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All in a day’s work

Country Life | www.myfoododyssey.com

“Do you guys, like, work?”, the TV executive asks as she makes her notes. While I understand what she means by the question, it irritates me immensely. I try to be cognisant of how our life here differs from the “norm” and politely explain that we both work very hard, but that neither of us is currently earning a regular income. I can tell by her reaction that it isn’t the response she’s looking for.

I can understand how her thinking has evolved. We are conditioned this way from childhood. From the time we are small children we are asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Acceptable answers to this question include lawyer, doctor, teacher and a multitude of other professions. You would never be expected to answer that you wanted to be happy, to be loved, to be a good daughter, a loving wife, a responsible human who treats the earth and its inhabitants (human and non-human) with respect. That’s a hippy, airy-fairy answer. While these are all virtuous aspirations, they’re not going to pay the rent or put food on the table.

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And of course it’s true – none of these things will, in their own right, pay the bills. My point is not that we don’t need to work but rather how we have come to be defined by it, and how the focus of our developmental years is on building towards a career rather than building towards a life.

For many years I followed the traditional path. I went to college and got a degree, then found a good job with good career prospects and slowly worked my way up the ladder. I worked hard and eventually earned a good salary. But it didn’t make me happy. I always approached my work with enthusiasm and always strived to do a good job. There were elements of my job that suited my personality and that I enjoyed doing. But if I’d won the lottery would I have gone in again the next day? Absolutely not. Did I think my work was making a difference in anyone’s life? Not really – if I hadn’t done it someone else would.

I began to feel like I was stuck in a work-sleep-work cycle, too tired after a day’s work to do anything of consequence and constantly living for the weekend. I wasn’t getting to spend much time with my husband, the person I loved most in the world. Travelling was confined to a few weeks per year and, given that we both had family living overseas, often confined to the same few locations. I felt like a hamster in a wheel and I didn’t like it. So I changed it.

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Now, I have no job in the traditional sense. We moved to a country where the cost of living is much lower so that we could afford to buy a house with our savings and not be tied down to mortgage. Our other costs are pretty minimal – mainly heat, electricity, car and food. Our energies now going into keeping these costs as low as possible. We grow vegetables, we keep chickens, we make almost all our food from scratch. We mend clothes when they tear and repurpose them when they no longer suit our needs. We barter what we have with neighbours for milk, meat and other vegetables. We shop around for absolutely everything, ensuring we always get the best price. We work hard every day to maintain this simple life.

There are things we can no longer afford to do. We don’t take weekend breaks at nice hotels in the country, we don’t eat out in fancy restaurants, we don’t buy expensive ingredients or luxury skin care products. I can’t really say I miss any of these things. I live in a beautiful village surrounded by glorious countryside in a house that has been done up to my own specifications. Despite the lack of expensive ingredients the food we eat is on a par with many restaurants. We know exactly what’s in our food, which is a luxury of its own kind. I make wonderful skin care products from natural ingredients, tailored to our individual needs. It doesn’t really get any better.

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We make money where we can. We spent a month working in Denmark last November. We sell eggs, we give massages, we do odd jobs here and there. Ultimately, we want to develop our own business – one that pays the bills but still allows us the freedom and energy to fully enjoy our lives. We have no idea when these precious lives might be snatched from us and I, for one, am working very hard to make hay while the sun shines.

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28 Comments Post a comment
  1. You are carrying out your dream. And you are to be praised for it. I wish I could be more like you. Carry on, you are doing fine. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 14, 2015
  2. “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” A quote from Confucius. A smart man Confucius. You two have something in common. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    March 3, 2015
  3. Amazing write up! It’s hard sometimes to realize why you are so unsatisfied with life because you are so exhausted from the rat race. I love that you were able to take this huge leap of faith, get out of it, and are making it work so well! I think over here they’d call yall “homesteaders”. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    March 1, 2015
    • Thanks Sandra! I love the term “homesteaders” although for some reason I feel I need a pair of denim overalls to fully qualify!

      Liked by 1 person

      March 1, 2015
  4. Excellent post! Your post describes me completely. It sounds like we are very similar in our ways of thinking. It is wonderful to find others who “get it” and have a found a way to get off the hamster wheel/rat race of life. I am so much happier now than I was with my steady job & more money. Now I have less money (and I’m fine with that) but I am truly living life. Like you we live in the country (recently moved last month) and I absolutely love it. Simple life is truly the way to be. You are an inspiration to those of us working toward becoming more self-sufficient.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 27, 2015
    • Thanks Amy! I had missed your post about moving back in December. Hope the move went well for you. I look forward to reading about your new adventures. I’m sure you will love it as much as I do!

      Liked by 1 person

      February 27, 2015
  5. You must be doing something extremely right if you can spend a month in Denmark! Well done. Farming/ranching/horticulture are extremely demanding and rewarding occupations, although at times very discouraging. Another ‘work’ comment is ‘working mom.’ Isn’t that like so redundant?! What mom doesn’t work? Some are full-time moms and some are part-time moms and work full-time somewhere else, I’ve raised and home-educated three children, manage our household, and raise cattle and sheep. When someone asks if i work, boy, sometimes i really have to bite my tongue! My daughter, on the other hand, for now works full-time as a kindergarten teacher because it pays for her desire to travel before settling down. Having graduated uni in 2013, she has spent the past two years in Tegucigalpa and is heading to Dubai in August. So, she is using her job to pay for what is important to her. there are seasons to our lives. You and your husband are gifted, creative, and salt of the earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 27, 2015
    • Thanks Tauna – lovely comment. I’ve just realised reading your comment that I wasn’t clear that we were in Denmark to work for the month. (I’ve edited this now to make it clear.) I completely agree about “working” mothers. Whether they are stay-at-home mums or mums who also work outside of the home, they all work bloody hard. Everyone has their own path to take – there are no rights or wrongs. I love that your daughter is working towards a goal and has a plan for her life. Best of luck to you all!

      Liked by 1 person

      February 27, 2015
  6. smfarm #

    Well said. Money does not make the world go round, contrary to what most people think, and being self-sufficient is a richness in its own right.

    Liked by 2 people

    February 26, 2015
  7. You’ve found what makes you happy and enjoy living it, awesome! I’m happy for you!

    Liked by 2 people

    February 26, 2015
  8. Wonderful! You’ve found true joy in life. Congratulations! I will include those ideas when I talk to my kids about what they can do when they grow up. I try to point out lots of “jobs” that aren’t obvious and I never realized as I grew up that somebody did (who knew how sounds got into movies) but I always make sure to include they do something they love and that they’re happy! I wish you joy as you continue sharing your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 26, 2015
    • Thanks! Yeh, no one ever spoke about sound engineering when we were at school. The focus was on academic subjects with very little option for creativity. I hope your kids find something they love!

      Like

      February 26, 2015
  9. robinm910 #

    I envy you. I feel like a hamster on a wheel at times, constantly working for that next paycheck but never making any real progress. You are doing it right. Keep on keeping on the way that makes YOU happy! God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 26, 2015
  10. Donna Hattaway #

    You are so right on! Love reading your blog! ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    February 26, 2015
  11. Love this, June! So nice to read a story about someone who is not only surviving, but thriving, in a non-traditional work/life environment.

    Liked by 2 people

    February 26, 2015
  12. I’ve never really understood this compulsion to amass “STUFF”. I try to acquire as little as possible of the things that might weigh me down, physically as well as emotionally. I work because I have to, sure, to pay the bills, but I do something I enjoy, on the whole.

    Of course, if everyone lived like us, it’d be the end of the world as we know it… but would that really be such a bad thing…?

    Liked by 2 people

    February 26, 2015
    • I’m also not a big fan of “stuff”, or “clutter” as I like to call it. Spending 3 months in a camper was great for learning what’s essential and what’s not. The world as we know it is maxing itself out pretty rapidly and I think it will eventually have to change. No one knows the perfect answer but I’m happy with my choices.
      No mention of the doughnuts – are you ill?!

      Like

      February 26, 2015
  13. Fantastic post June. Love your lifestyle and ethos. We have all been conditioned to live in a certain way and most people never question why or seek alternatives. But you guys have your priories right. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    February 25, 2015
  14. I walked away from corporate life to live a simpler way nearly 18 months ago. To date the bit I hate most is the attitude of others that I am therefore idle and doing nothing when the truth is that I have never been busier. My mother just smiles and says ‘they are jealous dear’ – she’s probably right but I still want to smack em!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 25, 2015
    • Yeh, it bugs the crap out of me that people think because I don’t have a “job” (i.e., paid employment) that I don’t work. I’m EXHAUSTED at the end of the day – and I like it that way. I’ll never be rich, but I’m perfectly happy!

      Liked by 2 people

      February 26, 2015
      • Actually I read your post to my husband and he smiled and said ‘good for them and let the doubters be the fools they clearly are’. Happiness rocks 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 26, 2015
  15. Randy #

    Beautifully said. I also want to enjoy life while I can and not let work stop me. I retire next year at 42 and don’t plan to work, just travel and see my family and friends and enjoy time with my wife. I won’t be rich either but will have enough to be happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 25, 2015
    • Exactly, Randy. Being rich is about more than having money, anyway. Your plan sounds perfect. 🙂

      Like

      February 25, 2015
  16. MG #

    When I was made redundant and was able to fill my days doing the things I loved and was good at, I realised I never want to go back to full time work and stress. Good on you.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 25, 2015
    • Thanks Margaret. It’s not easy, but I do love it.

      Like

      February 25, 2015
  17. Wow. Amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 25, 2015

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