My Trip to Austin

If I were to pick up my phone & ask Siri for directions to Austin, I’m fairly certain that an 8-hour round-trip drive in an “Ultimate Edition” through the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas & back is not the preferred route…but speaking from experience, it the most scenic ride (and it comes with a Cappuccino Heath Blizzard)!

VFMSBlizzard

It definitely took a while – so long that people were probably wondering if I’d ever make it after all – but I knew I’d get there exactly when I was supposed to, and that everything would turn out exactly as it should.

If you ask me, my trip to Austin started back on June 6, 2010 as a gracious industry colleague pulled up to my house and loaded a squeaky duffel into the trunk of his rental car & inquired “Do you think there’s a DQ between here & Vegas? I could really go for a Blizzard”…You could probably end the story there & say the rest is history.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized agreeing to drive across the desert with someone I barely knew, and had never spent any time with outside of business meetings, could have turned out VERY different…but after absolutely nailing our partner debut at AICPA Tech+ that week, our victory ride home turned into what we have always referred to as the 45 minute drive home from Vegas.

VFMSBK1

Now some might have a different perspective – I know my Mom & Grandma would likely say my trip to Austin took about 32 years, seeing as they’d been praying for my journey since July 7, 1983.

Of course, you could also say that it started on January 23, 2010, at P.F. Chang’s Irvine Spectrum of all places, where a few industry professionals gathered one Saturday evening to network (& the only notable request was “nothing fried, please”).

As with any trip, there were milestones along the way – things that stand out and stay etched in my memory as I look back on how far I’ve come…I’ll never forget October 17, 2010 – when I got chauffeured to the airport in the wee-hours of that Sunday morning, and as an added bonus, a fresh medium iced coffee from Peet’s, my favorite.

There were also some fairly traumatic stretches, like November 12, 2010, when I had to return the favor of an airport drop-off (and a detour to Dallas).

Two days later, on November 14, 2010, I was back on track & heading straight for my destination picking up speed & never looking back. I can honestly say that’s the day that my life changed forever, and I realized I was meant for Austin.

VFMSBK2

Fast forward four years – and a LOT of badgering from friends & colleagues – on December 13, 2014, my journey continued on foot. This time up the San Jacinto tramway out in the Coachella Valley, where I officially agreed to relocate (and picked up an amazing souvenir for doing so).

VFMSRing

8 months flew by, and on August 30, 2015, in Palm Springs, California, I finally pulled in at home. It had been an unconventional road to get there, filled with laughs, tears, struggles, and victories, but I wouldn’t trade a single moment for anything.

VFMSWater

I’m not quite sure how 2 years have gone by since I married my best friend, and became Mrs. Austin. It’s hands-down the greatest decision I’ve ever made. Not because life is perfect – goodness knows we’ve had our share of curveballs thrown at us – but because I know life’s highs couldn’t be half as great, and the lows might not be bearable without sharing the ride with Brian.

VFMSWindmills

As it turns out, a few things in life are actually more about the destination than the journey.

VFMSFamily

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Babe – now, let’s get some carrot cake!

#PSILoveYou

Advertisements

Fueled By Passion…Fulfilled by Performance

It’s Friday night, about 8pm Mountaint time, & I’m sitting in the Denver Airport United Club waiting on what’s turned into about a 3 hour flight delay. I should (hopefully) be home by midnight, but it’s unlikely any sooner…

In the last 18 days for work, I’ve been in 16 cities, driven well over 20 hours (across 5 states & 3 tropical islands) in 7 different cars, slept in 8 different hotels (and 1 airplane), been on 8 flights (and I still have 1 more to get home), spanned 4 time zones…and met with 17 firms & hosted 6 QuickBooks Online training events attended by over 100 accountants.

Oh, and did I mention I was home for a whopping 67 hours last week between trips?

Needless to say, my life has been an absolute whirlwind the past few weeks. I’ve had to make decisions like “do I care more about getting in a training session or cardio or sleep” (knowing I may only be getting 3-4 hours of sleep regardless). I’ve been on hold at 1am more than once with the United Premier desk trying desperately to figure out how to make it to my destination or home before midnight and without driving hours as my glass slipper gradually becomes a pumpkin. I’ve far exceeded the recommended dosage of protein bars & tuna packets (in my car racing from one meeting to another). I’ve fallen asleep more than once with my face in my laptop somewhere between 1am & 3am local time. My earliest (but not only pre-dawn) call was at 4:30am local time. And, I’ve managed to pack in more first-time meetings with new partners than I typically do in a month (or more).

Am I exhausted? Drained? Sleep deprived? In major need of a few days at home (and manicure)? Heck yeah – but am I energized and inspired by all of the amazing conversations and “light-bulb moments” that I’ve experienced in the past 3 weeks? HECK YEAH! These past few weeks have been an amazing reminder to me of why I do what I do – and why I push myself so hard.

K&HEmail

There’s a sign at my gym that reads, in part: “I’m obsessed, a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated”. I read it constantly when I’m training, and use it to motivate myself to push harder, lift heavier, go faster…but recently I’ve been thinking of that even outside of the gym. It’s really become part of my core, part of my why.

After making the 90 minute drive from a firm in Northern Utah this afternoon, my last meeting of the trip, I arrived at the airport to this message from them in my email:

AJEmail

I had so many similar conversations with partners I’ve been meeting with that it’s impossible to even think of slowing down. Those conversations and their excitement has propelled me into my next non-stop day & I’m so excited to keep turning on the gas over the next few months.

I’m extremely fortunate to have a husband & family that enable me to put my career and my partners so high on my priority list. I honestly couldn’t do what I do on the road without my life-line back home. We’ve made a commitment to each other to support both of our careers, and have adopted a “work-life integration” motto (thanks for the term, Ed Kless). I never feel that I’m taking away from my home life by putting so much of myself into work – instead, I’ve got a built-in motivator cheering me on (and me him) each step of the way.

Throughout these daunting marathon days, as I’d drive from meeting to meeting, to hotel, to airport, I got to share the great news of another awesome visit. Each time I was reminded (as usual) that it’s moments like those that motivate me to keep going, and affirm why every flight, every mile, every early morning, and every tuna packet are just adding fuel to my fire.