Four Years in PNW | #MYPNWLIFE Updatefeatured

Here is my four-year update. I’ve been just a smidge busy opening up Final Draft Taphouse so ya know it’s a little late, but I figure better than never!

This past Memorial Day weekend marks four years in the Pacific Northwest for me! It’s been a very full four years and even more eventful and life-changing this past year. As I do every year near my anniversary of moving here, I write an update on (almost) all aspects of my life. It’s a time of reflection for me where I take stock, remind myself of my “whys” for changing up my life so drastically, look at how to continue to improve myself and my life, and celebrate what is going well! I also write it because I believe telling my story can and will help someone else who is working to improve his/her life, make life change big or small, and live a life of boldness, adventure, and frankly a life worth living! It’s not easy, but it is rewarding in many ways. So I hope if you are that person, you take a bit from this to comfort you, inspire you, challenge you, and urge you to move forward, to take steps for change and go after what you truly are meant to do!

If you want to check out how this journey started, check it out here The Beginning, or my progress throughout the years, Year One, Year Two, and Year Three.

And now on to my Year Four update! Let’s do this!

Career/Entrepreneurial Life! So much has been changed in this part of my life. As I mentioned last year, I was working on two entrepreneurial endeavors. All the while, working at a brewery, a tavern, and doing social-media consulting! Throughout the year, I was exploring both ventures. While I still have dreams of working on the other one, I, we, my love dude Mike Bolt and I decided to move forward with building out our dream craft-beer bar/taphouse, Final Draft Taphouse at the end of 2015, and this past year has been the most intense. Of course now that we are open, it’s even more intense!  It all started at the end of 2015, but really started to take off with the exploration of funding possibilities, a physical location and full business plan this past year. As many of you know, we announced it officially last January , as we signed the lease in October 2016.

Now, we about a month and half into having our doors, and I couldn’t me more excited and scared and overwhelmed, but mostly stoked! This is the biggest business venture I’ve ever undertaken and probably the greatest thing I’ve ever done. While I’ve had a photography business and a consulting business, I’ve never had a brick-and-mortar business nor have I ever had a partner in the business, let alone a significant other as my business partner.

With all of that said, I very proud to say that while I gave myself three years to create a full-time business once I moved to Portland, it’s now just a few months after the four-year mark, and it’s now a reality! I think that is pretty fricking awesome! I’ve learned a lot, taken some turns, listened to what was presented to me, lived boldly and decided against the said path, and went after the adventurous path!

Final Draft Taphouse is my full-time business. I took the leap and quit all my jobs and was officially done with both on June 19. This will be the first time in my life that I will have one job. Now, I have many roles in managing and operating Final Draft Taphouse, but it is my sole focus! You will see me behind the bar, managing the marketing, finances, and human resources, along with ordering and working on creating an in-store experience that I hope will keep everyone coming back for more! If you want to read about our journey of getting our doors open, to coming in for a pint, please check out our taphouse social media – Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

As I am transitioning now into my next chapter, I would be remiss without sharing a little about the opportunities I was given at the two places I’ve work these last few years. While my last day at Ex Novo Brewing was this last May 27, this past year at Ex Novo has been very rewarding. I was given the opportunity to begin a volunteer program at Ex Novo that did a lot for the people of Portland, but also gave me the opportunity to flex my creative, strategic, organizational, execution and leadership skills that I used to use in my old corporate career. It was a program that I created from scratch, pitched to the board, organized, and created. We built up a wonderful group of giving volunteers who share a love of craft beer and ended up volunteering over 240 from April 2016 to April 2017. In addition, we built lasting relationships from this group and helped the Portland community and the people living in Portland.

I’m grateful for that experience, and overall I’m very grateful for my time at Ex Novo Brewing and at Henry’s Tavern. These two jobs gave me to ability to work a flexible work schedule, and an provided an income to allow me to save and work on other aspects of my life/dreams!

ABVGirl/Site/Vlogging/Writing: It’s now been a little over two years that I’ve been writing on my Adventures, Brews, and Views blog, and posting on social as ABVGirl. It’s been so rewarding and has proven to help me further build my community of beer friends! While I didn’t get to all the ideas that I wrote about last year in my update and/or thought about throughtout the year, I do want to continue writing on ABVGirl and otherwise.

It may prove to be difficult to do all the marketing for my taphouse and my writing on ABVGirl, I am dreaming up some ways to incorporate the two! First of all, I’m already loving the fact that I can produce our newsletter for Final Draft Taphouse, and I fully plan to incorporate more storytelling in that as well as on our blog. In addition, I have an idea to create a vlog-type podcast at the taphouse to incorporate the stories of the craft-beer loving #beerfriends that we meet to share their stories!

Lastly, once we can establish a regular schedule for our taphouse, I fully intend to continue adventuring and exploring craft beer, a bold life, and continuing to learn and grow as a person, craft-beer lover, and entrepreneur and would love to continue to share via my site, if people will keep reading!?

Family: While I will always miss my family, this year has been a turning point for me in my journey of feeling less displaced and “far away.” I think a few things have contributed to that. One being, I was able to go back and visit last August for a week’s trip for my niece’s wedding. Mike and I went back to Minneapolis to visit friend’s for a few days, and then onto, northern Minnesota/Wisconsin, to visit with my Dad, and then onto central Wisconsin for the wedding, and finishing up in Milwaukee to visit my brother’s place on a whirlwind week trip. That was a great trip and an amazing time!

In addition, I have been welcomed wholeheartedly into Mike’s family. Right from the beginning, I’ve felt like I’ve been part of the family. I feel very comfortable with them, and they are very loving and caring and so supportive of me and Mike. His parents help us with so much, and I’m grateful that we have been near us.

In the end, while I miss my family and the more-frequent get-togethers, after four-years, I think I’m settling into understanding that visits with my family will be less, and I’m accepting that more now. Plus, when it does happen, it’s more concentrated and connected time!

Friends/Social: I am blessed with amazing people in my life, that is for sure! Nothing could have shown me this more than when I was in my accident in November 2016. The outpouring of concern and support was awesome! I’ve made so many wonderful people in the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve been further getting to know many of them this year and building deeper connections. I am grateful to have such a wonderful community of people in my life!

Love Life! Mike and I have been going strong since my last update. It’s been a true blessing that he has come into my life! He makes me laugh, loves on me, let’s me be myself, is loved by all my friends and community, embraces whatever comes our way, is a true partner, loves our kitty, is an amazing poochie daddy, gets shit done, and I’m grateful we get to spend our ‘everydays’ now. Mike and I moved in together after dating one year. We moved into a place in Vancouver, WA in anticipation of our taphouse opening this year.

We spend our days together now working on our business, but we do still make and find time for us, as a couple, versus as business partners! We take a day or two here and there to do a beer-trip or quick trip to the lake. We also craved out time for a bizmoon this past May to ensure we got in a tropical vacation before we open our taphouse doors. And I’m happy to report, we didn’t talk about business while we on our trip, expect for the last day, when we were dreaming of all the greatness it will be!

Making a life AND a business together is challenging. But also very rewarding! Now that our business is open, our next phase is managing through working together on the daily in a face-paced environment, while figuring out how to still be a couple!? Wowsa, right? While I don’t believe this path is for everyone, I have all the faith we can do it! Mike is way RAD, chills me out, and helps me be a better me! And someone who can do that, is simply a saint, and one who I will love forever!

Health: Wow, this is a rollercoaster of a topic for me this year. First off, I’m still faithfully a vegetarian and this July will mark four years since I have been meat and fish free. While I don’t think I still have it down, and how to be a healthy vegetarian, I am always working on it. Working on learning how to make different foods, learning how to balance eating fresh, raw foods with looking at how much a take in of dairy and grains. This proves hard for me as I supplement a lot of dairy (mainly cheese) in order to feel full. I know there is a better way and I must look at that this year. Part of which I believe will be buying fresh foods in advance, and meal planning for the week. Now that is something I’ve never done and will be a challenge!

As for the rest of my health, I haven’t been working out as much this past year. I still love doing kettlebells and try to be consistent but damn, it’s hard while building a start-up business and working full time. Plus, I had a major accident in November and have been suffering from my neck and back injuries because of it. (I am improving and on the mend so I won’t share a lot of that here). Also, I feel like my cardio (running, walking and biking and hiking) has just about trailed off. This is also something that I need to schedule back into my life. Not only does that burn the fat, it does wonders for my mind, which I will need to focus on now more than ever in order to work so much and manage my stress.

So all in all, I think I’ve been prioritizing work and socializing/networking more than I have been taking care of my health this past year. I definitely feel the crunch too and see the affects in the mirror. I just wonder how I will make it any different this next year!? Maybe a new morning schedule, a new fitness goal? Something has got to motivate me. I’m not sure what I am going to do yet, but my new FitBit Blaze Mike got me for my birthday IS going to get utilized! Stay tuned. And if you have any suggestions, I’m all EARS!

Finances: This past year, I felt like I’ve finally gotten back to saving well again. Gosh, it took me a good three years to recovery, financially from my life/career change. But, what I will say is, I cracked the code for myself, and being that my income was a third of what it used to be and I did it….you have NO excuses! Just sayin’! If you want to save moola for the things in life that really matter, there are definitely ways to change up your day-to-day living and ways to set aside money that work. It is the self-discipline and daily sacrifice that need to take place in order to do so. My tricks…stop with all the day to day small expenses….eating out, coffees from your favorite coffee place, no buying clothes, shopping at Winco and the Dollar Store instead of Fred Meyer or Safeway. And, the other thing that helped me was saving $20 per shift. Because I’ve worked in gratuity based jobs, I would not count my cash tips and put $20 immediately aside from each shift no matter the amount I made and then forgot about it. This routine helped me save not as much as I used to but about half per month, which on a third of my corporate income, that it pretty damn amazing to me! Other things I have done are….eliminating monthly expenses that are not necessary…gym membership, cable, lowing phone expenses, delete all non-necessary subscriptions…magazines, Birch Box type stuff, well, I never really have done these but have to mention it because it’s a waste of money! Anyway, hopefully this is a bit of inspiration for you!!

Community/Service: Two aspects of community and service that I have to talk about are Communitas, and the craft-beer community!

First off, the craft-beer community is amazing! I’ve said this before in other posts, on social media, in conversations, but it true is! The people who work in craft beer and some of the most generous, kind, hard-working, passionate people I know. Walk into any craft-beer brewpub, brewery, taphouse, and talk with any brewer, server/beertender, sales rep/distributor, beer writer, beer-gear creator, you name the job in craft beer, and you will find a kind-hearted, knowledgable, down-to-earth, bust-their-ass-all-the-time, and work-hard, play-hard type of person.

AND, group all of those people into a community, and the power of awesomeness comes together and makes such amazing things happen! This community has embraced me and my talents and has been the community where I’ve blossomed in the Pacific Northwest and found my opportunities! See below for my story about the advertising exec…in my Lessons Learned…Be Observant part!!! Yup, it sure did take me awhile to take his advice (about 16 years, but who is counting?)!

This craft-beer community is where I’ve made so many friendships, mentorships, partnerships, and found opportunities for employment and now entrepreneurialism. And most importantly, I’ve found my love dude, Mike, who is now also my business partner. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for this community I now find myself in. A true blessing!

Because of my opportunities in craft beer and particularly at Ex Noxo Brewing, I was able to start and build Communitas, which is the volunteering group that continues on how at Ex Novo. The leaders at Ex Novo let me concept and propose this volunteering/meet-up group and ultimately let me run with it this last year to further their mission of giving back and to build a group of craft-beer enthusiasts who love to give their time for good to benefit people in Portland. While the group did a lot for the people of Portland, every time I got together with the volunteers and the meet-ups, I was so amazed by the amount of joy it brought me. Yes, I did it as part of my job there, but it was definitely more than that for me! These people who came together to connect and support others fueled me. They made me want to do more and be more giving. This group of people, who came from all different places and paths, came together because of their love of craft beer and their giving hearts and made an impact in the greater community and on my heart. While I don’t lead the group anymore, I am still taken aback by these people and what they came together to do in 2016. And so many thanks go out to Jodi, who took over leading Communitas as I transitioned to our taphouse! Her heart is amazing, and I’m so glad Communitas lives on because of Jodi!

Lessons Learned:

Go for it! We get one chance. The time is now!

This has never been more apparent in my life than when I made the life decision to leave my career, uproot my life in the Midwest, and move West four years ago, AND this past year!

Sometimes where you are in life is so not what you want or need that ‘going for it’ is easy. And sometimes life is rolling along, seemingly everything is okay and good, so going for the great is not as an easy leap. BUT, regardless of you launching point, “Going for It” whatever your IT is, is so worth it!

‘Going for It’ will do two things. It will show you that you CAN go after what you want, and it will challenge you in many ways…all the good and bad ways that something great always will.

Do you have goals you want to achieve? Do you have an itch or an ache to have a different life, situation, career, relationship, surroundings? Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but just haven’t done it yet? Now is the time!

Stop the Worrying! I’m a worry-wort. I am naturally anxious, worry about everything, and am always thinking of the worst-case scenario. In some aspects, it helps me plan ahead and create Plan Bs in order to avoid bad situations. But mostly, it just keeps me from relaxing and moving forward and living fully. This past year, while working on the taphouse, I’ve had to curb my propensity to worry and let it get the best of me. Part of it has been due to just the shear busyness of the schedule. I simply don’t have time to fret. But, the other more conscious part has been me actively deciding not to worry so much. I’ve even started to use ‘self-talk’ to calm my worries. Literally saying to myself…Stop, it will all work out. Keep moving forward! You’ve got this! And let me tell you it helps!

Ultimately, too much worrying paralyzes oneself and only holds one back. And in the year of me, going for it, I’ve had to figure out a way to not worry about all the things that ‘could’ happen, and simply focus on all the things that I can control and what I do on the daily to make things happen! If you suffer from worrying too much or rather what worry is….anxiety or uncertainty of what is to come, try identifying the cause of the worry and working on steps to ensure you have it under control and/or self-talk in order to get you past the fear to be able to move more quickly into action!

Work with what you have! This one I’m still working on. But I firmly believe you have to start and work with what you have. Whether that be funds, thoughts, talents, strengths, physical tools…there are many resources that we have at our fingertips that we can leverage to make things happen. We just have to realize them, acknowledge them, pull them out of the dusty cavarnes of our sheds, our brains! When you work with that you have currently, you get started! And starting it sometimes the hardest part. Start and get the momentum going! Then, you will be able gather more and soon you have the snowball effect. We don’t have to have a million dollars to start a business. You don’t have to have the fancy-iest of fancy houses/cars/equipment/workout clothes, to get some progress happening!

Asking for help is good! This past year I’ve finally figured out how to follow up and take people up on offers of help. This has especially been true for our business. Ya know how people offer up help with something but then you never ask? Well, I’ve learned that asking for help is a good thing, and I’ve done more of that this year. I’m grateful for the offers of help and those that have come to fruition. They have allowed me and Mike and I to get so much done in a short period of time while not stressing out (as much!). Even the smallest of things have been such a blessing. I only hope that I can return the favors once I’m not crazy busy! J

Accepting things as they are is sometimes very necessary. I’ve come to realize that some things/people won’t change, and that is OKAY. In fact, expecting them to is silly in and of itself. Instead, it’s ME who has to change in the sense of accepting them as they/who they are. This is huge for me because…. Wow this frees up some much energy and head space! And that right now in my life, and I suppose any time in my life, has so necessary. I need all of me for my relationship, my friendships, my family relationships, and my business right now. I can’t be giving so much of me to fighting things (in my head) that will just be how/who they are. SO, if you are holding on to expectations of change or needing something or someone to be different, STOP THAT! You are wasn’t your time and energy. Change your mindset and look to acceptance of the situation or the person as it is/they are!

Things unfold when they are supposed to! Patience is key here, and I generally don’t have much of it. But I am learning and I will say….this journey to find a space for our taphouse and waiting for all the things that need to take place in order to get this place open has taught me this. Things unfold when they are supposed to, and there’s no need to force them. The right things will happen if you let them. Sometimes the right thing for you isn’t supposed to happen until it’s all right in the universe, when all the stars align. Man, I hate that sort of universe stuff; frankly, I am more of a believer in Him, and that He makes it happen when I/We are ready, but believe whatever you believe. Regardless though, it all does happen when it is supposed to happen! So, if you are waiting on something to unfold, something good to come along that you’ve been waiting for, trust me, it will! As long as you continue to work hard, stay positive and put out the good vibes into the world and for others, it will happen for you!

Be observant!!! The answers are there. See what you surround yourself with. See what you attract. Look and watch how people deal with changes in your life, their life, and conflict! To me, everything is there….right in front of you if you open up your awareness and your mind. This can be a great thing in so many ways. Even if you are finding that what you are more in tune with is negativity, then you are better able to move away from it!

The key to all of this is to look, listen, and be aware of all that is going on around you. I was introduced to a very wise advertising executive early on in my communications career. Now that I think about it more, I actually think I met with him before I even found my first PR job. (Anyway…the memory is going!) Our conversation I wanted to have was about what kind of job I wanted and what industry I wanted to look for jobs in. And what he told me was so different than what I expected from him. He told me to look around my apartment, my car, my bookbag, my life…activities, hobbies, classes at school, etc., and look at the things I surround myself with. And in doing so, I will find the answers to what I should go away. He told me to surround myself with more of those things and with the people who work or do or enjoy the same things I do and your career/opportunities with find you!

So once I got home, I looked around and took an assessment…

Here is what I found…I had books everywhere in my apartment, I had journals. I was in Journalism school. I had CDs (yes, CDs!), I had beer and wine in my fridge, the good stuff, I traveled to Italy and lived there for a summer the year before, and read travel sites/magazines and travel memiors, I went to concerts in the park, I went to live theater. I worked out, I liked to find new places to see and things to do, I worked in restaurants as a bartender, I had a camera and took photography classes. I was writing about aromatherapy and music therapy on a site/blog (yes, on a blog in 2000). I dreamt of traveling around the world.

Mind you at the time, I was 23 years old.

Cherish the people around you! Make time, listen more, be available! With all that we have going on in life, and the world that surrounds us, it’s hard to make time for the most important things in life and that’s the people who love us. Isn’t it crazy? All of know this to be true. On our death beds, we aren’t grabbing for trophies, or medals, or bonus checks, I would imagine we are reaching for those we care about and who care about us. I would imagine we are thinking about wanting just a little more time with those we love.

SO, why are we not doing that NOW?!?!?

This past year has been an eye opener for me when it comes to cherishing and making time. I’ve had a few things going on, let me tell you. BUT, making time to spend with those who are important to me has to be on the calendar. We are better people when we live in community and share of ourselves and give to others. Nurturing personal relationships and connections makes us better in all aspects of our lives. Taking time with family, dear friends, and those who love us and those who we love doesn’t take away from our ability to be successful in business or meeting our other goals.

And I’m noticing it doesn’t need to be a lot of time. But concentrated time! Real connected, not-distracted time with your people is what matters. I have a lot of people in my life that don’t live near me but some how, through the internet and phone, I am still able to connect with them and nurture the relationships. I don’t know if I’m doing as well as I could be but I am trying, and that is all we can do!

We must cherish the people around us. Tell them what we feel. Listen to their ideas, their concerns, their needs. Be there for them in times of need and in times of joy! Because in the end, without our people, none of the other stuff matters!


So, there you have it, after four years, I’ve come to completely change my life up and start a full-time business which is what I set out to do in May 2013. While it’s not been easy, it’s been a true adventure and one I am so grateful for! While there are many changes and opportunities still in my life to learn and grow, the biggest take away is: Going for It! It’s a must.

Thank you for reading! If you got to this point in the post, you are damn committed and for that, THANK YOU with a huge hug!!! And, promise me, if you need change in your life, please take a step, whether it is big or small! Go for It!!!!



About the author

ABV Girl

A girl who loves adventure, brews, and has a lot of opinions and things to say! Formerly one half of, I'm doing my own thing now and wanting to inspire others to adventure, seek out and enjoy great craft beer, and raise our voices for the things that matter most!

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