September ended up being busier than I expected, but it was all good things. I actually had some trouble coming up with a couple items to put in The Challenges section this month. Here are my reflections.
CPA Exam – I finally took my exam. FAR is over. I passed with a 98 which is an amazing score.
Labor Day Picnic – We had a really awesome Labor Day Picnic this year. It started out really well because my husband was more relaxed than prior years, and he did not become a cleaning drill sergeant leading up to it. We had a very nice turnout with several new people attending. The weather was beautiful and sunny, a bit hot but I will take it since it basically rained the rest of the month.
Book Club – I enjoyed my book club this month. We read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. It was an easy, breezy, summer read, not particularly well written but very enjoyable. We met at Bungalow Lakehouse for brunch, which was a great choice. The food was excellent and I even had a little blackberry champagne to go with it. While I normally enjoy my book club, I felt especially engaged and connected at this one. We did not talk about the book so much, but I guess I just felt like general conversation flowed well and kept me interested.
Maryland Renaissance Festival – This was the first time I have been to the Rennfest in a few years. My husband, stepson, and I went together. We had a very good day for it weather-wise, sunny but not too hot. We did not stay all day, but we were there long enough to see a couple shows (my favorite was the aerial silks artist), eat food (soup in a bread bowl, pie on a stick), and play on the giant slide (well my stepson played, I just watched, but the way his face was lit up when he was done was one of the best moments…he rarely looks so alive).
PA Trip/Ed Sheeran Concert – I ended up going to PA for four nights, staying 3 nights with my sister and 1 night in a hotel. It was definitely one of the best trips I have taken in a while. I drove up on Wednesday and spent a low key evening hanging out with my sister’s family. Thursday I drove to Greenville, PA to spend time with my friend (the same one who was seeing Ed Sheeran with me on Saturday). We hit two fall farmer’s markets and a bakery in Ohio, buying lots of great goodies to eat at each. Friday I spent the day with my mom and Baby T. We went to Simmons Farm which has plenty of fall festival activities for kids. Baby T loved the Fire Truck slide, the hayride, and the petting zoo among other things. Saturday morning, I went to see Grandma because I have to see her on every trip of course. She continues to do better, although there are still some memory problems and little coordination things that have not come back after the stroke. Saturday evening of course was the big event. I met my friend in Pittsburgh mid-afternoon to beat the inrush of traffic. We went to Rivers Casino to play some penny slots while we waiting for the gates to open (I lost $5). Then, it was Ed Sheeran time. He had two openers, Anne Marie and Snow Patrol, both of which were solid performances. Although I did not recognize the names, I did recognize their radio hits when they played them. Then, Ed Sheeran came on with an absolutely great stripped down personal show, no band – just him, a guitar, and a loop machine. He played a great mix of older, newer, slower, faster, big hits, and lesser known songs. The music was augmented by lights and pictures that went with each tune. He was very affable, telling jokes and stories in between songs that made it feel like you were just hanging out with him, even though there were thousands of other people there. I would absolutely love to see him again.
Hike – I only made it out on one hike this month. I wanted so badly to do three, but it rained and rained and rained. When it was not raining, I already had other things scheduled. For my one hike, I went back to Manassas Battlefield Park to do the First Manassas Trail again. This time I included the Stone Bridge Loop section, completing the full 5.5 miles. It is wonderful to feel how much easier this time was compared to the first trip in February. I am definitely increasing my strength and stamina. I am now at 8 out of 12 hikes for my annual goal.
Diet & Exercise – I am doing well about maintaining my health activities. I planned to stay below 1800 calories every day. I did try to stay under 1200 calories once or twice a week still, but was not as strict with it. I think 1800 is finally low enough that I do not need the big dips to level out my overall intake any more. I hit my goal approximately 73% of the time this month. I also have remained fairly consistent with my exercise. I am still aiming for 4 active days a week, and I have been at 3-4 days each week for the month, except the last (sick and out of town). I have been going with a friend to the gym on Mondays to do a weightlifting circuit. Pilates has ended because the instructor moved to New York, so I tried out a Yoga class on Tuesdays at my gym instead. Thursdays I went to Ballet Burn. Over the weekend, I tried to get a decent walk around the neighborhood into my schedule. I have lost about 7 pounds since the start of the year. I feel good about where I am.
Sick Twice – I was sick twice in one week this month. I had a cold right before my trip, congestion and coughing. The congestion was luckily gone by the time I left for PA, but the coughing is only now mostly gone. Then, I got sick to my stomach on Saturday…Ed Sheeran Saturday. I initially thought it was something I ate, but my sister said Baby T was vomiting on Sunday, so maybe it was a stomach virus. I literally ate ½ a cup of wedding soup during Saturday and that is it. I felt much better by the evening when it was time to go to the concert, and I obviously still went, but I refrained from eating while there to make sure everything stayed OK. I was completely fine by Sunday when it was time to drive home.
Job Search – I was supposed to start job searching during September, but it did not happen. The first week, I was still focused on studying for the exam. Then, I wanted to take some time off to just enjoy myself. Then, I got sick and had no energy to do much of anything. And of course, I went out of town at the end of the month. I also think I am hesitant to start the process. I feel a little overwhelmed by the idea of job hunting. I have not done it in twelve years. I had been with my former company for nine years. I pretty much was handed that job on a platter, so I did not really “job search” when I made the switch. I was with the company before that for over three years. I feel a lot of pressure (from myself) to find something that makes me happy and fits with my general idea of where I want to head. This is made harder since I am not 100% sure where I am trying to head. I cannot put it off forever though, because we will eventually run out of money. My husband makes a good salary, but we are still pulling money out of savings. It is a trickle not a hemorrhage, but it is definitely decreasing each month.
CPA Studying – October finds me back in study mode. Since I have passed FAR, I will pick up studying for the AUD section. I am anticipating this will not be quite as time consuming. There are fewer study sections in the AUD book than the FAR one. At my high level review, it looks like there are fewer really long sections too. I am using the same overall study period (about 9 weeks), so this should mean my days will not be as long provided I do not let myself get behind schedule. I also am planning to take two days off per week instead of just one.
Job Search – I am really going to start it in October. I just need to start small, updating my resume and my LinkedIn page. Then, I can build from there.
No Commitments – Right now, my calendar is pretty clear for October and I am going to try to keep it that way. I can use a month off since summer has been relatively busy and the holidays always end up busy. Plus, I am trying to do a “low buy” month to help the financial situation. I might have tickets to see James Veitch in Baltimore on the 14th (my husband asked about it, I said sure, but I have no idea if he actually bought them), but I think that is it. Cross my fingers I can keep the month unencumbered.
Hiking – Since September was not cooperative on the hiking front, I am hoping that October will be more reasonable. Again my goal is to do 3 hikes, the one for October, the one I missed earlier in the year, and the one for December (because really I do not expect to want to hike in December). I definitely want to get back to Harper’s Ferry again; it was so pretty. I also have not been to Shenandoah at all this year, so maybe I will try to go there too. No ideas on the third one yet, but I know there are many options out there.
There you have it, my month in review. See you next month!