HI EVERYONE I’M BACK AND FRANKIE OFFICIALLY HAS A DAD WOOHOO!!!!
I only have a few pics to share as my friends send them to me or post on social media (for the love of George why can’t they tag me so I know when there’s a good one), but I missed y’all too much to wait until I had real beefy content to share.
In a nutshell: it was a perfect fairy tale day, and I got to marry the best man on the planet.
I also managed to fall down the stairs a few days later, so my triumphant return to hardcore training with Francis may be a little ginger and slow paced as I wait for all those bruises to heal (seriously, it’s an impressive number and color range).
Can’t wait to settle into life with the sweetest snoot and our officially official father figure!!
Jeepers crow you guys, I feel like I haven’t had a chance to breathe lately!
Frankie is doing just fine, getting loved on by our resident Talented Junior Rider(TM) and getting a bit of a break from the intense training we’ve been in. I’ll be out this week to ride, but there’s lots going on in the non-horse world that’s keeping me busy!
First off- as I already mentioned, last week I came home to a new apartment! All my stuff is unpacked but it’s definitely still in transition as my dude moves his stuff in as well over the next few weeks. We also won’t have a couch for roughly a month (worth waiting to get one for free IMO). So it’s a bit chaotic and a bit unorganized but it’s also fantastic. I’m a 3 minute drive (or a 10 minute walk if I ever stop being a lazy butt) from work, we have tons of closet space, and are close to friends and family. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Nick and I also drove up to the Buffalo area this past weekend for a family reunion! His mom’s side of the family gets together every year and this was my first intro to most of them before the wedding. There’s nothing quite like meeting 40+ of your future in-laws in one go. It was a serious blast- we picked cherries, we played tug-of-war with the cousins, basked in the pool, ate TONS of good food, and generally enjoyed the summertime with family.
We also snuck by Niagara Falls for literally 90 seconds on our way home so I could see them while we were up there.
Between Lake Placid and this trip, I really don’t want to have to drive to upstate New York again for a little while. No more road trips pls.
And then things are moving forward on the wedding-planning front! All the big vendors have been booked, so we’re kinda in a lull. The big decisions are made, and it’s not reeeeally time for the detailed decisions yet. But I’ve got my checklists and timelines and spreadsheets (duh) so I think we’re still in great shape.
After a really intense few months in the thick of show season, it feels good to switch gears back to my “civilian life” for a little bit for a change of pace. I’m eager to settle into a new routine in the new place, and find a balance between training and progressing with Frankie in our off season and being a functioning adult.
Other alternate title: Dear Lord I Have an Lovely Fiance
Do y’all remember just about a year ago, when Roomie and I moved? It was a wildly hectic time full of travel and job changes and Upperville. As a refresher: we had a hard move-out date for our apartment. The weekend of Upperville. While I was competing with the Frankenbean, ex-Manfriend basically did all the heavy lifting of moving all my stuff out. And by basically I mean entirely.
I’ve been with Roomie and her ManDude in our townhouse for the last year and it’s been awesome. But it’s also time for some changes.
First off, Roomie and ManDude eloped! They were already engaged and planning their wedding, but didn’t want to wait to be married. So they straight up just got married. Ya girl here showed up to take pics and 3rd-wheel their elopement brunch because I love them so much.
It also means that I went from living with my best friend and her boyfriend (fairly normal) to living with my best friend and her fiance (pushing it a bit) to living with my best friend and her husband (full on You Me and Dupree).
The other change is that ex-Manfriend and I are also getting married soon (duh). And after close to two years of living 2+ hours apart, he just got a job offer back here so we can get our first place together! It’s been a whole long hiring process for him, so we’re beyond thrilled to have things moving forward.
So with all these big changes, the stars are aligning and we managed to find a really great place with a really lovely landlord (seriously, he’s just a delight) that’s in a great location for a great price. Our official move in date is at the end of June!
What else is going on at the end of June?
You guessed it.
So for the second year in a row, my dearest betrothed is tasked with moving for me because of a horse show. I want to promise him that this won’t become a pattern, but apparently we only move during peak show season…sooooo…????
Frankie ships up on Monday, I’ll spend Tuesday driving up, and I’ll be returning Sunday.
I guess I’ll return home…to a different home?
BRB frantically trying to pack everything I own in one weekend before leaving.
I may be a little behind on the blogging front as I try to juggle packing, a week long horse show, and then arranging a new apartment and adjusting to living with my giant ManCreature while also keeping up with a busy season at work. But I pinky promise to take tons of pics and share all my adventures in Lake Placid, and I’ll pick it back up as soon as possible!
We interrupt our regularly scheduled PonyProgramming to bring you engagement photos!
I’m beyond in love with all of them, and narrowing them down is HARD YO. Buddy Fianci and I had such a blast with our photographer and everything turned out even better than I could’ve hoped. For those of you in the New England area, I can’t say enough good things about Samantha Robshaw Photography. She was warm and funny and guided us when we didn’t know what to do, but let us be ourselves and just have fun with each other. Actually amazing.
But that’s enough of a prologue. Here are some of my favorite pics!!
Clearly we had some fun with this. I can’t stop staring, it’s such a wonderful mix of gorgeous sweet moments while still having plenty of the fun goofy moments that are more “us.”
I promise I’m working on a write-up of WEC 9, but this hop was too fun not to join in! I’m a perpetual oversharer so maybe you know a lot of this, but here’s a bunch of things about me that don’t relate to horses:
1. I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in biological engineering, concentrating in biomedical engineering. I always look at people a little funny when they say how much fun college was- I had plenty of good times and wouldn’t change a thing, but it was not what I would call “fun.” It was the best education I could ask for, but it was hard.
2. I don’t do cold. I grew up in New England, went to school in NY, and promptly moved down to Virginia to escape the cold. I did my time, I have no interest in being cold ever again. One snow per year is enough for me.
3. I am a full on Northern Virginia convert. I love love love living here so much. It’s stupidly expensive and the traffic sucks, but it is beautiful and diverse and exciting and amazing. Like, I understand that people want to live other places, but pretty sure Nova is the best possible place.
4. Cheese. I love cheese. All I ever want is cheese. Good day? Celebrate with cheese. Bad day? Drown my sorrows in cheese. Buddy Fianci is the best at arranging cheese plates and it’s a huge reason why we need to lock this thing down legally forever. Kidding. But it does help.
5. I love love love crossword puzzles. I do every one that I can get my hands on. Sometimes I struggle with TV or movie references since I don’t watch that much, but I can usually puzzle it out (ha) from the other clues.
6. Along the same lines, I love trivia games. I’m still in an online trivia group with my old coworkers and I play every day! I’m in a rivalry with my old CIO and send him snotty messages when I beat him. I think his ego needs it.
7. I have a really hard time doing just one thing, with few exceptions: reading an amazing book or riding my horse. Otherwise, I need to have music going, a crossword puzzle (see above), and three text conversations just to be able to watch a TV show.
8. My favorite genres to read are historical fiction and fantasy. I just really love reading about places and times and worlds that I can’t experience outside the book. The Wheel of Time series has been an incredibly huge presence in my life since I was young.
9. I dyed my hair all different colors when I was younger- every shade from platinum blonde to almost black, and even purple once. I was always a pretty conservative dresser and a good kid, so this was my way of branching out a bit. I’ve been my natural shade of mousy brunette for years now, but I still think of myself as blonde (I always use the blonde emojis).
Very not blonde
10. I connect most with people over humor. You can be the nicest most interesting person in the world, but I’m not particularly interested in spending time together unless we can laugh. All my closest friends are sharp and witty and amazing people, and Buddy Fianci is hands down the funniest person I have ever met.
11. My heritage is 50% Greek from my mother, and 50% Scottish/Irish/English from my father. Basically, I have extremely pale olive-toned skin.
12. My mom and I traveled all over the world together just the two of us when I was younger- cruises, two trips to Italy, Mexico, etc. The most amazing trip was when I was in college, when we toured around Tuscany over spring break. I had just taken an Art History class, and she took me to see all the masterpieces in person. She’s the best travel buddy ever, and my best friend.
13. My oldest brother is 10 years older, and he basically helped raise me. I went into engineering in large part because he went into engineering and I wanted to be just like him, and I lived with him and my sister-in-law for 6mo after graduating college. I’m incredibly close with both of them (I couldn’t be closer to my sister-in-law if we had actually shared a womb), and am godmother to their younger little girl!
14. My other brother is 5 years older, and is so much cooler than all of us in every way. He is talented musically, artistically, financially, socially, and in any other area you can think of. He married an equally sparkling woman and between the two of them, they are probably the most-loved couple in RI. Not even exaggerating. Every single person that meets them loves them. I get it, they’re awesome.
15. To round out the immediate family, my dad is basically a superhuman. He’s a fetal surgeon, a professor at an Ivy League medical school, and a colonel in the Air National Guard, where he also serves as state air surgeon. He’s a true renaissance man- he loves history and reading poetry to us (and is an incredible reader), sails his boat all summer, and is beyond devoted to my mother. You can’t talk to him for 5 minutes without him mentioning how much he loves her. I talk to my father every single day, and he is the most supportive, encouraging, compassionate man on the planet.
16. I’m big into hydration. I drink tons and tons of water all day erry day. My Beloved Betrothed carries a Nalgene with him everywhere and I lovingly refer to him as my constant source of clean fresh drinking water.
17. I met my roommate on Craigslist several years ago, and now we are maids-of-honor in each other’s weddings. It was fate. We are polar opposites in every way, but that’s why it works (also she’s hilarious, see point #10).
18. I don’t like icing, or plain sugary candies. Chocolate- yes. Sugar- no. I’ll scrape the icing off of cupcakes and cakes, and would much rather have some pie. We vetoed the wedding cake- we’re going with doughnuts instead (Dunkin 4 lyfe).
19. I have spreadsheets for my spreadsheets. Everything goes in a spreadsheet. All wedding planning is in spreadsheets. All budgeting for my life is in spreadsheets (I made a baller daily tracker). Google Sheets runs my life.
20. I grew up doing alllll sorts of different activities- I did ballet on a pre-professional track into my teens (I quit to pursue riding more); played tennis recreationally; spent most summers out on the water at sailing camp; took piano, violin, flute, and trumpet lessons (I ended up on the trumpet and was first chair in high school); ice skated often; practiced with the swim team despite never being on the team; and obviously rode ponies.
21. I hate loud noises and countdowns. I can be totally zen, but if someone starts saying “ten…nine…” I will FLIP OUT. Dearest Fiance thinks this is hysterical and threatens me with countdowns on the regular.
22. I don’t cook. I used to try and pretend that I would, but I’ve stopped lying to myself. I can cook, I just don’t. Baking is my fun rainy day activity, but Fiance is for sure the chef of the household- he enjoys it and is really good at putting meals together. Thank goodness, because I am queen of the microwave.
23. I was raised in the Greek Orthodox church and my faith is very much a strong part of my identity. Getting married in the Greek church is hugely important to me, and I’m so so so grateful that Fiance is on board with that (it’s gonna be My Big Fat Greek Wedding WHATSUP).
24. If money was no object, I would probably go into tutoring full time. I love working with all ages to develop problem-solving skills. I wouldn’t want to be a teacher- I don’t do groups like that- but working one-on-one with people to learn together is one of the most satisfying feelings ever.
25. I’m a very outgoing introvert. I LOVE meeting new people and will strike up conversations with just about anyone (especially at a horse show), but at the end of the day I recharge best with some quiet time at home.
26. While most people call me Olivia, the people close to me call me Liv, and my family calls me Livy. I was Livy to everyone growing up- teachers, friends, friends’ parents, etc., but really only my parents and siblings call me that anymore.
27. I wear sunscreen on my face every day. My Nana always drilled sun safety into us and I think of her every morning when I put my sunscreen on.
28. I’m a huge list person- probably why I wanted to join in this blog hop so badly! It’s why I gravitate towards spreadsheets so much- I make lists to organize my thoughts for work, personal life, etc. It’s just how my brain works.
29. I’ve only ever had one car- my Jeep, Benjamin. I’ve had him since I was 17 and now at 125k+ miles, he’s trying to die and I won’t let him. I’ll be driving that Jeep until it falls apart, which hopefully won’t be for another couple of years.
30. I’m not a big jewelry person except for two pieces- my engagement ring (duh), and my class ring. I feel naked without them.
I’ve loved reading all of yours, hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me!
Something you may know about me is that I have a pants obsession. A riding pants obsession. To the point where Assistant Trainer literally told me to stop buying pants. I have a problem.
My go-to has been the TS Trophy Hunters- the 26L fits like a glove and they’re super durable, so I haven’t felt any burning desire to change that up. Until now.
Partially because I really want to try some of the newer tech fabrics, partially because there are some really GORGEOUS options out there, partially because I’m a firm believer in voting with your wallet and I’m not super supportive of the TS brand ATM, and in large part because Amanda said she had breeches for sale.
It was a perfect storm to fuel my obsession.
It started simply: I asked for options in my size. She assured me that there would be plenty to choose from, and then convinced me that big sales mean the expense doesn’t actually count. I was willingly convinced.
She sent me picture after picture of high-end gorgeous pants. So so many. I was in heaven. Then she dropped the price bomb:
In classic Olivia fashion, I quickly made a spreadsheet to keep track of all the beautiful pants under consideration (in case you were wondering, the columns were brand, color, how much I liked them from 1-5, and price). Despite wanting to take them all, I knew I couldn’t.
I finally managed to narrow it down to the 3 top contenders. Despite originally being in the market for tan and white only, two of the three were colors. Womp womp. I have no willpower.
My spreadsheet only took me so far. I started spiraling. How could I give up any of those pants? At those prices?! I begged for help and got only “BUY THEM ALL” back. Traitor.
I continued spiraling. I continued making spreadsheets. I continued bombarding Amanda with a play-by-play into the workings of my brain.
Clearly asking for help from a financial angle wasn’t working. I decided to go the emotion route, hoping that Amanda would be able to give me some clarity. No such luck. I eventually had to make the call myself.
We both solidly threw Buddy Fianci under the bus (literally the day after he proposed, Trainer started talking to him about what a great wedding present an import would be. He is a very patient man). Buddy Fianci politely declined to buy me the pants. I’m still working on him.
I bought the dang pants and called it a day. Then SPENDMYMONEY MCDEMONFACE started pushing SWEATERS OF ALL THINGS AS IF I HADN’T ALREADY BLOWN MY BUDGET ON BEAUTIFUL ITALIAN PANTS.
I guess I can forgive her. After all, these gorgeous things are winging their way towards me:
And that, my friends, is how you buy pants in 34 easy steps when you’re a spreadsheet junkie, have no willpower, and have a friend with a bright future in sales.
It’s no secret that I hate the winter. Hate hate hate. Loathe entirely. We could just skip over it entirely and I’d be happy.
Luckily, I have something in my possession that’s making things bearable. It’s a sweatshirt. It’s my new favorite sweatshirt. I love it more than I love a lot of sentient beings. Not even exaggerating.
Here’s how it came into my possession: Lauren reached out and asked if I’d be willing to do a product review for The Plaid Horse on the v-neck sweatshirt in their “Cozy” collection. I consider myself a connoisseur of cozy clothes (affectionately called “my comfs”), so I obviously jumped immediately at the chance.
And I haven’t taken it off since. In the 6 weeks or so that I’ve had it, it has been in every single load of laundry because I wear it every single day. As pajamas, as knockaround clothes, when I’m working from home, when I’m chilling on the couch. It’s amazing. The coral color is one of my favorites and hasn’t faded a bit (despite the constant washing and drying), the inside is delightfully soft and cozy, it’s lightweight and breathable, and I love the fit- the arms are snug enough to keep it in place, but the body is nice and loose and swingy.
Just so you understand how impressive it is that this makes it into the rotation so often: I have an itty bitty tiny bedroom and got rid of a solid 70% of my clothes when I moved in, but I still have 3-4 drawers full of sweats and comfy clothes. And they are all for different occasions. I’ve got my day comfs and my night comfs, my semi-formal comfs for when the plumber comes and I don’t want to look entirely homeless (yoga pants are the tuxedo of sweatpants), my party comfs for when we’re breaking out some wine, my cute comfs for dates (no joke I broke out the sweats on Date 3 with Buddy Fianci. Reeled him in HARD). There is a comf for every season. This sweatshirt has superceded all these comfs for all occasions.
It’s cute enough for when I want to impress my guy with how great I look in loungewear. It’s soft enough to sleep in. It’s bright and fun enough for party time (and by party I mean drinking a little too much wine with my roommate and singing Disney songs poorly). It has the word “Horse” on it so clearly it satisfies that need. It is the comf to end all comfs.
I don’t usually get this excited over a sweatshirt, but I am absolutely in love with this one and I want everyone to share in the warmth and joy that I’m getting from it.
And you can! It’s a Hellomylivia first- we have a giveaway! For your shot at winning your very own coziest of cozy sweaters in the size of your choosing, simply comment here with something that’s getting you through this nightmare of a season!
I’ll use a randomizer to pick the winner out of the entries, which will close at 10pm(ish) on Monday, January 29. May the comf be with you!
Today, I want to talk to you about something completely not pony related. It’s work related. It’s about a fascinating session I was able to attend at this conference I’m attending for work, and what I observed.
This particular session was a discussion about female protagonists in case studies used in the classroom for graduate management education. Or more accurately, the lack of female protagonists. Graduate business programs often heavily utilize these cases to teach concepts across their curricula, but very few of them mention women at all- even if they are present, it’s even less likely that the woman is in a leadership position, and even LESS likely that they speak to another woman at any point. And it’s overwhelmingly likely that women are featured in “pink industries” such as cosmetics. So these programs are trying to teach their students how to be leaders, but 40% (roughly the percentage of women in many programs, which is rising) go through their classes without seeing anyone like them succeeding.
I don’t think any of this is really a surprise. Frustrating and disappointing, yes. A surprise, no. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about what I expected in the room, and what I observed.
First of all, I expected this session to be packed to the gills. Given the #MeToo visibility and current climate, I expected that anyone in a position to effect change would be desperate for information and the opportunity to brainstorm solutions. But that wasn’t the case at all. While there was a decent turnout, there were plenty of empty chairs in the moderately-sized room. I would argue (and have already spoken to some conference organizers about this) that this should not have been a breakout session- in the future it should be one of the main discussions held in the main ballroom, with everyone in attendance. This is a conversation that requires everyone’s participation. Cultures and climates cannot change in a vacuum.
I also expected there to be very few men in attendance. I was semi-right on this. I’d say about 25% of the room was male. Given that there were more men than women at this conference, this certainly was not a representative sample of the population- but not surprising. In fact, it was a little higher than I had expected.
When talking about goals for female representation in case studies, I expected the goal to be about 50%. After all, women are half the population and will (hopefully) make up half the classroom in the not-too-distant future. Not so. I heard 3 men say that 30% “would be hard enough to achieve.” I understand that change doesn’t happen overnight and there’s a considerable workload to updating course materials, but I was blown away that they so casually dismissed the possibility of even trying to achieve an equal balance.
I then observed the conversations taking place. I observed one of the co-panelists (a middle-aged white man) refer to complaining as “bitching,” I observed the same man share 3 stories on how supportive he is of these efforts, and I observed that 4 men spoke about 80% of the words spoken in total in that session.
So we have a session about the need for more equal female representation. And these guys were so busy telling us what allies they are that they left almost no time for the female co-panelist to actually share the results of the research her foundation has done.
I know these men had good intentions and do genuinely want to help make lasting changes in their programs. None of this was maliciously done. It was simply lacking in awareness that they had completely hijacked the conversation and proved the point of why exactly these changes are necessary. It was the most frustratingly ironic thing I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a perfect case study (about case studies).
The cure for this is increased awareness. It’s making sure that this conversation keeps happening and is visible and can grow and evolve. It’s getting people in positions of influence to join the conversation and then DOING something about it. I’m planning to be one of those influential people one day, and you can bet this will be top of mind.
Back in July Roomie and I had the foresight to book a trip to Florida for when the weather was turning- and yes, it was one of our smarter moments. Manfriend and Roomie and Roomie’s Manfriend and I just spent a few days in the sun and it was AWESOME. I’ll let the pics tell the story.
Not pictured: the 200 lbs of shrimp we ate, the bloody Marys we demolished, the vodka tonics we housed, the one other restaurant we went to (literally we went to 2 the entire time). All we did was sun ourselves, eat, drink, sleep, and repeat and it was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered.
I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get back into a routine with Francis!
…oh wait that’s right, I’m headed north to Rhody for 9 days for Thanksgiving.
Someday I’ll ride again! Until then, I’m going to enjoy stuffing myself silly and holding on to the barest hint of a tan I managed ❤
As the days get shorter, I want to talk to you once more about something I feel very passionately about: mental health!
While October is for sure my favorite month of the year (Pumpkins! Pretty leaves! Drizzly gray days! Not feeling sweat dripping down my back when I do literally anything!), I head into the winter every year with the same attitude as I approach a root canal: let me get to the other side in one piece, and then I can actually return to the land of the living.
Advice that historically has not helped me cope with Satan’s Season:
“Oh, you’ll grow out of it someday.” STILL WAITING
“Try smiling more!” YES LET ME FAKE SOME MORE EMOTIONS, SEEMS HEALTHY
“Just remember that it’s all in your head.” tHaT iS lItTeRaLlY tHe EnTiRe PrObLeM
However, over the years I have managed to find a few things that make a truly noticeable difference in my ability to navigate the uncaring ocean of my brain chemistry from November through March:
Drinking too much water. Staying hydrated gives me so much more energy, keeps me more mentally focused, helps stave off headaches, clears my skin, and keeps me moving. You know, because of all the bathroom breaks. Seriously though- I can’t emphasize enough how much of an effect this has on every aspect of my life.
Making my bed every morning. This creates a definite separation for me from bed time to awake time. Literally as soon as I’ve gotten out of bed, I’ve accomplished something! Sometimes that’s the momentum I need to start my day. And then when I get home in the evening I feel like I’m coming home to a neat, clean room. Even if the bed is the only neat and clean thing about it.
Cutting out caffeine. I know, this sounds like sacrilege to you coffee-addicts out there. But I’ve never been a huge coffee drinker, even in the summer! My sleep schedule definitely gets more sensitive when the days get shorter so I tend to cut out caffeine all together. I stick with herbal teas or cocoa when I’m craving a warm drink, but my best friend is my Nalgene filled with- you guessed it- water. Otherwise I end up staying awake for 3 days in a row and I wish I was exaggerating.
Staying active. That physical momentum is so helpful. And I like the way my body feels when I’m fit- I look pretty much the same all the time, but I can definitely feel the difference when my fitness starts slipping. I even invested in some stupid expensive equipment to make exercising fun, and his name is Francis.
Buying a horse. For realz, Frankie has been the biggest bro in the world. He gives me a huge reason to stay active- he thrives on exercise, we need to stay in shape to keep progressing, etc. He also gives good structure to my days- I can’t just go home and shlump into bed. I gotsta get dem endorphins going. And I can’t leave out the fact that he’s just the sweetest creature on the planet. He doesn’t care that there might be a few crossed wires upstairs, he just thinks it’s neat that I scratch his ears and take him on adventures. He is a never-ending source of quiet affection. Also owning a horse means I’m too distracted by stress about money to remember that I’m depressed!
Giving myself days off. Between work, the barn, going home to see family, celebrating birthdays, going out for happy hour, and other social events, sometimes it feels like I have something on the calendar every single day. And while I genuinely like people, I NEED my alone time to rejuvenate and re-energize. So sometimes I’ll pencil in a day to just lay around in my pajamas, watch Netflix, drink tea, and be a lazy garbage person. These garbage person days make me less of a garbage person on the other days. It’s a delicate garbage balance.
I’ve also built in a bunch of fun things to look forward to this winter: I’m visiting family and bringing Manfriend, we’re taking a trip to Florida with my roomie and her manfriend, I’ll be taking time to go compete at WEC with the Frankenator, all sorts of things like that.
So while I’m already looking forward to the warm spring breezes that bring allergens to make Manfriend sneeze real cute, I feel good about the robust preparation I’m putting into making this winter an enjoyable season instead of just a survivable one. I know there will still be ups and downs, and I’ve got the warm fuzzies thinking about the absolutely stellar support system I have- both two-legged and four-legged.
For all of you: I would love to be part of your support system. As mentioned, I genuinely like people (weird, I know) and I like crazy people the best. I have no answers to big questions and give pretty crappy advice (usually I just tell you to hydrate more), but I’d love to chat at any time. Unless I’m sleeping. Hit me up but not before 7am or after 10pm thanks.
Cheers to a fantastic season of fun adventures and progress in all of our personal and professional endeavors!