A Year of Triumph
Even though we have stepped into winter, I can’t help reflecting on how much I enjoyed last spring’s weather after the horrendous cold and snow of 2013-14.
On several occasions we awoke to minus zero conditions outside and chilly temperatures inside. Our beleaguered heat pump simply couldn’t keep the house warm enough.
To add insult to injury, you wouldn’t have guessed it looking at our gargantuan-sized electric bills (one reason we recently added more insulation to our home).
A Spring-like Year
As much as I disliked last winter, when the crummy weather broke for good last May, I found myself enjoying spring as never before. Wow! Warmth. Even better! The prospect of more. Fantastic!
In a nutshell, that parallels my reaction to 2014 as a whole in comparison to 2013, a year marked by financial setbacks, health issues, and emotionally and physically draining events.
Now, 2014 didn’t start out much better. Yet when God showed me that I had to become more effective with scheduling my work and stewarding my time, it marked the start of a turnaround that has lasted ever since.
This isn’t to say there’s haven’t been challenges. In the words of an old tune: That’s life. The ups-and-downs of freelancing aren’t a thing of the past, yet with the work curve trending up the future looks encouraging.
The Bottom Arrives
The bottom arrived in mid-January. At that point I was still in physical therapy for severe back pain suffered the previous July. Looking at yet another month of sub-par income, I complained to my wife, “I’m tired. Maybe I ought to file for early Social Security payments. At least we would have some steady money coming in then.”
Fortunately, I didn’t take that step. A few months later I talked to a friend who had done and encountered red tape and warnings about keeping a lid on his income unless he wanted to pay additional taxes.
Besides, that wasn’t necessary. After I started using separate spreadsheets to track various book projects and schedule my time, work started increasing.
So did my willingness to admit my imperfections and have a more teachable spirit. That opened me to learning, with the lessons continuing to this day.
An especially helpful step came from curbing my emotions. Although seemingly laid back and quiet on the outside, inside I was often a boiling cauldron. Indeed, I had worried so much about cash flow and work over the years that I wonder how I avoided coming down with ulcers.
This awakening came as I edited a book discussing the biblical basis of various business principles. The chapter on emotions quoted Proverbs: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov. 16:32, NKJV).
I immediately saw personal application and worked on that quality. Of course, when you think you have learned something, then comes a test (or two or three.)
The first involved so many headaches writing a story for a national magazine that I had to ask for an extension on the deadline. Angered over my treatment by one agency, while I worked on the project, I thought of dashing off a strongly-worded e-mail to protest.
No sooner did the thought strike than the words of Proverbs 16:32 floated through my mind. Poof! went that idea. No bridges got burned and I ended the day a wiser man. I hope to gain more valuable insights in the year ahead.