Pay it Forward

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3.5 years ago, was broke as hell, living in my mother-in-law's house with my wife and son, hating most of it. I was overworked, underpaid, and downright desperate to be out of the situation I found myself in. I lived in that house for 3 years, and most of that time I was still unable to make ends meet. But I knew I loved what I was doing. I also knew that it would give me the flexibility that I wanted. That flexibility was how I got in this mess, so it god damn better well be worth it!

I could write a sad story about how much it sucked (and it mostly did!) But honestly these years were where I earned my programming chops. I was given just enough space to figure it out. Just enough room to rebuild my career, get some perspective, and completely change the path of mine, and my family's future.

I just needed a boost. A chance to prove myself, and for all of the flaws of that time of my life, it certainly provided that for me. By the time I left that house, I had networked, worked, and built up enough of a reputation. That, plus some good old fashioned luck, and I got a job offer at Sandhills Development, on the AffiliateWP team. That job changed my life, and really, it has felt like a springboard for my career. One that I will never take for granted.

But more than that, I'll never take for granted the kindness that my mother-in-law offered me and my family when I needed it most. It was a serious sacrifice to her sanity, wellbeing, and life in-general. One we desperately needed, though. Sometimes people just need a boost, and you know, that's exactly what she gave us.

So it's no surprise that today, when I reflected on my personal financial goals, that one of the top things on my list was "take care of my mother in law." You just don't forget stuff like that, ya know?

I'm really lucky to be where I am now, and I know that. I've always been fairly interested in helping those less-fortunate than me. At one time, I ran a twice a month meal for my local Friends of the Homeless chapter, delivering the food myself. (We never offered Turkey in November because they were always so sick of it by then!). But I find myself now feeling more generous than ever. Every time I go to the grocery store, I buy 3 or so meals for Christmas. For the first time ever, I can realistically afford it, so I pay it forward. It feels good.

I have an acquaintence who's currently using my parcel of land in Taos. They've been there for nearly two years now, parked, and working to get themselves put-together enough to move on from there, purchasing their own parcel of land and starting the life they actually want. They're invited to stay as long as they need, and I talk to them frequently to discuss how things are going. I know that this is a big deal for them, and I'm grateful to be able to give them such an opportunity.

Sometimes, more than anything, someone just needs a little push. That's it. Just a modicum of breathing room. Enough space to reflect, get their stuff together, get their goals assembled, and a chance to execute.

If you're as fortunate as I am, are you paying it forward too? I hope so. One act of kindness can completely transform a person's life.