It has been almost exactly one year since my last post. On the first day of this year I set forth a whole series of goals I hoped to accomplish this year. Reading over those goals now, I realize I accomplished almost nothing I set out to do this year. And yet, in many ways, this year has still been a success.

While I can’t say that 2017 was a good year, or a profitable year, or a relaxing year, it was certainly a year of growth, realization, and change. I’ve learned a lot about myself this year: what I want, what I need, and where I want to go. One may think that I should have already figured that out, considering I’ve been (kind of) blogging about it for years now, but I realize that I was barely skimming the surface. It wasn’t until I took some chances and really took the time to think about everything that I could make some hard choices and take steps forward.

The biggest change this year? Kevin moved out at the beginning of the summer. Though some things haven’t been easy (like money — surprise, surprise), I realize I’m happier. My stress levels plummeted. After many long ponderings, I’ve concluded that we just don’t want the same things. Our lifestyles and personalities are too different to click. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say it was the right choice, though I still get anxious sometimes thinking about it.

Another big change? The way I’ve been thinking about my career (or lack thereof). This can really be broken down into a few different sections:

  • Usborne Books & More: I started this business a little over a year ago, and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere yet. Part of that is my fault, because a lot of trial and error has led mostly to error (too much inventory, not enough income; too many unsuccessful vendor events; not enough branching out to get new customers). Part of that is because the part of the business I was most excited about still hasn’t become available — the schools and libraries part. Previously known as Educational Consultant, the position is now Educational Services Representative, and it will FINALLY be open for new applications on January 16. I’m hoping that will give me the boost I need to start bringing in consistent income — I need it! Still, the whole process thus far has been a learning experience, and I know there’s still potential.
  • Writing: While writing will likely always be another “on the side” endeavor, I have realized I’m not ready to give up on it. I did hardly any writing this year (I couldn’t even keep up with a blog!), but I’m going to change that. I made the choice to apply for a local writers’ fair in March, and I was approved. I’m hoping that event will give me the boost I need to get writing again. I work well with a deadline, so this will push me to update my website(s) and figure out answers to questions like: what are your books about? are you writing anything new? In addition to books, though, I need to figure out the future of my websites. I have difficulty letting things go, but I also have difficulty fitting everything on my to do list into my schedule! So I need to determine what I’m still passionate about and what to do about it.
  • Businesses in general: For several years now I have tried, unsuccessfully, to run businesses. The disappointment with my UBAM journey is just the latest. Before that there was my handcrafted gifts, Avon, and, of course, Baskets By Nessa. While I still think UBAM can be successful as a side business, I don’t think it will ever provide the full-time income I need. I simply don’t have the right personality for it. So moving forward I’m going to focus less on creating a successful business and more about creating a successful career.
  • An actual career: With all these realizations about my side projects, I had to think about what I could do as an actual career. Yes, I could stick with my day job for the foreseeable future, but I want more. I want to feel fulfilled while bringing home a paycheck. So, since my businesses haven’t panned out, what am I going to do? Well, since the two things that have been consistent my entire life are books and helping others, I’ve decided I want to go back to school to earn my Masters of Library Science and become a librarian. I am fortunate that there are many online programs to earn said Masters degree, and I’ve started looking into them. I’m excited about the prospect — though I still have to figure out where I’m going and how I’m going to pay for it!

Of course one can’t talk about businesses and careers without talking about money. And, unfortunately, the only change that’s come about with that this year is that money has gotten even tighter. With Kevin moving out, some of the household income left, too. And that means struggling to pay bills with less. My not-great-but-still-brought-in-something vendor events have helped me over the hurdles thus far, but January is notoriously slow, and I find myself dreading paying the bills. Does anyone want to schedule an Usborne Facebook party to help a gal out? 😀 Seriously, though, I do need to find ways to bring in consistent income, and fast. Juggling expenses can only carry me so far. Does anyone have ideas?

The last real change, though minor compared to the others, has been the status of my house. No, I haven’t moved (and I’m hoping not to have to), but I have been rearranging furniture and attempting to organize to get things where I want them. The house is still a complete disaster area in terms of clutter, but I’m working on it — and making progress. It’s one area of my life that I can change for the better without getting (too much) money involved. And it definitely affects everything else. There’s a saying that goes something like “a cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind,” and I definitely agree. Every time I look around to see piles of stuff I get stressed. It’s time to clear out stuff that isn’t being used (and if that leads to a little income, all the better!) and get the things we do use into an organizational system that actually works for us. It’s a process, and a time-consuming one, but I’ll get there. I see new goals in my future!

Throughout all these changes and realizations, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the intense love I have for my kids. They are the best thing in my life (even when they’re driving me absolutely crazy!). Avery started Kindergarten, and he is thriving: making friends, progressing with his writing, behaving for the most part (at school, anyway!). Emily hasn’t started preschool yet, but she seems to be thriving, too (except for that darn potty training — she simply refuses to go!). I’m doing my best to stay upbeat and positive for them, and fill our free time with happy memories like family fun days. I’m certainly not perfect, but I’m trying!

Tomorrow I will be creating a new series of goals for 2018. All the changes and learning this year will not be forgotten. I’m looking forward to another year of positive changes. Stay tuned!