Thursday, September 11, 2014

gratitude: day seven

i think it's no surprise that day seven of my gratitude challenge lands on a day on which i typically have trouble finding anything to be grateful for at all. i don't believe in coincidences. i think this is a message from someone special to me who the world lost 13 years ago today. he's telling me to stay positive and fight hard, the way he did when he was my basketball coach when i was 12.

today i am grateful for this gratitude challenge. i'm grateful for the reminder to find things to be grateful for, even on a momentously sad day like september 11.

i am grateful for the things in my life that still remind me of randy on a regular basis: seeing someone on the street who looks like him, spending time with his wife and daughters (which i don't do often), looking up at the freedom tower while walking around new york. last weekend, my first round of golf ever in my life was played at the course where my dad and randy's other friends donated a bench in his honor. i am grateful i finally got to see it and play the hole he loved so much. and when my dad stepped up to tee off on that hole, he drove his ball straight into a lake. "that's randy just saying hi, letting you know he's still here with you," i said.

i am grateful for everyone who reached out to me today, and every september 11 in years past. thank you for your kind words, texts, emails and calls. sometimes they make me even more sad. they make it feel more real in some way. sometimes i don't know how to react or reply to people who are doing the only thing they know how to make me feel loved and supported. so i just say thank you.

lastly, i am grateful to have known randy, even for such a short time. he was taken from this world too soon, but i'm so lucky that he had such a big impact on me and my family while he was alive. i'm lucky i got to hear his laugh and hear his booming voice cheering for me as i played field hockey in high school. his loss left a hole in so many lives and hearts. not a day goes by that i don't feel his loss, but today it is palpable.

my thoughts and prayers are with all those who perished 13 years ago today, their families, their friends and their communities. we can never forget because our lives will never be the same.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

gratitude: day six

today i'm thinking of people who helped me as i struggled through challenging and difficult times in my life. so, today i'm grateful for:
  • my business school learning teammates, john, ari, olga and jay: we were a motley crew of business school students but somehow we made it work, we all got along and no one failed out. seriously, though, i credit these four people with the fact that i didn't flunk out or give up my first semester of business school -- it was that tough. but these four are among my favorite people. global pants pride!
  • my roommates from 20i: in my last apartment before i moved in with shawn, i was lucky enough to find friendship, support and fun at a time in my life when i really needed all of that. i'm so grateful to melanie, marisa and michelle for collectively being the best three roommates a girl could ask for.
  • my therapist: since starting to see her in 2011, my therapist aleyda has become a rock in my life. i attribute my mental well-being to her, as well as the reason i am in such a functional relationship with shawn today. she also has told me from day one that practicing gratitude can help improve your attitude towards yourself and your world, and i couldn't agree with her more.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

gratitude: day five

all the things i've listed in the past four days have been things i'm genuinely grateful for every day. i'm surprised i keep finding new things to be grateful for, but of course i continue to be grateful for everything i've already listed on a regular basis, too! i'm overwhelmed by the many blessings i have in my life that i want to give thanks for. i now see that that's the whole point of this gratitude challenge.

today i'm grateful for:
  • my walk to work: i'm happy not to be a slave to the subway, at least for the foreseeable future. walking 30 minutes a day is a blessing when the weather is as nice as its been the past couple days and i get some time to think or make phone calls. getting out in the city and walking around has also made me feel more healthy, and i've been walking a few extra blocks out of my way every morning to get a healthy smoothie for breakfast every morning!
  • d is for doggy doggie daycare: shawn and i have been so lucky to find such a caring place to bring ginger a couple times a week for daycare. it's close to our apartment, the people love ginger, she loves being there and, best of all, they have a video feed that allows me to watch ginger during the day when she's there! its perfect for a neurotic loving doggie mama like me.
  • my cousin, bri: since she's also doing this gratitude challenge, bri wrote something really sweet about me today, so i thought i would return the favor. i am grateful for her love and friendship every day of my life! she is an amazing, genuine person and an incredible mom. she has been such a pillar of strength for her sisters and family, even as she's dealt with her own share of adversity, challenges and tragedy. i want to emulate her calm and laid back attitude, and look half as gorgeous as she does. i don't have any sisters, but she is the closest thing i have, and i am so grateful that our moms were close so that we had the opportunity to spend so much of our childhood together. and now that we're both grown up, i am so sad i don't get to see more of her. that's yet another goal i have for myself in the coming you brini!

Monday, September 8, 2014

gratitude: day four

today it struck me, out of the blue, that 10 years ago i was just starting my senior year of college! the tenth anniversary of my college graduation is just nine months away!

fall brings back so many memories, good and bad. because fall marks the start of school, it always seems like fall is the season of new beginnings. i graduated from high school and moved to boston to go to college 13 years ago; september 11 happened 13 years ago this Thursday; life changed for me and my family and it will never be the same again. the fall is also the time of year that my mother's father passed away, 10 years ago, and my father's mother, 6 years ago today. yet three years ago, i applied for business school in the fall, and two years ago i started at columbia. last year in late summer, i married shawn, and our young marriage started after we returned from our honeymoon on labor day weekend. so, my relationship with fall is a complicated one.

with all these memories and milestones swirling around in my head, here is what i am grateful for today:

  • my grandmother, josephine ernst, who passed away 6 years ago today. whenever something big and important happens in my life i still feel a sense of loss because i'm not able to call her up and tell her about it. i missed her so much at my wedding and when i was going through all the planning -- she would have loved it all so much. i also miss her cooking constantly -- especially these anisette cookies she used to make me every christmas at my request. i can't seem to get the recipe right without her around (and they're really bad for you anyway). but i also feel so lucky to have had such a genuinely loving, caring, fiercely loyal and selfless grandmother, who contributed greatly to who i became as a woman. i can feel her in my attitude and opinions and i see her everyday when i look in the mirror. as my dad said in his eulogy for her (which i helped him write), i know she is waiting in heaven for us all with a giant pot of gravy and meatballs. because she knows we'll be hungry when we get there, and its important that we're all fed.
  • my friends from college, especially jennifer, jodi and nicole, who i'm so lucky to still be close with today. college was such a transformative and influential time in my life -- like it is for so many people. i'm so lucky to still be good friends with these incredibly accomplished, driven and intelligent women. one day we'll rule the world.
  • new york city - the only place that has felt like home since i left my parents' house at 18. i can't believe its been nearly 9 years since i moved here officially. plus, i love nyc in the fall!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

gratitude: date three

today was anther long day and i'm tired, but i committed to doing this gratitude thing, so here it is. today i am grateful for:
  • my dog, who reminds me daily to put my own needs second to hers. yes, it's late and i'm tired and just want to go to bed, but ginger needs a bath so i have to give her one, and dry her off, and put her tick medication on her. it's exhausting being a doggie mama to a hyperactive, demanding, often sickly tiny dog. but i love that dog so much, i think nothing of putting her own well being before my own. that's love.
  • shawn, my dad and will for humoring me today, giving me tips and advice and showing me a good time during my first time on a golf course! what a fun day today. i think i might really be starting to like golf now. though i still think its a ridiculous game, spending most of the day riding around in a cart searching for your ball.
  • my parents, for always being willing to watch ginger for me.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

gratitude: day two

today was a sad day. i went to a funeral for a man who i never met, but who touched the lives of some people i care for greatly -- shawn and his family. it gave me a great reason to think on what i was grateful for today. it has also made me really sleepy, so i apologize for not being very eloquent today. so, here's what i'm grateful for today:

  • my family: i am so lucky to have loving parents, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents who have been such an integral part of my childhood and my life. i am truly the person i am today because of them. 
  • shawn's family: i doubly lucky because now, thanks to my relationship with shawn, i get a whole new group of people who love and support me. i'm especially grateful for judy, mitch and jared.
  • people who meaningfully contributed to shawn's life when he was growing up: everyone who touched his life, most of all betty and her family, helped him to become the caring, loving man i married.
today i nominate my personal leadership teammates: jenn, john, liza and ganesh.

Friday, September 5, 2014

gratitude: day one

i accept the nomination by my cousin suzette to share three things i'm grateful for every day for seven days. this is in keeping with one of my goals this year to find happiness through gratitude. this is a pass-it-on, chain letter type of facebook challenge so popular in these post-ice bucket challenge days. the rules of engagement are:
  • every day for one week, i post three things i'm grateful for
  • every day i nominate three people to do the same
  • if one of the people i nominate accepts my challenge, they have to post three things daily for one week and nominate three people each day, too
today i am grateful for:
  • my friends: each and every person who remembered this was a big week for me and made me feel special and loved in some small way.
  • my husband, who has as much troubling sleeping as i do, which comforts me.
  • my job! i'm so lucky to have one, especially such a great one.
today i nominate my brother joey (getting him back for nominating me for the ice bucket challenge), the recent birthday girl anne and my oldest friend lauren. yay for gratitude! i feel better already.

Friday, August 22, 2014

learning to embrace the sweat stains in life

over at the blog i've been writing this summer, i've been keeping pretty busy tracking all my travels and travails since june. but i haven't had much desire or need to produce deep thoughts. and what's the point of blogging if you're not producing deep thoughts about something? it's just a run down of stuff i've done next to some pictures of my dog. so recently i had cause to write something i'm actually pretty proud of, and i thought i would publish it here as well. 

I'm hard on myself. I expect nothing less than perfection -- I always want myself to be happy, fulfilled, loved and skinny; to look chic and put together; to live up to my potential; and to make the most of the gifts that have been given to me. It's exhausting. And the standards I set for myself are impossible. So if I expect the impossible of myself, then I am setting myself up for failure. Every. Day.

So, now that I've diagnosed the problem, I'm halfway to finding a solution, right? No, I think that is yet another lie I tell myself. Changing my thinking and outlook on life has been a long process and is something I will probably be working on forever. I am an imperfect being; now I have to accept that about myself and cut myself some slack.

If I could stick to my goal of meditating daily (there I go again, beating myself up again for not following through with something) I would use the mantra that my therapist gave me four years ago: I am good. But since I don't repeat this mantra as often as I should, sometimes I need something to remind me to be nicer to myself.

Today, that reminder came in the form of a sweat stain.

I was en route to meet a friend for happy hour drinks. Once again, I had been hard on myself while getting dressed -- nothing fit me right, I felt fat and dumpy -- but I had tried to lighten my mood by wearing a favorite new shirt. As I got off the subway -- feeling slightly sticky in the early evening heat and humidity -- I spotted a woman walking in front of me. She looked impossibly put together in a royal blue shift dress, cork pumps and a big leather purse. I saw her and instantly kicked myself -- she was obviously still dressed up from a day at the office, but on my best days at the office I never look that good. Especially after sitting at a desk all day, my clothes and hair are rumpled and I'm most likely ditching the heels for flats before walking out the door. Why wasn't I brave enough to traverse the cobblestones of Soho in three inch cork heels?

Somehow -- probably because I was in flats and she was teetering along on the cobblestones of Soho in heels -- I managed to catch up to my style icon as we waited to cross Houston. As I approached her, I saw a flaw in her perfect dress. Right around the zipper on her lower back, I saw a sweat stain that was in various stages of drying and leaving a nice salty ring on the back of her dress. Suddenly, the image of my perfect day-to-night office girl came crashing down. This woman wasn't perfect. She may look more dressed up than me, and braver to wear heels, but she was human, too. She was sweating, or had been at some point during the day, just like me.

The message from the universe came through loud and clear: accept yourself as imperfectly human. And when life throws you sweat stains, just put on a pair of heels to distract everyone.


Read more about my post-mba summer here.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

the post-mba life

so, i have the summer off (for the most part). i have three whole months to what i want before i start the big girl full time job. since one of my goals this year has been to write more, i've started a blog. follow my summer adventures here: three years to real life.

follow my journey and let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

coming to the end.

me: i think i have been so sick recently because i've been stressed out and it has compromised my immune system.
boss: why are you so stressed? you have a job and your grades don't matter.

here's the truth that everyone tells you: the hardest part of business school is getting into business school. this is, by all intents and purposes, true. once you have paid your deposit and agreed to attend your ivy league institution that bars you from disclosing your grades to any employer until you have signed a full time offer, it doesn't really matter whether you come to class, hand in assignments or get straight LPs (my school's equivalent of Ds).

but here's the truth that no one tells you: even though it doesn't matter, you are likely so type a that not handing in an assignment hurts your soul. and all those clubs and leadership positions you committed to (whether for personal or professional reasons) require most of the extra time you have left over after classes, assignments, review sessions and group meetings.

having juggled planning a wedding during my first year and working two days a week my second year, i missed out on that part of school they call "fun" and "a vacation from full time work." in short, business school was no picnic for me. i'm glad i did it, because now i have a great job and i feel smarter and more empowered, but the stress it incurred definitely took several years off my life. come to think of it, it took over years of my life.

my road to columbia started in 2010, when i decided to take the gmats. thinking back now, i can't believe how long ago that was. four years is a long time but these four years have been a lifetime. i started officially studying in august and took the test on december 5. three and a half months later i got ginger. a few months after that i met shawn. i remember in our first meeting telling him i was planning to apply to business school in a few months. fast forward to september 2011 and i realized the due date for early decision at columbia business school was just a few weeks away. oops! thankfully someone cool and collected in my life (shawn obvs) helped me edit my essays and get them in on time. i submitted everything on the day applications were due. four weeks later, i was in.

last week was my last day of class, ever. to celebrate, shawn and i went back to the place where we celebrated the night i was accepted into columbia. it seemed appropriate. and sitting before me was a guy who could have cut and run the moment i told him i had been accepted. he could have decided it was all too difficult and would ruin our relationship. he could have been insecure and certain i would meet someone else. instead, he suggested we move in together.

look at us now.

i can't wrap up this phase in my life without feeling immense gratitude for shawn and everything he has done for me. i couldn't have done it without you, babe!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2014 - a year for peace and gratitude

in the past, i have tried take some time around new year's and my birthday to look back on the year that had just passed and think about what i would like to achieve in the year ahead.

last year was undoubtedly one of the best years of my life -- if not the best. i married the love of my life and my best friend, and accomplished the incredible task of planning a party (aka the wedding) for 160+ people while juggling business school, two internships (spring and summer) and demanding positions on school club boards. then we went on the most incredible vacation of my life (aka the honeymoon).

honeymooning in capri - august 2013

things came together for me professionally as i started the year case prepping for consulting interviews that disappointed and ended the year with a full time job offer in a position and at a company that just feels right. what a year.

yet i also faced tough challenges. but i am proud of the fact that i didn't let these difficulties defeat me. i reached out to others for their advice and support. i looked inward for strength i didn't know i possessed. and i grew in ways i didn't know i could or should. in the end, i closed out the year with a greater sense of what is important to me and what is not worth caring or worrying about.

it's with that in mind that i set my goals for 2014. i decided that with my professional life and love life under control it was time to turn inward. i wanted to improve myself inside and out. i started by going to the gym more and determining to eat better. shawn has gotten into the act, too.

part of my self improvement goal was to take a class at school called personal leadership and success. the class has pushed me to find my purpose, work on increasing my happiness through gratitude and grow emotionally, among other things. i worked with a small group of classmates to discuss challenges i've faced in the past -- particularly why i stopped writing and blogging years ago after pretty much just burning out. they encouraged me to start writing again. as i continue to find my purpose, i think writing will play a role, whether it's writing here in a somewhat public forum or more privately in a journal.

another way i have been trying to improve myself is through my new night time routine. before bed, i meditate for five minutes. after quieting my mind for a little bit, i floss and brush my teeth (starting better habits!). then, i spend a few minutes playing with an app on my ipad that is helping me to learn italian. after going through this new routine pretty much every night for the last couple weeks i have started to sleep better and longer -- which is a real feat for me!

so i'm trying to be healthier, meditate, start healthy habits and sleep better. i'm also trying to get into the rhythm of writing about myself and my progress as i pursue my self improvement goals. writing again on a regular basis will be a real challenge for me. but i have to stop overthinking it. and. just. press. publish.

and because i know you want it: more honeymoon photos here