It’s been three months since my last confession. As usual, many drafts have been started. Each tells the tale of an evolving story, adding new pieces to the puzzle that is ‘my new life’. To be fair, I just had my one year-post corporate anniversary so the time will come when it all eventually sinks in but unbelievably, it is still not now.
On the whole, the past few months have been a challenging yet joyous ride. For the most part, I have entered a positive new phase of the human experience. An awakening of the senses; living, breathing, and present in the days and weeks. Left alone with my thoughts for eight or nine hours a day has been confronting and increasingly comforting. Without the noise of the norm, I have been left to motivate, entertain and provide ever-tightening boundaries for myself. Despite my preference for rebellion in both inner and outer decision-making, there has still been areas of improvement. The monkey-mind continues to be trained in the art and practice of self-awareness.
It may come as a surprise that each weekday for the past four months, has also been a workday for me. I struggle to contain my response when I hear the question, “So, how is unemployed life?”. As when the anger and irrationality of my ego subsides, I am still left with a foreboding image of laziness, a choice of ease, and daytime television. The thought disgusts me. I cannot mask my disdain for this projected vision, whether it be shared by the questioner or not. My laid-back nature should not be mistaken for a lifetime preference to ‘coast through’. The thought fills me with dread. When the enlightened, or BuzzFeed meme asks what I fear most in this life – it is undoubtedly the thought of failing to achieve the dreams and desires set before me. The impression of stagnation makes me cringe, as though being stuck in a metaphorical pit of quicksand would quickly erode my soul before slowly taking my flesh and bones.
As for the latter and most uncomfortable thought about daytime television/ Netflix/mindless wormholes – take them all if you must. I struggle to give them my leisure time let alone anything more. I have no doubt that the day will come when, in Scott Ludlam’s words, I “set fire to my tv”. I’d rather fill the space with plants and my mind with seeds of knowledge and growth. So go on, ask away. What the fuck am I doing all day then?
Well firstly, I try to leave the house every morning before 9:00am. I take my laptop or a pen and paper, and I head to a variety of local establishments to plan, respond, write, create, and dream. In tough times (yes now), I just grab a coffee. If the credit card is feeling exceptionally generous that day, I get a meal! The monetary cost is exponentially paid back. This time installs some sort of routine and rhythm into my week and does wonders for my mental health. Then, when I get home, I hit the ground running. My day can encompass any or all of the following:
1. Choose Life Activities: a more frequent approach to exercise, domestic duties, sorting out health and plans and insurances and well, you know, life stuff.
2. Mastering the Masters: yes, school’s back post-summer. The workload is back in full force and the initiation of a group assignment to re-enter the semester ensures no room for loafers. On the plus side, one unit to go before they hand over my Grad Cert in Marketing then onwards and upwards towards the big cheese – Master of
3. EQ for EC: that’s emotional intelligence for early childhood. No time to stall, I’ve had an idea. Media is the best way to share a message quickly. Instead of trying to implement programs in schools – spread the good word through books! I’ve joined forces with an amazing illustrator and together, I think we just might make some epic magic happen. 27 emotions – 27 books – we’re coming for you!
4. Ontwerp Huis x Consulting: focussing in on business and brand strategy for SMEs has been a dream. I thoroughly enjoy this work, I’m good at it, and the variety of clients and projects keeps me interested and excited. I work directly with my own clients and indirectly through contracting with other agencies to work on bigger client portfolios. My time can be spent across clients meetings, creating business strategies, constructing brand identities, conducting market research, segmenting and positioning, optimising target markets and personas, attending design workshops, pulling my sleeves up in production, goal setting, range optimisation, business development, and multiple miscellaneous tasks that come through the door with lots of potential.
5. Ontwerp Huis x The Brand: When I’m not working ‘in’ the business, I am getting better at working ‘on’ the business. It’s ironic that I struggle the same amount as my clients with this, given that it is the general task on which I assist them with. The old adage that it is easier to give advice than to take it, rings true. I have clarified my business offering though I have no doubt that this will continue to evolve, as it should. The next crucial step is sales time! Communicate, increase brand awareness, get back to finishing the website, sharing the one-pager, and focussing on my target market. That is, SMEs in Melbourne and Perth who work predominantly in service industries across hospitality and retail. There is also the future potential to assist early-stage startups with their viability and development. Despite its lack of immediate rewards, I know that this time spent in business development will continue to open new doors, broaden my client base, and increase my chances of long term profitability. Bring that shit on.
*The hurdle in this game is that when I’m not ‘officially’ working with a client – I DON’T GET PAID. Gone are the days of a stable hourly rate that continues despite coffee breaks, long lunches, distracted hours, mindless meetings, and dusty days. No work = no pay.
I had a great run over the Nov-Dec-Jan period to be fair. Work flowed in from a number of different clients, filling the weeks with targeted purpose and helping inflate the gaunt-looking back pocket. I’ve never been so bloody stoked with every single dollar earnt. I did the math for this period of work and it equated to one month’s salary in my corporate job. Don’t tell me I’m not making sacrifices ha! The last six weeks have been confronting. All projects have simultaneously wound up, and I’ve been left to stare down the barrel of a number of negative bank balances. It’s uncomfortable though not completely unfamiliar. I am grateful for the time it has given me to take stock of my direction, a gift that is not often awarded.
The current pain points, financially and emotionally, stem from the inability to sell our property in Western Australia (yes – still!). Our tenants moved out a month ago which coincided perfectly with my work drying up. It has left us in the uncomfortable position of trying to pay two mortgages on one income. And though our heads are barely above water, a roof continues to bare cover so it is with ongoing hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. No limbs have been lost, and my headspace for perspective is as vast as it is, perhaps, naive.
I continue to be the king [because fuck gender roles] of the side hustle. It weaves and wanes but we try to keep at least one going at all times. Until we undo this diddle we’re in, it’s game faces – on. Here’s the prognosis:
1. Airbnb Accommodation: basic math. 2 nights hosting = 1/2 to a full days wage. Yes, I’m over the constant washing loads, linen changes, sharing our space, and entertaining on check-in. But right now, the reward exceeds the inconvenience.
2. Ontwerp Huis x Coworking: the space remains physically ready to go though I have decided to ask for permission, not forgiveness. The weight of risk, liability and people’s safety suddenly dawned on me. So, the insurance is ready to go as soon as I get the body corp’s thumbs up. I stall here due to a combination of reality, fear of rejection, and those goddamn phone demons. There is also a teeny, tiny part of me that has entertained the thought of selling this very apartment. The one that the coworking space is set up to go in, the one that we host people from around the world in, the one that puts a roof over our heads, the one that we call ‘home’. The local market is ripe and offers a stark contrast to its west coast compatriot. A guaranteed sale and decent profit provide an ever so tempting proposition for someone who has time to consider it. The mirage rightfully clears when Wes asks, “but where would we live?”. It’s a reasonable question.
3. Airbnb Experiences: the Beer + Bites tour. Despite my continued love of beer, eating, and socialising – charming a crowd for three to four hours straight is completely exhausting. Like, really taxing. It gnaws at the very core of my more introverted self. Most people are a complete and utter delight who fill me with wonderous world knowledge about places like Panama and South Korea. Others are much needier and require a full performance in exchange for their five-star review. So far, the effort and energy requirement has not met the reward. I have taken a month off, unsure if I will return or not. Thanks be to the venues who participated, if you are a Melbourne local or visitor, I implore you to walk your own path from Thunder Road Brewery to Temple Brewery to The Alehouse Project. You’re in for a real treat.
4. Sell the Fucking Lot: minimalism 101. I continue to sell or donate many of our belongings. And it continues to amaze and reward in so many ways. I’m not sure why having more time and headspace has diluted my hoarding nature, but it has. I am literally breaking apart 20 years of collection and storage. Things I’ve saved for a later date, for that elusive ‘one day’, for an infinite amount of time in a finite world. What’s it all for? What use is it to me on shelves, in sheds, out of sight? I’m uncovering things I haven’t looked at or used in years, decades even. The letting go process clears the head, cupboards, and pathway should we need to move at pace to the next opportunity or adventure.
Anyhoo. It’s that time of the post when I get bored with my own thoughts. Thanks for reading, it’s been another cathartic brain dump. So, cheerio. Look after yourself, and each other.
Bye for now,