Always follow your dreams…

My father is one of the most influential people in my life… I am very grateful that he raised me according to his rules and values… I am also very thankful that he shared with me his wonderful passion – beekeeping. Most of my friends know that I truly like bees and beekeeping. Today was very important day in my life and I met my new beekeeping partner and my new mentor. I am ready to make my dream come true and get back to beekeeping!!!

When I was a little girl I started helping my father with his beekeeping. He really did not need my help that much but it was our bonding experience when we spent hours together taking care of his 12 beehives. Today when I think about these moments those are one of the most amazing memories of my childhood.

Beekeeping is an amazing activity which makes you really close to the nature. It also allows you to understand the balance in nature and experience the harvesting the gold of nature – the honey. In fact, I do not like honey that much, maybe because I ate so much honey as a child but I love bees and beekeeping is one of the most profoundly calming activity I was ever involved in.

Helping my father for over 15 years I’ve learnt a lot about bees and bee hives. I slowly fall in love with my father’s passion… And then I moved to United States where I totally gave up my hobby. Over 5 years ago I started thinking about going back to beekeeping. However, since I do not live in a house I was not sure how I could do it. I also went back to school and focused on my career putting my passion on hold once again.

I guess what is meant to be will be.  A year ago, I wrote this crazy business plan on beekeeping and my teacher told me that he was never happier to grade the assignment the maximum points. He told me that I was ready to do it since he could just see how passionate I was about beekeeping. One of my classmates told me about the beekeeper he knows. Today I’ve met him and one of the very first thing I’ve noticed about him is that he is just so HAPPY, with positive energy and this amazing vibe. We immediately clicked, and I feel like I found my new mentor who would guide me to get back into the most amazing hobby ever.

I believe that you always must follow your passions and just allow your dreams to come true. I am excited to share that I am getting back to one of the most amazing activities I’ve ever experienced. I will keep you posted how my beekeeping adventure goes… Btw. I just love the smell of beehive, this is something I truly cannot describe, something what makes me just happy… So let’s follow our dreams one step at the time…

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Successful people never reach their goals alone!

Process of learning is never-ending process. If you are open-minded, curious and have the right attitude you will be able to learn new things all your life. Therefore, it is important to have people around from who you can learn a lot. Tocontinuously expand your knowledge and grow your skills it is crucial to have the real teacher who could become your mentor.

I am amazed with my own ability as well as willingness to learn new things. I love to surround myself with pope who I can look up to, people from who I can learn, people who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with me.  Somehow, I was always fortunate to find some great mentors in my life. Both personal and professional. I will focus here on the professional mentors I was lucky to come across in my career journey.

Since I realize how much more I need to learn I am always looking for a true mentor at work. The first quality a mentor must have is his knowledge and the experience. The second one is his willingness to share that knowledge with others. Great mentor can question my way of thinking, ask me tough questions, challenge my knowledge on a daily basis and answer my questions the best he can.

The level of knowledge of my mentor is that profound magnet which keeps me amazed with his level of the expertise as well as gains my respect.  At this point of my career I can choose my future job more mindfully and one of the most important thing to me is to look for the mentor in my potential boss.  I am very aware that only by continuous process of learning I am able to grow as an employee, human being and a good person in general.

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How meditation helped me get to the Grad School

Four years ago some very wise man told me about great program called MBSR. Mindful Based Stress Reduction is a meditation program created by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living. MBSR is clinically proven program addressing both physical health and emotional wellbeing.

People who know me know that I am full of energy, I also get very excited quickly. How could I sit still for more than 5 minutes? Well, it takes practice. The beginning was not easy as it is with most of the things. However I found guided meditations very relaxing and pleasant. I started from very easy exercises. Listening to 3 and 5 minutes practices at the beginning concentrating on my breathing techniques. Slowly I moved on to 15, 30 and finally 45 minute long practices. Progressing in my practices I’ve noticed that my ability to focus was slowly increasing.

I was also able to concentrate better and stay focused on the tasks I wanted to complete. I was practicing at least once a day.  I knew that my goal of passing GRE test in order to get admitted to the MBA program was a very serious task therefore I was highly motivated to improve my concentration skills. I started preparing for the test in January. For 3 months I’ve been studying every day at least 3 hours a day. Within those 3 months I took only 3 days off without studying. I was tracking my study hours on the calendar, writing them down every evening.

Every day I was also mediating at least 30 minutes and exercising at least 30 minutes as well.  I’ve noticed that after each session I could easily focus on studying for 2 or 3 hours a day after spending 8 hours at work. Meditation helped me tremendously improve my concentration and overall maintain positive attitude during this difficult time of hard mental challenge.

After my own experience with meditation I highly recommend this practice to everyone who is looking for mental stability and control over their mind. There is this old saying that untrained mind is like drunken monkey. Indeed this is true. In very stressful situations I am able to bring myself from highly elevated state of mind to the state where I can control myself better, noticing my emotions and reactions.

I feel like meditation became lately a fad. It sounds cool to say that you practice meditation. Places like Google have mediation lunches where people mindfully enjoy their meal in the silence. It is not because Google as a workplace tries to be trendy. The management realized how powerful and beneficial meditation can be to their employees making them work more efficiently with higher ability to focus and complete tasks more effectively.

If you feel interested in meditation you may start from very trivial exercises such as mindful taking shower, where you practice being present in the moment without thinking about past or the future. Try to feel in the moment with all you senses, listen to the water hitting your skin, smell the shower gel, look at the colors of the foam, and focus on feeling the heat of the water on your skin.

Another great exercise is while driving to work: turn of the radio, and look around as you were driving this road for the first time in your life. Watch your surroundings carefully just like a child and you may be truly surprised how many new things you’ve noticed which you’ve never seen before. Try to remember each part of the road.

The secret of meditation lies in your attitude towards life. You perception may change and you will be able see things just like a child with fresh mind. We are so busy in our heads constantly rewinding things we’ve been thru or planning things which are ahead of us. Mediation allows you be present in the moment without any connection to the past or the future. I truly hope you will try it and I am confident that once you try mediation practice you will truly enjoy it!

Meditation did magic for me! I am a believer of true power of mediation and the benefits it brought to my life!

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Counting the steps – part 3

Waking up in the morning in the middle of the mountains is the best part of backpacking. When you open up the tent the fresh breeze hits your face and you see that your living room is full of flowers, trees and its walls are made of the mountains. In such moments you are not sure if you are still dreaming or this is already reality. Ability to create experiences like this is truly priceless.

That morning by Diamond Lake was just like that, the time stopped, it was just us and nature, nothing else was important. After hearty breakfast we sat in silence drinking hot coffee with powdered milk. It was the best coffee ever in the most amazing circumstances! Life was beautiful!!!

Yet we knew that it was time for another day of serious hiking… We started our hike pretty energetic however I could feel the pain in my legs from the prior day’s strenuous hiking. It was sunny, beautiful morning with the perfect temperature for the hike. Knowing that I will not come back to this place for really long time I was somehow sad to leave Lake Diamond.

The trail was climbing like a snake up another mountain… This time I wasn’t tired and the backpack felt like feather; I was ready for another challenge. It was already 9 am and my counting of the steps started again. We reached the top of the mountain to see another magnificent lake with such lovely name – Lake Luella…

We took really short break and continued hiking to close our loop by Deer Lake. It wasn’t easy at all. The trail once again started climbing up another mountain. I was just amazed by the elevation changes of this trail. Up and down, up and down… Making the views breathtaking -overlooking valleys, meadows and steep mountains. You could easily follow that trail with your eyes just like on the picture!

We finally reached Deer Lake where we had lunch and got more water from the stream nearby. The day was getting hot and we had another climb up the mountain…:/ This was the final climb to the pass where we would close the loop. Looking at the trail going so high up I was scared if I could really do it again? And it seemed like the hike up was taking forever… but of course we made it!

I was so proud of myself that I managed to the top in such a short period of time. We started hiking down to the meadow which was literally running down. It took us 4 hours climbing up the day before and only 1.5 hr to run down on the way back. It was really steep part of the trail.

Trinity Alps will always have special place in my heart. It was truly magical place, very remote, calm and peaceful. The most beautiful backpacking trip ever. Places like this are giving me an opportunity to reflect what is really important in my life and what simply makes me happy…

Counting the steps is a great technique of challenging myself, pushing harder and each little step takes me closer to the goal. You just have to be persistent and do not give up… Just like in life in general!

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Counting the steps – part 2

I was really scared that we didn’t have enough time to finish the loop and I really didn’t want to hike in the dark in theses steep mountains. Trinity Alps are very high mountains between 4000 to 8500 feet   and hiking in the dark could have very dramatic consequences.  It was already 6 pm and we’ve decided to speed up even more to hike as far as we could till at least 9 pm.

I was extremely tired after this strenuous climb up. However I knew I still had energy to push a little bit harder. Finally at 7 pm we arrived at the pass which was the beginning of the loop and we saw first of the four lakes. Deer Lake was in the bottom of this wonderful rocky valley. The sunset was just amazing. We could see the trail going around the valley going up to another pass.

I realized that my obsessive counting was worth the effort. That every step was bringing me closer to this most amazing place I ever saw in my entire life. The high mountains looked graceful and magnificent.  I felt my respect towards the amazing creation of the nature. I experienced the most profound feeling of happiness just by living the moment to the fullest. I took pictures of the surroundings which I will keep in my heart forever…

At this point I did not feel how tired I was, I did not fell the pain in my thighs, I did not feel the weight of my backpack I just had to keep hiking to the next lake. I knew that each lake was so different. After another 45 minutes of hiking we reached another lake – Summit Lake. This lake was hidden between trees, looked calm and quiet.  I was ecstatic and happy as a child. Was it a place where we would spend the night? But it still wasn’t dark. We knew that we had an hour to the next lake so we’ve decided to hike a little more.

Another hike up for 30 more minutes seemed nothing after hiking so much that day already. We started to feel relaxed and hiked slowly smiling to each other, knowing that now we were just looking for the perfect place where we could spend the night.  We reached another summit and we saw Diamond Lake. This place was just perfect! Looked like painted by nature. The lake was in the middle of incredibly green meadow with colorful flowers around it. I knew why those mountains were called Trinity Alps. I was thinking were we in Alps in Europe?

The sun was already gone and we started hiking down to the lake looking for the place to set our tent. We unloaded our gear and enjoyed the most delicious meal ever.  The night was incredible. A group of deer came right next to us eating the grass and other plants. Amazingly they were not scared of us at all. Those animals do not see too many humans so they do not feel threatened by people at all. They were so close to me that I was almost in tears, I was never so close to the nature. In the middle of the night I could hear deer’s hooves right next to our tent and I was trying to figure out how many of them came over. Do I always have to think in numbers – even count the deer in the night?:)

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Counting the steps – part 1

Counting is one of the most common activity accountants do. We count so many things so often that counting gets to our blood. Counting allows me to track the progress, to see the volume of the problem or just to prepare for an activity. To illustrate the importance of counting I will use the example of BACKPACKING…

Two years ago I took an overnight backpacking trip to Four Lake Loop via Long Canyon in The Trinity Alps near Redding, CA.  It is only 18 miles long, very impressive trail with truly spectacular views. In my opinion it was pretty advanced trail due to the elevation gain which is over 6000 feet. I have to admit that I wasn’t really expecting that much climbing in 1 day.

Anyways my counting started the day before the trip… I had to count my meals, the amount of water I would carry with me, pieces of clothing and finally the most important … the weight of my backpack which was probably around 24 lbs.

We stayed overnight in lovely Redding and before we head to the mountains we stopped by Sundial Bridge. Pretty awesome walking bridge over wide, calm river. The bridge is also a huge sun clock and the bottom of the bridge is made out of glass. I should have known then that time was running and truly we could skip the bridge knowing the amount of hiking we had ahead of us. Every hour counted that day…

Around 1:30 pm we made it to the trailhead and stared our beautiful hike the most remote and wild trail I’ve ever hiked. There was almost no traffic (during 2 days we met maybe 8 hikers or so). The trail starts with the most amazing meadow which is 4 or 5 mile long with incredibly colorful flowers. The views around the meadow were juts breathtaking. After the meadow my crazy counting started…

We came to the bottom of the steep climb which had 3900 feet in the elevation gain. It was already afternoon and we were not even halfway where we wanted to be… We needed to hurry up. I started counting to help me track the progress. I kept saying to myself just 100 more steps but that was really nothing so next time I started counting to 200 & 300… I’ve lost my count multiple times since I was getting tired but I kept going… and kept counting… We kept climbing higher and higher.

Quarter way up we were greeted by the most beautiful butterflies ever…. And I wanted to keep going. I knew that ahead of us there are 4 wonderful lakes hidden between the mountains just like precious jewels hidden from eyes of thieves which I really wanted to see. Some powerful and magnetic force was calling me to keep going up not even knowing what I would see…

Halfway up we took very shot break for a small meal since we knew that we were really facing a challenge if we were really trying to tackle the entire Four Lake Loop and we needed to be pushing… Finally we made it up but then we really realized that it is not really the top of the mountain or not even the pass where the loop was starting…  I just realized that the point way up I kept starting at all the time was just only a half way to the pass and the begging of the loop…


Accounting job involves way more than just tax preparation – part IV

In my previous blogs I focused so far on giving examples of various accounting tasks and duties in order to describe complexity of accounting. In this blog I would like to add one more very important factor which will help illustrate how diverse is accounting. This crucial factor will be a size of the company.

There is a major difference between accounting tasks in a small business and a large corporation. In the first one the accountants are able to participate in most of financial aspects of the business. The accounting functions will vary depending if this is a month-end or not. And for example an accountant in the small firm can be involved in daily invoicing, recording different transactions, reviewing unpaid bills or even payroll. During the month-end accountants in the small firms will be involved in the reconciliation bank account, review of sub ledgers and in the entire process of financial statements preparation.

Accounting in a large company is very specialized. In general accounting functions are separated into different departments (for example accounts payable department, fixed assets team or accounts receivable department, G/L, etc.). Segregation of the departments (silos) is typically based on the various functions of the accounting. Working for large firm gives the accountant great opportunity to learn new skills and become almost a specialist in a specific area.

There are major differences in accounting jobs at small and large companies. In my opinion the biggest difference is the visibility of accounting processes and the level of participation in the financial statements preparation. In large companies accountants are assigned to many specialized tasks in specific typically very small area which become the only area they are focused on. From my perspective working for a small or medium size company is the optimal choice where I have opportunity to expand my accounting knowledge by actively assisting in month-end processes as well as to expand my experience by being involved in various tasks during the month.