Well, we survived 2017, a feat that I think deserves a round of applause, or a stiff drink. While last year was especially tough because of a few things I’ll get into in a minute, it was also a year of good things for me personally, professionally and mentally.
On the professional front, 2017 saw my best income ever. I grossed $10,000 from sales at conventions, commissions, work on e-book and book layout projects and the sale of my first book. And while my net was a little less than half that, it still is better than I have ever done. I really wasn’t doing anything different from what I’ve done in the past, so I think this is more a result of the other gains I made over the year.
Creatively, this was the most full-filling year I’ve ever had as well. I took on lots of commissions that required me to learn new skills and level up in my sewing technique. I felt confident in my abilities and really enjoyed the work and the challenges it presented. And getting back into writing with Sew Craft was like coming home. I have wanted to see my work published since I was a child. So fulfilling that goal has given me a boost that no amount of money can match.
It hasn’t all been awesome commissions and writing about magickal properties of fabric, though. Emotionally, this year was rough. My depression and anxiety are being controlled, but are still present and not being helped by the monthly uncertainty of whether or not I’ll have health insurance. Also not helping is the situation with the house, and the custody battle with my ex-husband it has triggered. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time pulling together documentation, talking to lawyers, and sitting in courtrooms when I could be working.
With all of those external stressors, it would be easy to write 2017 off as a bad mental health year. I have had one success, though. I have, for the most part, killed off my Jerk Brain. It hasn’t bothered me for months, and the couple of times it has reared its malicious head, I have vanquished it easily. This bugaboo has plagued me my entire life (my first memory of it comes from kindergarten) and I had resigned myself to living with it my entire life. So to say that getting ride of my Jerk Brain has helped my overall happiness is an understatement.
It’s been mostly the happenings in the larger world that have been awful and taxing. I’ve tried to not let things like the recent passing of the tax plan, or the repeal of net neutrality get me down. I keep thinking about places like Puerto Rico and Flint and the people there who are living with far more imminent dangers. The events of 2017 have pushed me further left, to the point where I am no longer coy about my more “radical”* beliefs: Universal Basic Income, universal healthcare, federal legalization of marijuana, federally mandated equal pay and family leave. I used to keep these beliefs to myself, and I understand now that doing so has contributed to where the country is now.**
Overall, what 2017 taught me was that I needed to embrace what makes me happy and act on it apologetically. The world as it is will put pressure on me to give up on my happiness. It will be unmovingly cruel, it will try to break me financially and emotionally. But I owe it to my past self to stick to my happiness.
I’m not the same person I was a year ago. I am myself amplified. That is what I take with me into this new year.
*”Radical” to the conservative members of my friends and family who still believe in prosperity gospel and bootstraps and the like.
**Not that I am blaming myself, individually, for the current state of affairs, but there seems to be a large, silent majority willing to let bigoted family members go unchallenged, for example, just to avoid confrontation.