Wow, what can I say about 2020 that you don’t know? There was a pandemic and the death rate in the US was pretty horrific, and totally avoidable. I still know people who think it is a hoax. There were economic issues caused by the pandemic, such as high unemployment, shortages of essentials (anyone remember the TP shortage?!) and small businesses folding (the huge companies had one of the best years ever!). There were travel restrictions, social distancing, isolation, and all of that. There were natural disasters, such as huge fires, multiple hurricanes, drought, flooding. The death of some big name, influential people, Covid-19 related and not. And then there was the politics of the year, which is still go on, and getting scarier. Too much said about that one… It was a year to remember.
I was not as effected as many that I know, but I was effected. Some people close to me were very sick. Luckily I didn’t lose anyone very close, but I did lose people I know and know some people who lost very close family and/or friends. I haven’t seen any family member since July of 2019. I did no travel. My wife lost every one of her contracts and so her income was zero through a chunk of the year. We lost a sweet cat, Josie. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
But then, there were positives.
As we moved into 2020, I felt more confident about the year ahead than I had ever felt about a year in the past. Sure, I had three mortgages with sky-high interest rates and a rapidly dwindling savings due to those payments being much larger than my income. Yes, the first thing that happened in 2020 was the sale of one house falling through two days before it was supposed to close. No matter, I had never in my life felt so positive.
So, was any of that optimism justified?
That extra house finally did sell in the spring. So far I have been able to refinance one of the other mortgages, the larger of the two (working on the other). The payment after refinancing is 70% of what it was before! That’s a huge savings. So I won’t lose the house.
I got a raise this year. Yes, I get a cost of living raise every year, but this was a raise to a new pay-band, the first I have received in over 20 years, even though my work and responsibility has literally increased a thousand-fold in that time.
Financially I no longer have a date on the calendar circled when I will run out of money. Now I have a date circled when it will be financially possible to retire.
Thinking houses, I was unable to get any work on the new house done in 2019 and was a little depressed about it. Of course, if I had, I would not have had the funds to tide me over until the other house sold, so in ways it was very lucky that the contractors didn’t call back! I did get a lot of work done in 2020, including having the house painted, having a new roof put on the barn and the barn sided and a little plumbing work. There is still a ton of work to do, but this was a huge help.
I was more consistent in my exercise in 2020 than any other year. I added to my run, and included a few bigger hills as well as more mileage. I increased weight on weight exercises. I added pushups, chin-ups and pull-ups to my routine. I just started with a row machine, mostly for use when I can’t run, but also used for warmup before weight/strength exercises. Overall, I am in better shape than I have been in my entire life. OK, in my late 20s I used to ride my bike 200+ miles a week at a racing pace, which I doubt if I could ever do again, but overall, I am far stronger than I was then. I am back to my weight and pants size I was in my mid-to-late 20s.
I was able to kayak quite a bit, more than in 2019, though I kayaked less in 2019 than any other year in the last decade. Still, I did have a great kayak year in 2020 and got some good photos from the boat.
I saw a lot of wildlife. I literally ran into a huge black bear (I was running and screeched to a halt just a few feet in front of it!). I saw a coyote, some fox, rabbits, opossum, raccoons, etc. I saw seals often, and had some come up less than a paddle length from the kayak. There was a hummingbird nest outside of my office window and I saw baby humming birds. There were, of course, more osprey than can be counted. Hawks, falcons (I’ve been seeing more falcons) and other large birds of prey, though since I didn’t visit Ohio, I saw less eagles.
I have picked up studying math and science on my own. I know, nerdy, but I think personal growth is super important.
We had a share in a community supported farm, and so ate a lot of the freshest veggies imaginable. I’ve been cutting down on meat, and this helped.
I’m sure there is a lot more, but that is enough for now.
As you can see, despite all of the setbacks of the year, there were some positives for me.
Of course I am not blind to the hardships of others, and will talk about that a little more in Part 2, which I will post tomorrow, New Year Day, 2021.