Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Be Kind to Your Tax Preparer

     I'm beginning my fourth consecutive year of working as a tax preparer. While things start out slowly in mid-January, by February, things get crazy and keep getting crazier till the filing deadline (not necessarily April 15). I'm a "numbers nerd," I learn a lot, I enjoy the folks I work with, and I love the job. The work matches my skills nicely. Plus this job supports my travel habit during the other nine months of the year.
     In general, I would offer that the folks who write and pass tax legislation don't have a clue what they are actually doing. All political parties are equally clueless. When a tax preparer hears the word "simplify," we know automatically that the tax code and systems to support it will become infinitely more complicated. The whole "file on a postcard" thing is a silly fantasy.
     The CPA I work for attends a weekly tax luncheon, wherein tax accountants and attorneys discuss the latest changes. There is an extraordinary amount of detail relative to the tax bill that Trump was able to get passed that is still not defined enough to be programmed properly in the tax software. Many questions remain. If these pros don't know what's going on, there's little hope for the rest of us. Then there are the changes which are made retroactive, which adds on a whole 'nother layer of complication, because where records should have been kept, they probably were not.
     Then there is the government shutdown to contend with. Effects of that are still becoming known. We don't know if the filing deadline will be extended. Deadlines for forms being mailed have been relaxed somewhat, pushing even more work toward the already busy end-of-season.
     So be kind to your tax person when he says, "I don't know the answer to that right now." Or when she asks for more details. Or when he says that the software isn't complete enough yet to actually file the return with the IRS. Or when the refund you were expecting turns into an amount owed. You are working with folks who are in a nearly constant state of trying to hit a moving target. Please be kind. We truly are doing our best in each moment.
     Digging the numbers,

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Much-Bigger Perspective

     I've been watching a series on Netflix called "Nature's Weirdest Events." One was an ice tsunami that came ashore and destroyed a bunch of homes. There are several instances of bug and bird invasions. There is a frog that is metabolically built to freeze solid in the winter and come back to life with the spring thaw. It's very interesting stuff. While it would not be my first thing to study, there is at least one fire ant expert out there, and it was fascinating to learn how those tiny vicious creatures operate. There's a tiny parasitic moth that preys on the fire ants, a glimmer of hope in controlling their invasion.
     I am also very fond of the Astronomy Picture of the Day (click here). These are fabulous photos of earthlings looking skyward, or into deep space, or from space back at our magnificent planet. I love seeing our planet from space because 1) there are no border lines, 2) I know I have no concept of how big Earth is, 3) something bigger than me did an outstanding job of making this extremely unusual world that supports such a huge variety of life. If you look at photos of Mars and Earth, the difference is mind-boggling. How did this amazing, water-based, rich-with-life planet happen?!?!
     Two important life reminders come to me through these sources. The first is that our planet is a living, intelligent system that is perfectly capable of taking care of itself. While I believe we should take excellent care of our earthly home, I don't buy into all the fuss about global warming and such. The planet will simply have cycles of change, and one human lifetime is a minuscule speck of time in its long-term existence. Certainly human life and property may be damaged along the way, but Earth will do what it needs to do to sustain life, or if necessary, wipe it out and start over. That's happened in the past.
     The other life reminder is "there's nothing to worry about." The Intelligence that has created our planet and the mind-boggling variety of life on it, much still undiscovered, is way bigger and smarter than me. If It can do such a great job with our planet, then I can rest assured that I don't really have to worry about much. Live well, feel good, do good, have fun, love. I believe in the goodness of all things, and the magnificence of planet Earth is a pretty fine indicator that we are eternally loved and cared for. What a glorious playground!
     I encourage you to find some ways to reach beyond your day-to-day, limited perspective and get a bigger view of the glorious world we live on. Learn. Travel. Hang out in nature. Hug a tree. 😊😊😊
     Appreciating life,

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Grateful Goodbye to 2018

What an interesting year 2018 was, with many out-of-the-ordinary happenings for me and our family.

WORK I completed my third season doing tax preparation. I was really active with MELT Method teaching, including classes, workshops and private lessons.

HEALTH Surgery was a biggie for the year. Dennis had shoulder surgery in June, and successfully completed six months of physical therapy. After x-rays showing arthritis in my left hip, I arranged for and got myself psyched for hip replacement, but that never happened due to a rather bizarre set of happenings. I'm in wait-and-see mode for now, not ready to reschedule a hip surgery. My pre-surgery evaluation, however, was comforting, as all my numbers were in the normal/healthy ranges.

TRAVEL Our older son, Derek, and his partner, Caila, spent most of the year working and playing in Australia and New Zealand. What a challenge having them so far away, and a joy that they were able to experience that adventure. I enjoyed trips:

  • Chicago and Ohio (Cubs game, friends and family visits)
  • Eastern Canada, exploring Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara
  • East Coast baseball tour thru Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, Cooperstown, Boston
  • Timber Creek Retreat
  • Dallas for an Abraham-Hicks workshop
  • Fort Collins, in September to visit Eliot, and December, for Christmas

DOG We kept Derek's Golden Retriever, Dusty, while he was in Australia. While I was not initially excited to have our first dog ever in our home of 33 years, we became very attached to this great critter. We got him all caught up on vet care, including neutering. I went to a six-week obedience class with him, which achieved the primary goal of him learning to walk comfortably on-leash. We returned Dusty to Derek at our Christmas visit. Coming home after Christmas to no dog at home was heart-breaking.

FAMILY We were blessed with sons' visiting Wichita when Eliot and Aliza arrived for a Memorial Day weekend (friends' wedding) and Derek and Caila passed through after returning from New Zealand. Eliot is now the proud owner of the newest car in the family, a 2016 Honda Civic, his first car purchase.

I received my first Social Security payments, woohoo!
I played lots more golf than in the past few years.
We had a major tree-trimming job done around our home and attempted lawn restoration.
My birthday-gift-to-me was registering for the California Baseball Tour in August 2019.
I added five MLB stadiums to my bucket list: Baltimore, Mets, Yankees, Fenway, Toronto.
I set a new personal annual lap-swim record of 136 miles.
I had a CUBS World Series ring on my hand.

All-in-all, a very good year, despite all the unusual happenings. I feel so grateful and blessed!
     Looking forward to a great 2019!