DEATH 

Christmas Eve, 2010

I’ve been at a loss for words today. You see, I found out some news I never thought I’d hear. Chris is dead. What? I don’t understand. We just spoke Friday. What happened? 
I sat motionless in my office chair trying to absorb the information I was just told by his co-worker. This can’t be happening. Who can I call? I didn’t have anyone’s number anymore. I became frantic. Then I thought of a way to get his emergency contact information. It worked. I knew his Aunt would be listed. She was. I phoned. It rang… No answer. I left a message and sent a text. PLEASE call me. This is Andreana, Chris’s ex-wife. I called Chris’s phone number out of desperation hoping someone would pick up. It rings….. No answer. I text, This is Andreana, Chris’s ex-wife PLEASE call me, hoping by chance, this is a cruel joke of some sort and this isn’t really happening. But it wasn’t a joke. Because no one was laughing.
His Aunt calls me back. They found him this morning. Heart attack. At 50 years old? How can this be? She gives me details. I slump in my chair and sniffle refusing to let out an all out “Lawd Jesus” and sob as the elders would. I would save that for later. As she continues to talk, all I can think of is “How could he die alone? No one was there. No Wife. No Lady Friend. NO ONE.” His Aunt and I are both sniffing. She has to hold it together for the family. She’s the rock. I am still in denial. 
She says she will keep me informed regarding pending services and will pass my number on to his children. He LOVED his children and doted on every single one of them. He had recently become the grandfather of twin girls! He may not have shown it all the time, but he was proud of and supported all his children as much as he could the best way he knew how. I always respected that about him. I miss those kids sometimes. They’re all grown up now.
I hang up and continue to sit in silence looking out of my office window staring blankly at the street listening to the humming car engines as they pass by.
After three hours of not moving from my chair, with a heavy heart, I have a revelation. My throat tightened. If you’re on a spiritual level, you can relate to what I’m about to say. 
At approximately 3:25am Sunday morning, I was awakened by a coughing spell. The nonstop coughing activated my “gag reflex.” Out of bed and to the bathroom I ran. The gag reflex was uncontrollable at this point. I gagged so hard and for so long there was nothing left but bile. I can still taste the yellow acid burning my throat. When it didn’t appear it would stop, I became afraid and cried out, “Oh God help me!” 
And then my body began to calm itself. 
3:25am was when Chris began his transition to the other side. Don’t ask me how I know. It’s a spiritual knowing.
As I rinsed out my mouth and brushed my teeth, I felt weird. My senses were more heightened. I was more aware. I could hear and feel each individual bristle rub against my teeth… The wave and swish of the water against my cheeks as I rinsed again… Im replaying everything in slow motion. 
As I quietly got myself together and sat down on the bed, my ears began to ring. Loudly. Briefly. At the time I didn’t know what was happening. Now I know.
Chris didn’t die alone. I was there. Not in the present realm, but the spirit realm. I can only image how he may have suffered in those final minutes but try to block those thoughts from my mind. Perhaps he too cried out, “Oh God help me.” But I will never know.
Chris and I have been divorced 6 years. He’s always kept in touch because he did business with my Dad. Maybe that was his subtle way of being “around.” But he conducted his business and we kept it short and sweet. We always shared a love/hate relationship after our divorce. Our marriage was far from perfect but I took my vows seriously. I hated my wedding ring. “That don’t look nothing like what I showed you,” I remember thinking when he presented it to me. I never said it aloud. I only thought it. But you know what I did? I polished that ring every day like it was a poor man’s most prized possession and I wore it with pride. Our marriage was short lived, but marriage is marriage is marriage is marriage. If you believe in the sanctity of it, you understand a bond always remains, even if the marriage does not. 
I finally make it home and let my dog out. I go to a closet in one of the other bedrooms and pull a wedding album from the shelf. There were two, one large album and a smaller one on top. I take the smaller album. I initially found them in a dust covered box in my garage a few months after I downsized my previous home…. The home we briefly shared. I’m now sitting on my couch after several hours not realizing the time. I’ve been in a daze all day. It’s late. My back aches. I feel ghost pains where my wisdom teeth were removed. My head is pounding. My throat is tight. All of these, signs of grief. Grieving because I’m resentful. Resentful because I’m grieving. I don’t expect anyone to understand. No one knew our relationship. Perhaps we didn’t really know our relationship either. But none of that matters now. I accept it all.
Chris has transitioned on. “Your ex-husband has transitioned on. Now you too can truly “transition” on and fully “let go.” This is what replays in my head.
His death is what will allow me to “let go.” Not “letting go” in the sense that I secretly held a torch for him in hopes that we could be together again. We tried again. It still didn’t work. We were in two different spaces. That ship had officially sailed long ago. 
The kind of “letting go” I’m speaking of is letting go of the pain I felt and sometimes feel because of my failed marriage. The pain I sometimes feel when I see couples and their children smiling and sharing laughs. The pain of losing my family. The pain of the “coulda” “woulda” and “shouldas” no matter who they came from. I shake my head as if each twist will ease the pain and it will hurt less. It doesn’t. Each thought tumbling on top of another.
My wedding album is to my left, resting on the arm of the sofa. I slowly take the top off the box it’s in and there it is. My favorite wedding picture. I don’t take the album out of the box. I don’t have too. I just stare at the picture. The prelude of what’s to come. And I cry. 
I cry first for Chris. I cry harder for myself. 
I shake uncontrollably. 
THIS is letting go.
I’m tired. My eyes are bloodshot and swollen. I squeeze my eyebrows together. My dog jumps on me lays down and rests his head on my thigh to comfort me. He knows. I gently stroke his head and pat his belly a couple of times to say thank you. I want these thoughts to disappear. I know they will eventually. It’s all a part of the “process.” The process I never fully completed. I can let go now. Completely.
Christopher, you always had a good heart. I never doubted that. You had so many good qualities. You just didn’t always make the best decisions. Neither of us did. Our marriage may not have always been good, but it certainly wasn’t always bad either. There was far more good than bad but the bad outweighed the good. I’m sure you would agree.
Sometimes the death of one person “frees” another if that makes any sense given the circumstances. Maybe I’ll look at my wedding album. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I will look another day.

Just not tonight. 
You will forever hold a “special” place in my heart Christopher. Rest In Heaven. 
I pray you eternal peace and rest and I pray strength and comfort to your children and to your family. 
God Bless.
Andreana Coleman
The Financial Hack, 2015©

BOOK OF THE MONTH 

📚CURRENT READ: Evicted-Poverty and Profit in the American City.

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge, the landlords who profit and those families that suffer. If you are a Landlord, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. Its stories will leave you speechless. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

———–

Let’s link up on GOODREADS (Coach Andrea) and exchange book suggestions. Download the app or follow the link from this website’s hone page. Thank you fellow “Goodreader” Kendrall for the book suggestion. I started last night and I’m already halfway through. Excellent Book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

~The Financial Hack

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MY TWO CENTS 1/27/17-My Resisting Spouse

my-two-cents-copy

QUESTION: I am the CFO of my family (I handle the household bills) and am very good at what I do. The problem is my husband. He never wants to talk about budgeting saying, “Budgeting is for poor people. We are not poor so we don’t need to do it.” I’ve asked what he thinks we should do however, he is extremely adamant about not talking about it, period. How do I get him to budget, or should I just do it without him?

MY TWO CENTS:

It’s always important that couples are on the same page financially. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of marriages fail because of financial reasons, not infidelity as many may think. I was once in a marriage where disagreements regarding finances was a major issue. That coupled with “other” stressors unfortunately led to its demise, but I dare not digress so allow me to make a couple of suggestions:

  1. POSITION: You are the CFO of the family. Hmm. Think about that for a second. Have you declared yourself Chief Financial Officer of the family to your spouse, to extended family members or friends? Some men have extremely fragile egos and regardless of your intent, you declaring yourself Chief Financial Officer of the family may indicate authority over your husband making him feel emasculated. This could result in subconscious resentment towards you. Usually one spouse handles the finances because either one is better at it than the other or one has more time to do so. As petty as it may sound, consider resigning from the position of CFO (or at least from making the reference aloud.)
  2. APPROACH: When are you bringing up the topic of budgeting? Here are a couple of examples of when NOT to approach your husband regarding budgeting: Immediately upon coming home from work and before, during or after a football/basketball/baseball/hockey game etc. Those times will result in immediate “shut down.” After a stressful day at work and/or a long commute home, talking about budgeting is the LAST thing your husband wants to do. Most prefer to decompress and relax. Asking questions on “game day” is definitely out. For many men, game day is their “me time” or “time with the guys” especially if their spouses/partners are not into sports. In this case, do the opposite of what Nike says…. “Just don’t do it.”
  3. INVOLVEMENT: Try breaking the ice by asking your husband what his top three money goals are. Ask him what his plans are for achieving those goals. LISTEN TO HIM. If the mood is positive, introduce how budgeting can help achieve those goals. The key is not to dictate what should be done. Work together. Feedback and communication are important. You are a team. Stress the importance of how a collective effort can produce fruitful results. GOOD LUCK!!!

Wishing you financial prosperity and success in your marriage,

~Andrea L. Coleman, The Financial Hack

 

MY TWO CENTS 1/20/17

QUESTION: My washing machine is on the fritz. The emergency fund that I had established has been depleted due to an unexpected expense last month. I’m scheduled to receive a commission check next month and will use it to pay the credit card bill after charging the washing machine. Is this the right course of action to take?

MY TWO CENTS:

In this scenario, I would say “no” for a couple of reasons:

1) Purchasing a new washing machine is not an absolute necessity in my opinion. An automobile repair for a vehicle that you rely on to get you to work, yes. A washing machine? Not so much. Although inconvenient, a visit to the local laundromat or a friend/relative’s until you have saved the money to purchase the washer IN CASH would be the best route to take. Should another unexpected expense emerge next month, the commission check may have to be used for it thus leaving you with a credit card balance that will accrue finance charges.

2) The issue of the depleted emergency fund should be addressed. I suggest taking the commission check you’ll receive next month to replenish the fund. An essential key to having a healthy emergency fund is being able to replenish it when used. Make sure you can distinguish between what constitutes an emergency and what does not.

3) I believe this scenario is an excellent lesson in delaying self-gratification. We all want what we want when we want it. That’s human nature. Delaying self-gratification develops discipline, so if you intend to be successful at being a better steward of your money, start with delaying self-gratification.

Wishing you prosperity and healthy finances,

Andrea L. Coleman, The Financial Hack

 

THE FINANCIAL HACK IS BACK!!!

Courtesy of giphy.com
I’m back! That’s enough reason for  me to celebrate. 
I can give you a million “excuses” as to why I haven’t posted, but I won’t because I can sum all those excuses up into one word: COMPLACENCY. 

Over my six month hiatus, I remembered a few principles about blogging I should have never abandoned. Allow me to share the most important ones with you.

1. MAINTAINING A BLOG REQUIRES DISCIPLINE: Spending 1-2 hours each day can make the difference between an engaged audience vs an audience who suddenly becomes disinterested.

2. MAINTAINING A BLOG REQUIRES PLANNING: This includes posting on topics relevant to your target audience not just topics that interest the blogger.

3. MAINTAINING A BLOG REQUIRES CONSISTENCY: Committment is doing something even when we don’t feel like it. There’s no other way to say it.

I thank those who gave me their positive feedback as well as constructive criticism and well, just criticism in general. 

Be on the lookout for regular postings, helpful tips and tricks and I’ll be adding “My Two Cents,” a column responding to questions/given scenarios posed to me. 

Posts will be much shorter (please hold your applause,) which should make for a more pleasant reading experience (I’m a Journalism major and a wannabe writer/poet so cut me some slack here). Also look for guest postings.

Weekly Periscope sessions with The GOAL Patrol will resume although I’m indecisive regarding the future of my Facebook page. 

I do look forward to resuming my blog. I’m not ashamed to tell you I’m a little excited. Okay a lot! In the meantime feel free to explore my website and tell me what topics you’d like to discuss. 

Wishing you prosperity and healthy finances in 2017,

~Andrea L. Coleman, The Financial Hack 

HEY!!!! Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @TheFinancialHack

DON’T GIVE UP…JUST KEEP SWIMMING!!!


In light of the upcoming release of Pixar Film’s “Finding Dory,” I sat down this past weekend and re-watched “Finding Nemo” and began to think (because I do that sometimes)  about not giving up and pushing through. The gist of the movie was a father Marlin, a clown fish, who refused to give up looking for his son Nemo, captured by a scuba diver after disobeying him by swimming beyond the reef. Marlin’s quest led him all the way to Australia and along the way, he met some interesting characters one of which was Dory. Dory claimed to have seen the boat that carried Nemo away and she and Marlin gave chase. Marlin followed Dory in one direction, then another, and another, until she couldn’t remember why he was following her to begin with. Dory suffered from short-term memory loss. Can you imagine how frustrating it must have been for Marlin to follow someone who lacked direction? Although Dory wasn’t much help in terms of direction, she was ultimately there for support and encouragement. She kept Marlin on track. When he wanted to quit, turn around and go home, those famous words of hers still resonate with many: “When life gets you down you know what you’ve gotta do?”

🎶JUST KEEP SWIMMING. JUST KEEP SWIMMING.🎶

When you feel like quitting because the obstacles before you seem insurmountable, here are a few tips to keep you on track:

  1. FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER: Make sure your accountability partner is someone who encourages you, not someone who criticizes, judges or tears you down. Your accountability partner is stronger than you in the areas where you are weak. It can be a spouse/partner, a significant other, family member, co-worker, mentor or friend. When you feel like throwing in the towel, there’s nothing like a “Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah” from your accountability partner to get you back on track.
  2. TURN TO YOUR FAITH/MEDITATE: Whether you are deeply spiritual, deeply religious, deeply spiritual and religious or none of the above, turn to your faith. Turn to something. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, staying rooted in or strengthening your faith/what you believe in can help you press on. Deep meditation can also help regain focus and reinforce goals.
  3. EXERCISE: Remember exercising releases endorphins which can alter your mood. Exercising may not be your thing, but find an activity that elevates your heart rate. Cardio is key. A jog or a brisk stroll through your neighborhood can provide the boost you need to jumpstart your dwindling energy. You’d be amazed at how therapeutic opening the blinds, and letting a little sunshine inside your home or stepping outside to breathe in a bit of fresh air makes you feel better.
  4. SOCIALIZE/NETWORK: Your schedule may not always allow you to get out in the mix of others, and you may be a bit of an introvert, but social media can help.  I love the interaction I have with connections I’ve made on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and my new favorite, LinkedIn. No, I’m far from an introvert. I love to read on social media about others reaching their goals/accomplishments, creating new ones or even reading just to escape for a laugh or two. Either way, virtual interaction can be a great motivator.

When I was fulfilling the education requirements for my AFC Certification, I wanted to quit… many times. Overwhelmed with a demanding class schedule, problems on the home front, trying to maintain the update of my social media outlets, and the general pressures of life had me leaning towards giving up. At one point I thought about shirking my way through the semester, barely passing my classes with just the minimum required grade. But in the back of my mind, doing so would have left me disappointed in myself because I knew I could have done better. Determination kept me going. Each time I entertained the idea of quitting, I thought of how far I had come and kept my ultimate goal in mind. Before I knew it,  I was half way through the semester. I kept pressing forward. I kept pressing forward until it was time for final exams and I pulled down A’s in both classes.

So the message here is quite simple. DON’T QUIT! Is it cliché? Of course it is! And as cliché as it is, the message is still effective today as it ever was.
DON’T QUIT!!! KEEP GOING!!!

Andrea Coleman (The Financial Hack) ©2016

 

MOTIVATION MONDAY: Take time for self

The lagoon at the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve was absolutely stunning! Photo Cred: The Financial Hack
Recently, I took a much needed vacation after a grueling semester of what seemed to be endless reading, weekly assignment deadlines, quizzes and exams. One would think returning to school 14 years after receiving an MBA would be a piece of cake but a piece of cake it was not. I was overwhelmed in the beginning but gradually fell into a pattern of keeping my schedule eventually devoting the majority of my weekends to study. Returning to school was a huge sacrifice for me, but one well worth it in the end.

 

I decided months prior, I would travel somewhere, anywhere, because my birthday coincided with the end of the semester and what better way to celebrate Phase 1 of my Accredited Financial Counselor Certification and my birthday than taking a trip. I decided on the Dominican Republic. The history is rich and the beaches are beautiful. What was significant about this trip was I traveled alone, and in doing so, I had time to think, to ponder my life, its direction and my purpose. I can’t do that in the city. Too much “white noise.” The irony of it all was I had to travel out of the country to “find myself.” I know. It sounds cheesy and so cliche’, but it’s the truth.

Look at that smile! Don’t I look happy?
Spending time alone while away allowed me to look deep within. I discovered what I want in life, what truly makes me happy, and the stillness provided much needed direction. Not that I hadn’t pondered these things before, but there’s a certain comfort that comes with walking alone on the beach, the sand between your toes, the crescendo of the breaking waves and the breeze gently caressing your cheek allowing your mind to expand and your thoughts to flow freely. It seemed to be an epiphany, the “Ahh Ha” moment Oprah Winfrey makes mention of. Suddenly everything became clear to me. And then all was calm. I’m confident I returned from my trip not a “different” person, but a “better” person, if that makes any sense.

Obviously, it isn’t necessary to travel out of the country to take time for self, so until you’re in a position to do so, here are a few suggestions that may help:

  1. Consider a “staycay.” Tell your husband/wife (s)he’s on “Mommy/Daddy Duty” for the weekend/day/night or drop the kids off with your mother/mother-in-law and run away from home. Check into a nice local hotel for the weekend in your city or if possible, opt for a change of scenery by driving to a neighboring city. Austin, TX is my “go to” city. No television, no phone. Just you (and room service if possible.)
  2. Create a space in your home free from all distractions. This could be a closet or a small room in your home. Create a tranquil environment with candles and the soothing sounds of soundgarden/spa music. Draw the blinds, close the door, relax, free your mind and find your center.
  3. Meditation/Yoga. I’ve always admired how people are able to close their eyes and block out everything, no matter where they are. It takes serious concentration and mental ability. Yoga is also a great way to a healthy mind, body and spirit.
  4. Appreciate beauty. When was the last time you visited your local arboretum or took a long stroll around the park? Consider a hike at your local reserve. The beauty and appreciation of nature can have extensive healing powers.

Employing some or all of these tips can help you relax, re-center, and recharge. Each requires very little effort or money and is worth your peace of mind. And trust me, when you have peace of mind, you’re free.

~Andrea Coleman (The Financial Hack) ©2016

Follow me on Twitter @IAmCoachAndrea