WOW! I have so much to be grateful for since leaving Madrid three years ago. I joyfully reflect on my time abroad while also appreciating all that has transpired since returning to the motherland. Here is an inside look at the evolution of my life since returning to the United States.
What have you been up to since returning to the United States?
“I married an incredible man. We did a pop-up marriage ceremony at the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park in San Diego, CA with our immediate family! I helped my Momma as she fought against Pancreatic Cancer and once she passed, spread her ashes in Oahu. I joined a bowling league for a season with my dad and had weekly daddy-daughter dates at the golf course. While in Washington, I hiked, boated, camped, and enjoyed wineries. I drove cross country three times; twice solo and the other time with my cousin.
During the trips, I was able to reconnect with loved ones and enjoyed pit stops in Arches National Park, Antelope Canyon, and Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf! I am working towards my private pilot’s license, but still have quite a way to go. I’ve also been able to celebrate family and friends’ life milestones of getting a house, engaged, married, and/or having a baby! Life has continued to be one big adventure since returning to the United States.
With regards to my career, I worked two and a half years as a Regional Senior Director of Revenue for The Lumen and a stunning, independently owned luxury hotel in downtown Dallas called The Joule. I also had the privilege of overseeing the Reservations Team for the two properties. During my tenure, The Joule ranked Top 10 in RevPAR (a key metric in the hotel industry) for Texas hotels. Additionally, I developed my replacement prior to departing. I have since left and am privileged to be part of the opening team of Hotel Drover, a newly built Autograph Collection by Marriott hotel, in the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards! We are set to open in late 2020 and could not be more excited to welcome guests from near and far!”
How has your life changed since returning to the United States from Spain?
“The major change has been returning to a full-time career in Revenue Management that I love. I really enjoyed my year in Spain teaching English, traveling incessantly, and living with a host family, but there is something so pivotal about working in a field that you are passionate about day in and day out! Traveling has slowed a bit and I am coincidentally more rooted and enjoying “domestication,” too. I am at peace with where life is and enjoy the “mundane” of walks around the neighborhood, home projects of painting the walls, staining the pergola, building furniture, laying new flooring, eradicating fire ant mounds, playing yard games, etc.”
What is the biggest difference between your life in Madrid versus Dallas?
“Prior to living in Madrid, I felt super uneasy, as if I was “settling” for the big-city rat race of a 9-5, despite loving the work I did. I had a nice house, nice car, a motorcycle, lovely relationships, etc. You know, checking all the boxes so to speak. Nonetheless, I felt as though there were personal interests that I would leave unexplored by committing to that lifestyle for.ev.er. I also grew up with an immense amount of self-imposed pressure to excel at anything and everything that I did. So much so, that I withheld personal grace and had not fully invested time and energy into self-exploration.
Moving to Madrid allowed me to detach from the “supposed-to-dos” and be on an adventure of self-reflection while also immersing myself into other lifestyles. Madrid provided the space, time, and slower pace of life to wrestle with my cognitive dissonance; providing the freedom to dig deep into who I really am. Through the process of deciphering, breaking down, and rebuilding long-standing beliefs, I removed layers of shame and self-imposed expectations. It was incredibly hard, but also freeing. The self-work continues until this day.
Another key difference is that despite Madrid being more densely populated than Dallas, my lifestyle there felt much more relaxed. I really enjoyed the commutes via metro because I was able to read so much! In Dallas, I drive an hour each way for work, and it requires me to be hyper-focused in order to preserve my life. I listen to podcasts and audibles, but it is not the same as leisurely reading while riding the metro.”
What do you miss most about life in Madrid?
“I alluded to it above, but I definitely miss the pace of life and the metro as a main form of transportation. I also really enjoyed all the green space amidst exciting eateries, shopping, art, pop-up markets, etc. Living in the Dallas area, a commute is required most of the time to experience those things since it is not very affordable to live in the city.”
How did living in Spain change or enhance your professional life?
“It helped me settle into myself and acknowledge that I am not a person to yield sub-par results. Instead, I’ve learned to be kind to myself and really tap into my energy levels. For example, when I am feeling super creative, I channel that towards creative, thoughtful work. When I am feeling low on energy, I do mundane and less critical tasks. When I feel super energized, I use that energy to crank through projects that I may have been avoiding and need to hone in on to bring to completion. Spain gave me a year to fully know myself, practice self-awareness, give me courage to maintain my identity in the workplace, and speak up when things are unjust.”
What does your professional life entail now?
“I am a Director of Revenue for Hotel Drover in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. The hotel is under construction and set to open in late 2020! We are currently selling rooms and event space for the first half of 2021 and will continue to roll in inventory as we draw nearer to next year.
We are embarking on mass hiring in preparation for the hotel’s opening as well. I will aid in the interview and onboarding process and am excited to welcome many new faces to the team! It is incredible that Hotel Drover can provide job opportunities despite the world being wrought by dire times.”
What do you enjoy most about living in Dallas?
“To me, it is not about where you live that makes a place enjoyable; it is the relationships you foster. I really enjoy the friendships inside and outside of the workplace that I have been able to cultivate over the years. It also helps that Dallas is unbearably cold to me for only two months out of the year, allowing me to gallivant outdoors often! “
Have you traveled since returning to the United States? If so, where did you go and what did you do?
“I have! I went on three cross-country drives, as I mentioned before, two of which were solo. During those trips I traversed through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas. I have done several trips within Washington, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma, as well.
I went to Oahu and hiked, lounged on beautiful beaches, scuba dived, attended an immersive luau hosted by the Polynesian Cultural Center, and ate lots of delicious seafood. We ate and hiked our way around San Francisco with friends. While in San Diego for my wedding, we had a couple of fancy feasts, hiked, enjoyed beaches and visited the San Diego Zoo. I have spent time with family in and around Portland, Oregon. Hoyt Arboretum and the beach in Newport, Oregon are great! I ventured to Minneapolis for a work trip. Additionally, I went to Florida for a girl’s trip in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando for a friend’s wedding.”
What does the year ahead hold for you?
“I am focusing on opening Hotel Drover so we can welcome guests! Personally, I will continue to appreciate mother nature and the great outdoors. I remain active with running, working out, and meandering down trails. I enjoy cooking, engaging in beach activities, riding my motorcycle, as well as educating myself on racism, politics, and police reform. Social distancing is also important to me. We have new roommates and enjoy family time as a way to break up our routine.
We do have a trip planned for Aruba this year, but we shall see if that happens. One of my cousins is planning on getting married in Washington as well, so hopefully we can have some family bonding time up there come this Fall! Overall, this is a year of taking it as it comes and enjoying the slower pace of life. I have been embracing the lack of “control” over plans.”
Morgan has not slowed down since returning to the United States three years ago. She is preoccupied with the opening of Hotel Drover in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards while leveraging her energy levels to complete a variety of tasks. Morgan has grown more accepting of things she cannot change and embraces the outdoors as the pandemic alters travel plans and traditional socialization activities. She is utilizing this year’s slower pace to educate, invest into her wellbeing, and complete home improvement projects.