It seemed like an innocent enough request. “Can we call you if we have questions?” asked the interim CEO of the non-profit I will be leaving on Friday. “We would pay you as a contractor… More
Our little garden is starting to wind down for the season and I’m already starting to miss it. When we were ankle deep in peas and tomatoes, I didn’t think the end would come quick enough but as we canned the last few pints of salsa on Sunday, it started to sink in. Fall is just steps away and winter is right behind it.
Years ago, those transitions meant little more to me than putting up the appropriate seasonal decor on our front door. My life was basically the same every day, only the weather changed. I got up, went to work, came home, ate dinner, watched TV, went to bed, and repeated it all until Friday night, when I’d go out to eat (like everyone else I knew) and head to the grocery store, Walmart, and wherever else I could spend my paycheck. Why? Because I worked hard and the new fall sweaters (or spring t-shirts) were out and well, I deserved one!
I didn’t become a minimalist overnight, though sometimes it feels like it. Like one day I just woke up and decided the repetitive pattern of my life was not working and I wasn’t going to do it anymore. In reality though, it was more of a process than that. I did wake up one day and decide something needed to change and I remember that day as if it were yesterday.
It was just another Sunday in September of 2011. I was beyond tired from a week of running all over Colorado (some poor life choices at the time meant driving into downtown Denver every day for work after driving Angie half way to Black Hawk to catch a bus to the casino where she worked). I had started a decluttering project but failed to finish it and the apartment was covered in stuff – from bicycles to a bubblegum machine. But football was on and I just wanted to curl up on the couch and veg for the day. So I did. At the end of that day, I took out my journal and wrote one single sentence – if every day were Sunday, I’d be free.
The next day, as I sat in traffic on I-25 once again, those words came back to me. Why couldn’t every day be Sunday? Why did I have to be in this car? Why wasn’t I in control of my time? My life? My choices? On that highway, in the early hours of the morning, I made two decisions – every day would be Sunday if I wanted it to be and we were leaving Colorado.
And we did.
Less than a year later, we were in North Port, Florida, a city we had never even heard of before Googling “best places to live on the Gulf Coast”. The three years that we lived there laid the foundation for everything that was to follow. We learned to live on one income. We learned contentment, the kind that comes from just sitting on the porch watching the birds or making a meal from scratch. We learned to be resourceful. And we learned the meaning of true happiness.
Minimalism alone did not make it possible for me to quit my job last week but it sure helped.
When I look around the room right now, I see Angie sitting on the couch, her favorite blanket across her lap, reading a book. Her cup of coffee is tucked into the fold of the blanket, just to her right. Caesar is on her left. The sun is shining in through the open windows, greeting the new herbs we just planted yesterday in the windowsill. A vegetable soup is simmering on the stove for lunch, while mixed beans slow cook in the crock pot for tomorrow night’s dinner. It is Tuesday, yet it feels like a peaceful and relaxing Sunday.
As I raised my own cup of coffee to take a sip, the realization slowly settled upon me. Almost 8 years to the day that I wrote that single sentence in my journal, we have finally achieved the life I so longed for back then.
Every day is Sunday and I am now free.
If you had asked me in 2011, if I thought I’d be here today, I would have said no. The weight of the world sat on my shoulders then. We were knee deep in years of baggage – both physical and mental – and I couldn’t see a way to wade through. Angie worked 12 hour days at a menial job she hated and we spent our time off with people we had nothing in common with – the kind of “friends” that discourage growth and change. Our relationship was still new but it was tenuous at best. When we sat down that day in September to discuss the direction of our life together, we realized the only way out was to turn around. We need a new path, one that we chose together, and one that was free of the clutter of our past lives. Through persistence, lots of trial and error, and good communication (I can’t stress that one enough), we have come to the place we are today – ready to open a new page, in a new journal, and start a brand new adventure.
If you are contemplating of your own life-changing adventure, our best advice – just do it. It may take a while to get to where you want to be, but you’ll never regret making the leap.
I have never had the most impeccable timing when it comes to life-altering decisions, I will admit. I either overthink myself into immobility or I jump without looking at the terrain below. There aren’t really a whole lot of in-betweens with me. I can rationalize things to death and then never act on them. Or I can do things like I did on Monday.
I woke up and quit my job.
The act itself was kind of rash but I knew last Wednesday, I was going to do it. I just needed to wait for Angie to come back from Texas to make sure we were on the same page. Luckily, we were.
Three years ago, I attempted to quit this same job. As I was rereading my posts from that timeframe (here, here, and here), one word kept coming to mind. Coward. I told everyone that I was unhappy with my job, that I felt as if I was no longer making a meaningful contribution, and that I was going to quit and try making a go in the freelance world. I really did turn in my resignation on October 21, 2016 but that very same day, I accepted a restructuring of my responsibilities into a part-time position instead.
I justified staying in the way that most of us do when we talk ourselves out of things – I convinced myself that 1) the timing wasn’t right, 2) we didn’t have enough money saved, and 3) we needed the benefits. Yep, none of that was any more or less true than it is today or the day before or will be three days from tomorrow. It is and was just an excuse.
This time, I quit for a lot of reasons. Every single one of them the same as they were 3 years ago. But mostly, I quit because I couldn’t wait any longer to get started living the life we have imagining for ourselves.
When I wrote A Sno-Ball’s Chance, we had set a financial goal for ourselves to save enough to pay our living expenses for an additional 3 months (we already have 6) before I resigned and to secure at least one permanent side hustle or writing gig. Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked (nearly non-stop) to jumpstart our plan. Even while Angie was in Texas, she was hustling. She painted a barn! In just a short amount of time, I’m happy to say that we have already exceeded our goal! We have an extra 3 months of general expenses saved and 5 months of grocery money. On top of that, I have secured 2 permanent gigs and have 2 others pending.
Leaving a secure job is SCARY! I will not deny that. Nor will I say that it’s not a little crazy too, especially when you are not in a position to fully retire. But you know what else it is? It’s EXCITING!
I have one more month of meetings and deadlines before everything I do is on my own schedule. One more month before success or failure rests solely on our shoulders. And frankly, I can’t wait!