Quote: The Joke Is On Them

Don’t let others define you by your paid employment:  If you find a way to live the Good Life and you are giving to the world and having a blast, the joke is on them.”

~Colin Beavan, How to Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness that Helps the World  

 

Quote: Keep the Poet Alive

“The only way to love a person is not, as the stereotyped Christian notion is, to coddle them and bring them soup when they are sick, but by listening to them and seeing and believing in the god, in the poet, in them. For by doing this, you keep the god and the poet alive and make it flourish.”

~Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

A Few Good Reasons to Appreciate Your Day Job

Find your passion! Follow your dreams! Quit your day job!

Great advice, but what if you’re not ready to follow it? Maybe you don’t even want to. There’s nothing wrong with earning a decent living from a “day job” while nurturing and developing your creative side outside of work. Most of us weren’t meant to be or do just one thing. We’re complicated individuals, with multitudes of interests and abilities. We were never meant to define ourselves by what we do to earn a paycheck.

Austin Kleon sums it up perfectly in his bestseller Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative:

“The truth is that even if you’re lucky enough to make a living off doing what you truly love, it will probably take you a while to get to that point. Until then, you’ll need a day job.

A day job gives you money, a connection to the world, and a routine. Freedom from financial stress also means freedom in your art. As photographer Bill Cunningham says, “If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do.”

A day job puts you in the path of other human beings. Learn from them, steal from them. I’ve tried to take jobs where I can learn things that I can use in my work later — my library job taught me how to do research, my Web design job taught me how to build websites, and my copywriting job taught how to sell things with words.”

Your day job buys you some breathing room in the budget. It pays the bills, and hopefully provides you with some savings and disposable income for travel or other meaningful expenditures that contribute to your overall happiness.

Hopefully, your day job offers you additional benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings, to further enhance your (and your family’s) financial security.

Having a day job takes the pressure off of pursuing your passions, making it easier to enjoy them when money isn’t a factor.

The structure and schedule of a day job forces you to use your free time more efficiently.

Your day job may provide more social interaction than the “lonely creative life” of an artist, writer, etc. You may also make valuable contacts and connections for your freelance/consulting/side-gigging self.

You can learn valuable skills at your day job that may transfer into other areas of your life, both now and in the future. Everything you’ve done in your life so far has made you who you are today. Don’t discount any of it.

You may be passionate about some aspects of your day job, such as marketing or workers’ rights, that keep you engaged and involved in activities you enjoy.

Maybe you actually LIKE your day job. It’s OK to admit it! It may not be what you dreamed you’d be doing at this point in your life, but if it meets some of your needs and makes you happy most of the time, there’s nothing wrong with that.

~PEACE~

Freedom From Choice

For me, the foundation of a simpler, streamlined life is built on good habits. In her new book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin asserts:

“A habit requires no decision from me, because I’ve already decided. Am I going to brush my teeth when I wake up? Am I going to take this pill? I decide, then I don’t decide; mindfully, then mindlessly. I shouldn’t worry about making healthy choices. I should make one healthy choice, and then stop choosing.”

I agree with this approach, and have had some success with using habits and routines to save my time and brainpower by eliminating some of the decision-making from my day.

When I eat the same healthy breakfast or lunch every day, I have one less thing to agonize over during the course of my day.

Dressing in the same basic work “uniform” saves so much time — no more staring into the closet trying to figure out what to wear every morning!

My friend Norm starts every day by going for a run, without fail. It’s as much a part of his morning routine as showering and brushing his teeth.

Why reinvent the wheel every day when there are so many aspects of our lives that we can put on autopilot? By eliminating some of these mundane decisions, we can free up our minds, and our time, to focus on more interesting choices and opportunities.

Honestly, though, the only downside I’ve found to this method is that I do get bored sometimes. A soothing routine can start to feel like a rut after a while. I crave variety in my diet. I get sick of wearing the same old clothes all the time. So once in a while, I make the conscious decision to mix it up, at least for a day or two.

But after I get it out of my system, I usually return to my same comforting routines and good habits. What can I say? When you know what works for you, you stick with it!

~PEACE~

 

 

A Tiny House Alternative Worth Considering

From the age of 10 until I was almost 35, I lived in a mobile home. Two of them, actually: first in a trailer park with my parents, then with my now-husband on our own land. When we built the house we live in now, I joked that my only non-negotiable requirement was an upstairs.

In my 25 years of mobile home living, I learned to appreciate their efficient use of space. I also enjoyed a lot of years without a big mortgage, which enabled us to save a good chunk of the construction costs for the new house. Now, we rent out our mobile home to pay our (small and almost-paid-off) mortgage. The old trailer has been very good to us!

In her book Trailersteading: How to Find, Buy, Retrofit, and Live Large in a Mobile Home, Anna Hess profiles a collection of folks who have discovered the advantages of mobile home living. For a number of people, mobile homes don’t carry the stigma of “trailer trash,” but rather represent freedom from big mortgage debt and the opportunity to live a simpler life.

I’m all for that. How about you?

~PEACE~

Commitment and Accountability

According to Gretchen Rubin, in her latest book Better Than Before, one of the best strategies for forming a new habit (and sticking to it) is the Strategy of Accountability.

“Accountability is a powerful factor in habit formation, and a ubiquitous feature in our lives. If we believe that someone’s watching, we behave differently. Deadlines help us keep the habit of working. Late fees help us pay our bills on time. Grades help us study. Attendance records help us get our children to school on time. When we believe that we may be held accountable for our actions — even when we’re accountable only to ourselves — we show more self-command.”

I am invoking this strategy by declaring publicly, right NOW, my commitment to publish a new post on Downshifter’s Journal every day during the month of May.

My posts won’t necessarily be long, or brilliant, or PERFECT, but they WILL be there every day for you, my followers, to hold me accountable!

I’m really looking forward to challenging myself, developing my writing practice with you, and making Downshifter’s Journal a daily part of my life (and, I hope, yours). Please don’t let me fall behind, and in exchange, I’ll try not to get all preachy, or bore you too much.

“Don’t be a writer, be writing.” – JamesClear.com

~PEACE~

Friday Favorites: Free Range Humans!

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

Friday Favorites: Free Range Humans!

For the past two weeks, I’ve been immersed in Marianne Cantwell’s book Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9-5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills. 

I’ve read quite a few of the “Discover Your Passion, Follow Your Dream, and Live a Life You Love”-type books over the years, but most of them left me flat. They encourage you to dream big, offer exercises to help you figure out your strengths and passions, but fall short when it comes time to develop and implement the plan to take you from where you are now to where you need to be.

THIS BOOK IS DIFFERENT!

Cantwell dares us to dream the dream, but follows through with the concrete strategies to make those dreams a reality. As a life coach and former Career Cage Human herself, she draws on her own experiences, as well of those of her clients, to guide us all down the not-so-scary path to earning a living on our own terms. She offers dozens of case studies in order to help us come up with our own ideas, test them, and put them into action.

“Employment is risky,” she cautions. Real job security comes from being in control of your own time and income, not from being at the mercy of a single employer. Her Free Range lifestyle seeks the less-risky middle road between employment and entrepreneurialism.

Cantwell’s unique coaching strategy emphasizes:

  • Differentiating your product or service by playing to your own unique individual strengths, experiences, and knowledge.
  • Getting started, QUICKLY, and for little-to-no money.
  • Optimizing your limited resources for maximum impact in development, marketing, etc.
  • Working wherever, whenever, and however YOU choose.

Once you read the book and adopt the Free Range Human mindset, you’ll never be willing to settle for a regular job again!

~~PEACE~~

So Many Books, So Little Time!

Winter in New Hampshire is a great time for curling up next to the woodstove with a good book, but I’ve been downloading books on my Kindle faster than I can read them! Here is my current reading TO DO list, in no particular order:

I would love to hear from you if you’ve read any of the above, or have additional recommendations to share. Thanks!

Slow Down!

For the past week, I’ve been reading Ernie Zelinski’s book The Joy of Not Working. The title says it all, I thought. But does the concept of finding joy in not working really need further clarification? For a lot of people, apparently, it does.

Unfortunately, according to Zelinski, most working folks just don’t know what to do with ourselves when we’re not working. Our work-life balances are weighted so heavily on the work side, that we don’t know how to enjoy our leisure time, if we even allow ourselves to have any. For many, the prospect of being unemployed or retiring is terrifying. Some of us are so afraid to be alone with our own thoughts, it seems, that we just keep running on the treadmill to escape them. We’re sick, we’re exhausted, we’re bored, and we’re boring.

Instead of using our rare leisure time wisely, we waste it on “passive leisure” activities to distract us from our misery: watching TV, hanging out in bars, and wandering around shopping malls. So many of the things we think we want — bigger homes, new clothes, the latest electronic gadgets, expensive cars, etc. — are dictated by the media, our “friends” and relatives, and most of all, the people who are going to profit from selling us all of these things. So we keep chasing the money. To buy the things. To fill the empty holes in our boring lives, in our souls. Is this living?

I know, however, that there are plenty of people out there who are tired of the “live to work” mentality that has ruled our culture for so long. The tide is turning. Change is in the air; I can smell it, like springtime. Forget about trying to keep up with the Kardashians. We want time to think. Time to live well-rounded lives. We don’t want to be overworked zombies anymore. And we don’t need to clutter up our homes with more shit from Walmart either!

Do you feel like your work-life balance needs an adjustment? Then take a few days off from work, or even a week or two if you can, and dedicate yourself to reclaiming your time and your life. I mean it! Take the time to really think about the things that are important to you. Meditate on it. Don’t be afraid to dream. Think BIG. Forget about what everyone else says you should want or need or have or be. What kind of life do you want? How much money, how much stuff, do you really need? How do you define happiness, and what’s it worth to you? Come up with a plan, and implement it like your life depends on it, because it does.

Zelinski actually recommends making a list of at least 300 “Get-A-Life” activities, and offers his own list of 300 for inspiration. So climb a mountain if you want to. Quit your job. Write a book. Get a better job. Walk in the woods. Start your own business. Learn to play an instrument or speak a new language. Volunteer. Take a road trip. Work for free. Buy a hammock. Take a class. Clean out your closets. Chew your food. Play with your dog. Plant a tree.

Then after you’ve made your own list, and crossed off a few things, sip a glass of wine (or other beverage of your choice) on the front porch in the early evening and watch all your stressed-out neighbors race by on the way home from their miserable all-consuming jobs. Poor bastards.

We all have so much potential. Don’t waste it all on work. We are so much better than that, and we deserve so much more than that. Let other people run in the rat race. Smile and wave and cheer them on from your front porch, glass of wine in hand. We know better. The fast track is so yesterday!