Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pura Vida

"Pure Life."

The law of the land in Costa Rica. The expression is used in many forms, from a greeting, to a synonym for "excellent." Costa Ricans follow this lifestyle and are some of the most wonderful people on earth. A synonym of "hakuna matata." Life is wonderful; enjoy it.

As I sit bundled up, looking at what is now probably 2 feet of snow, it feels that my vacation to Costa Rica was years ago. But it has been only a month since I returned home from paradise. 

Costa Rica is one of the most relaxing beautiful and friendly places on earth. Five years ago I had the pleasure of visiting while on spring break with my college roommates. Then, we stayed with family friends, Dawson and Bette, in their beautiful home just a short walk from the beach. This time, with my family, we stayed at Dawson and Bette’s newly open boutique hotel La Gaviota Tropical

La Gaviota is just steps from the beach.

And has the most beautiful view of the sunset from the rooftop infinity pool.

Each room has a beautiful view of the ocean, and the pleasure of waking up to the most hilarious sounding birds and monkeys. 

The food at Roberto’s, the restaurant on the first floor of the hotel, is outstanding. From the seafood soup, which is overflowing with fresh seafood of all kinds, to the classic arroz con pollo and tenderloin and rib specials, there was really no reason to ever leave the hotel. In fact, while we were there a large group left the all inclusive resort they were staying at to dine at Roberto’s.

Full crab in my seafood soup!

If you are not the type that is happy with just eating amazing food and drinking on vacation, there are plenty of awesome activities too. We visited the Borinquen for a spa day with volcanic mud and hot springs. They also have an amazing zip line canopy tour that I did my first time in Costa Rica, but the parents weren’t feeling it this time. We went on a riverboat cruise that got us really close to some adorable monkeys and much closer than I would have liked to some huge crocodiles. On our last full day we boarded a boat from the sand in front of the hotel and enjoyed some beautiful snorkeling.

There was also this, by far the best margarita I have ever had.

The friendly staff and the relatively small size (theres only 5 hotel rooms) make everyone that visits feel at home. My mom actually teared up as we hugged the staff and owners goodbye. 

The cherry on top of this amazing vacation was the affordability. A huge, very comfortable, clean and nicely decorated room for only $160 a night. The food was very reasonably priced and the activities were a bargain. 
2 hour private snorkeling with instructor? $25 a person
1 hour massage pool side? $30 

Did I mention the included breakfast and coffee that is absolutely to die for?

If your looking for a relaxing, adventurous, affordable vacation there is no place like Costa Rica and La Gaviota Tropical.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Better Author

I have a pretty good imagination. It served me well as a child... creating supermarkets in my basement, dry cleaners in my closet and my own little Roxaboxen with my friends (don't worry they were real friends, I wasn't that weird). But my imagination has failed me in my older years.

Perhaps I am crazy but I have a feeling that I am not, well at least not when it comes to this. In this world of Disney, RomComs and happily ever after we are programmed to fantasize about what could be. And if you are like me, you dream up what God is doing in your life…

Ah yes, see I had to get wait-listed at UMD, so that I could go to Ohio State, so that I could meet this guy, fall in love and live happily ever after. FALSE

Ok well then it's that I needed to go there to get sports management experience so that I could land my dream job of working for the NFL, where then I would fall in love with a gorgeous NFL player and live happily ever after… FALSE

Well ok maybe not that BUT I had to go into accounting, so that I could work at this super awesome firm where I would become partner and meet this super awesome guy and well you know how most of my stories end…FALSE

Ok these things aren't working, so therefore I needed to quit my job to find my true calling by working FOR the CPA profession instead of IN the CPA profession (ok so maybe that part has sort of come true)

But these are just a few examples of my imagination leading to my disappointment and in some cases anger with God. Why me? I wrote the perfect story for you God, I made it easy!

As I reread my 2013 lookback and yet again tried to imagine what God was doing in my life I realized I was setting myself up for disappointment yet again. Not because God wasn't following my story but because I wasn't trusting His.

See I couldn't even have imagined 2013 and yet it was one of my best, perfectly authored, not by me the flawed sinner, but by God himself. Because His Thoughts are not my thoughts, and as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways and thoughts higher than mine.

So tonight I, once again, remind myself that not me, not even Nicholas Sparks, could write a better story than the one the King of the Universe is writing for me.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Recap

My New Year’s Resolution: To Blog

Why: because as Seth Godin says "it doesn't matter who reads it, what matters is the humility that comes from writing it...the metacognition of thinking about what you’re going to say....You do it for yourself, to force yourself to become part of the conversation"

So I am doing this for myself, mostly so that when things are looking like the Fall of 2012, I remember all the God can do in just 1 year. 

 As I tried to fall asleep last night I thought about the last year. 2013 had been in a word, unexpected. In two words, unexpectedly wonderful.

It had started with many unknowns.
No job (I had quit my ill-fitting and therefore stressful but well-paying job)
No roommate (my wonderful friend and 1/2 of my mortgage payer had moved back to NC)
and No idea what I was going to do.

But even then I had this peace, to the point of joy, over it all. I had a mighty God, a wonderfully loving family, an awesome bonus "framily" and great friends.

So here's my year in recap:

January 2013
My second month of part time work at MACPA/BLI First calls with Wanda Jackson at the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA). This became my big Winter/Spring project as I pieced together a CPE curriculum for their National Convention in June.

February 2013
Felt like a real member of the MACPA/BLI team as I traveled to my first conference with my team in Florida.
Raleigh (my dog) became a certified therapy pet and we began visiting nursing homes and participating in special events
Ravens won the Super Bowl!

March 2013
Impromptu told my story to a group of students for the first time at Salisbury University. This inspired my first blog post which continued into a series of "Three things I want accounting students to know". Two of the series’ posts were just identified as the #1 and #2 most popular posts on CPA Success by google analytics. This is particularly amazing to me because the regular contributors are beyond amazing.

April 2013
Became a full time MACPA/BLI Employee!
Moved back in with my parents and rented out my condo in order to save money/ rediscovered that my parents are pretty awesome and a lot of fun!

May 2013
Participated in MACPA's Leadership Academy where I learned the i2a Strategic Thinking Process
Traveled to Cincinnati Ohio to help host my best friend’s bridal shower

June 2013
Traveled to Nashville, TN to see the success of my puzzle piecing the CPE curriculum for NABA
Also got to spend more time with those super cool parents from above, visiting the Jack Daniels Distillery (I am now a whiskey fan) and having one the best meals of my life at The CatBird Seat. Oh and scored some really cheap tickets to the CMT awards and increased my appreciation for country music
Traveled to Detroit for a conference

July 2013
Traveled to Las Vegas for a conference which extended into a bachelorette party for the best friend above.
Also attended Sage Summit in DC, where I practiced the i2a visioning process and became part of the Sage/BLI partnership

August 2013
Two of my very best friends got married, to each other and I got to play maid of honor!
Began piecing together curriculum once again but this time for Sage North America and involving 10 different cities across the US and Canada.
Traveled to Kansas City for a conference, getting pretty good as this flying thing that I hate so much

September 2013
Now married best friends visited Baltimore!
Traveled to Toronto (on a tiny plane!) and co-led a visioning session using i2a for Sage North America.
Started participating in fundraising by selling concessions at Ravens games for Pets On Wheels (gained a whole new perspective on concessions at stadiums)
Turned 26!

October 2013
Told my story twice more to accounting students and once to a group of over 100 people at an MACPA Town Hall
Got to work with the entire MACPA/BLI group on a new space design

November 2013
Led a 1 hour CPE workshop on social media for the NABA Baltimore Chapter
Attended Digital CPAConference in DC and met Simon Sinek!
Had jury duty which led to being on an actual jury for a two day civil trial (very interesting experience)
Facilitated a Strategic Planning session for Bike MD

December 2013
Facilitated a Strategic Planning session for the Maryland Council on Economic Education
Together with the MACPA/BLI Staff and board participating in a visioning session for the organization

So as I look back at all that 2013 was, I am still in shock of the unexpected things God did in my life; things that I couldn’t even dream of this time last year. And now I look forward to the new year with an unexpected joy and hope of the great and many things God can and will do in 2014.

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.