It's been a while since I've posted and I seem to be saying that more often than I like. What it does tell me though is that I am settling into my new self and am not entirely focused on every minute detail of my transition. I suppose that is mostly because I am finally at a place where I am at peace.
I started this journey just two and a half years ago and it that short amount of time I have become a brand new man. I moved away from my home and family to a small isolated city in the Canadian arctic where I had a chance to start over, to be whomever I wanted. I had a brand new shiny clean start and the new story would be all mine.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the kind of person I want to be; I've even written some posts about men I admire. It's easy to get wrapped up in negativity, gossip, and misery if that is what surrounds you. It is really hard to be positive and kind when so many focus on what's bad, what's wrong, what's lacking in the world around them. Granted there are times when life will be shitty, people will be mean, and bad things will happen but just like with transition there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The hard part (and the most rewarding part) is being that light.
I made some great changes in my life last year and while I won't call them "resolutions" I did set myself some personal goals. I am happy to report that for the most part I achieved everything I set out to. I'd like to share a few of these things with you.
I stopped watching the news. This simple act has had a really profound impact on me. No longer do I feel sad, frustrated, angry and powerless about all the atrocities that are going on in the world, but I also am liberated from being spoon fed an opinion about it. Stop watching the news, be happy.
Another great thing that has really improved my life (and my savings account) is quitting drinking. Alcohol is a depressant and it does nothing to make you feel better. I have met many interesting and wonderful people who are not bar stars and I have a great and easily managed social life that does not involve going to a bar or pub, but instead revolves around, conversation, common interests and fun. Quitting drinking also helped me lose weight and I haven't made any poor decisions as a result of alcohol.
Along with quitting drinking, I stopped eating out at restaurants and the drive-thru. The only exception to this is for coffee and the occasional doughnut. I have learned to enjoy cooking my own food, grocery shopping, and have slowly acquired a fairly well stocked pantry and a lot of nice culinary utensils. I occasionally have people over for supper and always have something in the freezer if I am really not in the mood to cook. I know what I am eating, I know who has touched my food, and I know how long it's been sitting in the fridge. All around tastier and healthier!
This summer I rode my bike a lot. I also spent a lot of time outside in my kayak, hiking, wandering around in the bush and exploring the outdoors. I started taking my camera with me everywhere and all that practice paid off– literally. I sold two photographs this year. That might not sound like much, but it's two more than I sold last year! my goal was to ride my bike to work more days than I drove, so at least 3 of five days I was on two wheels. What I found was I was so out of shape! But more importantly, I LOVED it! The bike trail to downtown is gorgeous, filled with birds, squirrels and the odd red fox. Fresh air, no cars and a view of the lake plus it actually took me less time to bike to work than drive. Saved money on gas and got exercise, that's a double win.
Finally I set myself some financial goals. I took stock of what I had, what I owed, and what I needed to live every month. I created a budget based on the worksheets of the lovely Gail Vaz-Oxlade and stuck to my budget. I set a goal for how much money I wanted to make from my artwork and set a goal for RRSP savings. I achieved all of it. I paid off a ton of debt, saved a small emergency fund, and made a decent contribution to my retirement plan.
You can have a new start any day of the year, you don't have to wait for a new month, or a new year. Start over on a Tuesday in March. Every day is a new day and an opportunity to make choices that reinforce who you want to be. No matter what you want, no matter what your goals, you can start moving toward achieving them one small step at a time.
Best wishes to you all for a happy, healthy, prosperous 2013!