Sadness and Happiness; Bad News and New Beginnings

run dwarfsI know I’ve been quiet lately. I’ve been dealing with things.

At the end of May my insurance denied continued no-fault benefits from being rear ended back in March.  I am angry, frustrated, mad, sad, piss-off. I got depressed; I went in to a injuryfunk.

Just 4 days prior my ortho had just said that we would keep up the PT and Med Massage while allowing me to pick up my other fitness activities (kickboxing, full body circuit training, pilates, ect) because I was starting to feel better finally. I was starting to feel myself again, at least fitness wise. I was ready, eager, antsy, to get moving in my training.

Then the letter came.  DENIED.

I tried running.  I tried to move forward with beginning my full body training again.  But it didn’t go smoothly.  After two weeks, my neck was hurting, I was in pain again. At times it felt as bad as it did those first 9 days!

I discovered that I could not carry my laptop on my right shoulder (I am a righty). I discovered that even carrying a backpack on both shoulders would be uncomfortable a lot quicker than normal.  I could barely put a plate full of food in the microwave without it twinging.  Heck, taking off my sports bra one night left me tears again.

I found a temporary solution to allow me to run further than 1.5 miles at a time, but its just that, a temporary solution, a stop gap if you will, because I DO NOT want to have to wear KT Tape or Rock Tape on my neck for the rest of my life.

It really is a life saver the tape.  I will keep it on for 3-4 days at at time which allows me to not just run almost pain free, but do some every day tasks as well.

It is quite a timely find as on top of that noticed being received, I started going through an interview process for a new job.  This is a job I had found online, asked my brother-in-law to see if he could pass my resume along through HR (he works for a branch of the same company).

Well, he went on a vacation before he could find a way to pass it along. While I was dr suesswaiting for him, an HR Recruiter found me on LinkedIn and 5 weeks later I started with that company!  This is a full time meeting planner job (get ready for a lot of #lifeofameetingplanner hastags on my instagram and twitter!) remotely employment.

This is still helpful in dealing with recovery as I have the ability to move to the couch from the table when my neck is bothering me to much.  However, it also means a bunch more travel (something I am THRILLED about), but as I recently discovered from some travel – both business and personal – I have taken recently, I cannot carry anything heavy on my right side.  I won’t even be able to put any bag in the overhead bin.

But that aside, for the first time in a long time, I look forward to monday again. I am so excited where this job will take me.  Professionally –  I hope to grow more as a meeting planner, hopefully roam throughout the company, expand on meeting types I excel at, AND around the world to feed my travel addictions to see everything.

As a runner, I hope to be able to extend a trip here and there and run a race wherever I am, domestically and internationally (side note, anyone know where I can search races internationally?).

I hope your Monday is shining bright!!
Dream Sparkle Shine

Why Exercising Is a Higher Priority Than My Career

Truth! Schedule your workouts like you schedule a meeting, you are less likely to skip the workout out if its written down at a particular time, maybe even a particular workout!

TIME

There’s a prevalent attitude among entrepreneurs that the business, whatever that business is, comes first. It is the high priority that trumps everything else, including family, friends and especially health.

I’ve seen entrepreneurs sacrifice all these things, sometimes with tragic consequences, to focus on making their businesses successful. I’ve also done it myself, although I’m one of the lucky ones. During the years I made my business my highest priority, my wife stuck by my side, I didn’t cause any permanent damage with friendships (although I certainly didn’t nurture any) and I didn’t die.

[newsletter-the-brief]

It’s not greed that motivates us entrepreneurs. It would be difficult to justify the sacrifices we make if the only reward were money. Dollars become mere points in a sort of game. What it’s really about is building something great, doing something that matters and changing the world. That’s what makes it so easy to…

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Finding My Fitness Self Again

endorphinsAs some of you are aware, on March 1, 2015 I was rear ended during a quick, but horrible, snow storm.  The snow came down fast and furious.  It left the roads slick, slushy and dangerous.

Immediately upon impact I realized my neck was bothering me.  We plied me full of advil when I came home thus not requiring a hospital visit, but definitely requiring a visit the friendly orthopedist. At this visit, he informed me I had a sprained neck muscle along with the normal whiplash. Of course, my first concern about hearing this was whether he thought I’d be in OK condition to run the NYC Half two weeks later. (I’ll be honest, from the moment of impact, running this race was my second biggest concern – first, of course being, how seriously injured was I).

Anyway, a week and a half later, he informed me if I felt up to it, while taking proper pre-cautions, I should be able to run this race. He actually advised that aerobic exercise was good for healing injured muscles.

Well, since the accident, that race, plus two more plus a small handful of other days, totaling maybe 10 in all is the complete amount of working/exercises/fitness I have achieved.

I am frustrated because I have gained weight.
I am frustrated because when I cannot do full body strength training.
I am frustrated because my only attempt at the bike at the gym left my one neck muscle feeling sore and fatigued.
I am frustrated because fitness was something that, in the past two years since I have become absorbed in to the running/fitness community, has brought me great happiness.

I was feeling good about myself, about my habits, about my goals. I was happy with my progress. And pretty much, it came to a grinding halt.

Well, after a talk with the wonderful woman who is giving me medical massages (yes they are a thing, and they are amazing) I finally have put a plan in place to work my way up to where I was before the injury.

20-minute-workoutI realized that any movement is better than none. That stopping entirely is not the best way to help push my healing along, I just have to work in modifications and moderations.

Sunday I mentally put a plan in place. A place I felt comfortable with and confident in.
I am ok working out for 30 minutes, even if its low-intensity, because 30 minutes is better then sitting on the couch all day.

Now I just need to  back to 100% health so I can resume my complete rotation: running, full body circuit training with my trainer, kickboxing, pilates…..

Plan and simple, I miss it. I took my skipped workouts for granted because those were my choices, this is not, this is frustrating, aggravating, annoying and maddening.

Lesson here: never take a workout for granted.  don't take for granted

Balance Act – Work & Travel

open roadAs I mentioned last week, I am lucky enough to work remotely.

But given that freedom, I am hesitant to use it to the full joys of virtual employment.

So far I have been able to work remotely locally, or on weekend trips to visit friends in Maryland.

I am nervous to test the limits of just how remote I can work. It stems from my lack of knowledge on available Wifi elsewhere.  I know that, through my cable provider here on Long Island, that I can access Wifi from almost everywhere.

I can go to the boardwalk or a local park and do work, but can I go to any of the 20 or so states I have not yet visited, easily access Wifi and successfully complete my work for the day?

I need to jump out of my comfort zone, just pack a bag, pack a car and hit the road right?

What are you favorite American Road Trips or Travel Destinations?

American Vacation Policy Fails Again

travel is the only thing

I am a traveler. I also have a full time job as a meeting/event planner.  I am a bit of a workaholic.  I love what I do. I also love to travel.

There has been many a discussion regarding how infrequently American’s travel. How we work to much and lose money each year by not taking those 2 weeks of vacation the corporate world has allowed us to earn..  There is even a  MasterCard commercial about it!

What I have figured out is that it is hard to take a proper vacation with only 10 vacation days allotted to us each year.  Relaxing vacations to a beach location can yes happily occur with only 10 vacation days a year. But a true trip, the ability to actually see and explore the vastness that is Planet Earth – 10 days per year is definitely not enough.

I am single, I have no children, very little over head and bills I pay off each month. I can afford to travel.  I NEED to travel. Yet I run up against a vacation policy that isn’t very forgiving when it comes to grand trips, experiences, adventures.

In the past 8 years, I have spent 2 weeks in Italy, 2 weeks in China, and 2 weeks in South Africa.  At the time of each trip, I was freelancing.  I worked as an independent contractor for meeting & event planning companies. I may have ‘lost’ money by taking each trip because I wasn’t working as a salaried employee, so I was not given paid time off (PTO). In the long run, I am ok with that, I gained so much more by the experiences I had, the things I saw, the things I ate, the people I met, the world I ventured in to.

However, in addition to those trips, since I was freelancing and working remotely at the time, I was able to take a few other shorter trips throughout the year: a long weekend in Maryland, a long weekend in Las Vegas, wherever I wanted to go I was able to. I could easily take my work with me.  However, had I been working full time and not freelancing, I most likely would not been able to do that as I would have used up all 10 of my days.

We are an overworked society that places to much emphasis on learning and working then on experiencing the world, or even our own country.  Case in point, if you haven’t already seen the letter floating around social media from the father back to the school principal regarding his children’s “unexcused” absences so the father could run the Boston Marathon! (Yes, there is not scandal within the running community as he may not have legitimately qualified for the Boston Marathon)

American’s have falsely been labeled as non-travelers.  This is probably because it has been said how few passports American’s as a whole actually hold.  A 2011 article on CNN informs that only 30% of all American’s hold a passport.  I can believe this number.

Truth be told, our country is a phenomenal one.  The amount of things to see and experience are astounding.  Each state has its own historical value to showcase, even if it is not as historically long as many other countries around the world; each state, each city in America has it’s own historical flare.

IMAG3027We have our National Park system, we have various national landmarks or monuments scattered around the country.  There is plenty to see domestically, but we just do not put a priority on see it all, we put the priority on working long hours, on making more money then your neighbor.

To push that point home even more, according to an article in the Atlantic (The Only Advanced Country Without National Vacation Policy? It’s the US), America practically the only developed country that does not have laws in place requiring a certain amount of paid time off per year.

Every time I travel, I run in to folks from countries with amazing vacation policies thus allowing their citizens to take a two weeks grand trip somewhere and still have vacation days left over for shorter trips somewhere else!

There are now some companies that are giving unlimited PTO.  This can be a double edge treat. To me this can mean the work is going to so continuous that the employee will not actually get to use their unlimited PTO?

Why do we put so little value on traveling and vacationing while the rest of the world is always out there seeing it all?  Is it because back in day when the country started there was a bit of an isolationist mentality? Is it because of how high a premium we put on making/having money?

This article on CNN, Why is American the ‘No-Vacation’ Nation?, puts everything in to nice little boxes of why we don’t do it and why the rest of the world embraces it.  A large part has to do with our limited vacation time compared to countries like German or New Zealand who are given 6 weeks vacation a year, from day 1 at the job.  This is in addition to the national holidays they are given.

How did our super advanced, democratic championed nation lose the focus of how important vacation and travel is.  Now only in terms of relaxing and decompressing, but for those with children, for educational purposes, for learning about other cultures, other historys, other lands.

As I noted in the image above, Travel is the only you BUY that makes in RICHER in the end.

What are you next big trips planned?
I’m working in either a Mediterranean Cruise, Iceland, Peru, some good old American Road trips…I just can’t decide, and I’m not sure I have enough PTO to handle all of that (even though I do work remotely, and wouldn’t mind working while away, to a certain extent, I still want to SEE the places I venture to!)

How to Successfully Work Remotely

work from homeI am one of the lucky ones – I work from home nearly 95% of the time.  I have a full time job for a small company that has embraced the ease at which employees have the ability to work from almost anywhere. 

Yes, I’ll admit there are a number of industries in which remote work is not feasible, but there are more in which it is.  There is a growing number of virtual or remote workers in our country.  Technology today has made working remotely extremely easy.  

Flexjobs.com has explained a bit more all the different types of remote work or remote employee and how each can be achieved in this article.

For me, I love getting back the nearly 2.5-3 hours a day I would spend commuting. I love being able to sleep until I wake up instead of waking up to the buzzing alarm.  I like being able to roll out of bed in to gym clothes, sit at my laptop and start working. I like being able to go for a short run at lunch time without having to worry about how sweaty I am afterwards. I love not having a manager directly over my shoulder, yet having them know I am accessible to them almost any time they need me.

I have worked remotely on and off for the better part of the past 7 years.  I have mastered the art of flexible scheduling, of time management, of prioritizing.  Yet, many employers still do not believe in remote work or flex schedules.  That is probably my biggest issue since going back to work full time from freelancing – the lack of flexibility within the work day.

I am able to easily, most days, overcome the lack of flexibility due to always being connected.  I receive my emails on my cell phone so regardless of where I am I can see if something has come in.  If I bring my laptop with me wherever I go, I can usually access and respond to any email that comes over the wire.  This is the true meaning of working remotely – not being tied down to one place, one desk, one office, one room.

This is where being a workaholic comes in handy.  I don’t let work drive me, but I do make myself available when emails that require responses come in.  I pay attention during 9-5, obviously I do the majority of my work during that time, but as a workaholic who has perfected the art of remote work, I also know that sometimes life takes over.

Sometimes you have a doctor’s appointment during your lunch hour, but end up waiting nearly an hour before even being called to the back, thus you have gone over your lunch hour. Well, as a remote employee, that doesn’t affect me all to often. I don’t have an office to be back at, my office is wherever I am located. I have answered calls or responded to emails from the waiting room, or even the patient room while still waiting for the doctor.

There has been much discussion over how American’s are obsessed with work, how the typical 9-5, 40 hour work week no longer exists (as noted in this article by Kevin Mercadante).  Yes, it’s true, many people are now working early in the morning or late at night, sometimes both in one day.  There are even people out there who simply refuse to take their work home, instead staying late at the office just to finish a task. To me that is a dis-service to your family, your friends, your work/life balance.

Now my industry has never been a 9-5 industry. We work with vendors, contractors, attendees who are sometimes located across the country. Some even based internationally. I have been known to take my laptop to dinner with me if I am waiting on emails, or if I am working a program with vendors/clients in multiple timezones or pressing deadlines.  My friends understand. I delegate my time so I can do it all, I am less stressed this way because I don’t feel as though I am letting something lag.

Personally, it bothers me, concerns me even, when employers would rather have their employees stay late hours instead of taking their work home with them. Or if they know a project will require long hours, why not let them split time, do half days in the office with the rest at home.  This will keep their employees happier, less stressed, more free.

Just check out this article on Forbes.com: Top 10 Benefits of Working From Home.  For me personally, my top reasons for LOVING remote work are: More me time, less commuting time, higher productivity, more flexibility. Of course there are the perks: I can travel a bit while still working because, let’s face, as long as there is a Starbucks nearby, I can get on Wifi from anywhere!

Would you rather work remotely or work from a dedicated office building?

Another Wonderful Maryland Weekend (Friends & ADPi)

IMAG3034This past weekend my sorority at the University of Maryland College Park celebrated its 75th anniversary on campus!  Big deal right?  Many of us thought so as we arranged our schedules to attend the reunion/celebration.
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IMG_20150423_091246I started by heading down on Wednesday so I could visit with some of my friends from my time living down there.  I left around 6:00am, just as the sun was rising.

The drive down wasn’t to bad, until I approached exit 32 on the I-95 approach to the DC Beltway. From there it took me nearly an hour to drive something that with little to no traffic should have taken me about 20-25 minutes.  Needless to say, my lack of patience with traffic for no reason rear its ugly head and I started yelling for no reason. Not my finest moment – but I had already been in my car driving for nearly 4 hours, I was done.

The day went by rather smoothly, until I went to move car for the third time (damn 2-hour parking limits by my friends apartment). I discovered a ticket on my car!  I was so mad, I mean, I went out every 2 hours to move my car all day, yet I still got a ticket.  Turns out they have zoned the entire street the same zone. I kept moving my car within the same zone.  I did not see any of these zone signs, only the time limit signs. Also, this was the only street that had ANY spots on it. I drove around 15 minutes at one point to no avail.  Stupid.

I did get a pretty picture of some blossoming trees.  Something we are sorely missing up here on Long Island.  This cold winter has lingered so much a majority of our trees have not yet bloomed. So much for a pretty spring (though my allergies are content).
IMG_20150423_160009Wednesday night my friends and I went to one of the bars in Bethesda so I could happily watch the Rangers take game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Thursday was more of the same, some relaxing, some working, just enjoying being in Maryland.  That night we did a girls dinner.  This was a monthly tradition a few of us started a little more than 3 years ago.  It has since fallen to whenever we can make it happen (frequently when I manage to visit) as life has gotten in the way. But it was great to see my girls again. We were missing a couple, but a good gathering none the less.

I voted to go to one of my favorite little Pizza joints in Bethesda, Mia’s Pizza (check the menu here).  They have a nice assorted of Italian flare, mostly your basics with some culinary additions to spice up the dishes a bit and test our your taste buds.  I tend to stick with the Magherita Pizza (I do have food allergies after all) and I love it.  There was some pizzas ordered, one pasta dish and one eggplant dish ordered and everyone left satisfied.

From there it was on to poker night with some more local friends where I discovered my poker skill are still strong as ever!  This pleased me as I haven’t played poker since November.

IMAG3026Friday the weekend really started.  It was time for REUNION weekend to begin. My friend and I drove up to Baltimore to meet some of our ADPi girls for a quiet dinner.  My friend who lives in Baltimore, and it a bit of a foodie located a lovely restaurant for us.  Bond Street Social is located right on the water, has ample seating inside and when its warmer, a good deal of outdoor seating as well.  I reviewed the menu prior, thought I’d be fine, turns out it was more difficult to find a meal then I anticipated, but in the end they catered to my allergy. I was a wonderful Whole-Wheat Pasta with pan-seared steak and asparagus. It was delicious.

The next morning we went up to the Hampden area for brunch at an adorable place called Woodbury Kitchen.  Very rustic feeling when you enter the place.  Probably because the area around there reminded me a steel or paper mill that is being converted in to condos.  I loved the feel of the street it was on.  Not a very large menu, but definitely something for even the picky eaters.  Again, the food was wonderful and everyone left satified.

We then walked around Hampden for a bit.  A very hipster area. Reminded me of parts of Brooklyn.

From there it was back to DC to prep for the party at the Samuel Riggs Alumni center on campus. It was starting to rain when we arrived at the party, but that didn’t dampen any Sam Pre -Partyspirits. It was TERRIFIC to see so many old friends. So many friends who shaped a probably the best 4 years of my life.

We chatted, we took to many pictures to count, we caught up on lives beyond what is posted on FB, we reminisced, we questioned what was going on with those who weren’t there.  In a way it felt like we were going to just another sorority formal, getting all dressed up, taking pictures.

Of course we had to venture down to Route 1 to hit up two of the bars that still remain from our days in college park!  A little stop at RJ Bentleys, a pop over to Cornerstone.  We even talked (joked?) about going back to the house to make late night nachos!

I finally got back to my friends and passed out around 1:00am only to wake at 7:00am for no reason.  I didn’t have to be back in College Park until 11! But I was equally as excited to go back and see the brand new ADPi house. Nothing is as it was 13 years ago when I left it. I IMAG3040knew they had gutted and re-did the house, it looks wonderful, it’s just not the house I spent 3 fabulous years living in.  But we did find the scrapbook from the year we first pledge ADPi, what a laugh we had looking back through it!

While we were at the house we had the pleasure of meeting a sister who joined back in the early 1950s!  She was so excited to be there, to talk to everyone. She even donated a plate she received at the Centennial celebration for ADPi back in 1951! Talk about memorabilia.  She reminded us how special the bond of sorority sisterhood is.

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We toured the new house, explained to some of the newer sisters what it looked like beforehand. The bathrooms in the center of each hallway, we  had some quads not just doubles and triples. It looks nicer, but so different. I think I would have been equally as happy living in this house as I was living in ours, but I would have missed my time in the CLUB 1-5 Quad!

I have a cousin who is in a sorority at college park now, I see some of her pictures with these big wooden letters and I have always thought those who have been fun to have when were in school.  Well, I finally got some pictures with some big wooden ADPi letters! I was happy 🙂
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I did make it up to campus for just a bit.  Went to the bookstore to get myself some new gear, and something for the nephew (have to start brainwashing him now!).  I even got to see Testudo and Kermit while up there.
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Until next time College Park!
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