Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead

Monday’s episode on the Living Free in Tennessee podcast focused on goal setting for 2020. I was already thinking about this topic before I listened to the podcast because I am coming up on my one-year anniversary of being downsized out of a job and I’ve naturally fallen into the process of evaluating how this past year went. Here are some of my thoughts:

I spent a lot more time grieving the loss of my transcription job than I thought I would. That sounds kind of funny, I know, but I loved that work. I loved that I could do it from home. I loved the flexibility. I loved the company I worked for. I loved the intellectual stimulation and the fact that no two days were ever the same. When people asked me to describe my dream job, I would say, “That was my dream job.” Tied up in that was a lot of anger that once again, the federal government was mucking around in my life, and not for the better. I spend a lot of my waking hours dealing with government intrusion into our lives and businesses, and losing a job I loved as a direct result of the Obamacare legislation was almost too much. I am also angry at the fact that no one seems to care that downsizing skilled human beings out of medical transcription in favor of radio buttons and drop-down menus has resulted in really crappy medical reporting. How is that an improvement?

[The company I worked for tried its hardest to find me another position and would have kept me on if they could, but those jobs all dried up. I appreciate the fact that they still call me from time to time when they need coverage on my old account.]

I did apply for a couple dozen jobs at the beginning of 2019, but job searching has changed a lot in my lifetime. With the exception of one or two companies, I never even received an acknowledgement that I had applied for a position. Apparently, resumes are now run through computer software that looks for certain keywords and kicks out those which don’t make the cut. My work background is eclectic enough that I likely fail those kinds of computer algorithms. I may have given up on the job search too easily, but there were other things to think about. Gardening season was ramping up, DD#2 was about to graduate from college and trying to figure out where to go next, and we had that big family trip to Europe at the end of May. The husband was on track to have his best year ever in the concrete business, so I didn’t feel the financial pressure of bringing in extra money, not that I would have gotten rich as a transcriptionist.

This sounds kind of hippy-dippy, but I was also trying to leave some space for the universe to send some signals about what it thought I should be doing next, as it has an annoying tendency to throw a wrench into many of my plans anyway. I’ve been resistant to the idea of starting another craft-related business, but if that’s where I was headed, I needed to know that. I’m still not clear about that—and the whole Ravelry debacle muddied the waters even further—but I’m leaving the space there for the possibility. I do have to say that starting a business at 53 is a lot harder than starting a business at 31. I just don’t have the same kind of energy and enthusiasm for it that I did 20 years ago.

Several of my big church responsibilities ended this year, which has made room for other, less onerous ones. I am now president of our Mennonite Women group and want to throw some energy in that direction. Of course, it helps that a large focus of that group is on sewing and quilting.

Some days I don’t feel like I’m getting much done. I worry that I’ve slowed down, which is going to make some of you laugh, but 90 mph is still slower than 120 mph. Part of that may be that I don’t have the same metrics for measuring productivity that I did when I was transcribing and had to meet a quota of work every day. I have been trying to spend more time with friends and neighbors because community will always be a hugely important part of my life.

The husband, for his part, says I am doing exactly what I need to be doing right now. He appreciates me clearing a path for him to go to work and make money, which is his favorite thing to do. He doesn’t have to worry about what’s happening on the property because I am here to keep an eye on things. He doesn’t have to worry about all of the administrative stuff that comes with running a construction company. (See comment on government intrusion, above.) And when I look back at this year, I see that we accomplished a big project together, which was to build the new shop.

So I will be thinking, from now until the end of 2019, how I want to approach 2020. A burning bush with a clear message would be helpful, but absent that, I’ll have to evaluate what has worked and what hasn’t and figure out which way I want to go.


My college friend Scott, who inspired me to go collect some hops and soak them in Everclear for a few weeks to make some bitters, asked me the other day how that project was coming along. While I was waiting for tomato sauce to process in the canner, I strained the concoction:


Those hops were bright green when they went into the Everclear and now they are white. The Everclear, on the other hand, is now bright green:


I am not sure how to proceed from here. I haven’t tasted this yet. I also strained the infusion I had made with burdock root. I have one more containing dried orange peels, cloves, and allspice, but it needs to steep for a few weeks yet.

Mennonite Country Auction 2019

Mennonite Country Auction 2019

A Skiff of Snow

A Skiff of Snow