Yes, it is already a brand-new year!
As I look back at what changes 2016 brought for us, I'm a little in awe that it all really happened.
One thing that the past year has accomplished for me: 2016 brought my life into a clear, sharp focus. I have been reminded and refreshed about all that is most important to me, about what I think is needed for a life well-lived.
Eight years ago in this space, I wrote about why I don't do resolutions for the New Year. I never really have done them, and don't plan to ever start. Not because I'm already so dang wonderful, but just because I think self-improvement is an ongoing thing, not a flash at the beginning of each new year.
I am reminded again, the New Year, of the beauty of a small life. The Sweet Hubs and I left our good paying jobs in Arizona (his was especially so), with security and seniority and all kinds of good things that attend those jobs. We were each in a position of some authority and autonomy. Some of our dear ones probably wanted to get us some psychiatric evaluations, at the idea of our leaving that kind of security and income to come here and take this chance. There are a few who understood, though.
We are small-life people. Simple people. We each enjoy a good day's work and a sense of accomplishment. Neither one of us feels that something is missing by having a hot tub in the trees, instead of satellite television service.
The cozy house that Sweet Hubs built for us is 1200 square feet, with big covered porches front and back. We don't need more house than that. The kitchen is small, but efficient and enough.
We live a life of that is deeply rewarding and satisfying. We have the room to be creative and expressive in both our daily labors and in our free time. We have the opportunity each day to do things for each other and with each other. We have the time to talk to each other. Really TALK to each other.
We have a small community of neighbors, none of which is too physically or visually near, who care about each other and help each other.
We have two fantastic sons and one amazing girlfriend-in-law who I love as much as if she were my own daughter. We have two good dogs. We have nearly 32 years of marriage under our belts, to have reached a point where we can take on massive changes and projects and still like each other at the end of the day.
It was a frightening, intimidating thing to do, to leave what we had in order to chase this. You hear about those guys who chuck their jobs as CEOs or lawyers or whatever, to go live on an alpaca ranch in Washington, and you wonder if they're bonkers.
They aren't. They figured out something that I am reminded of with the onset of a new year.
There is a price to be paid for "success". The cost of a house is more than just the selling price. The price of convenience can sometimes be very inconvenient.
A really good job can also be a shackle.
Work can be pleasure. It doesn't have to be stress. It doesn't have to be something that you fret over, long after the work day is finished. Your identity does not have to be your job title.
What is my job title now? I don't even know. I work a short schedule as a secretary/bookkeeper/office person. That's what I do for a paycheck. The rest of the time? I'm many things.
A doggie mommy.
A cook, baker, dishwasher, bus girl, house keeper, laundress.
A fledgling musician. (OK, I might not even be hatched yet.)
A fire tender.
A hot tub soaker.
A recreational photographer.
A firewood stacker.
A future gardener and small-scale poultry grower.
Ultimately, eminently, completely satisfied. A small life suits me.