Thoughts on how to move forward.

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.

Under the cover of darkness I learn to trust

Apparently this is a strokes song: under the cover of darkness. This post isn’t about music though, and not about any bands either. It’s about faith. Not religion, faith. There are enough personal finance blogs out there that cover finance from a Christian perspective. There’s also enough blogs and websites out there that cover Christianity and all those sort of things. I’m not writing about those or that. Today I write about God, so if you’re not cool with Jesus you might want to skip this post… and if you are, hey cool, thanks for sticking around. 🙂 (I also cursed once in this article… so there’s that too)

I wrote a post a month or so ago in support of TWLOHA.  I wrote about depression and about people hurting. Not people in faraway countries that are starving to death. I wrote about emotional pain in our country, in our cities, in our communities. The part I skipped in that post is my own hurt because despite (or is it because-of) having everything I could have ever wanted at such a young age. It’s not enough. I am hurting, too, because I feel utterly lost.

source below

source below

I have my company, my house, other side hustles, my dog, friends and family who love me and I am lost.

It’s hard to describe to you since my feelings aren’t purely the result of a chemical imbalance or some sort of life altering event but rather the culmination of many events and choices I have made on my own. Choices in relationships, friendships, work and life. Each and every one brought me here today. I’ve made a few wrong ones and a few right ones, in any case it landed me here. Lost.

I attended a service this past weekend where Pastor Mark Reid recounted his experience with Dengue fever and the resulting depression that can happen: When it’s dark you flick on the light switch. Easy right? But sometimes it’s dark and there is no light switch to flick. It’s just dark. There is just….wall and that’s about the point I’ve been stuck at for the past year. It isn’t because I feel gloomy for any sort of reason. I love life and I don’t want to kill myself. I am happy with my life but I lack joy. I wake up in the morning and I feel utterly lost, alone and purposeless and my mind keeps whirring at lightning speed. I long for peace. It’s akin to the light switch missing.

I started working in my last year of high school and since then my life has revolved around friends, working and attending school for many years. I obtained my university degree by going part-time for a very long time. I like being busy.

In that post I detailed how I went through school and what it felt like after. I had and have no fucking idea what to do with my life. I focused on this idea of moving away for a few months and selling my house for a while, over the past few months I’m realizing those aren’t solutions. Just band-aids. I’m still selling my house… and the rest will play out.

I’ve been squirming and twisting and turning and searching for what I’m supposed to be doing next for more than a year. It’s probably obvious I’ve been a little lost. I’ve written many a melancholy post about my feelings and in all of them I focused externally. Perhaps the feeling of loss I have been feeling for the past year isn’t a problem on the outside, of what I’m doing. It’s in my nature to be very driven and ambitious and be doing something or some project. I’m not worried about the continuation of that, things will come up and my mind will get busy again plotting and planning and working away.

Perhaps my problem is a problem on the inside and it isn’t a physical or chemical one that a doctor can fix.

I was in a very short relationship recently and when that ended it threw me for a loop. I had no idea what to do, I didn’t know what to do with my life before the relationship either but for some reason it sent me on this roller-coaster of feelings. It wasn’t the relationship or the break-up that caused me an intense feeling of grief, it was all the other shit that’s been building for years. The relationship directed my focus elsewhere for a short bit but even as I was sitting on the couch with that man before anything ended I realized I still have to deal with this. I keep coming up with distractions and it doesn’t work.

Consequences.

The problem seems to be, as I see it today that while I believe in a very real God and a very real Jesus, with a capital J, that I have never trusted Him. I have trusted Him in all things, money and life and silly little issues but I have never trusted him enough to give up going at it on my own and trust him in matters of the heart. I have lived my entire life firmly planted in the secular world doing secular things, with secular friends while believing in God. There isn’t anything wrong with either of those by the way. It just is and it isn’t that I haven’t doubted God… I have. I chose to believe in a very real God on my own. It is that I have vehemently refused to deal with the consequences of both these choices that lands me here today. Cognitive dissonance of sorts.

I cannot continue to believe in God and live out my entire life as a secular person with secular-everything in my life. I cannot continue to deny the things I believe by my choices and actions and still claim to believe because it’s tearing me apart on the inside. It’s time to choose, one way or the other and to deal with the consequences of that choice. Something I’ve avoided doing for 7 years.

In all my actions I have tried very hard to live a good life, to help and support others. These aren’t virtues I thought of on my own, they’re the things I believe are part of my faith. To love others as I love myself, as love is both an emotion and an affair of the will. (C.S. Lewis) It’s a choice that I make everyday.  I try to love as best as I can in all my flawed ways.  My friends and others recognize in me the characteristics that are not my own but that I try to extol and have all my life, unconditional love, loyalty, truth and charity. Those things are not mine, they were given to me to give away.

The sense of loss I have been feeling in my life, in my soul, seem to be related to the question of God. I have everything I need and most that I want, yet I lack purpose. I have all the friends and family that I need and yet I feel alone. I am happy with all that I have, I want for nothing and yet I lack joy. I have everything but no direction because I have never trusted God to lead my life in the right direction. I have never been willing to live life as a consequence of my faith.

I’m like sail boat with no rudder on an open sea. I’m looking for the lightswitch and I can’t freaking find it and I’m pretty sure God had something to do with it. Stale-mate you bastard.

PS: Image source