Spare Change

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I was running  down Spring Garden Road a few months ago, distracted by many things left unfinished at work that particular day while rushing to be somewhere and already twenty minutes late, when I nearly  stumbled over a young guy sitting in front of a vacant store front.   Smiling up at me from under a ton of scruff and a crazy purple and yellow rasta hat, he shook a tin can in my direction, and with a wink and a smile said  “spare change for poor life decisions?”   On his lap was a cardboard cut out sign, and carefully lettered on this sign, in bright red flowing cursive writing, were those very life choices he deemed so poor, including  “stay in school!” and “be kind to your mama – she’s the only one you got” to “whatever you do – don’t forget the condoms” and “I shouldn’t have eaten that!”

“Now THAT is genius” I laughed, tossing him what change I had.

“Thanks!” he called after, “Good luck with your life choices!”

I hadn’t really thought of this rather poetic young stranger for a while now, until I was recently faced with some major personal change  and all those pesky life choices that go along with it.  Looking back on my life, I guess as far as these things go, I’ve steered clear of poor choices while making some rather good ones instead.  (Well, it is true I had an unfortunate Corey Hart phase once upon a time.  And you know that old mantra “beer before liquor makes you sicker”?  Yeah, I always ignore that one).   But  for one thing, I’ve chosen a truly wonderful partner as a witness to my life,  someone who is just a genuinely GOOD person, beautiful both inside and out…and I guess I’ve been lucky that he’s chosen me.  I have wonderful family and friends that I don’t appreciate nearly enough, but i know they’re always just an arms reach away, literally and figuratively.  I’ve built an interesting and varied career that’s been rewarding in many ways, and learned from some truly greats in my field.  I’m WRITING more these days, something that  can (so corny but so true)  fill my soul and makes my heart sing, and my latest accomplishment in that area has been the publication of a couple of short stories in a literary magazine called the Rusty Nail (you can even find me on Amazon!)

And, let’s face it, I am co-parent to just about the CUTEST damn cat in the world!  I mean, seriously, look at this little dude…

Mungo

But into every bright sky comes a little rain.  And for me, that’s in the form of changes in my workplace that could potentially result in much less job satisfaction.  Or in other words, my “career” now becomes “just another job.”   Now when faced with those circumstances, the way I see it I have three choices: 1) I can get MAD about it and decide to pack up my toys and go play in another sandbox (easier said than done in this job market, but maybe I could have my old job at McDonald’s back?!?)  2) I could just GO ALONG WITH IT and ride the wave of change, just sit quietly and wait to see where it takes me (seems a bit too complacent for a rebel such as myself though, don’t you think?) Or I can 3) EMBRACE the change and figure out a way to somehow grow, learn, and discover new opportunities from it (well, aside from the huggy part, that just seems much more fitting!)

And so, embrace it I shall!   Turns out, for me, this catalyst for change has led to a return to higher education.  Following in the footsteps of a friend who faced a much more serious crossroads when her job ended, I am now in hot pursuit of  a Bachelor’s of Social Work Degree through the University of Manitoba (hopefully with a Master’s soon to follow). And I get to do this part time, online, through distance education, with lots of people from many diverse backgrounds across the country, just like me…making a change.  Yes kids, I finally know what I want to be when I grow up: a Social Worker.  Returning to school at my age can seem like a bit of a daunting task (let’s just say I was around the FIRST time plaid shirts were “cool” and we can leave it at that), but in truth it feeds my competitive nature to work hard, study, and get good grades, provides me with all kinds of killer student discounts on stuff, and allows me to plan wild and crazy frosh week activities all over again!   As for becoming a real life social worker type, truth be told it is not necessarily what I would’ve imagined for myself (growing up I pictured Pulitzer prize-winning author, or Daytime Emmy winning soap opera star, or international man of mystery), but after thinking it through, it seems a pretty logical fit.   Consider this: the study of social work comes with a strong sense of social justice and social duty, of righting the wrongs of the world, becoming a champion for the underdog, and just standing up to THE MAN.  Come to think of it…I like all those things!  Now combine that with a spunky attitude, a somehow flattering set of tights and cape and a scrappy sidekick  named Mungo the Cat and what do you get?  A SUPERHERO! I can become the world’s first Superhero Social Worker! (Quick, I better trademark that!)

Moral of the story – you can never tell where a little unforseen change is going to take you.  So I say take CHANGE and embrace that sucker for all it’s worth.  Push and pull it to and fro… shake it upside down…hell, spank it if you want to (well, maybe don’t go that crazy!)  But just remember to consider all the options before you, and mark out the one true path that works best for you.  Because you always have options.  And when you realize that, well the possibilities…the possibilities seem positively endless.  Trust me on this one.

Now, about that costume…. ūüôā

Flirting 101, or How I Learned to Not Love Dating So Much.

Flirting 101, or How I Learned to Not Like Dating So Much

I’m a flirt. ¬†Shamelessly so. ¬†Some might go so far as to say I’m an attention seeking freak really. ¬†I’ve been known to flirt with man, woman, animal, vegetable…I refuse to differentiate. ¬†No one, it seems, is off limits. ¬† I charm waitresses and bartenders into serving me first, I’m known as the dog whisperer as my canine friends come running, tails a-waggin’, through Point Pleasant Park, and it’s ridiculous the things I can make ‘pasghetti and meatballs do. ¬† And trust me, these suave, sophisticated ways are not new. ¬†In fact, for me, I think they practically date back to infancy. ¬†Now, bear with me a minute…I grew up with four siblings, one of which is a mere 14 months younger then me.¬† It’s hard to get any undivided attention from anywhere with all that noise.¬† Now, imagine being a toddler with messy hair and drool on my t-shirt and a smelly and likely way too full diaper, and THEN having to compete with a ¬†helpless tiny newborn baby girl all swaddled in pink. ¬†I remember my great aunt Jessie telling me about how, when my sister was born, I’d sit in the corner all doe eyed while all the well wishers paraded past me while I went unnoticed, eager to see the new bundle of joy, and then she, feeling sorry for me, would scoop me up and swing me in the air, and before you knew it was laughing and clapping my hands, with a roomful of rapt followers all of my own. ¬†So nowadays it’s a mischievous smile and a twinkle in my eyes, instead of giggles and clapping, but it all translates to that same attention seeking behaviour. ¬†Now, that’s not to say these um…skills have made my entire dating life easy. ¬†Quite the contrary. ¬†Remember, I said I was as good at attracting ’em, I didn’t say I was necessarily as good at keeping ’em. And keep in mind when the time came that I was finally comfortable with my sexuality, openly gay and actively dating and all that, I was left with, statistically speaking, under 10 percent of the male population – that’s technically not a whole heck of a lot to work with, people! And so, my dating life was still full of highs and lows, of learning experiences and horror stories, of guys just “kinda curious” or so deep in the closet you’d need GPS and a really big spotlight to locate ’em. ¬† And you know what else? ¬†It was a LOT of work. ¬† Having to put yourself “out there” meant BEING out there…and having to socialize. ¬†A lot. ¬†Bars, restaurants, coffee shops, weekend parties with friends of friends you barely know. ¬†That stuff gets expensive! ¬†And then there’s looking the part. ¬†Making sure you’re dressed well and smelling pretty just in case you happen to meet the ONE in the grocery store line. ¬†Or say working out on a treadmill when you’d rather be sucking ¬†back beer and pizza. ¬†And then there’s dating THE ONE and finding out, once the honeymooners over around day 3, that the love of your life is actually a stark raving mad lunatic, who thinks they’re part werewolf or a Martian in witness protection….and so then you decide not to date for awhile, maybe stay in and date “yourself”, which then turns into you watching all the seasons of Friends consecutively while binging on jellybeans and ¬†having deep conversations with your cat. ¬†Now none of that was me EXACTLY, but you get my point. ¬†You see, it’s true, my “powers” didn’t seem to work so well for me in the lucky in love department, that gift to attract attention, that boyish charm to keep it…. So instead, for a time, I decided to play matchmaker for my friends. ¬†To help them find the ONE. ¬†Because I do believe, for everyone, the ONE is out there. ¬†And so as far as that goes, my track record’s stellar.

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