I find myself in the exciting, yet precarious position of having everything I ever wanted…except for money. I have a fantastic marriage to a talented artist and musician who is, hands down, my best friend. I have three healthy and mostly happy children who, at ages 19, 18 and 10, are constantly growing and changing and becoming the people that they are meant to be. I live in a 100 year-old home that is ripe with the kind of character that comes from slightly crooked ceilings, original moldings and recently repaired plaster walls. I am an adjunct professor at a welcoming University and a writer whose work is slowly but surely finding an audience. I play the bass in my husband’s Spanish rock band and I have good friends who are interesting and creative.
All in all, in the midst of historic economic uncertainty, I am living just the kind of relaxed, avant-garde lifestyle I’d aspired to when I was an idealistic kid. Back before I abandoned these dreams to go out and make some money,
Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against money. And, when I was a single mother with two kids, I needed money to pay the rent, put food on the table and build a life for my fractured little family.
So I did.
And, as one job led to another, I went from living paycheck-to-paycheck to actually having a little more than I needed to keep my head above water. Things got even better when I met and married my husband Martin. A Uruguayan immigrant who’d shelved his own artistic aspirations in exchange for a body-crushing but lucrative job in the construction industry, he went from working full-time making $10 a day at age 15 to building a profitable small business.
As our careers took off and our coffers filled, our quest for the American Dream began to take shape. Sure, we noticed that there was less and less time to do the things we loved, but we thought that was just the price of growing up and getting ahead.
I can’t pinpoint the moment when we crossed the line from working-to-live to living-to-work—or when accumulating things took priority over having time to relax or create or spend unencumbered time with our kids. But cross that line we did.
The houses got bigger, the investments more substantial and our dreams of a simple, creative life became a distant memory. We worked all the time and were dead tired when we were off. But somehow it seemed like working ourselves into the ground was a fair exchange for the security, prestige and stuff that came with having a healthy disposable income.
The money that had once served our needs had somehow become our master.
So, about five years ago, we made a change. Stepping out in faith, we took some bold steps, left our careers and began to pursue our passions. As a result, we have more time, more peace and a lot less money. We haven’t taken a vow of poverty. We’re actually quite hopeful that our new endeavors will bear monetary fruit one of these days. But if they do, I believe we’ll handle it far, far differently.