January 2017 in the Books

January 2017January 2017 started off with a bang and I’m enjoying the start of the New Year. Here’s a quick check of what was going on last month.

.4 – Pounds lost! It’s the first time I’ve lost weight in five months!

2 – New recipes; Smoked Sausage and Black Eyed Pea Soup, and Quinua Asparagus Artichoke Salad.

3 – Books finished; The Platinum Rule by Anthony J Alesandra and Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard are amazing books!

4 – days in Flagstaff, Arizona. I was hoping to get some good pictures of snow, but the big storm hit the next week.

6 – Social events, lots of family time.

10 – Books checked out from the library, now to find the time to read them all.

January 2017 Cupcakes18 – French Toast Cupcakes to celebrate a co-workers birthday.

23 – Workouts this month.

27 – Projects completed; there was planning, chores, and a couple of fun purchases.

32 – Photos on Instagram

70 – Amazing photos from our family picture shoot from Let Me See You Sparkle Photography.

Overall, January 2017 was a good month. And February has a lot going for it too. But March, March will be amazingly exotic!

 

 

Focus: 2017 Word of the Year

2017 Word of the YearI’m focusing on focus for my 2017 word of the year. I’ve been a goal oriented girl this decade, over the last seven years I’ve worked on:

  • Being enough
  • Being happy
  • Staying determined
  • Nurturing myself
  • Determining my direction
  • Making progress.

I always want to improve myself, but I try to squeeze in more than time will allow. I’m interested in so many things that I spread myself too thin and don’t excel at any of them. Working full-time adds to my frustration of trying to do it all. Too often I’m living to work, instead of the other way around. When I get overwhelmed, I shut down. I know I need to connect with family and friends, but I don’t have the energy. I escape to social media – Facebook, Instagram, and my favorite, Pinterest. Instead of developing my own interests and following my own dreams, I’d lose hours looking at posts from the cool people who seem to have it all together.

I actually decided to make focus my word of the year mid-December while developing this year’s goals. I limited them and focused on a few specific areas. One area I reevaluated was my month in review. I like the month in review, but I put days into researching and reporting on things that aren’t interesting to other people. More importantly, I wasn’t writing about what really interests me. I’ll continue with just a quick overview of the fun highlights and less statistics. My goal is to have more meaningful content with my limited time.

Simplify

I’m focusing on one business idea, instead of many. And I’ll continue to evaluate the “shoulds” in my life. I should catch up on my scrapbooks, I should clean, I should call this person that I don’t really want to talk to. There are a lot of great things I should be doing, but I can’t do them all, at least not right now. I can only fit in what I can fit in.

Being focused is about being intentional with my time, energy and money. This year, I want to improve my quality of life by focusing on the things that bring the most joy and satisfaction. I want to spend as little time as possible feeling like I’m plodding through the mud. Even when life is challenging, there are beautiful vistas to behold and grand experiences to enjoy along the way. It’s not about being selfish, but about remembering life is meant to be a joyful journey.

Share in the comments if you chose a word for 2017. I’d love to hear what yours!

December 2016 in the Books

Dec 2016 DoodleDecember 2016 didn’t slow down from last month like I was hoping, not even when I finished my Sociology class.

1.6 – Pounds gained, not the way I was hoping to close out the year

2 – Books finished, one was on December 30th!

3 – Hand lettering doodles

4 – Homemade ornaments, I kept three and gave one away in an ornament exchange

11 – Social events, shockingly most of them were Christmas related

12 – Christmas cards decorating my front room from friends and family.

18 – Workouts this month.

December 2016 brownies24 – Homemade brownies for National Brownie Day.

28 – Photos on Instagram in December 2016, lots and lots of Christmas trees

32 – Projects completed, many to prepare for Christmas

 48 – Homemade rolls for Christmas Eve dinner.

96 – Candy canes we “bombed” a parking lot by placing one on as many cars possible.

1640 – Pinterest average daily impressions. Not surprisingly, treats were the most popular.

Now to move forward to the 2017 New Year! I can’t wait to share this year’s goals and my word of the year.

November 2016 in the Books

November 2016 ParadeLife got busy in November 2016 as the holidays kicked into full gear, work was overwhelming, and school was wrapping up. But the holidays came, and they are my favorite.

.6 – Pounds gained, not necessarily a good thing but too late to cry over it now.

1 – Christmas parade to kick off the season!

2 – New recipes tried in November, Baked Spaghetti and Beefy Tomato Soup

2 – Books finished, both of them were for my sociology class.

4 – Food days at work, maybe that has something to do with the weight November 2016 Donut daygain.

6 – Family members on the Polar Express.

8 – Social events, including dinners with friends, an insurance conference, movies, and of coarse holiday celebrations.

10 – Projects completed, mostly school related.

15 – Workouts this month.

28 – Photos on Instagram in November 2016.

37 – Hours of mandatory overtime. Make it stop.

48 – Homemade rolls for Thanksgiving dinner.

52 – Pounds of food donated to the food bank.

110 – Pictures from a photography walk around a new to us local park

2399 Pinterest average daily impressions. Not surprisingly, treats were the most popular.

Another month down. There wasn’t much time to breathe, but there was a lot of good stuff going on in November!

Finishing College

CollegeI skimmed through an article where a distinguished gentleman, perhaps a college president, stated that the problem with education isn’t the cost of college but the low graduation rates. He talked about students leaving, intending to come back, but don’t actually make it. He threw out the statistic about college graduates earning a million dollars more over their lifetime than those that don’t; so we need to focus retaining students. I wish I would have paid more attention to who wrote this article and where it was posted, because I’d like to go back and make sure I’m not taking his statements out of context.

I’m finishing my first class in my quest for a Bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University. Due to my timing, I was only able to take one 3-unit class this semester. Between tuition and fees, the cost of that one class was $2800! I did qualify for financial aid, but since I’m only taking one class I’m only eligible to actually receive a quarter of that aid.

Breaking down the numbers

Keep in mind, tuition tops out at $5845 for the semester, regardless of how many units a student takes – seven units or 17. Since I have my Associates degree, I need a remaining 71 credit hours. If I took 15 units a semester, I’d finish in five semesters for a cost of $29,225. But as an older student, supporting myself and a family, I’m going to need a little longer. I’m expecting it will take me 13 semesters, for a whopping $62,685!

Mr. Distinguished Gentleman, I believe I found the reason students are not finishing their degrees, and yes the underlying reason is the cost of higher education. Is it easier to finish a degree right out of high school? Absolutely. Maybe my recent discoveries would be a great addition to any stay in school campaign. But let’s be realistic, life happens. In my case, I took classes at my local community college off and on between having children. I completed my Associates degree the same year my second child graduated high school. I also know plenty of typical college age students who need to work full time to pay for college, or take advantage of companies that offer tuition reimbursement. This undoubtedly slows them down and increases their costs.

After I registered for my class, I had doubts that my Bachelor’s degree was the best option for me. But I stuck to the ‘safe’ choice that would keep me tied to corporate America. But now that I do that math, I’m not convinced that spending over $60,000 for a degree I might use for 10-15 years is my best option. I’m pretty sure I’ve missed my chance for my degree earning me an extra million dollars.

For me it’s back to the drawing board. I’ll be considering different schools and even different paths to achieve my version of a successful life. I would love your thoughts and insights as I consider alternatives.