In a Nutshell: New Year, New Beginnings

Happy New Year’s y’all … just 6 weeks late. Let’s just let the fact it’s taken me almost until the end of February to write my New Year’s post be a clear indication of how busy the past few months have been. Since my last recap in early November, I’ve survived the holidays, spent a week on island in the sun, made my karaoke debut as part of my Orlando farewell tour at work, and kicked off  a new project back in the Bean. After traveling to Boston the past few weeks for work and fueling my Dunkin Donuts coffee addiction, I’ve got some wicked good news to share with y’all. 

I’m moving to Boston, one month from today! (Well, yesterday. I wrote this post last night.) So now we’ve got less than a month to go until  I road trip it back up north and I trade in my southern digs for a new apartment in the Seaport. But before we get into all those details, let’s take a quick look back at a few recent adventures before I embark on a new (well, old?) adventure back home.

Dragons Love Tacos

The best part of living in the south has definitely been living close to my brother/sister-in-law and nephew and getting to watch him grow up. I like to think of myself as a cool Aunt, which means I show up with donuts and cookies and then head home when the sugar crash starts. One important thing that I’ve learned in my short time as an aunt is that you need to find books that you really enjoy reading, because you will read them often, and you cannot skip a page. Two of our particular favorites are Dragons Love Tacos (and the sequel: Dragons Love Tacos 2) and Secret Pizza Party, which is a story about a raccoon who likes to steal pizza. So the best part of my holiday season was reinforcing these important important life lessons with my nephew, like never giving dragons spicy salsa or they will burn your entire house down and raccoons can disguise themselves as a human, pretend to forget their wallet in the car, and steal a pizza. Now that he’s two and a half, he’s a really fun, spunky kid with lots of energy. It’s been great to see his personality develop, especially his Shaw sense of humor.

Usually buying Christmas gifts is stressful and rushed, but this year I tried to get an early jump on things and find some unique gifts while I was down in Florida for work. My brother always tries to get you a super unique gift from like a childhood memory or experience, and his gifts are usually pretty hard to top. Like one year he got me an autographed copy of Full House Season 1 on DVD signed by Stephanie Tanner. But then I got him a DVD of the movie Blank Check (hellooo Mr Macintosh). Anyways, we’re semi competitive about it. So this year when I was browsing around Universal Studios Florida after work one day, I came across this shirt in the store at the end of the Race Against New York Jimmy Fallon ride. And found a shirt with a picture of my brother’s best friend Mike on it (The Met’s Bucket Hat Guy). So I feel like I won this year. Not that it’s a competition. But I at least want some credit for finding this awesome shirt.

On an Island in the Sun

My friend & coworker Jenn who was in the trenches with me for a long time on our recent project coincidentally had the same tax break month off from work in December, so decided to put our airline miles and Starwood points to good use and fly to an island, and do absolutely nothing for a week. So we spent a week at the Westin Punta Cana, which if you haven’t been before, I cannot recommend this spot more highly. Easy direct flights. Really nice resort. Plenty of beach chairs and pool chairs. A SUPER great deal if you use points. Clean, quiet, low key. Just what we needed. We went the week before Christmas, which made it extra nice to fly home the night before Christmas Eve and then have the following week off.

Last year I flew over 100 flights and spent over 170 nights in Starwood hotels. Which is a lot. So when I get a break from work travel, I very rarely actually want to get on a plane or stay in a hotel. But this was my second time at the Westin Punta Cana and I could totally see this becoming a regular spot for a relaxing vacation.

Volcano Bay: Hold On for One More Day

I’ve been working down in Orlando for the past two and a half years on a long-term engagement at Universal Studios. When I joined the team in 2015, I had no idea what I was in store for. And two and a half years (and over 200 flights and 300 hotel nights) later,  I can say this was one of the most challenging, memorable, interesting, career-defining and intense projects I ever had the opportunity to work on. Being a long-time Disney lover, I didn’t know if I’d like going to the “dark side” of Universal, but being part of the Volcano Bay launch team was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I got to lead a product team of analysts that quickly became like family (my “kids” even affectionately call me “mom” … which means I am officially “old”). I got to help solve some complex problems and collaborate on some pretty cool solutions. And I got to give very inspirational Friday-night-lights inspired motivational speeches. #ClearEyes Oh, and did I mention we launched a freaking water park!? And after two and a half years, it came time for me to transition onto a new project (such is part of consulting), but I needed to go out with a bang. And that, I did.

Among being known for my Boston sass and my ability to deliver as a product lead, if there was one thing everyone in Orlando knew about me it was that I only wear black. Head to toe. Why? Because it’s easy. When you’re living out of a suitcase and can only bring one pair of shoes, black goes with everything. Also I love black. So when my favorite client scheduled my going away happy  hour, she requested that everyone wear all black in my honor. AND THEY DID. AND IT WAS AMAZING. I realize the photo below is in B&W but I promise, no navy here, just all black. These are my remaining kiddos, who put up with my craziness, and are the real stars of the show.

After my first experience with pickle back shots(bleh) we decided a trip to Rising Star, the karaoke bar with professional back-up singers, was where we needed to spend the rest of the night. And for my karaoke debut, it only felt fitting that I got to belt out my favorite song with my favorite client Bonnie – Wilson Philips “Hold On.” Getting the entire room to get in sync with an overhead clap at the chorus is the high note everyone should be able to go out on.  I’ll miss Universal and the team, but it’s time for a new adventure.

Shipping Up to Boston

And while my original plan was to get some time off after Orlando, life doesn’t always work out according to plan. There was an opportunity for a new project in downtown Boston that had already kicked off, so there was no time for a break in between. I was in Orlando on Thursday and then Boston on Monday. Which all contributed to my new life plan: move back to Boston in March.

I haven’t actually told a lot of people about this move until now (surprise!) for a few reasons. First, I haven’t actually known about this new plan for very long. It’s all come together in the past few weeks. And second, I initially was not sure what people’s reactions would be. For some reason there’s always some sassy mofo that has to make an unnecessary comment like “well you didn’t last very long in the south” or “I bet you regret selling your condo.” So while I was confident in my decision to move, I didn’t want to let in any negativity. But you know what? Aside from one or two comments from randos … everyone I have told seems to be happy I’m moving back. (duh Rebecca). And with my recent commuting back to Boston, I’ve gotten to see a few friends already which has started to get me really excited to get back into a good Boston routine. Like last week I had dinner with Allie on a Tuesday and this week I had dinner with Amanda on a Tuesday. Sounds normal right? I NEVER GET TO HAVE DINNER WITH PEOPLE AT HOME ON A TUESDAY. So that’s life changing in a great way already.

So why the move? Why not just rack up those SPG points at the Westin Copley? Well, there’s a few reasons. First, let’s be clear: I have zero regrets about moving to the South. At the time, it was the right thing for me in my life. I simplified my life a LOT by selling my condo (goodbye Crazy Eddie), moving to Raleigh and renting an apartment that provided a lot more convenience for my road warrior lifestyle. I didn’t worry about shoveling, snow, condo maintenance or parking wars for the past year and a half. And best of all, I got to enjoy a lot of great times with my nephew.

But being a road warrior isn’t all airplane Instagram sunsets and hotel points. It makes it really challenging (impossible) to establish routines, especially in a new city. It’s also resulted in some health issues that I need to be in one place more consistently to address. So when I wrapped Orlando, and this Boston project came about, and I had an immediate need to get off the 100% travel path sooner than expected, moving to Boston seemed like a clear, easy step in the right direction for me.

I did a whirlwind day of apartment hunting on Superbowl Sunday, signed a lease on Monday, and will be moving into a beautiful apartment downtown in the Seaport area. Which is walking distance to so much – the north end, Fanuiel Hall, lots of shopping, Castle Island, Boston Harbor, movie theaters, great restaurants, and … LUCKYS. My all-time favorite Boston spot.

So more to come on the move next month, but I’m happy to be able to share the good news with all my friends and family, and with the warm weather in Boston the past few days I am absolutely psyched to move right at the start of spring. In the meantime, I’m just listening to Austana on repeat and working on my accent. Time to retire y’all and get back into ordering LAGHICED from DUNKIES.