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Reflections on the Past as I Look Forward

July 21, 2015

What I learned in the past decade. This is a bit of a rabbit trail but food for thought ❤ 

So, I watched horrible movie, “Rory and Michelle’s High School Reunion” but it made me reflect. I does not look like I accomplished a lot on paper but I have come a long way and I just want to share a bit of my journey to encourage those who are struggling in their twenties and share a message of hope. Yes, the economy sucks and people are not retiring but if you work hard and keep trying I can assure you that you will get there. I became more realistic about work and relationship and didn’t get what I initially wanted but I am very happy with whom I am dating and what I am doing.

After much reflection about the past decade, I wrote a 5-page memoir where I touch on the following 5 points:

  1. Finding My Vocation Via Volunteering
  2. My Sabbatical and Delayed Experimental Phase
  3. How YWAM & Traveling helped heal my Heart
  4. How I got were I am today & the sacrifices I made
  5. Terrifying Transitions and Hope for the Future

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1. Finding My Vocation Via Volunteering

Initially, I wanted to become a nurse so I took some high school upgrading classes but I also had to complete 30 volunteer hours in order to be eligible for the mature student status in college since I transferred from another province. While, I was waiting in line for biology class, I saw a tall, attractive young woman walking down the halls with a student with a developmental disability of some kind. I was curious and eventually mustered up the courage to ask this woman some questions. So, I asked this woman about her class and asked if they needed volunteers and they did! And that is how I found out about my current career since I needed some volunteer hours to get my mature student certificate for college. (I graduated from High School in Quebec and wanted to go to college in Ontario.) So, I volunteered in the not so politically correct, Developmentally Handicapped unit at the High School I was doing upgrading at for college. I found the work to be very rewarding and initially I thought the job was “easy” but boy was I wrong! I even volunteered as a lifeguard at their end of the year party for the students in the class that that I volunteered at, which was lovely.

One woman who worked as an E.A (Educational Assistant) in the class, used to be a nurse but after she got separated she decided to become an E.A in order to have more time for her family. She also mentioned that the hardest part is to see medically fragile students pass away and she also said that she would not consider doing the same job in her 50’s and 60’s since it is physically demanding. I saw how amazing the job was and inquired about the educational requirements. After going to the job fair at the college that I attended I decided to take one of the required program in order to be an E.A or in a similar field.

After college, I got a series of part time contracts while I loved at home. These contracts provided me with excellent work experience but also the ability to travel since I was not tied down to a particular job. At the age of 23 a got to work with a fabulous team and was offered a permanent part time position at a high school which I declined since I felt that I was too young for that job and I wanted to take a sabbatical before I got serious about work.

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  1. My Sabbatical and Delayed Experimental Phase

I was not worried about finding work after my sabbatical since I knew that I was good at my job and that I would find work after and I wanted to explore my options before settling down. So, I decided to work full-time for the military for a year in order to save money for school. (I randomly decided to join the military in order to pay my was through college & I never considered joining the forces but my girlfriend from high school convinced me that the military reserves would be fun. So, I agreed to join the military and go to boot camp since I wanted a more challenging summer job. As a result my faith, thoughts on dating, sex, dancing and drinking was challenged after gowing up in a traditional chritian home where my mom was a homaker. Although my time in the military was hard it helped me grow a thicker skin  and become more independent and aware.

Although, I was tempted to take the high school E.A job I knew in my heart that I was not ready for that responsibility at such a young age since I was still in my early twenties. I decided to follow my dads advice and further my military career since he told me I may not be able to have this opportunity to work for the military and save money when I have more responsibilities later on in life. My dad was right but so were my Christian roommates from basic training. These two lovely ladies reminded my how the military can be emotional and physically demanding and that I need to keep my priorities straight since working for the military would really test my faith and it did. But I am glad I did since I took my faith for granted and the military provided me with an opportunity to grow since I was able to really question my faith and decide for myself what I truly believe.

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  1. How YWAM & Traveling helped heal my Heart

After my time in the military, I came back jaded, heartbroken and emotionally bruised but also a lot wiser. I knew the military was not for me and I wanted to work in a place where healthy relationships and healthy lifestyles are encouraged. I found the military was a breeding ground for alcoholics where polygamy was accepted and where woman are constantly disrespected. After I finished working for the military full time I just needed to take a break to get my head straight. I grew up in an over sheltered home and was overwhelmed by what I just experienced in the real world… I was given an opportunity to volunteer at YWAM where I did my missions training and I took that chance since that place wreaked my for life… in a good way!

When my sister decided not to be a Christian I cried my eyes out and decided to join YWAM and learn more about the bible and missions. I was praying about the possibility of going to YWAM and then my mother interrupted me and asked me to peel the potatoes which was annoying because I didn’t want to and a still small voice asked me, God: “Sandra, do you love me?” I said yes then God told me to the potatoes and I learned even more about selfless love at YWAM. My first time at YWAM helped me get over my first love and forgive my family, traveling to Europe to visit my friends from YWAM helped me got over my first heartbreak and fall in love with God again and my second time at YWAM helped me get over my first heartache helped me get a new sense of direction for my life after losing my faith and regaining it.

I volunteered for a few months at YWAM since I needed time to heal and get my priorities straight after working full-time for the military. I was willing to go on missions, go back to school or go back to work. I realized that the market place is a place of ministry and that I don’t have to be a missionary in order to prove my love for God. I decided to return to the civilian workforce since I loved working in education in the past and decided to continue to pursue that passion since I did not receive any peace or clarity yet regarding university.

I did realize that the military is a huge mission field but I did not feel called to work there full time even though I do have a heart for all those walking wounded people who emotionally abuse others due to past hurts. I was able to heal and have compassion for theses people but could not continue working in such a toxic environment full-time yet I am thankful for the beautiful friendships, which blossomed, through my time in the military.

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  1. How I got were I am today & the sacrifices I made

3 Years ago, I did not know that I would be here today. I took a leap of faith and returned to the civilian workforce after a wonderful sabbatical. I had to sublet, rent rooms, live off half my salary and use up a lot of my savings to get where I am today. I had to buy a car instead of a bike in order to work enough hours in the job that I trained for in school. I had to juggle 3 jobs and eat my lunch in my car for a year but for the first time in my career I actually have a full-time, permanent position at the beginning of the school year, which is a huge relief!

I initially, had to move back in with my parents for a short time after my sabbatical. During that time, I would scour the job bards and felt led by the Spirit late one evening to check the job board again one last time. Late at night, I responded to a job posting at my current location. I n the beginning, I worked at my current location to fill an emergency position for as short period of time. At the end of the year, when the sun was shining, I stayed indoors for countless hours & I applied for over twenty jobs and tailored my resume to each type of job posting. I only got two callbacks but one call back hired me and my supervisor at my previous emergency position gave me an excellent recommendation. I was thankful for stable part time work but I decided to print my resume to hand out to other locations in order to get more work. For some odd reason, the printer did not work and it must have been a sign from God. After struggling to print my résumé, my current roommate randomly texted me saying that she turned down a job offer where I filled an emergency position last year. I immediately contacting my former employer since she had an afternoon position available and I already had a position in the morning.

My current roommate had to turn down the job since she could not afford to work part time and would rather work on call in order to get full-time work. I felt like I took my friends sloppy seconds by taking the part time contract that my friend refused but the afternoon position that I accepted turned into a permanent position. I did have to interview for the permanent job and worked hard on making sure my notes and portfolio was up to par and paid a lot so that my makeup and hair was perfect and all that effort was worth it since I got the job. At the end of the year, my morning position turned into a permanent position as well and I did have to go through the whole interview process again but thankfully I got the job. I was relieved to know where I was working the next year even though I had to drive across the city on my lunch hour between two schools in order to work full-time in my field.

Juggling the two schools became much easier the following year since I was more familiar with the staff and how things worked at each location. In the late fall a new position opened up at my afternoon position and I was able to transfer to one location since I already had full-time status. I was really torn about leaving my morning position since the administration was stellar and it was a very positive work environment. However, I did tell my employer that I did not want to leave but that I could not turn down a full-time position and told her that that I would love to return if a full-time position did arise. I was glad that I accepted the full-time position since I was less stressed from commuting and I actually had time for my lunch. Although my full-time position was more challenging it is much more rewarding since I was never bored and I knew that I am making a difference.

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  1. Terrifying Transitions and Hope for the Future

Due to the fact, that I worked on contract before obtaining my permanent status at my former school this helped me obtain more seniority and provided me with more eligibility for full-time positions for the following year. Since I am a relatively new employee, I was placed on a surplus list at the end of the year and I recently had to choose between a full-time job at a new location or a part time job at my old school which required me to commute during my lunch hour in order to work an other location in the afternoon.

Although, I will miss everyone at my current location I decided to move to a new school since I had to eat my lunch in my car for a year and that is not something that I wish to repeat. Driving in the winter was a nightmare and I even had to get my car detailed since I had lot of food flying in my car as I was driving! I am transferring to a new location in the fall, which is terrifying yet exhilarating since I have learned how change is good since it prevents your zest for life from going stagnant. I learned through YWAM & that military that it its possible to make friends literally anywhere and that wherever you go there will be people who inspire me or challenge me to be a better person by testing my character.

Although university is on my bucket list, I am glad that I took the college route since there were more job opportunities available and I was actually able to work in my field of study. Yes, the economy is not great and people are not retiring but if you work your butt off you will get there. I had to work 14 hour days when working for the military when I was on my sabbatical and I was able to save enough money to buy a car which helped me access my current job more readily. The reality is that you will have to work multiple jobs to pay the bills and work extremely hard in order to succeed.

I came to a point in my life that I no longer wanted to live a home and I wanted to be an independent woman but unfortunately the majority of the job positing that I applied for where not full-time. I was not a stay at home mom that could afford to work part time nor did I have any desire to live in my parent’s basement so I did have to make sacrifices. Although my current job pays next to nothing, I am really happy. When I worked for the military full-time it taught me that having a reasonable work schedule and kind co-workers and a rewarding job or more important than a fat check. Yes my current job can be extremely stressful but those challenge that I faced helped me grow and become a better person and identify solutions through prayer after wanting to pull out my hair…

All-in all I do enjoy my job and I think that it is more important to be content and have just enough money than be unhappy and have too much money. As a single lady, I choose to work two jobs and work in the summertime since I can’t survive on E.I and I like the idea of being able to save a little and being able to afford an emergency fund. I was always one of those boring kids that would put her birthday money in the bank but it paid off when I had major purchases to make later on in the game. When I was younger I was taught to budget for the unexpected and I am glad that my parents pushed me out of the nest and forced me to grow up since they taught me how to grow up instead of babying me and bailing me out.

Initially, I was mad when I was expected to pay for my clothes, tuition and bus pass after high school but I they taught me the value of hard work since I had crap jobs which motivated me to go back to school and do well in school because I was paying for my schooling. My grandmother worked in a bank and was really wise since she raised a family and worked full-time. On my 16th birthday, My grandmother gave me a keychain and a red toy sports car and my heart started to race when I opened the note that was enclosed since I thought that she bought me a sports car but she gave me an even better gift: the gift of wisdom. On the note, she wrote something along the lines of this “if you want a car as nice as this one then you need to work hard for it.” I know that I got other gifts as a kid but I will always remember that gift.

After, having some peace of mind about job security I realized that I did far to much overtime and that it was not healthy since I neglected my hobbies and I realize that God can use my hobbies to reach people but also be more at peace with myself by becoming a more well rounded person. I started a new job and got a new boyfriend in the past year which took all my time but the next year I learned to put myself first and recognize how my friendships, exercise and prayer invigorates me! I am still learning how to navigate a balanced lifestyle since being a financially independent woman is not easy since I have to hold my own but I am really happy. I have a lovely roommate, a slightly more stable job situation an amazing boyfriends and fantastic friends. I so grateful for all those who have supported me over the years!

I also am learning to see greatness in thankfulness and how your attitude can totally transform your actions. I am content knowing that I have impacted people’s lives for the best. I have no clue what is next but I am excited about the adventures ahead and I am extremely thankful for all those who continue to surround me with positivity. I really do not know if university, travel, family or buying a house is next for me. I could a get a job with better or pay or find a more spiritually minded boyfriend online but I don’t want to look elsewhere since I am satisfied with my life right know. That does not mean that I do not wan to continue to learn and grow. I am simply learning to be content with the little things since they can turn into great things! The last ten years went by so fast and I am learning to slow down and say no to things and no my limits. I have learned to surround myself with those who inspire me to be better, to love the unlovable but also limit my contact with those who choose to drag me down and be selective with whom I am vulnerable with and open up to… I still have many struggles yet all things are possible with God on my side.

Thanks for reading. I hope that you found this somewhat encouraging.  I am eternally grateful for the love and support that I received from my freinds and family. On the flip side,  I am also thankful fro the lessons that my enemies taught me and for the lessons I learned through my failures since that hardship and heartache ultmately made be a stronger and more compassionate person in the end…

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