Looking Back and Looking Forward – A Year in Review

With just a week left in 2017, I’ve taken a break from formatting and marketing to reflect back on 2017 and also to look forward at what 2018 has in store for us…

Loss and Gain

There have been some huge financial hits this year.

We started out the year by shelling out nearly $4,000 in expenses and lost wages to rescue my dad from Panama.

Having the Cottage West held hostage by a loan we co-signed on and had agreed to begin paying on in 2018 was the second big hit of the year. Sinking $32k into a house that was for a short time in my eldest’s name turned out to be not such a good idea. Especially when she threatened to sell it if we didn’t repay the $10k we had borrowed (by co-signing on a student loan) before 2018. When your spider senses start a’tingling, listen to them, no matter what or who you are dealing with. But hey, lesson learned. I won’t be doing that again!

And if those two hits weren’t enough, we also saw a parade of appliance failures and car repairs. Ai carumba, what a year! That was on the heels of paying over $6,000 to a contractor who abandoned us mid-project despite a plethora of promises that she never delivered on at the end of 2016.

This delayed much of our scheduled repairs on Cottage West.

We gained (sort of, still need to finish paying for it) – a 1956 Flying Cloud Airstream trailer that we hope to turn into a recreational vehicle for ourselves, and possibly Airbnb when we are not using it.

The newest money pit – Cottage East

And we gained yet another decrepit money pit property – the house to our east, now dubbed Cottage East. The timing of the purchase wasn’t the best – and we have the city breathing down our necks on the inherited code violations (along with nearly three years of back taxes), but in the end, ownership of this second adjacent house will be in our favor.

Eventually, the Cottages will be completed and ready to be used as Airbnb properties. Not in the time frame I might have hoped for, but life is full of unexpected bumps and my job is to roll with it and get our goals accomplished, however delayed that time frame might be.

I have one more gain and loss to share – and that revolves around weight.

When Dad arrived here, he was malnourished and fragile. He weighed only 120 pounds! He is now 143.8 according to a recent doctor’s visit. His blood sugars are much better and I make sure he keeps up on his medications.

As for me, I’m on a weight loss regimen – well, sort of. I started at over 220 and managed to get down to 205.5 before the weight started creeping up again. I’m currently at 209 and hoping to tackle some more serious weight loss after the holidays.

This Year’s Lessons

I’ve learned a lot this year. Man oh man has it been a learning curve in so many ways!

In particular, I have learned volumes from interpersonal relationships and what I am willing to tolerate and what I am not, as well as a nitty-gritty re-assessment of my own personal views, beliefs, and more.

Some of my takeaways include:

  • You can only chase after someone for so long trying to have a relationship with them. In this case, it was my eldest child, and I realized it was time to let her go. In some ways, it feels as if I have been chasing after her for her entire life. Part of being on the front lines of single parenthood means your child will blame you for what you did, what you didn’t do, and everything in between. It doesn’t help when you have an ex-husband who just loves to make you into the bad guy while not doing one single thing to help parent a child or be responsible in any way. Sometimes they (ex-husbands and kids) will even make crap up to suit their own narrative. You don’t have to accept it, believe it, or take it on. Sometimes it is best to just walk away, no matter how much you want them to love you back.
  • I no longer need or require or even particularly desire my parents’ approval. This has been a long time coming. And having my dad in my house, through a cascade of failures on his part to properly plan for the day he could no longer care for himself (accelerated by lack of proper self-care), along with a long-overdue firmer stance with my mom, has brought me back to center. Realizing I now have more parenting experience than either of them had was one of the biggies. And shocker of shockers, I’m no longer okay with them imposing their wills or beliefs on me. At the ripe young age of 47, I finally have grown a mind of my own. They can like it or not, but I am who I am, and I’m quite unapologetic about it. Getting to this point has been rather freeing, and I couldn’t have done it without some of the difficult experiences I have lived through in the past year.
  • I’m actually a decent human being – who knew? I say this honestly, not tongue in cheek. It’s been a long time coming, and a long walk uphill. I’ve questioned myself more than most, hated every mistake I have ever made, and basically hung my failings about my own neck like an albatross from hell reminder that I was not perfect. I’ve made hundreds of mistakes as a mother, a wife, and just in general. The support of friends during some particularly trying times reminded me that all of those mistakes make me human. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • I succeeded at homeschooling and I haven’t ruled it out for the years to come. In the wake of some particularly painful half-truths from the eldest, I fell into a cycle of self-doubt about all of my parenting abilities – particularly in the realm of education. I made the decision this fall to stop homeschooling and send Em to public school. It has been quite a lesson for all involved. Em scored at grade level or above (all the way to 11th grade in science!) in all core subjects. Her teachers adore her and she is happy and doing very well in our little neighborhood school. That said, Em and I both are interested in her returning to homeschooling after 6th grade (she’s currently in 5th) and I’m enjoying the extra time off right now and making use of it to further ensure that when we return to it, I will be doing so without the need to work outside the home any longer cleaning houses. That leads to the next lesson…
  • If I want to earn a living as a writer, I must market myself incessantly. I learned this lesson late this year, around the middle of November, actually. It is, however, an important lesson to have finally learned. I am determined to make a go of it, and I have turned my focus rather doggedly to this endeavor. Which is why you will see…

Less Blog Updates Here

Years ago, a favorite writer of mine, Mercedes Lackey, explained in a blog post why she was not continuing any further episodes of the Diana Tregarde series (which I loved). She pointed out, as politely as possible, that there had to be some financial reward at the end of it. The book had not seen good sales and she had to walk away from the series and focus on the things that would pay.

And in that vein, I have to admit that my blog here gets limited attention and, as far as I can tell, makes me no money at all. So that tells me that I need to be focused elsewhere and give this blog minimal attention.

I plan on blogging at least once a month here, more often if I find a particular recipe or local event that needs to be talked about.

I hope you will follow my exploits over at my author website or check out my books on Amazon. I will also be expanding my writing into other markets as well quite soon.

And as for Mercedes Lackey, I can’t help but wonder if she could resurrect the series as an Indie author, but that is a story for another day.

More Gardening and Property Upgrades in the Spring

I would like to put in a limited crop garden this year. I’m thinking 5-10 tomato plants, kale, lettuce, and carrots. We have planted several fruiting bushes, and I’m looking forward to caring for those better and encouraging them to grow and produce (along with our fruit trees who are now in their 3rd and 4th years).

I am planning on re-lay the brick pathways in several areas.

Finishing that back fence would be awesome as well!

Huge Changes A’Coming

In January, my husband and I will begin the last leg of the qualification process to become foster parents.

Boom – mic drop.

Yep, I know. HUGE change, right?

No, we are not planning on filling our house with children. But I would like just one more kiddo. Menopause has clearly shown itself to be real and in my face, but at 47, I’m not done yet. So we are applying to foster and adopt one child.

We passed all of the necessary background checks and now we just have the foster training and adoption classes to attend. It won’t be an instant thing. It is still months away, but it is becoming very real now that training is just around the corner.

My eldest often talked about adopting a child. Frankly, I never really even thought about it for myself until a few years ago when an odd situation presented itself. A letter from Oklahoma family services turned out to be the last step in the severing of parental rights and adoption of a child who, while not related to us, was related to my husband’s cousin. What I found interesting was our reaction to the thought of this child, and our willingness to step forward and offer her a home. Once we learned the full story, including that she had been in a foster home for a full year and was well-adjusted and loved and wanted by that foster family – we backed off. If we had been contacted at the beginning of it, before the child had bonded with her foster parents, that would have been different.

It left me with the realization that I was more than willing to step forward and do this. And as the reality of menopause set in, I knew too that there were not as many choices in front of me as there once were.

And yes, I have thought it through. We both have. Children are a lot of responsibility and commitment. I love watching children grow and develop, and make their way to adulthood. I love being a part of that. And I’m very excited about opening up our hearts and home to a child who needs a stable home and loving family.

I also have a strong belief in reunification when possible – that if a child and their biological parents can be reunified, they should. So the upcoming months and year in front of us will be uncertain and fraught with possible love and loss. It will be challenging for all of us. And it will also be very worthwhile. Of that I am certain.

Dialing Down and Focusing on Those Priorities

As 2017 draws to a close and 2018 is wide open before me, I am honing my focus down to:

  • Family – maintaining the strong relationships with my husband and daughter as we progress into welcoming another person into our home in the next few months
  • Writing – growing my income from a few $$ a day to eventually replacing the income I make cleaning so I can be at home every day for my family
  • Health – continuing my weight loss, increasing my walking, and continuing to lower my A1C blood glucose levels to the normal range (currently at pre-diabetic but I have seen a reduction)
  • Airbnb renovation projects – resume renovations on Cottage West and Cottage East by mid-2018

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Here is wishing every one of you a fantastic and promising New Year!

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