To talk about what 2017 meant in the life of the Doolittle family, we have to travel back to April 12, 2016.

Martha‘s 57th birthday.

She took a day off and drove to the north side of Houston to visit her therapist. She intended to return home, pick me up, and together we would get Dorothy from school. Then celebrate Martha‘s birthday at Grace’s restaurant on Kirby.

In the middle of the afternoon my cell phone rang; it was Martha. When I answered the phone, it wasn’t Martha. It was her therapist letting me know Martha had suffered a stroke.

Seven weeks later Martha emerged from the hospital riding in a wheelchair, graduating to a walker, and within a couple of months, walking (limping) on her own. But her right arm and her right leg still needed a lot of work to regain their strength and former capabilities. Both the toll and exhaustion of a typical day, and the limitations of her appendages, led to a greatly reduced work schedule.

Her workplace was gracious enough to find a new position for her. But, as she improved physically, and was able to increase her work load, their budget could not accommodate increased hours.

Meanwhile, I was struggling to find a job which would release me from the oppressive atmosphere and negative situation that I experienced almost daily, but I wasn’t finding any other employment.

In the fall of 2016, Martha discovered a book called “Making a Living Without a Job,” by Barbara Winter. This book set us on an exciting  joint adventure of many potential income possibilities.

Which led to 2017 and the many changes in life that ensued.

I soon discovered that freelance bookkeeping was something I should investigate and pursue. I set out to learn QuickBooks Online, converted our personal books to QBO and became a QuickBooks certified Accountant. I announced what I was doing and got my first client.

Then we looked at acting and my need for a TV/Film agent, something I’d thought about for almost a decade, but was discouraged by unreliable  technology and the demand of too many competing priorities.

To promote my intent and availability, I needed a good Internet presence. So I took what I had previously created, upgraded the software I owned, read the manual and, with Martha’s expert eye, created a much better web page.

I also needed a reel.

For years I’d attempted to download YouTube files (with me in them) and learn film editing software and struggled and struggled and struggled. With renewed determination, I scoured the Internet until I finally found software that worked (after downloading many that didn’t). Then I brushed off prior failures and learned to use the film editing software I owned.

I created a 3-minute reel, posted it on my web page and sent out letters which led to signing a contract with Pastorini-Bosby Talent in April.

My 1st agent project: A YouTube and customer web-page commercial, followed by an industrial followed by a convention in New York City. Plus many other auditions.

The day we filmed the commercial (and I run through a field which is it’s own story) we returned to Houston two hours late for my audition at Classical Theatre Company. On the trip home (from Belleville, TX) we were stopped by the same train two times in two different cities 20 miles apart.

Years of encouragement, plus running through the field, combined with the story of the two trains, led to an idea (which popped into my head between audition scenes in the lobby of Classical Theatre Company) of writing out stories of my life as an actor.

I decided it was time to resurrect my writing life and promptly subscribed to Writer’s Market On-Line, took a class in creating query letters, started reading a book on writing a book proposal and, through it all, started writing.

Martha didn’t embark on any freelance gigs yet, but the seeds were planted to start writing blogs, work on our individual and joint scripts to present them for others to perform, and revise her script on Van Gogh for me to eventually perform.

And Dorothy came home. And we got a dog.

The year was packed full of positive forward movement in the arts, income streams begging our attention, and a promise of lots of fun and excitement awaiting in 2018.