Life Lessons

18 06 2015

On Monday afternoon, I posted a link to this article, which proceeded to ignite my Facebook wall in a debate about the American work week and whether or not it’s realistic to follow your dreams and do what you love, when doing what you love is something “non-traditional” or “blue collar.”


My last “non-traditional” job- somedays, particularly this time of year, I really miss it.

I didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers, and the response was totally unexpected. The piece was a feel-good article that resonated with me because of recent conversations with my wonderful boyfriend Bill. Who, by the way HAS followed his dreams, is doing what he loves, and is not confined by the bounds of a 40-hour work week. Oh, and did I mention that his work has taken him to 70 countries and all 50 states (some many times) before he’s 40?

sword swallow

(it helps when you have a really unique skill)

Now, neither of us are making the big bucks, but we make enough. Heck, we could probably survive on less. We’re making changes in our lives so that we can have more/do more, without actually making more money. It’s pretty simple actually. Make some cut backs where you can. Do I really need that $4 latte? No, my french press and frother do just fine. Oh, and that $3 bottle of Kombucha? No sir, let’s make our own! (Experiment in progress, will let you know how it turns out). Leave a room? Turn off the lights. And making dinner at home is MUCH more cost effective than eating out! Sure, it takes some time, but if you plan ahead, it isn’t so bad! And, if you don’t sit in front of the boob tube, you might actually find out you enjoy cooking!

making pizza

I get it, kids complicate things and so do loans, among other things. But I guess what it comes down to for me, is that article reminded me of some life lessons that I’ve recently started to take to heart, which I feel compelled to share.

The first is that we don’t need as much stuff as we think we do. I’ve recently downsized my closet and donated a bunch of other stuff, that at this point, I couldn’t even tell you what it was, because you know what? I don’t miss it. And, if there was something I actually needed, I could go across the street the the thrift shop where I could likely find the thing I was looking for at a quarter the price. (The horror! Buying something used?!! 😉 )

donated clothes

Life isn’t about stuff. I’m sure you read that article that says happy people spend money one experiences not things. I totally agree. The money we spent on our recent trip to the Smokies was way better than a shiny piece of jewelry or a new jacket. And better yet? It probably definitely cost less! People are always worried about maintaining the lifestyle they have, which often includes far too many material possessions than one can keep track of. And for what? So you can have the nicer car than your neighbor? That will really make a difference when you’re on your death bed.

smoky mountains

The second lesson is that life is short. We only have so much time on this earth, and we live in a pretty amazing place. I don’t want to leave this world without going on some incredible adventures, seeing some amazing places, and above all doing what makes me happy. Sure, I’m lucky that I have a darn good job that I like, with benefits and all that jazz. I can take vacations and slowly chip away at my bucket list.

But, I want to do more, see more. (I’ve totally got my eye on an Around the World trip after meeting Jennifer a few months ago in Chicago.) And just to clarify- it’s not all about being on permanent vacation- there is work to be done everywhere, things that are worthwhile and meaningful.

I don’t have the answer, and at this point, I’m just rambling.

What I do know is that time is a resource we can’t get back, so we must spend it wisely.



10 responses

18 06 2015

I saw some of that debate. I think there are a couple of things about articles like that which can rub people the wrong way.
-Some writers on the topic take on a tone such that they imply that if you are working a corporate job, you are OBVIOUSLY wasting your life. That’s simply not true. I work a corporate job for a cause/company I have cared about for a long time. It happens to pay fairly well and require a lot of hours, but I don’t think that means I’m wasting my life just to make a lot of money; I (usually) like what I’m doing and am happy with the impact our work has on the industry we support. And since it happens to pay pretty well, I have the freedom to do a lot of things outside of work that I enjoy. This happens to be the work-life balance I’ve chosen, and it works for me.
-I think we have all met a few people who espouse the values of not spending your entire life working and not getting attached to possessions or money – but then ask to borrow your stuff, sleep on your couch, get rides in your car, etc. Sorry, buddy, live with your choices.

18 06 2015

Yes, I totally agree. There are a lot of people who are doing what they love in the corporate world, and that is great! There are all kinds of people out there, and everyone will have something different that works for them.

As for the borrowing, I think a lot of times the people that do want to cut back on some of those big ticket items are more open to the idea of communal living- which is why they’ll ask for a ride or to crash on your couch. I don’t see a problem with this, until it becomes an inconvenience for me. Exactly what you said- they’ve made the choices they did, and so if I can’t give them a ride, they need to find their own way, and be okay with that. And in many cases I’ve found, they get that- and don’t add a burden to me.

I get that everyone needs their “me” time and has “their stuff”- but does it really hurt that much to help someone out every once in awhile, when you have enough to share? Again, the people asking for the help need to understand that they should be adding to- not detracting – from the person who is lending their generosity.

18 06 2015

I’m cool with sharing, but I’ve given rides to people who, while in my car, complain about how horrible cars are. Um, GTFO.

18 06 2015
Your mother

Commenting about doing what you like to do and not working a 40 hour week in an office. I think when you are young, you see the adventure in working where you want to even if it is less money then you would get in a 9 to 5, 40 hour week job. I can also see switching your job if it becomes to stressful. But, If or when you want to get married and you choose to have a family that logic of working at a job for less money may just go right out the window. You have to have a 40 hour week job that gives you benefits. You are now a family person. Your family should be your #1 priority. You need that security of a 9 to 5 job with health benefits to take care of your family or at least a job of some sort that has health benefits. Yes, I am sure there are people that don’t like what they are doing, but do it because it pays for food on the table and doctor bills. I guarantee you, you won’t be able to travel around the world when you have children. So if you want that way of life do it now or wait until your kids are out of the house.

Now to the portion on your blog about saving money. I think that is a great idea not spending money on things you can make at home and saving your money to take a hiking trip or a special night out. Also getting rid of things you do not wear anymore and giving to those who need it is a great thing. You are also right about people feel they have to keep up with The Jones. or do better then them. But you can also give that money that you were going to buy your coffee for even something worth more.

Have you seen the movie or show called, Pay it Forward?. I think this is a good thing also. Here are some things you can use with that money you would have spent on coffee or you don’t even have to spend money

Check it out. Here’s some examples that might help give you some ideas
1. At a drive through, pay for the car behind’s meal and give the cashier a Pay it Forward card to pass on…You could do this at the train station, at a coffee shop – anywhere you like.
2. If it is raining, give your umbrella together with a card to someone who does not have one. (it might be worth taking a spare one with you 🙂
3. Visit an elderly neighbour’s house and ask them if they need to have anything they need repaired.
4. Donate some money to your favourite charity – perhaps collect some donation money from people at work.
5. Tell the manager of a restaurant how great your waiter/waitress was. This can happen in any store / business you visit. Aim at brightening someone else’s day
6. Talk to parking attendants – try and get them to hand out Pay it Forward cards instead of Parking fines – wouldn’t that be nice? Alternatively you could top up other people’s parking metres to stop them getting a fine.
7. Cook a casserole for a new mother. Caring for newborns is tiring and draining. Mothers will appreciate the ability to eat something home-cooked without having to cook it herself.
8. Buy Lottery Scratch-Off tickets and put one in an envelope with a “Pay It Forward Card” inserted. Hand it to a receptionist on the way out of a business appointment. You just might change that person’s whole life.
9. Give a homeless person some food vouchers along with a Pay it Forward card
10. If you are washing your own car or mowing your own lawn, do the same for your next door neighbor
11. At your office, thank the “little people”. Everyone’s part is essential and no one’s job is purposeless. Thank the mail guy, the girl who orders supplies, or the door person.
12. Drive an older person in the neighborhood to the grocery store (they will love the opportunity to get out of the house, as well) or if they aren’t able to go themselves, take their list and go to the store for them. If at all possible, pay for their things.
13. Be a mentor for someone who needs some support.
14.Do some work for a client or one that can’t afford your services free of charge – just ask that they Pay it Forward

20 06 2015

Yes and yes! Totally with you. Experiences > things, always. I’ve been reading the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and cannot wait until after IMCdA to really dive in and tidy, go through our stuff, donate, etc.!

A good friend of mine and her husband went on a six-month trip around the world for their honeymoon a few years ago. They each brought a backpack and had the most wonderful time! Totally on my bucket list, too (at least three months!). And, I hope you’re able to embark on your trip, too 🙂

20 06 2015

Yes! I read that- well technically I’m like 80% through…

So excited for your CdA race!!

22 06 2015

I think the beautiful point that is getting lost in all of this (and sparking the debate!) is that “happiness” and “balance” are subjective. What makes you happy may not make me happy (case in point, camping!), but this world is better off for having people who pursue their own versions of happiness and balance because no action occurs in a vacuum, every action affects another.

The second point is that we do have the freedom to choose (full stop – this is an incredible privilege!) and there is no need for anyone to get defensive about what someone else chooses! The old admonition, “learn to admire someone else’s beauty without questioning your own” applies here. We have this freedom because those before us chose to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, artists, soldiers, explorers writers… And all chose to share what makes their hearts beat a little faster with the world.

All that philosophizing to say, if 40 hours a week is killing you, scoop ice cream! Or fill in the blank with whatever makes your heart beat faster 🙂

22 06 2015

Yes, I 100% agree!

29 06 2015
Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?!

This is great. I read some of the debate on your wall, but I love how you explained it all here. I do work a lot of hours but not in a corporate, soul-sucking career. Working in the arts is truly satisfying but it’s also incredibly stressful in other ways, though – not knowing the future of live music and whether the audience will still exist in 20 years time, trying to expand our reach in a society that doesn’t necessarily value music other than largely untrained pop singers (who are awesome in many ways but it’s not the same!), corporations and individuals who have cut back on charitable giving, lack of governmental support for the arts compared to our peer first world countries, and expenses and salaries to pay that increase every year despite declining earned and contributed revenue for our organization. Anyhow, I’m babbling but just to say that as much as I love my job, it’s hardly all fun and games (I know on Facebook people tell me that I have the “coolest job ever” but of course who posts about the budget cuts they’re working on – not me!).

So I’m fortunate to work in a field that I love and I’m passionate about, and I feel is important to society. But sometimes with the declining support for this industry it’s hard to tackle each and every day when the problems seem insurmountable.

Anyhow, I applaud anyone who finds something they are passionate about and goes for it. But I also respect people who work because it’s *work* and it needs to be done. I don’t think everyone is meant to live their passions and dreams but if you can find your balance or combine your work with that, life seems more fulfilling.

29 06 2015

Totally get you! I think your job is rad btw. At the end of the day, when the good times, the fulfillment, etc. outweigh the stress and frustrating times, you’re doing something right!

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