There Is A First Time For Everything

Last night marked another “first” in my life. After the student presentations were completed and the clock struck 8:15, I ended my first class as an instructor!

Like most firsts, the experience was highly anticipated, awkward at times, exciting at others and a little bit of a disappointment. 

I come from a line of educators. I dreamed of teaching a class since I decided to earn my MBA, so I built up this idea of myself in this role. It was like dreaming of your first kiss. You think about it and dream about it so much you can almost feel the brush of lips against yours… Or you can almost see students hanging from your every word.  (Same thing, right?)

The anticipation is so strong, it’s a distraction. Initially, I was worried about being the hip, young instructor. I wanted to be respected and adored. But, being the new teacher that I was, I made a fool of myself once or twice. It’s not unlike your first high school dance. After showing your “best” move, it can only get better! 

I had glimpses of the success I had previously envisioned. There were classes when students engaged and answered thoughtfully, days when you could see the connections being made. It was exciting in the way it was exciting to drive solo for the first time. Exhilarating and, yet, very scary. 

After all the excitement, anxiety, time and energy, I was left feeling disappointed. I’m not disappointed in them or what they accomplished. I’m disappointed in myself.

I wanted more for my students. 

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. There are any number of ways I can improve my class. I’m looking forward to implementing some of those changes this summer. But I’ll never have another first semester of teaching. 

It’s like looking back on your first love. While in the relationship, all you could see were the flaws in the other person, but now? Now you see yourself more clearly. You see what you could have done, or what you should have said. You see what should have happened. And you wonder, if only…

Trust me, I have some “if only” thoughts about my class, but I’m ok with that. I’m growing and learning. I’m listening and adapting my lectures. 

Next semester will be better because of the issues with disrespect. I will be better for it. 

Next semester will be better because of all the “sensitive feedback,” otherwise know as whining. 

Next semester will be better because of each student in my class.

We all have a few first time experiences we would rather forget. This class wasn’t one of them for me. 

I teach undergraduates this summer. I’m looking forward to my class where I will undoubtedly embarrass myself because that’s what I do. My goal is to implement changes that will decrease my disappointment in my performance, and increase my feelings of satisfaction. 

It’s going to be a good semester! And hey, it’s my first time teaching undergrad! 

A Lesson in Humility

I’m terrible about vehicle maintenance. TERRIBLE.

I’m so terrible about the maintenance, that I often wait until the last possible moment to fill my tank with gas. It’s not that I can’t afford it or that I don’t have the time. I just don’t think about it.

Friday morning, at about 5:25 am, it caught up to me.

I was at a stoplight less than a block away from my 5:30 am bootcamp. I knew I was pushing the limits of my gas tank, so I was planning to stop at the gas station on the corner. (The corner I was sitting at.) Random bright red lights all turned on on my dash. I thought that was a little strange, but what did I know about cars. I didn’t even know what half the lights meant…

It took less than 5 seconds for me to find out. Those lights were the desperate plea from my car to give it gas. They were my car’s last words.

Then she died.

DIED.

At 5:25 am, just inside the entrance to the gas station. I was a mere 20-25 yards from the pump. So close, and yet…

I popped my car into neutral, walked around the back and pushed as hard as I could. I cannot describe how pathetic I looked as my car nudged forward an inch (if that)! I pushed again and again. When I stood up to catch my breath, the car rolled backward losing what little ground I had gained.

Naturally, I laughed.

A few years ago, I would have cried or yelled. I would have called someone to come help me, but no good friend should call someone at 5:30 am to ask for help pushing their car 25 yards. That’s embarrassing, people!

I switched up my strategy. I have no arm strength, but I’ve always had solid quads! I leaned my back against my car, squatted low and pushed with my legs. Ha-HA!

Ok, so it wasn’t a complete success, but it was better than pushing with my arms.

By this point, one car had gone around me and another car was passing by. A man in a beat up vehicle was on his phone, smoking a cigarette when I noticed him out of the corner of my eye. His car slowed as he drove by me. I’m sure I looked pretty comical in my feeble attempts to push my car.

Two seconds later, he rolled down his window and said, “Do you need some help?”

“YES!” without hesitation.

He told someone on the phone that he would call them right back. He hopped out and told me to steer. Well, that’s a little presumptive, right?

Wrong.

It took less time for this scrawny, wonderful person to push my car to the pump than it took me to make and lose 6 inches of ground.

I thanked this stranger over and over. I considered hugging the guy, but I realized that would be super awkward. I thought about offering him money, but thought it might insult him. Instead, I smiled and I thanked him for saving me.

I watched as he drove away, and I learned something about myself.

I was not worthy of that man’s help. Any day of the week, I wouldn’t have thought twice about some random, scrawny guy smoking a cigarette in a beat up car. I would have probably passed judgement on him for no reason at all. Yet, he is the one to stop and help me. He probably had somewhere to be (why else would you be out and about that early?), but he took the time to offer help to a person in need.

I’m big about helping others, donating money, giving time, etc. Somewhere along the lines, I created this misguided perception of what a person in need looks like. It’s only fitting that a little divine intervention would put my in my place.

We are all people in need. And every one of us has the potential to be a hero.

The minute you forget that, you’ll receive a gentle reminder from the man upstairs.

Also, I need to work on my arm strength. That was very, very sad.

Emotional Disaster: Wedding Planning Without My Mom

Planning my wedding has reopened a wound in my heart that took years to heal. Learning to cope with the loss of someone you love is never easy, and those of us who are left behind will experience events in our lives – like planning a wedding – that will weaken our emotional infrastructure and leave us vulnerable and fragile.

The most difficult part of planning my wedding is not having my mom. There is a laundry list of experiences we will not share because she was taken from me far too soon.

I felt like I was handling the emotions well, but HOS, Charli and I spent the weekend in Nebraska with my mom’s side of the family. Simply being in Nebraska makes me think of mom. And today, at my mom’s sister’s house, I saw the buffet that stood in our kitchen for as long as I can remember. I touched the smooth wood, opened the drawers and the cupboard doors that were once filled with mom’s things. For a second, I felt like I was back home, and that she would come around the corner.

My emotional support beams were weakened.

My aunt gave me a gift when we left. She told me tonight that she needed to do it for my mom. She went on to tell me that before mom died, the two of them cried knowing that mom would not be here for my wedding day.

Any remaining emotional stability has since been washed away by a steady flow of silent tears that I can’t seem to suppress.

Charlotte asked me to cuddle with her when she was going to sleep. I lay next to her, cupping her face with my hand and poured tears onto her pillow while she sucked her fingers and stared into my eyes. I made her promises that I can’t make. They aren’t mine to make, but I made them any way.

“I will be there when you grow up.”

“I will be there when you get married.”

“I will be there when you have your babies.”

And with each statement, that precious little girl would say, “Ok, mama.”

Then, she removed my hand from her face. Charli reached out and stroked my cheek. She smoothed my hair and gently caressed my face with her little toddler hand for a few minutes before booping me on the noise.

Charlotte is so innocent and beautiful and filled with loved. Those sweet three minutes or so told me something I’ve never considered before…

Of course my mom cried knowing she would not be here, but it was more than that. I know her better than that. Her tears were just as much for me as they were for her. She knew that I would be here, puffy-eyed, mascara-stained and heartbroken as I’m about to marry the man I love more than any other. She didn’t want that for me any more than she wanted to miss my wedding day.

In an emotional disaster, not unlike a natural disaster, there is only one thing to do after the storm passes – rebuild. Nail by nail, board by board, I will reconstruct my emotional stability. Maybe I’ll find some reinforcements to prevent another collapse. Lord knows, I don’t need to breakdown at the wedding!

Let the rebuilding begin.

Tomorrow.

Year-End Resolution Review – 2014

With 2014 quickly coming to a close, I’m weighing my new year resolution options. I decided the best way to determine my goals for moving forward would be to look at the goals I set for 2014.

That was a terrible idea.

Last year, I posted a blog with the following resolutions for 2014:

  • HOS and I resolve to dedicate more time to our relationship by having monthly date nights.
  • I resolve to pay more than the minimum payment on my debts while saving money weekly.
  • I resolve to decrease TV and technology time, so I can increase one-on-one time with my family.
  • I resolve to be thankful for the blessings given to me and mine.
  • I resolve to read one new book each month.

Little did I know, I was setting myself up for failure!

I was apparently thinking very highly of myself when I created this list because I chose not one, not two, not three, but FIVE goals. Who does that? Most people can’t complete one resolution, and I thought it best to set five.

Makes sense.

I can’t say that I failed completely. HOS and I did not achieve our monthly date night every month. We were probably around 75 percent, but we did it! We took time for us.

Ugh. Money. I’m going to be honest. I am terrible with money. I am terrible at saving. Let’s hope HOS takes over all monetary business when we get married. I did, however, pay more than the monthly minimum nearly ever time, so there is that.

We have made a lot of positive strides regarding Charlotte’s excessive desire to only watch TV and/or play a game on one of our games. It’s an uphill battle, especially with technology being so engrained these days. I’ll keep nagging HOS to put his phone away. He loves that.

Charlotte and I have been working on thankfulness. I think I could spend my whole life focusing on my blessings and giving thanks, and I would still owe God or someone a debt of gratitude.

Lastly, and sadly, I had hoped to read a book every month. That definitely did not happen. I bought a lot of books. I heard about friends reading books. I, myself, may have read a few books. I started reading some books, but never finished.

SO, all-in-all, if I were to grade the result of my resolutions, I would grant myself a C. Knowing all this, what should I resolve to accomplish in 2015?

What is a resolution that will really matter for me or my family?

*sigh* I was trying to think of something witty, but I realized what I need to do in 2015.

In 2015, I will set aside my fears, distractions, insecurities and general excuses and I will make a concerted effort to get Charlotte’s Mr. Elephant books published.

What is your new year’s resolution?

My Name is Angie, and I Was Scammed By *IC FREESHIPPING

I learned today that I have been incurring fraudulent charges on my credit card since January 2013. Oh, yes. You read that correctly… I have been duped for the past 22 months!

I know that many other “young” adults in my generation (and the generation after mine) are terrible with money. Emphasis on TERRIBLE. I am no different. I’m working to change my ways, and this new journey to financial security/freedom requires a long, cold walk through the depths of my student loan debt and what little credit card debt I have accumulated.

I’m learning just how oblivious I am/was in terms of my own money! Let’s set aside the wasted spending at the gas station and lunches out with friends for another day so we can focus on the topic at hand…

TWENTY-TWO MONTHS of fraudulent charges? I’m embarrassed for a number of reasons:

  1. I obviously haven’t read a credit card statement in nearly two years.
  2. I have paid more than $250 in charges I did not incur.
  3. The fraud continued despite a recent credit card number change.
  4. The look on HOS’ face when I told him how many charges have hit my account…

I pray that you are all far better at managing your money than me. If not, then I beg you to at least read your credit card and bank statements! Don’t just give away your money like me!

Here are a few tips to avoid being a credit card fraud sucker:

  • Request both paper and email statements, so you’ll see at least one version.
  • Review all transactions to verify authenticity.
  • If a transaction is suspicious, call your credit card company right away! My card card provider, Chase, offers 24-hour customer service.
  • If you see a $12.97 charge from *IC FREESHIPPING.COM, cancel your card immediately, and call your fraud department. This is the group that got me!
  • Do your research. In my case, a quick Google search shows *IC FREESHIPPING.COM fraud complaints going back as far as 2010! This is a good way to learn more about the vendor when faced with the possibility of fraud.
  • Stop buying things online. Ok, so I know this is nearly impossible, but it’s the best way to prevent issues! If you’re going to continue shopping online, vette out retailers you’ve never used before.

Take it from me – the dummy who let an old trick get the best of her for nearly two years – pay closer attention to your money! If you’re not watching your financial back, who will?

One last note and an unsolicited plug – use a trustworthy credit card provider. Chase was awesome on the phone today. They were kind and understanding, while still inquisitive to make sure I truly was experiencing fraud. In the end, they paid me back for all the fraudulent charges and are sending a new card. What would your credit card provider do for you?

Six Steps to Embracing Your Curl

I feel the need to preface this post with a few notes.

1. I am not, nor will I ever be, a fashion/glamour/beauty/whatever blogger.

2. I still burn myself with my straightener, curling iron and diffuser.

3. I’m not confident that I can put a curl in my hair without the awkward kink at the end signifying I turned the barrel the wrong way.

4. I was raised by an amazing woman who never used conditioner on her hair. She didn’t use product, and she brushed out her beautiful curls.

Now that my disclosure is out of the way, I would like to talk to you about frizzy, curly, uncontrollable hair.

Let’s be real, no curly hair is the same – inherited or not. We all have to figure out what type of hair we have and what product may or may not be successful long enough to finish the bottle.

Lord knows the next bottle will be a waste because your curl, like a bacteria that wasn’t completely killed by an antibiotic, will adapt to that product, rendering it useless. And your curl will be that much more powerful…

Or maybe that’s just me?

I’m going to be completely honest. I was in hair denial for about 10 years. I scorched my hair into place or pulled it up in a ponytail. I refused to acknowledge the curl.

For a while, I went through an incredibly awful stage. I went to work with wet hair nearly every day.

I have one question. Where were my friends? Who looked at me and thought, “oh, yeah. She is working that wet dog look.”?

Finally, I discovered Pinterest contained more than ridiculously unhealthy recipes and impossible crafts. I came across a blog about curly hair that changed my life! I learned what the heck the claw thing was that attached to my hair blow dryer; and it would help me!

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In all seriousness, who would know that is a diffuser or what that thing does for your hair? It looks like a car part… Or a ray gun! It sure doesn’t look like it would help curl my hair.

I experimented with different methods for using the diffuser: upside down (successful), pre-styled (not so successful), over one side of the head and then the other (successful).

I tried different sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners. I don’t remember why but it’s supposed to be better for curly hair. The AG brand smelled terrible and made my scalp very oily. It was disgusting.

I also tested different products. I have no less than three different curling products at any given time. If the instructions include a step for twisting your hair, throw that bottle away. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Ok, so… I have not mastered my curls by any means, but I am now proud of my hair. I wear it curly 90+ percent of the time.

This is the method that works for me:

1. I wash my hair with Hempz Couture Volumizing shampoo and conditioner. This is not for everyone. I have thin hair that needs a boost!

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2. For the best volume and curls, I rinse the conditioner from my hair upside down. Yup, flip my hair over my hair and bend my neck forward to rinse my hair. It’s worth it!

3. I squeeze out excess water. I shake out my hair and scrunch it all little with my fingers before wrapping my head in an old, very thing towel. I don’t want it to dry, simply stay out of my way.

4. Remove the towel and massage a quarter-sized dollop of L’Oreal’s EverCurl Sulfate Free Hydracharge Leave-In Cream into the end of my hair, working upward toward the roots.

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5. Begin diffusing upside down, focusing on the front hairline. Tilt head to the right and diffuse. Tilt head left and diffuse. Fluff hair with fingers in between. Lastly, diffuse the back and fluff. Make sure all the hair us dry!

6. Style bangs, if needed. Use light hold hairspray on curls.

Ta-da!

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(Insert funny remark about the awful duck face.)

Not bad for a girl who used to look like a dog in from the rain. You, too, can learn to embrace your curl with these six simple steps!

Or maybe not. Like I said, every curl is different.

I would love to learn from other curly-haired people. How do you style your hair?

Mother’s Day – A Day Like Any Other

I know. I know.

EVERYONE is blogging about Mother’s Day today. I promise to keep it brief…

Today felt like any other day. Sure, I received a card, but HOS randomly buys me cards anyway.

Sure, the message at church was about moms being awesome, but that is common knowledge!

Sure, I selfishly expected to not lift a finger, and was hoping for thoughtful gifts I could brag about at work tomorrow, but how is that really any different from any other holiday?

It was a day like any other, except for one thing… When you’re a mommy, “a day like any other” doesn’t exist.

Not really.

Little things happen every day that make it special, but we fail to recognize those moments. But not me… At least not today!

There were a few things that made today special, and they had nothing to do with Mother’s Day. My favorite moment was at bedtime, after Charli and I said our prayers, I held her hand through the openings in her crib. I kissed her fingers, and she giggled. I asked her for a kiss, and she scooted her body over to me. She lifted her little head, and kissed me between the bars.

THAT was the best gift!

Today was like any other day. It was a blessing, and it was filled with amazing little moments!

How was your day?

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