Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dangling with Goals

So with 2013 being so much about the unseen aspects of my life, I want 2014 to be about the concrete goals that will help to move my life forward. Everyone has the typical New Year's Resolutions and my goals definitely go back to those ideas with my own spin. 

1. Pass each part of the CPA exam before starting work for EY in August. 
2. Run at least four 5K races and one race that is at least a 10K or longer
3. Be aware of what I am eating on a daily basis and try to limit unhealthy snacking
4. Be present in the time I spend with the most important people in my life especially during the first half of the year when I will be consumed with goal #1
5. Do not pass up an adventure or an opportunity to try something new - the year of "YES" 
6. Read at least one article a week that will expand my knowledge of either business or education
7. Stay more current with the news - sign up for notifications from a news service and pay attention when watching TV
8. Starting in August, learn how to make one new food dish per week 
9. Take on one new project that benefits the community
10. Always continue to strengthen my relationship with God and be thankful for his blessings in my life

I guess 10 goals is quite a lot for this year and maybe they aren't as concrete as I thought they would be but these are the areas of my life where I see room for improvement. Even if I can't complete all these goals at least these ideas will be on the forefront of my mind and I will be working towards their improvement. 

It's funny that the world is tied to recommitting ourselves at the beginning of each year because if our life needs improvement than we should recognize it and make a change in the moment. I guess the New Year is just that moment in time for us to reflect on all the things that fell off our radar over the course of the last 12 months and try our best to make a positive life change. I have a feeling 2014 is going to be a wild ride and I can't wait to jump on the horse! 

Dangling with Meaning

This blog doesn't get much attention throughout the year but I love being able to come back to it each January to reflect on my year and set new goals for the coming months.

In 2013, I picked Patience, Trust, and Spiritual as my watchwords for the year. I wanted to focus on growing these qualities within myself as well as strengthening my relationship with God. No one can ever be perfect and I think my watchwords bit off a little bit more than I could chew to be honest. Yes, my patience has grown but I still want things to go my way. Yes, I am slowly growing my trust in the process of life but it's hard to be committed to whatever life throws your way. Fortunately, my relationships and discovering myself this year are helping me to grow in my trust. 

And I don't know what to say about my spirituality this year. To be honest, it's the resolution that came firing out of the gate but seemed to wane throughout the year. I guess my problem is that there is not one "standard" goal to be reached in my relationship with God. My spirituality is going to be built up by my own beliefs and actions towards my relationship with God. My actions are lacking but my belief is strong. This year has proven to me that God puts into your life exactly what you need at that moment. I think the shining example from this year is that I found out I got into the Masters of Accounting program at UGA on Valentine's Day. I took it as a sign from God that the MAcc was my focus and anything that wasn't contributing positively to that goal should be set aside. Once again, God works in mysterious ways and set the path for me to discover Europe while also building a bond with a guy I would have never expected to be in my life. I was committed to me and my career this summer and then God decided someone incredibly important could contribute to my experience. I will never understand God's timing and I still want to work on my relationship with God, but I realize that my continuous commitment to him will bring about a life full of joy. 

So 2013 was the year of events that moved my life in so many positive directions while also leading me on the path of strengthening myself. I guess that's why I like coming back to the blog each January because it helps me to reflect on how much I have grown in the past 12 months. I want to make a list of everything that happened but I don't know if it's actually that important. The most important part of my year was coming to the realization that I am exactly where I am suppose to be at this very moment and God is going to shape me into the person that I am suppose to be with each adventure of my life. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dangling through a Whirlwind of a Summer

It feels like just yesterday that I was sitting on a plane on my way to Austria and now I am less than a week away from moving back to Athens. The past ten weeks have flown by but it has given me a great perspective and I would not dream of doing anything else with my time. 

Austria and Germany taught me that it was a sin for me to believe that I could go through life without seeing the rest of the world. There are so many interesting places that deserve my attention and I don't want to regret going through life and not taking the opportunity to let the world have its own affect on me. 

My first client of my internship taught me that it is necessary to step out of your comfort zone and there are going to be times when pushing myself is going to be the only path to success. It also gave me one distinct perspective of the advisory profession and helped me get closer to finding out exactly what I want to do. 

My second client taught me that productive teams can do great work and some of the best ideas come from spending an hour in a conference room digesting information and coming to conclusions as a group. This client was much more what I was expecting as an advisory professional and it solidified my decision to switch service lines last fall.

I have gotten to know so many of the interns especially the other UGA interns who I will be in graduate classes with in just a few weeks. It is a great feeling when you look around and feel like most of the people around you hold the same values as you. It expedites the process of making connections and makes me really excited to hopefully start full time with all of them next summer. 

I have learned the art of packing lightly and packing at the last minute. There was a span of two weeks where I was constantly packing and unpacking. I can see how business travel gets exhausting but I wouldn't trade the experience of being able to travel as an intern. I want to continue this streak of travel into the fall and I have a few trips in mind, but I understand now why so many people just take the first few years out of college to enjoy the world. 

Overall this summer has been so packed that I do not think I have digested it all yet. I am on my way to my last engagement as an intern in which I get to spend 4 days with 2000+ other interns, celebrating our success from the summer and kickstarting our careers. I know the next four days are going to be jam packed but I can't wait to soak in as much as I can about this firm and all of the opportunities that I might have the chance to participate in. 

It was a full circle when my flight this morning took off from the same gate as my flight to Austria in May. This summer has proved to me that all of my decisions over the past 12 months have been for the best and exactly what I was suppose to be doing. I can't wait to see how my life progresses over the next 12 months because I know right here, right now is exactly where I am suppose to be in this whirlwind of a life. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dangling through Another Beginning

The great thing about college is that you have four summers to prove yourself in a variety of internships which also help you figure out what you might want to do once you get that diploma. The not so great thing about internships is that if you want a variety of experience, it means you are starting over every May. For the introvert like me, it can be a difficult transition to make sure that you are always on your "A" game and meeting as many new people as possible. 

Due to planning, I flew into Atlanta from Berlin at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday evening and I started training for this summer's internship on Monday morning. It was exciting: getting up, driving to the city, slightly worrying about the traffic and finding a place to park in the office parking deck. Then I entered into the sea of interns, hoping to find a familiar face from UGA. The rest of the week is a blur of new people, new information, and new experiences like riding Marta for the first time. I realized that my "social interaction tank" had been exhausted by being with 19 other people on my study abroad and then all the Southeast interns. It was the first time in my life that I could actually tell I hadn't had enough "me" time. 

I got to recharge over the weekend which I am sensing is going to become a norm with this working girl lifestyle. There isn't enough downtime during the week to worry about anything besides getting through the daily routine. One of the things I have missed the most over the past month has been running on a regular basis and now that I am out of the routine it's so hard to get back into it. I am waiting for the day when my body forces me to go do it which I am sensing is going to be pretty soon. 

Another part of this internship experience is travel, so come Monday morning I was back on a plane heading to my first client engagement. It was definitely interesting getting up super early to catch a flight and then working a full day at the client. It was a day full of newness including the city, the rental car, and the hotel room. It was also another day of meeting new people and putting on my "A" game at all times. I am fortunate that by the end of this internship I will be more comfortable walking into a new situation and immediately feeling comfortable enough to break out of my shell. Last summer, it took me about two weeks to feel comfortable in the office. This summer I might only be on a client for two weeks, so I have to show the team how I operate in a shorter amount of time.

The client work is great. It definitely challenges me to expand my knowledge and it is aligned with the the classes that I enjoyed in college. I need to ask more questions but I am sure that will come as I am given harder controls to test. Also there is a lot of flexibility combined with managing your own schedule. The way we were working this week makes me feel like I have more hours in my day but I just have to get the motivation to use them wisely. Also I get to work from Atlanta on Friday which means understanding what the team expects from me before leaving the office on Thursday. It will be interesting to see how my other client operates in three weeks but so far I am satisfied.

I can definitely tell a difference between this summer and last summer. I have found work that challenges me to learn and aligns with why I thought I was getting an accounting degree. It can be lonely at times traveling by myself and the team is not as chatty during the day. But I can see progress on the controls testing and every day is different. So yes, this internship is another new beginning that will provide me with its share of ups and downs, but I am more ready then ever to take on the challenge and become the best version of me! 

Dangling in Austria and Germany

I meant to write this post as I was traveling around Austria and Germany but to be honest I was so busy taking everything in that I didn't want to spend an afternoon compiling all of my thoughts. I made sure to write in my journal every day so that I can look back on it for specific details about this trip. 

The first word that comes to mind when I think about this experience is "Wow". Last summer, I realized that I was going to be disappointed if I did not take the opportunity to study abroad while in college. The whole school year was focused on me getting to Europe whether or not I got any credit for the classes. Fortunately, the price was completely worth the experience and one of my classes is going to count for my graduate degree. 

I don't even know where to begin to describe everything that I learned, so I guess I will try to highlight some of the key points. 

When I fly overseas again, I will definitely fly during the day. We experienced both an overnight flight as well as a daytime flight and it is so much more enjoyable during the day. It is miserable to be on an overnight flight, wanting to sleep and not being able to. On the flight home, I was able to work on my journal and there wasn't the pressure to sleep because I knew I would be hitting the bed as soon as we landed. 

One of our classes consisted of us attending school with 12 Viennese students at WU. It was interesting to see how their school was set up and to hear their opinions about both our education systems. I am grateful to be attending a university in the US and wish that I had taken advantage of the classes that were offered as electives. Our professor, Mark Laplante, emphasized how our education should be used to build a tool kit for our working lives and I understand now how that point of view would have been an advantage during my undergrad years. The class we were taking was focused on international finance, so our education was enhanced by the fact that we were sitting in the Eurozone during the financial crisis. I know that my knowledge is lacking on current business trends and being in Europe made me realize that I need to be reading as much as I can. Fortunately, getting out of school comes with a variety of half price magazine subscriptions, so I have already started to stay more informed. 

The other component of our class was making 10 business visits to a variety of firms in both of these countries. We got to visit subsidiaries of American firms, family owned companies, and companies that specialize in products for the European market. As a class, we focused on how their business was affected by the European financial crisis and how their business focus is manufacturing. My favorite visit was to the BMW Motorcycle facility because I had the opportunity to compare manufacturing processes. Also, I have decided that BMW is my dream car when the time comes to buy something new. 

Class and business visits are all great but the best part about this trip was being in two European countries with so much history. I enjoyed Vienna more than Berlin because we got to live across the street from WU for 2.5 weeks. By the time we transferred to Berlin, we knew our way around Vienna and everyone had a routine. I learned that I absolutely love the art museums and those will be the fist places I visit on the rest of my trips. I also realized that I cannot let one moment pass me by when I am in a new place. No matter what we did the previous night, I always tried to be up around 9:00 and making plans for the day. I was probably a little bit more exhausted at the end of the trip but I saw as much of the city as I could. Two of my favorite sites on the trip were Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna and Sachenhousen Concentration Camp outside of Berlin. The palace was absolutely beautiful and had a huge gallery overlooking the city of Vienna. It was a testament to the monarchies who previously ruled. The concentration camp was sad but it helped me to remember the horrible actions that have shaped Berlin's history. I cannot fathom how so many people believed that their actions were justified and it again makes me grateful for my own country's history. 

This trip would not have been worthwhile if it weren't for the people that surrounded me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was one of three girls on the trip and we were accompanied by 17 guys. I have never spent so much time with guys and it definitely gave me a crash course in their behavior. I was the second oldest student and of course my nature is to be the "mother". By the third night, everyone was counting on me to know where we were going and get us home in a reasonable manner. I tried to shed  the "motherly" instincts and it was definitely to my benefit because with that many guys around all the time, there is no doubt that we had a good time. The guys on this trip were some of the best guys that I have met at UGA and I am so glad that I got the opportunity to get to know them on this trip. I can't wait to see where their paths lead at the end of this coming year and I know that I have made some lasting connections. Audrey and Lindsay were the two other girls and I think it is really lucky that we all managed to get along for the whole trip. We balanced each others personalities well and I know we will reminisce about our shared experience with the boys. Mark Laplante was our professor and he brought his family on the trip as well. I signed up for this study abroad because I knew he was a great professor and that he was going to challenge me. His advice was invaluable and I will always take away little nuggets of knowledge. 

In conclusion, this trip exceeded my expectations. Of course there were some ups and downs but I got to know so many great people and my eyes have been open to so many different aspects of life. I learned how to have fun with a group of people that you have to trust because they are the only people you have around. I learned how important it is to explore the world and take note of all the differences. I learned you should never stop absorbing information and expand your horizons because you never know the opportunities that might arise. I tried to go into this experience with a positive attitude and I think I realized that it can make all of the difference in the world. Yes, there are times when you have to get something off your chest but overall everything you do has a purpose and can add to your experience in some way. I think the most significant part of the trip is the fact that I am making this huge transition. I am leaving another country and stepping into an internship that is the start of another adventure. Opportunity at its finest! 

So even though this post doesn't have all the details of my trip, it highlights some of the best moments and most of the lessons learned. I think I have fulfilled the last of my college wish list and I really will be able to walk away with no regrets. This trip exceeded my expectations and there is no way to completely convey all of the "dangling" moments. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dangling through Graduation

So this semester has been pretty lazy with the blog but my excuse is that I have been living out my final undergraduate moments in Athens! It is so hard to believe that four years have already passed but I have so many memories to look back on and I know that I will have very few, if any, regrets. 

Graduation was a whirlwind of activities! I was fortunate to be done with my harder exams on the first two days of finals, so I had a full week to enjoy Athens! I got to have dinner with one of my littles, yogurt with one of my grand littles and breakfast with an old friend. Delta Gamma had a morning full of taking seniors pictures and then a lunch with a bunch of us just catching up. To round out the week of activities, I went on a food tour on Prince Avenue. This week of activities helped me to remember how important it is to just take in each moment. There was so much time this week to just sit back and relax and really cherish the time with some of my great friends.

The day of graduation was awesome and full of everything that I have enjoyed so much in Athens! It started with a roommate breakfast that we dubbed "Happy Graduation Morning"! We opened presents and had donuts, all in the style of a Christmas morning surprise. I will always cherish that time with Allie and Katie because it is the pinnacle of all our memories in the 306. 

Then we headed to the Graduation Brunch for the Leonard Class of 2013. It was a time for my family to sit and chat as well as see all the Leonard's before the rest of the day swept us off our feet. I was honored to receive not only my Certificate in Leadership but also the Journery Award voted on by my peers. This award is given to the person who the class believes has improved the most in leadership development. My receiving of this award just continues to prove to me that Leonard was the best decision that I made in college and its experiences and connections will continue to make an impact on my life for years to come. 

Terry Graduation was a moment for me to reflect on my accounting career and walk across the stage in recognition of completing my BBA degree. Although it was a long ceremony, it was more intimate and I got to see so many people accomplish their own goals.

The pinnacle of the day was UGA Graduation in Sanford Stadium. It is why I walked in spring graduation with my class instead of waiting until next year when I finish my masters. It definitely lived up to my expectation and I got to spend the evening with all of the DGs. Our graduation speaker gave this great metaphor about how "a ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." All of the words were inspiring and just reminded me that I have so much to look forward to in life. 

These last four years have been everything that I have hoped for in college. I will look back on these years fondly and I am so glad that I got to celebrate with these ceremonies. I will never be able to put into words everything I have been feeling the last few weeks but I know that it's special and I will cherish it. Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this journey! 

Stay tuned: on to the next adventure in Austria and Germany! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dangling with Questions

There are so many questions that you can ask the world or yourself. You can be inquistive or thoughtful, funny or serious, and a whole host of other adjectives. Questions are what lead us to some of the best conversations with others as well as to the best reflections of ourselves. If you follow the blog regularly then you know that I reflect on my own actions with tremendous detail and sometimes to the extent that I just want to turn my brain off.

It's funny how my brain works because it goes through stages of thinking about different situations. I will consider how I feel about the situation for a few days and then move on to trying to understand the situation. I probably should just let everything slide off my back but I realize that I learn the most life lessons by digging deeper into certain situations.

So as the cycle would predict, I am currently dissecting January. I have thought that maybe January just needs to be a black hole on the calendar of this year, maybe January was a huge mistake. But I also realize that I have changed over the past 30 days and I would not have made that progress without the events of January.

Over the past year I have tried to take notice when I feel like I am going to regret something. I know we don't have time for everything in our lives but if we realize when we are giving something up, maybe we can turn it around and make a difference, lessening our regret about past situations.

Regret is the major question of January- how will this month effect me going forward? Did I really give up on something that could of been awesome, for something that will probably only be a bullet point on my list of college memories? Am I the only one that feels this way or are their two sides to every story? These questions can really only be answered by me and it kills me that the questions I keep asking myself all lead me to believe that January was a mistake.

All I can focus on now is that every situation in life leads to a lesson and I have definitely learned from January. For the first time in my life, I realize that the grass is definitely not greener on the other side of the pasture. Like my roommate said last night, you had to go over there to see but from this point forward I will choose to stick with what I have instead of putting myself in a position of uncertainty. It taught me to have more faith in people and that relationships are based on trust and honesty, so if you are not willing to give them then don't expect for the relationship to move forward. January definitely helped my trust in God and my patience for his plan, but I still have to work on the questioning of my actions that will lead me to his plan.

I am glad that I can apply this year's mottos to the situation and learn from my actions. As of right now, January is over but it is still in the works of being resolved in my head. It will effect me in the coming months but I can't begin to predict how it will manifest itself. All I can do is live in the moment and live for my own happiness because my life is headed in a great direction right now, so I don't have anything to worry about except maybe the questions. :)