2017 Year in Review

The years just seem to be flying by. 2017 went by pretty quick. I have no complaints because I know how lucky I am. I'm in pretty good health. There are people who like to hang out with me, though I'm never really sure why. And while I'm not crazy wealthy, I can afford to do what I want and still give to causes I think are important. So, life is still definitely good. Let's look at the details of how I hoped by year would go with how it actually went.

My big idea for the year was to not eat any sugar. I started the year out pretty good and did ok for about four months. However, by the end of April, it was basically over. I tried to get back on the wagon, but by September, I had pretty much given up. And that's ok. It was an epic fail, but I'm ok with failing. In my attempt, I did discover a few interesting things to eat and learned a bit more about myself. So, as long as I'm learning from failure, I'm happy to keep failing.

My DIY projects went fine, though I should have done more of them. I made a bunch of beer flights for my brother's brewpub and those were fun. This past week, I finally started learning how to do finger joints in wood, which is cool. When I didn't have a specific project in mind, I did just glue up some boards together so that I'd have them available if needed. And I set up my cousin's sewing machine for a special project that I'm working on. I'll be working on that later today as well. I really enjoy making stuff, so I need to just do it more. I've cut back on a lot of the youtube videos I watch and now I just need to start doing more of my own projects. I did buy a welder and set it up in my garage. I tried welding once and it didn't go so well. I need to put some regular practice time in on it and I think I'd get better at it. Though the thermometer in my garage shows it's 20 degrees F in there, so this will probably wait until spring.

I didn't read that much over the year, but as the weather got colder, I did stay inside and read a few more books. That's good. I tended to stick with non-fiction because that's what I like. And a few books were about gardening, which is quickly becoming a new obsession. So much so that I even took some cuttings of my Mom's gardenia plant to see if I can get them growing here. Not sure if it will work, but it doesn't cost much to give it a try.

Let's see I also was going to work on my book. That didn't happen. Though I did sign up for a class about learning how to write a book and sell it. As of right now, I basically wasted that money. I wanted to tune my tools. Didn't do that, but I know I am getting more comfortable with them. Watch my language...I haven't really kept track, but my guess is I'm still swearing up a storm and there's really no reason I should be.

This year I did get a free drill press from Mick. And I bought myself a new bike that I'm really liking. Financially, I did pretty good. I didn't save as much as last year, because I did have two pretty big purchases. As mentioned, I took the class on writing/publishing a book which cost around $1800. And I also bought myself this new laptop that I'm working on. That was a little more than $2000. The laptop was a good investment because my old one was over five years old. And I use this laptop on a daily basis, both at work and at home. My savings for this year was around 36%. Last year I did better at 46%, but that's ok.

One thing that I think I've finally fully embraced is to "trust the process". You can set goals, but it's the day-to-day habits that will get you there. I had refinanced my house four years ago and I just checked that I'm right on schedule to have it all paid off in four more years. I told myself that I would pay a consistent extra amount each month and I've been doing that. So my process is working. I'm not financially independent yet, but I'm getting there. I joined the park fitness center a little over a month ago and I'm trying to get myself in the habit of going 2-3 times per week to lift weights. I think if I just follow this process, my strength and flexibility will improve. And if I'm lucky, perhaps I'll lose a little weight in the process. On that note, today I weigh about two pounds more than I did at the start of the year. That's nothing to beat myself up about.

One interesting thing this year was I had a small bout of depression in the fall. For part of October and November, I just didn't feel like myself. It was very odd. However, I could tell what was happening and I just kept telling myself that it would pass eventually, which it did. It took a bit longer than I thought to break out of it, but that's ok. I joined the gym soon after that because I think staying active is a very good way to combat depression. And especially in winter, I tend to be a hermit, so I want to keep myself going out.

Another new thing I decided to to this year was to try volunteering again. There's a literacy center about four blocks away and I signed up as a tutor. I'm helping an older Mexican woman learn english. I don't know that I'll be able to help her much, but I'm going to give it a try. I had to volunteer for four months, so we'll see if this works out.

I did do some travel this year. I flew down to Arizona to hang out with my friend Ellen which was fun. And Mom and I drove to Florida to spend a week with Mary and Mickey at their place there. If I count the trip to LA in November 2016, my last three trips have been south. They were all fun, but I reinforced the idea in my mind that I'm a city girl. My favorite places were when I was in bigger cities. I might like to go back to Savannah because Mom and I spent one night there on the drive back from Florida. It seemed like a neat town.

I still ride my bike a lot, but I didn't ride very much this year. My total for the year was 1082 miles vs. 1720 miles last year. I will note that this year, I didn't turn on my cyclemeter app for every little ride to the grocery store or library. And I'm very good about riding to places in my neighborhood. But I should have biked to work more. I'll try to improve that next year. As for driving, I think the odometer was around 44,800 miles. (John and Ted have the car right now, so there will be a few more miles put on it.) But roughly, that means that I drove around 10,400 miles for the year, which is almost exactly what I drove last year. Since I didn't take any major driving trips, I think the bulk of those miles were from driving to work. So I can get that down next year for sure.

I didn't work on the house at all. And I'm not planning on doing any work until John and Ted move their stuff out. I did find out this year that I have lead in my water. The city replaced the water main in the street and were looking for people who would let them check the water before the change and then after. I signed up and that's when I found out I have lead. After a bunch of testing, it was determined that the lead is only a problem when it sits in the lead water line coming into my house for a long time (like overnight or after I'm at work). The quick solution is to run it for 10-15 minutes and then fill up a bunch of gallons of water to keep in the frig. The longer term solution is to replace the lead line to my house. I've heard this could cost around $12k. So my next immediate house plan is to save up that money so that I can get that line replaced. If I'm lucky, I'll have the money to do that next summer.

I think that's about it for the year. 2017 was an ok year. Pretty quiet in fact. No major issues. I'll think about it for today and tomorrow will post some things that I'd like to do in 2018. Since that's the year I'll turn 50, I feel like I should try to do something special.