Monday, January 16, 2017

On Love and Loss

Hello old friends! It's been quite awhile since I last posted, and even longer since I likely posted anything meaningful. 2016 overall was a pretty great year for us, minus some pretty devastating news that we received last April. Hank's mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Adenocarcinoma (lung cancer) and spent the better part of the year fighting it. When first diagnosed, the doctors weren't sure exactly how long she would have, but we knew she was on borrowed time. Unfortunately it was a type of cancer that couldn't be beat and we said goodbye to her on Friday, January 6th.

Hank and I had just been up to Oklahoma the week before to visit, and I'm so grateful that I will forever have that last memory of playing a card game around the kitchen island, laughing and having a good time. Even though she was tired and struggling with her breathing, she made every effort to enjoy the visit. We did not know at the time just how bad she was, but I think in a way she did.

She went to the hospital a few days after we left, and then we got the call that a cat scan showed the cancer had spread to her good lung, and there was nothing left to do about it. Again- no one knew how long she had. But we got the call late Wednesday that it didn't look good, and Hank left for Oklahoma early the next morning. She Facetimed us around 4:30 am wanting to tell us that she loved us. I wasn't sure that Hank would make it in time, but he did.

Needless to say, last week was a really tough week. We're in our early 40s, an age where we shouldn't have to be saying goodbye to parents just yet. I'm not sure its even really sunk in that she's gone. There was so much to do last week- making arrangements, attending services, looking after Hank's dad. I think it's going to take awhile to process it all.

Hank's mom was a gem. As far as mother-in-laws go, she really was the best!! She called me sugar, never meddled in our business, and made me feel like she loved me as her very own daughter. She raised an amazing son, and for that I will forever be in her debt.

This was from a surprise visit last fall, taken around the kitchen island where we spent so much of our time!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

March Madness

March was one for the books! Work travel took me to some really great places, and I had the opportunity to combine work with a little bit of fun. In between meetings in LA and San Jose, I had a full day to myself. I rented a car and toured Carmel and Monterey. There was so much to see in so little time, but I think I hit the highlights. I stopped at the Carmel Mission museum, walked around the shops downtown, and then drove along  Scenic Road. I could have done that twice! With the ocean on the right side, and the most amazing homes on the left, I really needed two trips down the street to see it all. After I was done in Carmel, I took the 17-Mile Drive to Monterey, stopping at Pebble Beach and the Lone Cypress. Again- amazing homes and breathtaking views. If I was able to do it all over again, I would skip Monterey (too touristy) and stay in Carmel. Better food and sight seeing by far!! Hank and I will definitely be going back for a romantic weekend.

The Holland House: Carmel Sight-Seeing

While in LA, the keynote speaker at my work event was none other than Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple.  Getting to hear him speak was really special. He was so engaging and passionate about education- it was really motivating to hear his thoughts. We chatted briefly, and then he signed the back of my iPhone. Bucket list- check!!

The Holland House: Steve Wozniak Meeting

I got to go home for a week before heading back to California- this time to Palm Springs (you'll hear no complaints from me). I had never been before and was excited to see a new place. The weather was absolutely perfect, but I didn't have a ton of time outside of the work event to enjoy it. I did receive an invitation to the Indian Wells tennis tournament, and watched an exciting match with John Isner, and saw the tail end Serena Williams playing. I've never seen a pro tennis tournament before, and really enjoyed it. I also got to ride the aerial tramway to the top of Mt. San Jacinto. I'm not normally one to be scared of heights, but this was almost a little too thrilling for me. The view from the top was totally worth the trip up though.

The Holland House: Palm Springs

Lest you think that my work travel is ALL glamorous...I will share this funny Air BnB experience. Our new marketing guy (who is all of 24 years old) booked my stay in PS. All of the hotels were sold out due to the conference and tennis tournament, so we turned to Air BnB. This is where I *thought* I was staying:

The Holland House: The Amado

And this is where I somehow ended up. An apartment with a hair salon in the dining area. Too funny! Not sure how the reservation got mixed up, but I survived and made the best of it. (I'll also be booking my own reservations from now on.)

The Holland House: Air Bnb Hair Salon

With work travel done for the month, it was time to have some fun in Austin. One of our running friends invited us to the Dell Match Play, with access to a hospitality suite for the day (free food and drinks FTW!). The event was held at the Austin Country Club, where the course is right on the lake. The views are beautiful, the weather was awesome, and it was such a fun way to play hooky from work for the day. It was the inaugural year for the event, and it went so well that they will be coming back for at least the next 3 years. I consider it a can't miss if you have the opportunity to go. We got to see Jordan Spieth up close, and also had Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy (hello, muscles!) sightings.

The Holland House: Dell Match Play
Jordan Spieth in the middle.

The Holland House: 15th Hole
This was our view of the 15th hole from the hospitality suite.

Last but not least, we did a little bit of housework as well. Hank transplanted a Magnolia tree to make room for a veggie garden, and so far everything seems to be growing. We planted tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, bell peppers, zucchini squash, red onions and parsley. We have absolutely no idea what we're doing, so I'm just focusing on keeping everything watered and free of bugs.

The Holland House: Veggie Garden

Hank also finished a project that had been bugging him immensely- our unsightly laundry room. In true Holland fashion, we didn't get a good "before" picture that showed the wire shelving. Hank was so excited to rip it down that he totally forgot. He started the project off by installing bead board, but after loving our shiplap in the living room so much, he tore it down and did "cheap" lap instead- just regular plywood ripped down at Home Depot. A lot less expensive, and still the same general look. It's nice to have covered storage now, a fresh coat of paint, and a pretty new light fixture.

The Holland House: Laundry Room Makeover

So that recaps a very fun and busy month. April is already off to a great start with several charity events and a weekend in Houston. More posts to come.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Modern Coastal Living Room Makeover

Test test..... Not sure this thing still works. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know our life has been pretty uneventful lately. You'll hear no complaining from me- it's been really nice to have a little less stress in our lives. The new job is going really well (working from home is a dream), the animals are all healthy, and Hank and I are slowly getting back into a regular running routine.

The biggest news is that our living room makeover (that's been over a year in the making) is finally complete! When I moved into Hank's home, my goal was to get rid of everything brown. We wanted a more "modern coastal" look for the home, and have tried to stay true to that in all our decisions and purchases. Over the years we've made small improvements here and there, doing most of the work ourselves. We've collected some furniture pieces and painted the walls, but knew that it wouldn't all come together until we tackled the main living room wall. After moving the TV from the cabinet to above the fireplace, we were left with a giant hole, and a lot of unsightly cables. After a lot of careful thought, serious Pinterest browsing, and saving- our dream is finally a reality.

The Holland House: Living Room Wall Before
Living Room Wall "Before"

The Holland House: Living Room Wall After
Living Room Wall "After"

The biggest transformation is the main wall. It was most definitely inspired by our love of Fixer Upper. Hank has a man-crush on Chip, and we love shiplap almost as much as Joanna does. When you walk into our home this wall is definitely a focal point, and it was a really sad first impression. Our DIY skills are slightly above average, but we knew this project would never get done the way we wanted to if we didn't call in professionals. Luckily we knew a contractor who came highly recommended, and I credit him with making our vision become reality. I highly recommend Peglars Custom Cabinetry if you need any work done in the Austin area. Jesse is the utmost professional and timely person I've ever worked with.

To round out the modern coastal look, we stuck with neutral fabrics for furniture, and accented it with a bold blue rug from Pottery Barn. For the past year we've had just a couch and a random chair in the living area. Today I found the absolute most perfect coffee table and set of chairs at Back Home, a local Austin home decor store. I splurged on a few pieces, and shopped at Home Goods and World Market to find affordable decorative items to fill in the gaps. (Frugal tip- find a used or half-price book store for inexpensive books with pretty spines or covers. It's an easy way to fill in shelf space without spending a fortune.)

The Holland House: Living Room Before
Living Room "Before"

The Holland House: Living Room After

The coffee table is one of my favorite new pieces. I love the modern touch that it brings to the room. Several of the furniture pieces are wood, so I wanted to balance that out with a piece that wasn't so heavy. Katie the cat seems to love it too.

The Holland House: Gold Molecular Coffee Table

We're thrilled with the finished product. The room feels light and airy, and is such a calming place to sit and relax. I love the combination of new and old- you can see my grandmother's old desk in the background, and I love that we were able to keep it in the space. Hank even upcycled a piece of live edge wood to make a sofa table (that still needs to be accessorized), using inexpensive hairpin legs he found online and then painted himself.

The Holland House: Live edge wood table
Hank's sofa table

The Holland House: Shelf Styling
Accessorized shelves, courtesy of my mom
Thanks for stopping by! I've got one other home project to share and hopefully I'll be able to get those pictures up soon.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Philadelphia Marathon 2015

If I don't get this post written before Christmas, it's probably never going to happen! If you want the short summary of my marathon experience- it was absolutely incredible! (You can stop reading now and just look at pictures). If you want to read more about how a person who said she was never going to run a marathon (ever), and ended up loving it so much that she wants to run another one....then please continue on.

Philadelphia Marathon

This is the race recap that I posted on our Gilbert's Gazelles (my training group) forum, with a few extra details.

Gilbert's Gazelles
It's not official until you have your own t-shirts.

My story starts almost two years ago, when Hank and I decided we were ready to start a family. In a perfect world, things happen when you want them to, but that wasn't the case for us. During this time I put everything on hold, "just in case". No race plans, no big trips, no nothing! We started fertility treatment, and eventually decided it wasn't for us. For a multitude of reasons we walked away from the idea of starting a family, and made peace with that decision (with the help of a professional counselor). From there I decided that life was way too short to not make plans.

Over breakfast tacos one Saturday morning, there was discussion over the next destination marathon for Hank's group. We had all traveled to Napa in early 2014 and had an absolute blast, and everyone was ready to do it again. The infamous Wish (local Austin runner and writer) joined us this fateful day, and wouldn't stop talking about what a great course the Philadelphia Marathon had. From there- it all snowballed and I somehow agreed to run my first marathon. Yikes!! Having never been a distance anything...I knew I would have my work cut out for me.

Fast forward to training season. I faithfully attended every work out. I made so many friends, sweat more than I ever though possible, and slowly watched the miles add up. Each Saturday was a celebration of a distance I had never run before (past 13 miles), and it was exciting to see the progress. As we creeped up into the 18 and 20 mile runs though, I started to have doubts that I could run a full marathon the way that I wanted to (living with a Gazelle = lots of pressure to run fast). Everything hurt and I was never able to finish a run without having to walk. It was too late to do anything about it at this point, and I had to accept that my primary goal for race day would be to just finish.

Philadelphia Marathon
Saturday morning warm-up run 
Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes
Carb-loading breakfast- chocolate chip banana pancakes for the win!

We traveled to Philly with a group of about 20 Gazelles, and the entire weekend was an absolute blast. Carb loading, expo visiting, and obsessing over every logistical detail- I feel like I got the full marathon experience! When marathon morning came, I put on my Gazelle-phia shirt, wrote "Dig Deep. Run with joy." on my arm, and made my way to the starting line with my running buddy Meghan. Hank told me good luck and kissed me goodbye, and I immediately started crying. They were tears of excitement, fear, and joy just for making it to the starting line injury free.

Philadelphia Marathon
Race day ready!

Philadelphia Marathon
Waiting to get through security to the starting line.
The race itself is almost a blur now. We ran a really smart and conservative first half, holding a consistent pace as we zig zagged all through downtown Philly. Historic buildings and unique neighborhoods made up the bulk of the first half and provided plenty of distraction. We enjoyed the excitement (and hilarious signs) that the crowd brought, and just soaked it all in. After crossing the half way mark- the course took a more scenic turn along the Schuykill River, and we were running against those who were making their way back to the finish. For about 3 miles we kept watch for the faster Gazelles, cheering them on as we saw them. It was so good for me to see Hank on the course- and let him know I was doing ok. Before we knew it, we hit mile 16- when I would normally have a total meltdown. Yet somehow I was still smiling, my legs were still moving, and we were still holding a consistent pace. (Thank you to Coach Gilbert for engraining that in our head!)

Philadelphia Marathon
Running with Meghan, and still smiling around mile 16!

Philadelphia Marathon
So close to the finish line!

We hit the last turn at mile 20, and I knew that I had just one hour to go before I could call myself a marathoner. I wasn't going to hit my time goal, but I made the decision that I was absolutely not going to stop running. My body was holding up fine- it was all mental at that point. This is where the fantastic course came into play. Cheering spectators lined up so much of this section- it was such a huge rush. Meghan felt good enough to pick up the pace, and I just kept going until I met my good friend (and very fast runner) Bonnie at mile 23 to help me finish. What an honor to get to run with her! Those last 3 miles were so tough, but she kept me going with some positive pep talk and before I knew it- the finish line was in sight. I saw and heard my husband cheering as I crossed the finish line (4:44:00), and was so overcome with emotion. It is almost impossible to describe what it feels like to finish your first marathon.

Philadelphia Marathon
I did it!

Philadelphia Marathon
Hank surprised me at the finish line with this awesome finisher's jacket. LOVE!

Philadelphia Marathon
The most amazing medal ever.

It was an absolute perfect day. No blisters, no cramps, no lost toenails...I didn't even have chafing issues! I was tired and cold at the finish, but the happiness of the accomplishment far surpassed sore legs. After chatting with my family and reading almost 100 Facebook comments, we showered and joined all our friends for a well deserved day of eating and drinking (and more eating and drinking). Honestly- the marathon was such a small part of the overall experience. It was more about the friends you make, and the good times (and hard times) you share as part of the training process.

Post-marathon celebration shenanigans, Rocky style.

So thankful for my awesome running partner. Couldn't have done it without her!

Next day sight-seeing. Legs were sore, but it was good to get out and walk around. 

It will be hard to top my Philly experience, but you better bet that I'll give it another shot. I can't say enough how thankful I am for this wonderful training group known as the Gazelles. They inspire, motivate and support me beyond words, and I feel lucky to be a part of it!

Philadelphia Love Park
Philadelphia Love Park

Monday, November 9, 2015

On the road again....

I've been on a five year hiatus from work travel (it was my life before I started working at Apple), and I feel a little bit like I got thrown back into the fire my first two weeks on the job. Let me recap last week for you.

Monday- Austin to Boston (after a 3 hour flight delay), then a drive to Portsmouth, NH
Tuesday- Portsmouth to Boston (for 2 hours of sight seeing) to Milford, MA
Wednesday- Milford to Meriden, CT
Thursday- Meriden to Hoboken, NJ (quick pit stop to visit a good friend) to Philadelphia, PA
Friday- Philadelphia to Orlando (flight) to Austin (after a 2 hour flight delay)

The Holland House: Scenes from the North East
Pics from Boston and Portsmouth

Counting the drive through New York, I was in a total of eight states in five days. We had four days of customer events and meetings, and it was absolutely glorious! I haven't been this tired in a long time, but it was exactly the kind of work that I needed to feel energized and excited again. I spent a super lazy day at home on Saturday, snuggling with Hank and the animals, and then left again Sunday morning for a week in Madison for training.

The Holland House: Madison Capitol Building
Madison Capitol Building

The Holland House: Hyatt Place Madison
Hyatt Place Madison- My home for the week
I absolutely love Madison. I'm staying downtown, and it's so nice to be able to walk down the street to a coffee shop or an Indian food restaurant or a sports bar. On Sunday I made my way to Fromagination- quite possibly the world's best cheese shop! I'm not too far from the University of Wisconsin campus, and hope to make my way over there in the next few days to pick up a Badgers shirt for Hank. It's cold, but not too cold. This Texas girl doesn't mind a little taste of winter! It's also nice to just be in one place for the week. I got to unpack and have more of a regular schedule. Last week I barely worked out twice, and this week I should be able to almost every day. We're tapering for our marathon that is less than two weeks now. I'm trying not to freak out about that, and just focus on learning as much as possible while I'm at the office headquarters.

The Holland House: Fromagination

Life returns back to my new normal next week- with an entire week of home officing. I still haven't finished the office, even though Hank bribed me with a new Lululemon outfit to get it done. Hoping we can at least finish painting and get the desk put together on Sunday. It would be nice to have a space to work in other than our dining table. Until then, I'll continue enjoying my time in this fun city, but look forward to getting back home with my family.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fall is a season of change, part 2

Today is my last day at Apple. I can hardly even type that sentence without tears streaming down my face. These past 5 years have been an amazing professional experience, with some of the most incredible co-workers a person could ask for. When I think about not showing up to work tomorrow, running across the street to grab tacos with my breakfast crew, popping my head into other offices to ask questions or chat about something ridiculous that just happened....I start wondering if I have made the right decision. I know without a doubt that I have, but that won't make today any less difficult.

When I left off at Part 1, I had made the decision to meet with a Career Coach to start mapping out what my possible next steps could be. My goal was to begin a career search in January. I swear not a few days after my initial phone call to set up an appointment, I was contacted about a possible position that was highly intriguing. It was an expansion role for this company, and would allow me to continue working with the Apple Education team- just in a different capacity. I decided to pursue conversations, and eventually flew out to Madison, WI for my official interview at the end of September.

Meanwhile, I attended three coaching sessions with my friend Amy at Wolfgang Career Coaching. At my first appointment, we switched gears from identifying possible career paths, to focusing on whether this particular opportunity would meet my needs and be more fulfilling. Investing in that time with Amy is one of the best decisions I have made, and I cannot recommend her practice highly enough. She helped me form the right questions to ask, evaluate the role from a perspective I hadn't thought of, and navigate through negotiating an offer that made sure my value was recognized. When it came time for me to say "yes", I was absolutely confident I was making the right decision.

One of my favorite parts about working at Apple is the people. They aren't just co-workers. They are an extension of my family. Even through some of the more difficult changes we have gone through recently- I could always rely on them to make the days better. So when it came time to consider leaving them, I knew it would have to be a really amazing group of people that I would start working with. My interview in Madison was a special experience, and gave me an opportunity to meet everyone who works for this small, but global, company. In fact, my first meeting was a team dinner where I was literally just thrown into the fire. It was perfect for someone social like me, and felt like it gave me the chance to get to know everyone before sitting down the next day for more serious conversations.

There are lots of positive things about this career move. It's a higher level role with more responsibility and decision making authority. While it involves some travel, it puts me in front of my customers again which is something I have been sorely missing. But most importantly- it will allow me to partner with all of my favorite people at Apple. I won't be at the office with them every day, but I'll get to call/visit/and present with them on a regular basis. It really is a "best of both worlds" position, and I can't wait to get started. Bonus is that I'll be working from home! The dogs are totally prepared to be my new favorite co-workers.

So today isn't necessarily about saying goodbye, but more- I'll see you in a few weeks. I'm making a big breakfast to take in this morning along with some bubbly to make mimosas and toast my fabulous teammates. I hope to goodness that I can make it through the morning without ugly crying all over myself. It just won't be the same not seeing them everyday! Change isn't always easy, but there is definitely something hopeful about a fresh start. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall is a season of change, part 1

The Holland House: Madison Arboretum
University of Madison-Wisconsin Arboretum

Five years ago I embarked on a career move that I never dreamed of, and accepted a job with the Apple Education team. I knew nothing about inside sales at the time, but was ready for a challenge and excited to be working for a global company. I was wide-eyed and overwhelmed those first few weeks. Not only was I in the throws of job training, but I also drank from the firehouse at my very first National Sales Meeting, just a week into my new job. It was just as exciting and exhilarating as most new jobs are.

The first two years flew by and were a huge success. I exceeded my sales quota both years, and was rewarded with awesome trips to Hawaii and Nevis. And then things started to change. My quota skyrocketed to a number that I haven't been able to obtain again. My beloved field partner left the company, and I was tasked with managing a large strategic territory all by myself. The fall of my third year, I ended up with not one, but two new field partners. It was at that point that I realized how much I had learned, and loved sharing that knowledge as I helped train them. We've been a fantastic team ever since and I'm so thankful for the amazing people that I get to work with.

Change is inevitable in all facets of life, and I have certainly learned how to embrace it over the past two decades. At work we've had changes in management and changes to the way we do business. While some of it has been good, it has led to changes in how I feel about my work. Without complaining too much, I'll just say that I no longer feel as fulfilled as I did when I first started. At almost 40 years of age, I want more control over how I do business, and I want to be in front of people again.

About a month ago I sat down with my manager (who I love and respect dearly) to talk about how I was feeling about my work. I wanted her guidance on what other options I might have that would allow me to stay at Apple. She was supportive and understanding, gave me some good advice, and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted after that conversation.

Knowing that my options were limited, I made an appointment with an old friend who runs a successful career coaching business. I was in no hurry to make an immediate change, and wanted to be very thoughtful about what my next move might be. I established a goal of working to identify options that would be more challenging and fulfilling, with January being the time frame for when I would actively start searching for new options.

And this is when things started to get interesting......  (stay tuned for part 2).
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