2015: My Year In Review

    WOW! 2015 literally flew by. I guess the older you get the faster time moves. Or at least that’s how it feels. As I sit here on the eve of my birthday, ready to embark on my last year in my 30’s, I can’t help but reflect on how phenomenal 2015 was for me. For the first time, in a long time, I took time out for self. I took a lot of ME time. I did the things I wanted to do, regardless of anyone else’s opinions about it. And for the most part, I enjoyed every moment of it.

    A little over a year ago I was introduced to a travel group called Nomadness Travel Tribe. Right away I realized that this wasn’t just a run of the mill travel group. This group is a family. Almost anywhere in the world you go, you can find tribe members there. People are quick to offer tips and guidance to those venturing to a new locale, and there are plenty of opportunities for meetup events all over the world. Being a member of this group has had a tremendous impact on my life. I’m proud to be a member of this #familybychoice. This group gave me the courage to take international solo trips to destinations that were never on my radar before, helped me to get out of my introverted zone (a little), and helped me to unplant my feet.

    Well, I guess the easiest way to do this year in review thang is to take it month by month, since each month seemed to bring — something!

    January
    Many people make a big deal out of celebrating NYE, but I save my energy for my birthday. Since my birthday is so close to Christmas people are usually broke or have forgotten it, so I’ve gotten used to do treating myself well – I never disappoint myself  I normally plan a trip for my birthday and 2015 definitely topped the cake. I went to visit a friend in Doha (hey Michelle!) and planned a side excursion to Dubai. I loved both cities but Dubai was amazing and I know I barely scratched the surface. I would move there in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself. I ended the month seeing one of my favorite artist in concert – Billy Joel. It wasn’t as good as when I’d previously seen him but a great time was still had. He is phenomenal about being able to laugh at himself. I’m trying to get better at that.

    February
    February reiterated the fact that I really don’t need to live with others. I was stressed, and therefore sick, most of the month. To rectify that, change came swift.

    March
    I love birthdays and March is another chance to make a big deal of one – my mom’s! Myself and three of my brothers were able to be with my mom for her special day. It was great to see immediate and some extended family. I also moved and began the process of putting my nerves back at ease.

    April
    This month always brings my yearly recurrent training for Critical Incident Stress Management. Basically, if you’re stressed out you can feel free to talk to me – I got you. This training is emotional and packed full of information, but it is great to see my CISM family all together for three days.

    After training I ran into a couple CISM members (hey Traci & Kim!) and through our chats they happened to mention shipping items through Cargo. Well I was heading out to Oakland to help my cousin move (hey Tiff!) and thank goodness that bug was put in my ear because Cargo shipping was a Godsend.

    From Oakland I headed to Oklahoma to see Toni Braxton in concert. I never had the chance to see her in Vegas and really didn’t know what to expect; but when I tell you that was one of the BEST shows I’d seen in a while, please believe it. Now, I LIVE for a good concert and no she doesn’t offer the acrobatics that P!nk is known for, or the vocal range of Celine, but her show was amazing nonetheless. She was so beautiful and classy and elegant. She sounded like perfection, as did her background singers (3 sisters and 1 niece – you know Tamar head too big to sing back up for anybody, even tho she owns her sister EVERYTHING). I really loved how much love and appreciation she showed to her fans. She brought people onstage to sing with her, and she spent her entire encore on the floor taking selfies with the people in the first few rows. It was just lovely. The best part was when it was just her singing ballads by the piano. I would love to see an entire Toni show just. like. that. #sheerelegance

    May
    This month started out with the overhyped Mayweather fight. He shoulda been a track star. That’s all I’ll say about that. #teampacquiao. Then came more illness. My mom had surgery and has been on a very slow road to recovery ever since.

    Since I was on the planning committee for my family reunion and I anticipated stress as we put the final plans in place, I decided to take a pre-summer getaway to pre-unwind. I found a $49 cruise and off I went. I spent a day in Long Beach and set sail to Catalina Island (riding around the city in a golf cart took me back to my college days), Ensenada (the blow hole was awesome), and back to Long Beach. Some realizations from this cruise – 1. Don’t drink the “tap water” on the ship, 2. When you buy the drink package, you can only get 15 drinks a day – know that in advance so you don’t get embarrassed by the bartendar screaming you’ve reached your limit. Trust me, that is embarrassing. 3. Once you’ve taken a Princess cruise, everything – especially Carnival – is a downgrade.

    June
    My 20th High School reunion was planned. Anxiety caused me to skip it. I absolutely HATED high school. And I’ve seen a few a few classmates since high school who, well I’ll just say they hadn’t changed much. I’ve also seen a few people and we’ve had some great times. But I felt so detached from that life I decided to skip it. I just refused to walk into a situation that had the potential to end negatively.

    A bright spot in this month – Favre was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame. Favre is a hottie. Just wanted to put that in there 

    July
    The time had finally come. We only do family reunions every two years so it is a BIG DEAL. It’s hard to get our family together but for the 120 or so who came, we really had a great time. We spent a week on Daytona Beach eating, fellowshipping, and getting burnt to a crisp. That heat was NO joke. But despite all the drama behind the scenes, I was surprised and relieved at how well everything came together. I met some family members I didn’t even know existed and catch up with loved ones. There are way too many to name but I must give a shout out to my cousin Deborah who did a phenomenal job of heading up our committee. I’m looking forward to our next reunion in San Fran where Tiffany will take the reigns. I’m again on the committee so I’m sure this will be another success (lol).

    August
    I was supposed to see Aretha Franklin in concert in Vegas and the diva cancelled. Not postponed, not rescheduled at a later date. Straight up bye y’all cancelled. I was disappointed to say the very least.

    This month still brought fun times as I traveled to NYC where I met up with some wonderful Tribe members (hey Phyl, Sheena, Starlene, and Patricia). I have to give a special shout out to Patricia who literally took me by the hand and took me all around the city, then made sure I got on the correct train to the airport. From NYC I headed to Barbados for a quick trip to see my cousin get married (hey Nikki and new cousin Nigel). I also got to meet the newest addition to the family – Steve & Tricia’s cute son Ahron Samson. He is SO adorable. Hey yall! I’m always grateful to Ronald and Harriet for taking me in. It was great seeing my cuz Neilson after soo many years apart. I got to meet Harriet’s family and a whole bunch of fam in Canada I didn’t even know existed – including another Nadia (hey cuz!). There are so many of to name but to Teddy and family I hope to make a trip to Toronto in 2016 to hang out with you all. And special shout out to Hazel who hold such a special place in my heart 

    September
    WHOA what a month. Filled with highs and lows. I tried my hand at gambling, and lost miserably (lol). Months ago I woke up and as usual the first thing I did was check Facebook. I saw that Claire Bear, owner of Up In The Air Travel, had an extra ticket to see Serena in the US Open Finals. I snagged it and delighted in her every victory and headed to NY mid-September to see history. Well, that ended terribly (you can read my previous blog post on that). Anyhow, I made it to my brother’s annual cookout in Atlanta and then had my first Diner En Blanc experience thanks to a fellow Tribe member who had several tables available (hey Brei!). All in All, September was still a win (but I won’t be taking that gamble again any time soon; it would be nice to see Serena play before she retires tho).

    October
    Guess what, Janet’s back on the scene. And I LIVE for a good concert – so I snatched up tickets to her Vegas show (one of my favorite American cities). Well, days before the show – she cancelled. First the Queen of Soul and now Jan Jan. I’m really banking out on my concert ventures this year. In my opinion, you don’t cancel a Vegas show. Detroit where all the purchasers likely live down the street, yeah cancel that one. But people actually travel to Vegas to see shows. People had taken vacation time, military leave, bought tickets, etc., you name it. Vegas shows are a big deal and people are canceling shows all willy nilly. I was pretty pissed. What added insult to injury was the fact that days after canceling her 5,000 seat venue, she rebooked for a 20,000 seat venue. **semi side eye** Now, after I purchased my tickets I saw clips of her show and started hearing feedback and it wasn’t rave reviews. The new Muslim Janet was traveling with an all female band and covered from chin to toenail in a hideous turtleneck onesie. But I had a ticket in hand so I vowed to go, sing classics, and have a great time. I was disappointed. But money was refunded and most of her tour ended up being postponed soon after so I don’t think I’ll be gambling on Janet again either.

    The bright spot in October was definitely meeting Kenna and attending her annual Tacogate. Kenna is the Nomadness Tribe Cheerleader, and Tacogate is EPIC. The “old” me would never have gone to a party, solo, where I didn’t really no anyone. I’m glad I was able to break out of my shell a bit because it was an awesome time with incredible people. Javier’s tacos were heavenly. And Reuben was naked. OK, that’s all I’ll say about Tacogate. Well, and I will definitely be back next year. Heck, maybe I’ll break out of my shell even more and I’LL be the one naked. (teeheehee)

    My October highlight was definitely traveling to London to see my Buffalo Bills play live. We lost, but it was a wonderful time. Thank you Karen for hosting me. London has become my favorite overseas city and I can’t wait to return and explore more of it.

    November
    Another trip to Vegas. I did my first Rock N Roll race. Thank God I was only signed up for the 10K. You can check out my previous blog post to see why I say that.

    December
    Basically, I worked my ass off. I have a lot of changes planned for 2016 and it’s going to take money. I’m excited about things to come, but I’ll keep those close to the vest for now 

    Overall, it’s been a great year. I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do but I came pretty darn close. I don’t know if 2016 will bring as much traveling but I’m hoping there are as many, if not more, fun times. I would leave you with some words of wisdom or thoughts for the future but … I need to pack. SO, I hope you enjoyed my year in review and wish you all a prosperous 2016.

    See ya in the next blog entry!

      About Nadia Gilkes