January 1st was my first official day as a retired person. I'm still not exactly sure how I feel about that. After thirty-seven years, I was burned out on my day job and more than ready for a change. However, the change I cooked up was so dramatic my husband still hasn't recovered. In my family I've always been known as the logical, practical one, but after years of living cautiously, I was inspired to leave Minnesota (where we had lived for twenty-three years and raised our daughter) and move half-way across the country. So we headed west to our vacation condo in Carmel, California and started house hunting. We found a tired '70's ranch house in a spectacular location and signed on the dotted line.
Sadly, at the end of February, my beloved father succumbed to the ravages of Parkinson's Disease at the age of eighty-five. Those of you who have lost a parent understand the empty, hollow feeling. My sister was able to show him a picture of our new house on her tablet before he died, but I'm sorry he will never see it in person. He would have loved the view of the golf course across the valley.
In March, we sold our house and packed up our most important possessions, saying goodbye to nearly half the stuff we had accumulated during thirty years of marriage. On Good Friday, we hit the road on our great driving adventure across the American West. I wouldn't want to repeat the experience, but like most adventures, it tightened the bonds between those who shared it.
April brought a flurry of activity as we settled into residence in a new state and embarked on the mammoth remodeling project necessary to turn our abandoned, rat-infested money pit into a beautiful new home. After nine months of construction and mountains of cash, we have finally started moving our belongings in this week. Hooray!
I also started a slew of new professional projects in April, beginning with my first book cover designs for fellow Rose Jannine Gallant's Secrets of Ravenswood novella trilogy. I loved the design process (and the results!) and went on to design the cover for my first romantic suspense novel. I spent late spring and early summer learning the skills necessary to self publish Unwritten Rules, which went live at the end of August. Thanks to a labor swap with Jannine in return for her covers, I had expert help with the editing. Everything else I tackled myself, if only to prove I could. It was a very satisfying experience and one I plan to repeat.
Back on the personal front, my daughter decided to leave her PhD program in Egyptian Art and Archaeology and look for a "real job". Never one to keep the ups and downs of life to herself, she allowed her father and me to suffer along with her every day of her frustrating, months'-long search until she finally landed a good job in mid-October. What a relief! I think it might be nearly as difficult being the parent of an unemployed child as being unemployed oneself.
Somehow, in the midst of all this activity, the rest of the year kind of slipped away from me. I'd planned to write and self-publish a Christmas novella. Oh, well, it will still be a good story next year. All in all, I have to consider 2013 a resounding success, even as I hope 2014 will be a bit less action-packed. Here's wishing you just the right amount of excitement for the New Year!