Sunday, August 30, 2009

Changes are not only just physical

As I type this entry (which I’m not posting until I’m home with wireless again), I am sitting on my mom’s deck surrounded by her flowers, a cup of tea to my right and a piece of toast with mom’s homemade jam to my left. My mom and stepdad are away camping, so I am taking advantage of the quiet house to do a few loads of laundry, mainly those items I can’t justify paying to clean (throws on my couch) or that need a special wash (two knit items which need to be on delicate). Despite the fact that my week has been so busy I didn’t get to the gym once nor did I get on my weekend hike, this is the perfect end to it. It has been an incredible week; a week of immense and lasting changes in my life. I mentioned once that the ultimate goal of this journey wasn’t really the Chilkoot, that was just a self-made route marker, but to become the person I want to be. The changes this week don’t necessarily help me with the Chilkoot, but they help me with the ultimate goal.

My mantra for most of my life has been ‘if I die tomorrow, will I be happy with where I am in my life?’ I told a friend that once and she found it very morbid. “You think about an early death like that?” I tried to explain that I didn’t think about death tomorrow as an absolute, just ‘what if’. She shook her head and changed the subject, as if thinking about death as anything other than in your sleep at the ripe, old age of 89 surrounded by love ones made me a dark and twisted person. Whether you find it morbid or not, it has served me well. Many of my favourite memories come from jumping into something because of that mantra, and it has led me on some incredible journeys (Africa, anyone?). That’s not to say that it is without its faults and a few of the decision could have perhaps used a second going over, but what’s done is done and if I died tomorrow, I would be happy with where I am in my life.

One of the decisions I’ve been thinking over for a bit is the idea of returning to school. It’s a thought I’ve had for a number of years now, but then I went to Africa instead and then the next time around the idea the economy crashed and I had a regular job with a very nice pay cheque, did I really want to say good bye to that for the unknown? I did a few online courses in the meantime, kept up my humming and hawing and continued getting frustrated with coworkers while collecting my pay cheque. This week it became official: I am a student. A few of the courses I was waitlisted on opened up, so there was no more excuses for delaying the return to school again. My employer, considering the company doesn’t really owe me anything, has been very accommodating. I am a full time, regular position employee in a company with a union. I have to quit, there’s no way around that when the union’s involved, but I have very kindly been placed on the auxiliary list so I can work on my days off school. I know I will get recalled once the 30 day weight period is up, there’s no doubt in my mind, but it’s still intimidating knowing that my paycheques will cease for a wee bit before they start up again. For all intents and purposes, however, as of September 4th, I am an unemployed student.

I’m sure you can figure out how this ties in with my mantra, that I’m obviously not finding job satisfaction with my current employment, but it’s a little more then that and I want to clarify. I owe it to my employer to clarify. I don’t hate my current job, I actually quite enjoy it although I would stop short of saying I have job satisfaction. I don’t hate all my coworkers, but the ones I do have pushed me to a point where I have to walk away rather than physically harm them. These same coworkers have been in trouble enough times that they have learned the ins and outs of the union rule book and know exactly how far they can go. I have not spent the time learning it because I’m a good employee: I work hard, I keep my nose clean, I’m respectful, I know my job duties better than anyone else in the department, and I retain information like a squirrel collects nuts. There’s no need for me to know the steps the employer has to take before discipline can become job termination. Again, this is not all my coworkers or even the majority, but it’s enough of them to make work unpleasant on many occasions. If I loved my job, if I was doing something I wanted to do as opposed to something that paid the bills, I think I would find it much easier to tolerate these people, down right ignore them even. But I don’t. My employer even made some offers to get me to stay as a full time employee, but although I might find short term satisfaction in a position, 5 years from now I’d find myself in the same boat I’m in now. Best to make these huge leaps of faith while I’m still young and don’t have people other than myself to consider.

Last time I attended university, I had very little idea what I wanted to major in, never mind what I wanted to do with it. I love to learn new things and have an interest in pretty much every thing, so with no clear goal in mind I got distracted by any class I enjoyed. Towards the end, German and Russian were the two things I had settled on, but having been in Berlin to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the reunification of East and West Germany, how useful were those two languages with the Cold War over? One of those languages with something moderately more useful (History or Political Science or even Linguistics) could have lead to something. But those two languages together? I might as well have completed a General Arts degree. (No offense to any General Arts students out there, well, maybe a little.) This time around, I know what I want to end up with and I’ve pretty much mapped out every course I need to take over the next few years to get the degree I want. I’m still debating exactly what I’ll do the other side of completion, but there are three very viable job fields I could pursue—all of which I would be interested in working in—so I at least have some vague notion of where it all leads to this time.

I know that overtime to finish up everything before I leave my job will mean no gym time this week as well, but I’ll be back into it the week after that! Then I’ll be back on track with the Chilkoot plan.

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