Presentations, Nerves and Triumphs

conference

The last time I had this feeling, I was 5 minutes from stepping out on the ice for my last skate as a competitive figure skater.

I felt those nerves all over again.

I was sick to my stomach.  I was nervous.  I was hopeful.  I was excited.  I was terrified.

I was thrilled.

This week I culminated my toughest work assignment to date.

It all started 5 weeks ago when I was named the lead for a new project and promptly jumped on the chance without any consideration of how this would actually be accomplished (typical).

I dove right in and as with any new experience, basically made it up as I went along.

There was little sleep (even less than usual).  There were tears.  There was sweat.  (There was no blood).

At the beginning of this past week, I was given about a 17.8-minute notice before heading out the door (not good for the packing game) to catch a plane.  I was headed to finish off this monster and give the final presentation.

The week was made more interesting by the fact that a) I forgot some items –namely, toothpaste and enough professional outfits for the required number of days (kind of important) b) slight sleep deprivation had me more dramatic than usual (hard to imagine I know)  c) early in the week I learned that 1 presentation had turned into 3.

Let the nerves begin.

With the week’s deadlines changing by the minute and mountains of work yet to be done before the big reveal, I found myself experiencing something new.  Not only was I in charge but I had to answer for the final product.

This kind of responsibility fueled these 5 days.

It was a spirited week that involved:

1)     Falling asleep in hotel bed with room service food in hand (classy)

2)     Team camaraderie in the form of hysterical Youtube videos (breaks up stress well)

3)     Solid amounts of “working lunches” (and breakfast and dinners)

4)     Discussion with father at 11pm about the effects of stress on the face (how will I stay young forever?!)

Friday came and went.

3 presentations later I was elated.

Yes, I drank inordinate amounts of water.  Yes, I ran to the bathroom every 5 minutes.  Yes, I was truly nervous.

But I powered through and delivered.

When the client stood up, looked around the room and firmly uttered “good,” I felt truly proud of myself.

Awesome.

*http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Video_Conference_Room_West_of_Council_Chambers.JPG

Advertisements

Inspiration at the Office

meeting

Today I was unexpectedly uplifted and dare I say… inspired?

It all started with a meeting.

This frequent occurrence has become akin to getting dressed in the morning.

It’s going to happen.

The question is… did I lay out an outfit the night before? (most likely no.)

The difference today – I was kind of dreading it.

I was meeting with a highly successful individual who doesn’t inspire the warm fuzzies.

A cross between Devil Wears Prada and Matilda’s Trunchbull (albeit more attractive), this person required more of my “getting ready” attention than usual.

I made sure my outfit was truly “business casual.” I put on appropriately sized heels (a tip from her secretary).  I made sure to take my scarf off before heading in.

I sat up straight, smiled politely and prepared to be on my best behavior (no promises).

The conversation began as expected and covered the 3Ps.  Projects.  Progress.  Performance. (I made these up).

40 minutes into what was promised to be a 30-minute meeting, the conversation unexpectedly turned to topics unforeseen in such an environment.

This seemingly hard-edged individual offered a softer side.

She divulged personal career struggles she endured on her way up and even shared some personal life wisdom in the form of young heartbreak.

I’m not sure how we hit these topics or progressed the conversation in this direction.

I rarely do in these situations.

All I know is that an hour and half later I was feeling inspired and thinking about how I could incorporate the lessons she learned into my own personal and professional life.

Awesome!

Living in the Moment (Award)

award

Today I unexpectedly received the following award from Moment Matters:

Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered –
Savoring the experience of quality time.

I’m just going to take this moment to be un-sarcastically mushy

This is a pretty humbling mention.

I feel like most of us like the idea of living in the moment and try to attain this fabulous state of being but do find it hard (at least I do).  Living in the moment is something I try to do with this blog and finding the Awesome in daily life makes me get up in the morning wondering what small, exciting or extraordinary event might happen today.

I’ve pasted the rules below as instructed

RULES:

Winners re-post this completely with their acceptance speech. This could be written or video recorded.

Winners have the privilege of awarding the next award! The re-post should include a NEW set of people/blogs worthy of the award; and winners notify them the great news.

I will address said rules with the following bullet points:

  1. There will be no video (let’s not get carried away here)
  2. Acceptance speech: Thank you to my mom, who told me I could do anything.  To my dad, who still finds joy in the little things (like the Bachelor franchise).  To my lil bro, who tells me I’m his best friend everyday (until I don’t do what he wants) and to my grandma, who always felt fulfilled no matter how much or how little she had.
  3. The winner that I’ve chosen ironically made me think about some particular moments in time today: http://tworedtornados.wordpress.com/.  This morning I woke up, logged onto WordPress and came upon this Awesome post called “No More Lies,” in which the writer states:

“We owe it to the young versions of ourselves to fulfill their dreams — those dreams we used to cherish.”

This thought has crossed my mind once or twice before.  When I look at photos of myself when I was really young and I think… this kid has no idea what’s coming, but she’s… pretty thrilled.

Once upon a time I was this girl.  Having my first princess photo shoot (every girl needs one).

I’m going to keep trying to make her proud.

childhood

Ramps, Propellers and Runways

pink plane

Today I faced a fear head on.  More or less.

I was headed back to the windy city after some time in the “warmth” of the Florida sun.

I booked a flight through a major US carrier (yes I avoid Aeroflot on US soil also).  What I didn’t know was that United Airlines partners with a company that owns small propeller planes (most of which I suspect belong to Barbie and Ken).

There were a few clues I should have picked up on:

  • No ramp was attached
  • There were stairs leading to the runway
  • “All zones” checked in at the same time (all 10 of us)

If you’re standing where it seems like you’re not supposed to be and you’re flying a domestic commercial flight (ie the runway), one of two things is happening: a) you’re the President and/or wealthy enough to board a private plane or b) you’re flying a small regional jet to the destination of your choice while getting too close for comfort with strangers.

The answer wasn’t a.

I made it out to the runway, walked my suitcase down 15 steps and was met with the sight of a neon pink and silver propeller plane.

My.

Worst.

Nightmare.

I’m not sure why I find smaller planes to be scarier than the big boeings but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that a) you feel every little bump and b) the pilots on these small regional gems belonging to small regional companies partnering with large well-known airlines are usually… 17.

I dropped off my bag by the plane as instructed, climbed the small steps, peered into the cockpit to find our teen pilot and his buddy and immediately asked the flight attendant if it was “going to be OK.”

I walked to the back of the plane (all 10 rows of it), where I found my companion for the ride.  A hyper and abnormally loud 3 year old.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Lucky for me, his dad informed me that he likes to kick seats and apologized in advance.

I calmly smiled as I imagined my 3 year old buddy kicking my seat while both of us threw tantrums mid-air.  Him because he wanted a “kooooookie.”  Me because I had pre-emptively decided “it” was over.

I sat back to enjoy the vibrations of my new massage chair, called every member of my family to tell them I love them and stared out the window at Barbie’s pink plane in anticipation of take-off.

Shockingly, it was a smooth ride.

The propellers rotated the entire time and since I heard nothing from the “pilots” up front, I assume they were busy doing their job.

Aside from the fact that I had no cash on me (the ONE time I needed a bloody mary) and Barbie Airlines did not accept credit cards and the kids operating the plane taxied as if we were in a road race after landing… the trip was smooth.

After landing, the 3 year old finally got a koooookie and I felt more comfortable with toy planes.

The feeling of a smooth landing was Awesome.

Turquoise Waters, Sand and Heat Lamps

beach

Yesterday morning I found myself in Fort Lauderdale, dining on the boardwalk with my cousin, overlooking the ocean… under a heat lamp.

It was an unexpected turn of cold-er events.

We had tried planning for my visit to South Florida for months and given the fact that I’ve been enduring (complaining) about the Chicago winter for almost as long, I was really looking forward to some 80 degree sun-bathing and PIC (partner-in-crime) – ing with my one and only first cousin.

Family history: cousin and I were born 9 months apart in Kiev, Ukraine. Me first. Her second.  Certain personality traits were immediately evident as I struggled to share and she had trouble sitting still.  We were a handful right from the start and kept our “village” (two great grandmothers, two grandmas, one grandpa and two sets of parents) on their toes.  A few years later, my family moved to the states and hers followed about a year later.  We’ve been marching to the beat of our own drummer ever since.

Cut to present day and our brilliantly-planned rendezvous in Florida.

All was going to plan, except for the fact that we overlooked the weather situation when I impulsively booked a flight about three weeks ago and prompted the celebratory phone calls and emails in anticipation of warm-weather antics.

Not surprisingly, we were mildly taken aback (shockingly angry) upon stepping out of the house and finding our beach day to be a balmy 60-ish degrees.

A couple moments of reflection and we were back in the house.

Two cups of tea later we regrouped and laid out plan B.  I googled things to do in Fort Lauderdale/Miami while cousin did in-depth research on activity ideas in this month’s Cosmo (apparently dating ideas is applicable in all instances).

Some serious fits of laughter and discussion of ideas later, we were regrouped and ready to tackle the weekend.

After all, 60 is better than 20, the sun was shining and we were still hungry.

The last 48 hours consisted of the following:

  • Long walk along the beach (in pants) where we admired those brave enough to jump in
  • “Brunch” of tuna fish and veggie sandwiches (where we attempted to procure breakfast items circa 2pm)
  • Taking advantage of the “couches” on the veranda of the W Hotel (where we pretended we were guests and enjoyed beautiful views and amenities)
  • A visit to the Las Olas Art Fair (where we received unusual bouts of attention with the help of an adorable Pomeranian puppy)
  • Mani/Pedi’s at the spa (and some unfair but ultimately hilarious hostility from the manicurist)
  • Dinner on the boardwalk in South Beach (complete with two mojitos the size of my head)
  • Late night dancing at some Miami night clubs (with new interesting friends and an inspired photo-shoot complete with props found in the Delano hotel lobby)

miami beach

The last 48 hours did not include beach time, but we made the most of it.  We laughed constantly. Caught up on life.  Even made some new friends.

Awesome.

Dinner Party on the Run

wine

Last night I hosted a dinner party (aka book club).

My friends came over circa 8pm to find a spotless apartment (ready for its debut), a homemade three-course meal and wine (most importantly).

It was clean.  The food was tasty (so I’m told).  The apartment was show worthy.

Success.

If only they had been there one hour prior.

At 7:05pm CST, I was wearing pajamas (long underwear) while googling “fast salmon bake” and using my handheld vacuum to hoover everything from the kitchen floor and counters to the bathtub (admit you’ve done this).

I didn’t mean to be in such a crunch.

But what I’ve learned is that the old saying is true.

When it rains, it pours.

In all respects.

This week was one of the busiest I’ve had since moving to Chicago.  My working hours experienced an upward spike, I was needed to coach at the rink and I had plans to attend two events with some friends.  Not wanting to pass up any experiences in my new city, I was determined to do it all.

It was never a question of if but more a question of how.

For that reason, I found myself on the phone with my aunt poaching recipes at midnight the night before, at Macy’s during lunch (near my office) buying plates, at HomeGoods at 6:30pm purchasing wine glasses, at Trader Joe’s picking up dessert at 6:45pm, at the Jewel down the street picking up onion soup mix (secret ingredient not available at Joe’s) at 6:53pm and at WholeFoods at 6:59pm picking up a second bottle of wine… (just in case).

Yes.  I hit up 3 grocery stores in the span of half an hour.  Yes.  I may have scared some customers.  And yes. I looked like a crazy person with bags from 3 grocery stores.

But it was worth it.

Last night was the first time I hosted any kind of sit down meal in my new apartment (actually having seating is key).

We discussed our book of the month (The Newlyweds).  We enjoyed homemade cranberry juice like grandma used to make, deviled eggs, crostini with prosciutto, homemade spinach dip, avocado salad with heirloom tomatoes and baked salmon.  We discussed the book and planned our next dinner/book club meeting.

It was Awesome.