There are quite a few thoughts running through my head these days. I’ll be starting to gather things soon to do my tax return for 2017 and with that I’ll tally up all my income and expenses and, as I have been doing for many years, make an estimate of what I will earn and owe for taxes in the coming year.
I’ve been thinking of what I want to achieve in 2018 and honestly I’m at a bit of a loss on what to do this year, I need to and want to change a few things.
2017 was a year of many highs and lows for me.
I scored a full-time job after a long time of looking.
I made huge financial progress.
I also got a brick wall in the face when after an abnormal pap in March I got sent for follow-ups in May and ended up having a procedure/surgery at the end of June on my cervix to remove pre-cancerous cells as I had high grade dysplasia. (A LEEP). Think of it as slicing off a bad mole, except in this case on your cervix, with a very sharp wire. One of these days I’ll do a write up on that whole adventure; I was the first woman at my local hospital to have (I had to battle off four nurses) this procedure fully conscious as I refused general anaesthetic (supported by my doc who thinks its a waste of resources and not necessary) (I also had to refuse IV and a pregnancy test, a wheelchair and a bed, I had a great time that day :p) As of today I’m okay, I don’t have cancer, its unlikely I will get cancer, I’m scheduled for a second followup this month and after that will be monitored fairly closely.
LEEP’s have a near 90% cure rate and so here’s hoping I stay in the 90% for the rest of my life. Then again there is also upward of 37%, depending on what you read, recurrence. It’s unlikely I’ll get cancer… but it’s also possible I’m the 10% and I’ll have to have another procedure if the infection persists and I develop further precancerous changes or cancer… which can affect fertility… and I think I want kids, but they also don’t appeal to me very much, but I might run out of time? How do I reconcile those feelings? During my follow up pap it did look like there was another area for investigating and I’m waiting for results now.
The whole ordeal has been incredibly stressful, it still is, I’ve bawled my eyes out about it quite a few times. I had to deal with all these appointments and phone calls while starting a new, stressful job where I never quite felt like I belonged. I had side effects (pain) half the months, every month after the procedure until mid-December until I finally healed. I felt exhausted and I felt like I was drowning, my coping mechanisms of eating well/being active failed and I gained somewhere around 15 pounds. I didn’t have time to focus on myself because my time was spent working Monday to Friday and any time not spent working was spent on my relationship, eating, and sleeping AND managing my other side hustles. I worked 50-55 hours per week while trying to fix my body and high stress levels, mostly caused bu the 50-55 hours spent working per week.While I was able to get away for two long weekends, most of the rest of my weekends from May till October were spent 50% recovering from the week and the other half a mixture of catching up on other responsibilities and pleasure. Without dropping a ball, any ball, it was hard to focus simply on healing myself.
All of this has led me to evaluate what is and what is not important to me and how I possibly want to direct my future, and 2018.
Before I started my term job last year in May, I formally resigned from the family cleaning company that I ran/helped run/then owned for quite some time. Out of my family I am the only one remaining to keep the company going as it is, I no longer officially work there and no longer perform duties, people have been hired to replace the shifts I used to work. I do still take care of the paperwork here and there and ensure the back end runs smoothly: There is no one available to take over the bits and bobs I still take care of, like managing the bank account.
Furthermore one of my side-hustles in the summer has been commissioned sales on seasonal rentals, I rent out properties for a fee. I’m going into my fifth year doing it and it has been a nice source of a few thousand dollars every season. I’ve also for the past four years cleaned cottages on weekends. Side hustle X (which I’ve never discussed here)(not this blog)(no its not camming) earns me some money on the internet. In summary, I currently have not one but five potential different income streams in addition to the small bits of interest I now earn on my savings and various investments. In 2017 all these came together to earn me much more than ever before. It also took a lot of work.
As most of my jobs and hustles are mostly from spring through October, right now I am until about the end of April, formally unemployed, allowing me time to think about how to proceed. I was told to likely anticipate being offered the term job I had last year again.
Tom is debt-free, as am I. Tom owns his home outright. He has more savings than I do and some passive income to sustain himself, which pays the few bills there are, along with any money earned doing some side-hustles.
Before we left for our around the world trip he quit his job, permanently, finito. I also have recently given up my apartment and no longer have rent to pay. This puts me (well, both of us) in the extraordinary position of having incredibly low living expenses for the foreseeable future. I didn’t particularly enjoy my term job and mostly took it for the money. I need to consider whether I want to return there, and collectively my family and I need to decide whether we completely wind up the family cleaning company at the end of the year. (Which means loss of back-up job security for me, but also potential loss of jobs for several employees, how do you make that decision?) I have many sources of income and they have certainly been helpful this year in getting ahead, but I also can’t do it all and it certainly hasn’t made me any happier or healthier trying to do it all.
Early retirement has been something on my mind much more lately. Financial independence has been my goal, it has been the entire goal of my financial journey to date. I always envisioned myself however, earning much more than I have and doing things very differently, five years ago I would have imagined having a much nicer house. These days, I’m not so sure I want to own any house at all. I also always envisioned reaching this huge amount of money to sustain myself. But perhaps that isn’t necessary at all, either.
Having even this short amount of time off work has made me realize I very much value having the flexibility to arrange my work as I please. It feels much more natural, I feel more useful to my family and friends, I feel like I actually have time to do things and volunteer somewhere and make a difference. I’ve learned that with the whole vagina thing, having time to breathe and just spend reading and biking, being outside, is valuable to me. Having to show up to work, day after day, while still in pain from having my cervix sliced, sucked balls. (Can I get props for balls and vagina in a sentence and non-porn related?). Being able to say hey, today I don’t want to do that because I need to take care of myself? It’s a freedom I will only have if I continue on the path of doing my own thing.
I don’t enjoy dragging myself out of bed for an alarm clock to a job I don’t particularly enjoy and where I am not particularly valued for my strengths AND weaknesses.
But how do you let go of the need to supply, the need to save, the desire for financial independence?
I need an aggressive savings rate to be able to reach financial independence because I am not there yet. But am I willing to do what it takes to get there if I have to repeat 2017 for quite a few more years? Is it worth it? Can my health handle this? What is going to happen with my darn lady bits this year… am I going to heal or is this going to progress? Or is it enough now, is it enough to supply my needs and continue to save but much less aggressively, to focus on living now without needing big income to supply my needs, trusting that God will continue to bring opportunities to supply my needs.
I suppose the only reason I cannot yet let go is that I’m afraid it’s all not enough, that there will be no job, that I’ll lose all my savings, that I’ll be back to square one.
The reality and much more probable is that I’ll be fine, I can say no to the job and yes to my body and my health.
And somehow I need to reconcile these feelings to make sense and to find peace.