Monday, July 29, 2013

The Craziness of August

Wow, I can not believe it is almost August!  Usually I want to time to slow down, but I've been so excited for all that August holds, I am ok with the fact that July really went by fast!

I will admit, I might have over-scheduled myself for August, but I am ok with that.  Right now, scheduling things to look forward to is my coping technique for living in Charlotte.  I know I can't keep up at this pace, but will enjoy it while it lasts, I guess!  Here are some of the things I'll be doing during the month of August!

- The month starts off with a 6-day trip home.  I'll be working in the Minneapolis office for most of that week, but I will get to spend a weekend at my parents' lake home.  Cannot.  Wait.  This trip will have an element of sadness as I will be visiting an aunt that I am very close to that is nearing the end in her battle against cancer... It's really hard to face things like this, but I feel fortunate that I will get to see her one last time (I hope). I tried to write a post about this, but I just couldn't find the words.  I am greatly saddened that the world is losing this amazing, positive, beautiful woman at far too young of an age, but I know my aunt is at peace and that is a blessing.  And, this is case and point why I do not want to live far from home.  I hate being so far away when her health is declining, and I just might not get an opportunity to say my goodbye in person as one never know how fast things will go when someone is on hospice.

- While I am home, I get my CFA results.  Cue nerves.  I am going to be a total MESS that day so I am glad I'll be around my Minneapolis co-workers who know me well and understand how big of a deal this is to me (and won't judge me if I cry as I likely will).  One of my good friends will be taking my phone for the day (they email the results out but you don't know exactly when, so I give up my phone so I don't check it non-stop and drive myself crazy).  I know life will go on if I don't pass, but it's going to be a REALLY bad day if I didn't...

- I come back from Minneapolis, work in the Charlotte office for one day, and then fly to Boston for the weekend to visit Kelly and her husband, Eric.  I have known Kelly through blogging for years and I had THE BEST time with them when I hung out with them at Amber's wedding last summer so I can't wait to spend a whole weekend with them.  Plus it's my first visit to the Boston area so I am excited to check that area out!

- I come back from the Boston trip, and the next day I fly to New Mexico for a work trip as I am speaking at a conference there.

- I get back from New Mexico the day before my friend Heidi arrives from Austin for our girls weekend in Charlotte.  I will have spent 4 nights in my apartment in the 2 weeks leading up to her trip so at least I will know it's clean!  She's already told me not to worry about the fact that I won't have groceries.  Phew.

- The following weekend, I fly to NYC to visit Alli.  The trip is mostly about seeing Alli; being in one of my favorite cities is just an added bonus.

So there you have it.  I know it's a lot of travel, but I'm looking forward to it.  And the plane tickets for all of these trips were purchased over several months, so that helps with the expense part of doing all of this travel.

I do not have plans for Labor Day weekend, which I am thankful for as I think I am going to need that long weekend to recoup from the busy, but awesome, month of August!!

Do you have any fun plans for the month of August? 

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I just got lost
Every river that I tried to cross
Every door I ever tried was lock
Oh and I'm just waiting 'til the shine wears off 

There's clearly a lengthy list of the things that I am struggling with related to this move, but lately one thing I am struggling with on a regular basis is this feeling of being perpetually lost.  I have a GPS in my car and use google maps on my phone, and while they help, it's not foolproof.  Every week, I seem to get lost.

Now, I am using the word "lost" loosely - it's not like I am in the middle of nowhere.  I can always find my way back to where I am going or need to be.  It's just that everything takes SO MUCH LONGER than it should.  For instance, I left an hour early for an appointment that was about 20 minutes away a couple of weeks ago.  I was using my GPS, but apparently the exit numbers were renumbered since my GPS was last updated (I haven't updated it because they charge you to do so which is ridiculous IMO), so I missed my exit as I was looking for a different number.  So what do I see next?  A sign that says "Welcome to South Carolina".

I was like - really?  I missed an exit and ended up in a different state?  It was especially jarring because I didn't even *realize* South Carolina was THAT close.  Poor Becky was on the phone with me when this happened so she got to see how ragey I get when I get lost and have no idea where I am.

I used my iPhone to find an alternative route and still made it to my appointment on time, so it all worked out.  But that feeling of frustration/confusion?  It really sucks.  If it happened once in awhile, it would be a different thing.  But it happens almost every. single. week.

I miss knowing the lay of the land and understanding how long it will take to get to certain places.  I miss knowing the traffic patterns well enough to know how soon I should get over to the right-most lane to take an exit.  I miss knowing alternative routes to get places if traffic is bad.  I miss having most of what I needed a short walk or bike ride away. These days every place I need to be, besides work, is a drive away.

I know it takes time to develop knowledge of an area.  I just underestimated how much it would impact me to be lost SO often.  I will be the first to admit that I have a terrible sense of direction, so I know I am partly to blame for this, but it's still frustrating.  It's been nearly 4 months since my move, so I know I am still 'new' to the city but gosh I hope it starts getting easier really soon.

I know my post related to Charlotte lately have not been positive, but I am just trying to be real.  Living here is really hard and I keep waiting for it to get easier, and it's not.  Some days I trick myself into thinking it is, but then the next day I get lost or something happens back home that makes me want to be closer or I see a picture of Minneapolis on Facebook and I grieve about moving here all over again.  I know I need to be more patient with my transition, but dang - I wish it was a little bit less hard.

Have you ever moved to a new city and struggled with this?  Do you have a good sense of direction or are you directionally challenged like me?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

From the Land of Ma'am: Asheville in Photos

As I mentioned in my post yesterday - I had an absolutely wonderful time in Asheville.  It was so good for my soul to get out of Charlotte and for me, nothing compares to being surrounded by mountains.  The pace of my life thus far this year can be be described as frantic.  I've been wracked with worry and fear and stress and you name it.  But I put all of those emotions on hold and just really let myself relax and enjoy my time in Asheville. 

I could tell you all about it, but instead I thought I'd take a 'show-and-tell' approach and share some pictures!

As I mentioned on Friday, I opted to go the route and my apartment was so cute and cozy!

The views were absolutely stunning.  My iPhone does not do it justice.  I can't wait to go back when I am able to hike as there are some great hikes in the area with great views!

After a delicious dinner on Friday night, I treated myself to a specialty cocktail (champagne with a sugar cube soaked in bitters) at the bookstore/wine bar.  It was SUCH a cool place.  There was a guitarist performing and he played anything from Beethoven to The Beatles.  It was AWESOME.

I had already indulged quite a bit, but couldn't resiste the temptation of trying this specialty chocolate shop.  I selected 6 salted-caramel chocolates which I savored for several days!  Not pictures is the melted chocolate ganache drink I sipped on while listening to a jazz trio.

On Saturday morning, I hit up the farmer's market and then went to a cute coffee shop called "Old Europe" that reminded me of a French coffee shop as they had classic french pastries such as pain au chocolate and croissants!  They had some gluten free pastries but I resisted as I was saving my appetite for lunch!
I had lunch at this adorable placed called "Tupelo Honey Cafe."  They had an awesome gluten free menu.  I had a grilled cheese and tomato soup - not really 'summer' food, but I rarely encounter gluten free sandwiches so I had to have this.  It was so good, and I sat next to the nicest couple. 

On Saturday night I treated myself to dinner at 100% gluten free restaurant.  The menu was awesome.  I decided to go with an appetizer, salad, and dessert so I could try a couple of things.  My appetizer was fried green tomatoes.  They were SO good and the plating was really beautiful.

My salad course was a kale salad that had been mascarated in lemon juice to tenderize it, and was mixed with some nuts and cranberries and manchego cheese.  It was SO good, and light enough so I would have room for dessert.

The dessert was amazing.  I had the pot de creme which was infused with mint and served with salted chocolate bark. It was divine.

So there you have it!  It looks like all I did was eat, and I guess that is partially true, but I did walk around quite a bit (but not too much, I am still being careful with my stress fracture recovery).  I also was able to kayak on the French Broad river which was so much fun.  The river runs along the Vanderbilt's property, so I got to see the Biltmore estate from afar.  I can't wait to see more closely in August!

Since Asheville is only 2 hours from Charlotte, I know I will be back multiple times.  I have a lot on my mind these days so slowing down and putting some of my worries on pause was just what I needed.

When was the last vacation that you went on that you really let yourself relax?

Monday, July 22, 2013


I haven't done a confessions post lately so thought I thought it would be a good way to share some of what's on my mind lately...

These are my confessions:

- I had a wonderful weekend in Asheville, hopefully I'll get my act together sometime this week and do a post. Suffice it to say it was a wonderful weekend and I look forward to returning there in August. 

- I have no idea what Candy Crush is and I don't care to find out as it seems to suck people into a vortex from what I've heard.

- I think that among the expenses that a relocation package covers, a series of counseling sessions should be included.

- I think the phrase "I know how you feel" is over used.  I think we should think twice before using it and make sure we really do know how the person feels.  For instance, unless you moved across the country alone (to a city you don't exactly love), you don't know how I feel. I could go on, but I'll stop there. I think the phrase is used to convey feelings of empathy, but I think it often backfires.  I personally think it's better to say something like "I'm sorry you feel this way" or "I can relate to how you feel."  This is not directed at anyone - it's just an observation I have.

- I can move across the country alone or go to Paris alone, but I hate the idea of attending a wedding alone.

- I sometimes think that if Ted Moseby's character on HIMYM met me in real life, we might just fall in love.  I know he annoys some people, but his passionate + nerdy + heart-on-his-sleeve personality is just what I'm looking for.

- I had a doctor's appointment with a dermatologist last week.  She asked me if I was a runner (she needed to know as it may impact the way my body processes a drug she was prescribing) and I started CRYING.  Mostly because I used to be able to say I was a runner, but now I can't, and I don't know when I will be able to.  And that makes me sad.  So I cried.  She was extremely nice about it and said she understood how hard it would be to not be able to run for so long, so I felt a little less bad, but sheesh.  I felt like such a head case.  In my defense, I had gotten lost (again) on the way to the doctor's office, so much so that I ended up just parking my car and trying to find the place on foot, so I was already really frustrated (and I was late, which makes me anxious).

- I still have my MN license plates and driver's license and have no intent to change them.

- I love cheesy Hallmark channel movies (especially their Christmas movies) and am bummed that channel isn't part of my cable package here in Charlotte. I think I'm doing to need my parents to DVR all the cheesy Christmas movies this winter so I can watch them when I am home for Christmas.

- I am really excited about my trip home in August, but at the same time, I'm almost stressed out over how I am going to see everyone I want to see/do everything I want to do.  I'm working 3 of the 6 days I'll be home so I won't have a ton of free time.  I know I just need to accept that I won't be able to see everyone.  I will be home for weddings in September and October, so at least I know I'll be back soon and can see more friends/family on those trips.

Is there anything you'd like to confess?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Asheville Bound!

Greetings and Happy Friday!!  This is an especially Happy Friday for me as I am heading to Asheville this weekend after work.  This week has not been my favorite, so I am looking forward to a little getaway.  I have heard nothing but great things about this area so I am excited to check it out.  Since it is only 2 hours away, I think it's a place I will go back to multiple times as there is so much to see and do!

As I said in my Tuesday foot update post, I will not be able to visit the Biltmore, which is the #1 tourist attraction in the Asheville area, but I am planning to go there in August when my friend Heidi visits.  It looks like a French castle and I have heard nothing but good things about it!  Even though I can't visit it on this trip, I will find plenty of things to do and see!  Here are some of the things I'm looking forward to!

- When I get there tonight, I am going to have dinner and will try to catch some of the drumming that happens in a park on Friday nights.  I've heard it's a pretty cool thing to experience.  After that, I am heading over to Battery Park Book Exchange Champagne Bar.  You guys - it is a combination book store and wine bar!!!  Be still my heart.  Some nights they will have live music so it sounds like an awesome place to chill out for the evening.  Wine and books are two of my favorite things so I will be in heaven.  I only wish I could teleport some of my book-obsessed friends there for the evening.

- On Saturday I am going to do a kayak excursion on the French Broad river through a local outdoor company.  It will go by the back of the Biltmore, so it sounds like I'll get to see a bit of the grounds.  I went kayaking for the first time last summer and LOVED it so I am really looking forward to it.  I am so glad I found an activity to do that will get me outdoors but keep me off my feet.  There is a chance this might get cancelled as the water levels have been too high lately due to all the rain we've had, but hopefully it goes as planned.

- On Saturday night I am going to Posana for dinner, which is a 100% gluten free restaurant!!  The menu looks amazing and I had the hardest time deciding between visiting this place for brunch or dinner, but decided to treat myself to a nice dinner there.  I usually don't get dessert but I might just have to treat myself to the pot de creme, which has dark chocolate, mint, and sea salt chocolate bark!  Yum!

- I don't have any specific plans on Sunday, so I will go to mass and then pick from the many brunch options I have and wander around the shops of downtown Asheville for a bit before heading back to Charlotte.

I am so excited for my little getaway!  One benefit of living in Charlotte is that there is a lot to do/see that is driving distance away.  I'll be staying in a cute apartment that I rented through VRBO; it's walking distance from a lot of the shops and restaurants I want to check out, so I am really excited about that!

Have you ever used VRBO?  I rent my Paris apartments through an individual's website, so this is my first experience.  The owner has been so helpful so far with directions and has offered to make suggestions on things to do and see.  For me, renting an apartment is way better than getting a hotel as I like having access to a kitchen so I don't have to eat out for every meal.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Review: Indiscretion

I typically shy away from books that deal with infidelity - mostly because it is often either justified or dismissed as an acceptable part of life.  So I would usually avoid a book like Indiscretion by Charles Dubow as it deals with the subject of infidelity.  But then I read Marisa's review of this book and thought maybe it was something I should check out.  So when it showed up on the list of books I could review for TLC book tours, I decided to give it a chance.  I am so glad that I did. 

Indiscretion tells the story of Harry and Maddy Winslow, a couple that seems to have a picture perfect marriage. But then young, sweet, and seemingly naive Claire arrives on the scene and a marriage that had the strongest foundation is swept away.  The book addresses the consequences of Harry and Claire's actions, and the reason I really liked it is that is does justice to the way lives are torn apart and the irreparable damage that is done when a spouse decides to cheat.

The story is told from the perspective of Maddy's best friend from her childhood and at times, it reads as if the narrator is talking to you - which is unique.  But it works.  I thought the book was well-written and I found myself marking various passages and sentences such as "We make so many right decisions in life, but it is the wrong ones that can never be forgiven."

Do you struggle to read books about infidelity or do you do ok with that topic? 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review, and the opinions are my own.    

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Woot, Woot, I'm Done with the Boot

I waited a couple of days to post about my foot doctor appointment as I wanted to see how things went the first few days, but I am happy to say that my doctor said I could be done with the boot when I saw him on Friday!!  This isn't my first rodeo, though, so I know that a set back is still possible.  But I am trying to be optimistic.  Once again I will have to exclusively wear tennis shoes for the next 2 weeks.  I hate this aspect of the recovery, even though it is necessary. When you work in an industry where people dress pretty nicely, it's hard to not feel self conscious when you are rocking work clothes and running shoes.  I brought in the fun shoes I bought when I visited Becky to see if I could wear those and the doctor said not a chance as they don't have sufficient support. So for now I'm doing the whole self-deprecating "the 80s called and the want the shoes/work clothes look back" and trying to laugh it off. 

I have to spend the next week adjusting to being without the boot and I have some exercises to do so that I can strengthen the muscles around my ankle as they atrophied since I have been in the boot so long.  After a week of normal activity, I can start going for long walks, and after a couple of weeks of that, I can try other low impact forms of cardio, and then a couple weeks later, I can try to return to running.  My plan is to be really really careful about my return to running as I don't want to risk re-injuring my foot.

I am nervous that my time with the boot might not be behind me after what happened last time I tried to transition out of it, but I am hopeful right now.  The fact that I haven't felt any pain yet is a good sign, so maybe - just maybe - I am on the road to recovery.  I'm really hoping to launch my return to running in mid-August (and will be borrowing Redhead Running's plan) and hope to be back to running somewhat normal distances in late September/early October.  I'm hoping to be able to run the Charleston half marathon in January with some run club friends that are traveling down here from Minneapolis, and then in February I am hoping to run the Austin half marathon with my best friend Heidi.  We will see how things go this fall - I have yet to register for either race.

I haven't talked all that much about the injury because I know that others have it much worse.  Eventually I will heal and hopefully I will return to running at a mileage level that I am happy with.  But this whole experience has been really, really difficult for me.  It's one thing to not be able to run, it's a whole other thing to not be able to do normal things, like walk to work.  I really value a pedestrian lifestyle, so not being able to walk as far or as much as I want has been hard on me. Even now I have to be careful about how far I walk.  For instance, I will visit Asheville this weekend but I will not be able to visit the Biltmore because that will require far too much walking for where I am at in the healing process.  It's really hard to be prevented from doing things I love to do, but hopefully this injury will be behind me soon and all restrictions on activity will be released.

I guess if anything, this injury has taught me to not take things, like walking pain free, for granted!

Have you ever gone through an experience that has made you value something you had taken for granted in the past?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend Highs

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you had a great weekend.  The weather wasn't awful this weekend as we had periods of sunshine, but it wasn't great.  This is just not what summer should be like.  And to prove that I am not over-reacting to how crappy this summer has been, check out the stats in Peanut Butter Runner's post. The weather is out of my control, so I know I need to let it go, but come on, Mother Nature, throw me a bone.

Despite the crappy weather, I did have a good weekend!  Here are some of the highlights of my weekend!


- Going to the movie The Heat (which was hilarious, by the way) and getting carded!  I find a hard time believing that I look younger than 17 (seriously, I'm 32), but I'll take it!

- Making sausage-stuff zucchini boats.  If you like zucchini, you HAVE to make them.  They are so delicious and they actually reheat really well. I also made a 3-bean turkey chili which I froze so I'd have meals to eat the week after my Asheville trip as I doubt I'll get back early enough on Sunday to make a big dinner.  And yes, I eat chili in the middle of the summer...  I'm a soup/chili year round type of girl.

- Meeting a fellow Minnesotan when I walked into mass on Sunday morning.  She noticed my MN plates and struck up a conversation with me.  When you are new to a city, it's little experiences like that really help it feel a bit more homey.

- A long phone conversation with my friend Heidi that lives in Austin.  I'm so excited for her visit to Charlotte in August!

- Celebrating Bastille day by wearing stripes, enjoying a delicious crepe and treating myself to some macarons.

- Going to an open knitting session at a local yarn store.  I didn't have a lot of social plans this weekend, so the social interaction was really nice, and I made some progress on the 2nd arm warmer I am making.  

- Crossing some tasks off my to-do list that I've been procrastinating on, such as a goodwill drop and hanging a collage of family pictures (I am terrible at hanging photos, home decor is SO not my thing).

- Seeing pictures on facebook from Lauren's wedding.  I am so bummed that I wasn't there!  I can't wait to see more pics of her and the manfriend.  They are one stunning, fun couple , and I am so excited to hug them in person when I see them in Chicago in October.

- Texting back and forth with Alli while we watched the Next Food Network Star (the only tv I religiously watch these days!).

What were some of the highlights of your weekend?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Virtual Coffee Date

Greetings and Happy Friday! To round out the week, I thought it would be good to close out the week with a virtual coffee date.

If we were having coffee today...

- I'd tell you that I am looking forward to the quiet weekend ahead of me.  My plans include checking out a local farmer's market, possibly going canoeing on Saturday afternoon if the weather holds up ok, and checking out a local yarn store.

- I'd tell you that the amount of rain we've had lately is RIDICULOUS.  Today is the 14th day in a row that showers have been in the forecast, and there is nothing but rain in the 5 days forecast.  It's a good thing I take a vitamin D supplement because clearly I am not getting any naturally since the sun is not out much these days. 

- I'd tell you I am excited to celebrate Bastille Day on Sunday.  I'll be rocking stripes, checking out another crepe place (that offers gluten free crepes), and treating myself to a couple of macarons.

- I'd talk about how frustrated I am with the process of having to change insurance companies due to my relocation.  I'd tell you about the 6+ phone calls I have made to try to fight having to pay a $600 medical bill that should have been paid out of my health savings account but wasn't because of the transfer of insurance coverage process.

- I'd tell you that I am really looking forward to my trip to Asheville next week.  Asheville appears to be very gluten free friendly, so I have a list of restaurant options to check out, and I booked a kayak excursion for Saturday afternoon which I think will be really fun.

- I'd tell you that I am cautiously optimistic about my doctor appointment today.  The plan is to transition to tennis shoes but I am pretty nervous that I'll feel pain right away like I did last time.  Fingers and toes are crossed that this is not the case, but we'll see.  I haven't ran in over 12 weeks and haven't done any cardio for 3+ week so I am going a little bit crazy.

- I'd tell you that a Starbucks FINALLY opened in my building last month so my Friday latte tradition has resumed!  I'll be treating myself to one after my doctor's appointment this morning.  

What would you tell me if we were having coffee today?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Survival Award

So this year has kind of metaphorically kicked the crap out of me.  I've been challenged in more ways than I have ever been in a single year of my life.  But I am thriving and surviving and trying to persevere.  While I think of myself as a pretty frugal person that does not tend to splurge very often, I decided to splurge on something to reward myself to getting through this tough year (or at least the first half - I have to believe the worst is behind me).

What is that reward?  I'm going to Paris!

Before this whole unforeseen relocation, my plan had been to go to Paris in April if I passed level 3 of the CFA.  But then I got relocated and life got turned upside down. Shortly after moving, I realized that even if I do find out that I passed the CFA next month, an April trip to Paris was not in the cards for me as next April will mark one year in Charlotte, and I have no idea what the future holds after that.  Planning a trip to Paris just wasn't responsible as I just might be moving at that point.  Who knows.

So I had resigned myself to the fact that a trip to Paris just wasn't in the cards for me until 2015 most likely.  But then I got to thinking...  maybe I could go to Paris for Thanksgiving.  In the back of my mind, it all seemed very unlikely, but I decided to look at airfare, and if it wasn't exorbitant, and if the guy I rented an apartment from in 2011 had one available in the Latin Quarter, then I would go.

Well, it turns out that there was in fact an apartment in the Latin Quarter available for rent AND the plane ticket was not ridiculous.  It's not cheap by any stretch of the imagination since Charlotte is not a hub for international travel, but it was reasonable.

So I ran the idea by a couple of people who know me well, and are honest.  The response I got was basically "YES, OF COURSE, GO!"

And so I am going!!  I will be in Paris for 5 days in late November!  My flight is booked and I've signed the contract on an adorable apartment in the Latin Quarter, which is an area I haven't stayed in before.

I'll wake up to this view...

Why yes, that is the Notre Dam in the background!

And this is where I still stay...

I might not come back.  (Just kidding, Mom).

It all still feels like a dream to me at this point.  Part of me feels guilty spending the money (even though I have more than enough in savings), but a bigger part of me knows that I need and deserve this trip.

The thing is - this trip just might be what saves me.  I know that sounds dramatic to say, but there is just something special about Paris.  Even though it's far from my roots of North Dakota, going there feels a little bit like coming home.  I always come back from Paris feeling happier, more full of life, and honestly, more full of hope.  Now, more than ever, I need to be filled with those emotions.

And in the end, Audrey Hepburn said it best when she said:

"Paris is always a good idea"

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

From the Land of Ma'am: DC Trip

Greetings and happy Tuesday.  I'm shifting from yesterday's heavier post to a post recapping my 4th of July visit to DC!  I was there for 3 full days and had a wonderful time.  Becky and her husband Ben were fabulous hosts and I came back from this trip renewed and restored.  Here are some of the highlights from the weekend, with some pictures sprinkled throughout!

- Well, I am still in the boot so Becky modified our plans for the weekend since I can't be on my feet much.  I might be done with the boot and cast as of this Friday, but I am still weeks away from being able to wear normal shoes so Becky helped me pick out some tennis shoes that are a little bit less conspicuous than my running shoes. 

You can't tell in the picture, but the shoes kind of sparkle.

- After shoe shopping, we hit up Barnes & Noble for coffees and book conversations.  Becky is a fellow book nerd so we had a great time browsing the tables and chatting about books.  We each treated ourselves to a bargain book and the book "Carry On Warrior" which Becky raves about.  I am hoping to read it later this month!

- On Friday, we headed to Alexandria, VA to check out a coffee shop that Becky loves as well as her favorite knitting shop.  I don't post about knitting much on this blog, but it's a hobby I adore and I loved checking out her knitting store.  Also, the latte I got at the cool coffee shop was almost too pretty to drink!

- On Friday night, we headed back to the Alexandria area to meet up with Mandy as her and her mom were there for the weekend visiting her step-sister.  It was so great for the 3 of us to reunite!  And it was great meeting her mom and step-sister and step-brother-in-law.  Her step-brother-in-law is an awesome cook so we ate very well.  We sat on their back deck for hours and had a great time.  Luckily I will see Mandy again in just over 2 months as I am heading to the Pittsburgh area in September to visit her!

URL turned IRL BFF's

- On Saturday morning we checked a couple of things off my "things to do" in DC list:  Arlington National Cemetery and Georgetown.  Unfortunately, being in the boot kind of made it tough to really give these two areas justice.  We walked through some of the cemetery, but the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a long, uphill walk and I didn't want to push it with my foot, so we stopped when we got to JFK's grave (which was neat to see).  We had lunch in Georgetown and took a cab to the heart of the area, but again, my boot made it tough to see much as I am really trying to follow my doctor's orders of staying off my feet.  But I know I will be back and will do both of these areas justice some other time.

The cemetery was very beautiful and it was a humbling experience to visit the grave site of the many brave men and women who have fought for our country.

- On Saturday night, we took it easy.  Ben cooked us dinner (which was followed by a Mack Lemore dance party/sing off) and then Becky and I watched a couple of movies while knitting.  I started this arm warmer project years ago and but it got lost in the shuffle of my other knitting projects.  So I brought it with on this trip and finished one arm warmer.  I love how it turned out.  Hopefully I finish the last one a little quicker...

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.  I feel very blessed to have so many friends who open their homes to me. 

Have you been to D.C. (or your nation's capital if you live outside of the U.S.)?  This was my 2nd trip to the area.  I definitely would like to go back as there are many museums I haven't seen and I'd like to spend more time in Georgetown as I thought that was a very charming area.

Monday, July 8, 2013

1st Quarter

Well, here I am, 1/4 of the way through my one year commitment to Charlotte.  To be clear, I don't know how long I will be in Charlotte, but I for sure have to be here for a year or there will be financial ramifications as I would have to pay back my relocation package (which was NOT cheap).  I don't know what the future will bring, so I may be here longer than a year, but right now I am counting down my year commitment as I am looking forward to having the freedom to pursue other opportunities in the Midwest should they arise.

I'm not going to sugar coat the last 3 months.  They have been tough.  And to be clear, this is not me being negative, this is me being real.  I strive to be an authentic communicator, so I refuse to make this experience out to be anything different than what it truly has been.  It has been hard.  The number of changes I've been through is staggering.  In the last 3 months, I've changed cities, bosses (actually I recently changed bosses again - that's 4 bosses in 12 months, by the way), positions (I focus on a different client group since moving to Charlotte), and my relationship status has changed.  There is really not much else that can change in my life, to be quite honest.  Add in the stress of the CFA and a never-ending stress fracture that is preventing me from exercising, and well, it's been a perfect storm.

Over the last 3 months, I've gone from counting down the weeks until my year commitment to counting down the months (which I consider progress).  I've made one really good friend who is almost like a guardian angel as she has really helped me feel more at home down here.  I've re-learned how much I hate driving and now know with absolute certainty that I need to live in a city with a pedestrian lifestyle, meaning I can mostly walk (or take an efficient form of public transportation) to anywhere I need/want to be (work, church, grocery stores, retail stores).  I've planned A LOT of trips and am trying to see as much of the area as I possibly can.  I've confirmed that I am not the kind of person who is built to live far from family and close friends.

I think the number one thing I have struggled with is the pressure from others to love Charlotte.  I respect their love of this city and I can understand why they want to call this place home.  But the fact that Charlotte is not a good fit for me should not take away from their love of the city.  We can all have our own favorite cities - they do not need to be the same.  To be clear, in these conversations, I am not proclaiming my dislike of Charlotte - instead I am expressing the fact that it's just not a great fit for me.  You can hate on Minneapolis all day long, but it honestly won't offend me or take away from my love of the city.  I do not expect everyone to love Minneapolis and if someone moved there, I would not expect them to love it - either immediately or with the passage of time. I can say this because I know people who have recently moved to Minneapolis.  I do not expect them to love it now - or ever really.  I will offer suggestions on things they can see/do to help them enjoy it while they are there, but I don't expect them to love it there, and the fact that they don't like it is not a personal affront to me.   There are things we all need from a city and while Charlotte does not have the things that I need from a city, that doesn't mean it doesn't meet the bill of needs of others.

But I am trying.  I have sought out things to do in the Charlotte area.  I've made new friends.  I've worked hard at work to try to build credibility with the new group of sales reps that I now work with.  I've joined a church.  I've put myself out there by sending emails to people asking them to dinners, coffee, etc.  I really am trying.  I know I will be here for at least a year and I am trying to make the most of that year.

I recognize the fact that things will get better as the year progresses.  Being able to return to running will really help, so I am hoping that can happen by September.  Even being out of the boot and being able to walk or hike or be active in general will help.  North Carolina is a beautiful state and I hope to be able to get out and enjoy it a bit more than I have when I recover from this pesky stress fracture.

Luckily, I have some really great things to look forward to, including one amazing thing.  But this post is getting too long to talk about what I am looking forward to, so I'll be sharing that later this week.  So stay tuned...

And - I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of my DC trip (spoiler alert:  I had the best time!)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Real Vacation Days

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  In my case, it actually my Friday as I fly to DC tonight to spend the weekend with Becky!  I am especially excited because these are the first vacation days I'll take that won't be spent studying or dealing with the move!  So in other words, it's my first REAL vacation day in over 6 months!!  I am so overdue for some time away from work!

I visited Becky 2 years ago and she was the PERFECT host so I know I am in for some fun in the DC area.  I am not sure if I will still be in my cast and boot - I'll find out at my doctor's appointment this afternoon.  At this point, I'm expecting to get a new cast and to continue to be in the boot, but Becky is aware of this and has things in mind that we can do that won't require me to be on my feet. 

It will be strange to not spend this 4th of July holiday at the lake.  I can probably count on one hand the number of times I haven't been at the lake for the 4th.  So it will be a different kind of 4th of July celebration, but I will still have a great time.  I am glad I'll be with a good friend as that will keep my mind off the family fun that I am missing out on back at home.

For my American readers, I hope you have a safe and fun 4th of July celebration!  And for those outside of the US, enjoy the rest of your week!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of June

So June wasn't exactly all sunshine and roses as I went through a break-up and experienced a set back with my foot, but it was still better than May as I enjoyed the sweet freedom of not having to study!!  I'm one month closer to CFA results and the year is now officially half over!  Woo hoo!


People Like Us by Kelly Clarkson - Yes, I like Kelly Clarkson's music, don't judge.  This song is about rising above crappy situations so it isn't surprising that it's a favorite song of mine these days.


I had another strong month of reading as I finished 6 books.  Not having to study and not watching much tv means I'm reading more than ever these days, and I really enjoyed all of the books I read this month.

The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain -   I really enjoyed this book and had a hard time putting it down at night as I just HAD to know what happened next.  It's the kind of book where you want to reach through the pages and turn the course of the main character's life, as you know the decision she is making is going to have long-lasting, horrible ramifications.  In a way, it reminded me of The Light Between the Oceans as it deals with taking something that isn't yours to take.

Beach Music by Pat Conroy - I've got to be honest, this book was a bit of a struggle for me to get through as it was really long and there were SO MANY DETAILS and, in my opinion, insignificant stories shared that didn't necessarily add to the book.  But in the end I liked it enough to give it 4 stars.  I just think you could have cut at least 200 pages out of the book and it still would have been great.  But I am not a huge fan of lots and lots and lots of details...

I Remember Nothing:  And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron - This was a short, fast, fun read.  You could probably read it in the span of 2 hours.  It was fun to read about the experiences and thoughts of the mind behind two of my favorite movies, "Sleepless in Seattle" and "When Harry Met Sally." 

Making Piece:  a Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie by Beth Howard - I really loved this book and am so glad my friend Becky recommended it to me. It's a memoir written by a women who loses her husband very suddenly at a young age. To overcome her grief, she turns to her love of pie, and crust by crust, comes through the grieving process happier, healthier, and more hopeful. My favorite line was: 'you are like a trapeze artist. You have to let go of one swing in order to grab the next one. There is that moment of being airborne in between when you are holding on to nothing, and trusting that the other swing will come toward you. That 'in between' is where you are now, grasping for air.'

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple - Well I read this book in just over 24 hours so that should give some indication of how much I loved it. It is quirky and unlike any other book I've read. It's written from the perspective of Bee, who is the 15-year old daughter of a woman that suffers from a form of agoraphobia. The mom, Bernadette, is hilarious and so quirky, and also so messed up at the same time. But you can't help but love her.  It is definitely a unique read but worth checking out!!

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - I loved this book.  The subject-matter is heavy as the main character is a care taker for a quadriplegic and it deals with assisted suicide, but the author somehow manages to brings humor into the story and the characters are so likeable.  It's definitely a tear jerker so consider yourself warned.


I am hoping and praying that eventually I will actually have miles to add up and report in this section but that is so not happening anytime soon unfortunately. :(


Please ignore my hair in this photo.  All I can say is that I was not built for humidity, and it was horribly humid the day I wore this outfit.  It's one of the new outfits I bought at Banana Republic at the end of May with a 40% off coupon.  Oh and it was one of the very few days this month that I wasn't in the boot or tennis shoes.  Navy and green is my new favorite color combination.  I also bought a color-blocked dress in these exact colors.