November 11, 2021

Reflections of the year

While many commemorate this day as Remembrance Day, it has particular significance for me this year. It marks my one-year anniversary of embracing city living in my beautiful Docklands apartment. My first year living here definitely didn’t unfold the way I thought it would. When I accepted the offer for this apartment at the end of 2019, who knew a pandemic was to come?

I wanted to move into the city to be in the heart of it all and enjoy Melbourne’s offerings through food, nightlife, arts, culture, and sports. Unfortunately, COVID-19 had different plans. It was November 2020 when I moved into the city, and it was during one of Melbourne’s many infamous lockdowns. This meant that the lifestyle I was looking forward to experiencing had to be put on hold. With that said, there have been short periods when restrictions were lifted this past year, and I was able to briefly live out my city-guy fantasy. I attended a football match and tried out some restaurants, but unfortunately, the vibe wasn’t there. You could definitely see the effect of the pandemic on the atmosphere. Although I’m not one to be out constantly, I enjoy new experiences, and it’s always nice to have the option available. I am now one year into this journey, and Melbourne is properly opening up again. I can feel the city’s energy returning, and more than ever, I am genuinely excited to explore what it has to offer.

Image Description: Jono sitting in his wheelchair, looking directly at the camera and smiling. In the background is the city landscape with people sitting around a musician. Jono is wearing a blue t-shirt and bue shorts.

While we can move forward into more promising times, I need to reflect on the year that I’ve had. One thing I can take away from this year in Melbourne is that lockdown fatigue was real. If I’m being honest, I didn’t realise how difficult it would get or how much it had affected me until I had time to reflect this week. In my previous posts, I had discussed the possibility of moving up to Queensland, but upon thinking on it deeper, I realised that I was just craving some vibrance and energy. Ultimately, I was trying to escape lockdown rather than Melbourne itself. The Queensland move is not off the books entirely, but truthfully I don’t know what I want yet, and I’m still on the journey of figuring it out.

Although this year has been quite restrictive, these constant and lengthy lockdowns have provided a lot of time for me to work on my brand, which I’m grateful for. After a significant rebranding process, the business continues to gain momentum, so much so that I now have representation from an agency, which is not something I expected at all. I’m currently writing opinion pieces for organisations like HireUp and being asked to speak at university events. There are also a few projects brewing on the side (details to come soon). Career-wise, things are looking up. Often it feels like I’m running two businesses, though: my brand and the management of my support workers. This is the first time I’ve managed support workers for daily support, and while the pros outweigh the cons, I am essentially always working. If a worker wants a shift off or calls in sick, it’s my responsibility to find their replacement or I won’t have any support. Despite that, there’s nothing like having the autonomy to decide who you want around you. Being able to easily change something that you’re not happy with is a liberating feeling. After a month of living in the city, I realised that most of my then-current workers had a poor work ethic. I also wanted more flexibility and freedom in my support. So, when my primary worker left, I let most of the other workers go and decided to start fresh with support. After much trial and error this past year, I now have a support team with whom I’m over the moon.

This year has thrown a lot at us collectively and individually. Personally, I have learnt a lot, achieved a lot and isolated A LOT. Reflecting on the year I’ve had in this space prompted me to think about what I’d like to accomplish in the coming year. Call these my early new years resolutions if you wish. A few things on the list are:
-        Release a series of resources on support workers (Currently in the works)
-        Get back to regularly attending Ice Hockey games
-        Try speed dating
-        Form more partnerships with organisations (in and out of the disability sector)
-        Travel around Australia to run talks and workshops
-        Continue to write blogs and opinion pieces
-        Create more social circles
-        Find a new hobby

For now, all I can say is, check back here in November 2022 to see how far I was able to go.

Comment below one thing you want to achieve in the coming year.

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