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I just want to say this: I really love my life.

It might seem odd that I feel the need to boast about this fact, but it’s true.  Not too long ago, I never could have imagined being so down-right content with the life I’m growing.  I regularly felt stuck in patterns of instability, discontent with the choices I was making and the options I felt were available to me.  I wanted to be someone else.  I wished I could live someone else’s life.

But this morning, as I lay in bed slowly waking up next to my beautiful wife and with our cats snuggled beside us, I began thinking about how that really is no longer the case.  Of course, there are things about my life I would still love to change.  Kathryn and I have decided to focus on being healthier this year, physically, emotionally and financially. We want to be more intentional about the foods we choose, the money we spend, and the way we communicate and cope in moments of stress.  We want to spend more time outdoors and being active, and less time sitting at our computers or on the couch.

But if you asked me if I wanted to trade lives with someone else, my answer is no longer the same.  I wouldn’t give up what I have to be anyone else.

It’s easy in moments of difficulty to forget how happy I am everyday, how grateful I am for the opportunities I’ve had and the people in my life.  So today, I am taking inventory.  This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the aspects of my life I am truly grateful for today, the things that are life-giving.

Work: I know I am blessed to have found a career that fulfills me.  From my days volunteering in a nursing home, to working in group homes and now studying autism and behaviour science, I am constantly learning from the people I work with and am privileged to share life with them.  As my program comes to a close in the next two months, I am looking forward to the new opportunities ahead.  I have found meaningful work and I am so grateful.

City: I love living in Hamilton.  It’s true that the city has a crappy reputation, but like so many aspects of life, the beauty of this place is all around if you care enough to look for it.  I love that I can get to school and work without being stuck in rush hour traffic.  I love that we can walk to our favourite restaurants and cafes.  I love the diversity of the buildings and the people and the opportunities.  I love that I can get to the Bruce Trail or countless waterfalls in a few short minutes, even though I don’t go nearly often enough.

Family: Kathryn and I have both said how much we appreciate that we each get along with the other’s family.  Becoming part of her family has been so wonderful and I thoroughly enjoy spending time with her sisters, their boyfriends and her parents.  Her family is caring and competitive and funny, and I enjoy seeing the traits I love in her reflected in them too.  And, I couldn’t be more grateful to my own family for embracing Kathryn.  Having passed through the young adult stage of developing my own independence by pulling away from family, I am happy to be back living closer to everyone and fostering our connections.  I really look forward to get-togethers with my parents, brothers and their partners, and my wonderful niece, and I am grateful for how they’ve helped to shape who I’ve become.

Cats: When we got our two kittens, Elliot and Gus, nearly two years ago, I swore I would not be the kind of pet owner that treated my cats like children.  But the truth is, Kathryn and I love to spoil them.  Because we’ve had them from day one, they are so well socialized and regularly curl up with us on the couch or bed.  Elliot even insists on laying on a chair right next to Kathryn when she’s working at the computer.  I’ve always said I want to have cats with dog personalities, and these boys definitely do.  They are entertaining and adorable and bring me small joys every day.

Kathryn: I could never have imagined that loving someone would be like this.  She fills me with joy and gratitude and hope every single day.  When we moved in together we both figured there would be days we just wouldn’t want to be around each other, everyone needs a break from time to time.  But we really just love to be together.  I love that she is competitive and playful and intelligent and compassionate and funny.  I love washing dishes with her, and cuddling on the couch with her, and working through tough moments with her, and planning our future together.  From the day I met her to this moment, her smile still takes my breath away.  I love the life we are building together and I am so excited to see what comes next.

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