In the last two months some huge changes have taken place in our house and they are all to do with priorities. Until very recently I had a busy job as a director of a large company. I worked late every night, I worked weekends, I worked on holidays, I travelled all the time and I had very little time left to spend with my husband. The time we did have together was interrupted constantly by work, or overshadowed by the fact that I was exhausted.
Deciding to make a change
When the penny finally dropped that if I kept working in the same way forever I would risk both my health and my relationship, I looked at every possible way to reorganise my working life. There were still things I enjoyed about my job, I loved being in the middle of things, making decisions and and influencing the company direction so I looked for simple fixes. I tried eating better, exercising more, taking on more staff, acupuncture, I read books on time and energy management and saw an executive coach but I still couldn’t make enough of a difference to make me want to spring out of bed in the morning.
The turning point for me was reading Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver. It takes a light-hearted look at how the universe sends you massive signals about what to do and throws you a life line when you need it. It might sound a bit corny adn the book is a bit out there but so many odd things happened about the time that I read it, that it was hard to ignore. The most significant being a conversation with a friend about my job which lead to an opportunity for my first piece of work as an independent contractor. That gave me the courage to leave as I knew I at least had some work to do.
Since I left I haven’t regretted a second! My main priority is to organise my working hours so that I can concentrate on the things that matter, leaving time for fun, family and friends. My second, is to live more sustainably without feeling deprived and to share what I find out as I go in the hope that it helps someone else!
If I described myself as an environmentalist you would laugh and I would probably join you. My life is very far from squeaky green clean but making an effort is important to me and I think that everyone has a responsibility to do what they can, however small. What I found was that the busier I got and the more I earned, the easier it became to justify making choices that weren’t very eco or good for my health. Always in a rush there seemed no option but to take the car. Ready meals and take aways started to invade the kitchen and the number of plastic take aways boxes we have amassed is a bit embarrassing………..I felt like I was getting further and further away from what I really wanted my life to look and feel like.
So what am I changing?
- I work for myself so I can flex my hours to fit around other commitments and I don’t feel guilty making a commitment to do something frivolous like going for a walk on the beach. When I tried to define success for myself one of the things I listed was being able to leave work and walk on the beach or cycle through the woods. It seemed unobtainable but it isn’t.
- I now work in town so I can walk and get the bus to most places I need. I feel lots better for even getting a short walk to the bus stop rather than hopping in and out of the car!
- We have sold the second car as we really aren’t using either – hubby is much more energetic than me and cycles everywhere!
- I have the time to consider what I buy, to look at packaging and buy local. We are eating much better and our waste is going down.
- I have the time to indulge my old sewing hobby. The sewing machine is out and years with of mending has taken place, my wardrobe has been updated with simple changes and I have vowed not to buy any new clothes for the rest of the year. It is going amazingly well so far, mainly because the mending has given my wardrobe a new lease of life!
- There is space in my head to think about saving energy and reusing materials.
- Most importantly I have time to catch up with friends and family. I have seen more people. smiled more and laughed more in the last two months than I have in years!
- Over and above that I’m loving reading other people’s experience of simplifying their life and homemaking.
I have some specific challenges which are a mix of wanting to live more simply because it feels right and an attempt to cut costs because there has been such a dramatic change in our income.
The key challenges are:
- Buy no new clothes in 2014
- Buy no more toiletries in 2014 – a trawl of the bathroom revealed a ridiculous stash of part used products and miniatures released from hotels :0
- Reduce the amount of packaging we buy and consume – I’m not sure what an appropriate target would be though?
- Spend more time with friends and family
- And the one that is ridiculously hard to measure – laugh more and cry less – I guess you know if you’re there by the way you feel!
I hope you will follow my journey!