This was a couple of years ago – in The Shire, Hobbiton (aka Matamata). It’s an ideal photo for this post because it is about making the most of Life, ‘Finding your Passion’ or simply, ‘Work-Life balance’.
I had a conversation with my sis yesterday, over coffee on our bike ride. I’m well into my life now, in fact, I could be a good 3/4 through it. It’s put me into a great place in my thinking and experience. Yes, I know it’s nice to be young, but there’s a terrible lot of attention given to trying to attain the look of being young, and very little attention given to the wisdom and freedom of being older. I care a lot less about how I look and a lot more about taking care of myself, so I can last to fulfil the passions, hopes, dreams that I still have. Being naturally curious, I’ve seen a fair few things, learnt a lot of lessons, made mistakes I won’t make again (I hope), and honed my skills to the ones I take most pleasure in. These things I didn’t have or know at 20 or even 30. Now don’t mistake me – I haven’t experienced a HUGE range of things in life, nor do I want to. I’ve been careful and selective and sometimes the choice has just not been there for me. Yes, I’d have loved to discover the great joys of a good marriage and children, but I never did (for reasons I’m not going into on a blogsite!) It has not hindered me from living life to the full.
For decades, since I was 20, I’ve devoted a large part of my time to earning money, and I’ve been pretty dedicated to earning it in ways I enjoy. I haven’t really hesitated to leave and try something else if I feel bored or unfulfilled. So it’s been mostly graphic art in my own studios.
I won’t say working for myself has made me rich, and sometimes it was a huge relief to do some mundane well-paid work in administration to pay the bills and feel the joy of a regular pay check. But that was always a fluid arrangement in my working history. I’ve had stints of unemployment and I know the sense of uncertainty and rising doubt that comes with that state.
Helen and I were talking about our plans and intentions for the future yesterday, and it solidified some of my wandering thoughts on the issue. I’m feeling the most free, the most excited, the most anticipatory than I have ever felt before. Why? Because I have a clear idea of what I want to do in the short term, am less worried and affected by other people’s expectations, don’t HAVE to do what someone else pressures me to do, or have responsibilities that force me to a regime from which I cannot escape. And then we found my beloved Dad had more saved up than any of us expected, and so there’s been a bit of a financial boost.
The more people I talk to who are my own age, the more there’s a regular theme in our conversation: “I don’t want to work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day any more.” “What is it you really see yourself doing in the next few years?” “How can we earn a little money doing what we love doing?” It has been inspiring to talk about our dreams. I’ve been encouraging my friends who feel a bit stuck in their job, to rethink it. We only get one life, and we should be living that life as well as we can. I know that everyone has different limitations, but I would encourage anyone to dream, and to put some of those possibilities down, and quietly see if they might be outworked. For myself, it will be travel while I can, and then some writing, and being open to adventures.
There have been so many who have inspired me in the past: The two older ladies who live in a villa in Whangarei and opened up their garden and front living room and verandah in the summer time and weekends for ‘Devon Teas’ – making their own lives more interesting and adding something to their town. The potter who lives in Coromandel town, who wanted to share his love of the bush where he lived and the studio, so he opened up a narrow gauge railway to bring people to his studio and up the mountainside for views at the top. There is so much you could do, if you are determined enough, and spend time in researching and planning and enlarging your perspective.
Well, this is rambling now, and it’s not really all I wanted to say, and I’m not sure I said it at all well, but it’s a start. Maybe I’ll put it better next time. Please watch this space.