The Things We Do For Cash

It’s finally official! As of last Friday, I am no longer employed! I will say, leaving a job when you are a remote employee is kind of…well…disappointing. I got a nice card in the mail but there was no farewell party, no cupcake toast in my honor. The same folks who forgot I was there when I was working, also forgot to say goodbye. But it’s all good. I realized as I was typing my “catch you on the next one” email to my coworkers – I don’t really know them either! The team that I started with started leaving last year and I was the lone holdout.

When I woke up on Monday morning (my first day of freedom), I had coffee, read for an hour, and opened my laptop. I may have left my job, but I didn’t opt out of work completely. I mean, I still have to pay for Netflix and all…so I got busy.

Truthfully, it’s been a pretty busy month. Kind of chaotic, really. I didn’t exactly coast out of my regular job. I was writing fast and furiously up until 10 AM of my last day there, and all the while I was lining up new freelance writing contracts and a couple of side gigs. I just didn’t expect to land so many, all at once! But…abundance is a problem I’m happy to have, because in the world of gig work, abundance itself can be a short-term contract.

So, what did this chaos look like exactly? Well, let me tell you…

  • We earned $260 from approximately 12 hours of retail merchandising through Easy Shift, Field Agent, and Retail Merchandising Services, Inc. (RMS). Easy Shift and Field Agent are phone apps, with jobs often taking less than 10 minutes to complete. We mostly took jobs at the shopping center next door, where we could combine a few minutes of work with a nice walk. RMS is a dedicated merchandising gig at Target. I will be getting 4-5 hours a week from them and the work is fairly straightforward – straighten reading glasses, restock a 4-foot section of toys, count Rand McNally atlases, etc. It’s something that can easily be done in a morning, followed by a picnic lunch in the park.
  • We earned $280 from writing a capital campaign grant for one of my nonprofit clients.
  • We earned $20 (and a jar of peach butter) for checking in on the neighbor’s cats while she was away for the weekend.
  • We earned $282 counting houses. Sometimes really cool gigs just appear out of nowhere and this was one we couldn’t pass up. We spent one Wednesday and one Saturday driving around new subdivisions counting the number of houses under construction. Not including our stops for a picnic lunch and a visit to the organic grocer while we were out, we spent about 14 hours on this gig. And it was something we got to do together, which made it even more fun. This is one that we’ll be doing quarterly going forward. (The company is called Hanley-Wood/Metrostudy in case you’re interested to see if they have this gig in your area.)

And though, I haven’t clocked any billable hours yet, I also started contracting with a nonprofit in California.

If you add all this side-hustling up, you’ll get a grand total of $842 – or as some of the more pessimistic folks in my family like to point out, not even enough to cover our rent.

Oh, negative people, I have no space for you these days!

We may be canoeing against the current here, but negative thinking can sink a ship faster than hitting an iceberg. (I’m not sure if that’s a mixed metaphor, but I like it, so I’m leaving it 😊)

We opted to be proactive this month, which led to a lot of small money-making opportunities all at once. And for that, I will be nothing but grateful. Who cares if it doesn’t meet someone else’s ideal! We had fun. We feel free. We are happy. And isn’t that the real goal anyway?

Life’s Better in the Garden

I had the greatest of intentions this week. I even spent 2 days working on what I hoped would be a really stellar post about our progress through the exercises in Tanja Hester’s book, Work Optional. Since finishing the book a few weeks back, we’ve been nothing but excited about the prospect of creating an even more fulfilling life than the one we already enjoy. We made all the lists, we drew our interlocking circles, and we came up with a mission statement for our work optional project, and, then it happened…

I was on our weekly “team meeting” conference call with the draft of my blog post in front of me. I felt like something still needed work but it was hard to pinpoint what it was. Yes, I was writing while conferencing. Anyone who has ever attended a remote meeting knows that these are the most boring parts of any job. So I say my part, then I tune out. The rest is just background noise to me anyway – the planning of events I will never attend by people I will never meet, in an office I haven’t stepped foot in in nearly 8 years.

Somewhere amid the drone of voices, I think it hit me. Angie and I had crafted the perfect work-optional “vision” but our actual plan to get there was as weak as my mom’s decaf coffee. I had given us a year to “figure things out” and “get better prepared” while still maintaining status quo at a job that stopped being fun a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work. I just don’t like all the other stuff that comes with having a job. Every Tuesday I get off the phone and say the same thing – “I don’t know how much longer I can do this” and every Thursday, I get up and do it all again. Not anymore. We need a better plan.

So… I wadded up the draft of that other post and threw it in the trash. Maybe in a few weeks (when we return from our first-ever trout fishing trip), I’ll dazzle you with the pretty charts we made (a newly updated version of them, of course). Right now though, we need to rethink our strategy and give it some real teeth.

In the meantime, we’re going to take you to our happy place – the garden. Enjoy!

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