Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2017: Bring It!

As usual, I have no wise words about the turning of the page into a new year. Nor any beautiful photos or inspiring message about Christmas. The season of giving. I fear we spend our time and money giving to people that don't need anything, and neglect those right under our noses who need so much.

There is never the time I want to give to this blog. With that in mind I am just going to get to the point. I had a quick read through last year's un-resolutions and thought that I would report on how we did. Lastly, I'd like to set my sights on where I'd like to see the next 365 or so days take us (until I once again sit here to reflect on what we did and didn't do).


Record Keeping:

Without realizing it, I did manage to set up a decent (enough) system to keep Husband's bills etc straight. There were no major upsets when it came time to do taxes and our accountant has helped me set up interim payments so that we hopefully won't end up owing money at the end of the year. This is major, as unexpected debt is the last thing we want.

I did well through out the winter keeping track of household spending, doing menu-plans and reporting on the blog. That exercise alone helped us save hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the year. Going through statements and reducing fees, cancelling satellite subscription, reducing our cell bill, the list goes on. If you haven't done so, commit an afternoon to reducing fees. Research a more affordable (but reputable with good coverage) home insurance plan. One phone call saved me something like $700 last year. If you have been thinking about making changes, take the time to do it.

I also wanted to do better with pictures for the blog. In fact, I want to do better with pictures of my kids' life. Once these cell phones go obsolete, and they will, my kids will not have a record of their childhoods. Not only that, but the grandparents in Newfoundland get very few pictures and I want to do better. Luckily, Santa found a barely used camera that I had been wanting. Now to learn how to use it properly!

2016 saw some purchases that I had not anticipated. One was a new truck for Husband's work (very much needed) and the other was a new camper (very much not needed). It is always a push/pull between my viewpoint and Husband's as far as goals and saving. In the meantime we sold our old camper and the new one will be used in Husband's line of work so it will eventually start paying for itself. We compromised on the layout of the RV and found one that was under the budget I had insisted upon. So it was something I was comfortable doing although I would have chosen to save and pay cash (we financed it but have a plan to pay it off very early!).

As a result of these purchases coupled with a real scare when a company took months to pay us for a large invoice, I got extra serious and motivated about our budget. It surprised me to look back on last year's goals and not see anything financial. But increased blogging, the near miss of not being paid, then getting a regular column in the local paper really brought about my increased interest and determination in the budget department.

2016 was a year where I tried many new homesteading activities. We had pigs, meat birds, were given rabbits, had our first lambs and continued to garden. I have had no time to sew. It was exhausting and fulfilling. I recognize how hard it is to do all of the travel and play that my Husband would like when we have so much work at home. It was also very overwhelming with him gone for months at a time. There won't be pigs this coming year but I feel that meat birds are a necessity.

The wonderful opportunity to read a novel in progress for a bloggy friend also inspired me to make writing more of a priority. It was always my goal in life. Having a weekly column has allowed me to schedule in writing time. While harder for me to get around to blogging, it has motivated me to insist on some quiet to write. In this sense I have made much better use of my evenings (at least while Husband is away) and I have been reading another friend's novel lately. When that is done I hope to WILL return to my own writing as a priority. It is important to me to encourage and help this friend but I also realize that if I don't put myself first my own plans will once again go by the wayside.

2017--You are Mine, All Mine!

No, not really. But for the first time in years I can feel myself becoming part of the conversation again. I have written at length about my interests and personal goals (heck, that's the point of this blog). But many people, women in particular, will understand the subtle ways that our own identity can be sucked into work/responsibility/caring for others/meeting expectations without having time to reevaluate what we really want. I am almost 40 and it is time to be a complete person again.

I want to emphasize that it is no one's fault but my own that I continually put others first over the years. I have had many opportunities to do things where I have chickened out or felt that I shouldn't. I am not griping about my wonderful life. Many of my homesteading "slow" living goals are what consistently take away from the time I might instead spend writing/exercising etc. The trouble has been for me to find balance and not feel guilty for wanting a little time to myself. But making time to practice writing, exercise, apply face moisturizer, dress with some semblance of care...none of these things are selfish. None of these things require much more than better organization, some boundaries, and the ability to say "no". This is "my time".

I have been providing childcare for a friend on a part time basis. It is a win-win since my little O loves to have playmates come over a few times a week. The kids are sweet and it keeps me motivated to get everything done before and after they are here. In the fall my little O will go to kindergarten every day and I (if we can afford it) plan not to do childcare and, instead, keep those whole days to myself so I can write. To create. To work with my brother at the farm. To be a helpful part of this community. Probably the year after I will rejoin the workforce, so this year, 2017, is a year that I want to focus on writing and personal development.

With that in mind, I have registered for an online writing course starting in January. I am beyond excited and nervous about the class. This brings me to another goal, which is SCHEDULING. With a little boy in skating lessons and my part time childcare job and my weekly column, plus my commitment to this blog, homemade food, daily exercise and my animals and firewood etc, keeping a tight schedule will be essential. I may not find the time to report our spending on this blog. I may not return to entering every expenditure in spreadsheets like I did so faithfully last year. But my commitment to a frugal, practical lifestyle remains just as strong. My commitment to my family is stronger than ever. And 2017 will be the year, barring any unforeseen disasters, where I can focus on myself as well as my posse. I am so ready for it!


  1. i think you're quite marvelous. honestly, i don't know how you've had the time to breathe...all of the things that you've accomplished this year. so i hope you're giving yourself a well-deserved high-five.

    i hear you SO much on the guilt/chickening out thing. i still wrestle with that hugely....and in some ways, i think i've just given up, told myself i don't really want to do certain things, just to avoid disappointing myself. does that make sense? it sounds grim and melodramatic, but it isn't really...just something i occasionally observe about myself.

    good on you for the writing class!! i'm glad you're taking the time for yourself and your writing. what class are you taking? i was looking at one in particular but it has a hint of high-literature to it which is a bit off-putting. :)

    bring on 2017...yes, indeed! much love to you and yours...xoxo

    1. Mel, I understand the chickening out thing all too well. That said, I only let myself get away with it on things that don't really matter (ie the fifth potluck supper of our holidays tonight that I bowed out of last minute. Yes I want to challenge myself to be more social but I know my limits when it comes to groups of people). This, versus allowing a lifelong dream to pass me by? Not happening. I'm lucky to have time and money to do a class (intro to short fiction, UBC, btw!) but even without a class I deep down need to try my best and work to my highest potential at writing. It would be the tragedy of my life to not do this :) I hope you have a chance to do a writing class if you would like to. I'm excited for the challenge! All the best to you and your family in 2017!

  2. I had to give up a lot of things this year to get to where I want to be next year. If I live by the clock I completely lose my creativity, but I do have a routine I try to stick to. Up, shower, coffee, social media, write something for myself (blog, memoir), chores. Coffee (now in no particular order) social media, write for myself. Then write the paycheck stuff. Social media, write for myself. My children are adults and I've cut out all but two freelance accounts so I have a ton of freedom to write. Double-edged sword, that is. Too much time isn't always good.

    Good for you for doing this for yourself. It took me until 50something to believe I should be doing these things for myself and putting it into action.

    1. Thanks Robin :) I agree, too much time can be counterproductive. Being busy is what motivates me to get everything done and stay on top of it all. I think I have the same fluid type schedule as you--chores and to-do list intermingled with creative work. It's a combination that works for me. I have a strong desire to make the most of my time and do as much as I can everyday. I tell my kids "busy people are happy people" although I know it's not always true. I just want them to know that sitting around feeling down and out is not what we choose. Get up and work on what makes you feel good! Thanks for commenting--it's my ultimate pleasure to have great writers come to my blog to read and share their wisdom. Thanks!

  3. I will come back and properly comment but wanted to say 2 things:
    1) if you have a smartphone you should be able to back-up your photos to your computer - definitely worth looking into.
    2) baby lamb! cute! :-)

    1. Hi Pru! Yes, I have the cloud. For some reason the pictures don't go from phone to computer...and I am that inept that I can't/won't investigate how to fix the problem. Ugh. But on the bright side, a real camera! Now to remember to take it places (as she returns from watching the kids skate....without the camera!)

    2. I don't use the cloud. But one end of my phone charge is a USB 2 that can go into my computer so I just plug the phone in, copy to the computer and then save on an external hard drive as a back up. It's very easy and would be fast if my computer were not so old but generally just takes a few minutes. (Just another idea...)

    3. UGH...Of course I know this. But do I do it? Nope. I don't. But I will now that you have reminded me!

  4. I'm excited about your class for you, Jill! I understand being nervous about embarking upon something new, but please don't be nervous about how you'll do; you're a beautiful writer and ooze talent. I reckon it's going to feel amazing to focus time on your writing and find insipiration.

    I really admire all that you do. I'm definitely looking forward to reading about how your "you" year unfolds!

    Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks so much, FD! I hope 2017 is a great year for you as well--I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes for you :)

  5. Happy New Year Jill! Wish you much success with your goals. From what I have read you seem to know how to find your balance (overall, although some days/weeks may seem crazy to you) and I believe you will carve out time for you to further develop into the Jill you want to be today and tomorrow (especially important as you enter the next decade).

    I hope you will be able to find time to continue writing this blog as I do so enjoy your voice. You are a wonderful writer so continue to take classes or workshops but don't get stuck there. At some point take the leap (as you did with writing a column for the local paper) and publish/produce because you will be very successful with time.

    All the best! I look forward to following along this year!

    1. Thank you so much for this encouragement! You are so right--I want to take a class to gain confidence but I do NOT want to become a career student or feel like I am never "ready". Pushing myself out of my comfort zone is the only real way to progress and growth. Thanks Pru!