Posts Tagged ‘hope’

“Why I Drank the Kool-Aid” by Cindy

An amazing thing has happened in my life. Less than a year after having to take sick leave to deal with my life-changing grief, I am excited about my future. I see possibilities in what John and I can accomplish together, and how we can contribute to others.

A year ago, I was working at a job I really loved with people I loved working with. It was amazing, and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be there. I felt privileged to meet women who were strong enough to seek support in a difficult time in their lives and to learn their stories, and I believed that I was helping them find ways to meet their goals. As a facilitator in an employment resource centre for women, I met women of all educational and cultural backgrounds who were all struggling to find jobs. Some were focused on finding meaningful work, and some were looking for anything that would pay their bills and help get them off the street. Every day was filled with inspiring moments and frustrations.

That woman who came in every day and went to every workshop and sought advice got a great job. That woman who was super happy with her job last week had a bad day and quit. This woman is struggling to find work because her literacy skills are so low she has trouble filling out applications, and the application process for some jobs that she would be great at is so complicated that there is no way she can make it through. That woman’s husband won’t let her go to interviews because he doesn’t really want her to leave the house. That woman has amazing people skills, but she can’t get a job in sales because she struggles with computers, and she is so busy working labour jobs, she doesn’t have time to take classes.

The biggest frustration of all for me, though, was trying to find a positive spin on the minimum wage job. We all know it as a stepping stone – we all have to put our time in and work our way up in the world, right? So, you struggle for a few years proving yourself in a crummy job with no appreciation, probably even work 2 jobs because no one can actually live on minimum wage, and in addition, you are supposed to find time to educate yourself so you can qualify for something better. That’s fair, right? No. Seriously – no. This would only be fair if we all started at the same place, but we don’t. Sounds like a horror show to me.

I came across this blog a while ago, and I got it. How can I help someone reach goals that she doesn’t have because she honestly can’t believe that anything would ever be different, and nothing in her life has given her evidence that it could be?

“You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever. We know that the very act of being poor guarantees that we will never not be poor. It doesn’t give us much reason to improve ourselves. We don’t apply for jobs because we know we can’t afford to look nice enough to hold them… I am not beautiful. I have missing teeth and skin that looks like it will when you live on b12 and coffee and nicotine and no sleep. Beauty is a thing you get when you can afford it, and that’s how you get the job that you need in order to be beautiful. There isn’t much point trying.”

So, while I was happy to be doing something to help, there was a big part of me that just kept thinking – there has to be a better way. I would wonder, is what I’m doing just helping a broken system stay broken? I am helping people get jobs that are actually going to make their lives harder.

There was also the personal side. While I wrote a piece a while ago called, “Why I Hate Millionaires”, I wasn’t exactly overjoyed at my income potential in my chosen field. I had no idea where to go from there. I didn’t have any raises to look forward to, and without moving into management or doing a master’s degree, I knew taking a trip to Hawaii was never going to be a simple decision. I also knew that I didn’t want to work full-time anywhere for life. So many of my hobbies were just waiting for me to have more time to spend on them, but at the end of a work day, my motivation level was low, and all I wanted to do was relax with my husband. The prospect of spending 30 more years of my life working 9-5 with a few weeks of vacation per year was not getting me out of bed with a smile every morning.

So there I was, coaching other people on their career choices when I had no idea what to do with mine. Nothing sounded more exciting than what I was doing, but I also knew that I wanted something more – I just wasn’t sure what.

When my sick leave was running out, I suddenly couldn’t picture going back. I needed a more permanent way out of the 9 to 5 lifestyle, and John was feeling the same way. For those of you who know us, you know what we did. We sold our house, which gave us enough cushion to take some time to explore a little. It may seem to you that we have settled rather quickly, but I see this stop in this old house as part of our exploration. Here, we have projects to work on together, and we are building a lifestyle.

What does all this have to do with Kool-Aid? As part of our journey, we decided to look into a network marketing opportunity that a friend had shared with us months ago. She had been able to retire from a good government position and was very proud of her company and products.

Naturally, me being me, I was a little skeptical. Despite the fact that I had seen some network marketing successes from people I know, I didn’t think it was something I would want to do. I had this idea that network marketing was slimy and sketchy somehow. I was afraid that my friends and family would think I was crazy. Now that I know more about how the industry works, I’m not sure how I got that impression. This video: Network Marketing Mythbusters, helped me open my mind a bit.

Then, we tried the products. I think I will save the full story of our product experience for another post, so for now, just let me say that we were very happy, and we were sold. So sold that when our friend told us she had tickets for us to go to an event in Palm Springs, we decided to go for it. We are so thankful we did because we had a great trip and we met so many positive, excited people who are living the kinds of lives that we want to live.

Now that we are really getting started, I wanted to share with people what it is that attracts me, formerly Cynical Cindy, to this industry.

  • Financial Freedom – residual income is nothing to scoff at. Even if I were to make only an extra $500 per month, in order for me to have passive income (i.e. interest from savings accounts) at that level would mean I would have to have several hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank. I have never had financial goals before, and now I do. I should probably rename my millionaire post to “Why I Hate Billionaires”, so I don’t end up hating myself… (I still totally believe everything I wrote in that post, by the way, I have just finally found a way that I can feel good about earning some money myself – by helping others earn more money – it’s a win/win!)
  • Helping others – success in our company depends on helping other people achieve their goals. And I mean really achieve their goals – no more of this, ‘get a job I can tolerate and work there for 30 years until I can retire on a portion of my income or whatever savings I have managed to hide away’. I now believe that I can offer an alternative to the minimum wage lifestyle, and that is exciting.
  • Time freedom – I took a screenshot of this the other day. I think it says it all.

no alarms

  • Income potential – I was capped out at $50 000/year in my chosen occupation. To a lot of people, that is a decent salary, and I was grateful for it. I also knew that at that rate, it was going to take me 30 years to save for retirement, and my retirement was very unlikely to look like any of those commercials, and in the meantime, my vacations were going to be frugal. I’ve already explained that other professions were not appealing to me, and making a career change for the sole reason of making more money didn’t feel right. In network marketing, though, there is potential to not only earn good money much more quickly, but there is also the benefit of residual income (which is so awesome I’ve now mentioned it twice). This site has some fun graphs and examples (www.startsmallbuildbig.com)
  • The culture – this has been an amazing surprise to me. The people I meet in this industry are overwhelmingly positive energetic people who are invested in self-development. This is hugely important to me, and I am so grateful to have found a community full of these amazing individuals

For all these reasons, I made a decision to drink the Kool-Aid of network marketing, and I’m so glad I did. I know that some people are rolling their eyes at my excited facebook posts, but I would rather be on the excited side of things. I’ve been an eye-roller in the past. It didn’t serve me that well, actually. Things look a lot brighter from this side, and I’m having a lot more fun. In the perhaps immortal words of Taylor Swift, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” because it is their choice to do so.  Nothing I say will ever change that, so I’m going to go ahead and enjoy every last drop of this Kool-Aid.  There you go.

(On another note, our company’s healthy sports’ drink even has a flavour that tastes remarkably like Kool-Aid – so you can take the title of this post as figurative and also almost literal. Isn’t life funny?)

#startyourlife

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“Moving On” by CIndy

We went to what I think will be our last infertility support group this week. We were the only people there not currently living the infertility lifestyle, and hearing everyone’s stories kind of reopened the trauma for us a bit. We realized that we need a different kind of group now, one filled with people who are no longer charting their cycles and hoping for success. We need to find people who understand that letting go of the quest is OK, and that we are in a different stage of grief. We are trying to move on, and that means that we have to accept defeat in this journey and find the next path. People still on the quest don’t really want to hear about that because it is so scary. I understand that.

We have made progress towards finding hope again. A couple of weeks ago, we were driving back into the city from the farm, and with the sun warming us through the bug-splattered windshield, we came to a decision that felt right. It is time for us to leave the city and start making steps to achieve our other dreams, whatever they may be. The specificity of the dreams is not quite clear, but we know that they are not in Calgary, and we are not city folk, so it is time to move on. We decided to sell the house, spend the summer at our friends’ farm, and then move on from there. The plan is to pack up all our stuff and pay someone to take it to Ontario for us while we drive across the country together.

I love the symbolism of the plan. We get to leave all our baggage behind and set off together for new adventures. It feels right.

We have a freedom that most people don’t have. We can sell most of our stuff and do almost anything. We have savings and expect to get a good sum for the house, so we have the financial freedom to do any number of things. In some ways, this is supremely liberating, and in other ways, the possibilities are so endless that making a choice seems impossible. I never thought I could feel crushed by opportunities, but that is how I feel some days.

My itchy feet are making themselves known, and yet, we both still have an urge to set down roots somewhere and plant our food forest (we used to say “orchard”, but we realized that wasn’t entirely accurate). Within a few months, we could be anywhere in the world. Think about that. If you could do anything or be anywhere, what would you do?

One thing I do know is that I am pretty much done with this whole 5-day work week thing. As much as I have loved my job(s) over the past 2.5 years and the people I have worked with, I am not a rat race kind of girl. I want lots of free time. I could retire now, at 37, and quite happily find lots of ways to fill my time.

Before the opportunity to move to Duncan came up (almost 5 years ago!), John and I had the idea to start a blog called “Where Should We Live”. We wrote out our criteria, designed the “About Us” page, and were ready to launch. We thought we could ask people across the country to suggest communities for us to check out and we would travel to each place, work there for a few weeks and blog about our journey. One of our questions at that time was “how do people choose where to live?” The people closest to us live all over the place, so we asked around. What we found out is that most people chose where to live based on their work.

Now that we have tried that approach for a couple of years, we know that is not the way for us. Our environment is so much more important to us that we would both rather work less intellectually stimulating jobs in order to live in the place we want. The only unfortunate thing is that we both crave community, and since all our closest friends and family are all over the place, there isn’t a concentration anywhere that tells us that is the place for our food forest.

So, here is the plan, such as it is:

  • Sell house, pack up stuff
  • Spend season at friends’ farm, helping out and enjoying nature (it is so beautiful there, it is like living in a painting, plus we really like those guys)
  • Drive across the country to Ontario, with some sightseeing and stops along the way
  • Try out a community, perhaps buy an income property

And that is where the plan fades into possibilities. We are considering doing the international housesitting thing or WWOOFing and traveling the world. We can do that. Or maybe we will find a great piece of land and start homesteading. Maybe we will decide to try out some other communities because that first one doesn’t work.

The amazing thing is that we are OK with the uncertainty of our future right now. We get excited talking about possibilities and freeing ourselves from the day-to-day slog of city living.

(as an aside, I know that many people feel stimulated and love living in the city. This is a good thing. If you love it, then I am happy you are in the right place. If you hate it, but keep doing it, are you sure that you don’t have a choice?)

One of the things that we realized was that staying in the city was making a fear-based decision. Fear that we wouldn’t find jobs where we go; fear that we might miss out on making more money from the house; fear of leaving people we love behind; fear of judgment. The decision to leave was based on pursuing joy. When we realized that difference, suddenly the decision was clear. Why let fear rule us when the other choice is to pursue joy? What were we thinking?

I hate flying. I wish I loved it. My anxiety while flying is very high and I have to use breathing techniques (and, if I’m being perfectly honest, alcohol) to try and regulate my blood pressure. That being said, I love going places, so I force myself to get on that plane. I don’t let fear make my decision there, so why would I let it tell me what to do in other areas of my life?

In quiet moments, I ask myself, are we trying to run away from grief? Maybe a little. But we know that the grief will come with us. There will always be moments when we are reminded of our loss and tears will come. We will have bad days. The nature of this grief is that it will always be with us. We need to learn to live with it without letting it define us, so that means moving forward.

The name of this blog, veggiesanddirt, came up because we were learning about growing food (and I was learning to let my hands get a little dirty). Our journey to the city meant a change in focus, but we continued to learn about permaculture and plan our future gardens. Now, as we work to leave the infertile lifestyle behind, the name symbolizes a return to a more fertile lifestyle, and that feels right.

Let the adventures begin.