Looking Back, Looking Forward

I am currently in the last semester of my three-year teaching contract at Qatar University. However, just before winter break, as I was making preparations for my trip to Vietnam, I was notified that I was being renewed for a second three-year teaching position at QU—I will be in Doha for the World Cup 2022. Six years in Qatar. This will be the second most time that I will have spent working at an institution during my teaching career. I spent seven years working at Winona State University, but two of those years were as a graduate student.

This past November, I made my last student loan payment. This month, I made my last child support payment. In two months, I will reach my savings goal for an emergency fund. After that, my extra money is going towards investments for retirement. This is the first time that I am out of the red, not living paycheck to paycheck. In the Vietnamese tradition, before Tet (Lunar New Year), one is supposed to pay all debts of the previous year before the start of the new year. Before this most recent Tet, I was able to satisfy this obligation.

My oldest son is working fulltime and living in an apartment with a friend. My youngest son is completing his last semester of high school and will graduate this May. My sons will both be nascent adults at this point and, for the most part, accountable for the direction of their lives. The parenting stage of my life will be at an end. I will need to bide my time until the grandparenting stage commences.

Since coming to Qatar, I have visited 17 different countries. By the end of 2020, I will have visited 25 different countries. One of my goals is to visit 50 different countries before I turn 50. I will be halfway to achieving this goal by the end of this year.

Before, when people asked me what my hobbies were, I would tell them, “Dunno. Work?” Now, I can honestly say, “Working out in the gym six days a week. Writing and blogging every week. Taking pictures, mostly street photography. Cooking new dishes (lately I have been interested in pho recipes). Tending to my house plants. And, traveling as much as I can.” I am in a period of my life where, for the time being, I have a healthy work/life balance.

In the past, there were intermittent relationships. Going forward, I am content being single for the remainder of my days—more focused on cultivating platonic friendships than accruing romantic exes. I am debt free, child free, and mostly fancy free. What would someone need to bring to the table for me to give my hard-earned freedom up? 

For the longest time, I struggled to get my life in order. Now, with my life generally in order, I struggle with how to best spend my remaining time.

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