Monday, June 3, 2013

Full disclosure (or 'how does she do it?')

So today it begins! This is my first Monday off because from now on I won't have to work on Mondays anymore, or on Fridays for that matter. Tomorrow will be my first part time workday! I can't believe it's really happening (I believe I've said that before, but it's still true).

I wanted to talk to you a little bit about this decision, mostly because of a rather snarky response I got from somebody who was all "I couldn't do it with my expenses and living alone and all and I don't understand how you can!" and this from someone who makes many hundreds more than me and considering the fact I live alone too.

It's not so much what this person said as the tone it was said in. I recognized that tone. It's one I've been expressing myself quite often when I heard of somebody working less or taking sabbaticals and things like that, although I have never expressed it to anybody else thank god, because it feels yucky to be on the receiving end of that tone (Don't feel sorry for me though, every other person I've talked to has been absolutely marvelous about the whole thing!).
It's the tone of resentment and just a little petty jealousy. It's not that you don't want the other person to have what they have, it's just that you want something like that too and you don't know how to go about it and that's frustrating as hell. I know this, because I've been that person for years and years. It's easy to watch people get and do things you don't want, yay for them. It's hard to see them get and do things that you do want. Why do they have it so easy and why do you have it so hard?



So that's why I'm writing this post to give a bit of disclosure and also perspective on this whole working less thing. Because as often as we see somebody do this they never really tell us how it all happened, do they? And they certainly don't tell us what it's costing them. This is just my personal story and I may be telling it way too prematurely since I still have to figure out how this will all work out, but I just hate being misunderstood and want to clear some things up so there are no misconceptions. I know, I should probably get therapy for that or something. I always have this extreme need to explain myself. (Not to excuse myself, that's a different matter entirely, although I'm noticing a lot of people seem to think those two are the same. More than once people to whom I'm explaining something will go "It's okay,don't worry about it", like I'm asking for their forgiveness or something. Oh, I'm so digressing!).

Anyway, I got the feeling that snarky person thought I had a truck load of money lying somewhere or some priviliged thing going on because I could do this, or that I would end up regretting it in the future or something, because obviously no 'normal' person on her own would be able to do this. Well...no! Let me tell you exactly what happened and how it may very well affect my life from now on.

The person that first put the seed in my head to work less was the wonderful Mary Ann Moss. And no, she didn't do it in person or anything. She just wrote on her blog about taking a sabbatical. She's in the midst of that right now and if you want to see how she enjoys it (and she does) go check out her blog! You'll love her love for life. My first response was exactly like snarky person's. I was jealous and resentful as hell. Not so much of her personally, I want nothing but good stuff to happen to this woman as she is just marvelous, but as all jealousy it was more like "Why can't I do that?" and "How does she do it?" and I knew that I would never be able to take a sabbatical ever. And that is true, I can't.

Around the time she started her sabbatical I had my wonderful Christmas Vacation. Vacations to me are like heaven. My time is my own and I can fill it any way I want, and my wants aren't all that ambitious. You can read them on the sidebar under my profile. I like to read, I like to walk and I like to make stuff. It's as simple as that. After every vacation going back to work is like being a bird forced to go back into its cage. The cage is nice and warm and there's some fun other birds there (thank God!), but it's just not where I love to spend my time the most. My first love is and will always be around my personal passions of art, literature and nature.



I am however cursed with a terrible contradicting personality. That is to say: I have no desire whatsoever to turn my passions into my job. I've written about this before here if you're interested. If my passions become my job they become tainted. So to all those people that have suggested I start to make a living with my art so I could spend my days doing just that: that would not make me happy. It's the difference between reading for the love of it or reading because you work as a professional reviewer or some English professor who has to completely analyze the contents. It's the difference between painting commissions where someone else decides what you do or just painting because you feel like it and today you just happen to like the colour pink. It's the difference between getting teaching gigs to bring in an income or just sharing your techniques for the love of it on your blog. You get my point? This artsy stuff is a work of love and nothing else.

I'm telling you this, because for me this means there has to be another way to bring home the bacon and that means I need a job. I live alone, I have no sugar daddy or supportive husband or rich relatives or anything else. Nobody is going to pay me to just do what I love without any restrictions, so I need to make a living myself. And so I have. If things continue the way they do in my country I will be working at least until I'm seventy before I can retire. That thought alone could make me cry and last January it practically drove me up the wall. Working full time for almost thirty more years and having art as a just a little sideline in my life would surely drain me of all my will to live. I didn't like what it was doing to me. There needed to be a shift in something. But how?

The how question has driven me crazy for years and years, because believe me, this was not the first time I thought about these things. It was just the first time that I couldn't let them go. I. Just. Could. Not. I had been thinking before about working less, but had always decided against it for the most obvious reason: working less means less money. And it's not like I was making all that much to begin with. I decided however to seriously explore the option this time. My ideal was 27 hours, which I was pretty sure would be impossible, and my compromise was 32 hours, although I would have been seriously disappointed with that option.
You see, it's a matter of balance. Until today the job always made up the bigger part of the week. Five days of work, two days of play. What I wanted was to tip the scale in the other direction: more play days than work days. And with 32 hours I'd still have four days of work and three days of play and work would still win. It's a  psychological thing really.



So I got together my finances and started adding and subtracting. The question was no longer: how much do I want to make, but: how much do I really need to get by? This of course being followed by: what do I need to get by?, as in what things make life worth living and what things can I do without?
I figured the absolute minimum I would need to survive and still be happy for me would be around 1200 euro's (after taxes and such). Until now I've made almost 1700. I knew it would mean letting go of a lot of luxuries, but I figured I could make it work. The other thing I realized is that people on welfare and such get by with even less and they aren't living on the street eating from garbage cans, so maybe less was possible, but I didn't want to go there. 1200 was my limit, still a really low income in this country.

I decided not to decide anything yet, until I knew the exact consequences of my choice and so I got together with the human resources person at work and asked her to calculate some options for me. What would a 27 hour work week really pay, and a 32 hour work week? After that I would worry about talking to my boss and how it would affect the work I do. It took a week before I received any response and I was pleasantly surprised. Turns out a 27 hour work week would pay me about 1330 euros after taxes a month! This made the decision so easy, I didn't even bother with the 32 hour option anymore. I now knew what I wanted and that theoretically I could afford it.

Now came the nerve wrecking task to speak to my boss, to figure out which tasks I could let go off and which I needed to keep and who would take on those things I could no longer do. Here's where it helps if people know what your passions are, because the minute I started talking to people about wanting to work less they all knew it was because of my love for the artsy stuff! My boss was a little surprised, but also very supportive, but still it took a while before everything was really taken care off. But we managed it. Turns out that my working less now makes it possible for a coworker who really wanted this to work more! How's that for coincidences? I won't go into all of the details of who does what, but I want to tell you I was amazed at how possible the impossible all of a sudden became. The rest, as they say, is history.

Well...not really. Because besides talking about how I came to the decision I want to tell you about the costs and consequences. Especially if you are a snarky person like I sometimes can be. This is the thing I think where it often goes wrong when you really want something. We think things are impossible, but the truth is that we are not willing to pay the costs, or just not able to. When it comes to a sabbatical for instance I really am not able to pay the costs. But when it comes to a 27 hour work week I was for the longest time not willing to pay the costs. In short, I was just not ready.



Here's the thing I'm learning as I get a bit older and wiser (only a bit mind you). You can have what you want, but you can't have everything you want and you definitely cannot have it the exact way you want it. And nothing you want ever comes for free. I'm not talking about just money, although in this case it obviously plays a big part. Everything you want also comes with it's own set of brand new problems and challenges. And also: one choice takes out a lot of other options you might also have liked.

Let's go back ten years in time. I was working at a library in a school for visual arts on the main land and one of my biggest dreams was to live by the sea. I saw no way whatsoever to make this happen within the next ten lifetimes, but life is funny and sometimes it throws you a bone when you least expect it. It was by pure coincidence that I spotted the job opening for the job I now have in a national newspaper (a newspaper I never read) and the only reason it caught my attention is because the logo of my employer is a bit unusual in its lettering. I was all like "What does it say there?" and only later spotted the job itself. My heart started pounding like crazy. A job on an island that I was actually qualified for! The possibilities! After that I can say came the four most nerve wrecking months of my life as I sent in an application, went through several interviews and waited for the final verdict to be picked from what I heard later were over a hundred applicants.
You'd think after that all was peachy. Think again! Well, I sure was happy to have gotten the job and see my dream of living near the sea come true in the most unexpected way, but of course the real  challenge had not even started. Basically I had to leave everything I knew and everyone I loved behind to start in a place where I knew no one at a job in a field I had never worked in before (local government). I did not yet have a permanent place to live and half of my stuff needed to be stored until I did. It took fourteen months before I had my current house and since I'm not one of those outgoing spontaneaous easy talking people, it took me a long time to feel at home in this place I now love so much.
And there are other prices to be paid. I'm away from the main land, which means wherever I go it takes about a full day of my time if not more than that. The travel this place sometimes demands can be exhausting. I can never just visit my family or friends, it's always an 'event' of several days. I miss big supermarkets and outdoor markets, I miss big bookstores and museums. There's no hospital here and the dentist only comes once a week. In a real emergency there's an actual helicopter to take you to the main land. Our house doctor is also a vet for emergencies with your pets. The real vet comes once every four to six weeks. I hate the summer holidays, when it's so busy here with tourists that I could gladly throw some of them in the ocean if I thought it would help.
What I'm trying to say is: life here has it's limitations. I'm not bothered by them much, but that doesn't mean that they are not there. It only means I have accepted them to be able to live in this incredible place with all its beauty and nature. It's a matter of priorities and which way the balance tips for you personally.



The same is true for my choice to work less. And I think 'choice' is a key word here. It comes at some costs: 
  • A literal one of course of a little over 350 euro's a month. 
  • The three work days I now have left are pretty darn long. Nine hours, or ten if you count the lunch breaks. 
  • As a none morning person I will have to get up even more early then I already reluctantly did. Six am instead of 6.45.  (Only a night person can truly understand, my morning person sister would snort at this, haha.).
  • I can no longer do the chores around the house before work. (I had a whole system for this, haha.)
  • On my workdays I no longer have time to write in my journal.
  • I am giving up television, both digital and cable.
  • I am giving up my regular phone line.
  • I am giving up my credit card.
  • I am giving up some subscriptions I really like.
  • I am cashing in my life insurance (which will cost me some money I invested in it) to go into this completely debt free as in pay off my credit card, stop my ability to be in overdraft, and finish up one of those monthly payment plans which were never a problem for me. Don't get me wrong I'm not behind on any of these, but I just can't afford the monthly costs anymore of these kinds of extra's. I want them out of the way.
  • I will have to be a lot more conscious of what I buy and save more for a bigger investment. Until now if I saw a book I liked I bought it. If I saw art supplies I wanted I bought them. If I wanted to go somewhere I could (within limits, but still). And there always were a lot of luxury items in my groceries. Nothing too fancy or expensive, but I could afford those little luxuries that give life that little extra oomph. I do realize however that because I didn't need to think about them I never really did and so I could have made better and cheaper choices. Now I will have to.
  • I am even giving up some of my favorite charities that I support financially. Right now I am my favorite charity! ;-)
  • Basically I will have to downshift my life in order to be able to afford it. I have to set clearer boundaries and priorities. Before I didn't really have to, so I never did.
I am right now in the middle of reading up on all sorts of tactics and ways to save money, to do more with less and all those kinds of things. Luckily I have never really cared for really expensive stuff, luckily I don't drive a car, and also luckily I have invested in some very good materials and supplies over the past years. Almost like subconsciously I knew this day would come I have hoarded the good stuff.
I have now a lot of things to see me through the coming times. My last big investment was a new computer, because I felt I really needed it and my old one was starting to have problems and is now slowly dying on me.  And I need one (need of course being a relative term) to keep up my online blogsy existence. ;-) That and my camera are the big luxuries I will allow myself to hold onto.

Because these things are new I will hopefully have some time to save up for replacements for when that time comes. And fortunately I'm not one of those people that needs a new gadget every year, so that should be okay.

All these things are the price I am willing to pay for working less and playing more. But I will have to learn to adjust to this new lifestyle and I'm sure there will be times when I will go "What the hell was I thinking?". Still, just like with the move to this island that came with its own challenges, I don't think I will ever be sorry for making this choice. There were times in the first months when I lived here that I cried because I felt like such an incredible outsider, but never once did it occur to me to move back to where I came from. You have to stick with your choices for a while. You can't decide if they are wrong for you if you do not give things time to settle. The same will be true for this new challenge and opportunity in my life. I will struggle to make ends meet. I will curse my paycheck and I will wish I could go on a major shopping spree just because I feel like it. I will hate sometimes that every purchase I will do from now on will have to be more thought out and deliberate. These things may seem trivial, but they are changes in my life I need to adjust to. That's okay.
Also I will need to find a new balance in my week. Already I'm wondering how to fill in this extra time and make the most of it. Again things will take time to settle into a new rythm.



Why am I telling you all this in such detail with numbers and all? I think because there were times that I wish somebody explained them to me. It's easy to look on the outside and think these things come easy to other people. I'm guilty of that myself. But the thing is that they don't. They are wonderful, but they are complicated too. I cannot explain why after all these years I finally felt ready to take this step, but I'm thinking the reason is the same as in this quote a friend gave to me when I decided to move to the island.

The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud 
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
- Anaïs Nin 


Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy week!

82 comments:

  1. You go girl! Life is short! Do what makes you happy and content! Don't worry about the naysayers - they come and go with the wind. It sounds like to me that you are being true to yourself. I applaud you for working out such a tremendous plan. Anyone with any sense at all can see that you have researched and done an extensive amount of planning and sacrifice in order to be able to do this. Have an absolutely wonderful summer!
    Suzanne Light

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    1. Thank you Suzanne! I know interesting times are coming no matter what! ;-)

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  2. I love this--thank you SO much for being generous and sharing what you're going through in detail. I think your choice is amazing, and I hope that others who think they have no choice will read this and realize that, yes, they do. I've got a link to send you via email--about simple living. It's a blog/website I love.

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    1. Thanks Ricë, that's exactly why I'm writing about this stuff, to put things in perspective for those who think there is none. Also thanks for the link!

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  3. Wow, following your heart... congratulations. I wish you much, much success!

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  4. "You can have what you want, but you can't have everything you want and you definitely cannot have it the exact way you want it. And nothing you want ever comes for free."

    Such a true and important thing -- I salute you for being able to get to the core of what is important to YOU in life, and achieving that. I appreciated reading all of this post.

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    1. Thanks so much Teri, I'm glad it spoke to you.

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  5. Ik wens je veel plezier met je beslissing en heb alle vertrouwen dat het lukt!

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    1. Dank Annie, het zal wel móeten lukken, ander optie laat ik niet toe, haha.

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  6. Oh, but when you have time to write, do so! So many of us as children have been convinced that we can not follow our dreams through subtle messages. But when we see others do it, we are encouraged. We say, "That is your path, but not mine!" I say write when you can and save your writings. One of these days, you may decide to publish your triumph and trials in a book. Someone who is just about to give up on their dreams may pick up your book, and that will give that person the push they need to pursue their dreams.

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    1. Thanks, I will definitely keep writing (I can't imagine my life without it), it's just I won't be writing every morning anymore like I used to before work. But you can't keep me and a pen and paper separate. Ever. ;-)

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  7. I LOVE this post... and LOVE you for being so OPEN, HONEST, and TRUTHFUL !! ~xx

    ** you are awesome! **

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    1. Aw, thank you April. I just needed to get it out into the world.

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  8. Thank you. I have been one who is secretly jealous of MaryAnn too. I need to really think about what you have written. I love how you broke it down in steps and how to's.

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    1. I wanted to make visible how these things (can) happen and that it's never just an easy decision. No, wait, the decision itself was easy, the stuff that comes with it is not. But the reward, ah...the reward! ;-)

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  9. Thank you (as always) for your wisdom and insights! What a great journey you're embarking on! You're completely inspiring!

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  10. This was amazing!!! I have been struggling with these type of decisions lately... My HEART is racing!! So it's not just me? Thank You for sharing!!!

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    1. It's not easy, I know. I've been so frustrated over such a long time (sometimes more, sometimes less). There will come a point when you're ready for a next move, what that is only you can say and when that is only you can say as well. All the clichés are true I'm afraid: all in it's own good time. Wishing you wisdom and luck!

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  11. Great post. I love hearing when someone grabs hold of their dreams and runs with it! I cut back my work hours about 8 months ago (32 now in 3 days), and I hear lots of snippy comments from lots of people about "it must be nice" I'm usually annoyed by those comments, but thank you for helping me see it in a new way....that maybe others wish they could do the same. And you're right, it's always about making choices. There is always the good with the bad. Oddly, it took me about 40 yrs to realize this. I'm so happy for you, as I am for MaryAnn ( seems odd to be happy for people you've never met, but it's true!). I'm sure everything will turn out great!
    Laura @luckypennylove.com

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    1. Yay for you! At my previous job I worked 32 hours for a while in three days too. I thought it was wonderful. I worked 12 hours on monday and wednesday and then eight on friday. It was an ideal situation for me. Unfortunately the law changed and wanted to protect workers from working longer shifts than ten hours on a regular basis, so my schedule was cancelled. Oh well, after over ten years I'm back to a schedule I think I can stand, haha.

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  12. Sounds like a great choice for you! I think we all work too much!

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    1. Thanks Marcia. I think work and money are way overrated as keys to happiness (after a certain point anyway, because without them it's pretty tough too). I'm hoping this will be the right balance for me.

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  13. You are honest and amazing. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you so much Marta for your kind words.

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  14. Quite simply, this should be required reading for everyone who envies other people's lives, wants to make a change, fears making a change, well, everyone, really! such reasonable and brave thinking. You deserve to enjoy your newly sculpted life! and I think you will.

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    1. Hey, if it inspires just one person to think outside the box, my job is done! Thank you Boud!

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  15. I have to say...you are blessed with an abundance of art supplies and fabrics....therefore you will be happily art-working for years to come! No need to give it a second thought when someone leaves a snarky comment. They are just jealous. You go, girl!! And I had to laugh about people suggesting you make-a-living with your artwork. Why do people say that automatically whenever we get creative?? I used to enjoy sewing little dolly outfits and friends were after me to do-it-for-sale. I quite agree with you on this...how it changes the whole thing when we have to do it for a job. I am happy for you!!! Enjoy!

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    1. Oh, it's not just with being creative, it's with everything you're good at or thoroughly enjoy. It's always like "you missed your calling". Um...no...this IS my calling. ;-)
      As for art supplies, I know I am outrageously spoiled! I spoiled myself over years and years by buying lots of stuff. Now I can pick the fruits from all that hunting and gathering.

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  16. i am familar with snippy comments.. and it is almost always from people who are better off who seem to begrudge me any thing i do to try to make the best of my situation. "wow you have time to read for FUN?!" (on my 4 hour commute to university) "must be nice to have so much free time" (when I was unemployed) etc etc.. Ugh :/
    I admire you for your decision :) I think it's cool.

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    1. I think it's hard for people who feel you have it 'worse' than them to see you be happier than them or just not giving a crap about what they think. The world is full of assumptions and strange beliefs. Good for you to go your own way anyway. And a four hour commute, wow! Don't know if I could do that (said she who travels ten hours in a weekend just to visit her family, haha).

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  17. I really enjoyed this post!!! wonderful! Change is hard for us humans, but when we want it enough, like in your case, it will is worth it! I understand about the budget watching, but you get used to it as well! You find new creative ways to stretch your art dollars, I have!!! It just makes new ways of you to experiment!!! Good luck and Happy Creating!!!!! You are awesome!!!! and just like the rest have said, forget about the snarky comments!!!

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    1. I know, it's all a matter of adjustment. We get used to having more and start living accordingly. Now I have to get used to the other way around. That's okay, I'll survive and I look forward to the challenge.
      The snarky comment I mentioned really is the only one I have gotten. All other people are so cool, some get such big smiles on their faces at the idea of this, I love it. Anyway, it inspired me to write about these things and that can't be bad.

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  18. I don't understand why you have to explain to any of us why you cut your work hours.
    It is you business and yours alone. I come to your site to see your country and especially your art work.
    Just remember this---YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID!!!!!
    People are jealous and cruel. Do what makes you happy and the heck with what anyone else thinks or says.
    You are the only one that can make you happy. Go for it!!!!! Enjoy yourself because life is to darn short.
    Barb
    USA

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    1. Oh no no no. That's not why I wrote this. This is not me justifying myself, if it came across as such I must not have been clear. I have no need to do so, never did and never will. What I do need is to let people know that sometimes we assume things aren't possible, because in reality we fear the consequences. You (not you personally, you know, the general you) kind of need to shift your thinking. Also whenever somebody else has done this (working less or some other positive adjustment I wanted for myself) I always wondered how in the world they were able to do it. When someone changes something you tend to think it's all 'lalala' and 'happy happy happy'. I wanted to give some insight into what a decision like this really entails. I wanted to inspire others to look at their dreams and wonder what was possible for them. Thank you for your support though Barb, you are right, life is way too short to waste it on other people's opinions.

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  19. I have been following your blog for some time now, and I do believe that this is one of the best posts you've ever written. You explained your philosophy in a way I can understand, showed graphically what the "opportunity costs" are, and essentially proved that almost anyone can have what they REALLY want - IF they are prepared to make the trade-offs. Good luck.

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    1. Thank you so much Trece, that's exactly my point and so glad you picked up on it. The costs will be different for everyone and so will the rewards, but it's a good thing to really think about and wonder what is possible for you from time to time and what you are willing to trade in for it.

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  20. I'm new to your blog and what a great introduction this is! I love this post and how open and honest you are about following your heart and what that entails. I wish you many hours of enjoyment doing art for years to come.

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    1. Welcome to my blog Janet! Happy to have you here and thank you so much for you lovely words.

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  21. I loved your article...I am very happy for you Caatje. You're so right...it's all about what you are willing to do without to realize a lifelong dream. I look forward to more wonderful blogs!
    Jackie

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    1. Thanks so much Jackie, hope you will enjoy the posts to come! ;-)

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  22. Loved the photos of your gorgeous art supplies and whole-heartedly wishing you joy in your new life :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Lynette. I could take photos of art supplies and studio spaces all day long if someone would let me, haha.

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  23. Dear Caatja'e,
    I feel in love with your art for you blog. Then the wonderful pictures of your island home. Summer and winter picture took my breath away. I hate winter and the cold too , hmmm maybe born in wrong country, even though Canada has great stuff too. But when you said of doing art for the joy of art. Not for the making a income from sales I almost cried. For too long it seems the general idea of art is to push and sell. Making the money the goal not our love of the art. You have given me so much with your decision to make art for you. And how to said it really helped me to point out and say that is what I too mean to say but had not the words to express them. Your breakdown of how this can be done showed too an number of choices to be made both good and not as good. A balance between the two. A learning tool. Thank you for sharing so so much of yourself and truth. You helped another artist to feel like an artist even if we don't sell our art work just in creating it.

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    1. Thank you so much Salem for your sweet words and I'm glad mine spoke to you. Good luck.

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  24. Caatje, I too decided to downsize my life to be able to do things I want. It has taken me about three years. I sold my big house, bought another smaller house with no debt, paid off all my bills, credit cards, etc. I own my cars. I took a year to travel and decided where I wanted to buy that smaller house.
    I would recommend a couple of things. Have an emergency fund that covers your bills for several months. Also, a just in case fund that covers the unseen emergency. You will sleep better. I find I have as much as I did before if not more. There are lots of ways to save, books from the library [as you know], many cafes and restaurants have free wi fi internet for your computer. I watch many of my television shows on line. Invest in a good pair of headphones. I eat a lot healthier because I will not spend the extra money on food that is mindless calories/chips,candy, etc.
    I too live in a small town, however it is a very artsy town. I have found lots of art supplies through a freecycle group and thrift stores. It is funny how things sort of just fall together.
    I wish you happiness in this journey. I think you may be surprised at the twists and turns life will bring you. I look forward to reading about them.
    Elizabeth

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    1. Yay for you and your adventures and thank you for your sweet advice! I am reading up on downshifting and saving money (books from the library, yes and websites) and I'm trying to get my finances completely in order. I do have a little buffer for emergencies, but I'd like it to be a bigger one, so every cent that I can put aside I will. Until now I've been kind of careless with money, not so much unwise or stupid (I knew my limits), but just way more easy going than I now can be. I'm okay with that. I look forward to these new challenges and I think they will help me grow in new directions.

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  25. Thank you for expressing so eloquently what I have been feeling for some time now yet been unable to express. After reading your post I feel I have met a soul-sister! Because absolutely nobody in my family or circle of friends has any idea just how important art has become to me.

    Congrats Caatje, you showed us how important it is to make these types of decisions for ourselves according to our own personal circumstances just as you did. I'm so happy for you that it worked out as well as it did. I am sure you will be very happy!

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    1. Thank you Margarita. I'm glad I touched a nerve in you. I've really felt it helped me to be open about my love for the artsy life. There were times when I kept these things way more to myself than I do now. Most responses were completely wonderful (with big smiles on peoples faces, so cool). I think people will get how happy it makes you, even if they don't really understand why. That's okay, I don't understand why my boss calls his job his hobby either, but I see it's true, haha. Good luck to you. Celebrate your passions!

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  26. In a world of consumerism it's peer pressure driven manipulation that dictates more money, more stuff, more responsibility to financially maintain said stuff. It's good for the economy but it's not much of a life. Your healthy to appreciate what you have each day. More isn't always better.

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    1. I agree. Thankfully I've never really cared about those things anyway, so that made this a lot easier. Still, it will be an interesting challenge for me to see how I fare. I have faith it will work out and I look forward to it. Thank you!

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  27. Oh Caatje, this is wonderful news. I'm so glad you are doing this now, while you're young! And, in my mind, you are very, very rich, abundant, and prosperous... in all the ways that count! (at least in my mind!) I've always held the life on the island that you've shared with us as 'romantic'. You've just taken the romance even farther! I'm so happy, happy, happy for you!
    xoxo Chris

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    1. Thank you Chris! I always have to smile when someone thinks my island life is romantic. It's just a life really with the same ups and downs as anywhere else, but it is in a breathtakingly beautiful place, so I am very lucky, this I know.

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  28. Hi Caatje-first of all, thank you, thank you for all that you do and share with us and for us out here in the world! I so appreciate your blog and really appreciate your generosity! As a life coach and Law of Attraction instructor, I love what you're doing: designing your own life, setting an example for others and also MAKING ROOM FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES TO COME INTO YOUR LIFE! That's how it works and I bet that the next days and weeks will offer you many new things-some you may not have even imagined. Good for you, girlfriend! I hereby appoint you to CDO: Chief Design Officer! I applaud your courage and your vision. Sandy in California.

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    1. Aw, thank you Sandy, I'm ever so flattered. Thank you also for your kind words about my blog and myself. My ego is growing as I write this. Don't worry, I'll cut it back down to size! I can't wait to see what opportunities will come knocking.

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  29. So glad you are able to do this! I think it's less feasible for a single person to do this in the US, because most companies will not cover insurance unless someone works 32 or more hours a week. I think many more would do it here or consider it if they had insurance coverage! Enjoy the time! Love reading your blog, and seeing all your wonderful art!

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    1. That insurance thing seems so unfair. Over here everybody at least has a mandatory basic medical insurance no matter what they make or how much they work. If you can't afford a basic insurance you can apply for funds from the government to make it easier to pay for it. I may actually be eligible for a small amount to cover a little bit of the costs. Not much, but anything's welcome. Still have to look into that. I may only be eligible starting next year, since I still worked full time until this week and that may make my annual income too high.
      Anyway, thank you for your nice comment and I hope the rules will change over there to make it a little easier. Not having health insurance is a terrible thing.

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  30. Brilliant blog post. I often want a 'full disclosure' post from bloggers, to work out 'how they do it!". I have spent most (actually all) my life living on a very low income, and I've never felt 'poor' because I've chosen my life. However I constantly wrestle with the art for pleasure/profit issue, and I admire you knowing what works for you and sticking to it. Looking forward to all your future arty stuff.

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    1. LOL! I always want that full disclosure too and so rarely get it that I just couldn't keep form doing it myself. I'm not free from the pleasure/profit thing either, but I do know what makes me happier. I'm learning more and more that art for profit is all about ego and not so much about soul, at least with me. For you it could be completely different. I'm not saying I will never ask money for anything I do, I just don't want to make it my job. Thank you for your support.

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  31. I read this post yesterday, and wanted to respond then, but I had so many thoughts swirling in my head and so many things I wanted to say (none of them snarky, btw!) I am just going to shorten my thoughts to saying good for you! The universe unfolds as it should, my sister always tells me. If you had not made This decision at This time to do This thing, I think you would have regretted it. All the signs were there to go for it. Enjoy!!!

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    1. That's exactly what it felt like. I have thought about this a hundred times, but now I just was ready. There's no other explanation really. Thank you for you short and concise support, haha (and for the lack of snark).

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  32. Congratulations for having the courage to follow you deepest dreams. Mary Ann Moss is a great inspiration and so are you. Thank you for sharing the details of your choices.

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    1. Mary Ann is my hero. Well, her and Roz Stendahl (they couldn't be more different). When I grow up I want to be a mix of them both (which would probably put me in a mental asylum, but that's for another time to worry about!). ;-)
      Thank you for your kind words by the way.

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  33. Wow, Caatje! What an amazing post, and what an amazing response! Thank you for opening your life up to us like that. I hope that your decision brings you all of the benefits you hope it will. It is clear that you have not entered into this lightly. There is an interesting parallel to my life as a stay-at-home mother in the United States. A lot of people tell me, "Oh, you are so lucky that you can stay home with your kids." And, yes, I am! Without a doubt. But there are clearly costs. We are living with MANY thousands of dollars less than we would if I chose to work. It is a choice like anything else. There is no call for envy or jealousy...you work out the details that work for you, and then you make it happen. I love the sound of your choice, and I hope it is everything that you are dreaming of!

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    1. Thanks Andria! I think we all simply should make the choices that make us happy as much as possible. Maybe not everything is possible, but when it is, why not do it. I'm glad you chose what's right for you. And I love those posts where you create with your girls!

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  34. You have a lot of comments here! Well, I will still add mine. Look up minimalism on Google or try this link for a good read on what it sounds like you are doing. I wish you the best of luck and don't see why it shouldn't work out great for you. Not everyone figures out what is most important to them - something worth changing their lives for and even fewer actually take the steps to do it. You've got courage! Enjoy your art.

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    1. Thanks Timaree. I'm a bit blown away by all the comments really, but they do make me very happy. Also thank you so much for the link and your kind words!

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  35. I am so thankful to hear your story and the things you have given up to fullfil your dream of more time for art. Ever since you first mentioned this on your blog, I've been wondering how I could do this. Honestly, I think I could, but I would feel guilty because my husband would be working fulll-time and I wouldn't have the great benefits that I have through my work...like health insurance and some other biggies. All that to say I have thought about this and I am not ready for it. I do apprecaite you being honest and candid about your experience. It is encouraging to hear your story. I have always wanted to be a minimalist in the way I live, but I also like the nice things. Again I am not ready, but truly thankful for all of your insights!

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    1. I think the health insurance thing could really be a big factor to this. Our system is different so one way or another there's always health insurance, no matter how basic. It does not depend on having a job or how much your work at that job. That just seems so unfair to me.
      Anyway, thank you for your support and I hope you find some way to get closer to your dreams. Good luck!

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  36. Hi Carin,

    I read your post earlier this week and was very moved by it. It's one of the first times that I have read an entire long post. That's probably because what you had to say was close to my heart. I just did a blog post of my own but it's way different. I put a link in it to this post of yours. I follow you in BlogLovin and am so grateful for it. I found you via Mary Ann Moss. I'm going to look around at your blog a little more and find some phtos of your home. I really like to see pictures of how people live. BTW, Karen Valentine of My Desert Cottage is having her annual WHERE BLOGGERS CREATE http://www.mydesertcottage.com/ party in July. It's free to link up with all the other bloggers AND you get to show where you create. I create all over my home since I live alone so I might do a little housecleaning and then take pictures before creating a post.

    Okay, now it's time to fix some lunch and read all the comments on this post. Again, thank you very much for sharing from hour hneart.

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    1. Thanks for the heads up Marianna. I'll look into it and see if I want to participate or not. Also thank you for your kind words about my blog and this post.

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  37. My favourite part of this post is this:

    "You have to stick with your choices for a while. You can't decide if they are wrong for you if you do not give things time to settle."

    That is SO TRUE.

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    1. It really is. I had to find that one out the hard way. Change never comes easy, no matter how much we want it, because it always has a lot of stuff attached to it we didn't really bargain for. But if you stick with it and it's a good choice you will grow into it.

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  38. Caatje, this is a fantastic article. Very practical and very personal. Thank you for sharing you personal thinking and your practical ideas. I tend to live a minimalist lifestyle myself, and that means giving up a lot of what you gave up too (cable tv, credit cards, etc). Great job and good luck!

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  39. Excellent - just found you through Create Mixed Media and LOVE your approach! I get SO sick of hearing people tell me how "lucky" I am to have "flexible" work arrangements but it does some at a cost and compromise but it give me the freedom to have variety!

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    1. Thank you! Nothing comes for free I guess, but as long as it's worth it it's okay. :-)

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  40. I know I'm a bit late to the party but I just found this post (and your blog which I can't wait to explore!) through I think, Create Mixed-Media. I am a very honest person and speak and write very honestly. For only a few people does this seem to be a problem. But not many people are willing to really open up to others and I SO appreciate that you wrote so openly and from your heart! It can be scary to do so especially with certain topics. I think when one of us does this it gives someone else "permission" to do so if they maybe have been too afraid or timid to show their true self. The more women who will be so openly authentic the more other women will grow and heal as they realize they are not alone in their situation whatever it may be. Too many times we compare our insides to others outsides-what they choose to reveal so we may feel as if we don't measure up, are alone in what we're experiencing/thinking. That's so sad when it could be so easily changed. So thank you for being brave and sharing details of why and how. The comments are wonderful too and the only person who questioned your post just missed the point. My job of 24 years closed recently and I had no health insurance there since it was a small non profit. My husband used to have it for us until his job of many years ended. I have many health issues and with us both unemployed right now am rather at a crossroads. Your wonderful writing really hit home with me and has only validated some ideas I've been exploring. Sorry for this very long comment but I wanted you to know you not only resonated with so many of us about the topic but also for truly being real! Namaste :)

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    1. Thank you so much Shauna for you wonderful comment. I'm so glad it spoke to you. If just one person thinks outside of the box for a moment because of it my job is done. I really wanted to get the point across that not everything you want may be possible, but also often you are in your own way too and lot more is possible than you think. For many years I had told everybody I spoke to about this thing that working 27 hours was just not in the cards for me, but I guess I was just not ready yet.
      Still, as I have said in some other comments, we in my country are lucky with our system of health care. No matter what, you always have it, it's not dependent on your job or even whether you have one. If it were I would be in trouble indeed, since I'm a diabetic and need my meds. I never had to take that into account, which made the decision easier. Good luck on your own journey!

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