October 2023 started off on a BIG low and ended on a BIG high. WHAT A MONTH it was (!!!!!). From kicking off the month with extreme burnout to some super fun professional development events including speaking at a conference and going back to the classroom TWICE and exciting professional news to some local travel and adventures close to home to enjoying the Fall foliage and vibes to dressing Rosie up for Halloween and everything in between, October 2023 was truly one for the books. The older I get, the more I want to savor ALLL the memories and be grateful for what I have in the moment. And, the memories I had made this October 2023 were no different.
- Papa and I enjoyed a nice meal in downtown Clifton, Virginia together at Trattoria Villagio (which was recently ranked as a Top 50 Restaurant by Northern Virginia Magazine!). It was a great time for both me and Papa to simply enjoy one another’s company, some delicious pasta and appetizers (I was craving calamari and Papa was craving bruschetta!), and some excellent restaurant ambience.
- This Fall has been a BEAUTIFUL one (!!!!). Personally, I have found this time of year to be one of THE MOST stunning times with the Fall foliage. I have taken EVERY moment to enjoy the stunning environment around me, through walks at local ponds near me to taking in alll the crisp Fall air when I step foot outside, to views of the foliage when I drive on Fairfax County Parkway. I have truly taken a moment this October to take a step back and practice mindfulness via simply being in the moment of Fall 2023 … we will never see Fall 2023 again, so why not enjoy it?!
- Early this month, I got a surprise email in my inbox that I had been … PROMOTED (!!!!). My promotion was well-earned and a result of A LOT of hard work that I put in on the job. I have grown SO SO SO passionate about my work since starting at my current employer since graduating from college in 2021. I am extremely blessed to be able to work for my incredible employer and am SO excited to have been promoted this Fall season. I feel A LOT of confidence that others are seeing the hard work that I am putting in with tons of passion and am extremely proud of myself for earning it, too. To celebrate, I went to my favorite spot: Old Town Alexandria where I got a bottle of Italian women-owned bubbly at Virginia’s Darling, stopped by the Lilly Pulitzer store on King Street, strolled alongside the iconic Captain’s Row (more on that below!), and purchased a new dress at The Lucky Knot on King Street. I, then, went to my Mom’s house to enjoy some takeout Afghan cuisine from her favorite spot Afghan Bistro with a bottle of wine I picked up from Virginia’s Darling’s market and it was DELICIOUS. My Mom (and Dad, too) has been one of my biggest cheerleaders in life, so it was special to be able to celebrate with her.
- Back to the classroom for me this October 2023! I started my monthly program – Ignite Young Professionals via the Leadership Center for Excellence – and have LOVED getting to be a student again and network with likeminded professionals all across different industries in the Washington, DC and more specifically Arlington, Virginia area. The Ignite Young Professionals program focuses on empowering the next generation of leaders with the skills to succeed professionally and personally alongside an incredible civic engagement component with a local Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit. I LOVE LOVE LOVE and am so blown away by my classmates, how much I learned from them, and what incredible people they are. I am *VERY* excited for what is to come over the next 8 months as a student via the Leadership Center for Excellence!
- This month, I had the HUGE honor to represent my employer where I moderated a panel at Women in Data, Washington, DC’s Making Sense of Data 2023 conference at the National Children’s Museum (which is SUCH A COOL museum!!). My panel was focused on 7th grader students and featured other working data professionals in government and the public sector. The students were extremely interactive asking several great questions AND loving learning the fact that data helps power TikTok and Instagram – LOL! Also, I LOVED getting to network with some incredible fellow women (and men!) in data who both volunteered at the conference whether with a booth or through the event as a whole. One of my biggest passions is empowering the next generation of girls and women in STEM-based careers, which Making Sense of Data 2023 allowed me to do! The BEST part?!?! I got to strike a few poses at the Barbie booth (!!!!!!).
- I got a new PINK iPad!! In case you haven’t been following along on my Instagram (follow me @_thepinkchickadee) stories, I accidentally spilled water on my 2017 MacBook Pro. Fortunately for myself, I had insurance to cover the replacement of my laptop, which allowed me to replace it with … a PINK iPad and a Magic Keyboard to go with it. Needless to say, my excitement is definitely an understatement and the iPad is PERFECT for what I need for regular personal use. I actually picked up my iPad after the Making Sense of Data conference in Georgetown where I dined at Martin’s Tavern for a splendid solo date filled with espresso martinis, burgers, and fries (!!!).
- Papa, Rosie, and I made a visit to Burke Nursey & Garden Centre‘s Fall Market on a weeknight and it was so fun! We went there last year and brought Rosie then, too, and had such a blast. There are two parts to the Fall Market: the the market filled with aisles of locally made goods ranging from their homemade Apple Cider Donuts, curated jams and sodas, and produce and the pumpkin patch and playground with Spooky-themed murals, hay bails, and *of course* pumpkins. This time around, we enjoyed browsing, walking around and admiring both the market and the patch, and watching Rosie enjoy it all, too.
- One of the BEST parts of October in the Washington, DC area is making a visit to Old Town Alexandria’s iconic cobblestone streets of Captain’s Row to see the well-known Halloween decorations. Confession: I hadn’t have made a visit to Captain’s Row since I moved back to the Washington, DC area after college. SO, I LOVED getting to make a visit to Captain’s Row after enjoying some bubbly at Virginia’s Darling (!!!!) to celebrate my promotion. The Halloween decorations were so so so fun to see, especially since I recently learned that the Halloween decorations change within the community year after year!
- At the Jonas Brothers concert back in September (here), I met a new friend Liz while getting lost on the way to Metro. Liz and I have met up again since the Jonas Brothers concert right by our Tysons-based offices at Coastal Flats in Tysons Corner Center where she brought Joe Jonas in the form of a pop-up! Needless to say, I am SO blessed that Liz and I met while getting lost going to Metro after the Jonas Brothers concert and have bonded ever since. Liz truly is a blessing!
- My Dad came to visit for a weekend and we had an amazing time together! Our first stop was to Washington, DC to dig into our family genealogy research at the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library which is a STUNNING library (!!!!). We met with some genealogists and had a great time meeting with them and exploring the gorgeous library, museum, and state rooms which showcase historical representations of rooms from different states in different time periods. While we have literally hit a brick wall with a bit of our family genealogy, we did enjoy our time there and the several impressive resources at this incredible free library. After our time digging back in time, Dad and I headed to Thompson Italian aka one of my favorite local restaurants (!!!) in Old Town Alexandria to enjoy some amazing wine, short rib ravioli, and dessert before walking down King Street to stop into The Lucky Knot (who have the sweetest ladies there!!!!), enjoy some live music, and take in all of the spooky vibes. The next day, we got brunch in Occoquan, Virginia’s historic district at our favorite spot: The Secret Garden Cafe. We also strolled through the town, which is DECKED OUT for Halloween and so so so charming, and admired the adjacent Occoquan River, window shopping, and the crisp Fall air. I had an amazing time with my Dad and I truly cherish our time together.
Old Town Alexandria
Occoquan Historic District
- Every October, Papa and Rosie and I take a day trip to Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive to enjoy the foliage. This year, I took a Thursday off of work and we got a peak at the leaves a bit pre-peak and pre-mega crowds, too. The day we went was a BEAUTIFUL sunny day and literally THE PERFECT day to go! We enjoyed taking in ALLLL of the stunning and cloud-free scenic views, crisp Fall air, and time together. Afterwards, we got lunch in Old Town Warrenton, Virginia at Denim & Pearls which was dog-friendly and had amazing daily deals on both beers and burgers aka the golden ticket (!!!!). The staff at Denim & Pearls were SOOO friendly and hospitable, too. Afterwards, I took a brief stroll through Old Town Warrenton before heading back home. Papa and Rosie and I definitely had a very special day for YEAR …. 3 of our Shenandoah National Park Fall day trip!
Shenandoah National Park
- Just HOURS after I got back from Shenandoah National Park, my friend Liz and I met up at Panera Bread for dinner and then off to Tyson’s Showplace Icon Theatre and Kitchen to see … Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour movie. I *of course* got the bucket and cup and some popcorn, too. Liz and I dressed up in PINK and enjoyed time together just simply bonding and enjoying one another’s company while LITERALLY sobbing over our mutual love for Taylor Swift (and the Jonas Brothers, too!). I enjoyed Liz’s and I’s time together AND the amazing reclining chairs at the theatre!
- The last week of October, it felt *just as if* ALL of the happy hours were manifesting (!!!). My back-to-back happy hours kicked off with Causes & Cocktails at The Commentary in Arlington’s Ballston neighborhood. Causes & Cocktails is an event hosted by Volunteer Arlington to highlight different charities focused on different causes in the Arlington, Virginia area, with this month’s being focused on Food Insecurity. I got to network with those at the local nonprofits alongside others in the amazing Leadership Center for Excellence network that I recently became apart of via Ignite Young Professionals (INCLUDING some of my classmates!!) and *of course* my best friend Stephanie who completed a high school program through the Leadership Center for Excellence. The next happy hour was the 2023 Achieving After-school Celebration to fundraiser for Aspire After-school Learning: an Arlington-based nonprofit focused on providing additional After-school programming for students. I got to network with others from my Leadership Center for Excellence network AND enjoy the incredible skyline views at the venue: Army Navy Country Club! Because I was tired from a busy week the past week, I’m proud of myself for declining additional happy hour invites to simply rest.
Causes & Cocktails
Achieving After-School Celebration
- Halloweekend was filled with LOTS of rest and LOTS of fun! Friday, I enjoyed the night in with carry out Chinese food and some tea on my back porch with my best friend Haley in the early evening. Saturday, I ran some errands including a stop by Home Goods (!!!!) and to a Trunk or Treat that Papa was volunteering at during setup. The Trunk or Treat had *none other than* a Fall-themed balloon arch, SO I *of course* snapped a few photos in front of it! Sunday, Papa, Aunt Amy, and I enjoyed a brunch at Ada’s on the River at the Old Town Alexandria waterfront. Our brunch was amazing (as per usual!) and I had one of the best Aperol Spritz’s I’ve had! Afterwards, I took Papa and Aunt Amy to Captain’s Row to see ALLL the spooky Halloween decorations (!!!). Captain’s Row brought GREAT joy to all three of us. Sunday evening, I organized, did some home decor projects, and meal prepped for the week ahead. The entire weekend included LOTS of the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movies, too.
Trunk or Treat
Ada’s on the River
- 2 weeks without a personal laptop SUCKED at the beginning of the month. I ended up using my work laptop for personal use including writing blog content where I encountered … a BUG with WordPress. The WordPress bug delayed ALLL my blog content for the first few weeks of October. HOWEVER, I am SO grateful for my new iPad and excited to have it to easily carry and take with me everywhere I go!
- Early this October, I had horrible burnout. And, my burnout made me feel sick, as a result. Since then and luckily with the support of friends, family and my coworkers, I have made some adjustments to my day-to-day life, including scaling back on some of the work I am committing to both professionally and personally. One of the BIGGEST changes that I am making is avoiding (for the most part) signing onto my work laptop after 5pm on weekdays and on the weekends. I since deciding to do some scaling back, I have felt SO MUCH BETTER both mentally and physically.
- NOT to be dramatic, BUT I had my lovely car Daisy towed without realizing that she was 1000% fine this month – BIG WHOOPS!!! SO, I drove to Starbucks after my vaccines and on the way home a warning light came on telling me to stop driving my car. While I got home safely, I was SOOO nervous that something bigger was going on with poor Daisy. I talked to my local body shop and had her towed (free thanks to insurance!) only to discover that she just needed a programmatic reboot. WHELP! In the end, I am grateful that I brought my car in to be extra sure and that everything is good and that I didn’t have to spend a ton on repairs, either.
- I got my COVID and Flu vaccine at the same time towards the middle of the month. My experience to say the least was quick and easy, but left me with a horrible fever that night and out all weekend. I had to reschedule plans with friends that I planned that weekend thinking that I would be *TOTALLY* fine with just a sore arm (or two!). HOWEVER, the universe had other plans and I ended up barely leaving the couch ALL WEEKEND LONG. BUT, I am grateful for the opportunity to simply rest, be still, and in the moment for one weekend before they all get super busy with the upcoming holiday season. I am also extremely grateful for science and the scientific advancements that have come to allow us to get vaccinated, in order to stay safe and healthy and protected against COVID-19.
- My seasonal allergies have been THE WORST this past October. The exact Friday I was supposed to host a Halloween Happy Hour at my house, I ended up having an awful bit of allergies get sprung upon me. I had a bunch of work calls in the morning that required me to have myself in my typical work from home attire (here and here) while dying on the inside. Ultimately, I ended up sadly cancelling my Halloween Happy Hour for 2023. And, while a disappointment, I am glad that I was able to prioritize rest and that I was able to get one-on-one time with my friends soon after who intended to attend.
I am going into November 2023 filled with SO MUCH gratitude. I turned 24 in May of this year and it’s CRAZY to think that in just 6 months I will be turning 25! I have really enjoyed Chapter 24 so far in my book of life and am more than excited for what is to come for the second half of this magnificent chapter! NOW, onto November!
XOXO – Katie <3