First Half of 2015

The first half of 2015 was kind to me. I had quite a few memorable moments, loved on my family, and overcame several obstacles.

As of June 15, exactly 8 months post-op and for the first time in 4 years, I’m pain free. GTG!

As of June 30, I’ve begun my one year journey of Orthodontia discomfort…by choice. Ha!

My travels have been pretty low key. I’ve been to Florida, North Carolina, and California. But before the year is out, I will add Iceland and Kenya to the list.

Oh, and I’m going camping with my family this summer. Me…camping? *cackles*

My finances are good. My health is great. And my BabyGirl’s 23rd birthday is tomorrow. Woot!

To the second half of 2015, I’ve been expecting you. Let’s make ish happen. On purpose.

Afternoon Tea

IMG_4538

My daughter planned a mother/daughter date and decided that we were going to have a tea party. She knows me well because when I found out where we were going, I was excited! Everything was so pink, so pretty, and exceeded our expectations. The ambiance in the tea room reminded me of a fairy tale and the entire experience was a girly girl’s dream. :-)

Happy Friday!

happy-friday

I don’t have anything special to say, but I felt like blogging.

So how y’all doing? How ya mama ‘n ’em? The kids ok? Good!

For those of you who have been reading me since Fabulous Financials (*waving* heeeey!), I know you remember my BabyGirl because I started blogging when she was about 12. Well she’s 22 now and has a birthday coming up this summer. Man, time flies! She left the nest 4 years ago and those 4 years have been full of ups and downs, but she’s learning valuable life lessons. Oh, the joys and pains of early adulthood! She’s slowly figuring out who she is and what she wants out of life. I, on the other hand, am learning how to parent a young adult by giving less direction/correction and more support as a coach/mentor. We’re actually growing and learning together. It’s true what they say…a mommy’s job is NEVER done. :-)

You might remember me blogging about my little brother too. Well he decided to pursue a career in finance and finally landed a very nice gig. I’d like to think I had some influence in that. *pats self on the back* We are VERY far apart in age and I left home when he was only a toddler, so I’m surprised we’ve developed such a close relationship. He’s constantly calling me for life and financial advice. I love that he reaches out to me for guidance and respects my opinion. Now that he has a real job, I told him I will start charging him a consulting fee. He said all of his friends think he’s a financial guru (he shares what I teach him), so he’ll charge them first then pay me. Ha! Talk about a hustler mentality. Love it!

My mom just celebrated a birthday last month and came up to spend a few days with us. That senior citizen (yes, she gets discounts now lol) has more energy than me. Lawdymercy, she loves to shop and explore DC museums, but she wears me OUT. After 2 days, I put her off on my daughter and told them to have at it. I couldn’t keep up anymore. *hangs head in shame*

I’m getting Invisalign soon and I just found out my insurance company is covering more than I originally expected. Yay! My out of pocket costs are still in the thousands, but hopefully in 12-18 months, the before and after pics will show me it was all worth it. If you have/had Invisalign, I’d love to hear about your experience.

I’ve been reading and researching all things Kenya. I looooved South Africa last year, but I’ve never been to east Africa so I’m super duper excited about this trip. *in my Dr Seuss voice* Oh the places I’ll go… *big cheesy grin* I’m just some chic who grew up in the inner city ghetto of Newark, NJ and became statistic as a teenage single mom. The odds were stacked against me, so sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure my life is not a dream. If you’ve ever questioned God’s grace and mercy, just look at what he does for me. I’m soooo thankful.

My job sent me to a seminar that was designed to teach the principles from Stephen Covey’s popular book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Man oh man, I really enjoyed it! There were so many useful nuggets, but the most important take-aways for me were: a) understanding and relating to people through their mental map, b) organizing my tasks into the 4 Covey quadrants and spending the most time in quadrant 3 (not urgent/important), and c) learning to become a more active listener (hard!). I’m glad my employer sees value in investing time and money into building soft skills for the management staff.

Speaking of building soft skills, my employer also pays for us to have executive coaches. Each manager is paired with a trained and certified psychologist that specializes in organizational behavior. We meet with our coach once per week for 12-14 weeks. During those hour long sessions, we review and analyze our 360 assessment results (input is received from our manager, colleagues, subordinates, family, and friends), our personality and management style, our normal and adaptive behaviors, and our strengths and weaknesses. We also discuss and brainstorm solutions for any real-time issues we may have, our career goals, and a plan to achieve the next step. The objective is to address our professional AND personal needs to make us more effective managers (side note: an unintended benefit is a confidential outlet to vent lol). It’s truly an invaluable experience. This will be my third year participating in the program and I look forward to reconnecting with the same coach I had last year.

Hmm…what else? I’m just rambling…

I don’t tweet anymore and I only read a handful of blogs. Interesting how my online habits have changed in a year. Whenever I need downtime to relax, my preferred activity is to watch youtube videos (one of my faves), listen to podcasts (one of my faves), and read (currently on my nightstand).

Oh, do y’all still watch Scandal? I fell off for a while because Season 3 was so boring, but my mom drew me back in. She talks about it ALL. THE. TIME. Now I’m hooked again. Papa Pope is a BEAST, love him! Which reminds me, I missed last night’s episode so let me go catch up.

Ok’bai!

When Hard Knocks Change Your Life…to Make it Better

A few days ago, I reviewed my expectations for 2015 and it reminded me how blessed I am. Over the past few years, I’ve experienced hardship after hardship that would probably lead a normal person into a state of depression. But it’s drawn me closer to Christ. When I walk hand in hand with Him, I feel more centered and experience a level of peace that I can’t explain. Actually, the word JOY comes to mind, which in my opinion, is far greater than happiness.

I am no longer focused on the circumstances or what I believe has gone wrong. My thoughts are not consumed with how to fix my problems or the next goal that needs to be accomplished. I read His word, pray about what’s on my heart, and trust that He will lead me. I am learning that life is truly a journey and I don’t need to define every single step. I still have a vision for what I’d like to experience in my lifetime, but it’s more of an outline, not a detailed turn by turn master plan. I don’t know if this change in perspective is a result of life’s lessons, maturity, or spiritual growth – maybe all three – but I like it. :-)

Since this post was inspired by a review of my 2015 plans, here’s a quick update…

Extensive dental work. All of my medically necessary dental work is complete (ouch!). Now I’m super obsessed with my dental hygiene and floss randomly throughout the day…just because. The cosmetic work is in process and my pockets are a little lot lighter, but it’s worth it.

Invest 50% of my gross income. I invest a little over 45% of my income and my net worth has increased almost 6%. To be honest, everything is on auto-pilot and I haven’t paid much attention to my money lately. It actually feels like my spending has been out of control, but payroll allotments keep me on track until I’m ready to make more active decisions again.

Travel. I started the year with a list of what I’d consider bucket list travel dreams but thought only 2 were really possible. Since then, I’ve been swimming with dolphins, held a baby alligator, and embraced my big kid excitement in Downtown Disney. It. was. so. much. fun!

IMG_4022

I also plan to visit a friend in GA (milestone birthday), a friend in CA (new baby), and booked a flight for another dream vacation to Kenya (I love Africa). Whew, and it’s only May! While awaiting those trips, I’ve also discovered new travel and cultural adventures in my own back yard at the Around the World Embassy Tour and the Funk Parade. I love living in DC!

IMG_4026

Change my hair. I’ve straightened my hair several times this year and colored it too. I’m not a fan of straight hair so it never stays straight for long, but the color is growing on me. I think.

Study the word of God. I haven’t been studying as much as I should, but I do it with intention and more often than I used to. Not only do I study His word, but I also make a conscious effort to apply what I learn. Through the trials, God is changing my life. I think I am more considerate, patient, relaxed, and well…as much as you can expect from a Type A personality. LOL!

How do you balance your goals/desires with unfortunate life events out of your control?