2006: A look back

This has been quite possibly the best and worst year. I’d say “of my life” but there are many more years to come yet.

In January, life as I knew it dissolved in one day. Shattered into a thousand shards never to be pieced back together again. And that was okay because the life I was in was beating me down.

February, I had my own apartment and started a new beginning. I had a mish-mash of furniture, lived in a tiny 700 square foot place, and tried not to cry every night. And I wasn’t shedding tears for the lost marriage. I was shedding tears for my son.

By March, April, and May, I stuck a toe into the new world of my independence and breathed in the fresh air. It was exuberant. I no longer had to “report” to anyone or live my life according to someone else’s plan. I tried eHarmony and Match.Com and found out it just wasn’t for me. In early May, I traded in my gas-guzzling high-priced Tahoe for a fuel-efficient Kia Spectra. It had been years since I drove a stick (and a sedan) so it was something to get used to. But I really like the car and it’s saved me a ton of cash on gas, insurance, and car payment. (Now I’ve got my eye on the Sportage – I really miss my SUV. Someday, though…)

June came along and I decided I had to make financial decisions. I was going to buy a house and I was going to do it on my own with no one helping me. While the idea sounded easy, it wasn’t. It was quite possibly one of the most stressful things I’ve done (but I’ll get to that in a minute).

I started socking away money the next two months and talking to a realtor. She said I needed about three months to look for a house before the lease ran out. So I made a plan and outlined what money I needed to have to get into a house. I talked to an annoying, rude-ass mortgage lender. It seemed to me, she was too busy to deal with me but gave me a vague idea of what I needed to do to get into a house.

So I paid off bills and opened a money market account with the help of Insurance Agent Extraordinaire. And bought new living room furniture from Ikea – new couch, coffee table, two chairs. While the shopping part was great, getting the furniture home was quite a different story.

August brought my first royalty check for TALK DIRTY TO ME. I sold over 200 copies of the ebook and made a very nice sum of money. I put it all towards bills and the house fund. I found a house and put a contract on it. But after the inspection report came back saying there were major foundation issues, I had to back out. The only problem with that was, I had already given written notice at the apartment complex…and there was no way in hell I was going to stay another month.

September stressed me beyond all reason. I could have stayed another month had I talked with the apartment manager. But I didn’t want to go through that, especially since I was breaking the lease early. So, my Realtor Extraordinaires got a plan, pulled a ton of listings, and we looked at house after house. Ten in one night! I found one, wrote up the contract and we were off and running again.

Since I had the financing already in place (thanks to an excellent credit rating and a mortgage broker that was quick with the paperwork), I didn’t have to worry about that aspect of it. What I did have to worry about was getting the earnest money down, getting the money for yet another inspection, finding movers, and packing.

And in the middle of the month, I had a trip planned with some friends. Yeah, it was the worst time to go out of town for three days but I needed it. And I had planned it for the last five months so I wasn’t going to miss out.

While I was away, the second house went through its inspection. When I got back, I talked to the realtor again and found out the results of that inspection. It had good foundation and there were minor things throughout. Nothing major. Water heater was only a year old. The only questionable thing was the AC unit. It would have to be replaced soon, but I was hoping to get at least a year or two out of it.

It was a done deal. The pressure was on to get packed and moved in less than two weeks. I was determined to get out of a small 700-square-foot one bedroom apartment and into that 1300-square-foot three bedroom house. I think I must have talked to my realtors every single day that month.

Finally got everything done (after many stressful days of dealing with the mortgage broker who hounded me for paperwork at the last minute, who drove me to the point I was nearly insane, and who made me tell my realtor I was “not a fan” at closing). It was time to move! I closed on a Friday, got funding and keys that day. A good friend of mine and her son came to help. Without his muscle and his truck, I would not have been able to get as much moved in one day as I did. (All the boxes from storage and all the boxes from the apartment! Plus he went with me to Office Depot and helped me pick up a new desk for the office.) The movers came on Sunday and got all the furniture. By Tuesday I was all unpacked and by the following weekend, I had curtains hung, pictures on the wall and boxes emptied.

October slowed down somewhat. Another trip to Ikea (certainly less eventful than the previous one with the Rental Van From Hell fiasco) and I purchased bedroom furniture. Real grown-up furniture! I was so excited about that. Halloween came and went. Sweetie Boy dressed up as Batman and we went trick or treating. I painted the kitchen that month and had a near painting disaster. 

November brought the holidays. Thanksgiving at my brother’s house with the family. The following day I painted the bedroom. Twelve long hours of painting the walls, climbing up and down on the ladder, crouching on the floor. I was sore in places I didn’t know I could get sore. The next day, I kidnapped Mom and she helped me hang new blinds in the bedroom and do other miscellaneous things around the house.

And by December…well, it was a difficult month. I came to realize I had to make some tough decisions. So I did some research and came to the conclusion on what I had to do.

Overall, the year was a good one, despite the fact it started off so bad. It definitely had its ups and downs. I bought my very own house. I sold three books. TALK DIRTY TO ME made it all the way to #2 on the Samhain best-seller list in just one week. I got a promotion at work. I met someone I really like and started actually dating.

I learned this year even in your darkest times, your true friends stick with you no matter what. They don’t judge you for the mistakes you’ve made. Instead, they hug you and tell you everything will be okay in the end. They lend a sympathetic ear and listen when you need them.

I learned when you think you can’t go on another day, it helps to wallow in your misery for at least a day, then get over it, dig down deep, and find more strength and courage to soldier on. (And eat lots and lots of chocolate!)

I learned you might be surprised by your own strength and determination. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish if you just believe in yourself. Even the teensiest bit.

I learned everything happens for a reason even though that reason may not be clear at first. Have faith in yourself. Stay strong to overcome every obstacle that gets in your way. Never give up on something, even though it seems impossible.

And above all, don’t let ANYONE beat you down, intimidate you, or try to tell you your worth. What they think really doesn’t matter. It’s what you think about yourself – having that inner strength and confidence.

(I am, of course, using the word “you” collectively…)

It’s something I have to remind myself nearly daily. Stay strong, be confident, overcome.

As for 2007… well, it will be a good year. I’m going to write and sell more books. I’d like to go to RWA Nationals in the summer, but that might not work out. I don’t have a lot of big plans for the coming year, just a few short-term goals.

And I’m sure I’ll buy more shoes. 😉

By Michelle

I wish you all could be inside my head. The conversation is sparkling.