The Price of Beauty


So…I’m on a 52 week journey to (I hope) perfectly straight teeth.

The entire process involved lots of prep work, 26 aligners to be changed every 2 weeks, some discomfort, a little over $3,600, and time off work for follow up visits every few months.

The goal is to close a gap and correct an overbite. My orthodontist said bio-mechanics and function are more important than vanity. I told her “Umm…I can chew just fine. My decision to spend nearly $4,000 is for cosmetic purpose only.” She probably wanted to karate chop me.

I chose Invisalign over braces because they are more visually appealing to me, and I “heard” they were easier and painless. Psssh! That last part is a crock.

When the technician put the first set of aligners in my mouth, it felt like a vice grip on my teeth. Dude, I thought this wasn’t supposed to hurt!?! After a few hours, the pain subsided. But then…

It was time to eat.

Side Note: For most effective results, I’m supposed to wear the aligners for 22 hours per day. Those 2 hours of freedom are for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing. I cannot eat or drink ANYTHING, except water, unless I remove the aligners first. No problem, right? Ha.

The first time I tried to remove the aligners, I thought my brain was going to explode. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but tooth pain might be the death of me. It radiates to my head then throughout my ENTIRE body. So imagine ALL of my teeth hurting at once. Lawd!

I stood over the bathroom sink with saliva running down my chin, the aligners halfway on and halfway off, and tears forming in my eyes. I looked in the mirror and cursed MYSELF out – in the past, present, AND future for good measure. Whoever said beauty is worth pain, they ain’t worth the ink on their birth certificate!

After a good 10 minutes, I finally removed them and I was ready to grub. I think my first meal was a steak burrito. I bit down into that little piece of heaven called a sandwich and thought I was going to pass out. My teeth were so sore, I couldn’t even chew rice, much less steak. Lawd, but I was HONGRY!!

I gave my daughter the burrito – it seems she’s benefiting the most from this process – and made myself a green smoothie instead. After I DRANK my dinner, brushed and flossed my teeth, and reinserted the aligners, I vowed to never eat again. EVER.

The next 2-3 days were more of the same, plus ibuprofen. As long as I kept the aligners in, I could deal. I’d go looooooooong stretches without eating, but when my stomach threatened to cause an uprising, I had to prepare for battle. One time, I was removing the aligners and had memories of Scandal when Huck removed Quinn’s front teeth with dirty pliers. In comparison, my situation felt worse because it was slow and self-inflicted. I’m convinced, the little buttons on my teeth that hold the aligners in place were creations of the devil. Ugh!

By day 5, either my teeth shifted into position with the aligners or my brain adapted to the pain. Probably the latter because it doesn’t hurt anymore. But due to the 22 hour rule, I still only remove them when it’s ABSOLUTELY necessary. And whenever I remove them, I use the stopwatch on my iPhone to make sure I don’t exceed 2 hours per day. If I go over (usually when out socializing), I cut a meal short the next day to make up time.

On the bright side, my habits have changed significantly.

I’m more mindful of what I eat and when I eat. Because of soreness, I don’t eat a lot of meat or anything chewy or sticky. Also, because of the effort it takes to eat (removing aligners, chewing food, brushing, flossing, cleaning aligners, etc.) I rarely, if ever, snack in between meals. Never thought I’d say this, but a cookie isn’t worth it. And finally, because I’m concerned about plaque build up on my teeth from wearing the aligners 22 hours per day, I eat very few sweets and only drink water (with an occasional glass of wine). My regular dentist would be proud.

My oral hygiene is also on point. I carry a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss with me everywhere I go. Before every meal, I sneak into a restroom to remove, rinse, clean and store my aligners. When I’m eating at home, I let them soak in a solution of warm water and peroxide to kill bacteria and keep them clean. Immediately after every meal, I brush, floss, and reinsert my aligners. When I’m at home, I also gargle with peroxide to kill bacteria. Rinse and repeat 3+ times each day.

I was given 5 sets of aligners until my next ortho appointment. Each set of aligners are worn for two weeks and I plan to take pics at the end of each set. In a few days, I will begin set 2. I’m prepared for the discomfort this time, so I’ll change them at night before bed, pop two ibuprofen, and eat a liquid diet for a few days.

By set 10, I’m sure I will have this process down to a science with minimal discomfort. If not, I’ll just curse myself every 2 weeks until July 2016. Oh, the price of beauty. :-)

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


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!


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.