Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rich Girl, Poor Girl

(The "girl"-thing is wholly unintentional. WTF, brain?)


We all recognize synchronicity when it comes to us. A sudden lining-up of events into what appear like chains of clues into a bigger truth, or idea.

A while back I jokingly asked in a post about whether being poor but extremely lucky could be considered a lifestyle? In response a reader asked how did we exactly maintain this fabulous life we have. In comments to the same post my friend Em, who lives also lives in the archipelago, asked me to write about the other side of Island life, the hardships and challenges. Then, a few days later, two different Finnish friends wrote about their choice to live lives with less "financial safety".

It seemed only fitting to write a post about what exactly "poor but lucky" means in our case.

Words like poor, rich, wealthy, are all pretty relative. Sure, there are government guidelines, and measures NGOs consider universal for assessing poverty, but really your actual powerty level depends on two things: one is "How poor do you feel?" and the other is "How well you can make ends meet?"

These are the two questions I've given some serious thought to in the last month as my husband has been working seven days a week, as I'm transitions day to day from editing, to crafting, to making herbal cream, to learning to make knife sheaths, to babysitting, to subbing at the local consignment store.


We are not destitute, paycheck to paycheck, flat broke without a penny to our name, we're not in (much) debt, not facing bankruptcy, not able to pay our mortgage ('cos we don't have one), not in the breadlines, not even on food-stamps. But we also don't have a lot disposable income, a steady living-wage, much savings beyond what we need to live in the winter, any kind of conventional safety-net lest anything (knock on wood) should go wrong.

In many ways our situation is pretty typical of most folks here on the Islands. The work that is available to us here is mostly in farming, government, cottage industries, tourism, basic services, online or mail-order, construction and landscaping, which both mostly fall under the category of working for the wealthy second-homers. Almost all of this work has an uptick during the summer months and dwindles practically down to nothing in January, February and March.

Our county has a lot of folks on food-stamps and other government welfare programs. For the most part work has always been scarce here. "Regular", full-time jobs, benefits, high pay, upward mobility, have never really been a big part of the culture. Our booms in the latter part of the last century have been modest, our prosperous times only slightly better than the financially harder ones. In many ways this economic scarcity has served us well in these tough economic times. Not too many locals lost their jobs, or had their homes foreclosed on. Not because of a pocket of financial prosperity, but rather a permanent scarcity.

At the same time, there are an outsize number of people here with moderate to enormous wealth.

On the one side it's easy to feel rich here, regardless of your actual financial situation, so long as you've got a roof over your head and food to eat, because aside from necessities, there's not much to spend money on. Fancy groceries, or a night out "on the town" at our one bar (we have two bars but one kind of doesn't count), or a $10 ticket event. To spend money you have to consciously seek opportunities to do so (shop online, go off Island). And since most everyone you know has money either, or does activities that require money to participate in, it's easy to feel like you're doing just fine.

There's gorgeous nature right outside our front door. Beaches and big trees and birds and raccoons and rabbits and deer...an abundance of peace and quiet and seashells and pretty pebbles and herbs and berries and mushrooms to wildcraft.

Most of our fun is the DIY, make something out of nothing, or very little -variety. We homestead, take walks, make things, have bonfires, play music...

But on the other side there's an amplified sense that of which you don't, or can't have. Like all good Americans, we of course dream of a little piece of land of our own,  though in our case it is room to homestead, to make a life that's more self-sufficient. Our dreams are decidedly no-frills. A small cabin, no plumbing, most likely not even a house necessary. We could go for a pretty low-maintenance spot if it was our own. Yet, a down-payment on the smallest piece that could support these dreams is more than what we make a year.

Folks our age and younger often come here to homestead, farm, or learn to farm. Because of the moment our culture is at, there has actually been an uptick in the under forties population here, unseen sense the 70s. Unfortunately for them (us!) there has also there's also a marked increase in second-homers and retirees, who have the money to drive up the price of land.

In this, like many other ways, these islands are microcosm of what's happening in the wider world: by-and-large those who have money have little understanding or interest in how their privilege affects those without the same advantages. Outside the very rich (of whom we a disproportioned number here) our parent's generation is also (somewhat) indadvertedly making it more difficult for the less-privileged generations that follow them, to have access to the same entitlements they had most of their lives: affordable college, steady jobs with insurance, middle class conveniences affordable with one, or two incomes.

In the case of the islands this means that first the very wealthy, mostly but not exclusively "Microsofties" come and drive up the property prices and then they're followed by retiring boomers, who can sell their primary residences in the city (which have been steadily gaining equity) and buy land here even at these inflated prices.

The original 70s homesteaders could work a summer in Alaska to make enough for a down-payment, if not the whole asking price on a piece of land. It's a tough wake-up call to realize that these days a rustic homestead with a few pigs, chickens and a milk cow, veggie garden and a little shed for woodworking projects requires full-time employment somewhere else, that the path to self-sufficiency is paved with compromises with the world one is desperate to severe all ties from.

Because of these factors it can not only be hard to find a job out here, but the rental market doesn't exactly cater to the lower end of the income bracket, also known as the "people-who-actually-work-for-a-living". We feel so lucky to be paying the rent we're paying for a really rad, beautiful house, instead of a mildewed double-wide.

We are lucky too, in that, the last few years we've not had to worry a lot about money. Our family has actually risen out of poverty and into the lower-lower-middleclass (if there s such a thing) since I last wrote about this two and a half years ago.

Back then my husband worked five months out of the year full-time, two months part time and got laid-off for five months without a guarantee of getting his job back the next spring. Because of my immigration status he was not able to get unemployment, or food stamps which we more than qualified for. Since he was unemployed during the season employment is scarce here it was sometimes really hard for us to make it through the winter and often we were completely broke by the time his first paycheck rolled around in March. Yet we always managed to patch things together, with temporary gigs and my waitressing job. Oh yeah, I'm a waitress. How's that for a glamorous blogger-job?


Since then, my husband has gone to eight months full-time, four months part-time with benefits, the universally recognized mark of job-advancement in America. I may sound ungrateful when I say that neither the amount of money we make annually nor the "benefits" were worth the stress or the loss of freedom that our family experienced since moving to the beleaguered middle-classes, but it's the truth.

In the two years he's had that job he's made a third more money, yet with having to pay for the "medical insurance" and not being able to do as many of the money-saving homesteading things we use to, the actual gain has only been half of that. The only benefit of his new job title has been that we've been able to actually save some money and not spend it all in a single winter of patchy employment.

According to most federal guidelines we're at about 200% of the poverty limit and we only recently started paying for rent, so we've been able to save a little. Even as we enter the time when we spend more than half of our monthly income on rent, we'll be alright. We're able to afford a lot of things I consider necessities, but know many people can't afford. Local, organic food for ourselves, the best, most sustainable food for the animals in our care, small charitable donations, self-care not covered by our "health" insurance. We cook mostly organic whole foods, and as much of it as is rice, beans and veggies in the winter, our grocery budget regularly eats up whatever's left after rent and gas.

We drive beater cars, buy most things secondhand, or expensive and good quality for years of use ahead, get things for free regardless of their aesthetic value, barter and trade.

We've stuck to our principles where we could, we've done work that we think is right, or at least not harmful to how we want to live. During our first year, we agreed that it was for the best if we didn't both try to work full time in the summer, since I was unable to find a job that paid as much as his. (That is without working for the very same wealthy contingent who's presence here makes it financially so difficult for the rest of us to afford a home.) Instead,  I would do most of the housework, gardening, canning and other things that save us dollars and are part of how we want to live.

In the winter we scrimp and in the summer we save. That's what you do out here.

The extras, like my trip to Finland last year, my annual California sojourn, sometimes set us back, but we also consider that if you don't do things like visit family and friends every two-and-a-half years, or build your own kayak, maybe the money you saved isn't really going to be worth it. These things are wealth to us in more ways than the actual dollars spent.

In these few short years of not actively worrying about money, we've stocked up on things we felt we needed, had some magical experiences, traveled, used our resources well.

Which is good, 'cos we're about to do something crazy that requires a lot of faith and a little bravery. In a time when union jobs with benefits are increasingly hard to come by, C.'s planning to walk away from steady employment and embark on a completely different adventure. Starting the end of the month, our family's sole source of income will be what I make, which so far has comprised the grocery budget. What savings we have will go towards rent, bills, gas and that new venture that I keep alluding to.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that it's intimidating scary as heck.


There are nights when I lie awake staring at the bedroom ceiling, invisible in the dark, trying to fight the absolute terror of not knowing at all what's going to happen next. "It's a recession." I think "Are we f***ing crazy?!! What are we doing?! We were doing just fine?!?!! What if it doesn't work out?"


And then I take a deep breath and remember the facts: we're thirty-four-years-old, healthy, in love, we have no kids, we can work hard, we've got savings, we've got support, and that we'd regret much more not trying out something that could be the right work, or just an epic adventure, than doing it and failing.

And most importantly, I give into the overwhelming sense, intuition if you will, that this is the right thing to do, that things are lining up this way for a good reason.

I exhale and enjoy the idea that for the next six months our future is completely open.



One of the most wonderful things about living out here, is that this community supports you and gives you space to do almost anything, and to try many things. As hard as it can be to eke out a living here, it's surprisingly easy to make a life.

In our time here, we have done an astonishing variety of jobs, tried our hand at projects, enterprises, organizing, making, building from scratch and from ideas. We've learned as much in these years as we ever did before we came here.

Most everyone we know has a multitude of occupations, as well as an abundance of seemingly disparate, yet magically compatible talents. The folks we know have done every job imaginable here before landing their current gig, or continue to do a number of different things that, when added up, can scarcely be called a career.

People have had interesting, crazy ventures in their time and lived to tell the tale. Seeing what folks do and hearing their stories of how they got there, makes us feel more confident in our intuition that it's all gonna be okay.

Whenever we tell our friends, neighbors, acquaintances, adoptive family that we're about to try something different, it's met with not just encouragement, curiosity, mentoring, helpful tips, emotional support, but actual physical help. One of the things we have, who's value can't be measured in dollars, but that makes one feel wealthy, is a community; a wealth of knowledge, experience, wisdom and a safety-net far more ancient and therefore more conventional than some health insurance and a 401K.

In the eve of our self-imposed leap into financial insecurity, that's what makes me feel certain that no matter the outcome of our crazy exciting plans, ultimately we'll be just fine and dandy.

So, to answer those questions in the beginning of the post, I don't feel poor. And we make our ends meet. Sometimes with credit cards (promptly payed off) and sometimes with rice and beans, and at others with temporary jobs, but meet they do all the same.  Sure, if our car dies, we probably can't afford to replace it, sure we're eating our savings and trying to get creative about a thousand more small things to save on, but we're rich in opportunities, possibilities, things to do, supportive friends, resources.

We may not own much that's worth any actual money and everything we do own is likely once-used and wrung out and homemade, but we love the things we have, and on a good day even remember to be grateful for them.

There's a fair chance we won't be able to afford land here, our chosen place for a home, but stranger things have happened to us and either way we'll make it work somehow or another.

What we have, our true wealth, is the freedom to figure out how to spend our time, the freedom to care for our own health, to spend or money on food, to entertain ourselves, to make choices that make financial, and more importantly, emotional sense for our family.

We are some of the richest people I know. Then again, I actually know a whole lot of similarly prosperous folks...

I have much much more to say about financial "security", "health insurance" and other related topics, but best I save something for the future, perhaps six months down the line when our savings are exhausted and we're further along on this adventure.

Poor, lucky and privileged beyond words?

What makes you feel poor about your life? What makes you feel rich? Does it have anything to do with your finances?

ps. This is most likely part one of posts about the difficulties of life out here, since there's the whole social/emotional aspect to consider too, as per Em's request.

35 comments:

  1. Been reading your blog for some time....I came here via prairiegirl.
    Interesting subject, the question of rich vs poor. My husband works 12 hour rotating shifts at a job he hates. We have a house in a big city we would rather not reside in. We do not feel rich, we do not choose to exemplify some "American dream".
    When DO we feel rich?
    When we run off to the hills, away from all the people and the crime and the noise. when we disappear for days on end with only ourselves and our dogs and experience nature on a level that makes our heads want to explode.
    We would love to throw the big city life away, live off the land, commune with nature every day, but it's just not possible. How would we put gas in the truck? How would we eat?
    Wealth has little to do with finances. For us, wealth resides in our souls when we are far away from the job and the city and the responsibilities. It's become a dual life for us. One day we hope to transition completely to the far away life....should we figure out how to do it.
    Best of luck with your dreams. Let your souls carry you to the place you want to be in life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are in the very same boat with you!

      Delete
    2. I've so been there. And the worst part was, I didn't really even know it as consciously as you. When my husband came out here eight years ago, he discovered that what he wanted in life, his personality, his love of nature fit in seamlessly with living here and was astonished. It was a fluke, which sometimes, under perfect circumstances translates as fate. Those years in the city weren't a waste, they led us here and someday, I hope and pray, you will find your way to wherever it is that it's your fate to be. Thank you for sharing your point of view and keep looking...

      Delete
  2. I teach high school and right now we're reading The Alchemist, which I personally find a little preachy, but I love teaching it for the conversations. We're talking about what it means to live your dreams, and the sacrifices. I really admire you. I want security, which sometimes embarrasses me, makes me feel small and afraid. Sometimes I blame it on having a child young and without planning, but I know it was there even before she was, that fear of taking off into the unknown.
    You are brave and wonderful and good will come to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the same with me! With all he blogs and books and articles and stories of people who gave up their jobs and went living their dream it feels a little embarassing to admit, that I am a creative type (a writer) and actually don't want to go on a wild adventure of discovering my true passion. I thought I want to and struggled with it for a long time, but it's just not me and I finally accepted that. I don't have children, but I do have animals under my care and currently consider my husband to be under my care (because he's unemployed now and finishing his phd) and have this profound feeling of responsibility for them.
      So I thought and thought and figured the exact amount of money we need to go by and have some teeny-tiny savings in case of emergency like sickness or new coat. It turns out it's not much. It's easily one-person income in a full-time job. So I take care of that now, and leave my writings for early mornings and afternoons (I actually like it this way. as it turns out, writing for pleasure is so much better than writing for money!) and I hope that soon my husband and I will be able to both work part-time, earning our magic number and having nice time afterwards, working on our hobbies. So I guess what I'm saying is - every situation is different, of course - but there's more than one way of living a dream. It just so happens that a part of my dream (and yours, too, it would seem) is some sort of stability in the income area. Not being wealthy, just stability.

      a.

      Delete
    2. Ladies, what awesome dialogue, msh, AS ALWAYS you make some excellent points. Everyone's needs, life situation, comfort level is totally different. Living your dream doesn't always mean throwing everything in the wind, in fact, and that's a topic for a whole other post, I have always always enjoyed having A JOB, just that, work that you do, for a little bit of money, something that doesn't compromise one's principles too much.

      There's nothing wrong with wanting security either, I only want to shake up that idea a bit, because it's not something we can cling to in my opinion, it's something we can aspire to and enjoy, but much of financial worry comes from the idea that there is security and we do not have it. Stability, living within one's means, living sensible and not too dependent on chasing financially unviable dreams as a means of money-making, is something that we could all benefit from. In fact in so many ways this transition we're making is about that as well. Maybe less money, but more...life, I guess. Another totally different post. Actually a couple...

      This is what happens when I strive to keep my posts cohesive, all these things I chose not to touch upon come up. I love my reader pals, you ladies time and time again surprise me with your awesomeness. Thank you so much for your comments and meh, wouldcha please start a blog in English? I would love it.

      Delete
  3. Milla, as always, I can't tell you enough how much I love to read your posts. Your description of island life only further cements my yearning to live the same way. Thank you for sharing this!

    Megan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My dear, thank you for being such a kindred spirit across the water. I'm excited to see where life takes you.

      Delete
  4. What a very beautiful post!

    For as long as I can remember, whenever I have faced certain challenges in my life, my mother would reliably tell me: "it will work out, it always does". And while at my worst times, I would overlook my mothers encouragement as trite or uncaring, I have found it to be true! I have since learned that talking about it, thinking about it, dissecting a problem does not always offer the solution...often times life will point you in the right direction at the right moment - so long as you are paying attention. I've also learned that "the thing that works out" may not look at all like what you might have expected or imagined. Life is funny that way.

    Like you, we also consider ourselves to be lucky and fortunate, and while all is not perfect and times can be rough, life is good and we are comfortable.

    Best of luck to you both in your new adventures - it will work out, it always does :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I am learning, the key to things working out is *patience, patience, patience*.

      Delete
    2. Patience, courage, acceptance that not all is always peachy and magical. Sometimes the most awful times in my life have yielded the best outcomes. If there's one thing I've learned it is that it is never easy, life, for most anyone. Thank you for the well-wishes and thank you for being far flung friends.

      Delete
  5. I'm really excited to hear about your new adventure!

    We are FAR from being poor; we are both post-secondary educated late 20 somethings with full time employment and benefits but like you, that just isn't enough these days to buy a little piece of land to homestead.

    I'm not sure what prices are like in the US, but in my area of Canada a 1 acre plot with a two bedroom house is around 400,000$, which is not affordable for us. That kind of does make us feel 'poor' because it was something much easier to come by for our parents; they made so much less and had so much less than we do and yet they could afford so much more. Unfortunately we were brought up thinking we could have those same things, so its a big disappointment when you finally realize that all of that money and time spent on school and finding that good job with great benefits, the life map you've been coached to follow your whole life, still won't get you the"American Dream" .

    So if security and "making all of the right choices" can't buy you a house and some land, then why not fly by the seat of your pants? The concept of the importance of financial security has been so ingrained in me that I find it very hard to abandon; I'd love to quit my job, leave the city and live by the ocean, the forests, and the mountains, working any minimum wage job...I don't think the lack of money would matter because I'd be living someplace I love.

    I admire your bravery Milla, and I hope I someday have the courage to abandon security as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alisha hon, thank you for your encouragement. I don't, in a way, feel like there's tons of bravery there, almost just necessity. Like folks said above, it's not always the brave thing to just toss all you have in the air. It's the thing movies and books tell you about, but for every joyous success there are countless fools who end up with nothing but the experience. I think there's a whole spectrum of factors that effect that security, a whole other post for sure. I would recommend journeying to find somewhere you might imagine yourself then researching what one could do there. Dreams like that have a way to come true easier than just tossing caution in the wind. Gosh, house prices sound insane out there!! It's such a crazy thing these days. You're young m'dear, you're not locked in any life, remember that and oh the places you'll go ;)

      Delete
  6. Seriously. Love you love you love you for this post. I read every word, no skimming I promise. It is all so true. All the best for new adventures my friend. I am feeling happiness and confident hope for you and whatever those adventures might be. xoxo If you could see me now, you would see that I am smiling.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a beautiful post - thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh I wish you all the best on this new journey. I have never experienced financial wealth, but have been most grateful for the amazing riches life has brought me in love, experiences and this beautiful place we call home. Looking forward to hearing what the future holds for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now that's the attitude. Count your blessings, not your mishaps and when in doubt buy chocolate and tangerines. That's what I did today-screw the budget! Seriously though, thank you for your encouragement.

      Delete
  9. What a nice post. I'm going to come back & read it again later, too, when it isn't late at night & my head isn't so foggy :p But ~ We are saving currently to buy land outright. We've started an envelope which we put a set amount in each week---it adds up! Come spring or summer 2014 we should be able to purchase 10-20 acres. The area we are looking in is NE Washington (Ferry County, near Republic) & NW Montana ~ land in those locales can be as low as $1,000 an acre!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my gosh, we have really dear friends in Ferry County! In fact their homestead made us seriously consider it. A little valley with a stream, hills, snow. They've made it work. Excited to hear more about it, hon!

      Delete
  10. Aihe on kyllä mielenkiintoinen.
    Saarenne on kyllä ihmeellinen,onnekkaita olette:-) Minutkin varmasti lasketaan tulojen puolesta köyhäksi,mutta kuitenkin pystyn ostamaan tarvitsemani elintarvikkeet luomuna ja muutamat tarvitsemamme asiat erikoisliikkeistä. Tosin koko sen ajan (3 vuotta) mitä olin Hertan kanssa kotona en ostanut itselleni yhtään mitään ja nyt taas äitiysrahalla kitkutellessa on tilanne sama. Raha asiat ovat mystisiä yleensä kaikki mitä tulee,myös menee:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oi ollaan niin onnekkaita, tiedan sen niin hyvin. Ihailen AINA ja AINA perheellisia joilla on nama asiat hallussa, silla helppohan se on meidan kahden aikuisen pihistaa ja tehda akkiliikkeita. Oma yksinhuoltaja-aitini on todellakin idolini naissa asioussa. Haleja sinne suloiseen suomeen, Hertalle ja vauvalle kans <3

      Delete
  11. Wow!!! amazing post...

    Well, I feel poor when I watch at the spanish goverment and think about how can I change this situation. I feel so rich when I'm at the beach everyday and go into the water or simply take a walk with my dog and kiss my man at home, I work as a freelance without stress and I feel I am in the best place of the world, my family, friends, my animals, mountain and beach, what else could I ask for?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, my goodness. Sometimes you feel so powerless. And yet. All those things you mention, no one can take those away from you. Loving what you have is such a key to happiness. I'm still learning, but I think I'm getting better at it. Thank you for your thoughts and your readership, friend.

      Delete
  12. What a great post, I enjoyed every word of it. :) You are very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place that you love, and to have such a wonderful and supportive community! I think in the U.S. it's easy to feel like you're on the "poor" side of the spectrum, when the things we consider to be pretty basic security and lower middle-classness - say, the ability to make a $5,000 downpayment on property or start a 401K - would make us so astronomically wealthy in other countries (or even here at home, really). I consider myself very far from poor - my husband & I are in our late 20s/early 30s and everything we own is used and we are paycheck to paycheck with credit card bills that exceed our savings (more properly titled "cat emergency vet fund"), but we are also fully employed in jobs we love with full benefits, and, most importantly, we have family and friends who would take us in if anything drastic happened. I guess I also have this mindset because I live in an urban area with a lot of poverty, right outside my apartment there are always many homeless individuals, many of them crack addicted or recovering, so I'm constantly being reminded of how much I have and feeling grateful (not to sound preachy-enlightened or something, I grew up in the silicon valley and totally get what it feels like to be surrounded by ridiculously wealthy people and always feel like you have less). I think the key thing is that material things and money can go away for any number of reasons, real security lies in the people in our lives and the spiritual/mental security we cultivate. One my friends lost her job last year and said she had this realization that she had been thinking her resources were coming from her job, but really they were coming from God. I'm secular, but I think there's a lot of truth to that, swap out God for whatever it is you believe in that is bigger than yourself.
    I really admire you for foregoing the "security" of steady employment & benefits. I always feel conflicted about this, I would like more freedom, but my husband and I also have jobs we're very passionate about, but they are also pretty conventional/inflexible (librarian/public sector attorney). I'm also a firm believer that if you follow your heart good things will come - it sounds like you and your husband are doing exactly what is right for your family. Best wishes on your next adventure!
    (And also SWOON over your photos, I love your part of the world - some of my aunts & uncles are totally those baby boomer retirees, but they live on islands in the Georgia Straight up in Canada, sooo gorgeous over there!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! Girl, you have touched upon some of aspects of this topic I cut out of this particular post. My readers are so damn astute! You rock.

      I think it's important to recognize one's privilege and at the same time align oneself with others in different parts of the spectrum of wealth, or lack thereof. Because though by the standards of the world we are so so rich, by the standards of this country we are being oppressed by the same forces that strip folks everywhere in the world of being able to afford food, home and healthcare.

      I think it's important to use that word. It is so ingrained in us that poverty takes that rags and shacks appearance that we don't recognize it in our own lives, just like we don't often recognize our wealth. I feel like there's an urgent need for talking about this, particularly in this country.

      As a religious person I like your friend's epiphany, though as a Buddhist, I think slightly differently about it, the principle is the same: our wealth exists in recognizing it.

      Like it was discussed above, following your dream isn't always some crazy, creative adventure, it THE RIGHT WORK and I am so happy for you that you have that, passion comes in many forms. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and being supportive and let's debate this some more sometime. I learn so much from you all.

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply - there's SO much to say on this topic, it's hard to get it all out in one blog post or conversation, ha. I think you're right on about the importance of language here and the use of wealthy/poor, and how we fail to identify these conditions in reality, like how Americans from a wide spectrum of income levels all identify as "middle class."
      Thank you so much for sharing your work and passions here, I've loved your blog for a long time and look forward to reading about your new endeavors! :)

      Delete
  13. What an interesting post, followed by some interesting discussions! It's encouraging to read of others experiences, others perspectives on things. I'll be interested to read more on security financial or otherwise.

    So much of what your have written rings true for us mountain drops outs. I was shocked the other day to realise that we've been technically living beneath the poverty line for the past year...and yet overall, I feel so blessed by the life we lead. There are times when the sun shines and we can make lots of hay, and there are leaner months when the rain pours down. But somehow we manage and we seem to live pretty rich lives (in the way you also described).

    But I don't always have as much health as I would like, which can make me feel anxious for all the rest, purely because I can't always be sure to be able to work that much. But this past year I've been actively trying to embrace the path that this situation is sending me down, even if compared to other people it means we are financially poor. Because I have no choice in the matter, but also because what can often seem like a whole heap of limitations to many people (including myself on the grey days) also seems like a wondrous invitation to live a simpler, slower and more deliberate life. As I say, I'm actively trying to embrace this perspective...because it doesn't always come that naturally!

    Anyway, thanks so much for sharing! Fran x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First off, what an awesome, transporting blog you have. And let me say, I totally feel you. There are times when I can't not think about the terrible possibilities that unfold in every direction, just as vivid as the wonderful ones, and like I said, feel utterly paralyzed and awful. I think that fear is only natural for most of us, in fact pretty much anyone who hasn't managed to achieve outright enlightenment ;) Fear teaches us things. For me it stems from the fear of losing control of my circumstances, from fear of not being able to help the one person I love the most. But if one is never afraid, then one is never testing their limits or getting out of their comfort zone. At least that's what I tell myself during my most anxious times. It's good to know I'm not alone.

      Thank yourself so much for sharing. And thank you for your blog!

      Delete
  14. Dear Milla, I am so happy that you and your husband are taking that leap of faith, and so glad that you choose to share it with us - where you came from, where you are now, and what has been calling you.

    I do believe in things becoming aligned at one point in such a way that you just have to notice, and then wonder, and then follow them where they are leading you. It is so very important. If we don't, we keep ourselves from discovering what was waiting for us there, and the new possibilities that will unveil themselves only if we do go to this new starting point, which is also a new point of view - on our own fate, and on life in general. So, good for you both, my dear :o)

    I took a similar plunge when I first came to Montréal all by myself 15 years ago, and my only fear (even before coming) was that I would not be able to find a job here so I would have to come back to France, where I would never be able to fit again. But I did manage to stay, and boy was it the best decision I ever made. For the first time in my life I was in a place where becoming who you truly are, and inventing your own path instead of fitting into careers or whatever else, is not only welcomed and supported, but something everyone or so is embarked upon.

    I managed to make a living between working in a bookstore and translating, but I have always been living from one pay check to the next, and the small amount I could save went into my annual plane ticket to France - and I have to use my Visa card almost all year, sometimes for groceries. Still, I considered myself as happily poor, since I could afford what truly matters for me (including cooking from organic food, biking to work except when the snow is covering the streets, developing wholesome friendships, and last but not least, often immersing myself in Nature on the Mont-Royal, and feeling connected to it even in my small flat, which is on the second and top floor of a brownstone, my balconies floating among tree tops).

    But this September, I quit my job because I could not find anything in it that I like enough to compensate the many factors that had made it increasingly difficult for me to work there. I was just coming back from my trip to France and in debt, but I knew deep down that I had to take the risk. Then I started looking for a part-time job in a yoga centre, something relaxing and fulfilling, that would at least pay my rent. And a few weeks later, this is exactly what happened!

    So now I have a tiny, friendly job that barely pays my rent, therefore I need to increase the number of translations I do - during all the previous years they were only a sixth of my income! BUT, as I have come to realize, this also means that I have the time *and* the necessity to start making money from my art. Which is taking my life to an exciting, whole new level :o)

    I can feel the same thrill in your words, pictures and smile, Milla, about your projects in photography and filmmaking - and boy, does this make me happy. xo

    ReplyDelete
  15. I so love seeing your posts pop up in my feed Milla, you have such a wonderful way of exploring and starting a conversation with others.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Kiitos, niin hyvä teksti! Yritetään pian jutella. En ole juuri päässyt omalle koneelle iltaisin kun V tekee sillä etätöitä, mutta ehkä vielä joku päivä. Tsemppiä teille koitokseen <3 Se on vaan pakko tehdä, no other way. Halit.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ah, this post is so timely for me. My partner and I just moved to a new city so that I could take a dream job (which, thankfully, is turning out to be just as wonderful as it seemed). He, in turn, quit a job he hated so he could focus on a previously very part-time craft-based job. It's scary for both of us for his income to be entirely dependent on his ability to turn out and sell his pieces, but the doing of it is so deeply satisfying. For both of us, the massive improvement in our moods has made us feel so much more "well off." Plus, when you're not mentally depleted and exhausted, you enjoy the time together, making dinner, reading separately but in the same room, watching a movie. So, yes, scary, but if not now, when?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love the way you are living your life.

    ReplyDelete