When we first moved to New Hampshire, I quickly settled into my career as a land use planner and began to climb the ladder to nowhere, every year making a little more than the year before, every year telling myself I needed to make a little more the next year. I was bringing home the bacon, cooking the bacon, and eating the bacon but was still hungry. The more we made the more we spent and so it went on and on until like most people, we racked up some debt and began the long arduous road of juggling the best interest rate offers from credit cards and adding debt payments to our monthly bills.
So in the spring of 2013 when I decided to go into business for myself, my plan was quite different. I wanted to embrace what I call abundance economics where evaluation of your success is measured in the abundance and fullness of your life, not the abundance and fullness of your wallet. I often remind myself that you may not make a living teaching yoga but you can have a living by teaching yoga. Permaculture is the same way. I can go to a desk job that doesn’t fulfill my soul and make a lot of money to pay someone to grow my food and create my electricity, heat and water and bring it to my house, or I can make less money and learn to grow and create those things for myself. And in the process of doing so, become human again.
The only challenge with the concept of abundance economics is that we live in a society that, for the most part, only sees value in the dollar bill, which by the way, side note, isn’t worth the paper its printed on. But I digress. Let me scoot my soapbox back under my chair. And when I want to believe that I don’t need to rely on modern economic values to do the work and live the life I am meant to, I find myself staring at a stack of bills that I can’t pay by bartering a private reiki session or trading for homegrown tomatoes. I’m fortunate that a handful of people I do reach out to for services do some bartering or payment plans, honoring what you have to offer in this world as some value. But we are still climbing out of the hole of interest rates and loans that we had incurred for so many years that this switch, this transition, to an abundance economy is difficult.
Yet, I found myself thinking about it quite a lot over the past few days when faced with the prospect of the finances and budgeting I did for the upcoming months to be much less than expected. At first, sure, I was a little crazy over the news as I had “plans” and “expectations” for this summer that may need to shift. But then again, every shift in my business thus far has brought great opportunities into my life. Why would this be any different? Besides, I love what I do and I love my life because of this work. I have so much more abundance then I ever had when cashing in large paychecks.
So, I may not drive a fancy car, but I two strong legs to carry me where I need to go. I may not be traveling abroad this year but I have mountains to hike, land to roam. I may not take in a lot of four-star dining opportunities, but I’ll be one with my soil and nature as I grow my own food with my husband and friends. I may not buy the latest and greatest new gadget or outfit but I have the latest and greatest life. Living in a world that values a broken economic system over real economies of abundance is difficult yet I think I’ll stay the course, as my wallet is empty but my heart is full of love.
(Picture: My savings – going to use it for a Permaculture workshop at Omega in May and seeds for my garden)