When Work Stops Being Work

I wasn’t ever able to meet my Great-Grandmother, Nellie – she passed away several years before I was born. My parents, determined to instill in me her wisdom, even gave me her name (Kimberly Nelle – this is after she insisted that she “wouldn’t even name a dog Nellie”). My three brothers and I grew up hearing stories about Grandma Nellie, who had played such a big role in my mom’s childhood. Of all the stories we heard though, one in particular comes to mind as I travel around doing this thing we call “work”. See, Grandma Nellie always said, “The smartest and happiest of all people are the ones who make play out of their work”.

This was what my parents used to tell us as my brothers and I would be facing the daunting task of cleaning our bedroom…perhaps that’s why I remember it so well (we heard it a LOT). But as I’ve grown up and had a taste of “grown up work”, I realize just how great this advice truly is.

I’m pretty blessed. Sure I work my butt off, and travel all the time, sometimes go without sleep or food (or both) – heck, sometimes I’m just happy if I can tell you what time zone I’m in. But all in all, I absolutely love what I do – and the number one reason I love it so much, is because of the people I’ve met along the way. Last week was a great example of that –where my weekend-off disappeared, yet I still managed to love every moment of where I was and who I was with.

The ITA (Information Technology Alliance) provides two opportunities each year for those of us in the accounting world to connect with industry colleagues, partners, clients, and friends in a special way. By drawing some of our profession’s biggest names & brightest stars, each Fall & Spring ITA event winds up being a sort of “Accounting Who’s Who Schmooze Fest”, to say the least. The intimate setting of just a few hundred people ensures that quality networking time with the right people is also a priority. And the best part: No trade show booths! Those of us that work the trade show circuit know that those events serve a purpose, but something that really sets ITA apart from other industry events is the way we as vendors are able to really integrate ourselves right into the community in a very organic way.

Above all, these gatherings give us an opportunity to build lasting memories with our peers, that otherwise wouldn’t happen. From late-night In-N-Out Burger runs, to field trips to local oyster bars, to perfecting the art of “Steveing” (which is a completely different blog post by itself), to quality heart-to-heart conversations with people who have walked down roads in their career that I will one day cross myself, there’s really something magical about this group. And every once in a while, a memory is made like the one below that won’t soon – or ever – be forgotten. While I may not be the smartest person, Grandma Nellie – thanks to your advice, I’m most definitely one of the happiest…

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How to Fit 8 Pairs of Shoes in a Carry-On

This was one of those weeks where there was no such thing as a “weekend”…as I spent last Friday evening preparing for a Saturday morning flight, I saved one of my most daunting projects for last (not necessarily advisable): Packing. Now I’m not one of those women who allow myself the luxury of that checked-bag – mostly for fear that I’ll one-day repeat my Milwaukee experience from years ago when my luggage never showed up. I figure since I’d have to carry all of my shoes in my carry-on anyway (to avoid separation anxiety), I might as well just shove everything in (besides, your carry-on bag can’t be “overweight”). Needless to say, packing is always a very strategic yet often a very stressful operation in the Hogan house.

So what’s my solution? The Brigg’s & Riley Baseline 21” upright rolling bag (with built-in garment bag). Yes, surprise, surprise, I’ve found myself the largest legal carry-on approved by TSA. And believe me, I use every inch of it!

As I left home this weekend, I knew I was going to be in at least three, but most likely four different cities over the following five to seven days (that’s right, I hadn’t even booked my final flight home). Of course, as any other normal person in the accounting industry, I live and die by the rule that I am only allowed to wear a pair of shoes once during a trip, so do the math – I’m traveling with eight pairs (make that nine, counting the ones I flew in).

Packing my bag is a bit like Tetris – somehow trying to wedge every stitch of clothing in between those heels. I’m actually considering a patent for my genius stuffing skills, but for now, I’ll share the love with a few trade secrets:

  1. Don’t be a stacker – you’ll waste valuable space! I admit that there was a day when I would neatly organize shirts, pants, socks, etc. each in their own “stack” – and simply place them in the suitcase. This technique simply doesn’t work when attempting to include five pairs of 4” heels in a bag. You’ll be out of room before you can say stiletto!
  2. Double stuff! If I can roll it, squish it, fold it, or squeeze it – it’s most likely going to be stuffed inside shoes. All those little things add up, so when you can repurpose the empty space inside all those heels, you’ll find that you can make 21” go a lot further! Just beware, this enables you to pack small, but I assure you it won’t be packing light.
  3. Think outside the bag! Believe it or not, I don’t clean my house, go to the gym, or like flying in high heels (a few trips running through SFO in 5” platforms has cured me of that desire). Unfortunately, that means that all the heels need to be packed. Never fear, just be creative – I’ll often pack some of my small-but-heavy items that I don’t need immediate access to while en-route (my laptop power cord, phone charger, & ScanSnap), which frees up space in my infamous Orange Bag for that extra fragile pair of glass slippers.

 Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’ve included a shot of my bag packed for a 7-day trip. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I wore every pair!