My 12 Flights of Christmas

Just like that, another year of travel (and life) is in the books! I don’t dare say “where did the year go?” Because that makes me sound, well, old. 2018 has been a year filled with some turbulence, delays, diversions, and a few mechanical issues.

But as I write this on my first of four final flights this year (yes, the infamous “Mileage Run” is in full swing), I’m reflecting on some of the highs that 2018 brought Team Austin as well: we’ve had some upgrades, rewards, and gained some extra leg room.

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With all the craziness of this winter, I debated whether to even try and scramble to get my year-end post out. I figured rather than droning on about the past 12 months, instead, I’d share a little song about my final month of travels, so without further ado, I give you, My 12 Flights of Christmas (please sing along…you know the tune):

On my 1st flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

A tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 2nd flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 3rd flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

3 aromatic seat-mates, 2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 4th flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

4 airport terminal sprints, 3 aromatic seat-mates, 2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 5th flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

5 Protein Powder Pat-downs, 4 airport terminal sprints, 3 aromatic seat-mates, 2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 6th flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

6 flight delays, 5 Protein Powder Pat-downs, 4 airport terminal sprints, 3 aromatic seat-mates, 2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 7th flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

7 tuna packet dinners, 6 flight delays, 5 Protein Powder Pat-downs, 4 airport terminal sprints, 3 aromatic seat-mates, 2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 8th flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

8 state lines crossed, 7 tuna packet dinners, 6 flight delays, 5 Protein Powder Pat-downs, 4 airport terminal sprints, 3 aromatic seat-mates, 2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 9th flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

9 hotel stays, 8 state lines crossed, 7 tuna packet dinners, 6 flight delays, 5 Protein Powder Pat-downs, 4 airport terminal sprints, 3 aromatic seat-mates, 2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 10th flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

10 late night workouts, 9 hotel stays, 8 state lines crossed, 7 tuna packet dinners, 6 flight delays, 5 Protein Powder Pat-downs, 4 airport terminal sprints, 3 aromatic seat-mates, 2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 11th flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

11 onsite meetings with partners, 10 late night workouts, 9 hotel stays, 8 state lines crossed, 7 tuna packet dinners, 6 flight delays, 5 Protein Powder Pat-downs, 4 airport terminal sprints, 3 aromatic seat-mates, 2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

On my 12th flight of Christmas, the friendly skies gave to me…

12 more months of United Premier status, 11 meetings with partners, 10 late night workouts, 9 hotel stays, 8 state lines crossed, 7 tuna packet dinners, 6 flight delays, 5 Protein Powder Pat-downs, 4 airport terminal sprints, 3 aromatic seat-mates, 2 nights stranded at SFO and a tantrumming toddler gate to gate

Wishing you a year ahead filled with smooth air, on-time departures and lots of those yummy waffle cookies!

My Friend Tom

It’s hard to believe we’re already gearing up for the next ITA Fall Collaborative. The ITA meetings are some of the smallest events I attend each year, but in a way, that’s why they’re special. I’ve been active in ITA since 2011, when I blew into Buckhead with my neon pink high heels and had CIOs and COOs at top firms talking about the new “shoe girl” at the meetings.

What started as some hallway banter between two Accounting Technology Association professionals was the start of some of the dearest friendships I’ve made throughout my career.

With various roles at several different organizations in the accounting space going back to 2007, I’ve known many of the ITA members even longer than I’ve been a “shoe girl”…they’ve literally watched me grow up, and many have been amazing mentors to me over the eight years I’ve known them.

Early on in my ITA tenure, I was fortunate to get involved in volunteer work for the organization. I’ve done a bit of this and that, helped out onsite, provided nurturing to fellow Affinity Partners, chaired committeea dedicated to Affinity Partners and young leaders coming up in the organization – and most near and dear to my heart, I’ve spearheaded (with help from several others) a movement of young ITA attendees, dubbed GenNOW. This group wants to help shape the future of the organization that we’ll one day be running. As a group, we’re largely unstructured, and primarily focus on building a community around younger professionals providing a safe place for them to gather and share knowledge…after all, the ITA creed is Knowledge increases in value when shared.

One of the best things to come out of the GenNOW movement is the realization that there’s no age requirement or limit to thinking next gen. Several years ago during one of the Fall Collaborative meetings, I met Tom Falloon of Cargas Systems, a VAR/ solution provider from Lancaster, PA, who was attending his first ITA meeting. Tom certainly knew other ITA members when he arrived in Salt Lake City that year, but when the cotton snowball fight broke out during the Winter Wonderland Gala, and most of the GenNOW-ers were behind it, Tom was caught double fisting white “snow”. We all sort of adopted Tom that week, and declared that he was “one of us”…little did he know – it would stick!

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Ever since that meeting, we’ve always made it a point to find each other on opening night and reconnect throughout the event. One of my favorite traditions is finding a new person whom we haven’t yet told the hilarious story from our now infamous game of “Heads Up” (sorry, inside baseball), that had to have permanently solidified the bond between Tom and me.

Tom continues to help the GenNOW group push for new thinking at ITA, and his support has become not just valued, but literally coveted. Many times as young professionals it’s easy to feel like you’re at the kids’ table, and not being taken seriously. Tom provides just the right dose of reality-check-meets-cheerleader to ensure that we keep our feet on the ground, but reach for our goals. Most of all, Tom has taught me that your birthday means absolutely nothing. You don’t have to be under a certain age to understand why it’s important to have young input in an organization. Young thinking is a valuable trait whatever your age may be.

So thanks, Tom – Oh, and thanks for the photo…not bad for your first selfie!

Tom

grat·i·tude

grat·i·tude
n.
the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.

There’s something about this time of year that makes people step back and evaluate life. Perhaps it’s because we’re looking at another year drawing to a close, or maybe it’s just good old holiday spirit. For me, year end serves as a time of reflection as well as a pressure cooker, as I try to juggle everything at once: work, family, shopping, cards, baking, etc. etc. etc.! I constantly have to remind myself that these are good problems to have, yet I always catch myself racing through this final month of the year hoping I can wake up tomorrow and have it be over.

2013 was a year of milestones for me (and not just when it comes to frequent flyer miles). This year in particular, I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of thankfulness for where I am in life…so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share just a few of the reasons I’ll look back on 2013 as a year of gratitude.

For starters, I turned 30 this Summer. For some, this would be traumatic, but for me it was almost empowering. As a young female professional in a still male-dominated industry, I’ve always felt like I had to prove myself a little more than peers who had more experience.  Suddenly, I can actually see a generation coming up behind me and the opportunity to pay forward some of the wisdom and advice I’ve been given is exciting.

In September, I was privileged to make “Cover Girl” status along with two industry colleagues, as we were featured in CPA Practice Advisor’s cover story: The Changing Face of Accounting & Technology. Needless to say, it was a true honor to represent the accounting vendor community – especially in a story about something so near to my heart.

On the heels of that, I got the amazing opportunity to join the Strategic Accounts Team at Intuit, and have the chance to work in such a great organization with a wonderful team. From Marty who takes great care of all of us rookies, to Mr. Bergstein who is a constant motivator – and Jim, who ensures that even though I’m usually at least a minute late to internal meetings, I’m never the last one to dial in. I’m also thankful for a terrific leader, who reminds us everyday that his job is to help us meet our goals. Thanks, Ray!

I’m beyond grateful for all of the friends I get to meet along the way as I serve the accounting community I love so much. Thanks to all of you who inspire, advise, encourage, and motivate me – and even to those (Matt Kantelis) who give me (um) much needed constructive feedback to help me grow. When you’re a self-proclaimed workaholic, it makes all the difference in the world to love not just your job, but also the people with whom you work.

This year I watched as friends & family faced incredible struggles, which would give anyone an entirely new perspective. I’m incredibly thankful that my dear Grandma has arrived back home safe & sound and is walking here, there, & everywhere for the first time since Easter. And, in August, I posted Reality Check, the story of little Luke. While most 3-year-olds write letters to Santa asking for toys, Lukey prayed that for Christmas he could go home and be with his big brother…which is exactly what he got. Luke went home for the holidays last week, he’s 100% done with treatment, and is in remission after spending most of the past 5 months in the hospital. Leave it to a toddler to remind us all what really matters.

I don’t doubt that 2014 will bring a whole new set of adventures, challenges, victories and most likely a few defeats…one thing that I hope to carry forward however, is an ever-present state of gratitude. 

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. And all the best in the New Year!