All in all, 2015 was quite eventful for me, and very little of it was bad. Since this is the time of year where all of humanity takes a moment to be a bit more introspective and retrospective, I’ll join in the fun and recount all the ways 2015 was a momentous year for me and those in my corner of the world:
- Any such list has to start with my three-week trip to England. But first, let me note the logistics of it. I paid for it all with cash. I had to get a passport for the first time, put a hold on my mail for the first time ever, arranged for renters’ insurance just in case, and bought “premium economy” tickets for my first overseas plane ride. I even bought a card to use on the London Underground and a pass meant to get us free or discounted tickets to places, both of which ended up being under-used.
- As for the trip itself, most of the time was spent in touristy parts of London, but I got to see Stonehenge up close, as well as the cliffs of Dover, a Shakespearean play and a modern musical, Canterbury, Bath, Parliament, and so much more. I also reconnected with Trevor, a friend from college who coincidentally was in London at the same time. And the highlight of the trip for me was having afternoon tea with a real Englishman and his family and neighbors. It was not a relaxing vacation, but it was definitely a trip of a lifetime.
- And just as important as London is the fact that I finally paid off my student loans! Yes, it required giving up the savings I’d use for a down payment on a condo, but it feels so much better to be debt-free. I especially like knowing that I am not just paying someone money – as much as a thousand dollars a year – to retain a debt I didn’t have to carry.
- I went to the UMWA convention in Las Vegas for work, and my dad and stepmom made the road trip to see me there. It was especially nice to hear Dad play his guitar and see Nancy get excited during the rally and Cecil Roberts’ speech.
- I released “Jim’s Unsung Heroes,” a short story about WW2 based on my grandfather’s own memories of his war-time injuries. I made a special hardcover edition for my dad with some family photos thrown in. And when I was riding back from Thanksgiving at the National Harbor, I took a picture of me at the WW2 memorial that served as cover art for the release.
- I got certified as a Compensation Management Specialist by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans and passed my 7th of 8 exams toward the full CEBS certification.
- Two co-workers got promoted to Management, Justin and Shaun. For an organization that is downsizing through attrition, the idea of career ladders for the younger employees is probably a thing of the past, but our department director might have made a shrewd long-term play by giving these two a reason to stay at the Funds longer. Justin in particular was a perfect choice for his role, and Shaun is slowly surprising people.
- I made two business trips to Beckley, West Virginia to lead training classes for new processors.
- I made an appearance (via phone) on the Suze Orman show early in the year to try to convince myself to go to London. She said I shouldn’t go, but I went anyway.
- Even though I bought some new electronics and tons of London souvenirs, my year-end is marked more by downsizing and packing away things I don’t need. This had to be done because my apartment got re-carpeted, but downsizing had been on my to-do list for some time.
Phew! That’s quite a good year, unlike 2014, which was a bit more mixed. How was your year?