Last year, I took stock of my lifestyle with regards to sustainability. Just over a year has gone by, and it feels like time to re-visit this concept. That said, I can’t really re-visit this concept without mentioning that I decided to take a few months off of work, starting last November. While I adhered to a lot of my personal sustainability goals (buying used clothing, reducing packaging waste, eating mostly veggie, etc.), here are some of the most striking areas ways my life has been different in the last few months:
Focusing on creative projects was my main goal during my time off. I’ve been drawing and sewing like crazy, and educating myself about pattern-making and fit. I’ve been taking art classes (in the day time!) as well. It’s been dreamy, and I don’t think I would have had the energy and focus to embark on these longer-term projects while I was working. Sewing was therapy when I was working, which (for me) tended to entail simpler projects.
I feel infinitely more capable of giving my whole attention to the people in front of me. This includes the usual suspects – my husband, my friends, my family – but also people I happen to interact with.
While I loathe food waste, it was much harder to keep on top of it last year. I’d find little produce bags of spoiled cilantro every week in our fridge. Since November, we eat all of our fresh food, all of our leftovers and make significant dents in our bulk staples like oats and rice. We’re on a skeleton budget right now, with time to cook, so we focus on produce and bulk food instead of packaged foods (which are both expensive and create lots of waste). I’ve even been making bread for Nathan!
Hand in hand with eating changes is how I feel. Before November, I would have estimated that my stomach was angry about 40% of my waking life; recently, it’s been felt like 5%! And, for the past few years I’ve favored sewing, cruising the internet, and most other activities over exercise or sleep, but I’ve been putting myself to bed before midnight and actually making time for yoga.
It behooves me to spend less money when I’m not making any, of course, but I noticed that a lot of my discretionary spending dried up more effortlessly than I would have expected once I’d left my job. Purchases made out of convenience, lunches out, and transportation constituted a lot of my spending, not to mention the online fabric and pattern shopping I’d do to distract myself during breaks at work. I think most of us aim to net more than we spend when we work, but I found it eye-opening to see which expenditures were tied to my working lifestyle.
So what’s next?
As you’ve probably guessed, this life isn’t sustainable in the literal sense of the word. This experiment has a shelf life. I’m not independently wealthy – I just saved up for a long time, knowing that this was a gift I wanted to give myself, and I’ve managed to avoid long-term financial burdens. I feel unbelievably lucky to have gotten to do this.
After three months, here are my conclusions. I haven’t minded trading full-time income for creative time. Time to take excellent care of myself and others has also been worth it. Conveniently, I’ve found I also enjoy a frugal lifestyle! My next career move has yet to be solidified, but I will be incorporating my learnings into my search.
Have you ever had a dramatic change in lifestyle? What did you learn about yourself?
Also! Those of you interested in clean beauty will be excited to hear that I’ll be hosting a joint giveaway with my sister (of Pollen & Wax) next week. Stay tuned!