Happy Birthday, Alex

Sunrise at Grand Canyon NP // lynnepetre.com

Yesterday was Alex’s birthday and while he’s still traipsing around Europe, I’ve felt his absence more than usual. Mostly because it’s his birthday but partly because the end is SO. FREAKING. CLOSE. that time, in general, is moving as slow as molasses. So tonight, I celebrated by eating his favorite pizza and drinking a beer I know he loves, imagining he were here to enjoy it with me. I feel like this lends itself to a sad, spinster-esque joke but alas, this is my life these days.

As I was flipping through photos saved on my computer, I found this one of him watching the sunrise over the Grand Canyon in August, 2015. It feels fitting to linger on (and share with the internet) a photo that marked the beginning of the MBA school journey when the end is so very near. In 8 days, my husband will be back in America. In 11 days, he’ll be in Denver with me for a week. In 1 month, he walks at graduation and we’ll celebrate with our family and friends in Pittsburgh before making our way back to Denver for good.

It’s been a long, winding road, full of twists and turns we never expected. But nothing worth doing ever came easy, right? I’m just hoping we covered enough of the hard stuff to buy us some low key moments as we kick off this next, less winding chapter in a handful of weeks. But honestly, whatever moments are thrown our way, I’ll just be grateful and excited to have my person back to navigate through it together.

One Time, We Went On Vacation

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

To Europe! For two whole weeks! Together!

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

As Alex was considering which capstone track to pursue, we very quickly decided that he should absolutely do the study abroad track. (Well, in real life, he wasn’t 100% sold at the beginning but I aggressively talked him into it; 6+ WEEKS IN EUROPE! WHEN ELSE IN YOUR LIFE WILL YOU HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY! I HOPE NEVER UNLESS I’M WITH YOU! GO TO EUROPE!) So Europe it was!

Tepper encourages students to travel during their breaks and gives an extra ‘experience week’ during winter and spring breaks. There are typically ‘treks’ organized that students (and partners!) can participate in and experience Japan or Israel or Yacht Week or Silicon Valley and more. We did not participate in a planned trek either year but we certainly made the most of our experience week this year!

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

We planned to spend 2 weeks in Europe together, prior to Alex’s capstone starting in Germany in mid-March. Before the unexpected anxiety, we’d planned to bounce around, spending a few days in various places. After anxiety, we opted to chill out instead: 5 days in Paris, 2 days skiing in Chamonix and 1 day to explore Germany before I left and his program started. It was relaxing, recharging and perfect.

Rather than a play-by-play, I’m opting instead to share snippets of our week via photos.

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

Europe Vacation // lynnepetre.com

I can’t even overstate how much we needed a vacation – both as individuals and as a couple. Sitting on the plane to Frankfurt, we reminisced about the last time we took a vacation…4.5 years earlier for our honeymoon. Between vacations, we took many long weekend trips, road trips, ski trips with friends – but never a vacation for just the two of us with the sole intention of doing whatever the heck we felt like.

Now, I’m back into the swing of Denver life while he finishes his last few weeks in Europe before coming home for graduation. To say I’m anxious for him to be home (especially with current, unpredictable government) is an understatement. 3 weeks!


Winding Down Life in Pittsburgh

Schenley Park, Pittsburgh // lynnepetre.com

When we decided to move to Pittsburgh for Alex’s MBA program, the almost 2 years we would be here felt like an eternity. We were upending everything in our live and I felt like I was getting the short end of the stick – I would be trading co-workers and a well connected community in Denver for working at a kitchen table and no network in Pittsburgh. Time moved so slowly last year and I struggled to see the forest, I could only focus on the big, seemingly obstructive trees.

Working from Home // lynnepetre.com

But now, 1 school year in Pittsburgh, an insane summer in Denver/LA (and several places in between) and 6 months of long distance living, we are closing down our time in Pittsburgh. That move we made in 2015 feels like yesterday and eternity ago at the same time; so much change, growth, tears and cheers have been sandwiched into these past 18 months.

This week, I’m in Pittsburgh for my last week of working remotely with a Pittsburgh address — we are moving out of our apartment this coming weekend and a sublease tenant will move in and take over the remaining months of our lease.

And then, the next round of exciting chaos begins!

In March, we’ll travel to Europe together for two weeks of REAL VACATION – no school, no work, no obligations – and I couldn’t be more excited. After I head back to Denver, Alex stays for a few more weeks for his study abroad capstone in Germany. When he comes back, he’ll give a final presentation at school, we’ll spend a week in an Airbnb in Pittsburgh, celebrating and savoring our last moments on this journey and then, he’ll graduate with his MBA. Following graduation, he’s moving back to Denver (!!!) and we get to start ‘real life’ together. After living in limbo for the past 3 years, we both cannot wait for regular schedules, normalcy and dual incomes again.

Petre Road Trips // lynnepetre.com

This week, though, I plan to soak up as much as I can in the ‘burgh. Running my favorite routes, eating at my favorite restaurants, visiting my favorite local shops and spending time with my favorite people. It’s hard to believe this is it!

Real Talk: Moments (and Monsters) of Stress


Last week, like much of the past few months, I was feeling overwhelmed. At work, I’ve had a couple open positions on my team since summer/early fall where I’ve picked up a bulk of the slack which has made for long days and nights, focused on work and leaving little room for anything else. Obviously, this is not sustainable and fortunately, I’ve filled 2 of my 3 open positions (yay!) so there’s a light in sight.

But last week in particular, I was feeling it. I’d spent the prior weekend house/dog sitting for a neighbor, had commitments every night after work and was planning to spend the weekend in the mountains with my girlfriends. ‘So busy!’  (I hate that phrase but it rang true last week.) Toward the end of the week, feeling frazzled and stressed and I knew I needed to pare back to keep my sanity. So I did just that and had started to write a blog post as a reminder for myself to say no sometimes, to prioritize my own mental/emotional/physical well being and that the friends in my life would understand if I needed to spend some down time with myself. (And, of course, when I talked to my friends about this, they were more than understanding and echoed the feeling.)

The universe works in funny (and not so funny) ways sometimes. Just as I had changed my weekend plans to allow time to recharge on Sunday, I started receiving text messages from Alex, mid-flight, that he was having what would turn out to be his second panic attack in less than a week. At the time, he/we didn’t know what it was – he’d never experienced this before and given family medical history, it was easy to jump to scary conclusions – so the paramedics took him from the airport to the emergency room in Pittsburgh. As soon as he called and told me they were planning to keep him overnight to run a few additional tests, I bought a (very expensive) red eye flight from DEN > PGH.

It turns out that everything, medically, checks out – thank goodness – and it was truly ‘just’ a panic attack both times. No blood clot, no heart damage, nothing medically to worry about. As we spent time over the past few days talking about it, he has many aspects of his life that have caused high stress for extended periods and he’s left very little time to take care of his own mental/emotional/physical well being. Sound familiar? Now, his challenge is to figure out how to recognize and manage that stress before it gets to the point of panic attacks in the future.

As scary as this weekend was, it brought everything in our lives to a screeching halt and immediately made us focus on what is truly important in our lives: being healthy and happy for ourselves and each other for so many years to come.

It really underscored the importance of making time for mental health on top of physical health – to decompress, to reflect, to meditate and to just chill. We can only shove out the stress and forge ahead for so long before the beast rears it’s head and forces us to pay attention and slow down.

Talk about being inspired to make a change, right? In looking at the silver lining, this experience opened up a conversation we’d had in snippets, during a particularly stressful week or day. We had an honest and thoughtful conversation with about our stressors (big and little) and created a plan of action for getting through the daily moments of stress while also working towards recognizing and categorizing stressors into ‘definitely worry about now’ and ‘out of your control’ buckets.

As I find things that work for me (meditation apps, yoga, reflection journals, etc), I’ll share here on this little corner of the internet for myself but also maybe for you, in case you need the gentle reminder to take care of you, too.

One Little Word 2017: Inspired


Rather than picking a single or handful of resolutions for the new year, I’ve taken to selecting a single word to act as my guide for the upcoming 12 months.

Last year, after a hard transition from Denver to Pittsburgh, I selected ‘resilience’ to reframe the negative attitude I had (especially around things I can’t/couldn’t control) to that of seeing silver linings. I needed more joy, more bounce back, more ‘can do’ attitude in my life if I was going to survive 2016. Through a year of transitions and unknowns – from Pittsburgh to a temporary summer in Denver to a full time relocation to Denver to post-MBA plans to open heart surgery – keeping ‘resilience’ on my mind and heart helped me keep perspective and a more positive attitude.

This year’s word found me on New Year’s Eve. After striving to exercise creativity the past few months through my sewing machine, I realized that in order to be creative, I need to feel inspired. And as I thought about it, I am craving inspiration in nearly every facet of my life. I want to focus on and notice the details around me for inspiration. I want to feel inspired to create art or projects or creativity. I want to read books that inspire me. I am inspired to find time to act and engage with my community, to give back – and I don’t want that inspiration or drive to push to the back burner. I want to find inspiration in those around me to do my job better, to be a more present wife, to be a more engaged sister and friend, to be a more active citizen.

‘Inspired’ is another mind shift – from going about life with my blinders on, focusing solely on what needs to be done next to stepping back and taking in the world and people around me. There’s so much ‘go go go’ in my days right now and I want – and need – to slow down, look around and find moments of inspiration in my everyday life.

I’m looking forward to approaching the next 355 days with a more thoughtful and inquisitive outlook and translating inspiration to action.

When The Holidays Include An Open Heart Surgery

Back in Denver tonight after 2 weeks in OH/PA and I am really missing my family.

I flew home to Cincinnati on a Saturday, one full week before Christmas and for the first time in several years, all of my siblings (5 of us!) were home, too. Our youngest sister, Lexi, was scheduled for an open heart surgery on Monday, 12/19, so we kids made it a point to be home a few days before to celebrate Christmas together and rally around Lexi ahead of her surgery.

Heart Surgery 2016 // lynnepetre.com

Heart Surgery 2016 // lynnepetre.com

Per Lexi’s request, we went to a Christmas church play, ate Christmas dinner (including her favorite ‘red noodles’) and exchanged gifts on the night before. I snapped lots of photos throughout the night and ensuing days; while we all expected and hoped for the best on Monday, our baby sister would be facing a major, 8 hour operation during which machines would be pumping her blood and breathing air into her lungs. It was hard not to acknowledge the seriousness of what the next day would bring and push out the worst case scenarios from bouncing around our brains. But that night, we put aside differences, laughed and hugged, and really savored our moments together as a family.

We caravanned down to Cincinnati’s Children’s hospital on Monday morning after a night of restless sleep to spend the last few minutes with Lexi before she was wheeled back to the operating room. In true millennial fashion, she sent out one last snap before the doctors came for her.

Heart Surgery 2016 // lynnepetre.com

The next hours were agonizing. Lexi was the longest case of the day so we were shown into a consultation room to post up for the next 8 hours. A nurse came in to update us every 1.5 hours; in between, we read books and emails, slept, colored, took coffee breaks, flipped through hospital TV channels. Time has never moved so slowly as it did that morning.

Heart Surgery 2016 // lynnepetre.com

And then, early in the afternoon, Lexi’s doctor joined us in our room to deliver the best news I’ve ever heard – surgery was a success and everything went smoothly. They were cleaning her up and moving her to the ICU and we’d be allowed to see her in a couple of hours.

Miraculously, Lexi came out of surgery and surprised everyone with how great she was recovering. There were hilarious post-surgery conversations that I will never forget (although, she may not remember them as clearly). She was awake, aware and in good spirits. After 1 day in the ICU, she was moved to the ‘step down’ room where she spent one night and came home the following day. After 2 days in the hospital after open heart surgery, she was coming home!

Heart Surgery 2016 // lynnepetre.com

The week between Lexi coming home and Alex and I trekking back to Pittsburgh was truly magical. My brothers and sisters were home, my husband was with me, my parents and their spouses were home and off work. I went to yoga with my brother and my husband; we played cards around the kitchen table; my dad and his wife came over every single day.

Alex and I spent great time with his family, too – snuggling with our newest nephew and his amazing parents, catching up with a brother who just started college and sister who is about to graduate college. We spent an afternoon bowling and eating barbecue and instead of exchanging gifts this year, we opted to play games together on Christmas morning, spending precious time together that we rarely get as adults.

And now, back in Denver by myself, I’m feeling a little sad and lonely. The post-holiday blues. I feel so lucky and grateful for these days spent with my families this holiday season because in every facet, we slowed down and focused on the meaning of Christmas – sharing love and joy with each other. And this year, more than most, I plan to carry this light into my new year, too.

Currently, November/December 2016

Work Desk // lynnepetre.com

As you may expect, Q4 is a hoppin’ time in the land of mobile rebates and incentivized purchases so this gal has been busting her tail more than usual. So without further ado, let’s talk about what’s been up in my world recently.

  • (still) Grappling with election results and the future of our country, like most of us, I’m sure. Others have done a much better job articulating their thoughts than I have been able to (on what will happen to our land? on climate change. on how to be the light in this dark, Trump time.) It’s extremely frightening to see some Americans emboldened by Trump’s win to terrorize on the subway or aggressively vandalizing the home of an interracial couple. This cannot continue.
  • Meeting my November goals. Except for taking the stairs (I found out that I can’t actually get into my office from the stairs as my key card will not buzz me in), I managed to find time for reflection, reading a book, and making (most) of my own meals.
  • Splitting my time between Denver and Pittsburgh/Cincinnati. In November, I was able to spend 2 weeks in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati for Thanksgiving. In December, I’m heading back to Pittsburgh for ‘BSchool Prom’ this weekend and will return to Denver before spending the last 2 weeks of the year in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. I feel so fortunate to have the flexibility to work remotely and accommodate my strange life.
  • Focusing on working out/being more active. I have a bad habit of cutting exercise when work ramps up or I am traveling. In October, I experienced 2 bouts of excruciating back pain that was muscle/pinched nerve related. That served as a wakeup call that I can’t keep neglecting self-care and that I do need to prioritize exercise and stretching. Since then, I’ve been making a point to exercise at least 3x a week – running, hiking, yoga, stretching, walking breaks during the day, strength training. No system or schedule yet but I’m proud of myself for sticking to it.
  • Incorporating creativity. This weekend, I dusted off the sewing machine and spent my (crazy) Saturday night eating pizza and sewing pajama pants in my basement room. I want to spend time in 2017 prioritizing creative projects to tap into new ideas, finding a new community (ex: take a sewing class) and hone a skill.
  • Drinking Bruegger’s coffee every day. I’ve never been a Starbucks person. I do, however, LOVE Bruegger’s coffees, especially their seasonal flavors. This year, I ponied up and bought the Bottomless Mug card that lets me drink unlimited coffee and iced tea until 12/31/2017. I work a few blocks from Bruegger’s in Denver, live a few blocks from Bruegger’s in Pittsburgh and stay within a 2 mile radius from a Bruegger’s when we go home to Cincinnati so it was well worth the investment.

As it relates to work, we are barreling down the last sprint of 2016. Year-end reviews, holiday parties, influx of clients with campaigns to turn on ASAP, PTO days, etc, etc – it’s madness and chaos and thrilling and amazing, all at once.

Cheers, friends. Hope your holiday season is treating you well and you’re gearing up for some quality time with family and friends over the coming weeks.

Election Day 2016

It’s election day and I have so many feelings – hopeful Hillary wins, nervous about what it means from the other side if she does, exhausted of all the political ads and chatter, ready for a sense of normalcy to return.

But I feel so proud that I had the opportunity to vote for a woman to be our president. To vote for the only qualified candidate in this election. To vote for inclusion vs. exclusion. To vote for someone who know what she’s doing. To vote for someone who believes in climate change and wants to be part of the solution. 

Talking politics isn’t my usual MO but today’s a day I can’t not acknowledge on my little corner of the internet.

Regardless of who you vote for, I hope you, too, got out and voted today and made your voice heard.

And definitely listening to this on repeat. Let’s do it, HRC!

Reducing Our Environmental Impact

Kansas Driving // lynnepetre.com

Recently, I wrote a post for Trail Sisters about how we – as Trail Sisters and humans alike – can help reduce our environmental impact with a few tiny changes to our days. Things like: riding a bike or sharing a ride vs. driving, bringing your own coffee mug and more.

And then, this weekend as I was sidelined thanks to lower back pain (again, ugh!), I watched Before The Flood and it really drove home the impact global warming/climate change is having on the earth, society and our collective future. This documentary is 90 minutes long and is free through 11/7 (tonight!) on Hulu, YouTube, Facebook, OnDemand and several other places. I highly encourage you to watch it!

There are SO many easy and tiny changes we can make to our day that can make a difference. Things like:

  • Eat less beef
  • Recycle
  • Compost leftovers
  • Plant a garden to grow veggies
  • Join a CSA (community supported agriculture)
  • Use Tupperware/plastic containers vs. plastic baggies
  • Use a Diva Cup vs. tampons
  • Use a refillable water bottle
  • Use a push mover vs. gas mower
  • Reduce air travel
  • Ride a bike
  • Ride a bus
  • Switch to energy efficient light bulbs
  • Upgrade to energy efficient windows
  • Choose energy efficient appliances
  • Turn down/off the thermostat
  • Unplug electronics when not in use
  • Wash dishes by hand vs. dishwasher
  • Reduce/eliminate paper towels
  • Use an air dryer vs. paper towels in public restrooms
  • Air dry laundry
  • Take a shorter shower
  • Choose shampoos/soaps/cleaners with environmentally friendly ingredients
  • Shop local this holiday season
  • Wrap gifts in recycled wrapping paper (or even a paper grocery bag)
  • Support companies whose values and actions align with reducing environmental impact where possible
  • Vote for candidates who believe climate change is real and will work with other world leaders to make big changes

I’ll admit that some of these ideas are easier for me to implement than others (I often choose paper towels over cloth towels when cleaning at home – old habits die hard) but being aware of my options and making a conscious effort to change my actions will hopefully inspire others to do the same.

In past generations, caring about our impact and the environment might have fallen more in the Counter Culture bucket but these days, it needs to be top of mind for ALL of us if we’re going to turn this climate change ship around and preserve this beautiful Earth we love and life for future generations.

I’d love to hear additional tactics you like to help reduce your environmental impact in the comments below!

Intentional Goal Setting for November

Intentional Goal Setting, Nov 2016 // lynnepetre.com

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve dedicated time to this little blog! I have so many posts swirling in my head but after a busy work day, I often choose to decompress and close my laptop in the evenings. But I miss blogging and the creative outlet it provides.

Since moving back to Denver 6 weeks ago, I’ve found myself in a weekday routine that centers around biking to/from work, working and making myself dinner for 1. Not much variation and, now that I’m settled in my routine, I’m ready to create space in my days to be creative or feel inspired – something I haven’t done since the beginning of the Summer of Chaos.

In ‘the old days’, when my husband and I didn’t live this unconventional, long distance life, we would set 2-4 mini goals for the month, write it on a piece of printer paper and post it on the fridge to serve as a daily reminder/inspiration. We each set our own goals and mine included things like: read a book, don’t buy kombucha, do 1 creative thing, mail 4 letters, go to OrangeTheory or yoga 3x each week. Simple and tangible.

So this month, I’m bringing the mini-goals back into my life! In November, I will aim to:

  • Take the stairs (at work, airports, whenever possible)
  • Dedicate time to meditation/reflection at least 3x per week
  • Eat out less + focus on more healthy/homemade meals
  • Read 1 book

I’ll be splitting the month between Denver and Pittsburgh/Cincinnati so I intentionally chose achievable goals that are location agnostic.

To keep these goals top of mind, I have them posted both at my desk at work and in my room at home. I’m excited to make time to feel inspired and work towards personal goals that should make my mind and body happy.