2011 – The Year In Review

I’ve thought about this quite a bit, and I think I’m willing to say that this has been the best year of my life. If not the best, certainly the most significant. I can say without a doubt that I’m not the same person that I was on January 1st. And I don’t mean this as hyperbole, I really feel that my outlook on almost all aspects of life is completely different.

In January, I made the decision to change jobs and move to Colorado. At this time, I was still the old me. I was doing it because I was tired of my company, and tired of central Texas summers. I had a dream of early retirement, but no supporting plan.  I had no idea that over the next year I would make such significant changes to my life.

In March, just a day aften I completed my resume and posted it online, I conveniently received an email from an old co-worker friend who had a position open at his company. He was in Colorado Springs, so it seemed like fate. Within 2 weeks I interviewed, got the offer, and accepted.

Also in March, I sold my car. I hope that I’ll never own one again. It was around this time that I began to better understand the world’s environmental crisis, so getting rid of my car was no longer for frugality (although there is a nice money-saving benefit), it was primarily to reduce my ecological footprint. I started to realize that everything I do to the world will affect the live’s of my kids and eventually their kids. I can’t live selfishly using up their resources, and polluting their air and water.

In April, my wife flew to Colorado and picked out our new house. It was everything we wanted: Smaller, with view of the mountains.  It’s close enough to my job and the grocery store so that I can bike, and it’s near a park for the kids.

In May, I quit my job and took about a month off before starting my next job. It was bliss. At the end of May, I drove up to Colorado ready to start my new life. My family stayed home for a week to close on our old house.

In June, my life changed forever. A few hours after my wife and kids arrived in Colorado, my daughter had a seizure. We rushed her to the hospital, and they eventually decided to fly her by helicopter to Denver. My wife flew with her, and I drove. It was the longest hour of my life. At this point, she was in an induced coma, and breathing from a machine. For the first time in my life, I realized I can’t take for granted everything I’ve been blessed with.

For the next 24 hours she remained unconscious in the PICU breathing through a tube, and I never left her side. I slept one hour over the next 2 nights, and just watched her chest go up and down with the rhythm of the breathing machine. When she finally woke up and was breathing on her own, her first word was “Dadoo” (daddy).

Before this event, I used to get frustrated (and sometimes even angry) when my daughter woke up at 4:30 in the morning. Now, I just smile. Literally, I lay there in the dark and smile for a few seconds being thankful for my life. This is why I view this year as such a great year – because I finally woke up out of my daze and started to perceive the world as the amazing place that it is. I talk a lot about living a deliberate life, and this is what I mean.

In October we became millionaires but it was surprisingly unimportant.

The rest of the year has been wonderful. My family and I are just enjoying the new life that we created.  I’ve been with my wife since we were 16 years old, but I think we’re more connected now than ever before because there’s more clarity on the deliberate life we want to live and how we’ll teach our children. For the first time that I can remember, I’m really excited about the upcoming year.

I also want to take a second to say thanks to everyone that reads these posts and sends feedback through comments and emails. I get a fair amount of emails from people that encourage me and thank me for a post that helped open their eyes to something.  Sometimes it’s financial, other times it’s philosophical.  This means a lot to me, to know that I’m helping others achieve the awareness that I’ve achieved this year. Cheers to another great year.


18 Responses to 2011 – The Year In Review

  1. Chris says:

    Congrats on a great year Brave. I’m in a similar scenario as your recent one, trying to downsize my house and reduce our commutes in order to more closely align our actions with our future goals of ER. The financial spot you’re in right now at such a young age is inspiring. Here’s to another great year!

    • If there’s one thing I learned with move and downsizing, it’s that there is an amazing feeling of empowerment in gong against the grain and controlling your own destiny.

      Good luck with your goal. Let me know when you make it happen.

  2. Martin says:

    Happy new year, BNL. Here’s to an equally great 2012.

  3. m741 says:

    This post made me smile. I’m so happy for you! The transformation in your spending and mindset this year was very impressive.

  4. Sorry to hear about your daughter. Hope she is doing well now. You have had an amazing transformative year. It’s great to read about it. Are you going to Financial blogger conference this year? It’s in Denver so I guess it would be easy for you. I would love to meet you in person.

    • I didn’t even know such conferences existed. I probably won’t make it this year, with so much else going on. Maybe when I finally retire… I’ve been wanting to try riding my bike all the way to Denver on the Santa Fe trail sometime, and once I retire I should have the time to do it…

    • Also, my daughter is doing well now. I should have been more clear in the post.

    • Great summary! I also did not know there was a financial blogger conference in Denver this year. I would probably enjoy going, as long as it’s close to the bus station and I can find a way to get in free 😉

  5. I arrived at your site via comment on another blog. It is so fascinating to read that now you are a millionaire, in life money is necessary but it is not the most important thing. It is sad that we sometimes have to go through a traumatic situation in order to see with clarity.

    God bless you and your family and have a wonderful 2012.

  6. This post really captures the feeling of what early retirement is all about (it’s certainly not just about money)! Congrats on a great year (and I’m happy to hear your daughter is ok now – scary stuff). Here’s to the start of a new chapter in your lives and another great year… clink!

  7. Shawn says:

    CHEERS to a Great, Brave New Life!!!!!! (Thanks for sharing)

  8. Yabusame says:

    The transformation I have seen in myself over the past 12 months is amazing. I no longer work for a salary, but took voluntary redundancy to pursue other goals. If you’d told me I’d be doing that 12 months ago I wouldn’t have believed you.

    Well done on your journey, BNL, I trust you’ll have another eventful (though enjoyable) year to come.

  9. VoodooChild says:

    Congrats on such a great year. May the next one be even better…

  10. Jenn says:

    Beautiful post. It is inspiring to see someone living so close to their ideals. We are a step behind but close. Having inspiration from blogs like yours and MMM’s makes all the difference. Wishing you an even better (if that’s possible) 2013!

  11. Kylie Ofiu says:

    What an amazing year for you. I am glad to read in the comments your daughter is doing much better now.

    This year was one of amazing events and at the same time one of the hardest ever for us. We had job loss, nearly lost our house, my father nearly died and cancer affected quite a few people close to us as well as health issues for myself. I know 2011 was the best year for many people though and it is great to read positive stories like yours. Thanks for sharing.

  12. lifeoverwork says:

    It was inspiring to read this, even though I’m a few weeks late. Glad to know that someone can turn things around at any point in life!

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