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Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Difference a Year Makes...

The other day, I got McDonald's for dinner, and it set off an entire chain of thoughts I've had percolating for some time.

Last weekend, while Juliette was attending a heavy metal show, I went out for some fast food. I walked in, ordered on the machine, picked up the meal, and I was about 15 steps away from the restaurant when I realized that I didn't know how much it cost. I hadn't checked. I hadn't agonized over it. I just bought it.

That's a major difference from where I was a year ago.

This time last year, I had just been let go from Costco. I had a seasonal position, and it was the end of the season. I wasn't upset or disappointed, I was just hoping to find something fast. I was living with two of my closest friends, and while they treated me extremely well, I was getting a little tired of depending on others.

At that time, I was very financially constrained. All the money I earned from Costco went toward monthly student debts, and I had none left over for anything else. I had little agency, no job, and unless I found something fast, I was going to be in big trouble.

Then, I got the job with NSR. You can read more about that here, and here, if you'd like.

The first few months were strange, yet exciting. It was strange to not have to apply for jobs, and when my first paycheque came in, it was very strange to have money left over. It had been so long that I literally looked at the remaining balance and said, out loud, "What now? What did I miss?"

Mentally, I had been working toward this for some time, but accepting that it was here, that took longer. Some people don't understand, they never went through the same financial trouble, Juliette shakes her head when she thinks about North Americans paying so much for school, when it's so much more affordable in Europe. I shake my head too, but it is what it is.

The last year has been an excellent year of transition for me. I saved some money, applied for a visa, and moved to France. Juliette and I found an apartment, and moved in. She has worked hard to make the apartment our home, and I've worked hard to support us both.

I am very, very fortunate. I know this, and I feel it more and more every day. My work allows me to support myself, and live in a beautiful country with my beautiful girlfriend. Technology allows me to stay connected with friends and family, and I've been exploring new and creative ways to enjoy my spare time. 

These times are difficult for many people. Not to fall too deep into the political quagmire, but a lot of people, from various walks of life, are stressed, anxious, unhappy. We sometimes seemed to have passed the Age of Information, and moved to the Age of Misinformation. I am privileged, but I like to believe that I've worked hard to earn the life I have. I also do my best to stay aware of the world around me, and ready myself to help out the best I can.  
Through it all, I've been learning to treat myself, and spending money to improve upon myself. Better clothes, better food (McDonald's notwithstanding), better gear for exercising. I now have the ability to spend on myself, and I feel compelled to do so wisely, most of the time. 

The next phase will be about outreach, I think. I want to become more involved, with my community, with creative endeavours, with others in my field. Once I establish a clear and stable foundation for myself, I want to reach out to help others do the same. So many people out there with potential, talent, and drive, but so many obstacles to obscure their path. I have no idea where my efforts will lead me, but I have some ideas.

From fast food to community outreach, such is the way the mind works, sometimes. The important thing is that I'm happy, healthy, safe, and living with purpose. Thanks to my loved ones, and a lot of things finally coming together, I have never been happier! I hope anyone having a tough time right now remembers that all effort counts, and stubborn persistence eventually pays off. It may seem all uphill, but you'll get there, wherever you want to be going.

That about wraps up this post, these thoughts. Thank you all for reading, for supporting this blog, supporting me. I wish you well on the journey ahead, and remember, "Keep your eyes on the sky but your feet on the ground!"

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