Designing a Happy Life. Making it work. Doing our own thing. Being the change we want to see in the world. Finding a way to be thriving artists living creative lives centered around the family. Such good words. Great words. Admirable, amazing sentiments and oh my f*cking god I hope we can rise to this.
There’s a point somewhere between idea and execution. A point where you ask what have you got to lose? A point where any alternative seems better than what you are currently facing. A point at which we are all all the more likely to just say f*ck it. I’ve had enough. Let’s change this.
We hit that point soon after we realized that the New Zealand dream wasn’t our dream. We tried to make new ideas, ways out, to find elegant solutions to the problem in hand. They usually started with, well maybe if we apply for this teaching job, then we can move… Not exactly solutions, perhaps more like wishful thoughts. Then our suggestions started to move further and further away from our reality.
Because really, if you’re going to make a change, why not make a really big change? A change so different that what went before it would become almost unrecognizable, a change that divides your life into before and after.
We thought we were doing that when we moved to New Zealand. After all, we were moving to New Zealand! Not back to Europe, not somewhere else in the Midwest, but New Zealand! It sounded so exotic. But alas, our lives there had more of the stuff that had been frustrating before we moved. I suppose you can’t just change your location but do the same roles and expect it to be quantitively or qualitatively different. You’re just doing the same thing somewhere else, even further away from what you know and who you know.
So, when we were brainstorming ideas of how we could leave behind our New Zealand lives and how we could create a new life, we got ambitious in our thoughts. Could we make a life that didn’t involve Lars being at an educational institution all the live-long day, while I wrangled children and tried to operate a business? Hey, what if we could be artists? I mean artists who get paid to do stuff, not artists like we already are… What if we could sell art and our expertise? What if we could educate on our own terms? What if we could do it our way?
What if we could indeed create our own idea of life, a life where we can be present for the kids, have a thriving family life and make a living doing what we do, what we always do anyway. Why shouldn’t we make money being artists? Why can’t we be artists and parents and be good at both? Is that too much to ask for? What’s so wrong with that? Can we add in being financially secure? We really want to be financially secure.
Enter stage left, Designing a Happy Life. We could do this and we could document this, what’s the worst that could happen?…
And so, here we are, a year or so from when I first purchased this domain name. In many ways we are designing a happy life. We moved back to the US, we’ve settled in a great little city, the kids love their school. We live in a house that is potentially perfect. Our day to day lives have a pretty good rhythm. We see the kids more, there’s more balance.
The only thing we are missing here really is the financial stability. And unfortunately that’s a whoppingly huge part of the puzzle. It seems like every week I make a new website, or have a new idea or figure out a different way that might make this all come together. Sometimes these plans are met with great enthusiasm, other times they sink without a trace. What I would really like is for someone to tell me the one thing that will work, and how we can make it work. Maybe they could hand me a list of things to do to guarantee success.
Currently we have a custom recipe painting business, a wall art for babies and kids business, our regular art partnership, a visual cookbook project and a new freelance art consulting site. Waiting in the wings are online classes in art + creativity for kids and possibly some freelance web design.
As we work our asses off trying to make it work, we need to remember the reasons we made this decision. Being self-employed is not an easy option. Not knowing what may or may not work is unsettling. We are throwing everything we can at the wall and hoping that some of it sticks. But f*ck it, I want this to work.
Maybe we are just steps away from things falling into place, or maybe we still have a mile or more to go. Or maybe our path to stability looks more like getting regular jobs. Lars has a teaching job, it’s adjunct so it’s not a whole lot of commitment. Honestly, at first I was annoyed as it “wasn’t part of the plan”, but now I recognize that it is some stability (not a great deal, but some) in a very turbulent sea. But if we need to get regular jobs, I fear that between that and childcare, we will be floating back downstream, further and further from the dream.
Throughout this whole journey, we have been tested in so many ways. To emigrate and not love it. To get a high flying fancy job and not love it. To live in paradise and not love it. To leave it all behind and realize that maybe you didn’t love it but you certainly saw some beautiful places and met some amazing people.
And if there’s a path to make this good, to make this whole roundabout circumnavigating the globe as we figure out our lives make some sense, I will damn well find it. Because this can not have all been for nothing. So, yeah. We’re ready. We’re ready for this to work, now. We’ve opened lots of doors and we’re ready for financial security to flow in. Universe, do you hear me? Because I will start shouting. I’m drawing a line in the sand today. That was then. This is now. We’re done with struggle and worry and fear and panic. We’re open to magnificence and awesomeness and all round amazingness. Flow and ease. Yes please. Universe, we’re ready for the next step.