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.

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!

Snapshot: Day in the Life, October 2016

Day in Life Oct 2016 // lynnepetre.com

From time to time, I like to chronicle a day in my current moment of life. The past few years have been full of finite moments and big transitions so pausing to take inventory of what is happening in this chapter. This chapter is particularly unique.

This post captures a fairly regular Tuesday. I’ve been watching pups through Rover.com (I miss Philly!) so on this morning, Gertie and I woke up early to walk around the neighborhood before breakfast (I’ve been spoiling myself with homemade breakfast tacos!), before biking to work.

Day in Life Oct 2016 // lynnepetre.com

Work consisted of internal meetings, client calls, emails and projects. I caught up with a friend over lunch and took a brief walk around downtown for some fresh air afterward. I headed home a bit early on my bike to let the dogs out for a potty break.

Day in Life Oct 2016 // lynnepetre.com

After feeding the dogs and grabbing myself a snack, I hopped in the car and headed back to work to watch a screening of the documentary, CODE, Debugging the Gender Gap. It was really interesting and, while I wish we were at a point in society where we didn’t have to have conversations or films about gender equality, I so appreciate that my company IS talking about it and promoting equality and diversity in tech, in the workplace, in the America.

Day in Life Oct 2016 // lynnepetre.com

After the film, Gertie and I went out for another brisk walk around the ‘hood before cranking out a few last emails and heading to bed. For the days that she stayed with me, my fuzzy pal Gertie snoozed right next to me like a giant, living teddy bear. It was the best.

And today, in this moment right now, my husband is traveling across the country to plant himself in Denver for 10 days and I can hardly contain my excitement – this will be the longest we’ve been together since May! It makes me so happy to know I get to have conversations in real life, share dinner and snuggle next to my favorite person every day for the next week and a half.

How’s life in this moment of your world?

Life In Denver, Again

Cross Country Drive // lynnepetre.com

More than a week ago, I packed most of my things into the back of OsCar the Outback and drove myself back to Denver. I drove 5 hours to Cincinnati on Thursday night, 5 hours to St. Louis Friday night and 12 hours to Denver on Saturday.

I moved into a duplex house with a roommate – my first roommate in 7+ years – and, surprisingly, the arrangement is going very well. We get along fabulously and spent the weekend doing very roommate-y things: making homemade pizzas on Friday night, watched a movie and YouTube videos Saturday night and Sunday, ran our own errands but caught up later in the evening.

My roommate has a little dachshund, Schnapps, who is a gentle and goofy old man of a dog. His signature move is to run up to anyone who has food and sit up on his hind legs, like a kangaroo.

I send so many snaps of this strange pose because it makes me so happy. I miss Philly a lot and it’s nice to have a little pup running around so I can get a few furry snuggles at the end of a work day.

Living just 3 miles from work, I’m biking to/from again like I did this summer. In fact, I’ve only driven my car a handful of times the past week (mostly to get furniture/items from Target for my new room) and I’m excited to continue biking or riding transportation regularly. Of course, the whole reason I drove the car back out is to maximize mountain time and now that I’ve situated myself in my new room, I’m looking forward to fall and winter mountain adventures!

Like this!
Like this!

When we left Denver last year, Alex and I talked about how whenever we did/do find our way back, it would never be the same as when we left. I agreed at the time and never really expected that I’d be back in Denver, without him, so soon after we left. It’s certainly not the life we left behind but I’m excited about it all the same. Work, travel, building new friendships, making time for hobbies, sleeping on both sides of the bed. 😉

I find myself missing Alex and Philly the most in the quiet moments in the evening, when I’m hunkered down in my basement room for the night. And in every moment of my weekend which has been such treasured time over the past year when I’d get more than a few minutes of time with my husband. Now, I’m figuring out new routines to keep myself happy and occupied during those times, as is he.

It’s emotionally hard to be separated and not feel left out when he’s hanging out with our friends or I’m at our favorite football hangout without him. But we both remind ourselves and each other that this long distance is a fleeting moment in the story of our lives. And the benefits outweigh the sacrifice. I know this to be true and I’m not wishing away the time, but I am looking forward to when Denver is OUR city again.

Heading West, Again

welcome to lynnepetre.com // lynnepetre.com

It’s a gorgeous fall day in Pittsburgh; humidity is low, temperatures have dipped and the sun is shining brightly. The kind of day that makes me appreciate spending time in the midwest for this moment in my life, yearning for the crunch of leaves beneath my feet as I walk Philly around our neighborhood, snuggling under a blanket with my husband in the evenings in our poorly-insulated old apartment.

But this is likely my first and last midwest fall day this season because, today, I begin a drive west to move back to Colorado.

Earlier this summer while working in Denver, I knew spending this upcoming year working remotely would not be the best decision for me, professional or personally. Truthfully, I knew this the moment I left Colorado last July.

Working from Home // lynnepetre.com

Being the sole remote person on my team was challenging; I missed interacting with my coworkers and I felt really isolated. Growing and leading a team remotely is extremely challenging and, this summer alone, I added 4 new members to my team and currently have open several open positions for my territory. Things at Ibotta are moving so fast and it’s such an exciting time to be part of this company that I don’t want to miss out on the unique opportunities and experience in front of me.

Alex immediately supported the move; he’s always encouraged me to find and follow what’s important to me in a career. After many thoughtful conversations, we made a game plan and I found a short term apartment in Denver before I left at the end of the summer. I will be spending most of my time in Denver and ‘reverse remote working’ where I’ll work remotely for a week in Pittsburgh every few weeks so I’m able to still spend time with Alex.

I’m as excited to move as I am sad to leave. 

For much of the past couple of years, I’ve felt like I’m in the passenger’s seat, figuring out how to fit my plans into my husband’s school schedule. This, though, is me taking the driver seat (literally) and making a decision about what’s best for me, a decision that sets me up for current and future success and is a decision I feel really good about. I’m excited to continue to grow in my career and be in the office as the next months unfold.

Of course, it’s not without it’s tradeoff. I’ve cried many tears about leaving Alex and Philly. About the life experiences Alex and I will have separately from each other. About missing out on the precious little time I have left with our Pittsburgh friends before graduation in May. About not living a short drive from Cincinnati.

It’s going to be hard and exciting and lonely and rewarding, all a the same time. In the end, these 10 months of long distance will fly by and be an interesting story in this ‘unconventional’ moment of our lives. (And after 2.5 years of long distance dating, 10 months feels like the blink of an eye!)

Moving to Denver // lynnepetre

See you soon, Denver. Just 1500 miles to go.

So Long, Summer Break

Stanley Idaho Sunrise // lynnepetre.com

Truthfully, I am as relieved as I am sad the summer has come to an end. This summer was full of life and excitement; I rarely had a down minute to focus on anything besides what I was doing that exact moment and what I needed to be doing the next moment.

I’m currently back in Pittsburgh and it feels SO GOOD to be in one place for more than a few days, to be back in an apartment with my husband and dog, to have some semblance of ‘normal’ for a little bit.

Since I last checked in, I moved out of my ‘summer home’ and then flew to Boise to road trip across ID + OR with Heidi. Coincidentally, my trip overlapped with Alex’s trip to Bend so it was a treat to spend ~12 hours together with our friends. I then returned to Denver where I bounced around lodging arrangements, 5 nights with a friend in Wash Park, 5 nights house/dog sitting for a friend in the Highlands.

Smiley Creek Overlook in Idaho
Smiley Creek Overlook in Idaho

10 days after leaving Portland, I got on a plane to head BACK to Portland (hi again, Oregon) to run 15.5+ miles of the Hood To Coast relay with a super fun team. I left the race early and boarded a bus from Seaside, OR to PDX just as my team was crossing the finish line (official time: 28:46:46, 30th in our category!) to catch a red-eye flight to Pittsburgh by way of Chicago. Tired yet? 🙂

Finishing my last leg at Hood To Coast! Can you tell our team theme was neon?
Finishing my last leg at Hood To Coast! Can you tell our team theme was neon?

After landing in Pittsburgh Sunday morning and sleeping most of the day, I worked remotely for one day before boarding ANOTHER flight on Tuesday for Denver for in-person work meetings. On Friday afternoon, I flew back to Pittsburgh and packed my backpack for our Labor Day backpacking trip in West Virginia.

Backpacking in West Virginia #tepperlife
Backpacking in West Virginia #tepperlife

All of this to say…I’ve more than enjoyed my summer of chaos but I’m really happy to be in one place for a little bit. While talking to my dad earlier this week, he commented, ‘Well, you guys certainly are unconventional!’ and I don’t think a truer statement could be made about this moment in this Petre family’s life.

This week, though, I’ve spent my time doing very conventional things: working (albeit, remotely), eating meals with my husband, catching up with Pittsburgh friends, bonding with my pup, exercising, getting more than a few hours of sleep a night, reflecting.

Savoring these moments of calm before the next round of sustained chaos, rapidly approaching.