Certain realities of money

Money. A reality and necessity of living. Especially in the wealthy, developed land we live in. A reality that has recently given me a not-so subtle kick in the pants. The pleasure of training and pursuing one’s dream without making much money (certainly not enough money to afford solo-rent, gas, organic/ free-range / GMO-free food, evenings at the local craft-brewery and any sort of plane ticket to anywhere) can apparently only go on for so long.

The difference between needing and wanting when it comes to the above mentioned list of creature comforts can get quite blurred with me. Living on my own gives me my coveted personal sanctuary. But the price tag on that, especially in Vancouver, is steep. My grocery delivery service allows me to eat good food, save time and avoid impulse purchases at the grocery store (whose checkout lines are a constant test of will against all of the rubbish magazines, chocolate bars and candy that call to you as you wait for your kale and avocados to be scanned and bagged). The personal and social benefits of enjoying a cold summer pilsner or warm amber ale with friends at the local watering hole are self-explanatory. A 6-pack of Glacier at home just cannot properly lift one’s spirits or quench one’s thirst. And then there are my monthly training expenses. Let’s just say they border on ridiculous.

The reality is that at some point, you either need to make some decent money to live or you have to say goodbye to ALL of those creature comforts we cannot seem to live without. I recently hit such a crossroads and found myself on the side with regular massages, farmer’s market double smoked bacon and surf sessions on the Oregon coast. I can only imagine how relieved my father was when I told him that I needed to venture back to the dark side of paper pushers and weekend warriors. I signed a year’s contract to run a gymnastics centre while my boss is on maternity leave. Unlike my previous job where I had to build up the gym from scratch, my sole responsibilities are to hold down the fort for a year and not make too many changes or mistakes. Not an entirely difficult task. And this deal was sweetened with enough flex time and freedom to continue a scaled-down version of my training regime.

First day on the job, obviously had to do a handstand...

First day on the job, obviously had to do a handstand…

I certainly didn’t jump at this endeavour right away as, with all decisions, there is an opportunity cost. That cost for me was training and networking time. For each hour on the job equaled one less hour I could train or one less hour I could meet a stunt industry professional on set for possible big break. But here’s the reality of it. I love a challenge, I love a regular paycheque (as I equate it to the hours of kickboxing lessons I can take and all of the exotic places I can escape to on my ‘vacation’ time) and I have a very hard time saying no. This is a great opportunity with a fixed timeline.

The traditionalist people in my life jumped for joy and offered little sympathy as I hung up my freedom to rejoin the working classes. The free-spirited people in my life, embracing alternative lifestyles were cautiously supportive. At the end of the day, the ability so save some more money away for a future bout “professional acquirer of stunt-related skills”, mixed with working for an awesomely energetic management and admin team who have graced me with some flexibility, made it very difficult to turn down. Do I feel like I have betrayed big dreams? Temporarily, yes. But that evening glass of organic vino, trip home to hold my new nephew and the occasional visit to the acupuncturist are pretty nice too.

AthleteInspired

 

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Turn right for the “easy road”, straight ahead for “struggle and bliss”

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Hey There,

Florida has quickly become a fuzzy memory as I have immersed myself back in my old training regime, with a few additions. Circus training, parkour and stunt fighting have continued and I have added kickboxing and indoor climbing to the mix. Really, I just wanted an excuse to browse the isles of MEC and Sport Chek and the only way I could justify that was to take up a new activity that required gear. Yay new gear!

There’s no other way to say this but “sh!t is getting real”. Not soon after 2015 was rung in did my first challenge of the year slap me in the face. Money has begun to get tighter, the distance from my friends and family is wearing thinner and the 3-week break from the Vancouver scene has erased the feeling of momentum I had towards breaking into the stunt world. That is when the sick and twisted opponent of fate comes knocking on your door to offer you an “easy way out”.

A job opportunity involving the same position I gave up in Calgary to pursue this insane dream of mine gets thrown in my lap. Steady hours, salary, benefits, security, responsibility… all of the things we are “supposed” to yearn for. To gravitate towards. I’m not going to lie, I was very tempted. It took a wine-infused conversation with a friend, who lit up with excitement at the thought of me settling down into a normal, reliable, restrictive routine, to realize that is the last thing that I want to do right now. I’m in this for the long haul folks. Poor, silver screen chasing, gypsy until I make it. Test passed, friendship over. Back to business.

Upon that moment of clarity I hopped into my car, Kobe, for a quick 4-day roadtrip to Calgary and back. Officially moving one step closer to being a Vancouverite, I started the process of selling my condo in cowtown. The drive to and from was fraught with the typical seasonal dangers: 2 hour highway closures for avalanche control, delays due to tipped over transport trucks, being forced to relieve oneself on the side of the road under the spotlights of 10+ trucks, digging yourself out of a snow bank that you swerve into will winding a slushy bend in the road, dirt caked headlights that cause a maximum night visibility of 10m so you have to tailgate the car in front of you so you can stay on the road. You know, the usual sort of stuff. Thankfully, a very good friend of mine lives in Penticton which broke up the drive nicely and provided a healthy dose “cup half full” conversation while we caught each other up on our goings on.

When I finally made it to Calgary, I met with the bank, packed up all of my things into nicely labeled boxes, donated 7 bags of purged belongings to the local Goodwill, brought in a cleaning crew and caught up with some of my favourite people for tea, beers and leftover ice cream cake. All of that in 36 hours. The only truly frustrating part was the hidden financial surprise that awaited me at the bank. Two words and one huge learning experience: Mortgage Penalties. And a crap tonne of them. I should’ve known better than to expect a bank to let you out of a mortgage before they collected all of their interest payments. They offered to waive the penalties if I bought a place in Vancouver within 90 days. I’m not sure if they said that to me as a joke or because they haven’t seen the housing market in Vancouver. There are DINKs (double income no kids) who still cannot afford to buy a house in Van, not sure how they expected me to purchase anything more than a walk-in closet for that amount. So mortgage penalties it is.

A prestigious line of work...as the backside of a horse

A prestigious line of work…as the backside of a horse

I made it back Vancouver, after an almost perfectly productive trip, in time for two days of circus rehearsal before our gig up on the top of Whistler. Have you ever spent an evening as a horses a$$? Because I now have. My performance role was inside this metal, horse skeleton that has moveable parts. I was in charge of the hind legs and the tail. Not as glamorous as working the head but you have to work your way up the performers pecking order. It was actually quite entertaining to watch all of the increasingly drunk people interact with the equestrian puppet. We got all of the leftover catered food we could pack into our bags and a mountain day pass. I no longer have an excuse for not attempting to ski again. That should be an interesting post.

Athlete Inspired