Friday, March 29, 2013

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday, everyone!  I hope you all had a good week.  It was kind of my last 'normal' week.  Next week I work Monday-Wednesday, the movers come on Thursday to pack my goods and load them, and then I fly out to Charlotte on Sunday.  Yikes.  Sh*t is getting real, people.

Here's 5 things on my mind this Friday:

1. Eggs.  I really hope that I get to the lake on time on Saturday to partake in some egg dying with my nephews and niece.  I also hope they receive some of those Reese's Peanut Butter eggs from the Easter Bunny and that one of them is kind enough to give one (or share one) with their aunt.  :)

2.  Delta.  I am steadily becoming a very valuable customer to Delta.  I purchase two flights this week - one for a trip to visit Alli in New York in August (eeks!!  So excited!!), and one for my trip home for Christmas.  Yes, you read that right.  I already bought my ticket home for Christmas as the flight price was already starting to creep up and I didn't see it going any lower so I figured I'd buy it.  I will probably be buying my ticket home for the 4th of July soon, too.  Now that I have flown the Charlotte-Minneapolis route many times, I know how low prices go, and how sickeningly high they can get, so I figure I might as well lock in the lower price point when I can.

3.  Study.  I am once again using a vacation day today to study.  Go me.  But this will allow me to take Saturday and Sunday off and *hopefully* not feel guilty.  I won't hit my 18 hours for the week, but oh well.  Some weeks I just can't fit everything in and I am sure I will make up the hours missed when I am in Charlotte.

4.  Eat.  Eat.  Eat.  I have been eating out so much lately as I have so many good bye lunches/dinners/etc.  Like yesterday, my boss took me out for breakfast, a friend at work took me out for lunch, and a former co-worker treated me to macarons in the afternoon.  I usually try to only eat out once a week but that is just not possible these days, and it's only going to get worse next week when all my kitchen stuff gets packed up as I won't have my things for as long as a week possibly. 

5.  Moving?  It still doesn't feel real that I am moving.  I have done a lot to prepare for the move like set up utilities, donate belongs to Good Will, sell furniture, and submit a change of address form, but I have not packed a single box.  That is because the moving company does it for me (which is paid for by my company).  Which is awesome!  But it makes the move feel less real because if I was in charge of the move, 80% of my things would be packed by now!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  And for those who celebrate Easter, Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Practicing an Attitude of Gratitude

A couple of weeks ago on my day off from work, I met up with a good friend for lunch.  I had lunch with her shortly after I found out about my move, but we hadn't had a chance to meet up since, so we had lots to catch up on.  I think I held it together last time I saw her as the news of my move was so new and I was still working through my emotions.  Well, at this lunch, the reality of the move had started to set in and I was a bit of a total crying mess. Luckily this friend is a fellow crier so she didn't pass any judgment over the fact that I pretty much cried through our entire lunch - and luckily I was facing the wall of the restaurant so I had some privacy.

Nearly 10 weeks after finding out about this move, I continue to really struggle with it.  Maybe it's the fact that it's being forced on me (yes, I could have said no, but I really couldn't for financial reason).  Maybe it's the fact that I have no control over the timing.  Maybe it's the fact that I am already stressed to the max January-June due to CFA studying and just can't really handle another major life event.  Maybe it is the sum of all of these things.  Whatever the reason -no matter how many times I try to tell myself that it will all work out, that it will be ok, and that this next year won't be a dark phase of my life, I am just really struggling to believe it.

So after my friend listened to my litany of complaints about all the things happening related to the move, she gently recommended that I consider starting a gratitude journal.  She explained how she had kept a gratitude journal during a challenging time in her life and thought I might benefit from it as well.

And she is completely right.  I had received a couple of journals for my birthday, so I decided to make one of them a gratitude journal.

So each night, usually after I finish studying, I think back on the day and come up with 3 moments/things that I am grateful for.   I know that eventually this dark cloud that has been hanging over me will part and I will find it easier to focus on the good things in life - but for right now, it's a conscious exercise to focus on the good.  I am hoping that by focusing on the good things in life, it will help me move past the feelings of anger and resentment that I have been harboring lately.

I don't expect this gratitude journal to make a difference over night.  But hopefully with time, it will help me shift my attitude and become a little more of a "Tigger" and a little less of an "Eyore," as my former boss so succinctly put it in the card he gave me at my going away party.

Have you ever kept a gratitude journal?  Are you good about practicing an attitude of gratitude?  With the exception of difficult times in my life, I feel like I am pretty good at focusing on the positive in life.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Love Where You Live

For those who know me well and have read this blog for awhile, I think it is pretty clear that I really, really love Minneapolis.  So much so that I could practically be an ambassador for this city.  My deep love for Minneapolis is part of the reason the move to Charlotte is so hard for me.  Now, I do realize that Minneapolis is not perfect. Our climate leaves something to be desired from December through March.  And it can be hard to be a new person in this city as people tend to stick to their groups of friends.  And it's not the best city for single 30-somethings since people tend to marry in their 20s around these parts.  But all in all, the good outweighs the not so good.

It's no secret that I am not exactly excited about the city of Charlotte.  I know quite a few people (mostly through work) that call Charlotte home and say that they love it... A frustrating aspect of this move has been the fact that most of the people who claim to love Charlotte can't succinctly explain what it is that they love.  It's almost like the city has, as the French would say, a certain "je ne sais quoi."  When I ask people to explain why they love the city of Charlotte, their love of the city is just something they can't seem to explain.

Maybe I expect too much when I expect people to have a succinct reason for liking the city they inhabit.  After awhile, I guess you probably just accept that it's where you live and you stop thinking about the reasons that you love where you live.

So maybe the average person can't succinctly explain why they love where they live.  But I can.  If someone was moving to Minneapolis and asked me why I love Minneapolis, I could easily answer that question.  I'd tell them that we are one of the top 10 cities for running and that we have beautiful running trails, many of which are along lakes and rivers.  I'd tell them that we battle Portland each year for the top spot for Friendliest Biking City and that our bike sharing program has been very successful and is something I utilize daily April-November.  I'd tell them that we have a wonderful live music scene and it's rare for a musical artist to not include Minneapolis on their tours.  I'd tell them that our downtown is vibrant year round and offers a great selection of restaurants - some of which have awesome happy hours.  I'd tell them that there are great farmer's markets throughout the city, my favorite of which is the one in my neighborhoood.  I'd tell them that many large companies, such as General Mills, Target, Medtronic, and Best Buy, are head quartered in Minneapolis which means we have lots of employment options (just not in my field of Fixed Income, unfortunately).

I'd tell them all of this, and so much more. 

If you love where you live, do you think you could succinctly explain why?  If someone was moving to your city, what selling points about your city could you provide?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Virtual Friday Coffee Date

Greetings and Happy Friday, everyone!  I am back from what I believe is my last business trip before my move (which is in about 2 weeks - yikes).  It's been over a month since I did a virtual Friday coffee date post, so I thought it'd be good way to catch up on what's happening in my life these days!

If we were having coffee today...

- I'd tell you that I am tired.  Really tired.  I have traveled every week since the week of February 18th and all this time zone hopping and the disruption to my schedule has worn me out. 

- I'd tell you that I am really excited to meet a friend's baby tonight.  I think some baby snuggles with her baby boy who turned 1 month yesterday are just what my soul needs.

- I'd tell you that on Wednesday, a vendor from work who is around my age was also on my flight so we shared a cab to the hotel and then decided to go for a nice long walk since it was a balmy 55 degrees in Charlotte (it was 6 in Minneapolis so that felt awesome).  We walked past  my apartment and checked out an area where I can see myself running so that was fun.

- I'd tell you that while I want to see as many people before I leave, it's getting increasingly difficult to plan things as I am so tired between work stuff and CFA studying.  Trying to juggle my study schedule and packing tasks and seeing people on the weekends is just not working very well.

- Speaking of CFA studying, I'd tell you that I am ahead of my study schedule so will probably have about 2 months to review, which is a very good thing as the essay format of the morning half of the exam is FREAKING ME OUT. 

- I'd tell you that I went rogue in the kitchen when I made dinner for Phil and I on Tuesday night and that the dish I made (stir fry with steak) is now one of Phil's favorite things I've made!  I was so sure it wouldn't turn out as I really don't trust myself to cook without a recipe.  I guess I can afterall!

- Lastly, I'd tell you that the highlight of my week was finding out that my sister Abby is coming home for Easter!  My brother from Chicago is coming home as well, so this means I get to see all of my siblings, and all of my nephews and my niece.  That is a VERY big deal as we are so rarely all together (I can't remember the last time that happened - I think it's been years).

If we had coffee this morning, what would you fill me in on?

Monday, March 18, 2013

It Was the Best of Times

Today marks the start of my final three weeks in Minneapolis.  It's hard to believe that just over 2 months ago, I found out about my relocation and now I am just weeks away from making the actual move...  I'm losing a couple of days this week due to a trip to Charlotte and then will be out of town for about a day for Easter, so it feels like I have even less time.  My calendar is filling up with lunches and I'm trying to see friends one last time before my move without making my schedule too intense.  All of this would be so much easier if I didn't have to find 18 hours a week to study for the CFA, but so it goes.

I did have a great opportunity to see a lot of friends and family this weekend, though, as my friends threw a going away party for me on Saturday night.  The wife of my previous boss was really good about taking pictures of everyone throughout the night so I can't wait to get those pictures from her!  In total, about 30 people came to the party and while I didn't get to spend as much time with each guest as I would have liked, it was still really awesome to have so many people in one place at the same time.

My friends surprised me with a "Minnesota Memories" scrapbook which I will be adding to when I get the photos from the party and they also gave each attendee a note card with an addressed envelope with my new mailing address so I will likely be getting quite a few notes in the mail after my move which will really brighten my day!  Additionally, I also received a 3-month "macaroon of the month" subscription! Clearly my friends know me well!

I am proud to say that I set aside the tears and sadness for a night and just soaked up the time with family and friends.  It really was the best of times and it was a good reminder of the many friendship my life has been blessed with over the last 10 years I've lived in Minneapolis.  The reprieve from those feelings of sadness was short-lived as the sadness returned yesterday as the finality of this move started to sink in a bit more, which I suppose is to be expected.

I hope to see some of these friends again before my move, but if that doesn't happen, at least I will have the memories of that evening to reflect back on over the months to come as I start this new chapter of my life in Charlotte.

Friday, March 15, 2013

On Walking a Tight Rope

It's no secret that I have felt overwhelmed lately.  In general, CFA season is always a really hard time for me as life begins to feel like a tight rope that I am precariously balanced one.  I've walked this tight rope the past 2 springs, balancing work, studying, and seeing family and friends, and have come out on the other side of it with a pass and a sense of relief of getting through that difficult phase.  Now this year, heaped on top of those commitments, I am trying to balance a crazy travel schedule and what feels like a never ending list of moving-related tasks.

Over the past couple of months, I've handled it ok.  Sure there have been cracks in my "I can do it all" facade.  Those cracks mostly manifest themselves in tears at inopportune moments and settings, from sitting at the gate at the airport with my mom on our way back from Charlotte to eating dinner at a crowded restaurant with Phil to sitting at my desk at work (which is the worst of all as I have zero privacy since my workspace is completely open).  But when the cracks showed, I gave myself a pep talk, and carried on.

Well this week I just sort of hit a breaking point. While attending the conference in Florida was a good career opportunity, the long days spent in a windowless conference room coupled with dinners out that lasted until 10:30-11 pm left me just plain exhausted.  And then I found out I have to go back to Charlotte once again next week and I thought - ENOUGH!

There's nothing I can really cut back on right now.  I can't say no to trips like the one to Charlotte next week.  I can't stop studying 18 hours a week for the CFA.  I can't abandon my moving to do list, nor can I ask for help as they are all things I need to do (luckily my company pays for a moving company to pack my goods which is a huge relief).  But what I can do is take a mental health day.  And that is what I am doing today.  Granted, it won't be this uber relaxing day of leisure and rest, but it will allow me to get a good night's sleep, get caught up on some moving to do's, and get a head start on my weekend study hours.

I have a full weekend ahead of me which includes meeting up with Amber today for coffee, attending my old boss's birthday happy hour tonight, helping to run a potluck breakfast for run club tomorrow morning (totally kicking myself for offering to help but I felt bad resigning from the board so felt I should take on something), and most importantly - attending my going away party on Saturday night.

That's a lot to pack into one weekend so my hope is that by taking today off, I can enter the weekend feeling a bit more relaxed.  I especially want to feel calm and rested tomorrow night so I can fully enjoy my going away party!

So here's hoping today's mental health day is a restorative one for me! 

Do you take mental health days?  This the first unplanned day off I've taken from work in a very very long time, but it feels very necessary.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Always, Sometimes, Never: The Travel Edition

Well what do you know, I am once again in the midst of a trip.  This time to Orlando.  Please don't be jealous.  I'm attending a conference for work which is a good learning opportunity for me but I could just as well be in Timbuktu because between the conference, client dinners, and studying for the CFA, it's not like I will see the light of day. But I guess I will see palm trees and sun from the confines of the hotel, which is probably better than looking outdoors and seeing snirt (the midwesterner's term for the lovely combination of snow and dirt)!  I *hope* this is my last work trip before the move because I am totally worn out!  I can't wait to get home tonight so I can sleep in my own bed and not eat out every meal. Except I found out last night that I have to go back to Charlotte AGAIN next week. It's a quick trip but still. It's like the powers that be forgot I am studying for the CFA and preparing for a cross country move. :(. But I digress.

Through all the traveling I've done, I have definitely developed some habits, rituals, and perspectives so I thought I'd share them in the format of an "always, sometimes, never" post.

I always...
- attach my keys to a latch in an inner pocket of my backpack when I get to the airport - and they stay there until I fly back into the airport.  That way I always know where they are and avoid the "OMG where did I put my keys" panic attack.

- travel with my backpack (and put my purse inside of it while boarding to meet the 2 carry-on maximum rule), even when I don't bring my laptop.  I think a backpack is the most space efficient and ergonomic carry-on, although traveling with one probably makes me look like I am a college student.

- try to sit in an aisle seat as I like the freedom of being able to get up and go to the bathroom without having to disturb someone else. My exception is international flights as I like being able to lean against the window when I try to sleep on those flights.

I sometimes...
- have a drink in the airport at the start of a trip if it's for personal or if it's an evening flight and I don't have to study on the flight.  It's nice to have a glass of wine to start off a trip!

- get upgraded to first class now that I have Silver status on Delta (which is the lowest status so really not a big deal). I love it when this happens as the extra seat room is awesome since I kind of have long legs!

- get really, really annoyed with people in the security line that don't observe what should be well known rules by now.  Like last week a women went through security with 2 full 20 ounce bottles of water.  What in the what?  Does she live under a rock?

I never...
- initiate conversation with my seatmate.  I am just not a 'talk to a stranger I will never see again' type of person.

- check a bag on domestic flights, even though I can check a bag for free on Delta. I've had a couple of awful experiences of having my luggage get lost and it's way more efficient to just carry-on.

- have been in an airport that is as nice as the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.  We have the best food options and book stores, IMO.  It is a rather large airport but once you understand how it's laid out, it's actually really easy to navigate. 

Do you have any travel rituals?

Monday, March 11, 2013

11 things on the 11th

Good morning and happy Monday!  I hope you all had a good weekend.  Mine was good, and productive (as usual).  Besides putting in a lot of study hours, my piano was delivered to my former boss's house - it feels good to have that item crossed off my to do list!

Both Melissa and San gave me a Liebster award last month and since part of the award includes listing 11 things about yourself, I thought it was fitting to do this post today!

Before I get started, here are the rules:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

1.  I pretty much wash my dishes before I put them in the dishwasher.  I know many people take a dish from the table to the dishwasher, but I do not trust that the dishwasher will get all the food particles off.  So I guess you could say I view my dishwasher as a dish sanitizer since I basically wash off my dishes before putting them in there.
2.  I can't handle books or movies that either justify or romanticize infidelity. The best example of this is "Something Borrowed" by Emily Giffin.  I could not stand that book and would never watch the movie. 
3.  I can pretty much only sleep with a sleep mask or melatonin, but ideally I need both.
4.  I like to dip my french fries in spicy dijon mustard and ketchup.
5.  When I walk on sidewalks and tiled floors, I try not to step on the cracks.  Yes, I realize that makes me like Rain Main.
6.  I used to barely be able to run a mile.  Now I run marathons.  So believe me when I say anyone can run a marathon if they really want to as I have NO natural ability.
7.  I eat scrambled eggs with salsa for breakfast almost every day.  It's the only breakfast I've found that fills me up until lunch.  And no, I don't have high cholesterol.  I have it checked every year and it's very low so clearly my body can handle eating more eggs than the typical person does.
8.  I am a total urbanite.  I love Minneapolis because I can get everywhere I need to go (work, church, Target, B&N, Banana Republic, and the grocery store) on foot!  This is why I am struggling with my move to Charlotte - it is NOT a city for urbanites as I will have to drive to get to most of those places.
9.  My parents nickname for me when I was growing up was Fritz.  I have no idea why.  Oh and then we got a cat when I was in high school and we named him Fritz...  So I shared a name with a cat.
10.  I used to be addicted to Mountain Dew.  Now I rarely drink soda.
11.  I did Weight Watchers back in 2009 and lost 35 pounds.  I've kept the weight off since then and truly believe that program works if you really stick to it!

Now for the questions I was asked!

Here are Melissa's questions for me:

1. Why did you start blogging, and more importantly why have you chosen to continue it over the years?
I started my first blog, An American Girl in France, to help me capture the 3 weeks I spent in France during the summer of 2008.  I started this blog when I returned and have continued to blog because of the friendships I've made and the creative writing outlet it provides!

2. What was the ONE most important moment of 2012 for you, and why?
Honestly, it was probably passing the CFA.  It was a huge relief and brought me one (big) step closer to having that horrible testing experience behind me!

3. If you were on a deserted island and could have any three things, what would they be?
1) A WIFI connection, 2) My nook that has a never-ending battery life (I would use the WIFI connection to download books), and 3) Clean water to drink.

4. What is your current favorite song that I should be listening to?
I will share one of my all-time favorite songs - The Luckiest by Ben Folds.  If I ever get married, this just might be my first dance with my husband.

5. What is one favorite blog post you have written? (post a link!)
The most recent blog post that I am proud of writing and that got a lot of great comments is my Sorry I'm Not Sorry post from last fall about how I have redefined what it means to be 'fun'.

6. Name one of your guilty pleasures.
Mint Condition Mochas from Caribou.  I don't get them very often because they are expensive and so bad for you, but I have been treating myself to them lately!
7. If you could give a piece of advice to yourself when you were 15, what would it be?
I would have told my 15 year old self:  it gets better (I had a really tough time in high school).  I would tell 15-year old Lisa that I'd find a sense of belonging in college and would meet people who love me for who I am - nerdy characteristics and all!
8. What book are you looking forward to reading in the near future?
I am planning on reading Emma in April and will be doing a blog-swap review of it with Becky and Kyla!
9. Tell your readers something they may not know about you!
I drink pickle juice...  I know, it's gross, but I love it!
10. You’re told that you have to drop one of your social media accounts- which one, and why?
Probably twitter.  I am a really spotty user and can go days without looking at it sometimes.
11. What is one thing that you truly could not live without?
A physical possession I could not live without is honestly my iPhone.  It's how I primarily communicate with others, it gets me from point A to point B when I need directions, and it provides music on my walks to and from work.  

And now here are San's questions for me!

1.  How did you come up with and what's the meaning behind your blog name?
I originally wanted my blog to be "Spinning Yarns" but that was taken so I went with Lisa's Yarns.  I thought spinning yarns would have been a fitting name for a space where I'd share the stories of my life that also incorporated one of my favorite hobbies (knitting).  These days, I'd like to rename/redesign my blog and I'd call it the Francophile Files.

2.  What is one of your must-have beauty products?
These days I'd have to say my Mary Kay concealer as it hides the lovely dark circles I have under my eyes.

3.  Are you a coffee or tea drinker?  Recommend your favorite store-bought brand.
Coffee.  I really like Caribou's French Roast.
4.  What is one of the hardest things you ever had to do?
Make the decision to move to Charlotte.  
5.  Tell me about one of your favorite people.  What makes them so special?
My cousin Julie is one of my favorite people.  I do not get to see her as often as I would like, but whenever I see her, it's like no time has passed.  I can be completely myself in front of her, and she never makes me feel bad for crying (which is good since I cry a lot these days).  She's a school counselor so that means she is one of the very best listeners I know.  She never judges, she tells you the truth (even when you don't want to hear it), and she gives great advice.
6.  What is your all-time favorite movie?
Probably You've Got Mail.  I never get sick of that movie and I want to be Kathleen Kelly.
7.  If you don't feel like preparing dinner, what's your go-to emergency dish?
I make a baked potato in the microwave.  It's easy peasy, filling, and delicious.
8.  What is one favorite thing you like to do for yourself?
9.  Do you play an instrument?
Yes, I play the piano and I also played trumpet in high school.
10.  How do you keep up with blogs?  Do you subscribe by email?  Do you use bookmarks?  Google Reader?  Other blog services?
Google Reader.
11.  Tell me one of your favorite blogs to read and why you love it.
Well, I think most of you already read her blog, but I love Amber's blog, Girl with the Red Hair.  Hers was the first blog I consistently read/commented on when I started blogging, and she is the first blogger I really connected with, so her blog will always hold a special place in my heart.  She's funny and honest and just an all-around wonderful person.  

If you are still reading this, you deserve an award!  Ha.  I don't like to tag people as I don't want anyone to feel left out, so while I am usually a rule-follower, I am going to break that rule!  Instead, I'd love it if you answered these 11 questions in your comment or on your blog!

1.  If you could live in any other city besides the one you currently live in, which one would you pick?
2.  Who has been the most influential person in your life?
3.  What is your favorite comfort food?
4.  What is the best vacation you've ever been on?
5.  How many siblings do you have?
6.  If I were to visit the city where you live, what is one thing we would absolutely have to do and one restaurant we'd go to?
7.  Do you speed while driving and if so, how many miles (or km) over the speed limit do you usually go?
8.  Give me a book recommendation.
9.  What is one thing you really want to accomplish in the next 5 years?
10.  If you could painlessly change your name, what would you change it to?  Or would you prefer to keep your current name?
11.  When flying, do you talk to your seat mate, or are you like me and you prefer to remain silent?


Friday, March 8, 2013

She Reads

It is no secret that I have a lot of books.  Like 6 bookshelves worth!  I think you can learn a lot about a person by perusing their bookshelves.  I was reminded of this when Jeanie did a post last month where she shared some of the books on her shelves!

If you came over to my condo and perused my shelves, here a few things you'd learn about me!

First off, it should come as no surprise that I have a decent collection of books set in France!  Some of my favorites are The Sweet Life in Paris, Lunch in Paris, and A Year in the Merde!

You'd also notice that I have a faith selection that includes books by C.S. Lewis and other books written by Catholics or about the Catholic faith, as well as some prayer books that my mom sent to me when I was going through a difficult time.

You'd see that my Penguin Classics collection is slowly growing!  Oh how I heart these cloth-bound books!

And you might notice that I have all of the Harry Potter books - which is a series that I never thought I'd read.  If you asked me why I've read them, I'd tell you that I ran out of reading material during a trip to Europe in 2005, and the only book in English at the train station that I hadn't read was Harry Potter, so I bought it out of desperation... and then fell head-over-heels in love with the story and bought the next book at the next train station.

Lastly, I'd show you the books that I picked out from my grandma's bookshelves before her move.  She was looking to downsize, so I picked out books that my grandfather had read, 2 of which he received from me.

And then I would open up the books and show you how he wrote a note with his reflections and the date he read each book.  How cool is that?  It is wonderful to see his handwriting and read his thoughts on the book.


You'd see that and a whole lot more if you came and perused my shelves!

What would I learn about you by perusing your book shelves?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Good Things

For the most part, the tone of my posts lately has made it pretty apparent that I am a bit down in the dumps.  This is to be expected given the stress of CFA studying and my upcoming move to Charlotte, which I just can't get excited about (at least not yet).  I know I have to trust that I will find things I like when I move there.  My mom sent me a really good "Green Eggs and Ham" analogy last week to remind me that, until you've tried something, you can't say you don't like it.  Granted, since I have been to Charlotte about 8 times, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what living there will be like, but that analogy was a good reminder that I really have to give Charlotte a chance.

But, despite the heaviness of my life these days, there are some good things happening in my life, so I thought I'd take a moment to focus on those in a post so that I have something to look back on when I am having down days!

- Bye bye undergrad student loans.  Between my tax refund, some money I received from my grandma, and my bonus at work, I will be able to pay off my undergrad loans in full this month!  I am SO happy that these are getting paid off so I can really focus on paying off my massive grad school loans!

- Game night.  I have always loved playing games so it is really nice to date someone who does as well.  On Saturday night, I introduced Phil to a Rack-O, which is a game I haven't played since I was a child.  He must have had beginners luck or something as he beat me 4 games in a row! 

- Landlord relief.  When I sent a tax form to the tenant that lives in the condo I own, he responded and let me know that his girlfriend will be moving in this spring.  This tells me that he is likely going to stay around for awhile as why have someone move in if you are planning to move in the next 6 months or so.  His lease went to a month-to-month after the first year with a 60 day notice, so it's just a relief to feel like it's likely he'll stick around!  Plus he is an awesome awesome tenant who pays his rent early most months!!

- Promoted.  I found out last Friday that I am being promoted to Vice President.  I had a feeling this was coming so I am happy that it is finalized.  Promotions are weird in the financial services industry.  My job doesn't change, there are just higher expectations on me, which I am totally fine with.  I know I have been performing at a VP level since my boss left so I know I can handle the extra expectations. 

- Running.  My local club's spring session started up on Saturday, so I got to do a 'long' run of 8 miles with them (which I totally don't think of as a long run but I guess it counts compared to the 4 milers I've done lately).  I am glad I'll get some runs in with this group before my move.  I am also researching clubs in the Charlotte area.  I haven't found anything comparable to my current club that includes things like coaches, etc, but hopefully I can at least find a group to do long runs with during my marathon training cycle.

- Chicago!  Speaking of marathon training, I got into the Chicago marathon.  I consider this an accomplishment because the registration process was a complete and total disaster - so much so that they had to take their registration site down for over a week (it might still be down?).  There are 4 people from my local club running it, and I am super excited that Amber, Lauren & her fiance, and Anais will all be running it as well!  I can't wait for this blogger get together!

- New digs.  While I am not all that excited about downsizing and moving into a smaller place, I am excited about the kitchen in my new place.  It has granite counter tops, a beautiful back splash, new stainless steel appliances, and an island.  The kitchen is my happy place so I am looking forward to making meals in a beautiful, remodeled kitchen in my new home.

Your turn - tell me something good that is happening in your life these days!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of February

Oh man, this has been another kind of tough week.  I had to return to Charlotte for a 24 hour trip, which I was not exactly thrilled about because I was just there Thur-Sun of last week and I will be there Mon-Wed of next week. I already feel spread thin, so adding in all of these work trips is NOT helping.  After this trip next week, I sincerely hope I don't have to travel again until after my move.



The Call by Regina Spektor - I was introduced to this song through Pandora, which is how I find most new songs these days.  I love Regina Spektor's voice.  I would love to see her live some day!


This was a slow reading month for me.  I increased my study hours to 18 hours/week and studied a total of 69 hours, so that cut out some reading.  And in general I just don't have as much down time with all the things I am doing to prepare for my move.  But I still managed to read 3 books.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters - I really enjoyed this book.  The setting seamlessly changes from post-WWII to modern day, and from the Cinque Terra region of Italy to LA. It is hard to explain the plot without getting too wordy but it is about a young American and a young Italian that meet in their 20s, and it follows them through the twists and turns of their lives.

The Secret of the Nightingale Palace by Dana Sachs  - You can read my review here.

Paper Towns by John Green - I have now read all of John Green's books.  I think TFiOS and Looking Alaska kind of set an unrealistically high bar.  I enjoyed Paper Towns, just not as much as his other books.  It's about a teenage boy who tries to find his next door neighbor who has gone missing, leaving a trail of clues for him.


Yah, this wasn't my month for running either.  I put in some miles, but nothing substantial (61).  I'm juggling a lot these days and right now, logging substantial miles is not a priority.  I am mostly doing short 4 mile runs and most have been on the dreadmill. 


** crickets **  Between my commitment to not clothes shop until after my move and the fact that the weather has been really cold (aka sweater weather), I have no cute outfits to share this month.  I have a gift card to Banana Republic that I plan to use to buy something springy for my going away party this month (I'm thinking yellow pants!), so maybe I will have something to share next month!

As you can probably tell from this post, February was not my best month.  I feel like all I do is work, study, run a little, and deal with moving stuff.  Add in multiple trips to Charlotte and I am just overwhelmed by life in general.  As a result, I cancelled plans for the weekend and plan to lay low.  Hopefully I'll feel a bit more like my normal self after a couple of quiet nights in with Phil.