I've interviewed Teesha Moore a number of times for a variety of things (articles, podcasts), and once she said that in her life, pretty much everything she's ever touched has turned to gold. Not literally, of course. But she's an entrepreneur, and a good one, and all the various things she's started have done well. I admire this a lot. I am not an entrepreneur. I'm the opposite of one of those, whatever that opposite would be. A nontrepreneur? The idea of starting a business doesn't fill me with excitement; it fills me with sheer terror. While others salivate at words like "spreadsheet" and "DBAs" (Doing Business As) and "profit" and "5-year plans," I break out into a cold sweat. It's not that I'm a financial idiot or a basket case. No. I have no debt. We have insurance for pretty much everything. But when one of my jobs ended last year, one that was roughly half my income, I had to really think about what I was going to do. Midland, Texas, where we live, is in an on-going economic boom. If I wanted to go out and find a job, I could. Not a job doing what I love, but a job. Teaching English or subbing or working in animal care. Something I've done before. Even though I'm Of A Certain Age (when it's tough to find a job), the businesses here are desperate for workers because so many have gone to the oilfields.
But I didn't want to do that. Here's a confession that I would have never, ever made even five years ago, but hearing a friend say it made it possible: I didn't want to work that hard.
Whoa. Talk about something making you sweat: admitting that, that I don't want to work that hard, is still tough. But it's the truth: I want to do what I love (writing, talking to people about creativity, stitching) as much as possible and not spend more time making money. Money is not bad, and I need money, just like everyone else. But what I realized I wanted to do was not to figure out how to make more, but to figure out how to need less.
What does this have to do with you and your creative life, you ask. Sure: if you work less, you have more time. But beyond that? If, for instance, you want to be able to attend certain fabulous art retreats and would like to be able to save enough to do that. Or you want to buy a loom so you can make bigger pieces and maybe start to sell them, but you need to save up to get the loom you need. Like that.
I started by really looking at the things I was spending money on. Granted, I wasn't spending a lot of money on them, but considering that I didn't make a lot, anyway, every bit was something to consider. I looked at my website, for example. I never updated it. I didn't like it. I didn't need it (since I don't sell anything). So I got rid of it. I think that getting rid of the website and starting to simplify my life at about the same time was a much bigger step than it sounds. The website didn't cost a lot, but it was over $100 a year, and the bigger deal was that it was a huge mental weight. I always felt guilty for not keeping up with it better, but because I didn't use it and didn't like it, I had no interest in trying to make it cooler or up-to-date. Getting rid of it was like having a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. I have a blog (free) and Facebook presence (also free), and they don't demand stuff from me like a website did (figuring out how to lay out a page, for instance).
Jazzed, I started looking at other stuff. I was already trying to get rid of stuff—clothes, shoes, bags—so that everything I own is something I love. That makes it much easier to stop buying stuff, even stuff that makes me go, "Oooooooo!" like acid green Keen's sandals, the waterproof hiking ones that are good for your feet and so comfortable and that you can really justify because—just stop it!
We have two vehicles, both of which are getting up there in years and mileage. The older one has 120,000 miles, and I had been thinking that when it finally goes, we'd have to replace it. But I hardly ever drive anywhere any more: I stay at home most days, writing and stitching. When I have to do errands, I can usually get my husband to combine them with his, or I can let them accumulate and then do them all at once, maybe once a month. If we have only one car, that will mean less gas, less maintenance, less insurance. We live within walking distance of the library, the post office, the bank, the fabric store, the pharmacy—pretty much everything except a grocery store and the veterinarian.
Anyway, you get the idea: I'm looking at everything, from what I own to what I spend to where I go to how I get there. It all began for me as it can for you: I started by thinking about how I want to spend the rest of my life. What's my passion? What's most important to me? I see other people my age working as much as they can for as long as they can so they can buy a retirement house and maybe a boat. Maybe for them, that's their passion. Maybe saving up to travel the world is their passion. Maybe, though, you're like me, and your passion is making. Looking at everything that takes you away from that and figuring out what you really don't need/want that much? I hope it's as eye-opening for you as it