Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reflecting on 2012

It's the time of year when us overachievers take a moment to look at our life, look at our choices, and write about it on the internet. I am no exception, and have spent a wonderful holiday week hanging out with my family, relaxing, reflecting, and strategic planning the crap out of 2013. The world did not end this year, but there were times in these last 12 months, that I felt like I was acting like it was.

I did some big, scary things this year.

And to be honest, not all of it has turned out ok.

I'm broke. I got my heart broken. I have no idea what my life might look like in the next 2 months, let alone year, and this scares me.

However, I don't think I've ever lived more authentically, and now that I'm getting a clearer picture of how to do that, and what that means to me, there's no turning back.

If there's one thing I can take away from this year, it's that things are so much less scary on the other side.

And while some of the downsides to my decisions have certainly sucked, suckiness is temporary, and there is also so much good that has come out of it.  I would do every moment of 2012 again, without hesitation.

I am so grateful to be doing what I'm doing. To wake up in the morning excited, and to be challenged and learning on a daily basis. I am blown away by the people that have come into my life this past year, and am amazed by the connections that have been strengthened with people I've known. I love the city I call home, and am thankful for my body and the physical shape I am in.

2012 was scary, and hard, but omg so much fun. And now that I'm safely on the other side of some of those big risky decisions, I am excited to go into 2013. To spend less attention and energy on worry and fear, and more focus on who and what I love.

I'll be ringing in the new year in two nights with some of my favorite people and lots of Prosecco. Then, it's time to get to work. There's a lot to do and look forward to on the other side.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


382.2 miles. That's how many miles I've run since August 6 when I began training for my Third marathon, which I ran on Sunday.

4:32:10 was how long it took me to run the 26.2 miles throughout Philadelphia.  4:30:00 was the goal I set for myself back in August when I started training.

It was a lofty goal, and I liked having a new challenge added to a race I had done twice, but honestly, I didn't think I would even come close to making it.

But sometimes, you just have a good run. And that's what happened on Sunday. More intensive training, a good understanding of how to hydrate and feed myself in a marathon, and a lot of hill work (training in Pittsburgh makes "hills" in Philadelphia seem quaint) certainly contributed to 4:32:10. But it was also just a great run.

I didn't stop or walk at all until after mile marker 16 - that's the longest I've ever run without walking before. Every time I checked my watch as I hit another mile marker, I remember thinking "I can't believe I'm still on pace! I can't believe I'm still running!"

In Manayunk, as we approached mile 20, I began bracing myself for the wall. The point in which your glycogen stores are totally depleted, and you begin cramping, your legs start seizing, and you generally feel exhausted.

Have you ever experienced your eyelashes and fingernails and teeth being tired? That's the level of fatigue you feel in the last leg of a marathon. Not to mention the parts of you actually involved in the run.

Instead, at mile 20, I experienced one of the most intense runner's high of my life.  Rather than feeling tired, I felt terrific. I ran back up the "hill" out of Manayunk towards Kelly drive for the final stretch with enough dopamine flooding my system to get me to mile 22 smiling.

When my legs did finally start cramping up at mile 24, I had less than a 5k left, and it's way easier to talk yourself through 2 miles of pain than 6 miles.  I started to slow down a bit, and crossed the finish line with not much left to give. And that's the goal in a race - to finish having used everything you've got.

I finished just 2 minutes over my goal time. Half an hour faster than I finished one year ago.

It's scary when you push yourself to the edge of yourself. Not just in running, in anything you do that is totally out of your comfort zone and away from anything familiar. But it is incredible and surprising what you are capable of when you do.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Notes from Hanging out with my Sister

While waiting for food at the deli...

Me - "I'm sorry, I keep staring at this woman behind you, because I really like her hair. Between this and seeing Emma Watson's short hair, I kind of just want to chop mine all off."

Lynn - "Don't."

Me - "...ok..."

While watching an episode on Parks and Recreation...

Me - "Sometimes I worry that I will lit-relly become Chris Traeger."

Lynn - "Yes."

Me - "No! You're supposed to tell me I'm too well-balanced for that to ever happen, and I'll be fine."

Lynn - ::blinks::  ::sighs:: ::raises eyebrows:: "No Kelsey, you'll be fine."

While walking home after ice cream procurement...

Me - "Do I sound crazy?"

Lynn - "No. You sound like you need to be more comfortable not being in absolute control over everything."

Me - "Have you met me?"

Lynn - "You just need to spend more time in the woosh. Like me."

For as much as she drove me crazy growing up, I'm so grateful for her.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

High Standards

High standards. I have them. Every personality test I've ever taken, astrological chart I've ever consulted, and most people who know me has told me so.

I try to surround myself with people who are the same.  You know the theory that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with? I hope that theory is true, because I really like those people.

The Thread team has incredibly high standards. Everything I work on is worked, and re-worked, and then revised again, and again, and again.  I can have a fairly high level of attention to details, but I will be honest, sometimes the revising stage drives me crazy.  I want to yell, "It's good enough!" and move on to the next project. But it's not good enough, and luckily for me, I work with people who will not settle until we have reached excellence.

It is exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time to work like that.  On the one hand, you can't be starting a business without caring about everything that much. On the other, nothing is more miserable than being a perfectionist, and its nearly impossible to maintain the bandwidth to care that much about everything you're working on.

"Does it bother you," Lee asked me the other day, "that what you present is technically a final product, but that then we all pour over every detail and offer a ton of feedback and ask for 50 revisions?"

"That is what will make us great!" Ian responded before I had a chance to.

But I agree with him, and said so. Because I've worked the other way, where my first draft was the final copy, and while you can exist like that, you don't grow.

Growth is not comfortable. It's hard work, it's scary because it exists largely in unfamiliar territory, it is tiring and sometimes hurts.

And so, while receiving a million suggestions and requests for changes, or being told, "it's almost there, keep working with it, you'll figure it out," when I think it's good enough, can make me nuts.  I also know that when all is said and done, what we've completed is high quality work we are proud of. I am being pushed to do more, and learn more, and create more.  I hope we never stop challenging each other like that.

And that, is what will make us great.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Dress

Sometimes, you find a piece of clothing just in time for a specific event that fits you like it was made for you, and you thank the fashion gods for your good clothing karma.

Personally, I belong to the more practical school of thought that believes when you find something you love that fits you well, you buy it whether or not you have someplace to wear it to, because that way, when events/dates/presentations/whatever do arise you already have something to wear. Also, it's pretty much stated in Murphy's law that if you go shopping for a specific event, you will inevitably find nothing you like, and no one likes to have a break down in a dressing room.

So, when my boss and CEO of Thread was nominated for this year's 40 under 40 and I knew a dressed up evening was in order I mentally rifled through the dresses I have for occasions such as this, and decided on a cocktail dress I made for a cousin's wedding a couple of years ago, and that was that.

Until, that is, the perfect dress literally showed up on my doorstep the night before.

My grandparents recently moved full-time to Florida, and my parents spent a weekend in Chicago helping them with the packing and organization and general awfulness that is moving.

My grandmother, it needs to be noted, has impeccable taste and I have been fortunate enough to have inherited a few of her pieces over the years, which I love.  My mother, has a knack for knowing when something will fit me well even when its not obvious on a hanger. (She spotted my prom-dress in an overwhelmingly crowded vintage store, and to this day I've never loved a dress more.)

Anyway, my Mom saw a dress my grandmother was donating to Goodwill while helping to pack for the move, thought it would look good on me, so took it and shipped it to me, where it came into my possession the night before this event.

And it was perfect. Fit like I had made it myself. Accentuated everything you want to draw to attention to, while hiding everything you want hid. It was comfortable, glamorous, and elegant.

The event was a blast. My team and friends and adopted extended family had a great time celebrating some awesome 'burghers and eating, drinking, dancing, and being merry. It had been a long week, and having a couple hours to simply celebrate and enjoy each others company was a joy.

And I felt beautiful, which is such a trite and shallow thing right? Except that it's important. It's important sometimes in the midst of living to get dressed up, go to a party, and feel beautiful.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Skinny Jeans

Today at work, I stood up to refill my water bottle when Ian said, "Kels! You're wearing jeans!"

Which, I was.

"Yes..." I said.

"You just don't usually wear jeans," he stated.

Which is true. While it may have been months since I've had occasion to wear a suit, and while I could wear yoga pants to the office everyday if I wanted to, joining the start up world hasn't squashed my natural tendency to dress business casual.  I mean, if high school couldn't, probably nothing will.

"You know what's special about these jeans though?" I asked my fellow Threadheads.

They shrugged.

"I bought these jeans when I was 19, after backpacking across Europe for a month, during which I got skinny.  I am now able to wear them once a year, when I am about 3 weeks out from a marathon, as I am right now."

They all congratulated me on my skinny jeans status.

I know you're not supposed to keep the jeans that don't quite fit lying around making you feel bad about yourself, but let me just say that fitting into them makes the toenails lost during marathon training totally worth it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


On Tuesday, I scored myself a big blue Ikea bag full of new clothes including dresses, skirts, shoes, tops, handbags, and jewelry.

And I didn't pay a cent for it.

And no, I didn't rob anyone.

I went to a clothing swap.  Which is exactly what it sounds like. A group of us get together, bringing clothes you have become sick of, or that don't fit you anymore, and you swap.

I've been to a number of these over the years in Pittsburgh, organized informally amongst groups of friends, and then in the last year or so, the amazing and lovely Kate Stoltzfus organized a group here called the Steel City Swappers.

Kate was generous enough to host the swap on Tuesday, and it was so much fun.  We all brought wine and snacks, so there was plenty of hanging out and connecting, there were clothes everywhere, everything from a size 0 - 12, and all kinds of styles.

Right before we kicked things off Kate had us go around and introduce ourselves, and what we were looking for so that we could help each other out.

I brought my coworker Jenna with me since the start-up budget doesn't allow for a new fall wardrobe and neither of us had been shopping in months.  We had a blast. And all week I've been wearing great new outfits.

Not only are clothing swaps great for any budget, but they're also environmentally sustainable.  The amount of clothing and textiles that end up in landfills is astounding. And while some of that stuff biodegrades faster than say styrofoam, it doesn't happen quickly.

Oh, and you'll also make new friends and strengthen your sense of community, so clothing swaps are a win-win-win situation basically.

I love clothes. I really do. I have way too many, and I want more, and I believe in fashion as a form of self-expression and creativity and getting dressed everyday makes me happy. And helping other people get dressed makes me happy. So I indulge in it.  But clothing swaps are a totally guilt free way of revamping my wardrobe.

So THANK YOU to all of the Steel City Swappers who participate - you all have fantastic taste, and I think it's great you're willing to engage in a creative and sustainable activity. I already can't wait for our next swap.

Anyone else who might happen to read this blog - start swapping! It's the easiest thing. Seriously, call up your friends, and invite them over to swap clothes. You won't regret it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Music Taste...

Is eclectic like everybody's.

However, if I'm honest, I love music that is emotional. Sometimes a little angry, sometimes a little sad, and definitely wordy. Good lyrics will get me every time.

Anyways, sometimes I forget that not everyone likes to feel angst y as a result of listening to music. Precisely and I have very different tastes in music and he would tease me regularly.

Last winter I was getting ready for a date, and Precisely wandered by my room.

"oh my god," he said, "what are you listening to?"

"What?" I said, paused mid-eyeliner application. I don't remember what was playing, but apparently primping to whatever it was, was not appropriate in Chris's opinion.

"Kelsey! Don't listen to that!"

"What? Why not?!"

"You're getting ready for a date! You need something to put you in a good mood, not something depressing."

"But I am in a good mood!"

"Someone is taking you out! You should be listening to something energetic, that makes you happy, and feel sexy. Not the black-hole that is your music collection."

He came in and put on something he deemed a more appropriate soundtrack.

This week, half of the Thread team has been in Haiti. Meaning I've had the office largely to myself, as Lee likes to work from coffee shops in the morning.

It's still September, and it's been a rainy dreary week, and I've been knee deep in writing, and so have been listening to a lot of sad music.  The way I see it, sad music is kind of like a double negative, and by listening and wallowing in it, I actually feel strangely comforted and happy. If I want to wallow in the artificial sadness Mazzy Star and Firghtened Rabbit provide, I will. Sorry I'm not sorry.

Anyways, On Tuesday, Lee called me out for playing depressing music. And then today, he came in in the afternoon, while I was knee deep in newsletter editing accompanied guessed it - sad music!

"Turn off the sad music, "Lee joked as he walked in.

"But, I'm having such a lovely time," I argued.

"mehhhhhhhhhhhh," was Lee's response.

I looked at my itunes, and stifled a laugh. "But, this song is called 'Not Miserable'!"

"Did you do that on purpose?" Lee asked.

"No!" I laughed, "I can't make this stuff up."

All my other sad or angry or angst y music junkies out there, you know what I'm talking about. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Part of a Well-Balanced Life

First of all, I'll begin with saying that I am fine.

Better than fine even, good, maybe great.

I'm emphasizing this because my Mom called me last week to make sure I was fine, as Moms are want to do, and even though I was fine, I was also in the midst of September sadness, and I'm sure she intuited that because she has a way of knowing everything, even from 400 miles away, which is a trait I hope I inherit when I become a parent, so that I can freak my kids out as much as she does me. (Anyway Mom, if you read this know that I'm good - love you!)

So, let's talk for a minute about September sadness. I'm not sure what it is - whether it's the change in daylight hours, the drop in temperature, the change in schedules that came with going back to school, but I get sad in September.  This has been happening since high school. It's only in the past couple of years that I've really been able to recognize the pattern (better late than never).  It doesn't last too long, just a couple of weeks in the middle of the month, and it's not in any way debilitating, just makes me more apt to think my way into downward-hate-spirals, and cry more often for no good reason.  I also know that I am not alone in this, and have been reading about other people coping with September, and its comforting to know that there is company in your craziness.

It's already lifting, and now that the equinox has happened I am ready to embrace fall with all the pumpkin spiced lattes and beer and baked goods and boots and capes and glorious long runs, and extra blankets on my bed. October is here next week.

I was having coffee with a friend last week, and mentioned this, and we started talking about feelings, and downward-hate-spirals, and the crazy thought processes that takes you from a well-adjusted logical person, to one who is convinced you've messed up your entire life in under 60 seconds.

"The thing I dislike about sadness," I said, "Is that I can't channel it into anything productive."

She smiled and said, "Unless you consider a well-balanced life, and allowing yourself time to process and be reflective productive.  Those aren't bad things. Careful, your high D is showing."

(If you are familiar with the DiSC personality profile, then you know that she was right. I am, it was.)

And so she made an excellent point.  And maybe it's time that I stop viewing September as the month when I get sad, and embrace it for the month that I get introspective and reflective, and process.  Because having that time is part of a well-balanced life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Good Reminder

Going for a run, is always better than not going for a run.

You would think after nearly a decade I would know this.  The problem is that knowing sometimes isn't enough. Knowing I should run is not as powerful as wanting to go straight home to eat cheese and then take a nap.

What I think is important at this stage in training, is recognizing when my knowing might not be enough, and so to reach out for help and external motivation.

Running can be a solitary sport, and I love it for the time alone it gives me, and the space to process my own thoughts. At the same time, I'm real grateful to be able to text a friend asking for motivation, and be encouraged to do what I know I should do.

Also, cheese tastes better after a run.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I need to sleep, why won't I let me?

I love sleeping, for a lot of reasons, not least of which because dreaming is highly entertaining and usually something that I enjoy.

This past week though, my subconscious has been super overactive, and I've been having vivid, intense, recurring dreams about stressful things like murderers and weddings and have been waking up in a panic sometime in the morning while its still dark out, where I then lay in bed in a stage of semi-consciousness until my alarm goes off and I have to get up for, you know, the day.

It's Thursday now, and I am exhausted.

I don't know what's behind the dreaming. I've been running about the same, which is to say, A LOT, which usually causes me to sleep like a big rock.  I try not to use my computer right before I go to sleep. I haven't been eating anything weird.

I have been reading a murder-mystery novel. This could explain the murderer dream. Hopefully I will finish it tonight, and it will provide my brain some kind of closure, and I can go back to sleeping through the night.

I mentioned this to my coworkers today, and Jenna immediately responds with, "Yea,  I know the feeling. That's what having a small child who won't sleep through the night feels like."

Except, I don't have a small child! In fact, I am in the single/childless stage of my life that should be met with as much sleep as I selfishly want while I can still get it.

Here's hoping for a less active REM cycle tonight.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Inspiring Words

“The true joy of life is being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one . . . being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown to the scrap heap . . . being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish clod of ailments and grievances.” — George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How Many Hallings Does it Take to Open a Trunk?

My sister is back in Pittsburgh.

Which is to say, my sister is back in Pittsburgh!!!!!

And I am super excited to have her here.  She came out with my parents yesterday for her final year of school, and moved into a house with some guys named Hank and Frank. (No, I am not kidding.)

Anyway, today we drove out to Ikea to pick up a mattress for her, so that she wouldn't spend the next 9 months sleeping on a futon cushion on the floor. Oh college...

And when I say we drove, I really mean that I drove, thanks to a zipcar reservation.  I have been a member of zipcar for a couple of years now, and I love it.  It wouldn't be practical if I needed to drive somewhere everyday, but for the city dweller I am who absolutely needs a car only once or twice a month, it is the perfect solution. If you live in a city, and don't want to buy a car, sign up for zipcar, its great. (Disclaimer: Zipcar has never paid me. Though if they wanted to give me some driving credits for talking nice about them I wouldn't say no...)

The thing about never owning your own car is that being a good driver is one thing, but actually being good with the logistics of cars is quite another.  I wouldn't say I am an extraordinary driver, but I've never been in an accident and I can drive a manual transmission, so I'd say that's at least above average in America.  When it comes to cars though.  I am so clueless.  To the point that it's kind of embarrassing.

For instance:

- I got my license in 2004.  It wasn't until 2010 that I ever pumped my own gas. I still hate pumping my own gas. I find the experience completely overwhelming every time.

- It was June, of this year in 2012 that I learned how to put air in a tire. On a date no less. (Apparently, my vehicular incompetence wasn't a deal breaker.)

- I parallel parked to pass my drivers test, and I've never done it since. Never.

Between my ineptitude at tasks we consider teenagers adept enough to handle, and the fact that when you rent a zipcar you find yourself in a new model of car you are unfamiliar with - hilarity and frustration often ensue when I need to do things, like, say, open the trunk.

We're back at Ikea now - remember how this story started about a trip to the happiest place on earth?  I've pulled up to the front so that we can load my sisters newly acquired mattress, expedit bookshelf, and houseplant. (oh college...)

"Can you pop the trunk she asks?"

"Sure," I said.

Except I couldn't.

I looked down next to the drivers door where the trunk lever usually is, but there was only a lever for the gas.

I hit the unlock button, but the trunk still wouldn't open.

I pulled another lever, and heard a pop, and thought "success!" Until I realized I had actually popped the hood and not the trunk.

Finally, I crawled in the back, to grab the emergency-if-you-are-kidnapped-you-can-get-yourself-out-of-the-trunk handle. You know, the one that glows in the dark?  Except that there wasn't one.

Finally, I grabbed the manual out of the dashboard, desperate at this point. Meanwhile, my sister, who is generally better than I am when it comes to cars, is laughing at me, but also can't figure out how to open the trunk.

For the record, we are two college educated women, who can run far,  move furniture themselves, navigate public transportation all over the world, and even speak other languages. But we can't open the goddamn trunk. I felt like a failure to feminists everywhere.

We eventually got the stuff in, by just shoving it through the open back doors, into the trunk.  I mean, we found a solution. All's well that ends well, right?

Though, for the record, I will NEVER buy a Mazda 3 Hatch.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Fear That it Might End

I read a blurb of a book review on two novels about love written by a French philosopher and a scientist, in the back of an old copy of The Economist of all places.  I don't remember the name of the philosopher, or the scientist, or the books, but I do remember reading something interesting in the review.

One of the authors wrote that part of the great thing about love, is the fear that it could end. That to acknowledge the risk and the vulnerability that comes along with falling in love is crucial to the experience being as wonderful as it is.

I thought that this was a refreshingly positive way to look at fear. In love, sure, but also in almost every other aspect of life.

The fear that it might end is most certainly present in romantic relationships, but it can extend to friendships, and family, and colleagues. No relationship is certain. But the fear of it ending is motivation to keep working at them. To call, and write, and make plans, and time, and have hard conversations, and forgive and forget, and to grow close to people.

The fear that it might end is the reason we show up for work everyday at Thread.  That the opportunity to do something we love and believe in could end, makes us fight and work to make sure we can keep doing it.

The fear that my health, both mental and physical might end is what keeps me running. It keeps me motivated to sign up for races and train for months to finish marathons, and take care of myself.

I think that embracing the fear of the end could be really powerful.

Eventually, it will all end. And if that's not motivation to give something back to the world, and enjoy yourself while doing it, I don't know what is.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Some Things I Don't Understand

Despite having access to pretty much any answer I want (thanks internet!), higher education, and a little life experience, there are some things I still just do not understand.  In no particular order, this includes:

1) Why so many women talk on the phone while in the bathroom.

At my former job, it was a daily occurrence to go into the women's restroom at work, and hear someone in a stall chatting away without a care in the world. Like, in the stall. While they went to the bathroom. I don’t understand this. Surely your job is not so overwhelmingly demanding that a bathroom break is the only time you have to talk on the phone. If it is, I would suggest perhaps looking for a new job.  This just seems icky.

2) Why you can’t divide by zero.

I hate this rule. Almost as much as I hate probability.  Dividing by zero should equal zero. Just like multiplying.  This rule seems completely arbitrary and made up (not unlike most of math).

3) The directions "Continue On"

I want to be told go right, straight, turn left, or something actually directional. I don’t understand what “continue on” means.  If the street I'm on turns into another street, can't you just say that?  Continue on is vague and a little condescending.

4)  How there are people who don't drink coffee in the morning.

 I can actually sort of understand the preachy, vegan, "my body is a temple and I don't ingest chemicals, stimulants, or anything else fun," folks who don't drink coffee.  But, for the rest of you, "I don't really like it, I'll just have some tea, thanks," people I have a question. How do you start seeing straight in the morning? Seriously. How? And please don't tell me I am addicted or have a dependency. I do. I know this. But I at least have a coping mechanism for the morning. If you don't have coffee to look forward to - what is your motivation for getting out of bed before 10:30??

5)  When someone emails me, asking me to call them

I mean, if you want to talk to me on the phone, call me, and if I don’t answer, leave a message and I’ll call you back. Or email me, and I’ll email you back. Personally, I am of the school of thought that you respond to correspondence in the same medium that it was initiated. Texts beget texts, phone calls beget phone calls, and if you're talking to someone to their face, here's hoping they respond in person. Communication is so weird today.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Appreciating This Moment

It's really easy to live in the future. To push through your present because it's just a means to an end. Just one step on your way to accomplishing a goal, or to getting the life you want. And while I will never say that it's bad to have goals or ambitions, or to want to do epic shit, it is important to appreciate your present while you're in the midst of making those things happen.

Especially when working for a start-up, you are future-focused all of the time.  Constantly strategizing, and pivoting, and turning your little company into the big dream that seduced you all to sign up for this in the first place.

These last couple months have been trying, and tiring, and part of what motivates and pushes me through is the belief that we are working toward a future that will be awesome.  But, the present is pretty awesome already. And I want to take a moment to remember that.

I spent this past weekend visiting some dear friends in Washington, D.C. I went down on Thursday, and on Friday, I had the opportunity to work out of a co-working space in D.C. because a friend of mine's company works out of the space.  It was similar to The Beauty Shoppe in Pittsburgh (where Thread works) in that there was a lot of natural light and Ikea furniture, but there were also a lot more people.  I was sharing a desk, sitting across from my friend Anne, and trying to be respectful of the room full of people furiously typing away on their Macbooks by talking quietly, etc.

At one point in the afternoon, all 5 of us at Thread were on line, and entered in a group chat discussing that month's newsletter and other last minute Friday afternoon orders of business. Even though we were all scattered and communicating electronically, we know each other well enough, that we can totally pick up on people's sarcasm, personality, and inflection even in typed communications.  So, the thing is,  I work with very smart and very funny people. I have said several times, that one of my favorite things about working for Thread is that it feels at times like we're on an Aaron Sorkin show, what with quick rapid fire dialogue, lots of references, and plenty of wit.

Anyway, the point is that even though we're discussing work stuff, my teammates are being hilarious. To the point where I start giggling out loud. And like you do in most situations where you're not supposed to be laughing or making too much noise (libraries, church, classical music concerts) and something strikes you as funny, you try really hard not to laugh, which inevitably makes you laugh even harder.  I tried to keep it together, but kept snorting into my keyboard, when finally my friend Anne couldn't feign polite ignorance anymore and stared at me eyebrows raised.

"I'm sorry," I said. "My teammates are just hysterical."

"You are having wayyy too much fun for a Friday afternoon," she answered.

And I was. I was having a ton of fun. And I just want to be cognizant and appreciative of that. Because life is stressful. And I could keep racing through right now, so that I can get to a place where I'm not broke, and less stressed, and more secure, and more grown up. While I hope that all of those things happen, I also want to be grateful for the fact that I'm in a place in life, where I can travel to other cities to spend time with people I care about, while working for a job that challenges and entertains me.

I want to appreciate that while I might be working toward a better future, a present filled with laughter at work on a Friday afternoon is not such a bad place to be.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Water Balloon Fights, Promotions, and Aging Gracefully

Thread has a sister organization, called Team Tassy, a foundation that accompanies families out of poverty in Haiti, helping them to become self sufficient, and breaking the vicious cycle that poverty perpetuates.  Thread's founder and CEO, also founded Team Tassy.

And while we are two separate organizations, with different legal structures, and different staffs, we tend to be all up in each other's business 1) because we like each other and 2) because our work collaborates and runs into one another frequently.

So, months ago, when I first learned that Team Tassy would be throwing a giant water balloon fight as their annual fundraiser this summer, because they believe that giving should be a joy, and what is more joyful than spending a Saturday in July at a park in downtown Pittsburgh throwing water balloons to fight global poverty with 3,000 of your closest friends? I said I'd be happy to help out in any way I could.

On Tuesday when I found out I had been promoted to "Trash Captain" (I can't make this stuff up) AND would be overseeing the fight security, I realized I had a lot of work to do.  I asked if I could bring my bow and arrows as part of the security strategy, which I might still do, and wrangled up some trash bins and dumpsters and recycling receptacles, and made some humorous signs to motivate people to recycle/promote Thread, and as these things somehow always do, everything has come together, and tomorrow should will be great.  Did I ever think there would be a time in my life I'd be able to throw together a waste management plan for an event of 3,000 people in a morning? No. But then again, most aspects of my life right now would have been unimaginable until a year ago, and I've never had more fun.

Last night, while we were filling water balloons, which for the record I could do now in my sleep, I mentioned that I was planning to wear a purple sequined baseball hat at the fight*. Because, I explained to my bemused volunteering friends:

1) I will be in the sun all day tomorrow and there isn't enough SPF in the world to last all day, and I won't have time to run around re-applying sunblock every hour anyway.


2) At these kinds of events you are often looking for people/people are looking for you, and more times than not they've never met you, so this way, someone can say "Go find Kelsey, she's wearing a purple sequined baseball hat." and there will be no confusion over who I am because I seriously doubt anyone else will also be sporting a purple sequined baseball hat.

I finished this explanation, and Ian looked at me, shook his head and said, "you are going to make a fantastic old lady someday."

Which, yea, I took as a compliment. And also? It's true. I will.

So, if you are in Pittsburgh tomorrow, swing by Point State Park, hang out with some awesome people, sling some balloons, admire my hat, and help out an organization that is truly shifting the needle for some really great families.

*Regina, I know you'll totally appreciate the importance of discussing what a "water-balloon-fight-cute-outfit" would consist of, while prepping for the event.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The New Normal

It sometimes seems impossible to me that I have lived in Pittsburgh for what will be 7 years (7!) in the fall.  I think that largely this has to do with the fact that I have moved, and re-defined life here so many times, that even though, yes, I have lived here for the past several years, I have also had what feels like approximately 4 different lifetimes here in that period.

When change comes all at once, it's distracting in its own right, and it's not until the dust starts to settle that you realize just how drastically different your life has become.

Since April I have started a new job, moved, said goodbye to my best friend who I have never not lived in the same city as, spent significant time traveling and surrounded by strangers, and have come face to face with some rather substantial self-realizations.

And for a while, this was all happening, so I didn't really have the time to process it.  I mean, I was starting the new job, and then I was in Boston, and then I was moving, and then I was going to Haiti for 2 weeks, and I was saying goodbye and hello, and so constantly on the move, that I had no choice but to embrace all of the change and craziness, and keep going.

This past week though, has been quiet in comparison.  And while there is still plenty of excitement, I have been in Pittsburgh for a whole 7 days, with no immediate extensive travel plans in the immediate future, and have settled back into a "normal" life, except that it's a brand new normal.

I have started to unpack, and even though it took me about a month finally re-assembled my bed, and am turning my new room into a place that looks like someplace a person would live, and not just a storage unit.

I've done mundane every day life stuff. I've cooked myself dinner, and have gone for runs, and am beginning to remember what spending alone time feels like, because after close to 3 weeks in close succession of what can be compared to summer camp and never having a moment alone, not being around people 24/7 is both wonderful and a bit jarring.

I'm beginning to accept the fact that a lot of my very best friends in the world don't live down the street from me anymore, and that I need to call them and catch up because even though we'll visit each other soon, we need to talk before then.

I am very happy. I am very grateful.  I am very much looking forward to this next stage of my life here in Pittsburgh. Even the banal parts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thread's First Birthday. Or, What Start-up Life is Like. And How to Survive it.

There's a certain glamour that surrounds the start-up world.  Founding a company seems to be an increasingly popular goal, especially amongst my generation. Perhaps because our sense of entitlement pushes us to be our own boss, or perhaps because there aren't many other job options, so we might as well start a business while enjoying unemployment.  There's a lot said about start-ups, and a lot that is left unsaid.  As Thread celebrates its first anniversary of incorporation, here are some things that have I have learned along the way.

It's Terrific.

The first thing I can say about making the jump from a stable job, into working for a company you're helping to start, is that it is the best.  It really is.  A lot of the cliche stuff actually happens; late night white board sessions with pizza, beers in the conference room, coming in when you want, wearing what you want, and sharing an office space with awesome people.  That being said...

Get Ready to Feel the Entire Spectrum of Human Emotion on a Daily Basis.

I have spent the majority of the past couple months vacillating between extreme excitement, and abject terror.  Your highs are massive, your lows are crushing, and you still have to deal with everything in between.  At my former job, putting out fires meant dealing with easily fixed problems like; filling in for speakers who ran late, meeting recruitment goals, and making sure all of my sponsors received all the sponsorship benefits I told them they'd receive.  Things that yea, could be stressful, but wouldn't cause the organization to have to close its doors or anything.

Not so in a start-up.  In a start-up, putting out fires, often actually means coming up with ways to keep the lights on for another month.  You usually only have enough of a budget to get one shot to complete a project, so you can't mess up. Add on the pressure of a social venture, where you know first hand the positive impact you can have on lives, and what's at stake if you fail, and you are dealing with real true stress.

The best advice I can give is to take care of yourself.  It's really tempting to stress-eat junk, live off of take out, give up exercise to drink wine, and forgo sleep for a few more hours of work,  but that kind of unbalance will make you a fat nervous wreck.

Find your sweat-thing - for me its running, and make it a non-negotiable part of your schedule. Push yourself physically, to give yourself a break mentally, and to ensure that you are regularly flooding your body with enough dopamine and serotonin to combat the cortisol that is building up in your system.  Have a network who you can call and say, "I'm freaking out! And I need you to talk me off the ledge!" Drink water.  Go to sleep.  Eat some real foods, that you cook yourself.  This often saves you money too, which is good, because unless you are independently wealthy...

Get Ready to Live Like a Student Again

Boot strapping means learning to live on a serious budget, or with no income at all while you ramp up revenue and investments. You will have to stop buying clothes, cut back on going/eating out, pause your philanthropic giving, and take a break from contributing to a retirement fund.  You may also have to move, drain your savings, borrow money from your parents, and pick up part time work.

All of that sounds like a lot, and it is.  However its a sacrifice that seems totally worth it when you really believe in your colleagues and the idea you're all working towards.

Get Ready to Bond

One of my fellow Threadheads has a mentor who, when first learning of this project warned her that, "Starting a business is like entering into a group marriage."  Disclaimer: I'm not married.  But, I don't think that statement is too far off.  We are in contact every day.  Our group dynamic and relationship is unlike anything else I have ever been a part of.  We are coworkers, but we have become family.  We have hard conversations about money, and values, and what we want our future to look like. We have been through accidents, births, cancer, break ups, and the fear of not knowing how we're going to pay next month's rent together.  We celebrate, we argue, we tease, we cry, and we laugh a lot.  We have very few secrets.

I imagine that entrepreneurship can be very isolating and lonely at times for those who do it alone, and I cannot fathom having this experience without the support of my team.

It's not always good.  Neither is marriage from what I hear.  And I would be lying if I didn't say that there haven't been scary moments where I'm sitting in a meeting and have thought "What am I doing here?" And for a brief second I think about walking out and running away and starting over.  But you don't, and within hours you're reminded of why you love and trust these people and what you're all doing here in the first place.

The other Threadheads are the kind of people I would consider myself lucky to even know.  To have the honor of working with them to create a company, and to be inspired by them on a daily basis is just awesome.

Get Ready to Work All the Time

Yes, you take time off, and you have fun.  You need to - or else you will become boring, and lose your mind, and then you're no good to anyone, least of all your teammates who are depending on you.  What I mean is that work is no longer this thing you need to escape from.  It's something you want to do, and so you do it constantly.

I have happily spent vacation time reading through case studies, and checking my email.  I problem solve and brainstorm while working out.  I talk about trash at parties, and sometimes state composting statistics on dates. I get weirdly excited about subject matter I never thought I would have an interest in.  I can't wait to get asked the question "So, what do you do?"

When you love your work, when you find it fascinating, it infiltrates itself into all the aspects of your life.

One Year Down

I can't believe I'm part of a company that is a year old! A year is a milestone, and this year has flown. We are still so young, and have so much to do, and I can't wait to celebrate this anniversary for years to come.

I can't say thank you enough to everyone who has and continues to support us, invest in us, teach us, mentor us, advise us, challenge us, and believe in us enough to do so.

Mesi Anpil.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nan Ayiti

The key to travel, especially when it’s for work, or for a longer period of time, is to establish routine.  Routine is actually supposed to play a large role in happiness in general, but is not something I pay much attention to during my day to day in Pittsburgh.

Anyways, these first couple days at Cange have been largely about finding a working groove; in a hectic, unpredictable, environment that operates on a different schedule, and language, and culture than anything I’ve had much experience working in before.  I have been overwhelmed, and discouraged, and have experienced both emotions while running on low blood sugar, making me question what about working in garbage was appealing to me. Only to be reminded a couple hours later, after a full meal, when talking with the hospital staff about what we’re trying to accomplish and I see other people get excited about trash too. Then I remember how cool this work can actually be.

Working in Haiti is all about living in the woosh. Constantly.

But, back to routine. So the thing that is fun about routine while traveling is that you do something relatively normal, but in a completely foreign context, which makes it fascinating.

Par example:

-         Ian and I went for a run the first night we came to Cange.  Cange is on the side of a mountain. There was recently an awesome water project put in place providing the village with clean drinking water, pumped up from a lake at the bottom of the mountain. In order to complete the construction for this project, roughly 700+ steep steps were built along the side of the mountain.  We decided to run these steps.  Then, not only are we running up and down steps, amidst breathtaking views, but you find yourself saying things that never get said on a Pittsburgh run, like:

“"Watch out for the goat straight ahead.” Or,

o   “Oh, there’s a snake.”
o   “And that would be a poisonous snake.”
o   “Well, then, I won’t step on it.”

Exercise is taken to a whole new level here.

-       Meals. We eat twice a day. Early morning, and late afternoon, and you would think you’d be starving for dinner, but you’re so hungry for lunch that you eat a ton, and you’re actually fine.  You also sit down at a table to eat. With lots of other interesting people. Who you like have a conversation with and stuff.  Too many of my lunches consist of snacks eaten at my desk.

-       And of course, even though we’re working “in the field” so to speak, there’s still computer time.  Data that needs to be entered, emails that need to get written, notes that need to be organized. However, when your office comes with this view…

It’s not that bad.

In the thick of things, and still loving my job.  That’s a good feeling to have.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bon Vwayaj

Port au Prince from above

It was around this time last year that I went to Haiti for the first time with Thread.  We hadn't officially been incorporated yet, we didn't have a business plan, and we all had day jobs. What a difference a year makes...

It was a nerve racking trip for me, because I was already very committed to the idea of Thread, but had not yet been to the country we were planning to start our business in.  What if I hate it there?! was the thought that kept me up at night leading up to that first trip.

At the end of our first day though, Ian, Thread's founder and CEO asked me what I thought so far.

"I love it! And I'm so happy about that!" I exclaimed.

He laughed and responded, "I knew you would."

I haven't talked much about my experience with Haiti in this space, largely because it's something I feel I am still processing, and because I want to be able to eloquently explain my feelings about the country. Working in Haiti has greatly shifted my perspective on a lot of things; infrastructure, healthcare,  and the role of government just to name a few.

When I get asked the question, "How is it down there?" I don't know quite how to respond.

Things aren't good.  Even though the media attention to Haiti has decreased tremendously since the earthquake in 2010, I think most people have the sense that things aren't good.

It's an easy country to fall in love with though.  And the potential and hope there is palpable.  I'm honored to spend time there.

On Friday I leave for a couple of weeks that will be spent largely in the Central Plateau region of the country.  I am going as a full time employee, of a functioning business, with an intern, to kick off a very exciting project we have been working on for months.

I'm nervous about this trip - but for a whole host of different reasons than last June.  I'm thrilled to be going back to Haiti.

Monday, June 4, 2012

All I Want is a Room Somewhere

I moved into my new room this weekend.  And while it will eventually be great, right now it looks like this...

...a storage space with a mattress on the floor.

Anyway, Thread has a press photo shoot tomorrow, and so today my boss told me to dress "nice" and then "cool" and was confused when I told him those were 2 very different things, and which one should it be?

I don't know what to wear, and all of my clothes are in garbage bags.  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trash Talk

I think about trash a lot.

Where it goes, what it could become, what happens to it in landfills, how much of it am I responsible for, people's habits around it, etc.  When Precisely and I were traveling through Italy in March, he was taking pictures of the architecture, the art, the food, the people we saw.  Then we'd walk by a grouping of trash cans and recycling cans in a train station, and that's when I would stop and say, "Hey, can you get a picture of that?"

My job is making me so weird.

The thing that is becoming more and more evident to me though is how little we know about waste.  I am blessed to live in a country, where I empty my garbage cans once a week, take the bags to the curb, and then they are picked up and disposed of.

I don't know where those bags go.

I try to do my part as a good person and recycle, but I don't know where that goes either.

And its becoming more and more clear, the more involved I become in the recycling industry, that most of us don't.  In fact, this past weekend while at a conference, I began asking people if they knew where their trash went.  No one did.

This wouldn't be a problem if waste was treated like a resource, products were manufactured with a closed loop system in mind, and goods didn't come in packaging that requires implements of destruction to open.

But it's not, they don't, and they do.

And because we don't have to think about it, we have a fairly huge problem on our hands.  Our countries greatest export right now is trash.  We spend billions of dollars to deal with our waste. And if you don't have billions to spend on that management, things become ugly very quickly.

I get that trash isn't sexy.  But it's pretty cool when you start looking at what can be done with it.  Trash is a resource, we should treat it as such.  And I'm not just saying this from a green do-gooder soap box. It makes for viable business. I've seen the numbers. It works.

So, I think that trash is something we should talk about. It's way more interesting than the weather. And if we start talking about it, maybe we'll become a bit more aware of its potential, and maybe we'll be a bit more mindful of what we do with it beyond sending it to a landfill.

This weekend, the Three Rivers Arts Festival kicks off in Pittsburgh. I'm going on Sunday afternoon, but not for the art.  I'll be helping to sort through the trash collected, as part of a waste audit being conducted for the festival.  

My job is making me seriously weird.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tall Order

“Everyday there die among us those who were doing us some good and knew it was never enough but hoped to improve a little by living.”

- W. H. Auden

But what else should be your life's goal than to improve a little by living?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Change Will Do You Good

In the past 3 weeks, nearly every aspect of my life has changed, or will shortly.

To recap:

- I started working full time for Thread, LLC, a social venture I have been with since it was an idea.  In true start up fashion, this means I have been working harder than I ever have, but am essentially unemployed.  Funding is coming, but it takes time, and we want to be sure all the legalities are correct. This means that I have stepped back into a socio-economic status I have not been in since I was a student.

- Being broke, means a whole new lifestyle outside of work.  Luckily, I live in a city where 10 bucks means a night out, and I have adventurous friends who are happy to re-visit places we haven't frequented since being students.  The artist, her boyfriend, and I went out last week and had 3 beers and 30 pierogies for $7.50. God bless Polish Hill.  It also means I've spent a lot more time running, and cooking for myself. (I may start working on a book, which I will entitle "The Start-up Diet".)  Being poor is actually making me healthier.

- My and Chris's landlord raised our rent by 10% this year, despite having done nothing to improve the apartment.  This came after a similar hike last year.  We love the space, but cannot justify the price increase, especially since the place is so expensive to heat and cool. Also, our landlord is largely absent, hard to get a hold of, and takes forever to fix anything. Anyway, this coupled with the fact that Precisely is ready to take on the world of adulthood by living alone, means that I needed to find a new place to live.  It also made me realize, that I am not ready to live alone.  So, at the end of next month, I will be moving to Highland Park.  I'll be renting a room in a house owned by a couple, who have a puppy.  There is also another tenant, who is a pastry chef.  Just to reiterate, I am going to be living with a puppy I don't actually have to take care of and a pastry chef! It's just about the best temporary fix I can think of.

- I also celebrated my 25th birthday! woo! Which I guess means that I can rent cars more cheaply now, so who wants to go on a road trip?

Here's the thing though.  April has brought a lot of unexpected tumultuous change. And while it has certainly come with a TON of uncertainty and A LOT of feelings, I have also never felt more at peace; with myself, with what I am doing, and with the knowledge that things will sort themselves out.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Conversation with my Mother

As I was walking to meet potential new roommates for the first time, I was on the phone with my Mom.

Mom: "Don't like them, just because you want to like them. Be sure to look for anything that could be creepy!"

Me: "You mean, creepier than the girl who will be moving in with a bow and arrows?"

Mom: "Good point.  That is kind of creepy..."

They seemed cool though.  And I didn't mention the bow and arrows.  So in a month, I'll be moving to Highland Park.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Family Mottos

I grew up with 5 of them.

1. There's a place for everything, and everything in its place.

2. Take care of your equipment, and your equipment will take care of you.

3. Always dance when you've got the chance.

4. Measure twice, cut once.

5. Don't get mad, get even.

My Mom sent me an email with the following poem, saying This is why you should dance when you've got the chance!

The Dancers Inherit the Party
by Ian Hamilton Finlay

When I have talked for an hour I feel lousy—
Not so when I have danced for an hour:
The dancers inherit the party
While the talkers wear themselves out and
           sit in corners alone, and glower.
Here's to dancing this weekend!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

25 Things I am Grateful for at 25.

1. Incredibly supportive friends and family.  People who sit down with me, and stay on the phone, and tell me they're proud of me, even when I feel like I'm losing.

2. A job I wake up excited to go to.

3. Running buddies who force me out of bed early, up hills, and through an extra couple of miles.

4. Creative and fun birthday gifts that make me feel like a bad ass.

5. A city I love living in.

6. Good health.

7. The 5th Season of Mad Men.

8. Fashion and design blogs.

9. Hula hoops.

10. Opportunities to travel.

11. Communities I feel connected to.

12. The fact that boxed wine stays good for a long time.

13. Continuing education.

14. Mega Bus.

15. Hair Dye.

16. Celebrating small victories.

17. Optimists.

18. Birch Box.

19. A flexible schedule.

20. Food. Eating it, cooking it, hopefully someday growing a little bit of it.

21. Dog sitting for a lovable Basset Hound which gives me a puppy fix, without actually having to get a dog. A responsibility I am not ready for yet.

22. Orange lipstick.

23. A place at the end of the day that I am happy to come home to.

24. Public Libraries.

25. Blogging/Twitter/Instagram and the other ways we can connect with one another and share our stories around the world.

My birthday was lovely. Life is good.  Here's hoping for many happy returns.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Coming Back

When I was a kid, like 8-10, I was spoiled by learning to ski out west in Breckenridge, Colorado.  While my parents were off skiing during the day, my sister and I were enrolled in ski school, which I loved. You got to make new friends, the teachers were all super cool, and there were levels you advanced through as you progressed as a skier, so you weren't assigned to a group based on age, but rather skill.

At one point during the week, your ski school group would go through a race course, and everyone would be awarded ribbons based on their time.  I always looked forward to this, and usually did fairly well, but there was one year I remember distinctly.

I remember flying down the hill, coming close to wiping out a few times, but catching my balance at the last second and sailing through the flags. When I came to a stop at the bottom of the hill, one of the boys in my group looked at me, "Whoa," he said. "Were you even in control?"

I came in first place.

And I was thrilled, not just because I had won, or had beaten the boys in my group, but because of that question were you even in control? Because I wasn't really. If I had leaned one more degree, picked up just a little more speed, taken a turn too early or too late, or thought about it too much, I would have fallen hard. Mostly, I was lucky.

But, I wasn't afraid of falling.  I wanted to win.

In just a few years I'd become a painfully shy middle schooler afraid of talking to people, then a frustrated high schooler, and eventually a college student who thought she had life figured out as most 19 year olds do, only to be thrown for a loop when the realization of knowing nothing came crashing down.  While all typical, and most certainly contributing to the process of growing, those iterations of myself were a far cry from the fearless girl who had confidently thrown herself over the side of a mountain as fast as she could to win a race.

I've been thinking about that girl a lot lately. I feel like I'm finally starting to come back to her. Not that I want to give people the impression that I am out of control.  Just that I am most definitely not afraid of wiping out.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Home Again

The Duomo, Milan

On Monday, when I woke up, I was in Milan.  Which at this point, almost doesn't seem possible.

The trip though. The trip was amazing!  If you haven't taken a proper, longer than a long weekend vacation in a while, I highly recommend it. And if you need to relax, well, Italy will make sure it happens.


The food! The wine! The trains! The art and architecture, and oh, my, gawd, the gelatto!!!!

Following Lynn in Rome. I'm sure she was talking about some Pope, or Emperor, or Columns or something significant here...

It was so wonderful to see my brave, beautiful sister. And we couldn't have asked for a better tour-guide in Rome.

Picnicking in Pisa

Carly, thank you for being an amazing hostess in Pisa. It was so fun to see this part of your exciting life, and I can't wait to see what you do next.

In Vernazza, Cinque Terre

To all of my new friends made on the trip, thanks for your openness and friendliness.  Thanks for the conversation, the wine, the champagne, and for taking us to a wonderful night club where we danced all night. Thanks for sharing your cities, or spending some time discovering a new place with us.

Photographing Bologna

Chris, there aren't many people I could have spent 12 solid days traveling with. Thanks for being flexible, for walking across the entire city of Milan with a back pack on no sleep, for whistling for that cab in Rome when it was after midnight and the subways were closed and we thought we'd have to walk back to the hotel, for having a great sense of direction and making sense of confusing maps, and of course for documenting the trip through thousands of photographs.

Hiking in Cinque Terre.

Some things I'm taking back with me from this trip:
- I want a pair of high-tops to tuck my skinny jeans into.
- I want a Fiat! Sorry Mini Cooper, but they're adorable, cheaper, and get great gas milage.
- I've talked about it for ages, but it's time to outfit Gladys (my bike) with a basket.

There was seriously a warning sign against wearing stilettos while hiking. I can't tell you how much this sign made me love Italy. Though honestly, after watching Italian women navigate ancient cobblestone in 5 inch heels like its no big thing, I bet they could hike in heels.

Traveling, however fun it may be, isn't real life though.  And sometimes coming back is hard.  But not so much this time. This week has been a blur of catching up with friends, rewarding work at a new office, and beautiful spring weather in Pittsburgh. Thanks everyone for the warm welcome home. You're what makes living here so special.

The artist drove us to the airport, house-sat, got our mail, kept my plants alive, and was the first to welcome us back. Isn't she the best?