Weekend Recap: Holiday Party Weekend

Weekend of December 7-8

This was a super short weekend for me… so hopefully that means I can crank out this recap and get caught up on writing these :)

I did get home on Thursday night, but my Friday was absolutely packed – first I hosted First Friday for my town, then was off to a dentist appointment, and then I finally was able to flip over to do work the rest of the day.

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This cracked me up. Good thing she couldn’t see my Trustee nametag under the bib!

I used to make a point of always wrapping up work by 5pm on Fridays (many other days, I work till 9pm or 10pm, so it’s nice to have one day I definitely end early), but this week, it was 6:45pm before I finally called it quits and headed up to Boulder for a dinner date at Avery Brewing. Not a late night by any means, but definitely a clear sign I am taking a bit too much on and need to figure out how I can reduce my workload before it burns me out!

On that note… I had a bunch of work to do on Saturday. But before that, I headed to Chuze for a swim. Two miles done in 1:07 – not bad! I did a really easy pace for the first half, then tried to pick it up a little bit in the second half. I recently read an article on non-meditation activities that give you similar benefits, and I have to say, for me, swimming is very much like meditation. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how I can get “in the zone” and enjoy it once I get into the rhythm of the strokes, and while at first I thought it would be boring to swim without music, now I’m kind of happy I don’t have waterproof headphones and can just let my mind clear out while I count laps.

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Great swim! This has definitely become my zen place.

After the swim, I rinsed off quickly, headed home for a quick change of clothes and to make coffee, and then grabbed my cup and a protein bar and headed out the door. I was on my way up to Boulder for an avalanche awareness class at REI, which I was pretty excited about.

This was not a full AIARE 1 course, but it gave me some foundational knowledge of how avalanches work and how you can stay safe. Last year, there was an avalanche on the “Minturn Mile” (the backcountry route that I can potentially take from Vail right to my house), and this year, there were two inbounds avalanches this weekend – so I am definitely eager to learn what I can do to stay safe while still enjoying the snow! The class was definitely somewhat basic, but as it was all pretty new to me, I feel like I got a lot out of it. Now I need to find an AIARE class so I can really learn the ropes and do some practice rescues…

After class, I ran a few errands, and had a quick conference call on my way home that completely changed my plans. I was pitching a client on Monday in Florida, but we had thought we’d be remote. Nope – instead, I needed to fly out Sunday to be there in person! It was a client I was pretty excited about, but that definitely shortened my weekend and made for some challenging logistics. I was supposed to host my holiday cookie party from 2pm-5pm, but I now needed to be on a 5:45pm flight to Tampa. I headed home to take another look at the deck I’d be presenting, and also updated the end time of my event and sent all the guests a note to let them know. Then, I headed to my basement for some more work. But not work-work; fitness-work, on the treadmill.

My PT has finally cleared me to run 30 minutes in one shot, and what’s more, has said that I can start changing up the incline and speed (within reason). With that news, I knew I had finally graduated to being able to try the Peloton treadmill workouts – an area of the app I’ve been dying to explore! So I flipped through the app and decided my first tread workout would be Matt Wilpers’ Billy Joel ride from early November, since I am still obsessed with Billy Joel after seeing him in concert this summer.

The very first song was River of Dreams, which is one of my two favorites (the other is Summer Highland Falls), and also happens to be the exact 180bpm cadence my PT has asked me to make sure I run… perfection!! That meant I had a huge grin on my face right from the start. Although I liked the music for Jen Sherman’s Billy Joel bike ride better, I was still singing along (out loud – hooray for a home gym! Haha) the whole time, particularly since Matt kept emphasizing that we should be at a conversational pace. The run was a lot easier than I expected, and it made me kind of wish I had started doing the Peloton tread workouts sooner. But – patience. I’m glad my recovery is going so smoothly so far, and hope it keeps up as my calf continues to to get stronger!

As a bonus to my feel good mood, after the workout, I tagged Mattt on Instagram… and he messaged me directly to say welcome back to running! You can make fun of that Peloton ad all you want, but I truly think the Peloton community is amazing, and it inspires me to push harder :) (Update: check out the incredible Christmas surprise Peloton arranged for the Peloton Reddit members!!! I seriously love this community so much.)

I hustled from my workout up to shower, and then had to jet out the door to meet my friend Chris so we could go to our town’s ugly sweater holiday party. I didn’t have time to actually eat, and didn’t want a protein bar, so I literally threw a (cooked) chicken breast and some cherry tomatoes into a bowl and then munched on that in the car on the way there. Way healthier (and more filling) than a protein bar, which is my usual grab-and-go meal! I may need to start pre-cooking chicken breast so I can do this in the future.

The ugly sweater party was fun – I got to check in with the Happy City consultants we hired to develop our cultural arts master plan, paint a bit of a new mural we’ll be putting up, and also meet a new staff member. Our new director of parks and recreation is named Leslie, which totally cracks me up comparing her to Leslie Knope :) Our Leslie is awesome, and I’m really excited to have her on board!

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Photo booth pic with Chris and her sons!

Neither Chris nor I could stay at the sweater party long, as we each had (separate) company holiday parties to get to that night. I went home for a quick but dramatic change (from my ugly sweater and jeans to a very fancy cocktail dress), and then hopped in an Uber to go downtown for my company holiday party.

I kicked off the evening at our Advisory pre-party. Since most people in our Denver Advisory office travel for work, we don’t all know each other the way our other lines of service do (our tax and audit colleagues typically work locally and all sit together). So for big events like our holiday party and our promotion day event, we usually plan a smaller event for Advisory only, to allow people to easily meet others in the same line of work. My friend Sara planned this year’s event, and it was at Lustre Pearl in RiNo. It was a cool space, and we had the upstairs loft rented out, but there was one snag – it was pretty loud! No issue at all for most of the party, but I had the honor of giving this year’s toast, and the music made that a challenge. In the end, people got as close to me as they could, and I tried to keep it super short and kind of yell my remarks, and it went about as well as it could :) I was happy with it!

From there, we hopped into Ubers and headed to the main party. The theme this year was fire and ice, and one of the coolest parts was an appetizer station where various cold salads (ceviche, shrimp cocktail, etc) were served in cups that were literally made of ice! They had an attendant handing out gloves you could wear on one hand to hold the ice cups, and I thought it was really neat.

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Yup, still pulling the old bangles-on-my-arm-to-hide-my-Fitbit trick. Some things never change.

After a lot of wine and a lot of fun with my colleagues, I called it a night and grabbed an Uber home – I am definitely too old for the rounds of after parties that I knew some of my younger colleagues would be attending! Haha.

Despite getting to bed by midnight, I was definitely moving pretty slowly the next morning. I ended up skipping the gym (oops), in favor of a lot of chores at home. I needed to clean up the house, pack up for the week (two suitcases – one for a Florida trip and one for a separate Georgia trip, with 8 hours at home to sleep in between), and get ready for my annual holiday cookie exchange.

For my cookie exchange, I ask everyone to bring two dozen cookies (and I bake the same myself), but I also provide a number of savory appetizers. This year, I served a cheese ball Christmas tree (recipe here, though I put parsley on the outside and carved yellow squash into a star for the top), a garlic bread pull apart wreath (recipe here), slow cooker cranberry turkey meatballs (recipe here), and a tray of veggies arranged to look like a Christmas wreath, with a bowl of spinach yogurt dip in the middle.

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Here’s a pic of about half the cookies (more arrived after I took this pic!). This was the biggest cookie party I’ve hosted yet – I think I had about fifty people attend! I forgot to take a photo of the rest of the food, but it’s pretty much the same as the pics I took last year here.

I was definitely scrambling to get ready as the party start time drew closer. Remember how I said I needed to fly to Tampa right after the cookie party? I did mean right after – I literally put my suitcase in the car before the party, so that all I would have to do was grab my (already packed) laptop bag and phone and head out the door.

At the party, my flight out seemed to be one of the main topics of conversation – so many friends kept worrying about the time, and offering to kick everyone out so I could leave. But I felt pretty confident in my plan to wrap things up at 4pm! I knew I would be home Monday night around midnight, so anything truly urgent that didn’t get cleaned up could be addressed then.

At 3:50, I let everyone still there know that they should start packing up cookies to take home. Meanwhile, several of my friends offered to help put the extra food into Tupperware and wash some of the dishes. I was grateful for the help, and partially thanks to that help, it all worked out perfectly. At 3:59pm, I gave the last guest a hug at the door, then shut the door and immediately headed to my garage. As I pulled my car out of the driveway, several people were still standing in it talking to each other, and I waved goodbye to them :) Talk about me getting out of there quickly!

It was a little bit of a bummer for me to have to cut my weekend short like this, but I got to the airport really proud of everything I had managed to squeeze into the little time I had. My job can be exhausting with all the travel (this upcoming week I’d be flying across the country four times!), but I’m also really proud of how good I’ve gotten at it over the years.

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Some people take holiday photos with their kids. I take them with the temporary art installations at the airport. #ConsultingLife

When I was a junior analyst, I felt like I was just mediocre at what I did; now as a senior director, I feel like I’m able to spend most of my time doing the things I’m best at – and I’m gaining confidence that I’m excellent at my job. I love helping my clients with their problems, and I love the feeling when I’m presented with a client challenge and I know exactly what we need to do to solve it. That was the case with this proposal I got asked to fly to Florida for – I knew exactly what to do, and was confident I was the right person to lead the team in addressing the challenge. After having imposter syndrome for years and years (which I’m pretty sure long-time readers have picked up on), this kind of confidence in my abilities is really awesome! As a result, I headed to the airport on Sunday night not feeling forced to fly to Florida, but proud to have earned the responsibility of leading this pitch for my firm. I was really excited to meet the client in person and share my ideas!

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