IAAP Summit: National Harbor

The Gaylord National Harbor Resort is a maze!! I can’t believe how huge it is! With 95 different conference rooms and 2,000 guests rooms within the 19 story building, it is any wonder how I didn’t get lost! From the lobby bar and reception area, to the atrium with stores and restaurants. There was even an arcade and an indoor pool! There wasn’t much left to be desired! And that’s all just inside!

The restaurants were good within the hotel, but nothing could beat the lobby bar. It had a perfect view overlooking the river. You could see the bridge, the ferris wheel, and the water taxi all from your seat on the open platform with a drink in your hand. The atrium was a busy place, but the lobby with it’s small bites and amazing cocktails was the perfect place to unwind and watch the sunset.

I could have thought of a better location for the IAAP Summit! Wait, did you say next year will be in Lake Buena Vista, Florida? Umm, I may need to rethink this.

IAAP Summit: Series & Logistics

Welcome to the IAAP Summit Series! The next few posts will be all about the Summit experience and how I managed to get the most out of my attendance. If you don’t know what IAAP is, hop over to their site with this link. For those of you who are familiar, let me explain why I found the Summit valuable!

PROS:

The entire conference was in one place. My lodging, food options, other entertainment, and the conference/ training classes were all on the Gaylord Hotel. It was so convenient and easy to attend, and I felt at ease not having to worry about finding a place to eat or what I was going to do when I wasn’t in class.

Huge classrooms! I mean, most of the conference rooms were referred to as ballrooms, so let’s just out that into perspective. A total of 1,300 people showed up to the Summit, so it was paramount to have these large rooms. There was never a time I felt crowded or a room overpopulated.

Standing desks are a huge deal in my office right now. The flexibility to go from standing to siting every couple of hours is not only good for your health, but it is also a smart commodity to keep you audience awake and engaged. Creates more room for people as well!

There were so many great presenters/topics! My favorite two were Vonetta and Julia. Vonetta Watson provided many technical topics that I loved! Her courses were amazing overviews on the latest office software, tips and tricks! Julia Kristina spoke about difficult people, but with a twist. Her words are still ringing in my ears: “There aren’t difficult people; only difficult situations in which you have a choice to react to.” Overall, the sessions were impactful!

As I mentioned, there were about 1,300 attendees at the Summit. That’s a lot of people! During the opening ceremony, there was a presentation of flags for all the attending participants countries. Such diversity! It was amazing to see and meet so many different people!

CONS:

I found it interesting that there wasn’t a lot of complimentary items for attendees. Even water that was provided was scarce. Sitting in a class all day without water is like sleeping with your mouth open. Your mouth gets dry, and you become distracted by your basic physical need. I’m sure the point was to make people buy their water, but what a waste of plastic!

Even thought some of the classrooms had standing desks, they were fee and far between. They were advertised as if every room had it, but that was not the case.

While most topics were amazing, and I was dedicated to ensure I found at least one useful bit in every session, there were a very few topics that were dry. One in particular was about document retention. I don’t believe it was the speakers fault as the course matter is dry, so it was one that I think should be scratched for the next go around.

Overall, the Summit receives a solid 9.5 out of 10 for me! This experience was amazing from a networking view, an educational opportunity, and an overall wonderful conference! I truly hope that I am able to continue to attend in the years to come.

IAAP Summit 2019

It’s been a while since my last IAAP event. I think about two years ago is when I went to Atlanta to attend the IAAP CAPstone to earn my Project Management (PM) designation. This year, I’ll be heading to National Harbor to attend the IAAP Summit for a more networking and new-in-the-trade type seminars.

At these events, I always gain so much insight to what other professional assistants are going through. Whether it be people related, technology struggles, or just workload, there is always tons to learn from my fellow administrative professionals. Their stories are inspiring! Some of them even make for juicy writing prompts. 😉

Also, this event set in National Harbor is going to be such fun! Even though I live in the D.C. area, it’s rare that I get to play tourist, and visit the monuments and museums. This visit won’t be wasted! My daughter and husband will come up, and we will be sure to hit all the fun spots.

I’ll give a full report and update following the event and sightseeing, but the most exciting event is going to be the closing dinner! I get to wear my sequenced cocktail dress! I’ll send you all a selfie on Instagram!

Hiking

One of the things I have found a new love for is hiking! When I say hiking, I mean a few to multiple miles walk through the woods, on a trail, preferably with a general notion of direction. As long as I end up back at my car eventually, I’m good!

We’ve hiked a total of three times since Memorial Day, so I’m definitely no pro, but there’s something peaceful to be found in the tranquility of nature. I swear I could walk for days in the woods filled with green or through an open field with bright blue skies above.

Our hikes haven’t been very long in distance, but we are building up to it. Even our daughter is getting into it! We did about two miles with her over the past weekend, and I think she likes it too! She was so excited to see a bridge over a river. It was the cutest thing!

We also bought water backpacks for our trips. Even one for our four year old. She loves carrying hers and drinking it out of the tube like mommy and daddy. We are hoping to make an afternoon of it one day and have a picnic, but we’re building to that. She’s still building her stamina to go longer than two miles in an hour..

Overall, hiking for us works. There is hardly any logistics or equipment to think of and remember. We just fill out water tanks and go! Bugs are a problem for my daughter (OK, for me too), but that’s why there is bug repellent right? I’m just excited to do something as a family that doesn’t require a whole lot of extra effort and towing additional equipment. On to the next hike!

Space Travel Frequent Flyer Miles

When you just want to get away, what’s the farthest place you can think of?

I bet you didn’t think of Mars!

That’s right. That tiny red planet just behind us in this solar system is your next go to destination! Venture to Jezero Crater next summer with me, and be the first martians on the planet. I’ve got my boarding pass, and more frequent flyer miles than I’ll ever know what to do with. Are you ready for an interstellar journey?

OK, in all seriousness, just my name is going to Mars, but how amazing would it be to venture to another planet as easily as signing up on a website to go? Talk about a vacation! Almost a year in space travel? Wow!

On NASAs website, you can sign up to add your name to a microchip that will be included on the Atlas V-541 Rocket that will land a Rover on Mars! Part of this Rover’s mission is to not only investigate the planet, but determine if human exploration is possible. What a time to be alive!

Sign you and your family up at the included link, and enjoy the discussion of space exploration!

Travel Agent Best Friend Wanted

Anyone know a good travel agent that is currently accepting applications for a best friend?

I’m dying to travel! I want to go on a cruise, take my daughter to Disney, go to Las Vegas, New York, and New Orleans, but I really hate planning it. Trying to find the best deal is not my thing. I seriously want to just have someone search for cost effective travel and book it for me, and tell me where I need to go, so I can just go.

In some sense, I think I’m using it as an excuse not to go. Like, if I keep waiting for the perfect time, the perfect price, the perfect deal, then I’ll book it, but here we are months later, and I still have yet to pull the trigger. I’m not afraid to travel, and man, do I want to. I’m really not sure why I haven’t done it!

So I again I ask, any travel agents need a best friend? I’ll swap a copy of my newest release on pre-order for your services!

Birthright Cover Reveal – Touched by Light series

You learned Riley’s secrets. You worried and strategized with Rey. You were introduced to the world of Guardians filled with Light and the darkness of Midnight’s shadows. You read Guardians, book one in the trilogy of Riley and Rey’s story, but this series is just starting.

I now introduce you to Birthright. Pre-order your copy today!

Riley has always known darkness and shadows were part of her world, but she hoped moving to a new town had taken her away from them. Her first semester at Bradford University is winding down. The race to save her soul is ratcheting up. Riley clings to the one person she hopes can keep her safe, but it is time she faced the truth. Her entire life has been leading up to her nineteenth birthday, a day her supposed Aunt had secretly prepared her for since childhood. With her past revealed and her fate seemingly sealed, Riley must make a decision that could very well end her life.

Reymend has lived two hundred years without breaking a single rule of the Guardianship, but the moment he met Riley, everything changed. He interjected himself into her life. He touched her delicate skin more times than he can admit, giving her glimpses into a world she knows nothing about. But, the one rule Rey swore he wouldn’t break may be the only way to save his Charge. When the greatest evil ever known comes to collect Riley’s soul, Rey has to face a decision no Guardian has ever had to make.

Repost: What is a Guardian?

Welcome to the Touched by Light series ! Here you will find a quick look into the world Reymend lives as a Guardian. It’s hidden within Riley’s mortal day-to-day, but of all other mortals, she has glimpsed it the most. So, what is a Guardian?

Guardians are immortal beings who have been fated to join the Guardianship. The Council of the Wise is made up of twelve of the oldest Birthright Guardians, meaning they were not born from mortals, but from previous Wise Council members. A Touched soul means the Light within someone is brighter, stronger, more likely to withstand the temptations of Midnight. The Wise determines a Touched soul’s fate at age nineteen. If you are meant to be a Guardian, you are granted immortal life and given Charges (Touched souls, typically mortals) to protect against Midnight’s bidders. If you’re destined for anything else, you are left as a mortal to live out your life.

We’ll get to “What is Light and Midnight?” in my next post. Hang in there! For now, enjoy this excerpt of Reymend’s inner dialogue over the course of a chapter explaining from his memories what it is to be a Guardian, and why having Riley as his next Charge is the most defining Guardship he has ever had.

Birthright, A Touched By Light Series, Book 2 of 3 – Release Date April 2019

Rey hadn’t thought that far back in years to when he and Phelix had been young men, barely over nineteen years old. Two of the twelve members of the Wise Council of the Light had offered them immortal life as Guardians. If they accepted, their lives were to be dedicated to protecting those Touched by Light from the darkness of Midnight. Even though the significance of it all flew over their teenage heads, after living their entire lives as vagrants on the streets of a New York ghetto, it had been an easy decision.

He hadn’t flat out lied to Riley when he said he was an orphan. He and Phelix had been when they were kids, but having been in the system was pushing it. They had lived off what others threw out in the streets or what they could beg for, but back then, that was the system for parentless children. Castaways, left to fend for themselves.

They had met Amber, Phelix’s girlfriend, in their early years of immortality during training, but her life had been completely opposite to theirs. She had known the ways of the Light at an early age before her fate had even been determined. Her entire bloodline could be traced back to Guardians and the Wise Council. As a Birthright Guardian, her conception was a carefully mastered plan to keep purity on the Council. Although, some would argue that plan was failing or had failed already.

The three of them had been through hell and back more than their fair share, facing demons of Midnight when no one else could. They weren’t the strongest singular Guardians by any means, but together, their Light always shone brightest against the darkness. Together, they were undefeated, but in their line of work, defeat wasn’t an option.

The three Guardians had left Baltimore two years ago after their Charges had reached the age to be fated. It had been the first time in their almost two hundred years together that they had been separated. Phelix had gone to Richmond for a Charge until she reached nineteen years old, and the Wise fated her for the Guardianship. Amber had two Charges turn nineteen, one in Atlanta and the other in Columbus, but both of the guys destinies were decided to remain mortal, leaving their Light dormant within their souls. Rey hadn’t had a Charge since Baltimore, so he moved to Bradford for the hub of darkness found at the small town’s edge. There was always something to do in the quiet town for a Guardian.

Phelix and Amber showed up over the summer since the Wise hadn’t designated new Charges for them either. The Wise had always seemed to find them individual Charges within the same vicinity as each other, clearly understanding the strength they shared between them, but after their two year stretch apart, Rey knew things were changing.

They posed as students at the University to keep up appearance and be poised in case their new Charges were students in town. There was also a bit of competition amongst them to keep their minds sharp and see who could have the highest grades, but it all boiled down to being ready when a Charge was granted.

Rules.

Light.

Dark.

They had been Rey’s world for so long. Now he bent and outright broke so many, using his Light in ways he shouldn’t to beat out the dark invading his Charge’s life.

The number one rule of the Guardianship was to never become involved in the Charge’s life. Protect them at all cost, but never be seen. A Guardian was to use their Light in the fight against the shadows of Midnight, but never shine it in the direction of the Charge. After years of servicing mortals, Guardians had earned the nickname of Guardian Angels, but Rey knew he was far from angelic, especially now.

Number two: never, ever touch a Charge. Those Touched by Light could transfer energies, memories, and even thoughts through their Light just by brushing up against each other. It took a Guardian years of training to harness their Light and learn to channel it through the transference of randomness and into a true Connection. It was the very thing that had kept him, Phelix, and Amber alive for so long through all of their battles over the centuries. Their Connection to each other flowed easily, allowing them to communicate and act as one seamlessly in battle.

And, number three: without exception, do not sway a Charge’s fate by Connecting with their Light before the Council so determines the Charge’s destiny. After a Charge turned nineteen, the Wise would determine whether the Touched soul would be given the choice to become a Guardian or remain a mortal, or if their fate was meant for the darkness. No one in the long history of the Light had ever Connected with a Charge outside of the realm of the Council of the Wise.

It was the simplest of rules to follow. Rules Rey had never had issues with in over two hundred years, but now, with Riley as his designated Charge, he had broken all but one so far.

When had his immortal life become so filled with gray?

The first twelve Touched souls composed what is now known as the Council of the Wise. They gathered as many more Guardians they could, Connecting with mortals who held stronger Light, and pushed what they began to call Midnight and its darkness as far from this universe as possible.

As millennia have passed, the Wise Council’s duty had become to determine a Touched soul’s fate, to Connect with those souls and keep the balance between Light and dark, and to keep the rules of the Light by sending Guardians to enforce them on any darkness that made its way onto the plane. The Guardians had become the first defense in the never ending war to keep the world from slipping into Midnight’s grasp while the Wise continued to reign on high.

It was Rey, Phelix, and Amber’s job to keep their Charges safe until the time the Wise determined their fate. They were to keep Midnight as far from their Charges as possible and defend the dormant Light within them. That was what Rey was doing.

Repost: Meet Riley!

1Riley has always been different. The entire town she grew up in reminds her every day just how different she is. She can’t wait for the day she can escape to a new town, a new school, and a new life. College is that chance, a new beginning, a new sunrise on the darkness that was her life.

This is Riley’s chance at a new beginning. Bradford University in southern Virginia is the fresh start far from home that she has always wanted, but no matter where she goes, the shadows will always follow. Her only reprieve as she starts her new life is the possibility of friends, something she never had back home, but it quickly becomes the silver lining in her darker days.

Riley may have been labeled the psycho in her high school, but this girl is strong. She’s carried the pain of her past for too long. Now is a time of beginnings. Making new friends and unleashing the woman she has always known she could be is easier said then done, until she meets Reymend.

Rey’s all warmth and light. A comforting, gorgeous man she hopes she won’t scare away when the darkness gets too close. She wants to hold on to him, but how can she hope for so much when she has only ever had so little?

Excerpt of Guardians: “I know what you’re thinking, but before you say anything just know that I’m going to do this. I’m making a life for myself here no matter what the cost. I have friends for the first time in my life. I wake up excited to see what the day will bring. I’m finally happy! Nothing will stop me from taking this chance. Not my episodes. Not the fear of what follows me everywhere I go. Nothing. I’m doing this because for once in my life, it’s my decision.”

This girl may face darkness every day, but she knows what she wants! She’s scared, but determined. Even though she knows the shadows wait for her around every corner, sending her into blackout fits of terror, she still pushes forward. She is a real heroine even if she doesn’t understand the darkness that follows her.

Birthright, A Touched By Light Series, Book 2 of 3 – Release Date April 2019

I need a vacation..

saulius-sutkus-403556For the love of everything that is holy, I need a freaking vacation!

I started a new job back in November, and while I have enjoyed the challenge, I haven’t had a real vacation in years! I need a break! My husband will say, but your new job gave you a week off at Christmas. Well, honey, that was only three days more than what you received, and in those three days, all I did was catch up on house work!

Side note: why does laundry never end!!

In all seriousness though, vacations are essential for working professionals. A work/life balance is great, but if you can’t unplug when you are home from all the stress then you really aren’t taking a break. Vacations are meant to unwind, to relieve your mind of the everyday weight, and rejuvenate your self.

I NEED TO GO ON VACATION! Groupon Getaways for the win! Now I just need May to hurry up and get here.