Are You a Passenger or Pilot In Your Life? Take Control Of YOUR Life

In life you are either a passenger or a

Over the weekend I got to thinking about my life – where I’ve been, where I am and where I’m going. At 28 I’ve had some crippling days and some joyous moments – all have landed me where I currently am in life. From a young age I was in control of my own life – it was up to me to make decisions about my future and my happiness without a parent around to give me direction. Though it’s been tough I have found extreme satisfaction in being able pilot of life and can’t imagine someone else being in control of my future. I chose to take control of my life and I’m so glad I did.

As a woman and as a single mother I take pride my ability to stand on my own two feet. That I can independently provide food, housing and love to my daughter. That I am able to go out into the world and use my skills to give back to others and support my community. That I’m not a pushover and that I give respect and demand it back. I’m ambitious, at times confident and fearless and I wouldn’t be who I am today without the experiences I’ve been through and choosing to live life on my terms.

Because it’s a choice. You choose to either be a passenger in your life. Or you choose to be the pilot. And the choice is always yours. Will you take control of your life?

Yes, I’m a strong and independent afro-latina, I’ll say it loud and I’ll say it proud. That being said, I do look forward to the day I can share my heart and home with a partner and create a life together. But within that relationship I will still be in control of my own life – I’ll still be the pilot – and within that relationship I’ll stand on my own two feet together with someone moving forward.

I’ll be honest…it’s difficult for me to see people satisfied being the passenger in their own lives. Content with just buckling in and preparing for the ride because they are afraid to stand up for themselves and know their worth. Content with someone being in control and making the decisions, worried that it’d be too difficult to take the lead. And at times I can understand the desire to have someone else take the lead – but to have them be in control of your life? YOUR life? I urge you to seriously re-consider.

When you look back upon your life will you be satisfied with being a passenger? Will you regret not being in more control of your life? At any point in your life you have the opportunity to change your circumstance. If you’re unhappy and unsatisfied with your relationship, your job, your nagging friends. It’s up to you to find the happiness you seek. To create the life you want. To create a life you are satisfied with. It’s no easy process, but I encourage you to start today – start being the pilot in YOUR own life. To take control of your life. Today



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Saving for College is Possible: 5 Tips to Get Started!

I’ve partnered with Fidelity & MEFA for this post in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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My baby will be in the 3rd grade in the Fall. The THIRD grade people. It’s scary to see how fast she’s growing up and into her own young woman. Just last week she got her very own email address! In my first email to her I asked her to stop growing, to which she responded “I will grow one day. You can’t stop me.” Yep, my heart completely melted. There is so much to plan for now that I often forget to look ahead. My life is very much in the present and doesn’t leave room to consider planning for future events and happenings like college. And while I’d rather my 8 year old stay young and innocent forever – life cannot stop just because I want it too and I have to be smart about planning for her future now. Part of that planning includes saving for college.

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You may have seen a colorful tent at some local events throughout Boston and beyond. Within the walls of these U.Fund Dreams tent are opportunities for kids and their family to experience their dreams like never before. This past weekend my daughter and I visited the U.Funds Dreams Tent at the WGBH FunFest in Boston where we walked away with some information on how we can get started with saving for college and our college savings options.

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Doesn’t she look excited?! These Dream Tents encourage families to see their children’s dreams come to life through interactive activities, educational information, and a green screen. Yep, like the ones on movie sets! Whether your youngsters dream is to become an architect, astronaut or teacher the dream tent wants kids to dream and dream BIG while realizing the sky is the limit! I want to support my daughter in whatever career she decides to pursue, but one thing is clear. I won’t be able to support her higher education without some savings to get her through.

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The great folks over at Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) know how scary and overwhelming saving for college can be – but want you to know that it’s POSSIBLE…with some planning of course! Below are five tips to get you and your family saving for college:

  1. Develop a budget that includes a college savings plan.
  2. Use a notebook, spreadsheet, or smart phone app to track personal and household spending for a week to identify areas for savings. Next try tracking your expenses for a month.
  3. Save money on lunch. Make a double-batch of dinner & wrap up leftovers to take to work that week.
  4. Save for a short-term goal, like a family movie night. Show yourself that savings works, then aim higher.
  5. Put some of your tax refund towards college savings.

I know I’ve got some SERIOUS work to do to build up my daughter’s college savings. But I’m happy to say I’ve already started. It’s not A LOT, but it’s started and that’s something! I’m sure a few of the tips many of you have already implemented, but like many of us, just need to be more consistent.

How do you and your family save for college? What tips would you share with other families? For 5 more college saving tips from MEFA be sure to CLICK HERE!

Happy Saving!



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What NOT To Say To a Single Mom: How Do You Do It All?

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While exiting my city bus years ago with a sleeping toddler an older woman came over, gently placed her hand on my arm, looked into my eyes and said I was an inspiration. I was confused, because I was just trying to get my baby to daycare and get to work. She was a woman I’d often see on the bus in the morning though we never spoke. She told me she didn’t know how I did it, how I got the stroller on and off the bus every day and how I kept my daughter entertained on the bumpy ride. All by myself.

That wasn’t the first or last time friends (and strangers) would gasp with amazement and ask how I did it all. How I could handle being a single mom. That picture above is how I feel every.single.time someone tells me this. So stop it…seriously.

Let me explain.

So I’m a woman, right? I got all my womanly parts. I have two arms and two hands. No cape (I checked), no Maleficent wings, and even though I am desperate for Thor-like super-powers I do not hold any magical powers within my 5’5 frame. I swear too much, I talk to myself at work, and I like drinking white wine. I lied. I LOVE drinking white wine. I would wear my faded converse, a T shirt, leggings and NO bra all day everyday if I could. I’m self-conscious about my weight, think my face favors a chipmunk and I’ve got too many rolls to count. In my past I had to be royalty – I mean my name is Alexaaaaaandra. I cry at commercials, I like to watch action thrillers before I go to bed and people annoy me all the time.

Oh and I happen to be a single mom. But, let me be clear, running a household alone doesn’t mean I am any different from anyone else. Single motherhood arrived at my doorstep when my kiddo was 2 years old and I think if I paid more attention to what was going on in my life I would have realized it was going to be in my future. It wasn’t something I wanted, but guess what – shit happens.

How does she do it? Her daughter is sooo well behaved! How did she go back to school and graduate? How did she get a job right out of college? How DOES she DO it?! How is she succeeding, how isn’t she failing?

How? I work my ass off. Every. Single Day. The SAME as a lot of mothers and parents out there. I ensure my daughter is happy, fed and loved. The only difference is that I am raising my daughter without a partner in the home. I co-parent (which is super stressful), but at the end of the day it’s just ME. I’m responsible for her well-being, for ensuring she is growing up to be respectful and kind. I work hard every single day to provide a life for her. The SAME as a lot of mothers and parents. There is nothing unique or special about being my situation – I hold no special powers and I’m actually pretty upset I’m so damn ordinary.

So when I get told “Alex, how DO you do it all?” I roll my eyes. Twice. I do what I can – which is never enough, but that’s quite OK with me. I make mistakes, I slip up, I fall, and I’ve even crashed and burned. It’s life. I’m learning through my accomplishments and failures. When I became a single mother, there wasn’t any other choice but to get up and kick ass. There was no way I was going to let someone else raise my daughter, so I had to muster up the strength and find a way to make it all work. Single mothers can and DO thrive and succeed. Our success and our children’s happiness shouldn’t be unusual. Because they’re not. And I am proud to know so many single parents working their asses off every single day for their kids, knowing there isn’t someone they can fall back on, wanting the best for their children.

So the next time you feel the urge to tell a single mom “how do you do it all?” I encourage you to find another way to compliment her in a way she’ll appreciate. I promise, she’ll appreciate it.



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Advice Needed: Considering a Family Move to NYC Single Mom

Don’t compromise yourself; you’re all you’ve got.

-Janis Joplin

I’ve spent a lot of the past nine years stepping over and around my life. I’ve compromised myself and my happiness over and over because I’ve been too afraid to take risks or take a leap of faith. A mom at 19, and single mom at 22, I was determined to provide stability and find strength through my struggles. I thought the only way I could persevere was to stay within my comfort zone and have life stay the same. I didn’t want to rock the boat for fear I would get thrown off and wouldn’t be able to find balance again.

As my 29th birthday rapidly approaches I’ve been thinking a lot about all that’s happened in my 20s – a child, finding love, losing love, becoming a single mom, graduating college, watching my daughter grow. It’s been an incredibly remarkable and devastating experience thus far. But as I look forward – I want more.

I talk much about my struggles in coparenting, trying to find strength in raising a daughter on my own and my lack of a support system. What many don’t know is that over the past six years I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming love back into my and my daughter’s life. I’ve found what I thought I never would – a forever kind of love. His support and love is unconditional, he is amazing with my daughter, and he wants us to be a family.

One problem. He lives in New York. And we live in Massachusetts.

When we were first talking about our future, moving to the big apple was completely out of the question. Me in NYC? I can’t even survive weekend visits there. Mass is my home, it’s where I grew up, where some of family is, I KNOW Massachusetts. New York is unfamiliar, how could I ever think of moving to the city that never sleeps….with my daughter?

Remember that boat I was worried about rocking? Remember that leap of faith I didn’t want to take? There have been far too many times I’ve blamed life and its circumstances for my not pursuing various avenues in life – when really the only person standing in my way was…me. My 20s have been about change, growth, and trying to figure life out. I want my 30s and beyond to be about LOVE and HAPPINESS and ADVENTURE. It’s all I’ve wanted but have been too scared to accept into my life.

And so I’m considering moving to New York next year.

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It’s crazy to even write since I’ve been so against it for so long. But, there comes a time in life where you can either continue along the same path you’ve been on or decide to venture off somewhere new. I’m blessed to have someone amazing and completely supportive by my side as we navigate our future. There is so much to consider – which borough we’d live in, what school she’d attend, what job I’d be interested in, battling with her coparent to leave the state. But you know what? I’ve spent too much time avoiding difficult situations that I’m facing this head on, but I need help and advice. Moving out of state to a large urban environment is a huge adjustment – especially when the number of people I know is much more limited.

With a year to figure this all out – what should I be considering? What should I be factoring in and what resources can I tap into for support? How can our family prepare for such a change?



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This Weekend: WGBH Boston 2014 Music & Ice Cream FunFest! #WGBHfunfest

I’ve partnered with Fidelity & MEFA for this post in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 I scream, You scream, We all scream for, Ice Cream!

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Summer and ice cream. Can you think of a more perfect union? Well, if your family loves music, ice cream, and fun you won’t want to miss WGBH’s FunFest this weekend, sponsored in part by MEFA and Fidelity Investments. Get all the details below:

When: Saturday, July 12, 10am-4pm (rain or shine!)

Where: WGBH Studios, One Guest Street, Boston, MA 02135

What: The FunFest will be full of music, ice cream, performances, face painting and interactive games. Are you excited yet? You’ll want to make sure you stop by the Massachusetts Educational Financial Authority (MEFA) U. Funds Dreams Tour tent and give your kids the opportunity to live out their dreams. What’s a Dreams Tent? It’s where your child and their dreams unite! Does your child have aspirations to be the next President? Astronaut? Musician? Watch their dreams come to life in front of a real green screen complete with props, and leave with valuable information about saving for college along with a takeaway of your child in front of a background of their choice! The dreams tent does not disappoint!

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Who: Some of your favorite kids characters like Curious George, Arthur, and Clifford The Big Red Dog! You’ll leave with a happy belly after stopping by some of the vendors including Ben & Jerry’s, Friendly’s, J.P. Licks, Nesquik, and Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese!!

Will we see you there? Click here for more information about tickets and parking.

WGBH enriches people’s lives through programs and services that educate, inspire, and entertain, fostering citizenship and culture, the joy of learning, and the power of diverse perspectives.



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