Weekend Drives in Colorado

The past few weeks have been pretty perfect, weather wise, in Colorado. Crisp mornings with warm afternoons; the quintessential fall, if you ask me.

A few weekends ago, Alex and I headed west to Golden Gate Canyon on a Sunday, the day before the first October snow, to catch our last glimpses of alpine leaves. Unfortunately, most had already fallen on the trail we hiked but the drive in/out was stunning.

Then, when Alex’s parents visited last weekend, we gave them the full Colorado tour, driving from Denver to Buena Vista to Leadville Copper and back home on I-70. I didn’t think to record snippets till after I had delicious BV diner food in my belly so this is a taste of the back half of our drive.

I recorded these on my phone so they’re nothing to write home about but in thinking about inspiration and finding beauty and light in the world, I’m posting here to preserve the memories.

Hope you’re enjoying a lovely fall wherever this post finds you, too!

Currently (May/June 2017)

currently-may-june-header

And just like that, another several weeks have flown by. How is it July?!

Hands down, May was hectic chaos. Alex came back from Europe and spent a week with me in Denver. I spent a week house/dog sitting for a friend. I spent a week in Pittsburgh for MBA graduation festivities and the long awaited ceremony. Alex and I spent a day in Cincinnati before flying back to Denver and move into our apartment. Two days later, our friends from BSchool arrived for Memorial Day weekend.

I wouldn’t trade the experiences we had but it sure did wear me out.

Hilariously, in May, Alex and I outlined our summer weekends and planned to keep these free to spend time hanging out with each other. These past two years were high-stress and low-free-time so we both were really excited to just BE together again.

But, as it goes, the universe had other plans and we did a bad job protecting our free time. We traveled to Cincinnati for a long weekend to support a friend who’s mom passed away. I started (assistant) teaching a backpacking class with Colorado Mountain Club. We watched pups. Alex went to South Carolina for a bachelor party while I did an overnight backpacking trip with my class. And on the last day of June, part of my family arrived for a 4th of July family vacation.

I’m trying really hard to take better care of myself as these past two months have not felt emotionally or physically great. What was supposed to be a low key summer with few commitments quickly ballooned into the exact opposite and after so many years of running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I can’t keep doing it. I need to protect my time, I need to protect my mental and physical health. I need to make time to exercise and pack my lunch and *eat breakfast*. I need to say no to commitments. If I want things to be different, if I want to feel different, I have to act different and make better choices for me.

The rest of July and August are just as packed as May and June but I’m working hard to take a step back, slow down and take care of myself.

Step one: keep hydrated during this hot, dry week!

Currently (April 2017)

For my 31st birthday in March, I embarked a new, digital mode of memory keeping to chronicle a year in this moment in my life with an app called 1Second Everyday (1SE) which is…exactly that.

Shoot a short video every day, save a 1 second snippet and that’s it! I’m able to save a compilation of days and I’ve decided to group mine by month until my next birthday. A few times in the recent past I’ve downloaded 1SE and tried to make it stick but usually lost steam after the first couple of weeks. But not this time! This time, I’m committed.

While seemingly easy enough to shoot a 1 second video, I find it very challenging to remember to shoot the damn video. Despite working for a mobile app company, I am so not into my phone – as anyone who has ever texted me can affirm. So for me, 1) having my phone in my hand and 2) thinking about capturing a short video during an interesting part of my day (and there are many!) is not my forte.

But 2 months in, I’m am doing a better job at remembering to capture moments. There are noticeably a LOT of Rover.com dogs in this April segment – partly because I watched several dogs but also because I was/am still trying to find my 1SE groove.

I’m excited to see how these videos change over the months; already, May’s seconds are more interesting and I’m refining my style and doing a better job keeping this little project top of mind and finding moments of inspiration throughout my days.

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

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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

olw-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.