Act on your dream!
August 21, 2009 Issue #9
Written by John L. Dilbeck, http://AYearFromNow.com
Copyright © 2009 John L. Dilbeck, All rights reserved.
A word from the editor...
I want to thank you, again, for subscribing to Act On Your Dream!, and it is a pleasure to send you this issue. I hope you find it interesting and informative.
This is going to be a very different newsletter and will be about me and the struggles I've faced over the last few years. I'm not trying to elicit your sympathy, but I do want to present some lessons I've learned from my own life.
The next issue will feature three women from South Carolina and some of the reasons I have come to like and admire them.
I wish you and your family the very best,
What Is Your Dream?
What do you truly want to accomplish with your life?
What are you doing to make your dream come true?
What can you achieve in as little as a year from now?
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Table of Contents
- Contact Information
- Let's be social!
From the desk of John L. Dilbeck
- John Dilbeck - Making progress by going backwards
Act On Your Dream! is published by:
John L. Dilbeck, Dilbeck Marketing, Murphy, NC 28906
Copyright © 2009 by John L. Dilbeck. All rights reserved.
If you like this ezine, please do a friend and me a big favor and pay it forward. You have my permission to pass it along or upload it to your website if you do not change anything.
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From the desk of John L. Dilbeck
"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
-- Thomas Edison
"The biggest mistake people make in life is not making a living at doing what they most enjoy."
-- Malcolm S. Forbes (1919-1990)
"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve."
-- Napoleon Hill in his all-time best selling book, Think and Grow Rich
Making progress by going backwards
by John Dilbeck
I am not trying to elicit your sympathy. I just want to pass along a few lessons I've learned over the course of a few hard years.
I know that others have faced harder times than what I'm going to talk about and many others have to deal with problems of all types, some of which may make what I've dealt with seem minor, in comparison. We all have our own burdens to bear and limitations to overcome. I'm sharing some of mine, what about you? What obstacles do you face and how are you working to overcome them?
There were several times that I was ready to quit, to give up, to stop caring. The burden was too hard, I was too tired, I didn't have any money. There was no way I could accomplish what I wanted to do.
I won't deny it, and I won't sugar coat it. I had several very down times, but I did not give up. I refuse to quit and I'm going to keep working until I die or succeed.
Caring for my mother - Mattie Lee Dilbeck
For over six years, I was the sole, full-time, around-the-clock caretaker for my elderly mother, following her cancer surgery. Although the surgery was successful in removing the cancer (along with lots of radiation and chemo-therapy), it left her unable to walk and care for herself without my help.
I've told this story in lots of places and won't go into all the details here.
Last year, a month or so after I sent out the last issue of this newsletter, Mom's health took a dramatic decline for the worse. She had to be hospitalized and then moved into the nursing home, because she needed skilled medical care and it was more than I could do for her at home.
I cannot describe how awful I felt. I had promised Mom that I would care for her and keep her out of a nursing home. I promised her that I would keep her at home for the rest of her life.
I failed at that promise. It was devastating for her and for me.
Intellectually, I knew she needed more care than I could provide, but emotionally, I just could not deal with it.
I visited her in the nursing home as much as I was able, and it was very painful to watch as she continued to decline, and eventually she died just before Thanksgiving Day, 2008.
I wrote about her on one of my blogs a little while after she died: In Memory of Mattie Lee Dilbeck.
For the next several months, I was devastated. I'd spent 24 hours a day caring for her for years and now the house felt deserted. It took almost all the wind from my sails and I'm not sure that I've recovered, yet.
I still miss her very much.
What I learned from it
I learned that, despite our best intentions and no matter how hard we try, there are times that we will not accomplish what we want. Sometimes outside factors are too strong and they win. I always knew we couldn't stop Mom from dying, eventually, but I always thought she would die at home, not spend the last few months of her life declining in a nursing home.
We don't always win.
Life sometime blindsides you and everyone else
If you've been living on planet Earth for the last year, I'm sure you know all about the world-wide economic downturn and all the bad things that have happened as a result.
Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, many have lost their life savings, many have lost their homes. It has been a terrible year for many of our friends and neighbors and possibly for you, too.
Although many of us knew the bubble would burst eventually, it still came as a shock when it happened so quickly and with so little warning last fall.
I didn't have to worry about losing my life's savings, because I was already skimming close to being broke. Although I was earning enough to pay my bills and do a few other things, staying at home with Mom precluded some of the earning opportunities that were presented to me, but which I had to decline. I had to refuse consulting jobs, because I was unable to leave Mom at home for more than an hour or two at a time and there was nobody else who could care for her.
I hope you're not one of the ones who lost most or all of what you had before the events of last fall.
In a way, I was fortunate. I used to be up to my ears in debt, especially credit cards, but I have been out of debt for most of two decades. Even if I was broke, or nearly broke, I didn't have the specter of debt looming over me all the time.
I'm still trying to settle Mom's estate, and, fortunately, her house mortgage was paid off several years ago and she had very little debt to settle. I'm still working on all the details, and hope to get everything worked out in a few more months.
What was shocking to me, however, was that the income from my marketing business plunged in September to about a quarter of what it was in the months preceding the economic chaos of last fall.
At the same time, my expenses more than doubled, as I had to start paying some of Mom's expenses as well as my own. It's been a tough go, ever since.
Until last fall, I have not paid a bill late in years, but that changed. I don't like paying my bills late, but I've been forced to do it. The only thing that has kept me afloat is the fact that I adopted a simple life years ago, have no debt, and live frugally. I'm scraping by and I hope you are too.
No, that's not right. I hope you're one of the ones who is prospering!
Lesson learned from this
Live within your means. Eliminate as much debt as possible. Have alternate sources of income. Invest wisely. Don't expect that the value of everything will always go up.
Things can turn on a dime, and prior preparation is what helped many people get through all of this relatively unscathed.
I was very sick this spring and early summer.
I have not had the benefit of health care for some time. When you can't afford paying the exorbitant rates for health insurance or for appointments with your doctor, you do without.
I have not wanted to talk about this in public, but I'm not the only one facing this.
In the past, I've benefited from excellent health care and health insurance, but there are many people, including me, who can't afford to see a doctor when we're sick.
That's the situation I found myself in earlier this year.
I made up my mind many years ago that I would rather be dead than living in debt, again, and that decision was put to the test this year.
I don't really know what was wrong with me, but I started losing my strength and feeling terrible. Over a few months, I went from being able to do normal activities to being barely able to walk. I had to use a cane to get around the house, and it just about exhausted me to walk across the road to check my mail. Buying groceries became a difficult task, not because of money, but because walking through the store for a few minutes made me so tired that I had to sit and rest in my car before I had the energy to drive home.
At one point, I believe in June of this year, I considered using Mom's old walker to get around the house. I never quite got to that point, but came close.
My daughter and brother were scared for me, but I told them that I would get better, or I wouldn't. They didn't like it, and we had a few arguments about it, but I had already made up my mind.
I'm pretty sure that you disagree with me, too. Don't you?
Then one day, I felt a little better. Later, I could walk around the house without using my cane. I started to get an appetite, again. One day, a few weeks later, I realized that I could walk to the mailbox without using my cane, and later I was able to buy groceries without it.
It has been a slow recovery, and I'm not nearly as strong as I used to be, but I'm a lot better than I was a few months ago.
I don't really know. I'm a survivor and I never gave up on getting better. I'm happy that I'm doing better than I was and expect to be even stronger a year from now.
I had to find a new source of income
With the drastic decline in my affiliate marketing income, and the increase in my expenses, things were getting pretty close to the bone in January. I started thinking of ways to earn more.
I realized that I had skills that other small business owners don't have. I know how to build websites and blogs that are easily found on the search engines. So, how could I use that to help them and myself?
I've been promoting local businesses in Murphy, NC, online for free for years. Part of it was to test ideas I had, and partly it was to promote the businesses and their owners who delivered great service at a good price.
I realized that I could start charging for that service, but I wanted to do more than just offer online advertising.
Over the course of a couple of months, about the time I started to get sick, I devised the idea of Murphy Gold. I would work with one business owner in each category and help him or her get more business from people who found them when searching on the Internet. I settled on a fee for the service and started looking for clients, but found that my energy levels were too low for me to really do what was needed for outside sales.
I was fortunate that my daughter knows quite a bit about what I was proposing to do and she and her sister-in-law volunteered to help me get Murphy Gold off the ground. I want to thank both of them publicly for all the work they did over the spring and summer. Thanks, Dena and Stacy. It would not have happened without your help.
Then things took a turn, again. Stacy had been handling the sales for me and she got sick and didn't feel like doing anything for over a month. I was busily setting up the site for the clients she had already booked and it was no problem waiting until she felt better. However, when she did, she told me that summer was over and she needed to turn her attention back to caring for her children and had decided to homeschool her youngest son. While I was disappointed, I applaud her decision and think she is doing the best for her family.
So, now, starting next week, I have to get out and find some new clients. I'm not nearly as good at outside sales as she is, but I can do it. Hopefully, I'll find someone else who wants to help with this. At least, I now have the energy to do it.
There are always alternatives. When one source of revenue declines it is time to leverage existing skills, or learn new ones, to create a new source of revenue.
There are people who will help you when you need it. They are treasures to be appreciated and it is important to let them know it. Don't just assume they know you appreciate their help, tell them all the time.
In our tiny mountain community, there are very few jobs in the best of times and there are many people who have had a very hard time finding jobs since last fall. I know several people who never had a problem getting a job who are scrounging for whatever work they can find here and there. I tried to find a job to get me through the roughest months of last winter, but there were none available.
Fortunately, I've been self-employed, in one way or another, for over 30 years and I found something that some people needed and were willing to pay for. Murphy Gold will be my main focus for the coming months and I hope that what I have imagined will become a reality. It is not just a website, I'm working on a new joint venture co-marketing system that will help all my Murphy Gold clients promote themselves and other non-competing business owners, both online and offline. The goal is to do my part to help the local economy start growing, again.
Even on the days that I felt the worst, I was able to hobble into my office and do a little work on my blogs. My websites suffered over the last couple of years, because I was spending all my time caring for Mom and I was exhausted from lack of sleep. I tried updating them when I felt like it, but it became harder over time.
Now that I'm feeling much better, I've done a complete rebuild of many of my websites, and I've been posting a little more often to my blogs. Publishing this newsletter, even though it is entirely self-centered, is a milestone for me. I'll get back to offering ideas to help you in the next issue and I'm looking forward to telling you about three very special sisters I met a little over a year ago.
Life sends me another surprise
I live in North Carolina and love it here. I love living in these beautiful mountains and I'm very close to a beautiful lake that I visit as often as I can. I can't imagine living anywhere else.
In June of this year, with practically no warning, I learned from Amazon.com that the North Carolina General Assembly was considering passing a new tax law that would affect all the affiliates of their company who lived in NC. I won't go into the details here, but a few days later, on the anticipation that the new tax laws would go into effect on July 1, Amazon.com dropped me as an affiliate, even though I've been sending them thousands of visitors every year for over a decade. *Poof* Gone. Several other companies canceled my affiliate accounts, as well.
Now, that's not good news. Considering that I'm earning about a third of what I was a year ago, the additional loss of revenue was worrisome, but I was more angry than worried.
I had thousands of pages on my websites and blogs and almost all of them had at least one link to Amazon.com and/or one of the other companies that had just canceled my accounts. I wasn't going to continue sending them customers if they weren't going to pay me for doing it.
That was the incentive I needed to completely rebuild my major sites. On just one site, I deleted over 500 pages that were designed to promote products on Amazon.com. I also simplified the designs and updated other information on the sites.
It was something that needed doing and I made the time to do it.
A few days ago, I posted an article on one of my blogs called Making progress by going backwards and that phrase has been going around and around in my mind ever since. That's why I decided to publish this issue of the newsletter and tell you things about myself that I would normally keep private.
The last two years have been very difficult, but I will not give up. As I said earlier, I came close and I was tempted, but I just won't do it.
Things will turn around and get better for all of us, eventually. Now, while the going is tougher than it has been in awhile, it's time to help each other survive and later we'll prosper together.
That's one of the reasons that I'm enjoying working with real people who own and operate their own brick and mortar businesses in Murphy. I want people who provide great services and products and who care for their customers to do more than survive. I want to see all of them grow and prosper. I want to help them as much as I can.
By helping them succeed, I'll succeed, too. It's just the way things work.
I have been confined to living all the time in this little cabin in the mountains for about seven years. Even after Mom died, and I didn't have to stay here, it has been hard to break the chains of habit and my own health problems didn't help any. Now, I'm enjoying doing some of the things I used to do and that includes getting out of the house and visiting my daughter and her family, enjoying the beauty of western North Carolina, and meeting people in person rather than through email or over the phone. It's a big change for me and I hope you don't take it for granted if you're able to get out and do things with friends and relatives.
Although it may be a cliche, be very happy if you have your health. Your life changes dramatically when you lose it.
At one time, I was big and strong and I could work hard for twelve or more hours, day after day. Those days are gone.
My dream is to build Castle Freedom, and I'm still working on it, at least in my imagination. It's going to be expensive and it's going to require the help of thousands of people to make it real, but I have a feeling that it really will happen. The castle is to catch people's attention and to engage their imagination. I want this to be a great conference center where people of all backgrounds can come together to help each other grow and flourish. I don't know how it's going to happen, but I still have faith.
To accomplish my long-term goal, I have many short-term goals that I'm working on. I knew I had to establish an online presence about Murphy, NC and I had to generate income. I'm having a few ups and downs and obstacles keep appearing, but step by step, I'm making progress.
I created an online social networking site specifically for people who live in, or are interested in, Murphy, NC at Murphy Connections and I'm enjoying renewing old friendships and meeting new people there.
I have several other websites, in varying stages of completion, that are devoted to Murphy, too. I'll be adding to them over time.
Will Castle Freedom ever become a reality? I don't know, but I'm plugging away at it, one step at a time.
What about your dream?
What do you want to accomplish with your life? Some people have big dreams and some people have smaller dreams. Some are difficult and some are easy. No matter what you want to accomplish, don't ever give up.
Imagine what you want. See it in your mind. Make plans on how you can make it real, and then act on your dream!
Making progress by going backwards
Even though much of my effort has been directed towards tearing down what I've built over the last few years as I rebuild websites and delete old content that promoted things I no longer want to promote, I feel like I'm making progress.
By clearing out the old detritus of past efforts, I feel that I'm more focused on what I want to accomplish in the coming months and I believe that I'll be able to get more done as a result of focusing on fewer things.
That includes adding more information to AYearFromNow.com and being more active at AYearFromNowForum.com. You're invited to come and join me there.
What can we do to help each other make our dreams real?
All the best,
I welcome your comments, suggestions, and critiques.
Please make your comments about anything in this newsletter in the Making progress by going backwards thread on our A Year From Now Forum.
I intend to accomplish my definite chief aim and make my dream a reality. I want to see you do the same.
If you believe you can, you can.
Act on your dream!
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