I survived 2009 and I think that was a success!
by John Dilbeck
(Murphy, NC, USA)
Without a doubt, 2009 has been the worst year of my life.
I've had other bad times back in the 1970s and in the early 1990s that were rough, but I made it through them, but 2009 was the worst on several levels.
In fact, within a two year period in the 1990s, I had to declare bankruptcy, lost my home, and was divorced. It took several years of working very hard to recover from that.
I've had years where I was able to achieve everything I set out to do and other years where it seemed that everything in the universe was conspiring against me to thwart me at every turn.
2009 was a year like that.
It started back in 2007.
For over six years I was my mother's sole, full-time caretaker and this got harder as her health continued to decline. I had promised her that I would care for her at home and keep her out of a nursing home.
I tried very hard to keep that promise.
In 2007, her health started declining and that took more and more of my time and effort to care for her.
I don't begrudge a moment of that time and I would do it all over again. Caring for her was something that I chose to do and I am certain it was the right choice.
In 2008, her health took a rapid decline in July and shortly thereafter she had to be admitted to a hospital. She had almost stopped eating and was suffering from dehydration, too. After several days in the hospital, and after talking to Mom's doctor, my ex-wife, my daughter, and my brother, I was forced to the conclusion that I could no longer provide the care she needed and I reluctantly agreed to move her to the nursing home adjacent to the hospital.
Even though I know that was the proper decision, I still regret it on some emotional levels. I had promised to keep her out of a nursing home, and I failed to keep that promise.
The staff was friendly, courteous, and did everything they could to care for her, but she withdrew as soon as she realized where she was.
She stopped reading and watching TV. She only ate enough to stop us from encouraging her to eat more. As her strength faded, she declined rapidly.
My brother and I were able to visit with her on her 88th birthday in early November 2008 and she died a couple of weeks later, just before Thanksgiving.
I was devastated. I had no idea that her move to the nursing home and her death would affect me as profoundly as it did.
Even with the loving support from friends and family, last November and December were very hard and things just got worse in 2009.
With the coming of January, I set out to try to settle her estate, something that I haven't completed almost a year later. I'm still working on it.
My affiliate marketing business was hit hard by the world-wide economic slowdown last fall and it has not recovered this year. It's a very difficult thing to deal with when expenses rise and income falls. I've cut my expenses to the bone, but still have trouble generating the income to cover them.
In July, the General Assembly of North Carolina passed a new tax law and that caused a number of big merchants to drop me as an affiliate. That put on more economic pressure.
The hardest thing to overcome this year, however, was health problems.
In the spring, I got very sick and it lasted into early summer. I wasn't sure I was going to live through it, and neither was the rest of my family. It scared all of us.
I got to the point where I was too weak to walk without a cane and seriously considered, a couple of times, using Mom's walker. Between the weakness and occasional dizziness, I found it hard to do even basic things.
For all my life, until this year, I have been a big bear of a man and I took good health for granted. When I was younger, and even as recently as a few years ago, I could bend steel bars and lift heavy objects with no problem. It was very difficult to realize that now I was having real problems just shopping for groceries and bringing them back into the house.
There were several times during the year that I seriously considered just quitting and giving up. I came very close.
But, when I faced that decision, I always decided to try for one more day. To do whatever I could to try to make progress on what was assailing me at the time.
I tried many things to earn a living and this has been difficult since there were many days I could not focus well enough to accomplish anything. Other days, I'd be able to work a few hours. On the days I could do anything, I'd try to build my marketing business.
I looked for even a basic part-time job, but I wasn't strong enough to stand for any length of time and there were days I would not have been able to work. The job situation in Murphy has been very tight this year and I never found anything I could do to help sustain me until my business turned around.
It's the first time ever that I could not even find a low-paying part-time job to get me through and that was very scary.
I tried writing several blogs, and although they were relatively popular and I met some great people in the process, they took a lot of work and produced almost no income.
In fact, working on those blogs took me away from maintaining and expanding my more-successful sites, like this one.
Over the last three years, I lost focus on what I wanted to do with this Act On Your Dream! site and it suffered because of it.
It's only now, in December 2009, that I'm able to really think about having a dream and working to accomplish it, again. I find that to be an encouraging sign and I'm looking forward to working with you to help you identify your dreams and work to achieve them, too.
When my affiliate business took a nose-dive, I looked for other avenues to use the skills I'd learned and to make use of the online networks I'd developed and joined.
Since I have a good understanding of online marketing and I love living in the mountains of western North Carolina near the charming small town of Murphy, NC, I decided I would help local small business owners promote their businesses online.
Most small business owners don't have the knowledge or skills to effectively market their businesses online, and it was even more important this year as more people are switching from traditional ways of learning about businesses. More and more people are searching online for what they need, and that's only going to get more important as mobile computing and cell phones become even more widely used.
After thinking about this problem for several months, on the days I was able to do anything at all, I decided to build MurphyGold.com and use it to promote locally-owned small business owners in Murphy, NC.
Talk about working a small niche market!
Murphy is a small town, but encompasses a large part of the county, so I decided I would focus on businesses in the 28906 ZIP code.
I've spent the last half of 2009 developing the infrastructure and getting the site moving and feel like I've finally made progress at accomplishing something this year.
Still, finances have been extremely tight. It's been many years since I was late in paying any bills, but I've been late a lot this year and I'm not caught up now. I don't like that at all.
But, the income I received from promoting local business owners on MurphyGold.com has been enough to enable me to survive a very difficult year.
I did not prosper in 2009, but I did survive, and I believe that is a real success.
Now, as we close out the last of this horrible year, I'm making new plans and setting new goals for 2010. I intend to build on what was started this year and to expand it to many more business owners in the coming year.
I want to thank the business owners who came aboard Murphy Gold, even when it was just a vision in my head and some sketches on paper. I appreciate each of you. I could not have survived 2009 without your trust and support and I'll repay that to you over the coming years.
I want to thank my family for all their encouragement and support. I could not have survived this year without your help. You may not know just how close I came to losing everything, but didn't.
I want to thank my friends for their caring and support, too. You have been a very important part of the support network that has kept me afloat.
I am not out of the woods, yet. Money is still incredibly tight and I don't know what the future may bring, but I choose to believe that I'll get through it and will do much better in 2010.
We've made it through 2009, a very difficult year for many of us.
Now, I'm looking forward to working with all of you to make 2010 a much better year.
We'll succeed by helping each other succeed.
I'm weaker, more tired, and less inspired right now than I was a couple of years ago, but I'm ready to make a come-back.
Even though it may have seemed that I was focusing on all that has gone wrong for me this year, I believe that I endured and survived because I have a basically optimistic outlook for the future and because I recognize that everything, including economic conditions, runs in cycles.
2009 was a year of hitting the bottom of several cycles and I'm looking for 2010 to be a year when things get progressively better.
As I've said, however, belief won't solve problems.
We have to identify what we want (our dream), set goals, and make plans to achieve those goals. We have to work to get what we want.
So, now, I know that my dream for 2010 is to build the best online marketing system for local small business owners in Murphy, NC. I've laid the foundations in 2009 and I'm looking forward to expanding the system in 2010.
I've set goals and know what I have to do to succeed.
Now, it's time to act on my dream.
What about you?
Do you have a dream? What are you doing to make it real?
I hope you'll feel free to comment on my success story and to share some of your own.
Act on your dream!