I had a SEO-optimized post ready to go for today. But then, I realized that this week was Thanksgiving. And while I’ve been working on writing posts about the benefits of working for the federal government and helping federal employees retire early, this is my blog and I know I have some readers that enjoy reading my other posts too. (Hi Katie!).
So today I’m writing a post about all I’m thankful for in this crazy 2020. And if you’re a federal employee here for advice about federal benefit and leave policies, I’ll be back with a super helpful post next week.
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Note: 2020 has been a challenging year for almost everyone. If you have suffered many big losses, you might not like enumerating things you are thankful for. That’s okay! You do you.
I now understand that our health is the most valuable thing we will ever have. Since health seems to be a controversial topic in the personal finance space- I thought I should clarify my position. I believe staying healthy is a combination of personal responsibility, how wealthy you are, and just plain luck. You can eat nothing but salads and lift weights every day and still get cancer. And having a low income is a giant risk factor for having diabetes.
Regardless of how I got here, I’m happy to report that I’m extremely healthy. As I approach the age of 40, I feel like I’m in the best health of my life. I’ve put on a lot of muscle mass in the past few years and dropped a few extra pounds. I’m able to move my body through this world without pain and hope to be able to do so for decades to come.
Beyond physical health, I’m thankful for having good mental health as well. COVID has tested us all. However, most days I’m able to navigate through things about as well as can be expected. And on my best of days, I’m able to laugh a little bit with my wife about how crazy this all is.
Finally, I’m so thankful that our family has been COVID free (so far, fingers crossed). Our middle two kids haven’t left the house except to exercise outdoors for like 9 months now. While that’s getting a little old, and we find new ways to annoy each other daily, it’s a real gift that we’ve all been so healthy this year.
When we got married, someone wrote us a card that said, being married doubles your joys and halves your sadnesses. (Or something like that). Mrs. Gov means everything to me. And I’m so glad to have her in my life– especially this year.
I’m not saying it’s been easy. We’ve had kids running around the house, ravaging our pantry and fighting with each other while we’ve tried to work for months. I don’t think I’ve had any memorable alone time (besides locking the bathroom door to have a BM) for 252 days and counting. It’s hard to be a fully present, compassionate romantic partner when you don’t have any alone time. But we’re doing pretty good all things considered.
And I speak of the kids as if they were some sort of terror. They’re not. When I get space from the kids, I’m able to realize how cool they are. The older two are doing amazing at (online) school. And the youngest is doing pretty cool stuff too. Although the pandemic is tough, we’ve all been forged together into a tight family unit.
I have gushed before about how much I love our neighborhood. I love how everything we ever need in the world is 2 miles or less from our front door. We both bike to work. We have some of the best restaurants in the state within walking distance from our house. Every day I can run in an amazing natural area that Aldo Leopold himself planned out. Yes, it costs more to live here than the ‘burbs, but the benefits of living in such an amazing neighborhood are worth it.
You would think that maybe I’d be regretting our home location this year. We live in a 1920’s bungalow with only 300 square feet per person. All of those restaurants have been closed (or just as well might be closed) this year. And Mrs. Gov and I have been working at home most of the year. It would seem like maybe there would be no benefit to living here during COVID.
However, I am more appreciative of my neighborhood than I’ve ever been. The great thing about old neighborhoods is that they were designed to be walkable. I have been walking so much (with no destination) since COVID started. I’m thankful for the sidewalks. And I’m thankful for all of the tiny parks that dot the neighborhood.
Sometimes I like to complain about my job. Surviving a government shutdown is a challenge. And despite Darcy’s analysis on government vs. private sector jobs, I know I could make more money in industry. But during the really bad moments in the world, my job takes care of me.
I remember being incredibly thankful for my government job in 2008 when the economy was crumbling all around me. And I’m even more thankful for it this year. Not only am I still getting a paycheck, but my job can be done safely from anywhere thanks to my government laptop.
Knowing that I had a safe paycheck has made it much easier to weather this storm as a family. And my job has paid me well enough that we’ve been able to save most of our income for a rainy day. Working for the federal government is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. And I’m incredibly glad I stumbled into government service at a young age.
Readers- do you know how happy I am now that I have a dog? (Maybe those of you who follow me on Twitter know). Anyway- adopting Kenny the greyhound was maybe the best part of 2020.
As a kid, I was afraid of dogs. I really wanted a dog when I was in kindergarten. My dad knew a farmer who had some farm dogs that had a litter and we adopted a very inbred farm dog who had a lot of energy. That dog would never calm down and would jump at me constantly. I remember it was my job to feed the dog and I would throw food over the fence to the dog-run we built in the back yard and run away before it pounced on the fence and knocked me over..
Luckily, as an adult, I was introduced to people with pet dogs that were actually nice. My favorite neighborhood dog was a greyhound named Coltrane who was super mellow. Once I learned that greyhounds pretty much sleep all day and night, it seemed like the perfect dog for someone traumatized by a high energy dog as a kid.
Kenny makes me smile. A lot. He is extremely mellow and is happiest when he’s on the dog bed. But he’s also extremely loyal. For the first three months after we got him, whenever I would walk into the room he would jump awake and walk right over to my side. If he could talk, I imagined him saying “OMG, my human might need me! I need to get there right now”. Mrs. Gov has taken to calling him “the 80 pound shadow” or “Velcro dog” because he likes being stuck to your side.
I love how Kenny is always living in the moment (something I strive to work towards with meditation). And he is so loyal, affectionate, and calm. While a dog could never fully replace human connection, his ability to show love, loyalty, and happiness without judgement or expecting reciprocity is amazing and makes me smile daily.
And of course, I ‘m thankful for you, my readers. I love hearing from you in all of the comments and emails I’ve received in the almost 2 years since I started the blog. I’m so happy that I’ve been able to help people navigate the federal benefits and retirements system. This year I am so thankful that I got to help someone by writing my first reader case study.
Seeing my blog traffic numbers grow this past year has been especially exciting. I’m super happy to know that I’m helping more and more of my coworkers find answers to the questions they’re having.
If you have ideas for a post you’d like to see, or if you’d like your own reader case study, feel free to shoot me an email, send me a Tweet, or write on my Facebook wall. I would love to hear from you.
What are you thankful for this year? Leave a comment!
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