I am open

It's New Year's Eve, Saturday, December 31, 2016. I'm not the type of person to engage in a look back and make resolutions based on some particular day on the calendar. Or at least, I don't like to think of myself as that type of person. And yet, here I am writing this four hours before 2016 ends (at least in my time zone). So here we are. Before we go any further I want to put you on notice that I am going to be sharing specifics. Things may get ugly, raw and hard to read. Feel free to stop right here and return to whatever you were doing before you came across this post.

Still here? Thanks for having the fortitude and openness to read something real (and maybe not all that well thought out).

I had planned to write this post earlier in the week and had never taken the time to do it. I had a dream (on Sunday or Monday night?).

I had taken a trip to what was supposed to be some tropical paradise. There was something I was hoping to accomplish in that paradise that was going to allow me to continue living there forever. Unfortunately, that something was out of my reach. I kept on chasing after it, though. I saw other people similarly engaged in futile attempts to grasp something that was clearly out of reach. It became clear to me that I was not in a paradise at all. I was actually in a nightmare. I knew that time was running out and I was going to miss my plane ride back home. And still, I kept on chasing around for that elusive golden ticket, that magic powder that was going to make all my problems disappear.

I did miss my plane. I was totally screwed. I was stuck in a nightmare with no way to get back home. I had abandoned my family and friends to make the trip. I was alone.

I finally had to come to terms with the truth that I had been foolishly persisting in a course of action that was not bringing me results and that never was going to. I also had to admit that I had been trying to hide my desire to slip away to this paradise, never to return.

So I surrendered. I came totally clean. I accepted that I made a disastrous mistake. I was wrong.

And then a feeling of total calm came over me.

I became totally open to the options that lay before me, including accepting the possibility that I was going to spend the rest of my life living alone in this land of broken dreams.

I was done resisting and trying to force my way.

I was done searching for the solution to all my problems.

I was ready to live my life, problems and all.

So what does this dream have to do with reality?

I have spent two years struggling to build a passive income stream. My hope was that this income stream was going to (quickly) produce massive riches that were going to set us on a path of financial independence.

I launched my first Udemy class in January 2015. To date, I have made $822 in sales. I launched my first vegan cooking classes on Skillshare at the end of July (2016) and six more premium classes since then. I've made $194 in sales and a $200 bonus for participating in the new teacher challenge.

In 2016, I dragged my feet completing web development projects I had (which resulted in me passing on opportunites for other projects) and ended up billing approximately $42,000.

I don't currently have any paying web development projects and none of my applications to work full-time for somebody else have resulted in a job offer. (You can see my previous post for more on this.)

In short, I spent too much time chasing after a passive income and missed opportunities to make more of an active income. In fact, I've been way too lazy for most of my time as a freelancer and have let far too many billable hours pass me by.

Lana and I have not deposited $0.01 into retirement savings in the entire time we've been married. (Though each of us had individually put away some money.)

I admit it; I screwed up.

All hope is not lost, though.

The dream helped me to realize that I needed to be more open. Specifically, I need to be more open to the help that is available to me RIGHT NOW.

My mother-in-law gifted us $42,000 this month. She is going to be gifting us $22,000 more in the coming year.

My initial thought was that we needed to set the money aside and not use it in any way that would benefit us now. Let me get right to the heart of things.

I was planning to continue being my usual fiercely independent and proud individual. I couldn't stand the thought of using the money in a way that might help me out of this current situation. I was so afraid that if (when?) I once again come into more prosperous times my success was going to be tainted by the fact that I had to accept money from somebody else to help me make it through the tight times. I was embarrassed that at almost 50 years old, I could still experience any type of financial uncertainty. I wanted to keep my record clean so that I could claim all the success to myself and be completely vindicated that I had everything under control.

Fortunately, I had that dream that helped me come to my senses. Lana continues to see clients at her practice and is working to grow the practice. Her income will certainly cover at least part of our expenses. It's okay if she ends up earning more than I do. We've got a decent amount of savings in our checking account. It's okay if we end up eating up some of that savings until I can contribute more money to our income. Additionally, the money that Lana's mother gifted us can serve as a safety net to tide us over. That safety net can give me assurance that there's enough time for me to get my act together and get my next freelance or full-time web development project. But, we can do even better with that inheritance money.

A few days ago we used approximately $10,000 to pay off the remaining balance on our mortgage. Hooray for reducing expenses and saving the 5.5% interest!

We will also be using some of the money (as previously planned) to pay premiums for term life insurance for Lana and me, as well as disability insurance. It will feel great to have those huge safety nets to cover the worst-case scenario that we die or become unable to work.

Next, Lana and I are considering transferring $24,000 into our much neglected retirement account. Getting that huge infusion that can start compounding earnings straight away will improve things immensely.

We may also look at purchasing some individual stocks directly, just to give us the opportunity to pick a winner that may provide great returns. (We're not going to engage in wild speculation, though.)

Finally, we will likely use some of the money to address some things we have just been living with, like repairing Lana's damaged car, replacing a damaged couch and fixing our damaged kitchen floor. (We'll also likely keep some of the money as a cash reserve.)

I'm actually allowing myself to be open to receiving assistance from somebody else.

Another example: My parents have offered to pay the airfare for my family to fly back to the Midwest for my father's 75th birthday party. I told them that we would gladly accept the assistance and that it does make a big difference to us at this point in time.

The word that I am choosing for 2017 is "open." I am going to measure my reactions to things and the choices I make against the question of whether I'm being open.

By the way, I'm not giving up my dream to produce a lucrative passive income stream. I'm just approaching it in a different fashion and with a different timeframe (and attitude) in mind. I'm going to focus my energy on ensuring I've got a good stream of revenue from doing web development work. I'm going to be approaching the passive income as a fun hobby, an opportunity to experience different things, an outlet to provide value to others, and a way to continue with my professional growth. If the passive income happens, that will be great. If it doesn't, that will be okay, too. (Speaking of web development work: If you or anybody you know is interested in hiring me to build a custom Drupal-powered web application, I'm open to hearing from you!)

Thanks for reading through this post and for tying up the loose ends that I left hanging and making the connections that I failed to make explicit. As Mark Twain said, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."

Happy New Year to all! May we all experience much success in 2017 in building the life of our dreams.

I give thanks to the Universe for the abundance it provides me. I surrender and am open and ready to receive. (And now I really am ready to receive!)

Bhavatu sabba mangalam - May all beings be happy