“If I had words to make a day for you
I’d sing you a morning golden and new
I would make this day last for all time
Give you a night deep in moon shine” – Scott Fitzgerald
Not ‘cos it’s your birthday or Christmas. Humbly… I would give you a gift of the art of time… wrapped in recycled brown paper and ribbon as is my fashion.
Why? Since we downshifted from paid work-city existence almost seven(!) years ago to follow our dream of living simply and creatively in a rural village we’ve come to appreciate more than we ever imagined how time is the currency underwriting our quality of life.
Time is our most valuable commodity, and it’s also the one most in demand.
We like to call this lifestyle of ours… Life Inc. because
Fawlty Towers was already taken the logistics are akin to managing a boutique business, albeit unpaid in much other than garden produce, homemade food, satisfaction of a job well done, or just done at least… for the moment. Until tomorrow’s dirty clothes don’t wash themselves; and naked would scare the neighbours.
The G.O. and I work as a team and with a view to efficiency [aka marital harmony] undertake roles according to our respective areas of expertise although we cover off bits and pieces for each other like all good work colleagues do. During staff meetings we refer to it as collaboration… other more fraught times, meddling. Ahem.
More often than not our day-to-day isn’t nine to five. It took a few busy years for it to sink in we were our own boss and figure out how to be a good one. Hard to break lifetime habits of starting at sparrow fart and getting one last thing ticked off the list-that-never-ends as light fades from the day. We aim for life vs stop-and-smell-the-roses balance [we’ve planted plenty of roses to remind us to do this]. Sometimes we succeed. We don’t
often sleep in until 9am or always knock off early for beers.
Our space may be small, but our scope is mighty. Harder to manage a way of life which more resembles herding cats than it does a routine. That is figurative felines rather than literal… Diesel-dog unfortunately hates cats and chases them directly.
Fortunately, nowadays we don’t need to remunerate ourselves. If we did, it would be impractical: rendering us
even more impoverished, lacking both money and time. We wouldn’t be able to meet the expense of our fees unless we went out to work and earned wages to pay for inhouse services we provide.
Then we’d be right back pretty much how we were during our paid work-city years, devoting a good chunk of our time to someone else in exchange for a paycheck, working to live to pay bills and tossing cash at brief grabs for leisure. Time poor, all too often we’d say, “let’s just throw money at it”.
Did you know Australian slang for a twenty-dollar note is a lobster, while the fifty-dollar note is called a pineapple, and hundred-dollar notes are jolly green giants? I didn’t. Unlike pets, money never stayed around long enough for me to name it.
Without giving enough thought to the futile cycle we worked and spent and worked. We ate food other people grew and prepared, paid other people to do things we didn’t have time to do, bought stuff we needed for work so we could go to work to buy more stuff… we didn’t really need.
Don’t get me wrong. We did what we had to do. We could have done it better had we thought about it more. When we ceased paid work, our discretionary spending was immediately circumscribed although managing
the budget changing circumstances and rising cost of living remain work-in-progress. Once we got to the position of being able to afford to have less money and more time, we figured out how to make time work for us more effectively than money ever did.
The greater cost of going out to work would be loss of our way-of-life. Thinking about the metaphorical hamster on a wheel does my head in, so as well as questions do we need it-can it wait, we ponder how many hours of paid work it would cost to buy/do a thing. Usually, our answer involves spending time rather than money.
These days, time doesn’t only support our hands-on approach and life style, it’s how we reward ourselves incentive bonuses which contribute extra quality… we go away for a day or a holiday and say, “let’s take our time” or “let’s go and have a look”. Life is short, and there were too many years prior when we didn’t.
However, our life remains real. One of the things I love most is not having to submit requests for annual leave or call in -cough cough- sick. Nevertheless, we need to work our absence around practicalities, and like that backlog of emails upon return from vacation to the office, once we arrive back home there’s no shortage of things that need mowing-weeding-washing-cleaning-fixing-cooking-attending to.
Every now and then we get visitors who greeted by a tidy house, verdant garden and homemade meal… comment along the lines of oh how I’d love to have a house-garden-life like this. My response unvarying: Start now. What you see has taken us
True luxury is being able to own your time – to be able to take a walk, sit on your porch, read the paper, not take the call, not be compelled by obligation. – Ashton Kutcher
Our life of luxury… as told by my September/October camera roll:
Postscript: As I was putting the finishing touches this morning to this post, I read and commented on my friend Celi’s latest blog post about her plan which has an objective “to create a resource for people who want to develop a home that aligns with their concerns for the welfare of the planet and its people. To enable discussion, conversation and support amongst likeminded people. To use minimalism to simplify our homes. To create an online hub to exchange ideas”.
It reminded me that I didn’t get to this point on my own.
A lot of people don’t know where to begin or how to build confidence and skills. That was me. Having likeminded friends to be there with you helps with that. I was fortunate more than a decade ago while I was living and working in the city to stumble into blogging, across Celi’s thekitchensgarden.blog and others who I call my “gurus”, and also have become friends. Some still have blogs, some are on Instagram, and some both. My “gurus” inspired and informed me during those city years while the G.O. and I worked towards our shift to the country and a simpler lifestyle, during those busy -now I’ve got it what do I do with it
days years- after we moved, even while we did a road trip around Australia, and continue to keep me company every day along with an inspiring Instagram community who have gathered along the way. [Please don’t dismiss Instagram merely as an influencer platform… there’s great community among it. I think it should be called “Inspogram”; everyday Instagrammers share so generously. If you’re not sure where to start, follow me @daleleelife101 and check out the people who I follow/follow me.]
Blog links to my “gurus”: