It was a time when I was just over a decade away from paying off my mortgage. A time when I had a pension fund where my employer matched my contributions. A time where I maximized retirement savings plans. A time where my insurance needs were just that. "In Case of Emergency" funds; not a basic requirement, for what I was not able to save up for during my life time.
My mind back-tracked to a time where I was consumed with my financial state of affairs. I have often said that "It was a time when I could afford to retire and afford to die ... but I could not afford to live". It was a time when my priorities were all mixed up.
Since then, I have discovered the joy in spending what you have, when you have it. Living life. Experiencing the joy of doing something unexpected. Spending money on experiences instead of material belongings.
Part of my retirement savings went towards funding my stay-at-home venture during the first year. The rest of it went towards shingling our home. I withdrew the non-locked-in portion of my pension fund as a contingency plan during my most recent transition into a new job.
My retirement money allowed me to make good-for-me transitions within my work life. It also quite literally went towards keeping us sheltered from the elements of the outside world. Perhaps it didn't earn the astronomical rates that long term investing has the potential to do. But it funded 'the present' and provided choices to live life the way I wanted to live it. I had the ability to walk away from jobs that didn't fulfill the part of me that needed fulfillment at that point in my life.
Windfalls of cash have also found their way into my pocket. I suppose that I should have accumulated a nice little nest egg with a good portion of those unexpected funds. But I didn't.
What I have instead, is a small arsenal of life experiences. I have fixed up and maintained a home. I went back to school. I have danced. I have gone on spur of the moment trips. I have experienced a dance competition. I took a trip with my mom. I experienced a vacation of a lifetime, with friends from my life time. I have loosened up the purse strings and experienced joy whenever the opportunity arose.
I may not have accumulated much interest. But I am living a life that is interesting. I will have fond recollections of the years where I allowed myself the freedom to live the life I chose to live. I was not so consumed with The Budget, that I let life slip by.
I woke up this morning with part of a quote "Work like you don't need the money ..." wafting through my consciousness.
Work has been all consuming for me lately. I live, breath and sleep work-related-thoughts. I long for stability. A place of employment where I go every day, know the people I work with, know my job like it is the back of my hand and earn a pay cheque that I can count on.
As I switched between two different schools yesterday morning/afternoon, my world felt like it was topsy turvy and I confused what I thought I knew from one school, with the other. I am confusing names, people and I feel like I am in an altered state as I don't know who is standing next to me half of the time.
I counted up the potential days left to work this month and if I manage to work all of them, I will earn approximately $600.00 less than I did when I worked full time at one school. Does this affect my budget? You bet. Can I make it work? Yes, I can.
As I looked at the numbers, I felt weary. I wish that I didn't have to work. If only I was working because it was a choice; not a necessity ...
Then came the question of the hour. If I didn't have to work, where would I choose to work?
The answer came easily. I would do exactly what I am doing right now.
I would enjoy the status of 'substitute', because it gives me the possibility of booking days off that I may need. I may end up with an unexpected day off from time to time.
I would get to experience working with many different people (and I have had nothing but good experiences since I have been on the sub-list).
I would have the opportunity to work in old schools, new schools ... in affluent neighborhoods and their extremes.
I would have the chance to see that no matter what district children live in, they are all a mixture of cultures, behaviours, challenges and joys.
There is one variable that has remained the same no matter where I have worked within the school system. I absolutely love the feeling within those hallowed walls of learning.
I find myself drawn into conversations where I hear teachers struggling to find the best way to make a challenging situation work. I see small miracles when a child's eyes sparkle because of the way someone spoke to them.
If I was not getting paid, I would choose to volunteer at the school. I would find my niche and I would follow where ever that path led.
I am in the right place. If money was no object, this is where I would choose to be.
I must continue to make the most of each day, so that I can make a living doing what it is that I choose to do.
Work like you don't need the money
Dance like no one is watching
Sing like no one is listening
Love like you've never been hurt
And live life every day as if it were your last.
~ Author Unknown