Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fast Tracking Our Dreams

This is post number 8 (!) in a series of posts outlining some of journey so far toward a simpler lifestyle. I can't believe I'm up to 8 posts!!! :-)

If you haven't already done so, you might like to read the first 7 before you read this one:

Post 1: A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step
Post 2: Joe Dominguez
Post 3: Tracking Spending
Post 4: You Cannot Steer a Stationary Ship
Post 5: Living the Dream
Post 6: How Did This Happen?
Post 7: Words of Wisdom

A few weeks after my nervous breakdown last year, DH came home one day and suggested to me that perhaps next year he should cut back his workload a little. Strangely enough, instead of jumping at that idea, I laughed and told him I thought he was over-reacting a little and that I would be well and truly back on my feet by then. At the time he was flat out trying to put a crop in on 4 different properties (with his brother and dad helping), looking after 3 children, a sick wife and running a household. In hindsight, it's not all that surprising that he was feeling the need to cut back on his workload a little.

But at this point in time I was convinced that if I wasn't going to be recovered within weeks, it would be months not YEARS until I was back on my feet. As baling season and then harvest approached toward the end of 2006, it was becoming more and more likely that my recovery was in fact going to take years rather than weeks. In some ways it was kind of a relief that our year finished so poorly, leaving us with very few bales of hay in need of baling (DH and his brother had a contracting hay baling business) and crops that didn't take too much time to reap. I'm not sure our family could have coped with anything more at that time.

So it was at this point that we made the decision to give up the baling business and scale DH's workload right back to working just the farm we're living on. It was a HUGE step and even though the scaled back farming was only for 1 year, it was still a step taken with some trepidation. So much so that DH never did get around to running the figures on our current scenario. But his estimation is that we'll be about $30,000 short in income. This is business income, not personal income (although our personal income is a part of the businesses expenditures). For us the decision became more about what we *needed* to do rather than what we could *afford* to do.

It has always been our dream that one day DH could "semi-retire" and we would build a house here and he would just farm this farm where we're living. Some days I feel like I need to pinch myself to see if the dream we're living right now really is a reality. We'd always expected we'd be 50+ before we could realise the dream of living and working on this farm.

DH is having a wonderful year. He came home to the farm the day he finished year 12 and has worked hard and long hours ever since. The only way he tends to get a break is to go away somewhere and even then, that requires extra hours before we go and after we get back in order to get all the necessary jobs done. This year marks his 15th year of farming. No such thing as long service leave in the farming sector. :-)

I think it's doing him the world of good. He's under less pressure and he's less sleep deprived than he would usually be. He's enjoying pottering around the house getting some of those jobs done that have been niggling at the back of his mind since we moved over 2 years ago. He's discovered where half of my time goes as he ferries kids around to sport and has time to go to their many and varied school events. He's even managed to fit in a couple of games of football himself (until he discovered a 30+ year old body is more prone to injury than a 20+ year old body lol).

In fact, we're having such a good time that if we could make it work financially, I think he'd stay semi-retired. ;-) At least now that we've had a *taste* of our dream, we can be sure it's what we really want and have something to look forward to and continue to work toward. I'll be surprised if we wait until we're 50 to have a year like this again. At the moment though, we're just taking 1 year at a time and seeing where life leads us.

Here's the interesting thing though. I spoke before about reducing our income by $30,000 in doing what we're doing. Of course, that's a very approximate figure as the ingoings and outgoings in both farming and our contract business fluctuate greatly. It's handy to have some kind of approximate figure to work toward though. Late last year we decided to sell up a couple of investments we had (small ones that had grown a bit) and pay off our own house mortgage. This has reduced our interest bill by around $10,000. Due to the drought we're now getting some drought assistance which adds up to almost $20,000. There you have it - $30,000. I still can't quite believe how things have fallen into place.

I started off this story of our journey talking about how a "journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step". You know, that applies to chasing our dreams as well. We took a step toward our dream, not knowing how things were going to go. And it wasn't until we'd already taken that step, that the *how* started to fall into place. Sometimes we get so focused on the here and now and the obstacles that stand between us and our dreams, that we're too afraid to take that first step.

Perhaps the *how* fell into place for us because making our dream a reality became more of a *need* than simply a dream. It's been a good lesson to me though of how easy it is to *wish* for our dreams to come true instead of being spurred into action by taking a step toward them.

I don't know what the future holds for us. I'm sure it will be full of ups and downs. Possibly next year DH's workload will increase slightly. It was never our expectation that he would "semi-retire" for good at the age of 32. But it's been nice to have a little taste of our dream right now. It's really highlighted the fact that for us, having more time is much more valuable than having more $$.

I could talk all day about chasing dreams - but perhaps I'll leave that for another post, another day. Our journey in life so far hasn't taken quite the path we expected it to. But I will say, despite the struggles, I wouldn't change where we are (or who we are) right now for anything.

What have I learnt so far? Many things but these 3 are the ones that come to mind right now:

1. Don't be afraid of the hard times - they provide an opportunity to grow and learn.
2. Don't be afraid to go against the flow - the majority isn't always right.
3. Don't be afraid to chase your dreams - there is nothing in life better than living your dream.

Take a step.....Dare to be different.....Be who you were created to be! :-)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for challenging me today! It was so timely as we are about to face making the decision about whihc high school to send our eldest to! We have an interview at one nearby tomorrow morning and I am so nervous!!! I feel like the student not him! Its so hard but know we too have to take a step of faith and be positive and wait to see what happens. We may not even be given a place so thats an answer in itself! I love reading your blogs Jodi and I hope you get a real buzz out of them too, as you reassess just how far you have come in your journey.

lightening said...

Good luck with the decision LS and the interview. I'm sure it will go well and you'll make the best decision. That's something I may never have to face (deciding on a school for my children) given we just have the one R-12. Unless one of our children suddenly decides they want to go away for school.

Kez said...

Oooh a new look :)

Your illness has certainly helped clarify your dreams - there is always a silver lining..

crunchymama said...

a very inspiring post. I wish more people weren't so afraid to follow their dreams. It is too bad it wasn't under better circumstances that you scaled back but I am glad you are feeling better and you are so happy! A testament to being unoppressed by the world and following your heart.

Lisa said...

I admire your bravery and how much you have learned from your experiences. Keep chasing your dreams as I know we will both get there one day :)

Lisa said...

Lightening, I've just finished reading your post series on how you got to be where you are, and where you're trying to go. I'm so impressed by the way you have not only applied your dreams and beliefs, but also the way you have analysed what it all means to you. I find standing back and analysing the hardest part of the blogging business, and I'm glad to have read your story. Lisa J

lightening said...

Thanks so much Lisa J for your comments. I share in the hope that it may help others understand a little. But it's amazing how much I learn through the posts I write as well. It certainly is an effective way for me to reflect on what I am doing and why.