On the Move: Quebec to Vancouver

When you get married in a Quebec courthouse you have a marriage contract, not marriage vows.  This has been a running joke between us, particularly when we want the other to do something.  For example: When I am thirsty during the night and don’t want to go down the stairs I will say “Article XVII says that you have to get me water in the middle of the night”.

I am pretty sure that there was an article in our marriage contract about always looking for adventure and keeping the other on their toes.  Apparently, we took that article seriously because our journey has been full of bends in the road and surprises.  So in order to prevent life from becoming too routine…we are off again!

We are packing our cat and headed cross country to become “Vancouverians”!  This might be our biggest transformation yet…east coasters to west coasters!

After 19 years with the same company, Philippe was ready to shake things up a bit professionally.  It was a well thought out decision for him as he will miss his colleagues and the products he has put so much heart and soul into.    On the personal side, it is because of this company that we first met and made googly eyes at each other.  But one of my favorites to say is “it’s just time” (which before he would roll his eyes at me and say he didn’t know that meant).

As we have started telling people about our move most people laugh and say “really?” or “are you serious?”.  And then we get a few questions.  So I thought I would compile a list of FAQ’s related to our move in case you are curious.

FAQ’s: Moving to Vancouver 

arrowQuestion: But you just bought rental chalets in Quebec and we were planning to come visit!!  What are you going to do with them?

No worries, we are keeping at least 2 of our chalets!  In fact, our own chalet that we renovated 2 years ago is going to join the line up of rentals.  I will be working on getting them ready in May, so please still come visit!  (If you happened to miss the earlier post about our rental chalet venture, you can check out this post)

arrowQuestion: But what is going to happen to your amazing orange cat, Pepin (commonly referred to as “His Royal Orangeness”)?

Oh, he is definitely coming.  However, transport will be a delicate issue since he is rather anti-social and gets queazy when traveling.  We will be consulting with a professional (counseling for him, tranquilizers for us) for help before boarding the plane with him.  That should be a life-altering experience.  Once in Vancouver, my hope is that he will adapt to city life by allowing himself to be taken on walks on a leash (that will never happen).

arrowQuestion: Are you doing another road trip with a Uhaul like you did when you moved from Atlanta to Quebec?

We contemplated it…for a hot second.  Until reality set in:

  • First, we read a suggested itinerary for an east to west coast Canadian road trip.  And it said “Grand idea!”…as long as you cut out the section between Toronto and Calgary (which takes up 4 days out of the 6-day drive).  Apparently, the scenery does not change much.
  • In addition, if we think a 5-hour flight with the cat would be rough…imagine the logistics of cat transport in a Uhaul!  Instead, it seems to be a better idea to delight TSA and our fellow air passengers by giving them the privilege of his company on a flight.
  • And finally, on the Atlanta -> Quebec road trip there is that moment that will forever be referred to as “The Starbucks Incident” that almost led to us receiving a lifetime ban from any of their coffee shops.

Bottom line: No road trip.

arrowQuestion: So why Vancouver?

The job that Philippe is taking is there.  But more importantly: less snow, fewer days of sub-zero temps, ocean + mountains, proximity to lots of wine country options, whale watching.  Shall I continue?

arrowQuestion: Is Vancouver as amazing as I hear?

Not sure as I have never been.  But it seems to be pretty cool so I will keep you posted (as I said, I like an adventure).  However, it is near the MTB capital of the world (so I am told) so Philippe thinks we are getting an early transfer to heaven.  Pretty sure we will be regular visitors to the ER.

arrowQuestion: What does your family think of you moving cross country?

Initially not much (for those of you that don’t know I am super close to my family), but with some convincing on the benefits (see the question ” So Why Vancouver” above) they are warming up to it.  “Next to wine country” pretty much sold them.

arrowQuestion: You guys seem to always be making a change or on the move.  Don’t you have any anxiety or nervous about this change?

Oh that is definitely a yes!  Every single adventure (we prefer this term to change) brings about some anxiety.  Especially this one since we love almost everything about where we currently live in Quebec (it’s seriously magical).  Even after going through our decision-making process to make the best possible choice based on the information we have at that moment (unfortunately that dang crystal ball of mine is STILL on backorder), we definitely get nervous.

But for us this is the bottom line: If we don’t try it we will never know and could miss out on something fantastic.  Even if it doesn’t work out exactly as we envisioned…well what’s the worst that can happen?  We will still land on our feet somehow, someway with some great stories to tell/remember.  Actually, for us, the worst thing that can happen is missing out on something great by not taking the risk.

arrowQuestion: Can I/we come visit?

Yes, definitely, and please!  I LOVE visitors and adventures with friends!

Our adventure starts May 2nd when we will head to Vancouver to check out places to live followed by a whirlwind of activity!  Follow along on my Instagram Stories as the adventure unfolds!

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What’s Down That Road?

Note: I have been asked a lot the past year about leaving my successful corporate job and I am finally ready to write about it. I have found so much encouragement, inspiration, and amazing stories from other women’s journeys of pursuing or creating another dream.  As my journey unfolds if it has a positive impact on just one person that would be worth it.

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I don’t remember exactly when or where, but a long time ago (probably 15+ years ago) I bought a card with this quote on it.  At that moment it sparked something in me because I suspect that deep down I was already contemplating whether or not I was on the right path. I bought that card and put it in my office for inspiration and the sheer happiness I got reading it. That card came with me through several promotions and job changes. Sadly, I am not sure where that card is today; it was likely a victim of one of my many moves where I kept downsizing. But I can still picture it clearly and boy do wish I still had it on my desk because I believe that simple card purchase kept that “what if…” alive in the back of my mind.

Everyone has a fork in the road, a point where the decision about which road to take will forever impact their life. One of my most defining, perhaps the most defining, happened when I was 40. And since then I have embarked on a mission of positive transformation.

I spent 20+ years building a kickass career (at least I think it was). I worked my way through various levels of experience in an accounting firm, a small privately held company, and a major international corporation. And I was passionate, dedicated, focused and intense (oh so intense). As a result, I was climbing the ladder, leading, transforming successful businesses, and shaping the future of the profession. As with most jobs, in the corporate world, the pressure to deliver was intense. Coupling that with my type-A personality and desire to succeed, that meant I was working non-stop. And I never really stopped to ask myself if I was achieving what I wanted out of life. I think for so many of us, the every day kicks in and we just go, trying to keep up with the demands of being an adult (and seriously this is what we were so impatient for when we were kids???)

Along the way, I lost myself. I neglected to build and nurture other parts of my life. I let down my family and friends by always putting them second. I didn’t develop passionate hobbies that gave me an outlet. There are two things that I will spend the rest of my life regretting. The first is that I attended my youngest sister’s wedding via Skype because I chose to give priority to a work meeting in DC. My baby sister is one of the most unexpected and precious beings in my life. I am sure I didn’t make her feel that way on that special day. The second is that I missed telling my grandmother good-bye for the last time because I was pushing getting on that flight as long as possible because I had a huge deadline looming. My grandmother was courageous. She is one of my feminist, push the boundaries, don’t put up with bull$#@&, take the world by the horns role models.

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When we were both babies!

I slept too little, stressed too much. Ate too little, drank too many of my calories (ahhh…the complicated love affair with wine). Exercised too little, stared at screens too much. Checked my phone too much, lost myself in the presence of my family and friends too little. It was not uncommon for my hubby to find me madly working away at 2 am because I could not shut my mind down from everything that needed to get done.

I don’t think my story is that different from so many other women (or men) out there and I am simply recounting the every day that so many people live. I don’t write any of this feeling sorry for myself. In fact, it is the opposite. I write this celebrating everything I did accomplish. I write this so incredibly thankful that I have the opportunity to try something else out. I write all of this with the understanding that everything that happened is a result of decisions that I made (or didn’t make). The flip side of the coin is that it helped make me the kickass strong, independent, self-supporting woman that I am today (a job my grandmother, mom, and dad started years ago).

Kerri at AICPA
A career highlight was being invited to the AICPA executive round table for companies shaping the future of the profession. I completely love and embrace my inner tax geek!

And it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Far from it in fact…I had many amazing career accomplishments! I learned from some smart business people to become a smart businesswoman. I also learned how to run a successful business, make tough decisions, lead, inspire (I hope), collaborate, solve tough problems, and keeping moving even when the path forward is not clear. I loved my customers and loved my profession. But I made three big mistakes along the way (well, I have made A LOT of mistakes but for the sake of my dignity we will keep it at three for now):

arrowDefining my success: I was measuring my success by someone else’s ruler. And quite frankly it is rare that we will ever achieve success using someone else’s definition. I was just going, doing what it took and never stopping to ask was I on my path?

arrowLack of balance: I was seeking too much fulfillment, acceptance, and approval from my career. Instead of also filling my cup with adventures, experiences, family, and friends.

arrowSetting boundaries: I didn’t create any boundaries in my life. I did not use the word “no” often enough (to compensate it’s possible I use it a little too much now). Because of this I did not stop often enough and allow myself to rest and rejuvenate.

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The super amazing time I was invited to testify at the White House on the impact of ACA to the American Taxpayer. I am so thankful to have had opportunities like this!

I am lucky because I know exactly when my fork in the road appeared. I know exactly when I had a glaring moment requiring a life choice. And I knew exactly what the answer was…the answer that I needed for me. I might share what that moment was in a later post when I am ready because it is still hard and the emotions raw for me (just keeping it real). But, as hard as that moment was, I am forever grateful because this moment gave me the clarity, certainty, and strength I needed to answer the long contemplated and deeply buried questions of:

arrowIs this my best purpose and way for me to serve myself, my hubby, my family, my friends, the world?
arrowAm I leaving my best and positive mark on the world?

Without trepidation, fear, or uncertainty I knew the answer was “no”. I knew in my end game if I didn’t take this opportunity I would always wonder what else I could have been capable of creating, of being.

So…today it’s been a year since I last swiped my access card. A year since I said some hard and emotional goodbyes to people who had been an unwavering support system for me (I am so lucky that most of them chose to stick with me as friends and not just colleagues). A year since for the first time I didn’t know exactly what came next in my career path (which was also kind of thrilling). But the type-A in me had a plan to discover and create that path. After taking some time to invest in myself, learn some new things and work through some of my needed improvements (which BTW will never end) I know I totally have this!

Taking this fork in my road is turning out to be a good choice…

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P.S.  Are you even a little bit curious about what I am doing today?  Check out this earlier post!  Or check out this series on how I created my plan to figure out what career venture came next!

Feature Photo Credit: The amazing @atlantaaudrey  Follow her on Instagram.


Making 2018 Intentional

To Resolution or Not to Resolution..

Staying the same is kind of boring…easy and comfortable, but boring. It just so happens to be that time of the year when we all are thinking about how to be even more spectacular (I happen to think we all have some spectacular in us at this very moment).   So I will just put it out there that I am not a fan of NYE resolutions.  Often made spur of the moment and out of excitement (or pressure) they are often not changes we are truly committed to (fingers pointed in this direction).  Which then means they are forgotten or pushed aside with the reality of everyday life and then later used as a weapon to beat ourselves up.  At least these are my observations in my very scientific study of myself, family, and friends.  

“I don’t call them New Year’s Resolutions, I prefer the term ‘Casual promises I make to myself that I am under no legal obligation to keep” – Funny e-card

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans” – Peter F Drucker

Now with that said anyone who knows me knows that I am definitely a fan of goals and making life changes.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to make positive changes in their life.  These changes can be small like learning a new skill/hobby or trying an activity outside of a comfort zone.  Or they can be a big change like moving, changing jobs/careers, going back to school, ending or starting a relationship.  But regardless I believe that life changing decisions have to be tackled when you are ready, not because the calendar flipped to a day with a new ending digit.  

Anytime is good for change..  

Only you know when you are truly ready to tackle a change.  Because let’s be honest, changes or new challenges are hard.  If they were easy concepts like resolutions would not exist.  And if you do take the plunge before you are ready the commitment and smart decision making are difficult.  Knowing you are ready doesn’t mean you have all the answers, know the final outcome of the change, or that you are not nervous as heck.  But instead it is a feeling of peace that you have this, you can do this, regardless of how it turns out you will land on your feet a better person on the other side (with maybe a few more tough lessons learned than you anticipated), and some excitement that you are beginning a new journey.  Regardless of the size of the change, no one knows when you are ready except you.       

From the time the idea of taking a pause on my 20+ year career came up until the time I actually did it, took 2 years. Two years of wrestling with the idea, rationalizing all the possible outcomes, talking with my confidants until I was blue in the face (and they wanted to run the other direction when they saw me).  But I knew when I was ready and when I was at peace with the decision.  I know the moment I thought “If I don’t do this, I will regret this when I am at the end of my life.”  I knew that with 100% certainty even though I was scared to death and I didn’t have all the answers for how it would turn out (apparently my crystal ball is still on backorder).   And I have been committed, I am all in 100% through all the fun days and the not so fun days.  And I can measure what a better person I am for following through on my commitment but only when I was ready.  

“Be patient.  You’ll know when it’s time to wake up and move ahead” – Ram Dass

“And suddenly you know…it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings” – Meister Eckhart

“You gotta know when it’s time to turn the page” – Tori Amos

Starting Change – Building a Plan

The other intimidating thing about change is that it can seem so big or overwhelming.  Good news: because change really happens slowly that means you have time!  Time to tackle it one step at a time.  As a self-confessed type-A personality I am a big fan of plans and I LOVE the sense of accomplishment of checking an item off the list.  Look at your goal and break it into chunks that you can actually manage.  Then each time you accomplish one you can move onto the next.  It’s the best way to actually get moving.

So for example last year one of my goals was to start a blog because I love to write and I needed a creative outlet.  For several months I stared at that goal written down in my planner and wondered how to even start.  I knew nothing about setting up a blog, writing a blog, or even how to publish it.  And it sat there for several months while I focused on other things which were also on my goal list.  But it was always in the back of my mind.  So finally in July my moment arrived when I was ready to tackle blogging and commit.  So I broke it down into smaller goals to make it manageable:  

  • July: Research blogs, read about them, find blogs I like and observe them, make notes of why I like them.
  • August: Research blog platforms and templates and choose an initial design
  • September: Watch tutorials, take webinars, and start setting up my website
  • October: Start writing content and get feedback from a few people
  • November: Keep writing and learning more about the capabilities and setup of my website
  • December: Start to publish my blog

And then each week I had an even smaller goal to support the monthly goal.  It took me 6 months of work before I publicly publish my first blog.  But I did it at a pace that fit in with the rest of my life, was achievable in pieces, and each month I could check off another item.  And even when the time came for me to publish that first blog I was nervous as a snowball in summer because even though I had worked so hard on it I was making myself vulnerable in new ways.  I was more open to feedback and criticism, but I also believe as painful as it can be which also is the only way I will continue to grow and get better.  But I also feel a burst of pride, joy, and accomplishment when I publish a new post.  Even if it’s only my family and friends that read it out of obligation.   

“You need a plan for everything, whether it’s building a cathedral or a chicken coop.  Without a plan you will postpone living until you are dead.” – John Goddard

“A goal without plans is just a wish” – Antoine de-Saint Exupéry

My Resolutions/Goals:  

So my resolutions or goals are constantly evolving but I know what I am starting off 2018 focusing on.  So in the interest of holding myself accountable I am sharing:

  1. Launching my rental business
    • Finishing the renovation of our new investment property
    • Defining my list of services and offers for my guests that will differentiate me (because I never want to be another “me too” in anything I do)
    • Building out my blog to support my business endeavors and to continue to get joy from the creative outlet.
  2. Character Building
    • Practicing patience with awareness (seriously no one on this planet is more impatient than I am)
    • Learning to collaborate more positively and effectively with my hubby on our new business venture (you would think that by now he knows my ideas are thoughts are always the right ones)
  3. Purpose:
    • Spending more time with my family (the hardest part about living so far away from them)
    • Fostering the relationships that are positive influences in my life and letting go of negative ones (I am really bad about investing in the wrong relationships)   

Note: I reserve the right to change or modify my resolutions/goals as my story for 2018 unfolds and I learn more.

Something new I started in 2017 was to pick a word that I wanted to focus on with my thoughts and actions.  I learned about this in my voracious reading of achieving a balanced life and it just resonated with me and I loved the concept.   

  • Breathing (word #1):
    • Definition: to pause, as for breath; take a rest
    • My first word because I needed to learn to stop, take a breath, release stress, and learn to let go and move forward.  And hence the name of my blog thanks to the creative genius of my sister.
  • Presence (word #2):
    • Definition: The state or fact of being present, as with others or in a place.
    • And then my word evolved into the idea of being present.  I was epicly bad at being in the current moment, I was missing out on so much, and that was not fair to me or the person I was with.  
  • Intention (current word):
    • Definition: Purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct  
    • I have recently felt ready to tackle a new word and this is the one that comes to mind over and over.  I want to approach the things I choose to spend my time on with intention.  Not waste it on things that don’t bring me joy, happiness, or closer to accomplishing a goal.  

I have become much more deliberate in the way I live my life over the past year instead of just letting it happen to me.  The result has been more joy, control over my life story, deeper sense of accomplishment, and eagerness for each day.  No matter where you are in your life, my wish for you in 2018 is that you are also experiencing life with the same happiness or that you are tackling the changes you need to start your journey there.  

Happy New Year!!   

P.S. As always I love to hear from all you guys about how you choose and tackle your resolutions and life changes.  Your tips, tricks, and things that give you confidence to move forward.  I love finding new ideas from others that I can use!

My Own Fairytale

Today is my favorite anniversary of our history.  Our first date!  Or as my hubby referred to it: “Le début de la plus magnifique histoire d’amour” which translates to “The beginning of the most beautiful love story”.  Seriously no one does the language of love better than the French.

Back Story

I met my hubby 6 months before our first date.  I had just moved from a small town to Atlanta to start a new job for a large international corporation.  On the 3rd day I attended an internal conference with attendees from the business units all over the globe.  I spotted him on the first day during the opening session and he immediately caught my attention.  Definitely not where my focus should have been just starting a new job, but I just couldn’t help it.  Over the course of the next few days I spotted him several times and finally on the final day I gathered my courage and introduced myself to him.  I learned his name was Philippe and he lived in Montreal, Quebec.   I proceeded to chatter away for the next 5 – 10 minutes but with little response from him.  So my deflated ego and I gathered our dignity and walked away.

Six months later there was another conference in Orlando, Florida we were both attending (I know cause I stalked his name on the attendee list).  My heart once again did a big jump and pitter-patter but, remembering the previous lack of interest,  I tried to keep it under control.  Finally, at one of the evening events my colleague and cohort, Shannon, marched me over to him to start a conversation.  To my great surprise not only did he remember me, he seemed excited to see me???  That both gave me a bit of optimism and also baffled me a bit.    

The next evening the festivities went a little late and I spotted him leaving the event.  Fueled by the courage of a few glasses of wine I stopped him so when he walked under the guise of discussing a joint project.  For the next 30 minutes I proceeded to babble away on this topic.  Most of my family and friends will tell you with a few glasses of wine I can do the equivalent of a Shakespearean monologue without taking a breath (but the topic is usually nowhere near as profound).  All I remember after this is him removing my hand from his arm and telling me he really needed to go to bed.

I had an early flight the next morning and when I woke up and ran through the events of the prior evening in my head I inwardly groaned.  Clearly I had overstepped…again.  On the plane I recounted the previous evening to Shannon and even she agreed that was not a very good sign.  Sigh…clearly I am a train wreck when it comes to interacting with this guy.  Back at the office I proceeded to write a very professional note of apology.  There. Done.  Moving on.  Or so I thought.

Within an hour he responded and I had to gather my courage  before I opened the email.  I was practically peeking between my fingers.  I had to re-read the email a few times and then call Shannon over for confirmation.  Summary: He apologized for leaving so abruptly and that it was only because he had a 7 am presentation.  He suggested that next time we have a glass of wine (or two) together.  Wait stop…was he flirting with me???  Was this possible after all my faux paux pas???  A few more exchanges ensued before Philippe suggested a first date, but the question was how since distance was clearly part of the equation.  Turns out that Philippe has a meeting in chicago the following week and he tentatively suggested to me that I meet him there.   Well Chicago is a hop, skip, and a jump from Atlanta.  Chicago, here I come!   

Side note: During our early conversations the mystery of Philippe’s very different reactions to me between our first and second meeting were solved.  Turns out that the combination of my speed of talking, southern accent, and english as his second language he had no clue what I was saying when I introduced myself in Atlanta.  After Atlanta, he had emailed me but mistyped by name so I never received it.  When I didn’t respond he took it as a brush off.  Talk about crossed wires!  To this day Shannon still takes credit for our blissful happiness because she forced me to talk to him the second time.

First Photo Together
Our first photo together came on our second date in Athens, GA which was a month after our first date. And also my first mountain biking experience. in which I biked right off the side of a bridge into a brier patch.

December 7 – Our First Date

We arranged to meet at baggage claim and oh my was I nervous!  How do I greet him? What should I say? Did I pack the right things?  Fortunately with the French greetings are easy!  Cheek kisses (they find our American hugs to be bizarre and too invasive of personal space)!  Fortunately he want in for the cheek kisses before I could stick my hand out to shake his.  Cold and snowy, Chicago gave a perfect romantic backdrop to our adventure!  After checking into the hotel, we walked to a restaurant and he held my hand along the say “ so it wouldn’t get cold”.  We chatted away at the restaurant and all was going well until I got way too animated and knocked the bottle of wine over onto his designer suit. Seriously???  Mortified.  Horrified.  How many things could I possibly do wrong with this guy???    

Apparently he has a high tolerance level or found me amusing because he kept our date for the next night.  As my penance, I took his suit to the cleaner the next day while I adventured around the city and he attended meetings.  After delivering to him his good as new suit, he took me to my first hockey game (Blackhawks vs. Dallas Stars).  And I got the full experience: beer, hot dogs, and a bloody fight right in-front of us with the glass panel falling into our laps.  He explained the details of the game to me but I heard not a word, I was focused on the charming french accent.  

After 2 flawed but perfect evenings together it was time to go back to reality.  At the time we had no clue what would happen next because there some big, immediate obstacles including working for the same company and distance.  But regardless of what did or didn’t happen next, we had that snowy Chicago adventure.     

Spoiler Alert: We had several bumps and challenges to work through along the way but we figured it out and still marvel at how it all worked out when so many circumstances were betting against us!  Kind of makes you believe in fate…   

Second Date
Our third date was in Mont Tremblant, Quebec 4 months after our second date. I had to up my outdoor game with him and now the outdoors are a big part of how we spend out free time.