Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Goodbye 10s, Hello 20s

It's time of the year again to wrap up the year as we welcome a new year, a new decade. Honestly, 2019 had been a challenging year, especially in the first half of the year. However, things have gotten much better over the last few months and I'm thankful for that. Anyway, here's a quick recap of our 2019:

This year's busy season got off to a rocky start and it was undoubtedly the worst busy season I've had since I started working. Losing team member at the end of last year meant we had to pick up 'leftover' new team members at the busiest time of the year, not ideal. On top of that, we had sh*t luck with the internal review process when the original reviewer resigned right at the beginning of busy season and was replaced by a another reviewer who lives in her own perfect world in the ivory tower. I also had to pick up more work this year so that didn't help either. And of course, our client had to make things complicated and gave us more work during busy season. I was working past midnight every night in Jan & Feb. Our sh*t luck continued with a manager resigning and we had to go through another review, which ended up dragging out our busy season for another 4 months. It was really the 'perfect storm'. I felt frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed out, and burnt out.  

I know I know, self-pity won't get me anywhere or any empathy. Truth is nobody really cares about you apart from yourself when it comes to work. So it was up to me to fend for myself, stay positive and find the light at the end of the tunnel. 

I found my silver lining when the firm was looking for individuals to join the COE team in April. Best part about this is that it's a completely remote role. Guess it was a blessing in disguise because I probably wouldn't have considered transferring to a different team if it wasn't for the crappy busy season. I've been able to work from home since September and have been enjoying it...a lot! =D On an unrelated note, I finally received my employer-sponsored green card in June. =)

With this new remote role, my work travels will certainly cut reduce but I still traveled to a few places for work this year: 
  • March, April, May, October - Atlanta
  • April - Chicago
  • July - New York
  • August - Charlotte
  • December - Tampa

Travel + Family
All of our trips this year were focused on spending time with our families, so no new country for me this year. This was the first year I traveled to Malaysia twice within the same year. I traveled home for 2.5 weeks in June to spend more time with the family - see my twin niece and nephew who were born in January, help my dad who had a second stroke in April, and celebrate grandma's 90th birthday. 

Hubby hadn't been back to Malaysia since 2016 so we wanted to travel back together this year and we planned our trip around my cousin's wedding. We also invited my MIL to join us on the trip since it has been 6 years since her last visit. We took a detour and spent a week in Taiwan and one night in Hong Kong enroute to Malaysia. 

In December, hubby and I traveled to Big Island, Hawaii for a road trip with my parents. 

Thanks to points & miles, the flights and hotels for all 3 trips were basically free. The following are some points & miles/credit card (my nerdy hobby) highlights for the year:

  • Achieved Marriott's Titanium status for 2020
  • Got the Amex Hilton Aspire credit card with annual fee of $450 waived
  • Received Hilton Diamond status for 2020 with the Hilton Aspire credit card
  • Got the Priority Pass that came with the Hilton Aspire credit card
  • Received 105,000 IHG bonus points for completing IHG's Accelerate offer
  • Used Hertz points to redeem for 1-week rental car in Hawaii for free
  • Booked our Hawaii flights for only 7,500 miles/pax/trip using the Turkish airlines sweet spot
  • Stayed at the Intercontinental Hong Kong using my last uncapped IHG CC free night
  • Booked our first ever 1st class flight for next year's trip

Summary of my travels for 2019 (work+leisure):
  • Number of hotel nights - 73 nights (Marriott-53; Hilton-8; IHG-12)
  • Number of hotels - 31 hotels (Marriott-18; Hilton-7; IHG-6) 
  • Number of airlines - 11 airlines (Delta, United, Eva, Cathay Pacific, Asiana, SIA, MAS, Thai Airways, Malindo, Airasia, Southwest)

Hadn't had much 'inspiration' to blog much this year, not even on the other site. Same as last year, my updates on this blog are mainly quarterly updates and trip reports.

Quarterly updates:
Trip reports completed in 2019:

Apart from the soul-sucking work life in the first half of the year, life in general has been pretty good in 2019. I'm happy with our life as a couple and we've stayed healthy this year. We are content and thankful for what we have and where we are at this phase of life. Looking forward to a smooth 2020 with more successes (especially at work) and more adventures with hubby!! 

Happy New Year 2020!!

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