, from hipsters to homeless and they're all equally as amusing to watch. Here are some highlights:
*I watched a homeless woman throw down all her stuff on the curb, drop her pants and start peeing right in front of me
*I live a block from some sort of mental treatment facility, so there are often people at the park across the street from our front room window waving their arms wildly in the air, shouting obscenities, and having interactions with themselves and others which are hard to explain.
*A black guy at a brewery down the street from my apartment who had on his Ray Charles shades inside, along with a funky hat. He looked like a jazz musician. As soon as I sit down, he gave me a fist bump (not sure why) then he started talking and I didn't understand a word he said. We just kept laughing together, I'm sure for some reason that he knew but I was in the dark.
....I'm not sure I can even capture some of the other experiences in words, but more to come, I promise.
I've also had a chance to go out with my old high school friend and her boyfriend a few times, most recently last night for his birthday. A fun night of thai food in Capitol Hill and bowling after up in Lake City (my first time up there). I also for the first time threw a bowling ball and hit the gate (the metal thing that goes down after you bowl). They weren't particularly happy, but I hit restart multiple times and nothing happened, so the next logical thing seemed to be throwing a ball to reset it. Bad timing.
Anyway, still keeping my eyes and ears open for a job and doing my best to meet new people and network. It's weird being in a city where I don't know anyone and takes a little more energy and effort to be social.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Seattle Now Home to a Popular Attraction: Toby

Well, after 5 months of not working I've taken a huge step and continued not to work. Here's a quick recap to catch you up:

After multiple job opportunities falling through, I decided to find myself a city first, then find a job. I was ready to quit my current job for multiple reasons, but when my brother was scheduled for surgery in November in upstate Montana, it was the deciding factor. I made the long drive with my dad just a week after I had quit my job and a day after I bought my 3rd car within a 5 month period (that's another story). We drove up and stayed in Montana for two long weeks (long because it was stinkin' cold). After returning, I started traveling in the hopes of finding a city and to see various relatives, attend weddings, etc. Dallas, Omaha, Des Moines, Hilton Head were some of the main destinations with many stops along the way since I was driving on most of these trips.
During this time, I had a friend tell me about an opportunity to live in an apartment in Seattle (Capitol Hill) for 3 months. The owner went to Portugal and wanted someone to stay in his place while he was gone through the end of June. It didn't take me long to say "yes" and figure it out from there.

I arrived Sunday night after 2 long days of driving. Unpacking didn't take long as I just brought the necessities but adjusting to a new life will take a while. Here are some of the things I'm not used to:
1) Living in a busy downtown area, directly off a bustling street
Kitchen2) Getting into our apartment means going through 3 locked doors. Don't loose your keys!
3) Fighting for downtown parking so you can go home.
4)'s a one bedroom. Containers and boxes down the middle gives us each our own area but quarters are a little tight. I haven't lived in the same room with someone since college.
5) This is my favorite: I have to sit to pee. The owner is a little particular about a few things, one being "splashback" on the wood floors in the bathroom so he's asked us in various instructions to sit down when we take a piss (I'm sure you noticed the pic at the top of the post - that is taped to the toilet tank to remind us).
6) It's chilly up here, but it's beautiful. Everything is incredibly green and bloomed already in mid-April.
7) Hearing everyone I tell them I'm living in Seattle, say: "Oh, it rains there all the time"
8) Living in walking distance of anything I need or want (breweries, stores, entertainment, restaurants, etc).
9) walking home with groceries and having to pay for grocery bags if you don't have your own
10) a very old, quirky building which means: no dishwasher or laundry in my unit. It also means half our windows "look out" on a brick wall to the next building 5ft away.

BathroomMy rommate (Matt) and I spent Monday getting keys made, shopping for groceries, and setting up our living space. He got here about 2 weeks before me, so he's already done a great job of setting it up. Also, he has a friend here who is oddly enough dating a girl I graduated high school with. Small world. We went out to dinner with them last night at Hopvine Pub in Capitol Hill, just a few blocks from our front door. Today, I'm online looking for some ways to earn money plus I went on a long (2hr +) walk through the city to get familiar with the area. There's lots to see and some absolutely amazing homes. The city is laid out as well, including multiple parks like the one across the street from our apartment.

Anyway, I intend of keeping a regular journal of my adventures here in Seattle if you'd like to keep up with me. Probably the best way is to use the links to the right to Follow By Email or RSS feeds. I will post these to Facebook occasionally too.