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Schedule It Up

18 Aug

For years, I’ve used an untraditional calendar and to-do list format: my brain. 

I’ve never scheduled out my week in writing and it’s starting to catch up to me.  I’m lining up more and more freelance jobs and setting up a new self-hosted Website.  I’m also planning a wedding and I usually always have a pretty full fitness calendar.

Let me just preface by saying:  I LOVE doing all of those things.  I cannot believe people actually like my writing enough to hire me.  It’s super flattering and very exciting!  And, of course, I love workin’ on my fitness and am so stoked that I have more time to fit that into my schedule now that I’m not studying.   And, as confusing as it may be, I’m having so much fun setting up my new site (P.S. almost ready!).  Oh yeah…and planning my wedding isn’t so bad either. 😉

So, my life is going in so many new directions that I’ve got to get organized.

The End Of The Brain To-Do List

Starting yesterday, I’m going to start putting my weekly to-dos and schedule on paper so it’s not floating around in my head all day.  I have used my brain as a to-do list and a personal calendar for wayy too long.  It’s tough to get everything straight when it’s unorganized in my mind.  Here are some things I need to schedule:

  • Workouts
  • Friends/Family Events
  • Church Functions
  • Wedding Meetings/Planning
  • Freelance Writing
  • Blog Writing/Site Maintenance
  • Food Prep
  • Errands

Workouts

The main task I want to start scheduling are my workouts.  Although I write down every workout on a calendar on my fridge, I always do that after the fact.  I always go to the gym with a plan, but I’d like to take my plans to the next level.  I’ve got some scheduled lifting and training plans that I want to try (more on that in a later post) and with that, I’ll need some sort of an organized schedule.

Type of Calendar

For work, I always use my Microsoft Outlook calendar.  That works for me because I have Outlook open every second of the day in the office, so all my work events are constantly popping up for me.

However, I don’t want to use Outlook for my personal calendar.  I also don’t want to use any online calendar.  I’m not always connected to the Internet so I don’t want to be dependant on it.  Some people probably love online calendars, but that’s just not how I roll.

I actually did have some success using calendars templates in Excel for my CPA studying.  So, I decided I’d try to do a weekly calendar in Excel. 

So far, I’m loving it!  Here’s a sneak peak of one I started for this week:

Weekly Planner

Cool, huh?  Like, I said, I’m already loving it.  Plus, now that I’m bringing my netbook with me to work, I can have access to my calendar all the time.

Priorities

I read an awesome post the other day about prioritizing your life as a means to build your schedules.  Of course, there are only 168 hours in a week and 56 of those hours should be spent sleeping (or trying to) and another 40 should be spent at work (or trying to…he he).  You get to choose how to spend the other 72 hours (which actually doesn’t sound like much if you put it that way).  Obviously, most of us want to spend those hours on the things that matter most to us, but sometimes that list gets a little disorganized (or distracted…facebook, anyone?).  Here’s how my time priorities would go (not including work/sleep):

  • spending time with my husband-elect
  • working out
  • shopping for and preparing healthy meals
  • spending time with friends and family
  • church
  • maintaining a clean house/car/life
  • blogging/writing/reading
  • watching E!!!!! 🙂
  • relaxing
  • mind/body exercise/yoga stuff (wish I had more time for this)

Special Note: You’ll notice that facebook is nowhere to be found on that list.  Facebook is obsessed with me and is always trying to get me to log on.  Our relationship is complicated.

The post went on to say to look at where you’re really spending your time and see if it’s on the list.  If not, work to replace a list item with a non-list item.  Also, see which things in your list you want to spend more time on and less time on and make changes accordingly.

It’s interesting to put your priorities and schedule out on paper and see where your time is really going.  I don’t like to delve too deep into trying to make the most out of my 24 hours per day because you obviously can’t go, go, go every waking minute and everyone needs down time.  It’s all about balance.

Do you schedule and/or prioritize your life?  What tools do you use to schedule your days with?

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Netbooks, Underarm Hair, and Office Supplies

6 Aug

Recap of what’s been going down in my life since we last spoke:

  • Operation New Blog : Remember how I told you that I was planning on creating some new, grand Website to take over this little blog?  Well, good news folks – Operation New Blog is officially underway!  And hear this: website creating is no joke.  It’s confusing, it’s time-consuming, and it’s hella-addicting.  I’m pretty sure my brain has exploded 2-3 times over the past couple days.  There is good news though:  I love love LOVE the new bloggy and I am SO excited to share it with you!  Hopefully I can get this thing all wrapped up and ready to go in the next month or so.  Good things to come, peeps!
  • Post-Vacation Depression: Going on vacation is like getting a new family pet.  You’re so so SO excited when it first arrives that you can hardly contain yourself.  But when it’s gone … it’s extremely depressing.  Okay, so maybe not as depressing as losing your family pet (that’s way worse, I’ve been there), but it’s still really depressing.  That first day back at work is the worst.  Especially when you realize that at this exact time two days ago, you were splashing around in clear, blue, ocean waves and now you’ve got 500 stressful, over-dramatic work e-mails staring you in the face that you must reply to in a pleasant tone.  It was about that time that I started wondering whether I could make a living as one of those cute cocktail waitresses that peddled drinks at the resort we stayed at in Boca. 
  • Netbook + Me = It’s Happening: I will have a bit of freelance income this year.  Woot!  Now that I’m somewhat self-employed, I need to offset that income with some business expenses.  Since I’m not studying for the CPA over lunch at work anymore, it’s time to start writing.  Exciting life I lead, I know.  Anyways, that’s where the netbook comes in.  So I can write in all sorts of places.
  • Desk + Chair = Also Happening: The desk and chair set that I have at home is embarrassing to say the least.  My friends gave me the desk for free because I needed something to get me through the CPA exam.  It’s pretty clear why they wanted to unload it (read: it’s a piece of sh!t), but it served it’s purpose for the last year or so.  Oh, yeah, and my desk chair?  It’s forest green, rock hard plastic, and came from my parent’s groovy ’70s furniture collection.  Okay, after reading that description, I will admit, it sounds pretty awesome.  But, trust me, it’s definitely not.  In fact, it looks exactly the one below, only disgusting green.  Not exactly easy on the toosh after a couple of minutes, let alone a couple of hours.  Now I’m in the  market for a swiveling, squishy, sophisticated executive chair to go with my new, fancy desk.  Hey, I’m running a business here, okay?
  • Groupon and my underarms:  Do you guys get Groupon?  I totally get Groupon.  Not because I use it or anything, but because, with it, I know I’ll get at least one e-mail everyday.  Plus, it’s just fun reading about the daily deals.  Today is an epic day, because Groupon is offering up an epic deal.  For a mere $125, I can get my underarm hair lasered away in just 6 quick treatments!  YES, PLEASE!  I’ve always wanted to get my legs and underarms lasered.  I absolutely despise shaving (and don’t tell me to try Nair or waxing because I’ve taken detours into both methods and I’m not a fan of either).  So, I think I’m gonna go for it.  If any of you readers have any experience with laser hair removal, let me know!  I’d love to know if it really works before I pull the trigger and give in to Groupon.

That’s about all I have for today.  Have a great weekend!

(source)

Relaxed, Rejuvenated, Recharged

28 Jul

This post is being brought to you by the new and improved Calm Carrie just coming off of a ridiculously relaxing vacation.

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Lloyd and I just spent a week in the infamous retirement town of Boca Raton, Florida.  We stayed at a recently renovated resort that was located right on the beach and was the perfect spot for our post-CPA/engagement celebration/summer vacation that I’ve been anticipating for a loooooooooong time.  (Side note: We did attempt to visit the Del Boca Vista Phase III, but, unfortunately, we were unable to locate it.)

In case you hadn’t noticed by my numerous complaints and rants on the blog, the CPA took a lot out of me.  More than I ever expected.  In college – to put it simply – I owned.  I plowed through 18 hours of Accounting, Business, and Spanish classes each semester with internships and a busy social scene on the side without so much as a second thought of it all.  School had always come very easy to me.

But, when I started studying for the CPA, something didn’t click.  I struggled from the beginning.  I lost sleep from the first night I cracked the books (Which, by the way, had never ever been a problem for me before.  Prior to the CPA, I could have come away from the Sleep Olympics with gold medals in endurance, strength, and skill if there was such a thing.).  I had trouble balancing the new 25 hours per week recommended study schedule and spent many nights lying awake in bed considering giving up the entire ordeal.

But I didn’t.  I pushed through despite all my struggles.  Physically and mentally, I haven’t felt completely relaxed since I started the process.  Even after I passed, I still felt rushed and stressed.  On top of that, I got engaged and started planning a wedding.

Anyway, I knew I needed to get away.  I knew I needed to turn off my phones, computer, e-mail, twitter, mailbox, and blog, and recharge myself to my pre-CPA capacity.

Low-key, slow-moving Boca Raton was the perfect answer.

We spent an entire week eating, snoozing, sunbathing, reading books for pleasure, and playing and frolicking in the waves of the Atlantic.  With each passing day, I felt more and more of the CPA anxiety that had engrained itself into me slowly seep out of my body.  By the end of the trip, I’d wrung my body almost completely dry of that stress.  The test finally started to seem like a distant memory. (Side note: The CPA Exam process was totally and completely worth it.  I wouldn’t have changed a thing.  Yes, it was grueling; but, it has made me stronger and better.  Nothing wrong with that.)

It was, hands-down, the most relaxing week of my life.  Well, at least since I became an adult, because, let’s face it, age 6 is pretty relaxing when all you have to worry about are dollies and popsicles.

I’m back.  I’m relaxed, rejuvenated, recharged, and, most of all, happy.

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FYI: The Wedding Industry Is Out Of Control

28 Jun

This is what has accumulated on my nightstand over the past week:

P6280222One of my sweet, older co-workers has been fueling my new wedding hobby with magazines, books, and guides.  Bless her heart.

As I flip through the pages of Brides and Real Simple Weddings, I am thankful that I’m a bit more money-wise than most young brides (not to toot my own horn or anything…but it’s true.  Some girls I know would drop hundreds of bones on toilet paper embossed with their future last name if given the chance.). 

It’s pretty obvious that the wedding industry has turned into this untamed beast that prays on weak brides who are just happy-go-lucky in love.  Sure, us brides want a perfect, special, memorable wedding day, but I think things have gotten a little out of hand.

In the magazines, there is page after page of advertisements for personalized guest books, engraved cake stands, invitations accented with shades of watermelon pink and seawater green (or any shade your heart could ever desire), silk ring bearer pillows, customized wedding garters, and adorable party favors.

I actually asked someone the other day if I could just avoid the ring bearer pillow all together and just have my ring bearer walk the aisle empty-handed.  They looked at me in complete shock and said “but where would the rings go?”  I mean…do ring bearers actually carry the rings?  I really had no idea.  I guess I just like watching the confused kids walk sheepishly down the aisle.  That’s where the real fun is, right?

Don’t forget about the suit and armor us brides have to purchase:

  • gown
  • white shoes
  • garter
  • fancy under armor
  • tiara and/or other hair decor
  • veil
  • jewelry
  • something blue
  • make-up/hair

Yes, okay —  I want to be a bride for a day and wear the fabulous costume.  But after really listing out all the things I need to buy to pull off the part, it’s pretty overwhelming.

When did the wedding industry get so out of control?

The industry has become quite good at sucking you in and sweet-talking you into that $250 white gold cake cutter engraved with the date of your wedding day.

I think I’ll just use the cake cutter out of my mom’s kitchen drawer that we used for our birthday cakes as kids, thankyouverymuch. Looking at a cake cutter 20 years from now will not make me appreciate my wedding.  It will most likely just piss me off that I wasted that $250 because we’ll probably be trying to pay for little Lloyd’s college at that point.

In my parents’ wedding photos, things are completely different.  My mom wore a baby blue dress that looks nothing like a bridal gown for her wedding.  And she seems SO happy in the pictures.  I’m guessing she was probably so happy because she was marrying an awesome dude like my dad,  not because she was about to eat a heaping slice of sugar out of her $750 cake.

I’ve had to remind myself almost daily that all this wedding nonsense is just a bunch of BS.  I’m super excited for the big day, but I don’t want to forget the reason I’m here in the first place.  It’s so easy to forget that you’re vowing to love one person wholly and completely for the rest of your life instead of just planning some ridiculously expensive party.

I’m just trying to keep a healthy balance in the midst of this wedding madness.  I know I’ll be much happier in the end if I take a step back from all the tempting extras and just focus on marrying that super hot stud that proposed to me just over 4 weeks ago.

Carrie, CPA

24 Jun

I’m a CPA!

Woooohoooooooooo!

After all the hard work, long days, and sleepless nights, I FINALLY got a passing score for the last test this week!  (See more of my CPA journey here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  The last one is my favorite.)

This is how it went down:

  • BEC Test: May 2009 – 80 (Pass)
  • AUD Test: August 2009 – 81 (Pass)
  • REG Test: March 2010 – 90 (Pass)
  • FAR Test: May 2010 – 80 (PASS and DONE!)

I honestly have no idea how I got that score on the FAR test.  All that praying really must have worked.  Yes, I worked my tail off, but that test was killer.  Oh well, who cares!  All that matters is that I passed!

FAQs:

So…are you done?  For the most part, yes.  I am done with the actual CPA Exam.  However, I still have to take an ethics exam (08/04/2010 update: Ethics exam, passed!) have a CPA vouch for my work experience, get my initial license form notarized, and send it off to the state board.  But, really, the hard part is O-V-E-R!

Was it worth it? Yes.

What now?  Losing the 8-10 pounds I put on during the CPA exam (actually only about 6 left to go until I’m back at my steady weight).  Enjoying my evenings and weekends.  Doing things I love that I had to put off during the year of the CPA.

Are you going to get a raise?  Not right away.  In my line of work, CPAs are few and far between so it should be …. helpful.

Can you call yourself a CPA?  Not technically.  To my friends and my blog readers, I can.  But I can’t use it professionally until all my admin stuff is completed.  This will take months.  I’ll probably be a full-fledged CPA with bells on sometime in October.

What did you learn?  Work your a$$ off.  When you think you’ve reached your limit, do more.

What’s your new project?  Setting up my new blog, wedding planning, leading a healthy/fit life, and enjoying my favorite peeps.

Kindness Is Free, Ya’ll

17 May

If there is one thing I’ve learned in my year+ of being a blogger, it is that kindness, appreciativeness, and humility all go a long way.  Funny how those things also make us successful and happy in real life, too?

I etched my first little mark into this huge internet universe way back at the age of 12 in, what, 1995?  Wow.  The web address was www.chatting.com and my 7th grade bestie and I thought it was the coolest invention on Earth to date (and I’m pretty sure it actually was).

Since then, I’ve gone from mindless surfer, to internet junkie, to blog lurker, to blogGER.  I have no idea what the heck I’m doing half the time.  But I do know one thing: interactions with others in the online world are scarily similar to the interactions with others in the offline world.  There is gossip and immaturity, cliques and mean-spiritedness.  On the bright side, there are also opportunities and mentors, generosity and friendship.

In the offline world, I’m a happy person.  Few things get me down.  I lead a very blessed life with amazing friends, family, and dogs (booyah for sweet, lovable canines).  I choose to live a life of happiness because it trumps the other option like…A LOT.  Who wants to be Debbie Downer all the time?  That sounds lame.

If there is one weakness out there that tries to hook me and drag me down, it would be gossip.  Gah, gossip gets me every time!  I always try to rationalize that chattering about how so-and-so wore purple stretch pants with a SCRUNCHIE to the office one day isn’t technically mean, it’s just stating a fact – am I right?

But my conscious always gets the better of me and I feel guilty every. single. time. I. gossip.  Annoying how that works, huh?

I’ve fallen victim to a bit of gossiping in the blogosphere, but I’ve tried to keep it under wraps instead of shouting it out on twitter (like that’s better, right?).  But fo rill, even miniscule gossip breeds negativity, so shame on me for gossiping at all.

My point here is:  kindness is free, ya’ll.

Everyone is always looking for the freebies nowadays, and dishing out a little kindness, thankfulness, and/or generosity is about as good as free gets.  I’ve received more kindness and support than I think I deserve in the form of fantastic comments from my awesome readers.  Every time I get an e-mail letting me know that one of you fabulous peeps left me a comment, it sends my little heart a flutter.  You guys  make me so happy.

So, take it for what it’s worth, but a little kindness goes a long way. 😉

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Check, check, check it out:  My interview over at Me In Millions.

Update:  Some of you are wondering what the haps are and where this post came from.  This post was inspired by some shenanigans going on in my real life.  Said shenanigans have made me realize just how important unconditional love is.  Peeps are just peeps, they aren’t perfect…..even if they wear purple stretch pants with scrunchies.  😉

The Hardest Part Is Getting Your Shoes On

16 May

I once heard someone say that the hardest part of staying fit is just getting your shoes on.

Once you get your shoes on, there’s no doubt that you’ll get your work-out on and your day, week, month, and year will be infinitely better because of that one move.

How true is that?  And don’t you think this is applicable to all areas of our life?

Oftentimes, I dread sitting down to study.  I’ll walk by my work station set up haphazardly on the dining room table and think of a million other things I could do to put off studying.  But, once I sit down, I’m in a study zone and I usually make a lot of progress.  The hardest part is just opening up my study materials.

Same goes for paying off debt.  Once you sit down and write up a budget, you’re well on your way.

For years, I was a casual, uncaring churchgoer.  Only going to church when I felt like it, not really committing myself to my parish.  But, last fall, I made an effort to join an adult education class that changed my life.  The teacher of the class happened to be speaking at the Mass that Lloyd and I were attending one Saturday evening.  His presence struck me so much that I signed up for his weekly classes that night.  Lloyd and I have been attending his weekly classes since last September.  We have made some amazing, lifelong friends.  Our teacher has not only become one our good friends, but I can honestly say that he has changed my life forever.  He is an amazing person and I feel so blessed to just share in some of his time every week.  If I had not just laced up my shoes and signed up for his class that night last fall, I would never have had the life-changing experiences that I’ve had since I’ve met him.

Think about what that phrase means for your life.  Whether it’s sitting down to study, signing up for a class, starting a work-out program, or even just being a better person for your friends and family – just do it.  Just lace up your shoes; after all, that’s the hardest part.