Christmas Eve – whoa…hard to believe we have just one week left in the year. As some might have seen on the news, the dictionary’s most popular looked-up word of the year is “Surreal”. So perfect – not just because of the wackadoo SOB who takes office in January, but for just everything this year that won’t quit blowing my mind.
As I’ve said often this week, the only way now has got to be up – at least personally. And so with that, here are 10 things I’m looking forward to as we say goodbye to 2016:
- The End of a Long Fucking Chapter. While I don’t want the answer to Cycle Six to be a BFN, I do know that no matter if we find success or not, that there will be no more delestrogen or progesterone or biopsies or weekly acupunctures or scheduling our life around the what-ifs. If it is good, we’ll be elated. If it is bad, we will focus on adoption, hoping that by 2018 there will be a child either locally or internationally that will join our family. If it is good, we will finally know what it is like to be pregnant beyond 9 weeks, to watch my belly grow a life (or two), and finally return to filling in that pregnancy journal we started last July. If it is bad, we will hold each other close as we always have, spend a lot of time in therapy, go hole up somewhere for a very, very long weekend, and then pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and figure out if we want to head down the road towards domestic adoption. Technically we’ll have 4 “meh” level embryos in storage, but when you start out with 13, if the 9 best ones don’t work…? I don’t know. Do we pay $500 to keep them in the bank after spending over $32K already over the past 2 years on this and $15K towards an inept international adoption process? Pretty sure I know the answer.
- Celebrating Five Years in Business. I am continually amazed and thankful that I’ve been able to make it for so long working for myself. During this time I have learned so much – about my clients, about my candidates, about my community, and of course, about myself. I have found my voice. I have discovered my strength to stand up for what is right and communicate what is wrong. And happily, I have found that I can be a guide to others in a variety of situations and scenarios. Each day is new, different, challenging, and fun. I’m not fulfilling any professional dreams, but to be able to do something I’m good at, and work from home on a flexible schedule that beats the hell out of what I did before in the 9-5 world? I’ll take it, and I won’t take it for granted. This past year I realized that my own name, not my business name, is how people find and hire me, and decided to mark this by changing my website to my name instead of a business name that no one cares about or remembers. It felt good. So with that, here’s to 5 years in the summer and many more years to come for www.aimeelevens.com !
- The Citizenship Application Process Begins for my Husband! October will mark the point in time where my husband can – finally! – apply to be a United States citizen, thereby giving him dual Australian/American citizenship. Many people do not realize that when you marry an American, you don’t automatically become a citizen. You have to become a permanent resident, then after 3 years (and a couple thousand dollars in government fees), you can apply for naturalization. And with citizenship, it means he can finally vote after being in ‘election purgatory’ since 2014, he can get a US passport, and much more. Wheee!
- Celebrating Six Years Since We Connected + Three Years Since We Got Hitched! From the day my husband first started following my blog to the day we said our I do’s, every year these two days are something special for my honey and I. We’re not sure what we’re going to do to celebrate the first one, but for our anniversary we’ve got a kickass road trip planned to the Wallowas in the far northeastern corner of Oregon, an area my husband has never been and one I haven’t visited since the many family camping trips of my childhood. There have been ups and downs we’ve been through but, happily, even when we take a step back, we always end up taking two (or three, or four) steps forward. That’s what it’s all about. Evolving – together.
- Discovering My Strength. Without hormones coursing through my body for the first time, I can’t wait to discover the new version of me – older (y’all, I’m turning 43 in January…whew!), wiser (damn straight!), and determined to become stronger physically. My body took a beating not just from IVF but from plantar fasciitis, skin cancer, hypothyroidism that is now borderline Hashimoto’s, and a mofo back injury that humbled me beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I know we all make resolutions (whether we admit it or not) this time of year, but after getting jacked physically in 2016, I am bound and determined to unleash my inner badass when it comes to reclaiming my body and spirit.
- Finding New Ways to Contribute in my Community. After much thought, this year my husband and I ended our relationship with the nonprofit where we volunteered our time at the local elementary school reading to young children who were falling behind. We had loved the partnership when it was under the former coordinator, but when the new person took over and proved over and over in a short time to not only be disorganized but incredibly callous, dismissive and outright rude to us? There was no way we could move our lives around to accommodate this behavior. When we expressed our frustrations, she became even ruder to us, and when we resigned as volunteers in writing, we didn’t get as much as an acknowledgement. But they did have the gall to ask me to donate more money to them just two weeks later. Dream the fuck on. You don’t respect or communicate with your volunteers? You lose them, simple as that. So I am going to a couple of volunteer orientations in January and February, one to explore volunteering at the local children’s hospital, and another to learn about the opportunity to volunteer my professional skills in helping women preparing to and recently released from prison. The former interests me because I’ve read so much about babies whose parents have to go to work during the day often don’t get held until their parents get back to the hospital, making it hard on both sides of that family, and I do love holding little ones. The latter particularly interested me after watching an episode of Chelsea where she met with four women who’d been “in the system” for various reasons and how they found their way afterwards. With a sexist piece of shit going into the presidency next year, anything I can do to help other women succeed is even more important to me than it already has been.
- Learning a new skill. Or two. This February, my husband is taking a two-day hands on course in Pig Butchery, Kitchen Charcuterie and Cookery as his first step into taking an up close and personal look into the meat we eat, learning the sustainable and humane ways of farm-to-table eating, and potentially exploring this as a long term career goal. After seeing him fall in love with beekeeping when we got our first hive this year, it’s inspired me to also look at my skills and where I want to become more autonomous as a homesteader, while nurturing my creativity in new ways. I’m going to – finally! – explore cheesemaking, and I’ve had a quiet dream to learn blacksmithing (making tools and garden implements primarily, perhaps a knife or two), so I’ve joined a few mailing lists to hopefully get enrolled in something by Spring (being the holidays, everyone’s sold out in January, and I want my back to be in primo shape before taking any classes.
- Taking a solo trip. It’s been a little over 2 years since my I have had a solo getaway (the last one being a kickass yoga/massage retreat at the coast with my former yoga instructor accompanied by my longtime LMT), and in a recent conversation I talked about taking a weekend away just for me to meditate, hike, be pampered, do yoga, whatever floats my boat. I am not sure what that will look like yet, whether it be in the wilderness or on the coast, but I’m looking forward to planning something that is Pure Aimee. After the year that was, this EcoFeminist needs some time to just…be.
- Getting the mortgage down to 5 digits. We worked hard this past year, enlisting the assistance of a financial adviser, to understand just what we need to do to make our goals and spend more wisely. Compared to many, we are in pretty damn good shape, as I took a lot of risks when I started my business (before Dan moved to the US), putting every last cent into paying off my student loans and credit card, forgoing expensive private health insurance premiums, renting rooms out, living 8 years car-free, etc. Now as a couple, we wanted to take things to the next level, from catching up on retirement savings (something that’d been a wee bit fucked after every spare bit of cash was spent in 2015 towards the initial costs of DEIVF as well as international adoption, and I had nothing in my name after a layoff in 2009 emptied out my 401(k) and savings accounts to stay afloat), ensuring those savings were put into sustainable, diversified investments, to creating a “rainy day fund” for unexpected expenses, to better tracking our everyday expenditures, to putting together a solid plan for paying off the mortgage much, much earlier than anticipated. Back in 2014, I’d refinanced to a 15 year mortgage at a sweet rate around 3%, but I wanted to do more. Some folks will say you shouldn’t pay off your house early because you’ll miss out on the tax deductions. I call bullshit on that. If I pay off my house early, I won’t have a $1500/mo mortgage payment and can put that money into retirement free and clear. It will be mine – not the bank’s – and that’s never a bad thing. As the good folks at Investopedia stated perfectly, “Paying off your mortgage provides a return on your investment that is much more reliable than anything the stock market can offer. It also saves you tens, and sometimes hundreds, of thousands of dollars. To top it all off, it provides the security of having an affordable place to live, in the event that your income declines.” (As a side note, some may ask, “why aren’t you referring to it as “our” house?” and the answer is, because it’s my house. I bought it when I was single, and it’s in my name, and always will be. Some think when you get married you must automatically put everything in joint accounts and I disagree. We have a joint bank account, and a will that states as my husband he’ll get the house when I die, but as long as I’m alive, it’s an incredible point of pride as a woman that I bought a home by myself, with my savings and my credit, refinanced on my credit, and made all of the payments. We share the house, yes, but the house belongs ultimately to me.)
- Build More Things. While DIY building projects test a relationship, ultimately it’s so incredibly fulfilling! Every day I love coming into our recently DIY’d kitchen and admiring the floors, counters, shelving, etc., and am so glad we didn’t waste money we didn’t have paying someone. So right now, we’re in early stages of building a duck house/coop thingy out of reclaimed wood (i.e., we’ve got maybe 7 pieces of wood cut so there’s lots more to go, but I do have the design and list of cuts needed, along with the door locks and hardware cloth!), and my husband is almost done with a cutting board that will go in his charcuterie playroom (his version of a “man cave”) that we are converting our teeny weeny 3rd bedroom in the basement to. Building stuff and minimizing using any new products to keep our footprint to a whisper is seriously just So. Damn. Cool.