Wow, where DID the time go? I can’t believe 12 months have flown by already, and we’re all preparing to enter a new year in just under two weeks. With 2015 so close, it’s time for me to check the rear-view mirror and see how I made out the past year – including the good, the bad & you guessed it; the ugly – before creating goals and plans for next year. If I’m going to do this properly, besides all the rainbows, unicorns and ice cream, I’ll also have to include the areas of life that didn’t go as planned, or where things were just plain shitty… I hope that’s okay by you.
The Blog: As I review my goals from last year, something stands out and smacks me in the face: I was WAY over ambitious with my “creative” planning; which is a nicer way of saying “I figured I’d get WAY more writing in than is humanly possible”, which I now see was a naive person’s take on creating worthwhile content. As outlined in my one year review of the blog, even though I didn’t manage to hit all the numbers I wanted to, I’m pretty pleased with the blog itself. I’m slowly continuing to grow both my writing style and readership, and can clearly see the next steps outlined in front of me of what I need to do to take my message to the next level. It’s a bit of a secret right now (don’t want to jinx it!) but let’s just say it’s heavily in the works, and I’ll know soon if it works or not. So all in all, I’m pretty happy with how my writing has gone, but will admit I’ve got to learn to be less “long-winded” when I write… kind of like I’m being right now.
Went to Mexico for 2 Weeks: We nailed this goal, but it did have one hiccup; we had a friend come down for the first week with us, but he hated the climate, was uncomfortable, etc. and therefore the first week was not as much fun for any of us as hoped. Hindsight being 20/20, I think we could have predicted our friend wouldn’t enjoy the hot climate the way we do; we were just trying to be good friends and help expand his horizons. I realize now that at our age, if people haven’t done or seen certain things in their life, it’s usually because they don’t really want to do or see them in the first place, and having enthusiastic friends don’t make it any more so. Lesson learned.
The last week in Vallarta was great, and we definitely came home relaxed; that is until I opened up my work lap top and all the crap that had built up in my inbox began downloading… For me, this was the beginning of the end of the job that had become rife with stress and bullying from bosses. More on that in a bit.
Went to The Artists Weekend: In July I was able to fulfill a commitment I made 2 years ago, whilst riding a train in Peru; I flew to North Carolina and spent 5 days in the Ashville Mountains at a retreat with J.D. Lewis, a remarkable man I met whilst travelling. The weekend was great in many ways, but most of all because it gave me a sense of clarity for how I needed to move forward in my life. Plus, I got to meet some really cool people, like my new friends Collin and Giovanna. Read more about the incredible experience here.
Quit My Job and “Retired”: I’ve detailed it here many times in my
therapy sessions blogging that after 6 years of “enjoying” my job, the 7th year was hell. From where I was sitting, the company’s dynamic changed from one of co-operation and support for it’s sales team to a dictatorship of nepotism and yes-men – both being categories I don’t fit into.
With the writing on the wall, I put in a months notice and got the hell out of there; but not before enduring a little extra bullying. It didn’t matter – with my notice already in, their words lost the power to intimidate me. That was 2 months ago; and while I miss many of my excellent co-workers, I can tell you I’m so frickin’ glad to be away from the organization itself. As I “de-stressed” from the whole experience, I had a lot of anger – but found a way to make peace with it all, which I wrote a post about.
Please note that this bold move of quitting was only possible for 2 reasons. First, seeing how unhappy I was, Paula supported me fully and completely – Thank you SO MUCH my love! And secondly…
We Paid Off Our Mortgage!: Yep, after 4 1/2 years of scraping and struggling, this past October we paid off our mortgage! At the beginning of each year, I’d post up on our goals board how much we had left to pay, and then we’d “visualize” that amount shrinking, and shrinking. In Jan 2014 we had $34,000+ left, and – with the finish line in sight – got super-focused to pay it off.
We did have a little push at the end (Robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak) so I could quit my job; but all in all it worked out great, and has allowed us to put our focus elsewhere.
*Note: Since all my employment income went to the mortgage, financially one crosses the other out. I don’t earn right now, but then we don’t pay a mortgage. It’s a zero-sum game at this point. I’m super-proud of us for this accomplishment!
Grew our net worth: Other than our mortgage, we continued to grow our investments this year, having a banner increase of over $40,000 in the past 12 months – I guess this compound interest stuff really works! We have a target in mind where we want to be, and are are on track to get there within 2 or 3 more years – barring any “unforeseen circumstances”.
Our growth this year is especially good since we also bought leather furniture ($3,000+), a “smart t.v.”, sound bar and blue-ray player ($1,600), new washer dryer ($3,300) Macbook Pro ($1,700) and paid $3,100 in advance on our strata fees. We did this to alleviate any large monthly bills for a year, taking the pressure off of us while I’m settling into my new role.
Tristan’s Transition from High School: This went very well! Despite the nasty B.C. Teacher’s strike, Tristan graduated in June and even acted as co-validictorian, an accomplishment I’m extremely proud of him for achieving. After a final summer of camps and Canuck Place visits, it’s official: My son is no longer a boy, or youth, but a young adult. Last Fall Tristan enrolled in a couple of college courses; and with the help of an aid successfully passed them and is now enrolled in two more beginning in January.
Tristan turns 19 in a few days, and then the official government funding kicks in. This means that the managing of staff (care workers) becomes a bit more official, and more work for us. I’ve had to assume this responsibility, which to be honest has added some stress for sure, due to unpredictable variables; something I’ve since learned to control. Either way, I’m slowly working my way into my new role, and all in all, Tristan is doing great and I’m very proud of what a nice young man I have for a son.
I’ve Become Too Tight With Money: One “side effect” from being so frugal for so long (to pay off the mortgage) is that my tightwad habits have become so ingrained it’s a bit hard to break out of them. This will be an ongoing focus for me this year; to learn how to spend money (properly) instead of always saving, saving, saving. I guess what I’m trying to say is I need to find a “happy medium” because honestly, having an emotional tug-of-war over buying a $5- slice of pizza gets a bit overwhelming a times, if you know what I mean. I promise myself to do better in the future!
Friendships: We discovered that some our friendships aren’t as strong as we thought, and trying to work through why caused us a lot of stress. We are pretty busy people as it is, but have always enjoyed the company of good friends – however something we’ve identified is that we need to make more of an effort to meet like-minded people and try to develop new friendships that support our lifestyle choices. This will also be a focus in 2015.
And The Ugly
My Temper: I don’t really want to get into this; but if I didn’t mention it, I wouldn’t be (a) transparent like I always promise to be; or (b) truthful about this review process like I also promised to be. Let me just say that as far as I’ve come with controlling my temper, there are still times where it gets the better of me. These outbursts usually affect my family the most, and so I wind up doing or saying something that hurts the two people who are most important to me.
Let me say to both Paula and Tristan that I’m trying hard not to loose my cool; and also know that one second after I’ve lost my temper, I’m already regretting it. Please be patient with me. xo
Family Reunion: This past summer my siblings had the first “Family Reunion” (both our parents died long ago) in about 15 years at eldest brothers home on Gabriola Island, not far from Victoria; my sister and her husband came from New Zealand, and my other brother from Ontario for the weekend event. Unfortunately, my oldest brother and I have never gotten along; we simply don’t see eye to eye on anything from education, to travel to finances; he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t actually do much, but certainly has an opinion on everything – quite the opposite of my philosophies on life. This past year I found out he’d been engaging in inappropriate behaviour regarding my own family, so I confronted him and – despite not having spoken in years – was unapologetic for his behaviour.
Without getting into details, I let my other siblings know that Paula, Tristan and I wouldn’t be attending the reunion, (which was impossible for Tristan to attend anyway due to the travelling) but would like to meet them for lunch if possible. The five of us (Myself, my siblings and Tristan) had that lunch; and within 10 minutes I was reminded of why I can’t stand my eldest brother. My only regret was that I honestly would have liked to spend more time with the other two siblings, but under different circumstances; and since that wasn’t presented as an option, we all just finished our lunches, said good bye and went our separate ways without really having spoken.
I think it’s unfortunate that one person controlled this whole dynamic; it felt like sort of a “My way or the highway” scenario, with Big Brother at the helm. And while I know we’ll never be together as a group again, to be completely honest, I don’t feel too badly since we aren’t a close group anyway and barely speak to each other. It just would have been nice to spend a bit more time with my other two siblings while they were here, and maybe showed them a bit of my family’s world. But as mentioned, this wasn’t presented as an option; and since they didn’t seem too interested, it didn’t happen. It is what it is.
The Wrap Up: So that’s it – the good, the bad and the ugly from my personal 2014. I definitely feel good about somethings, and other things – not so good. These give me things to work on in the upcoming year. Speaking of which, I’m slowing compiling my goals for 2015, and once I’ve got it made, I’ll put it up so you can take a look, and of course, hold me accountable!
Until then, thanks as always for reading; and if you’d like to share any of your own thoughts from 2014, please do so in the comments below!