Tis the season!

Wrapping up one year and looking forward to the next. What an interesting process. I remember many years where I couldn’t wait for the fresh start that a new year would bring. Funny how optimistic I always am at this time of year considering I live in Wisconsin and the new year just means 4 more months of cold weather. 

This year however I am just truly thankful and blessed to have experienced all the days in this year so far. I’ve experienced so much growth in so many areas. 

This year marked 5 years of togetherness with my husband and 2 years of marriage. It has seriously flown by.  I’m so thankful for us and hope we continue to share many more trips around the sun together. 

I attended a life and business coaching group for 9 months out of the year that totally changed my perspective on many areas of my life. It’s helped me declutter, repriorotize, rediscover and challenge my thoughts and beliefs. 

I enjoyed my 2nd full year of consulting on my own. It’s been such a rewarding experience and opportunity to work on different projects with different people. Definitely a different kind of education. I’ve really started to appreciate and acknowledge what I can add to a team and project. Being my own cheerleader has been such a blessing. 

My step-son turned 14 and watching him grow and discover himself is something I’m thankful to be a part of every day. He’s such a blessing and gives me perspective and many learning experiences. 

We spent the year focusing on our finances and now find ourselves debt free (except for our home). This is such a freeing accomplishment and it takes so much pressure of our career choices and really allows us to enjoy our 9-5’s more since we don’t feel trapped by them. 

I was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease in August. An inner ear disorder that causes ear ringing, vertigo and nausea. By cutting out caffeine and sodium I’ve managed to control the symptoms (and my anxiety around the sparadic nature of the episodes). So, yay. 

I traveled to Napa (CA), Orlando (FL), Mexico, Lake Placid (NY), Door County (WI), Rockville (MD) and of course Cleveland and Cincinnati for work. I enjoyed every trip and was lucky enough to spend time with great people and make wonderful memories at each location. Not to mention some good food too. 

We took down a wall (thanks HGTV for the words “open concept”, repainted most of the main level, filled a dumpster of crap to declutter the house, and put in new vinyl wood planks instead of the old carpet. 

I started and cancelled a wine club. I started and cancelled a fitness subscription. I gave up giving up Nutella. 

And so many other wonderful things… with wonderful people. 

With only two weeks left in this year, I have nothing but gratitude and love for 2016 and can only imagine what 2017 will bring… and I look forward to finding out. 

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February Follies

Month two of 2016.  Today went pretty well as far as Mondays go!  Had a good work day, got laundry and dishes done early in the morning, got my workout(s) in, ate healthy all day, booked more stuff for my birthday trip to Napa Valley and also booked stuff for an awesome trip in March to celebrate awesome ladies supporting each other, networking, healing, learning, growing <– need I go on?  And… it’s in Orlando.  PS, that’s a helluva lot warmer than Wisconsin in March.

I have had so much on my mind lately.  The days are flying by and the nights are filled with weird stress dreams.  I have discovered a few things about myself lately…

  1. I do not like booking my own travel arrangements for vacations.  There are SO many options, prices, experiences, adventures… man oh man.  I’d much rather go on a structured/planned trip that someone else planned.  I have spent more hours thinking about and pondering what to do on my birthday trip to Napa, than I will actually spend in Napa!!  How crazy is that??  Lesson learned – just find a travel agent or friend that really digs that shit and just give them money or wine to do it for me.
  2. I am on a constant journey to better myself.  I am always open to ways to change, evolve, reflect, grow, enhance both myself and my life.  I hope this never changes, I enjoy flexing the muscles of my life to see where I can go and what I can do.
  3. I have a gum problem.  I chew like 8,371 pieces in a day when I’m stressed.  Is there support groups for this?
  4. I am so much more accepting of my body than I was even 6 months ago.  Focusing on eating clean and working out has given me such a different perspective and appreciation for my body and the things that it can do.  I take time every day to love all the bits!

Life has its ups and downs, and lately for me life has had many more ups than downs.  I’ve been really trying to find ways to fully appreciate and acknowledge this phenomenon since I know that might not always be the case :)  Appreciating the small things and each other.

Also – trying to be the biggest, best, badassiest version of myself that this universe will allow!  Which, is a pretty damn cool thing to think about every day.

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Staying on track!

This was a travel week for work for me. I was determined to stay on track for my workouts. So, I packed enough food and shakes to eat almost every meal in my hotel room.

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This definitely set me up for success this week and kept me from being tempted. Id rather save my cheat meals with my husband, good wine, and good food… Than because I didn’t plan well and made bad choices while traveling.

I also worked out in the hotel fitness center in order to stay on track with the workouts and use the weights. I was a little nervous, but it all worked out well!

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I also found a great book at the airport on my way out of town… Read it!  I felt totally inspired and fired up!  Self-help with swear words  my kind of read.

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I also was training people all week, and that went really well. It’s  awesome when people are engaged and listening to what you have to say… Especially when you’re only reason for doing it is to make sure THEY succeed!!

Im so glad to be heading home tomorrow to the dogs, husband and my own bed!!

Changes

Let’s see, this year I’ve gotten married, traveled to Italy, and now I’m changing careers.  It’s been a crazy year!  My thirties have definitely taken me places I didn’t know I’d go (or that I’d be able to go).  I definitely can see why people love the decades after their 20’s exponentially more than the years leading up to these defining decades.  I’ve come to a place in my life where I’m surrounded by successful, beautiful souls who I admire and who believe in me in return.  These friendships have definitely become some of my most favorite “things” in my life.  Between my amazingly supportive husband, family and friends I truly feel like this is the perfect time in my life to take leaps instead of steps.  My new career involves me being self employed and consulting on a particular IT software.  It’s very empowering to have the courage to accept an opportunity that means a whole lot more changes to come!

During the deciding process and since then, I’ve been so warmed by the support and encouragement I have received from everyone.  We (Jason and I) knew that it would be an interesting adventure, particularly as newlyweds. I made sure to include Jason in all the decisions so that this was our choice, our new adventure, together. I didn’t want to end up consulting across the country and find out that we both weren’t committed to the idea.  My friends also have surprised me with their belief in me.  Every kind word, every supporting phrase or hug of encouragement has meant the world to me. If these people, who I hold in the highest regard think that I can do a great job… how awesome (and terrifying) is that!

This weekend I’m taking the time to relax at home and spend some time with the family and prepare for my first travel week. It’s the weekend of logistics, finding a bag that will fit my laptop, snacks and anything else I might need on the flight. I’m hoping to travel with just carryon luggage, which presents an interesting set of challenges.  I’m hoping to fit workout clothes, work clothes and any work stuff I need in my bags.  So, now that work is over and the decisions have been made and the forms have been signed… I am left with the logistics of the travel.

Here’s to new adventures, strong relationships and racking up airline miles :)

Boston Recap: Day 4 ~ All good things must come to an end…

Monday, February 4th

All good things must end…

Monday morning was our last morning in Boston.  We celebrated as the locals do with a trip to Dunkin Donuts.  This was by far the coldest day of the trip.  We took our DD back to the hotel and ate it there while warming up from our little walk to get it.  We decided to try again and went down to check out some other parts of town, this was our shortest venture yet.  We did end up in a cemetery that held Sam Adams’ grave, Ben Franklin’s parents grave and many other historical notables.  More picture taking ensued.

Cranary Burial Ground

Cranary Burial Ground

We went back to the hotel and packed everything up.  I took down the flowers that I had gotten Jason (because they still looked beautiful) and gave them to the concierge woman who had been so helpful getting us reservations, checking on my ring, and indulging us when we returned from our dinners by listening to our stories of glory.  Once all checked out, we went next door and had lunch.  This was the time we decided to try the Boston Clam Chowdah.  Personally, I thought it tasted like potato soup, good… but nothing memorable.

We hung around there until we decided we could just as easily be hanging out in the airport and not run the risk of being rushed like we were on the way out to Boston.  We had the hotel hail us a taxi and back to the airport we went.

All our airport and flight experiences were relatively mundane and uneventful (as they all should be).  We reminisced about our favorite foods, experiences, sights and moments spent together. I watched the lady next to me crochet until I decided I needed to learn how to do that myself (next goal…)

Sun setting during our flight home

Sun setting during our flight home

We grabbed subway on the way home, got home around 8:30pm and were all unpacked and in bed by 9:30pm.

We were both so happy to be home!  Tyson was one happy husky and the house looked great thanks to my sister watching it and Sarah following up on the back end and helping Tyson through the last night without us.  Without those girls we wouldn’t have been able to relax nearly as much!

Now, back to wedding planning… peanut butter and jelly sandwiches… and saving moolah!!!

Boston Recap: Friday 2/1/13 – The getting there, navigating the one ways, and dining love affairs…

Our trip started off more eventful than we had originally planned because we didn’t quite leave ourselves enough time to calmly make it through check-in, security and to our gate.  Instead we were wide eyed, toes tapping, fidgeting and excessively checking our phones; much like terrorists.  In hind-sight, I’m thankful we weren’t full-body searched or something else that would have surely caused us to miss our flight.  We walked up to the gate literally as it was boarding and were a couple of the last people on the flight.

Our “non-stop” flight had a surprise layover in St Louis.  We wondered why the flight was listed as over 4 hours in length when Boston isn’t that far away as the bird or jet flies.  When we boarded the flight in Milwaukee, we were buckled in and all settled when they announced it was the flight to St Louis, in true movie-fashion we unbuckled, grabbed our stuff and hurtled ourselves to the front of the plane to get off and find out where the hell we were supposed to be.  Turns out, we were on the right flight that was just when we discovered the surprise that was St Louis.

We were originally supposed to stay on the plan during the layover, which is I guess what makes the flight of non-stop in their eyes.  However, we were the only 2 that were continuing on to Boston, so they switched us to another southwest flight at the last minute.  Jason and I were nervous because we didn’t have boarding passes or anything that would signify we should board another plane.  Jason actually stood on the walkway from the plane to the airport and considered not leaving it because he wasn’t “officially off the flight yet”.

We made it to our new gate and luckily were allowed to board first-ish.  Apparently changing someone’s itinerary makes everyone a little nicer to you.  We were fine with the switch as soon as we were buckled into our new flight.  Jason was sure he wasn’t ever going to get his luggage again, especially since his luggage tag (the portion you are supposed to keep in case it gets lost) was in his boarding pass that the lovely laid at the gate threw in the trash.  Add to that our last minute plane change and Jason was having visions of buying new underwear in Boston (just to not lead to any undue stress on the reader’s part… that did not happen and our luggage was safe and sound and waiting for us in Boston when we arrived).

We (and our luggage) arrived right on time and snatched up a taxi to the Hotel.  Note to other travelers… Boston has a lot of 1 way streets.  A lot of horn honking.  Not so much signal usage.  And some middle finger usage.  We were VERY thankful to be delivered to the hotel in 1 piece.  Especially when I noticed the taxi driver’s meter stated he was off-duty.  One too many NCIS episodes ran through my mind and I was imagining all the things in my purse I could gauge the driver’s eyes out with in case he tried to shove me in a trunk.  Luckily, it did not come to that.

After being delivered safe and sound to the Nine Zero hotel, we successfully checked in early and went to our 12th floor room.  We dropped all our stuff off, rubbed the fur throw on the bed and ran next door for lunch at what was now after 2:00pm.  Our bartender at the Beantown Pub (aka next door) was Irish and Bostonian.  This equaled us nodding and smiling a lot and not quite being sure of what we ordered.  1 red wine, 1 miller lite and 2 lunches later (Jason had a cheeseburger and I had “The Beantown” {turkey, cheese, tomato, and pesto}… we were 80% sure we got what we ordered!  The homemade fries here were awesome and didn’t disappoint.  I might dream of those suckers for a while.

Me and Beantown

Me and Beantown

I told anyone who cared to hear it that we had just gotten engaged, yup… Jason was thrilled.  We were thanked in many different aspects and luckily no inappropriate hand gestures.  We were completely entertained by the good people watching that was a Friday afternoon in a Boston Pub.  We met a nice couple, Denise and James from Canada, who were in town to watch Denise’s favorite band “Fun”.  They were playing at the Orpheum Theater (which happened to be a stone’s throw and about 17 skips away from the hotel) and were staying in our hotel as well.  We chatted them up for a while and then decided to do a little exploring before starting our first evening in Boston.

Turns out that February in Boston is cold, just like Wisconsin!  Weird!   We walked about 3 blocks before Jason veered into a thrift shop to buy a sweatshirt.  Being a Pittsburgh Penguins fan through and through, the thought of a Boston sweatshirt made him twitch a little.  He did however settle on a lovely (and more importantly warm) sweatshirt that I am sure will end up in my closet once we are home for a while.  He was reluctantly thankful for the sweater’s warmth.

Once we were a little more appropriately bundled, we threw “Cheers” into the GPS and trotted off to go see it.  Note: It is important to change the GPS settings on your phone from “driving directions” to “walking directions” when you are in a new city with many one way streets… you will inadvertently walk a couple miles out of your way to end up looking at your hotel 1 block away… oops.  The sidewalks were definitely old and what I would comfortably consider “cobbled”.  I’d hate to have to shovel those sidewalks!  We passed by the statehouse (giant building with a gold dome top) and took some pictures in front of it (this will be a consistent theme throughout our trip).

Cheers

Cheers

We finally found cheers and walked down the steps into the door we had seen so many times on TV (reruns for me, I can’t say for sure about Jason… I’m feeling kind today so I’ll say reruns for him also).  The current functioning bar is downstairs and it is very small and underwhelming.  Upstairs is the “set bar” where you can see how it looked when they were filming the show.  That was pretty cool.  There were a lot of pictures and fun stuff in the gift shop and I realized I had completely forgotten some of the people who were on that show (Kirsty Alley).

We walked back to the hotel after cheers and cut through the park (about 1/3 of the time to get back as to get there… lesson quickly learned).  There was a public ice skating pond that was just beautiful.  The trees were all wound with twinkly lights and people were having a great time on the ice.  Thanks to my self-timer… we got a beautiful picture in the park before heading back to the hotel to warm up a bit.

Self-timer magic

Self-timer magic

We got ourselves all shiny and cleaned up and went down for the daily complementary wine hour that the hotel hosts (awesome, I know) from 5:00 – 6:00pm.  We also had the concierge desk there (who were A-MAZ-ING every step of the way) book us a reservation at what would become our favorite restaurant of our trip, Trattoria Il Panino at 7:00pm.  It was “just a short 12 minute walk away”.  This statement would have been true if Jason and I hadn’t been so enjoying ourselves that we passed the street we were looking for… by about a mile.

We turned ourselves around and arrived at the restaurant and were immediately seated in the wine cellar area.  It was so quaint and the service was excellent.  From the moment we were coerced (sounds better than “from the moment we begged”) into a bottle of wine, our glasses weren’t ever more than ½ empty before they were refilled!  Jason had the special of the day which was the filet mignon and it was SO buttery delicious… he was in love.  I had the lobster ravioli with crab meat sauce which was pretty tasty.  The filet put it to shame, but that couldn’t be helped.  We started the whole meal with an appetizer of a mix of boar and duck sausage.  Both were excellent!  And of course bread with oil to dip it in.

In the basement at Tratorria Il Panino

In the basement at Tratorria Il Panino

We were so happy with the food, service, location, music, and of course wine!  We lingered around our table at the end of the night so we could say goodbye to our waiter.  Jason suggested maybe I should hug him so he knew how much we liked dinner, I declined.  He shook both our hands… as we walked out Jason looked a little dazed and said, “I think I almost kissed him”.  Needless to say, we giggled for a good couple blocks about that. We ended up stopping at CVS after dinner and joked (kinda) about getting a giant chocolate heart box for the waiter to show our appreciation (not creepy at all).

We got back to our hotel at what seemed like midnight (it was only 9:00pm) and crashed.  Unconsciousness ensued for 12 hours.

End of day 1 ~ Needless to say… awesome start to an awesome vacation with an awesome travel companion.