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)!

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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

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

#PSILoveYou

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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.

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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:

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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.

Cherish the Moments

I wish I could say I didn’t need that reminder, but I think once in a while, we all probably do. I’ve always been a self-proclaimed workaholic – and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as I keep my priorities in order. As TSheets ran their #MinutestoMoments campaign this holiday season, I’ve found myself stopping a little more here & there & really focusing on why I work as hard as I do, and ensuring I put the same amount of passion & effort into the non-work areas of my life too.

I feel like I blinked and 2016 is gone – heck, the last time I even blogged was in August, and I’m pretty sure I said the same thing about a year of being married passing by so fast. For the most part, I feel like I’m pretty good at living in the moment & not constantly wishing for days to go by, but this year especially, I got glimpses of exactly why that is so important…

I remember last New Year’s Eve driving up to see my little nephew & spending what turned out to be the last day of his only-child life with him while my sister-in-law got some last minute baby-prep done at home. Little did we know, that January 1 would never be the same for our family…now New Year’s Day fireworks will always be “Happy Birthday Oliver” fireworks for us.

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As a married couple, we’re two for two. A few weeks after celebrating our first anniversary, we unplugged (mostly) and escaped for some R&R in Hawaii. I can say that spending 5 days with my best friend in one of our favorite places on earth brought several memorable moments to add to our collection.

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As work continued to be as busy as ever, it was also one of the most rewarding years of my career. Our typical slow season while accountants are busy with taxes turned into the busiest season to date for our Business Development team. That rolled into a crazy summer, followed by a hectic fall, which culminated with a trip to New York courtesy of Intuit celebrating our successes with Brad & company. It was such an amazing chance to reflect on the blood, sweat & tears (literally) that the past 3 years have brought. As we circled the statue of Liberty that October evening, all that work became worth it in that moment.

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Sometimes you don’t realize how important moments are until after they happen…In November, I was asked to speak at a conference over a weekend, and it meant I would have 36 hours to kill somewhere between Chicago & Atlanta. I decided to head to Detroit to visit my Grandma & took the chance to go see my other grandparents while I was in town. Little did I know it would be the last time I got to see my Grandma Jan, as she passed away just weeks after my visit. The sense of peace I had in knowing that I took the time to go share some laughs & hugs with her will be something I’m grateful for as long as I live.

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I couldn’t do what I do day-in & day-out if it wasn’t for my amazing support system of (work) friends. As Gail Perry pointed out, the only down-side of the holiday break is that we have to go so long without seeing each other. From early morning on-the-road workouts with Kelly (#FriendsThatLift), unexpected dinners in Vegas with Donny & Chelsey, Philz runs with Seth, countless adventures with so many others, and above all this year watching our entire accounting community rally around Matt Rissell. There are too many moments to list, but I’m thankful they’re all etched in my mind.

This holiday season was one where I chose to go offline for the most part. I could blame it all on spending 24+ hours in the kitchen over Christmas week making family dinners two weeks in a row, but honestly it was also intentional. It was so great to put the phone away, not even open Facebook, and spend some time with my boys. We don’t get nearly enough quality time with our son, but over Christmas we made epic breakfast sandwiches, his favorite snickerdoodle brownies, there were new Nikes all around, and we even got in a family workout. I was on cloud 9, and I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

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As I look back on this year, it’s easy to see why the reminder is needed. Life tends to fly by all around me and at times the only thing I can do is keep going for fear that if I stop I’ll never get caught back up again. So as we welcome in 2017, my goal is to remember to really cherish each moment, whether it’s work or play. I’ll always be a workaholic, but I will also be a wifeaholic, step-momaholic, auntaholic, and friendaholic. I have a feeling I’ll be putting my new workout gear to good use this coming year, because things aren’t slowing down one bit!

Wishing you & yours a very Happy New Year & all the best in 2017!

Perfectly Imperfect

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If I remember correctly, my eyes popped open just before 6am…it took me a minute to figure out why I was on a hotel chair (long story), where I had caught a few winks after wrapping up last minute details the night before. Grandma was already up – still on Michigan time, and nursing a sore leg. She was worried she had woken me up, but I assured her, I was up on my own. I love looking back and remembering that special moment we shared as she reminded me “You’re getting married today, my dear” …

I threw on my workout gear & raced over to the gym – wanted to get a good sweat in for the big day (really, for the big carrot cake). I was pretty much running on adrenaline, but the pre-workout was the cherry on top. One problem: the gym didn’t open until 7am on Sunday. Back to the hotel I went, into the closet-sized gym, where I got in my 30 minutes of HIIT in the dark/ non-air-conditioned room.

And all was well with the world.

Needless to say, the day wasn’t perfect – the whole weekend was actually filled with little (and big) hiccups. From my almost-step son’s transmission going out on Interstate 10 on his way to Palm Springs, to being so late to dinner the night before that the restaurant almost cancelled our reservation, to my not getting any coffee the morning of, to our “first look” being a rushed encounter in Brian’s office while he frantically ironed his shirt, to forgetting part of my wedding vows (which we actually wrote over text message that weekend)…but when I look back on it – I wouldn’t change a single thing.

Instead of spending our wedding day at our favorite hotel & eating a romantic dinner at Mister Parker’s, we found ourselves heading home. With our son stranded with no car, our evening ended up being take-out from Sherman’s Deli (our local favorite) and watching Entourage the movie as a family, before we headed back to The Parker that night. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to spend my first day as a wife and step-mom, and I’ll treasure it forever.

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The reality of it was August 30, 2015 was US – perfectly imperfect, just the way I love it.

This year has been more of the same. We’ve had highs, lows, celebrations, tears, victories, defeats, but we’ve done it hand-in-hand, and have approached each & every day of this year with the same attitude we did this day last year – nothing is going to keep it from being perfectly imperfect.

Today marks a year since I earned my MRS degree. But all that really means is that we’ve made it around the track. As we head out on lap 2, just like so many of the Olympians did these past few weeks, there will be no letting up. Instead, I know we can better our next year – the best is yet to come.

While today was just another day, there were little reminders of a year ago – a morning workout, no coffee for me, flowers, stress, take out, and yes, carrot cake. Because in the end, my very favorite is perfectly imperfect.

Thank you, Brian, for loving perfectly imperfect me…

#PSILoveYou

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