Monday, January 25, 2016

I just realized it’s the 25th

For almost the last year and a half the 25th of each month has stood out to me. It was a reminder that another month had passed without my dad in it. Each month the day brought with it flashbacks of that sad and solemn morning on August 25th, 2014 when my mom, siblings, and I surrounded my dad laying in his bed as he silently and calmly passed away. For months I wondered if I would ever get those flashbacks out of my head. If I would ever be able to think about my dad without seeing those final moments play out over and over again.

Just now, I was sitting at my desk at work when I looked down and noticed the date. It’s the 25th. There have now been 17 months without my dad here. I am surprised and grateful to know that time does help the healing process. While I may think of my dad more on this date, it doesn't seem to carry the same black cloud over it that it once did. I’m sure the actual anniversary date will be a different story, but for today, I’m grateful that it just feels like another day.

Instead of thinking about that last morning with my dad I’m going to think about all the times he drove me to deliver papers in the early morning when I was a little kid with a paper route. He would lay the back of his station wagon down and drive slowly around my paper route so I could either throw the papers on the various driveways while sitting on the back of the car or hop on and off if I needed to get closer to the house. He was just the best.

Miss you always Dad. <3 o:p="">

Friday, January 22, 2016

Are we lazy or is it something else...

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this weird sense of pride people have when it comes to working long hours. “I work 92 hours this week.” “I remember the time I didn’t take a vacation day for 3 years straight.” “If you’re not working over 60 hours, you’re not working enough.” Are you kidding me? Why do people think this way?

Here’s the thing, to an extent I can understand this. When I was working in public accounting at one of the Big 4 (PwC) we would have certain times during the year when we were required to have no less than 60 chargeable hours. The key word here is “chargeable”. That doesn’t account for any other hours you may be required to work but can’t bill to a client. For example, meetings (like the weekly ones reminding us we should all be working more hours) required trainings, research projects, demands from the special groups we’ve been strongly suggested to join, etc. All of these hours are on top of those 60 chargeable hours. It would be like this for months. Multiple times a year. And we did it. Over and over again. I even remember feeling this sense of pride when I had more chargeable hours than my fellow associates.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I necessarily enjoyed “busy season”. In fact, I down right hated it and complained plenty to my fellow associates that understood the torture. Besides those gripe sessions, it’s almost like you’re trying to suppress the fact you hate your life. You focus on getting the work done (but not too quickly or else you’ll have to take on even more projects/hours). You remind yourself of all the positive aspects of working for the Big 4. And when all else fails you pray for it to end already.

My first job after leaving the Big 4 was like jumping into a freezing pool in the middle of winter. It woke me up to this whole other reality out there that I’d heard about, but never truly believed in. I never have to track my time? I have no minimum hour requirement (besides, of course, the 40 hour work week)? I can come and go without checking in and out with anybody? I don’t have to stay until my superiors leave? It was amazing! And for a long time the bragging about long hours and the superiority complexes created from all-nighters and skipped vacations were a thing of the past as well. Maybe it was because of the company and people I worked with at that job. Maybe it was because we were in a small town and not a big city. Whatever the reason, when I moved to Dallas I noticed a shift back to this skewed sense of accomplishment.

The most notable example came while I was at a work dinner a few months back. I was with a few colleges at a tax conference in Florida. The conference sponsor took a number of companies out to dinner one night and my coworkers struck up a conversation with head guy who put on the dinner. I still don’t even know how this conversation came about, but suddenly I found myself sitting there listening to them ragging on people 30 and under. Well…. I’m 28. And very uncomfortable. To be fair, I doubt any of them knew my actual age, but it’s safe to say I am considerably younger than all of them. They went on for some time about how this younger wave of employees just can’t handle the long hours and sacrifices like they did/still do. I was so annoyed listening to this conversation. Knowing it would not have been the time or the place to speak up I quietly focus on what food I was most likely picking at at the time and let them continue to rant away.

I can’t and won’t speak for everyone in my age category, because I know there are still a large number that do put in insane hours and skip a lot of personal events due to work. But, I do have some thoughts about this reputation of the “lazy” group.

To be fair, I actually agree with them to an extent. I do think in a number of ways they are right. Yes, we, the younger generation, may not be putting in the same number of hours they did. We may not sacrifice weddings, vacations, having families, etc. in lieu of getting in a few more hours at the office. I’ve determined two main reason for this and neither one has to do with us being lazy.

Side note: I do think there is a large number of young adults who are super lazy. They either want to live off mom and dad forever or are still trying to get rich without putting in any effort at all. These are not the people I’m talking about. I’m talking about the people who put in the effort to get a good education, were able to get a well-paying job after graduating college, and are performing well at that job. So, back to it.

My two factors - #1 more efficient at our jobs & #2 better prioritized lives. I believe it’s those two key items that truly make the difference.

Don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t be able to be either of those things without the generations who came before. I wouldn’t be able to simplify the tax return preparation process using excel without having gleaned knowledge from those who had been doing it by hand for years. But what took them 10 hours to do by hand can now be done in 15 minutes using technology. So why would I spend another 9 hours and 45 minutes twiddling my thumbs?

I worked very briefly at a company who was so behind the times when it came to using technology to improve workflow and minimize the time it took to complete a project. I couldn’t handle it. They were literally making their jobs 20 times harder for no reason except for what I came to believe was a fear of making people change from their old ways. Here’s a hint, if you want to improve a process – start today. Sure, it’s going to be tough for a while, but by delaying the start all your ensuring is that you’ll have more time doing it the hard way and at some point you’re still going to have to go through the struggle of making the changes.

A few thoughts on my other point of better prioritizing our lives. I believe working hard is important. I’ve taken pride in my work ethic and in the work product I deliver. BUT, at the end of the day, I know that doesn’t account for much. Of course I need that paycheck and I’ll always do what it takes to keep that coming in, but work is work and my actual life is and will always be separate from that. I work to afford my life. When I hear stories of these people who have worked insane hours for years and decades on end I feel sorry for them. Sorry for all the fun times their families and friends that they weren’t a part of. Sorry for all the actual life experiences they missed out on. Sorry that they thought it was worth it.

When I think back over my post-college years I have a sense of accomplishment for some of the stressful work situations I’ve made it through. I’m grateful for the way my career has been shaped and where I’m at now. But more than anything I think of all the actual life experiences that have happened since I graduated. These have been some of the best and hardest years of my life. But it is this group of memories, the non-job related memories, which mean the most. And it’s this future group of memories I’m not willing to sacrifice to climb an extra peg up the corporate ladder.

So for me, for now, I’m going to enjoy the view from my current peg. Not because I’m lazy and have no work ethic, but because I know there are things besides this ladder than matter more.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The real reason I started blogging today

Well, the 3rd post is the charm right? I did have a reason for coming back to my blog today and this is it. The following post is something I've worked on for the last week or so. Enjoy!

As my 29th birthday approaches I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year. My life has changed so much in the past 12 months. There were plenty of good times and bad. Memories I’m happy to think about and ones I wish never would have happened. So I thought I’d made a list of some of the most memorable times of my 28th year of life. And in no particular order, except for maybe #1 & #28, here I go. 

1.       Celebrating my 28th birthday by seeing the play Wicked at the Pantages Theater in LA followed by an amazing trip to Tokyo with one of my best friends, Rachelle Gleason. We got so lost our first day/night there trying to figure out the train/subway system. Then we couldn’t find our hotel so we walked around the streets of Tokyo late at night hauling our suitcases with us and trying to find random strangers on the street that actually spoke English well enough to ask for directions to our hotel. That night I learned that what we consider an alley in America is called a street in Tokyo. And when you’re trying to get directions knowing that difference really matters. Other highlights from the trip include how we stuck out like crazy being tall/white/blonde girls, walking more than I’ve ever walked before, how we froze basically the entire time, the night we tried to order pizza from our hotel room and it turned into the funniest and most confusing experience ever, trying out the fancy toilet in our hotel room-that was interesting, the fact our hotel room was basically the size of a closet, the night we found the best Italian restaurant complete with a table of hot Italian guys who helped us decide what to order, how excited we were to actually find the building for church on Sunday, and so many other amazing memories that I hope to never forget!

2.       Beard Burn. Enough said.

3.       Spending the 1 year anniversary of my Dad’s passing away with my family at Huntington Beach. Playing in the water with my siblings (except Joey) and feeling like we were little kids again was so much fun. Sometimes I forget how much I like my siblings until we all get to play around together. J Then ending the day with dinner at Ruby’s Diner on the pier. My Dad would have loved that day.

4.       Getting to see Lola (my lab mix puppy that I had for about 8 months) when I was in Huntington Beach. She totally remembered me and was so excited to see me. I loved seeing her again and seeing how happy she was with her new family.

5.       Being called to serve as Young Women’s President in the Foothills Ward. Such a crazy and insanely hard calling. But I loved/love my YW. I can’t believe we survived Girl’s Camp and getting them ready for Trek. Waking up super early on holidays and weekends to put up flags was brutal, but I was always amazed at the awesome YW & fellow leaders that were willing to make the sacrifice and help us out. As well as the YM/YM leaders that would always come help us too. This calling was easily one of the hardest and best experiences of my life. I really hope to stay in touch with my YW forever!

6.       That time Rachelle Gleason and I took a little roadtrip around Europe hitting 5 countries in I think 4 days. We went to The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and Germany and saw so many amazing things. Some highlights include the bright light that flashed as we were driving to Germany super late at night that ended up being a speeding ticket camera. Realizing that when you ask for water over there they give you sparkling water which can be quite a disgusting shock when you’re anticipating a nice refreshing glass of cold flat water. Seeing a bunch of Native Americans (aka Indians) in the middle of the town square in Bruges, Belgium. Getting stuck in track for 4 hours to go 7 kilometers – I don’t know how we survived that day. Going to church in Holland on Mother’s Day and being treated with such kindness. Making a new friend in Amsterdam that we later saw walking down the street and called out to her like we were from there and actually knew people. Having a Sound of Music moment off the side of the road. Stumbling across a tiny town in Belgium called Dinant where Rachelle (accidentally) bought the grossest chicken nugget and fries sandwich. Also in Dinant, having to try and speak to someone who didn’t really understand/speak English and find a way to explain that the gas station machine won’t accept our cards for some reason, that we’re out of gas, and if she would let us charge her card we’ll give her Euros in exchange. And of course I can’t forget to mention the fact we both flew first class there and back. That experience in and of itself was a game changer!

7.       When I decided to up and move to Dallas, TX. And then finding out I had a friend who was also looking for a change and was going to move there with me. I’m not going to lie, there’s still a decent sized part of me that’s still shocked I actually went through with the move. And now I can’t really even remember how it all happened. I think I just started to feel like I didn’t have much of a future in St. George – I didn’t think my career was ever going to really go anywhere there and there were zero dating opportunities – so what was I sticking around for. In a sense I feel like it all happened so fast but I remember being in those moments after I decided to move but before it was public knowledge and feeling like the process was taking forever. The other interesting thing to note is that early that year, around January to February I had contemplated moving out of St. George. But at that time I didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do and then shortly thereafter I was called as Young Women's President. I think I needed those experiences before I was ready to leave St. George. I honestly thought it was going to be harder to leave St. George than it has been. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely things I miss. I miss my babies! I have always had an extremely close bond with my sister’s 6 kids. I've spent so much time with those kids and they have been such a huge part of my life. It was so hard leaving them knowing that the distance will change our relationship and I’ll no longer be the aunt that’s always around and a major part of their lives. All I can say is thank goodness for Facetime. Of course there are other things I miss too – my house, knowing my job/company so well that it was like second nature, the good group of friends I developed my last year or so in St. George, my Young Women & friends I made in that ward, and being so close to most of my family – especially my sister with our sister lunches and swimming Saturdays. But overall I feel like I knew Dallas was the right move so why look backwards. I’m really happy here and just look forward to what the future has in store.   

8.       How my financial situation completely changed this year. I made really stupid financial decisions for a lot of years that really haunted me. I had a ton credit card debt, student loans, a car loan, and a mortgage. Thanks to the money I made from selling my home, quitting my job and then being financially incentivized to stay on an extra 3 weeks, and moving to a new city where I make more money I have been able to pay off all my debt except a bit of student loan debt. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it is to get out from behind credit card debt. I fully understand why Prophets and Apostles have warned against it for so long. Life is so much freer and more enjoyable when you don’t have that stress always looming. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no money-bags now, but I have a few more options and that is a great thing. Now I just look forward to having all of my student loans paid off one day and being completely debt free. Except I'm hoping to buy a house later this year, but I'm ok with that debt. It doesn't count.

9.       How it took me less than 24 hours to sell my house. And it went to a family who that house was made (and modified) for. I loved my house and even now as I look at the idea of buying again it’s hard to find one that has so many awesome features like my house in St. George had. I don’t know how I’m going to top my old kitchen. Granted my first house was far from perfect, but I really did love that house. It was perfect for me during those 2.5 years I owned it.

10.   When I started the job search in Dallas and ended up with 3 job offers – 1) Mary Kay Cosmetics in their international tax group, 2) Caliber Home Loans as they create a tax group and move from outsourcing all the tax filings to bringing it all in-house, & 3) American Airlines in their corporate income tax group. I was so overwhelmed and grateful to have so many offers. It was such a stressful time trying to juggle all the moving parts, but it was a great struggle to have.

11.   Switching jobs from American Airlines to Caliber Home Loans. From the beginning I knew I really liked the people at Caliber. It was definitely the best set of interviews and an environment I knew I would enjoy working in, but I couldn’t get American Airlines out of my head. I love to fly and travel and I really think that was one of the biggest factors for me choosing to go with American. Even during my in-person interview with American my thoughts were screaming (not even exaggerating) that I needed to pick Caliber. But over the next few days I had talked myself into American. My thoughts kept coming back to the same thing. I know the industry. I can still travel for free. It’ll be great I thought. Except it wasn’t. The people were nice enough. The work was somewhat similar. But from the end of the first week it didn’t feel right. The easiest (and I guess most dramatic) way to describe it was that I felt like I was dying inside a little each day as I went into work. I wasn’t challenged. I wasn’t excited by the work. I went from having so many responsibilities and duties at SkyWest to being bored out of my mind at American. And I hated that. By week two of being at American I found myself staring at my cell phone wishing to get a call from Caliber saying they were still interested in me. I wasn’t sure why I kept thinking that. I felt like they were crazy thoughts, because at that point I had told Caliber no the first time, then a few weeks later they came back and asked me if I was sure about my decision at which point I told them no again. So why would they give me a third chance. However that same thought and staring contest with my cell phone happened a number of times over the next few weeks. Then one day I got the call. They were still interested and even though they thought it was pointless to ask me again – they did. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I knew this was my way out of a situation I knew wasn’t right for me. Within a week of the call from Caliber I’d given notice at American and was looking forward to starting at Caliber. I still can’t believe how it all worked out, but I’m so grateful for the do-over. 

12.   I got strep throat for the first time this year. That wasn’t great, but it was memorable and 28 things is a lot to come up with. So that counts.

13.   I had to say goodbye to Leni & Fritz when I left St. George. I still wish I would have brought them with me. In hindsight it was stupid that I didn’t bring them and I have a lot of frustrations about the reasons I decided to leave them behind. If I had it to do over again I would have brought both of them with me without a moment’s hesitation. L I think about getting more cats in the future but it just makes me kind of sad thinking about it. I don't want more cats, I want Leni & Fritz.

14.   I discovered NexGen dip powder and my nails have never been the same. J I get so many compliments on my nails since using dip powder. I got my own set of NexGen dip powder stuff for Christmas and have done them on myself now twice. It’s definitely a process that takes time to get better at, but I like being able to do my own nails!

15.   I got my first Brazilian Blowout on my hair this year. Talk about game changer. I anticipate years and years of Brazilian Blowouts in my future. I finally got to see what having straight hair was like. Being able to get out of the shower and within 10-15 minutes having perfectly dry and straight hair was amazing. (I say “was” because at this point it needs to be done again and isn’t really working any more. I need to find a good salon in Dallas that does them ASAP!)

16.   I cooked my first turkey! It tasted just like my Dad’s turkey used to taste. It was so good and actually really easy to do. It felt like a little bit of my Dad was back with us for Christmas dinner that night and that made me really happy.

17.   I had my 5 year anniversary from when I went through the temple for the first time. It’s always great being able to mark that anniversary with a special trip to the temple and this year I took my Mom and sister with me which was nice.

18.   I got my very first set of rim on my car. It made me feel very grown up until a girl I worked with at American said only drug dealers have rims on their cars. haha. Oh well, I still love them.

19.   I did a 30 day ab challenge with Rachelle Gleason. It was so hard and by the end it took so much time just to get through the exercises for that day. But I did get a lot much stronger than I was when I started. Too bad I didn’t keep doing it because I’m pretty sure I lost whatever strength I had gained that month.

20.   I became an annual member of the Dallas Zoo which led to one of the most exciting moments of my year….. I pet a giraffe!! Multiple times even. And when I went back to the zoo a month or so later I swear the same giraffe came over by me again and let me pet him some more. The zoo also offers this overnight adventure thing and I totally want to do that at some point. How rad would that be?!

21.   I bought my first pair of cowgirl boots. I’m in Texas – I kind of have to right? If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of boots in general, but as far as boots go I think my cowgirl boots are pretty cool. The night I bought them I wore them to the rodeo at the Stockyards in Fort Worth. It was great. I felt right at home. Ok, not really. I felt like a huge poser. But it was fun and so why not! Sidenote, I had so much fun at the rodeo! I could seriously go back again and again. I think I might be a secret cowgirl.

22.   I got my first crockpot this year and I see big things in my future. So far I’ve used it twice and the chicken was delicious! And I’ve got some big plans for BBQ pulled pork this Sunday. We'll see how it goes...

23.   I went to Lake Powell for the first time this year. My friends Jaimie Cook, Trisha Wilson, and I did a quick one-night campout at Lake Powell during the summer. It was a lot of fun although there was a torrential downpour while we were there that pretty much ruined out lay out and swim day. That’s ok, it was still fun.

24.   While I was still working at American Airlines I was able to go to a tax software conference in Florida. Disclaimer: this was before I had any clue I would be quitting the next week, so it’s not like I went with the intention of wasting their money on me. Anyways, it was my first time in Florida so that was pretty cool. I got to see little alligators in a pond at the hotel. And the conference even rented out part of Universal Studios Theme Park for us so I got to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Theme Park. Unfortunately they didn’t have Hogsmeade (the “muggle” side) rented out for us, but I did get to go down Diagon Alley (the wizard side) and that part was pretty awesome! I even tried my first butter bear... it wasn't great. I definitely want to go back and see the rest!

25.   I didn’t decorate at all for Christmas this year (or Halloween either for that matter). It was super lame. After the last few years of decorating my whole house, even putting up the lights on the outside, this year felt strange. I think it’s because I’m renting now and I honestly haven’t even unpacked all of my stuff yet. I think that’s partly because I know my time in my current place is limited and where I have a roommate now I don’t want to go through the hassle of checking to see what decorations she would be fine with and which ones she wouldn’t. She may not care at all, but it’s easier to just not do any of it. I’ll have plenty of time in the future to go crazy decorating my future homes.

26.   True Confession… I’ve created 4 additional Instagram accounts this year bringing my total to 5. I know, it’s ridiculous. But they each have a different purpose related to separate Chatbooks I wanted to create. My 1st one is the main account I’ve had for years. This has all the fun/normal pictures I’m fine with anyone seeing. And for a long time this one was all I needed. Then I found myself caring more and more about how many “likes” my pictures got and being kind of bummed when they didn’t get very many. And I hated that I cared about that. So, I decided to create another account (#2) that only my Mom and sister Amber know about. This account is where I post ugly pictures of myself that I think are funny but only for a limited viewing audience. I’ll also post a bunch of similar pictures here that I want to document but don’t want to blow up my main account with. The good thing about this private account is that I never care about how many likes I get. At most I’ll get two and if I don’t get any then oh well. The next account (#3) is just for funny posts. Some might be slightly inappropriate, but they made me laugh and by posting it here I’ll end up with a Chatbook full of things that I think are funny and will be good for a laugh. Then I created an account (#4) for just spiritual posts. I thought it’d be nice to have a place I can collect those as well, so that’s what that account is for. And lastly, my latest account (#5) is an account I created just for 2016. I decided I would post one selfie pic a day for every day in 2016. I thought it would be a fun way to look back on this year and see how I’ve changed from day to day. I don’t do cute smiley pics every day, but I do something that shows my face at least and includes a caption that describes at least a little bit of something I did that day. I’m only a few weeks in and I already find it weird taking daily pictures of myself (and this is coming from a picture whore) so it may be a long year, but I still think the idea is cool.

27.   I found the best movie theater ever. It’s near my house in Flower Mound, Texas and what makes it so great is that your seat is a full lazy boy recliner that literally reclines all the way back. It’s amazing! Oh, and did I mention they have a full menu that you can order food, drinks, and treats from and then servers come and bring you whatever you order while you’re sitting there in your lazy boy. And the drinks come with free refills. You just push a button to get the waiter’s attention and they’ll bring you whatever you want. It’s awesome.

28.   I’ve decided now that I don’t fly for free I need to start taking roadtrips. There are a ton of awesome locations not too far away from Dallas in surrounding states that’d I’d love to visit. So although I’ve come up with this plan this year while I’m 28 I’m hoping to execute this plan in the coming years when I’m 29 and older. That still counts for this list right?


And with that, my yearend wrap-up is complete. I’m sure there’s a million other amazing things I’ve forgotten, but I’m sure those things can be found in one of my many Instagram accounts.  :P
Now let's just hope nothing crazy happens in these last two weeks of my 28th year that I'll regret not having on this list. I guess I could always do an addendum post right? Ok, maybe I've listed to too many Undisclosed Podcasts. :)
Bring on 29!


You learn something new every day...

Did you know you can see how many times your blog has been viewed? Well I didn't until approximately 2 minutes ago. Man, I must be obsessed with myself to have clicked into my blog that many times. :) Anyways, fun fact.

I'm still here...

Hello? Anyone still out there? I'm more than a little surprised this blog is still around. I would have thought they inactivated these things at some point. So, BlogSpot's lack of cleaning house is your gain. (And by "your" I mean "future me", because I feel like people don't read blogs anymore that aren't about fashion, food, or baby stuff giveaways.)

Since my last blog post more than I care to rehash has happened. I will briefly mention 2 of the biggest things to happen since my last post, but that's it. #1 My dad passed away on August 25, 2014. It sucked. It still sucks. And I miss him every day. #2 I moved to Dallas in September/October 2015. It's been awesome. I love it here. And I have no plans of leaving any time soon. 

There, now you are up to date.

Welcome to 2016!