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.

On loyalty and friendships

Let me begin this post by asking a question; how loyal are you?

Today I received a comment from a family member that I am too loyal to people and that I hold on too long, so I got thinking about the subject of loyalty.

I’m sure you can identify when I tell you that I’ve had my fair share of broken friendships and broken relationships. I’m freshly reminded of this as I still wait (in vain) for a response to an email C. sent to a friend of mine back innnnnn July or something? A girl who he was thought to be my best friend, about an issue in my life that,  in short, was pretty crappy. She never bothered to respond.

She moved away earlier in the year and I’ve called, I’ve texted and sent a few messages asking how she and her family were doing and the only response so far has been the odd comment about the latest television show. I think I officially got dumped.

Nonetheless I remain loyal. I’m not down with being a doormat and don’t condone toxic relationships but in cases like this I forgive and forgive and forgive and eventually forget. C. told me about his one-strike policy in situations such as these, he cuts the ties, unforgiving, unrelenting. One strike, done.

I won’t judge you, one way or the other. People are fickle emotional beings and we all have our reasons and limits for acting the way we do. My loyalty has caused me hurt a few times, has it set me up for more or less?

I like to think less, some friendships can be saved and others can’t but in the end I gain comfort from knowing that I’ve done all that I could have done and remained loyal until what truly is, the end.

Budget mishaps…

With summer quickly rolling in I’m noticing a SCARY trend in my budget. I’m off… like WAY off… still within my total budget but my categories are way out of whack and I don’t think that’s going to change until November rolls around… my student loan repayment has also suffered and I won’t make my <$5,000 goal for July 1. It’s making me feel a little on edge but the overpowering feeling is relief and happiness. Which is strange, I mean… I’m consistently OFF budget and I’m cool with that? I think I may have been too strict on myself this past winter and while I made some really nice progress financially it really added to me hitting the proverbial wall and… here we are. I need to find a balance.

I started writing this post because I realized that I missed a crucial and big expense in this months budget: I didn’t include that I’m leaving for Isles de la Madeleine on June 24th for a 5/6 day camping trip, I’ve been wanting to go there for a very long time so I’m really looking forward to it. (Speaking of which, have you been? I’d love to hear any tips & suggestions on what to do!) I haven’t had more than 3 days off in a row in more than a year and a half… that’s a long time and I’m really ready for a vacay. I’ve had slow weeks of work and haven’t worked full-time consistently throughout but it will be nice to just really be OFF and away for a little while.  I’m kind of wondering if I should actually make a new category in my budget for vacation expenses, what do you think?

Sure looks pretty...!

Aside from the camping trip at the end of June, I’m also going for a one day shopping trip with friends (it’ll be them shopping and me accompanying) the day after I come back and I’ve still got the possible trip to Toronto to see John Butler Trio mid-July. I’ve also just started researching prices for tickets to the Netherlands probably late August/early September (mentioned here) which is very exciting but it’s going to bust my budget… did I mention I have a huuuuuge renovation coming up before winter as well?

Yeah…. I just had a visit with the development officer in my community and in order to renovate and extend my porch about 3 feet (because it’s so tiny, the extra space is needed) I’m going to have to apply for a gross variance which will need to be approved by council & my neighbours individually. *sigh*Nothing’s ever easy… so everything with my mortgage refinancing is on hold until I get a cost estimate from my contractor, apply and hopefully get approved for a permit… and then we go from there.

I’m guessing it’ll take another month before I can head back to the bank to talk about the refinancing again. We’ve already established that I have the credit etc. to get it all done, just need to work out the kinks like the new terms of my mortgage, and for that I need to have a plan in place for the renovation + a building permit because without the permit the whole project changes. I hope to talk to the contractor again tomorrow and work out some details, I’m hoping to push the reno off until September so the framing & exterior can be finished right before winter and I can slowly work on the interior myself over the winter. It would save me some big bucks to do that. I’m really slow at stuff like drywalling but I can do it so hiring the contractor to only do the frame and exterior finishing should be good for the bottom line so I don’t bust my budget into oblivion… lol.

Ahhh! I’m trying not to get too overwhelmed and have a bit of fun too, I think I’ll be okay though as long as I stay within the rough parameters of my budget I’ll get where I want to be. How’s your budget fairing in this fair weather? 😉