Two 20-year anniversaries for me

Two things happened yesterday afternoon, almost simultaneously, that revealed once again how bittersweet life can be.
First off, I have been applying for a disabled parking spot in front of my house for about a year now. I had actually stopped trying due to the many complications the city threw into this. I only really wanted to have a disability spot in front of my house, but the bylaw says there wasn’t enough space there, so it would have to go in front of my neighbour’s house. They were completely in support of this, but I still hated doing that. Then the city also insisted that the parking signs couldn’t just be on my side of the street but had to be on both sides.
I Hated that too.
So, having given up on and almost forgotten the process due to the complications as well as the enormous amount of time it took, when I got home yesterday to find the posts were up was once again bittersweet. I’m glad to have a place to park my retrofitted accessibility van, but I’m sad that it has come to this (on so many levels).

Now to the 2nd 20th anniversary.
When I went inside my house I checked Facebook which, I confess somewhat embarrassingly, has become a bit of a routine for me. I went to the section of Facebook called “on this day”. It was there that I was reminded that it was exactly 20 years ago that I was hired in this current job of mine. In June 1997 I was hired as the director of the Salvation Army Friendship Room; a small little drop in center for folks experiencing homelessness. It was open five afternoons per week and served suppers on the days we were opened.
There were five staff, including myself. (I had worked there seven years before that as the cook for a couple of years. I then went to university, got my degree, met Erinn, and the rest as they say, is history.)
From there The Friendship Room evolved into the Gateway shelter, which I was privileged to develop and run for more than a decade. Then just under 4 years ago I transitioned into my current role as mission strategist of all 5 of our SA downtown shelters.
Through those years I had opportunity of travelling to much of the world and all of Canada as a speaker and consultant, meeting and speaking with folks doing similar work in other places.
It has been a wonderful, wild, beautiful, and yes sometimes painful ride.

So yesterday afternoon within about a 30-minute span, I was reminded that 20 years ago I had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and hired at The Friendship Room at around the same time.

Talk about bittersweet!

Life truly does have a funny way about it. There is so much joy, love, beauty, and wonder.
And there is also so much pain, suffering, confusion, fear and doubt.
There are many days where I wish the downside of life just didn’t have to happen.
But I know that it does. For everyone.
I also know that The hard stuff has taught me so much about how to truly value the good things. Without the struggle I have a feeling I would have taken for granted the beauty or life.
At the end of the day I know how much I have been blessed/privileged/lucky to have lived the life I’ve been given.

But truthfully I am kind of tired of the hard stuff, not just my own but the pain of the world around me, and often feel as though enough is enough.

I honestly hope and pray to God that, no matter what happens, I can experience more of the beauty of life in some way, shape, or form for as long as possible.

For now, I am thankful for these past 20 years.
Both the highs in the lows.

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