Friday, May 31, 2013

It's Time

2 sets of textbooks, 9 practice tests, and a binder containing 3 packs of note paper of hand written notes.  All of that, with the exception of a couple of last minute things I need to review today, has been packed away.  I am very happy to reclaim my dining room table from the death grip of the CFA (and it has rarely looked this tidy...  it's usually a chaotic mess). 

It's almost here - the final level of the CFA.  I know some people in my life have questioned my desire to pursue this designation (and I have questioned it myself considering the sacrifices I have had to make) but hopefully all of my hard work and perseverance pays off.  I've spent over 400 hours over the course of the last 23 weeks studying for this exam and I can honestly say I couldn't have studied any harder than I have.  The bulk of the studying has been done at my dining room table, but I've studied in airports, airplanes, hotel rooms, and coffee shops.  This CFA study season will go down as the most volatile of the three, as just weeks into the study season, I found out I'd be moving across the country. I've tried my best to rise above all the volatility, but it has been far from easy and I will say that the last 5 months of my life have been some of the toughest today.

But exam day is tomorrow, so soon enough I can put all this craziness behind me.  It's a 6 hour exam broken into 2 3-hour sessions.  The format of the morning half is essays, the afternoon half is case studies with multiple choice.  I know it will be hard, but I know I am as prepared as I can be.  The pass rate is still quite low for this level (50%) which is mind boggling considering it's only around 40% for the first 2 levels..  So as much as my family and friends continue to assert that I AM going to pass, I also know there is a chance I won't given that pass rate.  But I am trying not to think about that too much.

I arrived last night and am staying with my aunt & uncle until after the exam, when I will see Phil (he is taking level 3 as well, and is studying quite a bit in the days leading up to the exam, so we are waiting until after the exam to spend time together... not ideal, but it's the way it goes. After all, it's probably the most important test we'll take in our lives).  Tonight I am going out to dinner with one of my local best friends at the Mexican place I always eat at the night before, and tomorrow night I will celebrate having the beast of exam behind me by going to a different Mexican restaurant with family (yes, Mexican two nights in a row.  There is no such thing as too much Mexican food in my world).

So wish me luck, cross your fingers, and say a prayer for me tomorrow that this my final time of sitting for the CFA!  I'll check in next week to let you know how it went!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Final Countdown

385 hours down, and about 28 hours to go.  Study hours that is.  While most of America will be out gallivanting and celebrating the unofficial start to summer, I'll be hunkering down and putting in lots of study hours since this is my LAST weekend before the test.  All I can say is THANK GOD it's the last weekend because I honestly can not handle any more study-centric weekends.  If you look up burned out in the dictionary, you might see a picture of me.  I'm definitely counting down the hours left of studying and the days until the exam.

I once again have a weekend that is void of social plans, but such is the life of a CFA candidate (and a transplant).  I just hope and pray that this is my LAST Memorial Day weekend that I spend studying!  If I pass this test, all the hand work and sacrifices will be worth it.  If I don't?  Well, let's not go there because it probably involves a room with padded walls.  I am kidding.  Sort of.

This next week is going to be hectic for me, to say the least, so my posting will be light next week.  I have a business trip to Orlando so will fly out for that on Monday evening, and will return to Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon.  Then I fly to Minneapolis on Thursday afternoon for the CFA test weekend!!  Even though I am returning home for a not-so-fun reason, I am still really looking forward to it as I'll see Phil, spend some time with friends, and see some family.  I am mostly looking forward to the post-CFA Mexican fiesta that we have each year!

I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend - especially those who have a long weekend!  I am sure I'll be back later next week to check in before the big day.

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?  I had hoped to kick off the weekend by going to "Before Midnight" but it turns out it is only playing in NYC and LA.  :(  So instead I am going to take tonight mostly off from studying and will do a little retail therapy and treat myself to sushi.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

3 Things Thursday

Happy almost Friday, everyone!  After a heavy, long-winded post yesterday (thanks for all the thoughtful, encouraging comments by the way!), I figured today was a day for a 3-bullet point post!  So here's what's on my mind!

1.  It's "Speed Week" here in Charlotte, which is a celebration in uptown Charlotte in the days leading up to the Coca Cola 600 (a NASCAR race).  From what I've heard, it's like a miniature State Fair (i.e. good people watching).  Some have asked if I will ever go to a NASCAR race.  My answer is HELL NO.  It is just not an experience that I need to have.  I still can't believe that my company's relocation department put "Charlotte = NASCAR" on the fact sheet about the city.  Was that supposed to be a selling point for this city?  #fail

2.  I haven't bought a single article of clothing since I moved to Charlotte, so I think I am due for a little shopping this weekend.  I'm thinking that another pair of cropped colored pants is in my future - perhaps in a mint green color.  We'll see what I find.

3.  I had another follow-up appointment with my doctor yesterday. I have one more week in the boot, bringing the total to 6 weeks. After that, I can transition to solely wearing tennis shoes.  When he told me this I stopped him and said, "wait, do you mean to say I have to wear tennis shoes at work with work clothes?"  The answer was yes.  No, the boot hasn't been fashionable, but at least it's obvious that I am injured.  It won't be when I wear tennis shoes 24/7.  So I will be fashion road kill for a week as I rock the work clothes + tennis shoes look.  I'm going to get a lot of "the 80s called and they want that look back" comments, I think.  But whatever, I'll do what it takes to get back to running.  When I transition into tennis shoes, I can start taking walks, and then slowly transition back to a run/walk combo, and then running.  It's going to be a process, but hopefully in 3-4 weeks, I'll be back to running.  God knows I NEED the endorphins.  Badly.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Having It All?

While I have a lot on my mind with the upcoming CFA, adjusting to Charlotte, and working through this injury, I have also had a lot of downtime since I got to Charlotte.  And a lot of (solo) downtime means that I have had a lot of time to think over the last 6+ weeks.

I am too old for a quarter-life crisis and I am too young for a mid-life crisis, and I wouldn't use the word 'crisis' to describe my state of mind.  Maybe instead it would be better to call it a 'what exactly am I doing with my life' frame of mind. 

Years ago when I decided to pursue my MBA, I made a commitment to making my career one of the top priorities in my life.  Except my 25-year old self didn't really realize it then.  Getting my MBA just seemed like a natural next step and it was a personal accomplishment I wanted to have.  I did not properly consider the financial ramifications of that decision at the time.  Yes, I am financially secure and able to provide for myself and pay back my student loans, but the student loans associated with that MBA are a ball and chain around my neck that I tote around.  It dictates how much I need to earn, which means I have less flexibility when it comes to the kind of opportunities I pursue.

All this is not to say that I don't want a challenging career.  I have worked hard to get to where I am at and have invested a lot of money in my education and time into the CFA.  And I like to be challenged.  I guess what I am questioning is how big of a career is big enough for me?  How many sacrifices - like the ones I am currently making - do I want to make along the way for my career?

I don't really know the answer to all of these questions.  A couple of years ago I thought I could have it all.  I could have a challenging career, live close to family, and hopefully one day get married and have kids.  Now?  I don't feel that way anymore.  Eventually, I'm going to have to make some choices and figure out what I want as I really never see myself living in Charlotte, working in my position, and having a husband and children.

Right now, I find myself in a position where I am putting my life on hold to focus on my career.  Don't get me wrong, I love my career and feel fortunate that I can say that.  I just don't know if I love it enough to let go of the other things that I want in life.  I thought for the longest time that if I just kept focusing on what was in my control (my career), the rest (marriage and a family) would fall into place on it's own.  But now that focus on my career has led me away from my boyfriend, family, and friends to a city where I would never want to settle down and raise a family.  Thus, I feel like I am getting further and further from what matters the most to me.  I could have a challenging, lucrative career, but what is the sense of earning more and more money if I don't have someone to eat dinner with or travel with, or friends to spend time with?  And if I continue down this path of only pursuing my career aspirations, what am I going to have to show for it at the end of my life? 

I guess it was inevitable that I was going to hit a fork in the road at some point that would require me to make somewhat of a choice between my career and my personal life.  I'm not saying it is an either/or proposition.  I know I can have a great career and a great personal life, I just don't feel like that is the case right now.

So at this point, my goal is to pay off my grad school loans as aggressively as I possibly can so that I will eventually have the financial flexibility to possibly take a pay cut in order to find a job in a geographical location that is closer to my family and friends. 

Have you ever found yourself questioning whether you are on the right path in life?  I think I am particularly struggling because I don't really feel like moving to Charlotte was a path I chose - it was something I felt like I had to do to ensure I'd have financial stability.  Nonetheless, I'm on this path and it's up to me to figure out how to change course.

Monday, May 20, 2013

90 Years

Grandma & I in 2009

This past Saturday, my grandma Janet turned 90!  It's kind of amazing and hard to wrap your mind around that.  I mean, I think of all the things she has experienced in her life from the depression in the 30s to WWII to the Vietnam war era to the technology era and the advent of computers to present day times.  She has clearly seen so much in her 90 years.  Besides all the things happening in the world, she raised 4 children with my grandpa and has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She also survived the passing of my grandpa over 4 years ago which has left a giant hole in her life (and the life of all of my family members).  They truly had the most amazing marriage I have ever witnessed.  I never saw them exchange a cross word and they had neat rituals, such as memorizing poetry together while traveling across the country in their motor home.

I was fortunate enough to have lived less than a mile from my grandparents when I was growing up, so it was common for me to walk or bike down to their house for a visit.  I think I took the gift of their geographical proximity for granted as I was growing up, but as an adult, it is something I am definitely very thankful for.

I have so many great memories that I made with my grandma, from small things like spending afternoons with her as a kid to bigger things like going to California with her and my grandpa (and my sister, aunt, and cousin) in their motor home the summer after 6th grade.  As an adult, I cherish things like emails from her (yes, at age 90 she emails!) to playing scrabble (she always beats me with ease) to playing trivial pursuit to discussing our latest reads as we share a love of reading. 

I think my move to Charlotte has made me even more sympathetic to the challenge she has faced in carrying on without my grandpa.  While I can not even begin to imagine what it is like to lose a spouse (of 60+ years), I do know the lonely feeling of starting over.  We have shared experiences such as eating many meals alone and the difficulty of making friends. 

My family will gather next weekend to celebrate her wonderful 90 years of life. I will of course miss this celebration but I will definitely be there in spirit. 

Do you have any living grandparents?  My grandma Janet is my last living grandparent.  I am so thankful for all the memories I've made with her and hope that there are many more to come.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Review: Time of My Life

I typically stay away from books that fall under the "chick lit" category, but when I saw a Cecilia Ahern book on the list of books to review in May, I couldn't resist.  Plus these days my brain is so bogged down with the heaviness of CFA studying, I needed a little break!  The Time of My Life is Ahern's newest book which was released this spring. It tells the story of Lucy, a soon-to-be-30 woman who makes some poor decisions on the tale of a break-up. She tries to cover up the truth of what is happening in her life by telling a couple of lies... which lead to more lies...  She retreats within and shares less and less with her friends and family in an attempt to not reveal some of the lies she has told, until an intervention of sorts is staged.

It all comes to head when she has an appointment with "her life" - err, a character that represents her life.  He comes on the scene to straighten things out and to help her get back on the right path.  It's hard to explain the storyline of this book as it is unrealistic and very fictional...  but it works.

All in all, it's a light, easy read.  The storyline is pretty unrealistic, which kind of seems to be a trend for Ahern as one of her other books I read had an adult with an imaginary friend...  but she seems to make it work.  The main character, Lucy, is not exactly likeable and the extent of her lying was kind of annoying.  But it was a pretty light read, which was just what I needed right now. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Looking Forward

It has been awhile since I've done a "Looking Forward" post, and given the tone of my recent posts, I am due for a dose of positivity!

  • Today I am looking forward to meeting up with a work friend from Minneapolis for dinner! I'm taking her to the Harvest Moon Grille, which is a farm-to-table concept restaurant that is supposed to be GF friendly (we both have gluten intolerances).  It will be fun to see a familiar face and try a new restaurant.
  • This week I am looking forward to checking out the aquatic center by my apartment.  I haven't swam laps in years and know it will be a great workout.
  • This month I am looking forward to going to the movie, Before Midnight.  Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are 2 of my favorite movies so I am very excited to see the 3rd movie in this series.  It comes out on May 24th so that is how I will be kicking off my Memorial Day weekend, which will be mostly spent - you guessed it - studying.
  • This summer I am looking forward to going to Raleigh in June to visit John and his family, DC in July to visit Becky, and NYC in August to visit Alli. I am also looking forward to hosting my best friend Heidi in August as well!
  • This year I am looking forward to traveling to Chicago for the marathon (and am praying I will still be able to run it).  Amber, Anais, and Lauren are running it, as well as some people from my Minneapolis running club! Plus I will also see Nilsa and my brother and his family!  So it's going to be an awesome weekend.
Whew!  Lots to look forward to!  I just need to get through the next 17 days of studying!  For those who have ran a marathon, this month leading up to the test feels like 4 weeks in a row of your highest mileage week... I so wish CFA studying involved a taper but that is just not the case.  But the end is in sight!

What are you looking forward to these days?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Not the Verdict I was Hoping For

Well I had my follow-up appointment on Friday and it was not the verdict I was hoping for.  Unfortunately I have 2 more weeks in the boot and then we will go from there.  The doctor said he felt I needed another 2 weeks in the boot but that I could try going without the boot with the caveat that if I felt any pain whatsoever, I'd need to get back into the boot and let the stress fracture heal.  Well, I lasted about a block before the pain returned.  There were definitely some tears as I hobbled back to my apartment to put the boot back on.

To say I am frustrated is an understatement.  I guess I was sort of banking on being done with wearing the boot.  I know injuries take time to heal, but I am just so over wearing this stupid, heavy boot.

The good news is that I got cleared to swim and use the recumbent bike.  I found an aquatic center nearby where I can swim for $5/day so I am going to try to get there 2-3 mornings a week before work.  Besides that I will use the recumbent bike in my apartment's gym and keep up with the strength training and ab work.  It feel like my return to running is far off and I am really, really starting to doubt the likelihood of me running the Chicago marathon, but I guess time will tell.

I feel pretty defeated and downright mad at my body right now.  I feel like I do all the right things.  I eat well, I get enough sleep, I don't over-train.  I probably could have done a better job of listening to my body as my foot had been bugging me for awhile but it's hard to know when pain is something that will go away on its own or needs medical attention.

Hopefully in another 2 weeks I can ditch the boot for good.  I'd like to be optimistic and say that will be the case, but I don't really want to set myself up for more disappointment, so we will see what the next 2 weeks bring.

Have you ever had an injury that really set you back and kept you from doing the things you love?

Friday, May 10, 2013

5 on Friday

Greetings and Happy Friday!  I hope you all had a great week.  I had a quick trip to Jacksonville for work this week.  It was really, really nice to get away for a little bit, even if it was for work and was for less than 24 hours.  The change of scenery was good for me.

Here's 5 things on my mind this Friday...

1.  I have my doctor's appointment this morning and am crossing my fingers and toes that I get to ditch the boot and get cleared to do some cardio.  I don't expect him to say I can return to running right away but I hope I can at least swim or bike as now, more than ever, I really could use some endorphins.

2.  I once again have a weekend void of any social plans.  I used to kind of like those weekends when I lived in Minneapolis.  Now I really dislike them.  I tried to make plans for Saturday night but had no luck.  This whole not having friends things is REALLY REALLY hard.  I know I need to try to join meet-up groups and other things like that, but it's tough to that with my inflexible CFA study schedule.  Operations Make Friends will commence after the CFA.  And hopefully Operation Make Friends helps on the Operation Stop Hating Charlotte front.

3.  Speaking of the CFA exam, my first 2 practice tests went pretty well.  I will take 2 more this weekend and hopefully they go well so I can start feeling a bit more confident about the exam.

4.  I am really thankful for the ability to video chat with friends that live far away and am looking forward to chats with Amber and Alli on Sunday.

5.  Lastly, Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there - especially my mom who is a faithful reader of this blog.  I wish I could celebrate with her and my grandma, but will definitely be thinking of them from afar!!

What's on your mind today?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Read This: Still Alice

I know book review posts are probably not among my most popular posts, but as an avid reader, when I stumble upon a great book, I almost feel obligated to spread the word - especially since so many friends come to me for book suggestions.  I read Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, in the span of 3 days of a week that I spent 26 hours CFA studying - so that says a lot for how good of a book it was as clearly I had a very busy weekend.  (Special thanks to Emily for mailing me her copy of the book!)  In this book, we meet Alice Howard, a prominent professor of psychology at Harvard University.  She is 50 years of age and has started to become a little bit forgetful.  It starts with small things like losing her phone charger, or not being able to recall a word she wanted to use during a presentation - small moments of forgetfulness that she chocked up to the aging process.

But then one day, at the end of her run in an area she is very familiar with, she finds herself lost.  She can not place where she is or which way she should turn to go back home.  This spell lasts for a couple of minutes before everything comes back into focus and she finds her way home.  She ends up visiting her GP who tests her for a wide range of things but finds nothing wrong. But Alice knows in her gut that something is off so she insists on seeing a neurologist and is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's.

In the book, we follow along on her journey through this disease.  At times, it made me uncomfortable or anxious to read this book because the author does such a good job of making the reader feel what Alice is feeling - the frustration, the embarrassment, the fear over what is to come, the shame. 

The book is a work of fiction, but the author has a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard University, so while it is fiction, it is also reality.  The book brings up a lot of decisions that someone suffering from this disease, and their offspring, will have to make.  Issues such as whether children of those with early onset Alzheimer's should be tested for the genetic mutation that causes early onset Alzheimer's.  Questions like whether you should reproduce if you know you have this genetic mutation as your offspring would then have a 50/50 chance of also having this genetic mutation.  It brings up issues like the fact that there is sadly a sense of shame and private nature to this illness. Instead of a battle that is waged in public against diseases like cancer, the battle against this disease is a quiet, private one.

Over the course of reading this book, it took on a personal meaning for me as someone close to me, whose story is not mine to tell, is dealing with this as their parent has early onset Alzheimer's.  It breaks my heart to read this book and see how the disease will progress and to know that this person in my life will have to go through all of this.

While this book is fiction, I think it has a purpose.  The earlier that Alzheimer's disease is detected, the sooner they can start treatment and the slower a person will (hopefully) regress.  In Alice's situation, the doctor's initial diagnosis was that the forgetfulness was a side effect of menopause, but because of Alice's insistence to see a specialist, she was accurately diagnosed.  The book is sort of a call to arms to ask questions and follow your gut if something really feels off.  After all, when it comes to our health, we have to be our own advocates.

So if you are looking for a moving, powerful book - read this.

Have you read this book?  When is the last time you read a book that really impacted you?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

First Month in Charlotte: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Well, my first month in Charlotte has come and gone.  It wasn't my best month, but it went fairly fast.  When I drive around to Target or church or wherever, I still keep thinking, "I can't believe I live here..."  I have not been out and about all that much, mostly because wearing the boot makes it difficult to walk around much (and I am not supposed to walk around much so my foot can heal) and even driving is a pain since it's my right foot that is injured so I have to change into a different driving brace, then change back into the boot when I get to where I am going.  And it is all just a hassle.  So I have been a bit of a recluse this month.  That WILL change after the CFA exam, and hopefully by getting out more, my attitude towards Charlotte will shift as well.

I think the best way to sum up my first month is to share the good, the bad, and the ugly side of my first month here...

The good...
- I like working on the trading floor here.  There is a tangible buzz and I enjoy being part of a team.  When my former boss left the company last August, I went from being part of a partnership to being a bit of an island.  It is nice to have co-workers to bounce ideas off and it is nice to have colleagues who are willing to read/edit articles I write.

- I have been traveling less.  Most of my trips this year were to Charlotte so now that I am living here, my travel has been reduced significantly, which is a good thing as traveling during CFA study season is VERY difficult.  I will be traveling more after the test but it will be much more manageable and not an every week kind of things like it was in Feb/March.

- I found a church that I really like which reminds me a lot of my favorite church in the Minneapolis area.  They have a Theology on the Vine (i.e. learn more about the Catholic faith over wine) social event for young adults so I am going to check this out after the CFA exam.

The bad...
- It's lonely.  I knew it would be, but it's still hard.  I have a couple of friends, but it's different to go from having so many friends, I couldn't see them as often as I'd like to having, well, about 2 friends.  I miss Phil.  I miss making dinner for him and playing cribbage; I miss his hugs.  I miss coffee dates and lunch dates with friends. Moving to a new city alone at the age of 32 when everyone else around your age is settled in their lives makes moving and making new friends particularly difficult.

- There are way too few coffee shops.  No really.  I'm not kidding.  My latte Friday tradition has died because it would honestly take me an extra half hour to walk to a coffee shop.  There is one coffee shop by work but they don't serve vanilla lattes (what in the what?).  I guess I am saving myself $5/week, but it still bums me out.  Allegedly a Starbucks will be opening in the lobby of my building.  I really hope this happens.

- I have had to cancel trips I had planned - like my trip to Oregon for my friend Lauren's wedding.  Now that I have to budget for plane tickets home, I just couldn't do a big vacation this year.  I am SO bummed. :(

The ugly...
- The company I work for acquired another large company during the financial crisis (some may say we saved this other company). I went from living in the land of the acquirer to living in the land of the acquiree.  I know mergers/acquisition are not equitable to all parties involved.  People lose jobs and business practices are changed.  Now I get to hear all about how awful my employer is.  It's not fun and while I am listening to the airing of grievances, I try to kindly remind the person that I am currently living in a city I never would have choose to live in as a result of that acquisition, so it hasn't exactly been all sunshine and rainbows for employees of the acquirer either.

- I've cried. A lot.  Sometimes for reasons related to the move, sometimes because of things happening to people I care about back home, sometimes for really no reason at all.  But to be clear - I am not depressed.  And I personally think crying is healthy.  Most of the things bringing me down in life are situational, 'this, too, shall pass' kind of scenarios, so things will get better eventually.  I think having the stress of the CFA behind me and being able to do cardio again will help as I have so much stress right now and no outlets for it.

So there you have it!  Here's hoping that as the month pass, each month gets a little bit better.  

Monday, May 6, 2013

From the Land of Ma'am: A French Connection

After living in Charlotte for about 3 weeks, I figured it was time to venture out and check out some of the local restaurants.  After searching around a bit on a website that recommended gluten free-friendly restaurants, I was excited to see that there was a crepe place that offered gluten free crepes!

For those who have read my France blog, you may recall that I am a bit obsessed with crepes (or gallettes, as they refer to the savory ones in France), as evidence by this post, this post and this post. I haven't had a crepe since Paris as I haven't been able to track down any gluten free ones! But lucky Crispy Crepe does offer gluten free ones. 

Since I was there for an actual meal instead of dessert, I started off with a savory Egg & Veggie Cheddar crepe which had caramelized onions, tomatoes, roasted mushrooms, and spinach.

It was very good!  It's obviously not a traditional French crepe as you would never see cheddar in a crepe in France, but it was still very good.  I especially loved the roasted mushrooms and caramelized onions.

I had intentionally eaten a light lunch as I knew I was going to want to get dessert.  They had a lot of great options, but I ended up going with a traditional banana and nutella crepe!

It was SO good.  I wish I would have had someone to share it with as it was a lot of food, but hopefully next time I go back, I will have a friend in toe.

I could see myself going to this place for a post-church brunch some Sunday after the CFA is behind me.  Others around me had coffee drinks that looked so good, so I am looking forward to trying one of their coffee drinks next time. I will say that eating alone was a little challenging.  I eat alone all the time when I am traveling, but it's different to do that when on a trip versus in your every day life. So my fingers are crossed that I make some friends soon so that all my Charlotte adventures don't have to be solo.

Have you ever had a crepe?  I discovered them on my first trip to Paris in 2008 and fell in love.  I like how they don't make you feel super full since the crepe is light and thin.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: The Bequest of Big Daddy

When one of the tour arrangers for TLC Book Tours found out that I was moving to the south, she contacted me to see if I'd like to review this book since it is set in the south.  The Bequest of Big Daddy by Jo-Ann Costa tells the story of Big Daddy. Big Daddy was one of those 'larger than life' types with a past that is nothing short of jaw dropping. The book starts off at the end of his life, but quickly flashes back to when his live began during the Civil War era. 

Costa weaves the fictional tale of Big Daddy's life together with stories of the hardships he encountered (such as being essentially disowned by his own mother) to trouble with the law to becoming an entrepreneur and making a name for himself.  It was interesting and fun to read a book set in a region of the country that I now call home. While I certainly do not live in the heart of the south, I do live close by and the area I live was certainly influenced by the events of the past, such as the Civil War. 

All in all it was an entertaining read.  I can't say that Big Daddy was the most likeable character, between his philandering way of life and violent streak, but it was still an entertaining read.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Feeling Blessed

Ok, so clearly this transition from Minneapolis to Charlotte has not been easy for me, to say the least...  But I will say that while I am going through a difficult time, I have been reminded that I am very blessed with wonderful family and friends who have done as much as they can to make this transition better. 

Besides lots of emails, texts, and phone calls from friends checking in, I have also been on the receiving end of a whole lot of mail, packages, and other fun surprises.  The concierge emails me every time something is delivered for me and it makes going home just a little bit more exciting knowing I have something waiting there for me.

Here are some of the fun things I've received over the last 3 weeks!

Beautiful flowers from my parents, which lasted over a week!

I received my first macaron of the month club delivery that my 3 best girlfriends from college got me.  These arrived the day after I found out about my stress fracture, so the timing of their delivery was impeccable...

Becky sent an out-of-this-world care package!  The guide of awesome really IS awesome.  I can't wait to be done studying so I can check out some of the activities Becky highlights!

Lots and lots of snail mail (I have received more than is pictured)!  In a single day, I received 2 Paris-themed cards, and a book set in Paris (from Kelly).  My friends know me well.  Not pictured:  the sea salt chocolate bar Kelly sent that I consumed...  The note cards in the top left corner are the addressed note cards my friends gave out at my going away party - super thoughtful of them, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

So yes, I have been spoiled.  But as tough as these past 3+ weeks have been, I do feel very very blessed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of April

I'm back!

So April.  Not my best month.  It included a cross-country move, finding out I have a stress fracture and torn tendon and to top things off, the business trip home at the end of the month that I was SO looking forward to got cancelled as the client cancelled the meeting. So yah, I'm not sad that April is over.  Onwards and upwards, though.  I have low expectations for May as it's the last month before the CFA which is always a super stressful month for me. But June?  June better be freaking awesome!


Come Home by One Republic - I love any song that includes piano and strings, so I love this song.  


Well, I work longer hours now as the Charlotte office has a different approach to work/life balance...  Add in the fact that I studied 86 hours this month and spent a good part of the month unpacking/settling in and that doesn't leave much time for reading. So it was another somewhat lower reading month for me.

Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans - This was a sequel to a book I read last week.  It was a fast, easy read which was what I needed.  My brain really can not handle anything that requires a whole lot of concentration these days as CFA studying has completely fried my brain.

The Bequest of Big Daddy Jo-Ann Costa - I'll be reviewing this for a TLC book tour later this week.

The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern - I'll be reviewing this next month for a TLC book tour.


Ha. Miles.  Um, I think I ran 8 before getting my injury diagnosis.  So that's awesome.  I'm looking forward to ditching the boot (hopefully at my follow-up a week from Friday) as I can't even walk to work right now so I am barely doing anything these days, besides some ab work and upper body strength training. I hope I get cleared to at least bike or swim so I can reintroduce cardio into my life.


Well, there's this...

 I rocked that look at the wedding I went to last month.  The boot is clearly a classy edition to any outfit.. I mean the boot + heel combo is out of this world.  #sarcasm

Last month I wanted to share my going away party outfit, but didn't have photos yet.  I do now, so here is a photo.  I've already worn those coral pants a couple of times.  I love me some colored pants.  The other people in the photo are my 2 best local friends and their husbands - I definitely REALLY miss them!

Also, the CFA exam is 1 month from today.  In other words, in 31 days I will actually have a life again.