This is the year I decided to start really embracing life, to live life to the fullest, and to be as joyful as possible despite what might be happening at any given time.
It all started when my beloved dog, Max, passed away suddenly on Easter Monday from a catastrophic intestinal tumour at the relatively young age of 7. I was beyond devastated. He had been in my life less than two and a half years, and then he was gone.
But, as I grieved, I reflected on Max’s zest for life, his love for everyone and everything, and his quirky sense of humour. The first five years of his life, he had been owned by an alcoholic who mistreated him and kept him chained outside. Max had every reason to become a vicious, snarly, and confrontational dog, yet he was the very opposite. His circumstances were part of his story but they didn’t define him. He was the kindest, most loving, most giving, most caring dog I have ever known. I miss him.
Max’s death became the catalyst to one of the most important decisions in my recent life. Two months later, I fled my marriage. I had been married for just over 11 years, with the last 4 years marked by increasing control, isolation, and verbal abuse.
I learned that, for real change to happen in a marriage, it takes two. If one person doesn’t want to participate or is resistant, change is impossible. But, only in the marriage, not in the individual who wants the change.
So, I chose to change me. I took only what I could fit in my compact car and drove 2720 km across three provinces to start over in a new city. I didn’t have a job or a place to live but I believed I was in the right city, and that things were going to come together.
I ended up being called for a job interview within minutes of arriving in Calgary, and I found a place to live before the end of the week. But, things weren’t perfect. The job wasn’t full-time, and didn’t pay especially well, and I had to live in a motel for several days because the apartment wasn’t available until the first of the month.
The apartment was just a tiny, one room bachelor, but it was furnished and it was affordable. Within a few weeks, I was offered a full-time job that paid much better. The only problem was that it was only a short-term contract.
Since the job wasn’t permanent, I kept looking for work. I recently had three interviews for one job, and they wanted a reference list with at least one current reference. I gave them the contact information for my current boss, but only on the condition that it be used upon an accepted offer of employment. They readily agreed but then turned around and almost immediately sent my boss an e-mail, requesting that a reference be given by way of a detailed questionnaire.
I ended up turning that job down late the next day because of the reference and a few other things they had been needlessly dishonest about. But, three days later – on November 1st – I was terminated from my current job because my boss was still rightfully upset about having been blindsided with the reference request. My work was never called into question.
Since it was just prior to the three month mark, I was terminated without notice, without severance, and without the ability to apply for Employment Insurance. 11 days later, I still have no job, no income, and no money and, as of November 30th, I also won’t have a place to live.
I won’t pretend this has been easy. I had never been terminated before, and it was a traumatic experience.
I do have a job interview tomorrow that, if successful, would take care of my employment and a place to live in one fell swoop. But, this is the thing. There’s no guarantee it’s going to come through. Life has its up and downs. Stuff happens. People are dishonest. People are needlessly mean. Money comes and goes, jobs come and go, people come and go, but NO ONE can take my joy without my permission. It’s MY joy.
It doesn’t mean that I’m never sad, that I don’t cry, that I don’t have a hard time sometimes but I am determined to bounce back faster and higher each time I’m knocked down. I’m determined to see the funny side of life, to laugh more, to love more, to be thankful more, to be more joyful.
I am ALIVE, and I’m living life to the fullest. I’m in a better place now than I was six months ago. All things are relative. I’m BLESSED. I have a wonderful son, wonderful friends, and wonderful family. I have been shown uncommon kindness that I can never repay. I have seen miracles happen, that are not explainable other than to say they are evidence that God continues to be in control of my life.
I’m THANKFUL. I’ll be thankful if I get the job tomorrow and I’ll be thankful if I don’t. There’s a reason for everything, and we shouldn’t get everything we pray for. If God says “no”, it’s always for a good reason. I’m GRATEFUL. I’m grateful to be me. I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I’m grateful for what I’ve experienced – the good and the bad – because it’s all brought me to this moment and shaped me into the person I am today.
“Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson
This is the first year of the rest of my life. I’m determined to live with abandon, to love unconditionally, to be a better person, mother, friend, sister, and employee, to live my life as an example of Gods grace, to be kinder, to be happier, to be more joyful. I’m going to succeed, I’m going to finish my book, I’m going to become a public speaker, I’m going to overcome, I’m going to laugh more, I’m going to love more.
I am going to be no ordinary Joy. You can count on it.