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Last week, I took off by myself to the northwest edge of Washington state for 4 days. I didn’t take my computer or a camera. I turned off my phone when I got past Kalaloch Lodge. I spent 3 nights and 4 days at the Quileute Oceanside Resort. There are no televisions or phones there. I splurged on one of the Luxury cabins, just for myself. I spent a lot of time staring at the ocean waves, and in the evening staring into the flickering fames of the propane fireplace (not the same as wood, but better than nothing). And I put in a pretty extravagant number of hours in the giant jacuzzi tub with the view of the beach.

I mainly did a whole lot of nothing. I read an article in a psychology magazine when I was in high school that used the phrase “letting your mind roll out full length.” For some reason, that phrase has always stuck with me, and I thought about it a lot this last week as I relaxed and allowed my mind to wander. I didn’t think about work or databases or code or budgets or anything that made my mind feel all tightened up and small. I didn’t check my email, with its inevitable messages from people who want me to do things. I didn’t even use my phone as a camera – too tempting to “just check my email real quick”. If I wanted to capture something visually, I drew a picture of it.
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11713_1031902546824879_4579149072998182730_nI also found very quickly that posting little observations and questions to Facebook is a pretty solid obsession of mine. I hadn’t actually thought about bringing a notebook, but the very first order of business turned out to be a stop at the nearby convenience store to get a notebook so that all the random observations in my brain could be pinned down on paper and stop buzzing around so much in my head. This is itself was a really useful learning – I didn’t realize to what extent I was using Facebook this way. And I also realized how nice it was to write it down on paper instead. I did end up posting a few of those things on Facebook in order to get other people’s thoughts. But a lot of them I needed to ponder more on my own first, or upon reflection they weren’t really interesting enough to share.

By the third day, I finally was ready to do a little visioning about my future. The reason I needed such a drastic break is that I burned myself out this last year. Part of Happy For A Living is about making a living. It’s not just about being happy when you grow up – it’s also about *being* a grown up without losing that happiness. And a lot of the lessons I have needed to learn about being a grown up are about how to deal responsibly with money. I have a lot to learn in this area, and 2014 was a huge experiment. It was intentional, though some of my results were unexpected. My goals for 2014 were to see how much money I could make. What monetary value can I place on my time, and how much of my time am I willing to trade at that price?

And I honestly made a ton of money in 2014. Way more than I have in any previous year. And that was awesome, I’m not gonna lie. I *like* having money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a millionaire. But 3 years ago I was standing in line at the food bank in the week after Christmas, so just being able to pay my bills and eat dinner at a restaurant every now and then feels like a great success. I consider this year of experimenting to be a wild success and I’m very happy with my results.

And.

I’m tired. My brain is all scrunched up and has charley horses in it. My mental and physical health suffered way more than I would have predicted going into last year. So while I was lounging in the tub there in La Push, listening to the ocean waves at high tide, I decided that 2015 is going to be the year of Balance. 2014 brought me more happiness and financial success than I would ever have predicted 5 years ago. 2015 now is poised to bring me just as much happiness (maybe more!) along with increased physical health and opportunities for my mind to roll out full length.

Preston and I have some pretty incredible plans for this year that I’m really excited to tell you about in the coming months. Some of you who follow me on Facebook saw my pre-beta testing for some soon-to-be-disclosed projects that I’m doing with Happy For A Living. I’m also working with a designer on a logo and some fancy design stuff for the site. And Preston and I are working on kind of a big secret thing right now. It’s far from a done deal, and I don’t want to blab about it until papers are signed, but we’re looking at a pretty cool little adventure if it all works out.

Whatever this year brings, I plan to have many more days that involve nothing more than sitting on the ground somewhere (on a beach, in a tree, under a sagebrush) and just looking at things without having to fire up my brain very much. I might not take photos, but I’ll try to draw you some pictures.