Because Your Value Cannot Be Quantified

I have always considered myself a “numbers person.” I have loved math since before I can remember and if my degree and future job in accounting is any indication, I just really dig numbers! But there is one place in my life where numbers reign that I have begun making a serious, concerted effort to remove. Quite often, I allow numbers, a multitude of them, to determine my worth.

Whether it is a time in a running race, the number of pounds on the scale, a grade on a test (especially my upcoming CPA exam), or the number of pounds I can bench press, numbers have held a dangerous place in my life as far as my identity is concerned. I think I have gravitated toward this mathematical calculation of worth because it is just that—a calculation. And like any good mathematical formula or equation, it has a right answer and a wrong answer.

So often, I value my worth with this equation: if Kaitlin > x, Kaitlin = good. And occasionally, the lesser side is also true (if weight < x, Kaitlin = okay). This seems like a logical mentality, but the danger comes because the inverse means there is a very clear threshold of what is considered wrong. If a get below a 90 on a test, that is not what most people consider a “B” that is failure. A race’s success is not measured by my ability on the day given the circumstances and my training; if I run slower than goal pace, my value as a person drops.

Obviously, I see the illogical side of measuring myself like this, and I can honestly say I have made HUGE strides in this department in the last few years. It is heavily tied to this little bug called “perfectionism” that I have been trying to overcome. I have gotten to a place where I know I just need a 75% to pass the CPA exam and that is ENOUGH. I haven’t weighed myself in almost a year and that has done great things for me mentally and reduced unnecessary preoccupation immensely. I know that I know that I know that my value is in NO way tied to these numbers. But I often fear: do other people know that, too? Do they judge ME based on these numbers? Or even worse, do they believe that I judge THEM based on their numbers?

I think I gravitated towards valuing myself this way because it is quantifiable. What a great way to measure progress, strength, and value, right?! Wrong. Because my weight tells you nothing about my heart; my race times tell you nothing about my perseverance; my bench press tells you nothing about my true, inner strength. And the same goes for YOU. If we can uncover a way to judge value in a black and white way, to divide good and bad, and right and wrong based on a clear threshold, we feel we can control what we think about ourselves and what others will think about us, too. If my value truly rests in achieving a specific pace per mile in a race, weight, or grade in a class, you better believe I am going to do everything in my power to attain that. The problem is, even when we get there, we place MORE value on the next best number, and our self-worth is jeopardized yet again.

(I realize I keep using the “we” and “our” and other plural pronouns—if I am the only crazy that thinks like this, sorry!…But I honestly don’t think I’m alone in this).

I have thought about these things quite often over the last few years, as I wrestled to accept myself and my worth as I am without the constant judgment and pressure of perfectionism. I think it came to a head for me to ramble about it today because of the Turkey Trot I ran this morning. I went out to have fun, see some friends from high school, and just see what my legs could do after only doing long, slow runs for the past month and a half. I haven’t done speed work in a while, so I truly knew there wasn’t going to be a PR (personal record) this morning. I had a blast—it was cold and it was so fun to see so many people rocking this 5k. I crossed the finish line with a time on my watch that I was okay with—not ecstatic, but fairly understandable given my level of training. I shrugged it off and hung around the race with some friends, not really interested in checking out the results because I didn’t think I had done well enough to place anyway. Eventually, my friend wanted to check the results and so we did (she had run a great race and ended up getting first in our age group!). I scanned for my name when she checked her time and couldn’t find it…until I made my way much farther down the page than the time on my watch.

I was surprised to realize that the timing chips on our race bibs did not actually catch our start of the race—they only caught us at the end (sorry if this get convoluted and confusing here…). In large races, it can often take people several minutes to get to the starting line once the gun goes off. To ensure everyone’s times are based on their personal run from the START line to the FINISH line rather than just running a clock from the gun, there are timing strips on our numbers that start our time when we hit the START line. This means that even if you start in the very back, you have a fair reading of your time in the race. Unfortunately, the chips were not enabled for that or were not working this morning, so the 53 seconds it took me to get to the starting line after the gun went off were included in my time on the board.

Here’s where the inadequacy came to play. I was immediately disappointed. Not so much that the extra seconds bumped me from 2nd to 4th in the age group, missing out on a SWEET turkey trophy, but more so, I was uncomfortable because the little time next to my name on the long time sheet of participants showed me as running 53 seconds slower than I actually did.

Now, let’s lay some truth over this big, honkin’ lie. Will anyone actually read my time on that board? Unlikely, as there were over 1,700 runners’ names on that board. If someone I knew did look at my time and knew who I was, would they be disappointed in me? I highly doubt it—they’ve got much better things to do on their Thanksgiving than wonder why I had such a “bad” race or why I am so much “slower” than I used to be. Again, the words “bad” and “slow” are in quotations because these numbers have NO ability to value me as bad or slow. Was my time slower in relation to the person who won? Absolutely. “Slow” as a way to negatively label my identity? Never.

If you get anything out of this rambling slew of paragraphs, I hope it is this: your value cannot be quantified. No one can tell you (including YOURSELF) that you are any less worthy of love, belonging, and connectedness because you do not score properly against the numbers you use to measure yourself. Weight, race times, cycling MPH, grades on a test, GPA, deadlift max, the number of times you’ve been published, the number of friends you have on Facebook—it all reflects NOTHING of your worthiness, value, and beauty. Let’s live in that freedom. 

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And the winner is…

Well, friends! After almost two weeks of being THE most indecisive person on the face of the planet, I have finally made a decision! I was incredibly blessed to have been extended two job offers with different Big 4 accounting firms in two locations: Atlanta and Denver. I interviewed in Atlanta first and was stunned by how connected I felt after only spending 26 hours in the city. It has been a dream of mine to live in Colorado for the past two years, following an internship in Colorado Springs, so Atlanta definitely through a loop into the decision making process! For the first time in my life, I felt like my heart and my head were disagreeing… I would love to reflect on some of the lessons I have begun to learn during this process…but just in case you don’t want to read any farther…I am officially moving to:

DENVER!

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Life lessons sparked by indecision:

1. No matter how difficult the decision may feel, be thankful you have any options at all. I said it several times as I was fighting back and forth with myself that if I had only received one offer, this would be such an easy decision! That mindset truly robbed me of the awareness of how much of a gift it was to be offered a job at all, let alone two. Especially in this time of economic recovery, my ramblings about how hard it was to make a decision between jobs were unnecessary. I blinded myself from the pain and disappointment of the thousands of beautiful, qualified people and recent grads who are still trying to find jobs, and I apologize for that.

2. On a similar note, this was not a life-or-death decision, it was a good-or-good decision. Both firms and offices had a great list of positives, pro’s, and advantages. With either choice, I would be entering a challenging, well-supported, and established place of learning and growth. As much as I told myself “THIS IS THE HARDEST DECISION OF MY LIFE,” it really was a great dilemma to have.

3. Sometimes my head and my heart disagree. This has been a huge learning curve. I’m one person– shouldn’t I be aligned and centered and have fluid communication within myself? Not necessary. My head screamed Atlanta– it’s close, it’s an easier move, it’s a huge office so I can slide right in. My heart screamed Denver– it’s what I’ve dreamed about, it’s absolutely new and challenging, it’s a place where I feel so close to the Lord and connected to the earth. But that also leads me to…

4. Ultimately, city doesn’t matter. I mean, it does. But it also doesn’t. When I realized that I will be working for 80+ hours/week during busy season (January-April), I realized that this decision hung not so much on which city I loved more, but on which firm I loved more, which office I connected with better, which people I could work with on a team and thrive together. Where would I wake up every morning ecstatic to go to work? Go there.

5. People make a huge difference. Atlanta was the front runner for a long time. And the people there were fabulous! But the Denver office truly went above and beyond, contacting me regularly to answer questions, check on me, put me in contact with more staff members and managers. One of the sealing points was when one of the most respected leaders in the market I will be working in called me, just to chat, answer my questions, and share her experience with the firm. I am no one special– a bottom-of-the-barrel associate. And yet, they already made me feel like a part of the family.

6. No one could make this decision for me. But there were plenty of times I thought I wanted someone to choose for me! The truth is, this is one of the first BIG decisions I have ever made. You know, the life-altering-world-changing kind. I knew I wanted to go to Florida State since I could do the Tomahawk chop and say “Go Noles!” so the college decision was a no-brainer. But this…this required true self-examination, quiet introspection, and a decision to stop asking people for their opinions. After all, no one else will be living with the result of this decision as directly as I will. This had to be mine, and I’m glad it was.

7. I couldn’t make this decision to avoid disappointing someone. Because, honestly, either way I chose I felt I would be disappointing someone! Either the recruiters and interviewers at the firm, the staff I met and connected with, the friends that live in the city…choosing Atlanta or Denver meant NOT choosing Denver or Atlanta. Why couldn’t I accept both so that no one had to be disappointed in my decision?! I had to remind myself time and time again that these recruiters and interviewers meet thousands of students each year, many who accept and many who join other firms. I am not someone special who would especially break their hearts– that would be giving myself way too much credit. This decision is affecting the next trajectory of my life! Choosing based on the people I want to disappoint the least does not seem like a sound decision-making strategy.

8. Pray. A lot. A few days ago, I finally came to the realization that I was trying to talk to anybody and everybody about this decision. I wanted their opinions, their thoughts, their words to sway me and show me the way. I wanted someone to say something so enlightening that I just magically knew where I needed to go. But it didn’t come. And I am so thankful. There was only one person I needed to talk to about this, and that is the Lord. Praying for clarity, or at least for the wrong choice to just fall off my mind, was the turning point I needed. From that point on, my heart and my head began to agree!

And they both screamed Denver. And I have a peace that no person could have offered me. And I am ecstatic!

ImageSo, who wants to come visit???

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Adventure 005// 25 Hours in Denver!

Much like my whirlwind Atlanta adventure two weeks ago, this past week I had the chance to travel to Denver, Colorado! My short and sweet trip was an centered around an office visit and series of interviews with a large, international accounting firm! Much like the 26 hours I spent in Atlanta, I was literally only on the ground in Denver for 25 hours! I love Denver, so I wish I could have spent more time there, but let me tell you it was a JAM packed trip! Here are the time stamps and pics from my Denver adventure:

Tuesday, November 5th

12:30 PM — Just like last week, I drove to Orlando to hop on my flight for Denver. It felt like I had it down to a science thanks to my trip just the week before! I parked in almost the exact same place in the enormous airport parking lot, hopped on a shuttle, and was through security in no time. I felt like a seasoned-business-professional-traveler making my way through the airport in a pencil skirt.

ImageWeather as I was leaving Florida….ready for a shock in Denver!

2:30 PM — Took off for Denver! The flight was about half full, which meant I had an entire ROW to myself on the flight out. As someone who typically loves talking with people, especially those who are trapped in the airplane seat next to me, this was kind of disappointing at first. Like I mentioned when I went to ATL, talking to people is what usually calms my nerves before competitive/ stressful/ exciting events. Honestly, though, I was thankful for the quiet time to review my interview notes, do some more research on the firm, and collect my thoughts.

Image4:30 PM (Mountain time) — It was a 4 hour flight to Denver, but thanks to the time change, we landed at 4:30 PM! It was already getting fairly dark outside as we landed– daylight savings time is still throwing me off. I was getting kind of nervous at this point because I was supposed to walk to dinner by 6:30 for our pre-interview social event downtown. I had a feeling traffic would be bad and that I might be cutting it close.

4:45 PM — I practiced my Olympic race walking skills and powered through the Denver airport to get to my shuttle. If you’ve never been to DIA, it’s pretty HUGE. Several subway stops and escalator rides later, I ran outside to ground transportation and hopped in a shuttle! As I suspected, traffic was awful, and I tried to keep my mind calm by talking to the other passengers in the shuttle. There were a few men from Boston who were there for a conference and we chatted about the World Series, and recent travels. They kept me sane as I preemptively sent an email to my recruiter to let her know my status and that I might be late.

6:00 PM — If there was an Olympic medal for checking in to a hotel, changing into (WARM) business casual attire, and navigating to a restaurant in a city you’re not too familiar with, I think I can put up a good fight! Walked into my hotel room at 6 PM, walked into dinner at 6:24 PM. WIN. (Thankfully, it was cold enough outside that I didn’t start sweating as I was running to the restaurant). 😉

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Weather in Denver…a little different than FL!

6:30-9:00 PM — I had a great time at the pre-interview dinner, talking with several associates and a partner of the firm in Denver! We ate at a French restaurant called Coohill’s and it was absolutely delicious (especially the cheese plate!). It was great to hear about people’s experiences with the firm, what brought them to Denver, and why they chose this specific firm. The more that I talked to people, I realized there were very few Colorado natives in the room. What can I say? It’s an incredible place to move!

9:00 PM-10:30 PM — After dinner I headed back to the hotel and settled in. After rushing around to get to dinner, it felt so nice to slow down. I continued preparing for the interviews of the next day and dreamed about what it would be like to live in DENVER!

Wednesday, November 6th

5:00 AM — As I said before, being a “girl” (e.g. makeup, heels, fancy clothes) is way hard. I prefer to give myself way TOO much time to get ready for something important than to cut it close and have to rush. So even though I did not have to be at the office until 9 AM, I woke up with enough time to get ready, have some quiet time to myself, enjoy the morning, and find the office without feeling rushed.

ImageGood morning, Denver!

5:00-8:15 AM — The morning in Denver was absolutely beautiful. My room had an awesome window seat with this view of the city, and I think I sat there for a good 45 minutes just thinking, looking out on the sunrise, and awkwardly waving at an employee in the office across the street that was also staring out of their window. It. was. wonderful.

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Then I got suited up!

Image8:15 AM — I checked out of the hotel with enough time to enjoy my walk/ find the office leisurely. I wanted to see even a little bit of Denver considering my trip was so short! I stumbled upon some fun things during my walk downtown:

– Public outdoor mini-golf courses and ping pong tables!

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– Cool, artsy buffalo taking a walk

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– Gorgeous views, sunshine, and changing leaves

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– A gorgeous bookstore called The Tattered Cover…just steal my heart, why dontcha?!

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9:00- 2:00 PM– I made it to the office and we did a lot of the same things that happened in Atlanta– introductory meetings about the firm, three interviews back-to-back-to-back with varying levels of management, office tour, and lunch with a few staff. I had the chance to interview with the head partner of the assurance line in the Denver office which was a very cool experience. He is essentially the head honcho of my potential job function and he was an incredibly personable and friendly man, which was a great sign! Overall, the day was fantastic and I felt very comfortable in my interviews! I love learning about how people have arrived to their current job and what they’ve learned in the process. I could definitely see myself fitting in to the work environment here, but I also connected really well in Atlanta…welcome to the most difficult decision of my life thus far!

2:00 – 3:45 PM — After the day was over, I had the option to take the shuttle back to the airport, but instead…my dear friend Rachel picked me up with her kiddos!!! My. heart. exploded!! I love this family so much and it meant the world for them to drive from Colorado Springs to DENVER to pick me up and take me to the airport. Thankfully, we had about an hour and a half together to catch up, love on the kids, and just enjoy being together. I am so grateful for the chance to see them! It literally made my trip.

ImageThis is the crazy shaped and very cool Denver Airport, and the Rocky Mountains!!

It was very hard to say goodbye to my friend and her kids, especially when her daughter kept asking to come on the airplane with me! They dropped me off at the airport, and took a long flight back home. The time difference put me back home at 11 PM, and when I landed, I had a voicemail from Rachel…her 3 year old little girl left me a sweet little prayer on my voicemail that God would “help the airplane land safely.” Again…these kids melt my heart!

1:30 AM — Finally home after getting to my car and blasting music all the way home to keep me awake! One of the most exhausting, exciting, and love-filled days of my life!

And now the hard part begins….both firms have great positives and I can see myself living in both cities! I have until early next week to make a decision, and I’m fairly confident I have already won the “Most Indecisive Person of the Week” award….Atlanta…or Denver?

 

Life Lessons from an LSD

Running is a funny sport, with a multitude of funny words.

Fartlek.

The Jack Daniels Method.

Bonk.

But the term we often got the most giggles about in high school track and cross country was LSDlong, slow distance.

ImageWhile many people equate the acronym with a hallucinogenic drug, runners use an LSD as a different kind of high. I had the chance to run a 9-mile long run with some fantastic running buddies last night as we prepare for a December half-marathon, and during the run, I realized that there are a lot of life lessons to be learned in the LSD! I’ll try and unpack my ramblings as well as I can for you…

Warning: Attempt at a possibly over-reaching metaphor ahead. Feel free to disagree, dismiss, or shoot holes in my thoughts. Or love it– that’s always an option, too. 😉

1. In an LSD, you  cannot go out too fast. In fact, that’s the whole point. Long runs require a pace that is often slower than you are used to running, and can feel uncomfortably slow sometimes. But at least when I slow it down, stop focusing so much on getting to the end as quickly as possible, I begin to see things. I notice trees, houses, the beauty of the clouds in the sky, or a setting sun because rain washed out our typical Saturday morning run.

I think I typically live my life like a sprinter, trying to fire all my fast twitch muscles to propel me to the next BIG life event as quickly as possible. But, I am finding in this journey to find adventure and to explore where I am, that taking a long run mentality with my last few months here in Ocala is allowing me to see and enjoy so much more!

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This guy really knows how to run a LONG slow distance! Run Forrest run!

2. Long runs are building you up for something bigger and greater. Last night, both of my running buddies completed their longest runs EVER with our nine miler. While that is such a great accomplishment and I am so inspired by them, the truth remains that our race will be 13.1 miles. We’ve still got building to do, more long runs to conquer, then the ultimate long run on race day! Their race experience is not necessarily defined by their long runs thus far, but they are instrumental in preparing them for the big day.

So often, we experience things in our lives that feel long, slow, drawn out, difficult, and never-ending. But the truth is, I firmly believe that everything we experience is preparing us for something bigger, greater, and harder. And the more we are able to tune in, focus, and tackle those long runs with perseverance? The better capable we will be to dominate our races, and whatever other “bigger, greater, harder” life experiences that are thrown at us!

3. Sometimes on a long run, you trip over nothing in particular. (Okay– this one is not a metaphor, it actually happened, haha!) We were running down a sidewalk (note: a sidewalk. Not an uneven, rooty trail or even poorly paved road) and before I knew it, I was flailing through the air and did a crazy little roll on the ground and hopped back up mid-stride. It hurt a teeny bit, but mainly it surprised me and got a good laugh out of us once everyone knew I was fine! I told myself that the best thing I could do was to settle back in, lower my heart rate, and keep running at the pace we had been holding.

Part of me wanted to stop, part of me wanted to take off with all the new adrenaline I had, and part of me wanted to run straight home and have my mom kiss my boo-boo. But just like in life, sometimes things trip us up. and the times it has worked out best have been when I dusted myself off, kept moving, and settled back in to my goal. I will admit sometimes goals need to be assessed and changed if it’s a big trip up, but with this little stumble I just needed to settle back in.

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New shoes! Loving these light (and bright!) little guys a ton!

What stimulated a lot of my thoughts about the LSD’s parallels with our lives is this verse that was presented in a church I visited on Sunday. Hebrews 12:1-2 is one of my all time favorite verses and it reads:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I resonate with any Bible verse that mentions a running/racing/physical training metaphor, but this one carries so much weight because of its emphasis on perseverance and joy. We are not just called to finish the race, we are told to run it with perseverance. To take each stride in our long run or in our life with an attitude of steadfastness, to continue trying despite the difficulty or a delay in achieving our success.

When explaining this verse, the pastor made a beautiful point that the Bible doesn’t tell us our race distance. Is our life a 100m dash? A sprint to the finish in as quickly as we can? Is it a mile? A longer effort, but short and fast nonetheless? Or is it a marathon or even an ultra-marathon? Long, challenging, unpredictable, and focused on keeping a steady pace you can maintain? We’ll never know how long our race of life is planned to be, but we can choose to run it with perseverance, and to remember that with perseverance comes character, and from character comes hope and joy (Romans 5:4).

Thanks for listening! Just some rambles acquired during a recent LSD (including an LSD trip…haha get it? Because I tripped during my LSD? Too far? Haha, corny Kaitlin out).

Have a wonderful Monday!

Adventure 004// 26 Hours in Atlanta!

Hello, friends!

I just returned home from another adventure on the books– an office visit and three interviews with a major accounting firm in Atlanta, Georgia! I was literally on the ground in Atlanta for less than 26 hours! My flight landed in ATL at 4 PM on Wednesday and my return flight took off at 5:30 PM on Thursday! It was a short trip, but JAM packed! Here’s some time stamps and pics for my ATL adventure:

Wednesday, October 30th

12:30 PM — I drove to Orlando, parked my car at the airport, and hung out waiting for my flight! I don’t usually park at the airport because it is SO expensive, but my chauffeur brother that lives in Orlando was out of town and couldn’t take me to the airport. Also, since I knew I’d be back to the next day, it really wasn’t too expensive to park!

In Florida we have palm trees outside…

ImageAND inside the airport!

Image2:30 PM — Ready for take-off! I love seeing the ocean from the sky. Where does the ocean end and the sky begin?!

Image4:00 PM — Landed in ATL! Short and sweet flight, which was good because there was a lot some turbulence. I was fine (my dad is a pilot) but the lady sitting in front of me wasn’t doing so hot.

4:30 PM — Took my first taxi by myself! I had an awesome cabbie named Elias who has worked in Atlanta for almost 30 years. He said he was here during the 1996 Olympic Games (so cool!). I asked him if he got to see any of the events but he said he had to work (duh, Kaitlin). He said he worked 20 HOURS a day for the three weeks of the Games because there were so many athletes/spectators/coaches to drive to events and venues!

5:00 PM — Got to the hotel in downtown ATL and was in AWE of how beautiful it was! I was by myself in a hotel room with a FULL kitchen, dishwasher and all! Too bad I was only in the room for like 7 hours and couldn’t utilize the stove and refrigerator, haha! I have never stayed in a hotel room by myself before…you better believe I jumped on the bed.

Image6:00 PM — Got myself all spiffed up to go to a pre-interview dinner at the home of one of the firm’s partners! I’m still getting used to this whole “being-a-girl” business of wearing makeup and pencil skirts, so I tend to give myself a lot of time to get ready to avoid any last minute emergencies. Being a girl is way hard!

Image6:30-9:30 PM — I was picked up from the hotel by a first-year staff member and driven out to the partner’s home! It was a gorgeous house and I am pretty sure the grass in his front yard was from a golf course. I felt incredibly bad about accidentally walking on it…oops! The dinner was delicious and all 14 of the interviewees had a chance to mix and mingle with different people in the firm. We sat outside in the glorious Atlanta weather and enjoyed a meal together! It was so fun to meet people and calmed some of my nerves about the next day’s interviews!

ImageThursday, October 31st

5:00 AM – Up early– again, getting ready is hard for me! Especially when I have to wear a suit. But, I think it’ll get easier with time. I have never actually “settled in” to a hotel room and hung clothes in the closet, but with my business professional clothes, I didn’t want to leave them crumpled and un-ironed in my suitcase!

ImageI LOVE color, especially bright colors, but I also really love the color black. Thus, my suit is black on black on black. 🙂

8:00 AM — The group of us headed to the office, which was within walking distance of our hotel! We hung out in the lobby together which was a great way to ease my nerves. Whenever I am in high-stress or competitive environments, one of the best ways I can get “in the zone” is actually to talk to people! I used to make friends with the other runners and high jumpers during track meets and it drove my coach crazy. I know some people need to be focused and keep to themselves before a race/interview, but I really need to chat, laugh, and smile!

8:00-10:00 AM — We had several informational sessions and a panel discussion with some team members in the firm. Everything was very enlightening and it was great to be able to pick people’s brains! What I am learning about a future career in auditing is that the first year is a HUGE learning curve and after that you continue to confront new challenges each day at work. This excites me so much as I get bored easily if I am not challenged daily. I know it’s going to be a tough first year, especially starting in “busy season,” but I am so eager to learn!

ImageLeaves actually change colors in ATL! Crazy, right?!

10:00-11:30 AM — Three interviews, back-to-back-to-back, 30 minutes each. The time honestly flew by! All of my interviewers were extremely friendly and eager to get to know me. I asked them loads of questions and loved hearing about what brought them to this specific firm and why they love it. If I have any advice for people preparing for interviews, it is to have several questions to ask your interviewer that are MEANINGFUL to you. They can tell what you actually care about knowing, and what “thought-provoking question” you just stole off a interview prep website. Ask, and then listen to their answer.

11:30 – 1:00 PM — Three staff members took me and another interviewee to lunch! We went to an incredible restaurant called Lure. Two at our table got the shrimp and grits (Southern staple) and two of us got seared salmon! I was in the salmon boat (bahaha, p-unintended I promise) and it was so delicious! It came with a watercress/radish salad and potato hash. If I move to Atlanta, I will definitely go back to Lure!

Image2:00-3:30 PM — After lunch we were all done with our whirlwind day! I had so much fun getting to know some of the 1,500 people that work for this firm. As huge as the office is, I will work on 7-10 person audit teams in my job function, which will make it seem much smaller and help me form relationships. After lunch, my dear friend Harper was able to pick me up from the hotel and take me to the airport! We got to spend a little time together and catch up which was an incredible treat. We recently went on a three-week roadtrip all over the Pacific NW (more on that to come!!) and I missed her a TON!

3:30-5:30 PM — ATL airport is HUGE. Get there early, ya never know when it’s going to take you 40 minutes to get through security.

5:30-7:00 PM — FLying home! I originally thought I was going to read Runner’s World on the plane…

ImageBUT instead, I ended up talking, drawing, playing Kindle games, and laughing with an almost-eight-year-old girl who left her dad AND a window seat to sit by me on the plane! She was so sweet and was flying to Disney World for her birthday. I started chatting with her family before take-off and she asked if she could sit by me. I made sure her dad was cool with it, and then we hung out for the plane ride! It was so fun to hang out with a kid and get to hear her excitement about Disney! As they were getting off the plane, her dad said it was a huge help that I occupied her because they had been traveling all day and really appreciated the break! Too funny…because I really appreciated her willingness to make a new friend and occupy this 22-year-old, haha!

One of the best parts about flying back to Florida? Sunsets on the Gulf…I live in a beautiful state.

ImageDoes it take you a long time to get ready for an interview? (Or am I the only one who struggles to be a girl sometimes?)

What was your favorite way to stay occupied during long car trips/ flights? I used to make up songs, play the billboard alphabet game, and destroy some Super Mario villains on my GameBoy!

Have a great weekend!

Making (sm)All Things New

Howdy, friends!

As I have been reflecting on the adventures I have had in Ocala so far, I love seeing the new things I have done when I intentionally decided to explore my city rather than writing it off as “Slow-cala”! I am excited to continue seeking out BIG adventures, but I am also learning how instilling newness in small things can bring new life and excitement, as well! So here’s how I’ve been making some small things new…

New Study Spot

My full time job right now is to study for the CPA exam and I have been doing most of my studying at home. We have a beautiful dining room table with big comfy chairs next to a bright window, so it is a very nice place to work, but it has gotten a little boring after a few weeks of only sitting at this table! So, I decided to try out a new study spot two weeks ago and have been back another time since then. Per the suggestion of my coffee-shop-owning Aunt and Uncle, I checked out Caravan Coffee and Tea in Ocala– it’s awesome! They have 24 different types of loose tea (the cranberry harvest is wooonderful for the fall) and they brew Intelligentsia Coffee which is what my aunt and uncle brew! I do not drink coffee often, but when I do, I love it smooth, black, and flavorful. This cup…was unbelievable.

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                                     Study materials and a hot cup o’ joe!

Caravan brews their coffee using the pour over method– it’s more like science than anything! Scales, funnels, evaporation…I have no idea how it works but it creates an incredible cup of coffee! The change of scenery for studying was much needed and really rejuvenated my study efforts! If you’re reading this in Ocala– check out Caravan Coffee on Pine St. next to OPD!

New Study Jams

I have been a big fan of listening to Explosions in the Sky whilst studying for a few years, but a new-to-me album was just what I needed to pump up my study motivation! Explosions in the Sky is instrumental/ electronic/ intense/ your-life-is-a-movie music. It makes my study sessions feel EPIC. Currently in love with their album “All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone,” and particularly the song “The Birth and Death of a Day.” The song is completely instrumental, but I found a lot of meaning in the words of the title. Each day begins with a new birth and ends with a death as it transitions into the next day’s birth. How beautiful to think of the new life that comes with EACH new day. 

ImageNew Fall Temps!

Florida is the Sunshine state, known for sweaty summers and going to the beach on Christmas. We really don’t get “seasons” here, but we’ll get spurts of cooler temps in the mornings that will warm up as the day goes on. It has been SO beautiful this week as the morning temps dip!

Image46 degrees!!! …Don’t worry– it was 80 by noon. 😉 This cool morning gave me a chance to break out my arm warmers for the first time this fall! I don’t know what it is, but I LOVE wearing arm warmers when I run, and being able to just pull them down when the temps get (inevitably) warmer! Fall temps are really putting me in the autumn mood!

ImageNew Technology!

I have had a “dumb phone” for the past forever that couldn’t even get picture texts or group texts! I really actually loved my dumb phone– I was never glued to my phone and I could drop it all the time and it never bothered me. BUT, as I get ready to travel for interviews and get ready to transition into the big-girl-working-world, I felt it was time to get a big-girl-phone, too.

So, I have entered the 21st century! It’s been fun getting used to an iPhone and slowly learning all the fun stuff it can do (like read blogs on the WordPress app! Woo!).

New Friends

This evening I decided to hit the road for a run (with my phone so I could use a GPS for the first time!). I have wanted to go over to the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association in Ocala where they keep horses to use in occupational therapy and love on some horses, so I decided to run there this evening! I ran with a carrot in the waistband of my capris– gotta come with a treat for the horses! I wish I could have carried more than one, but I can only imagine what I would have looked like running with a bag of carrots, haha!

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Since I ran with my phone, I could also take pics of the horses! SO MANY NEW THINGS!

Growing up in the ‘Horse Capital of the World,’ I have always loved these animals. It was so special to get to rub on their necks mid-run and get to run home smelling like horse!

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                            Just look at that face!!

New Beginnings

I’ve started a new plan to read through the Old Testament of the Bible! I’ve read the New Testament, and spend most of my time there. I’ve read some of the books of the Old Testament, but haven’t worked all the way through it! I’m excited to read about the wisdom and weaknesses of the kings, the prophecies that point to Jesus, and the strength and power of the Lord. Let’s hope I can make it through the genealogies! Look out for some reflections on my readings here. 🙂

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                                                  In the beginning…

So there are some NEW, albeit small, things!

Have you done any new, small things recently? Or new, BIG things? 🙂

Do you listen to music when you study? Any suggestions for me??

Have a beautiful day!

Kaitlin

 

 

 

Adventure 003// A Day in Downtown Ocala!

‘Ello, there!

Saturday I spent almost the entire day in downtown Ocala, and it was an absolute blast! If you are not familiar with my quaint hometown, it is a mid-sized central-Florida city known for retirement communities and thoroughbred horses. It is the self-proclaimed ‘Horse Capital of the World’ and the horse industry is actually a 2 BILLION dollar industry here– crazy, huh?!

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                                         Ocala paints horses on statues of horses! Inception horses…?

Because of its abundance of elderly snow-birds and agriculture, Ocala has not always been the most hoppin’ town. In fact, growing up, we usually called it “Slow-cala.” So another goal of my next few months here and what I hope to reflect upon in this blog, is to seek out adventure in Ocala! I may have lived here for 18 of my 22 years, but that doesn’t mean I have done it all! Here are some of my highlights from almost an entire Saturday spent downtown!

6:30 AM — Run with Old and New Friends

A friend from high school, Emily, is training for a half marathon that is a week after the one I am training for! This is a awesome opportunity to get to run with her and catch up after not seeing each other for FOUR years (that feels like so long when you’ve only been alive for 22!). Emily and some of her friends do a run on Saturday starting at the Starbucks that is located on our downtown square. I joined them for a 6.2 mile run this morning and it was a ton of fun!

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Pre-run pic! It was actually a pretty cold morning for Florida–     46 degrees!

We ran on roads I have run before numerous times, but it is a wonder how running with new people can help make old routes feel brand new! We chatted for the first mile before we all realized our lungs were feeling the cold air and we should probably focus on breathing, haha! We finished the run strong and enjoyed post-race Refresher drinks at Starbucks! Emily took an artsy pic of our drinks, then we proceeded to chat, laugh, and catch up for about an hour– it was a glorious morning!!

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10 AM — Art Fest with the very best!

After the run I went home and got cleaned up, then met up with my best friend Kelsey to go downtown to the Fine Art for Ocala (FAFO) Art Festival. It is a yearly festival that draws artists from all over to showcase and sell their work! I used to LOVE going to FAFO as a kid, but have been unable to go for the last 4 years because of being away at Florida State University. Needless to say, I was SO stoked to go again! We saw so many different mediums of art– photographs printed on metal, pencil drawings that looked way too real, vibrant portraits of jazz/blues/iconic artists painted on salvaged wood, etc! Here are a few things that caught my eye:

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                                                                      Jellies!!

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                                                 Ocalans love our horses!

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                                                             Kelsey bought a cool fish for her mom!

I really enjoy looking at art, but it is often WAY too expensive to buy. I was hoping one of my favorite artists would be at the show and planned to splurge on something of hers if the opportunity arose (this might be the last time I can attend FAFO after all!). Unfortunately, that artist was not present so I started looking for something else to catch my eye…then we stumbled upon a booth of freshwater pearl jewelry and I was caught! I RARELY wear jewelry, and if I do, it is pearl earrings because pearl is my birthstone (June!) I fell in love with this bracelet, that was an INCREDIBLE price, and decided I would love to have a piece of art, a piece of home, that I can WEAR. So here it is:

Image1:00 PM — Cuban sandwiches at Cafe Havana

After we left the festival, Kels and I were in the mood for some new, local food. We asked Siri to help us out and she suggested Cafe Havana, a perfect pick because Kelsey and I have a tradition of eating Cuban food together! It is an awesome, family owned restaurant on Magnolia Ave. in Ocala and it was a delicious lunch! I was able to save half my sandwich and eat it for dinner– which always makes me an even bigger fan of a restaurant! 🙂 I definitely recommend Cafe Havana!

Image3:30-7:00 PM — Nothing new here– just watched the Seminoles dominate some football on TV. Love those ‘Noles!

8:00-9:30 PM — Downtown Historic GHOST Tour!

Something on my bucket list to do in Ocala before I leave was to take a tour of historic downtown Ocala and all of its Victorian homes. When I was Googling for tours the other day, the only thing I could find was ghost tours! I asked Kelsey if she would be up for it and the two of us and her boyfriend, Chip, decided to give it a go! We left from a tattoo parlor (suitable) at 8 PM to hear about the spooky secrets of downtown Ocala.

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                                       Kels and I pre-ghost tour. Not scared yet!

What I really enjoyed about the tour was hearing some of the history of the homes and buildings. For example, one home was owned by two brothers who effectively eradicated yellow fever from Ocala in the 1800s! Another home was owned by the first mayor of Ocala, Mayor Dunn. They also told us creepy stuff about public hangings and executioners, but we won’t get in to that. 😉

ImageThe home above was Mayor Dunn’s and now serves as a restaurant and shop. There is talk of a female ghost who hangs out here, and different “occurrences” of stuff falling over without anyone around. All the talk of ghosts and spirits definitely put us in the Halloween mood!

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Terrible picture of another house– the way the flash reflected off the door was funny because they kept talking about “orbs”

Over all it was just a fun, cheap, and unique experience! It was nice to take a walk on a cool, fall evening and get to hear some of the stories and history. Don’t worry– I’m not anymore afraid of ghosts tonight than I was before. 😉

9:30PM — Late Night Chocolate

As we were walking back to the car after the tour, we noticed a chocolate shop downtown none of us had been to before! We all said “we should go there sometime!” until we noticed they were open until 10pm! We stopped in and Chip got some ice cream while Kelsey got a MEGA chocolate peanut butter cup! I had a bite and it was AWESOME! Fun and SWEET way to end an incredible day!

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I have to say, I had quite a day in downtown “Slowcala”! It’s so fun to see what new things I can do in this city that feels so old!

Any Ocalans have suggestions for other things to do?

Have you done any new things in your hometown or current city recently?

From my heart to yours,

Kaitlin