When reading blogs in the personal finance sphere, it sometimes seems that everyone is so darned busy.
“It’s the end/beginning of the month!! Update your net worth spreadsheet!! QUICK!”
“Get that side-hustle happening! HURRY!! Every day that goes by is another day wasted!”
“Sell some stuff on Gumtree/Craigslist whatever that is… /eBay… TODAY!!! Invest it! NOW!!!! Every day wasted is another day that compound interest won’t work in your favour!”
Yikes! It seems that if you’re interested in FI/RE you have to be in perpetual motion. But I’m just finishing off a two-week holiday where, although you could say I got a fair bit done, there were also quite a few days where there was a lot of sitting on the couch, reading, knitting, taking naps and watching Netflix. And you know? It was pretty darned good.
There’s a lot to be said for staying put and entertaining yourself with what you already have hanging around at home. No racing around, no putting on the glad rags and stepping out dressed to impress. I had more than a couple of days where I basically spent most of my time either reading or napping. They were good days. I’ve got so many books either on my bedside table or lined up in my kindle that I could probably entertain myself for weeks if all I did was read.
I’ve just put a new garden in. Do you know how many hours these holidays I’ve spent planting seeds, watering, plotting and planning what to put into it? Admittedly, there’s also been a couple of trips to plant nurseries to buy pea straw, compost tumblers and a few plants, but the leisurely hours spent at home wandering around the garden beds have been precious, time slipping through my fingers like pearls. There’s a quiet happiness that comes from leaning over the garden beds you’ve planted, gloating at your babies sprouting – similar to a FI/Re person looking at a net worth spreadsheet I suppose. But this comes with sunlight, the sound of birds and the prospect of growing your own fresh food.
The photo is a row of Ballerina apple trees and lavender. The lavender will bring the bees, which will, in turn, pollinate the apples. If you’ve ever picked an apple straight off the tree and bitten into it, you’ll know why I have 5 trees.
Can you see the bee? I can’t tell you how quietly satisfying it is to plan out an experiment such as the apples and lavender, then as you’re watering hear the gentle hum of bees visiting the blossoms. The apples are appreciating it too. Already we have blossoms.
Not everything on this journey is whizz-bang! Exciting! OMG!!
Some of it is simply deeply satisfying – simple rewards from little things. A blossom. The smile from a son in love as he comes home after a date. A contented snore from one of the dogs on the couch beside me.
Oops. I think I woke them up. Jeff looks particularly snakey about it.
Anyone here tried making something with your hands? When I paid off my first house, I celebrated by buying 2 things. The first was a pair of expensive sandals from a Real Shoe Shop, (ie not Target). Poppy, pictured in the first photo, was 5 months old at the time. Those sandals lasted a week before she chewed them. The second thing I bought was knitting yarn. I bought All The Yarn. In Every Colour. I have 2 suitcases full of the stuff up in my walk-in-robe.
Now I’m slowly chipping away at it. Did you know that when you knit, your brain goes into the same waves as when you meditate? So you get the benefits of meditation, with the added bonus of also getting a woolly handicraft to wear as well. Sitting on the couch, hearing the quiet clack of the needles clicking together, with music or a podcast or just sweet sweet silence is one of the nicest ways to spend a couple of hours. Just chillin’ and knittin’.
I guess the take away here is that it’s ok to sometimes let some moments gently slip by. Or hours. Or days. It’s not a race to the finish line to reach FI. Or RE. Don’t let your enthusiasm to reach the big goal blind you to the quiet satisfactions of contentment along the way. They make the journey all the sweeter.
What’s funny about your analogy is that the gardening is one of the goals of reaching FIRE for me. I’m not rushing headlong into a dozen side hustles because I’ve already spent a good dozen years doing that to build our foundation, and I’m tired. But I’m also tired because my health is in the crapper, and the knowledge that it’ll only keep declining has lit a fire in my heart that I can’t quite damp down in order to do this in good order. It’s going to take time but I can’t shush that voice whispering “you’re running out of time!”
I am lately overly impatient to spend what good years I have enjoying the simpler things in life. I don’t want FIRE to yacht around the world, I want that freedom to stop structuring my days around work and LIVE. To garden, to read, to play with my dogs and kid, to walk to the park and home again. I’m especially yearning to do a bit of sewing and crocheting again but there’s little room in my currently over-crowded life for those quiet hobbies.
I suppose it’s the uncertainty of the economy and having something to lose (hope and a goal) that is gnawing at me more than anything.
My God! Are you my sister from another mother???
I’m sorry to hear about your poor health. I guess that would put a lot of things into perspective.
I can so identify with the rest of what you’re saying. I enjoy teaching, but after a couple of decades of it, I’m getting tired of having my days punctuated by bells and HAVING to be at a certain room at exactly the right time to teach a class.
My best friend, Blogless Sandy, has retired and she’s filling her days quite happily with little things that SHE wants to do. Sounds idyllic.
We would make good neighbors!!
Thanks, there’s part of me that is weirdly grateful for having the opportunity to learn there’s another way which I wouldn’t have seen as a now recovered workaholic. In its own way, my poor health saved my life from going down a darker path because I had to face up to the reality that we don’t know how much time we have and it would be lovely to only structure our hours around personally meaningful tasks instead of deadlines though they may have value of their own.
Isn’t that funny? I’ve never lived for work. Even before I had kids, my main driving interest was my dogs. I used to breed and show Cavaliers before I started breeding humans. I love teaching, but it’s always been a means to an end. 🙂
Thank you for writing this. Like Revanche in the earlier comment, I’ve had health issues lately that need attention (usually in the form of rest and relaxation) and this completely overshadowed my former frenzy of spreadsheets, endless analysis, guilt of not pursuing more side hustles, etc.
Honestly, I think the magic of FI is getting the savings set up, re-evaluating spending/budgets occasionally, and then watching compounding interest do the work. It’s a slower approach to FI, but it still works and we get to enjoy important moments of quiet in our daily lives. It might be the best of both worlds.
I think you might be onto something, Kristen.
In the first whirlwind of enthusiasm when you discover FI/RE, you get everything set up – then you can settle back a bit when things start tickig along. 🙂
That sounds like a perfect 2 weeks off! I completely agree about the mad rush to set everything up upon discovering FIRE then just allowing time & compound interest to do its work. I have outsourced my gardening for years – working long hours and just too tired on the weekends. I am finally now desirous of learning how to garden; looking forward to learning new skills as I coast into retirement (maybe!)
I came late to gardening, but it’s strangely satisfying. I think you’ll like it.
I love this post. Also your dogs are hella cute <3
I feel like the ability to entertain yourself, to find things to do around the house, enjoy your own company, take pleasure in the little things – is really overlooked these days and it's not only an enormous shame, but probably a little unhealthy.
We live in a world where adrenaline is king – but what happens when the hectic-ness of life stops or slows way down? I feel like a lot of people can't live with quiet, with just themselves. They always need to be externally stimulated, like if they were forced to have a week of bed rest, they'd explode. But hey, maybe if you can keep the busy train going, you'll never have to worry about it.
I for one prefer the slow, scenic route.
I SO agree – I just spent 2 hours planting 4 plants – but they should last 20 years and I’ll have the benefit of the flowers. I really think long-term thinking is the key.
Hi FJ! It’s important not to rush things. As teachers, that all we do, it seems. I feel our society has this love affair with being a workaholic and having a full agenda. I think it makes people feel important. Forget that. It’s much better to chill out and relax. So thank you for this lovely post celebrating the important of rest and relaxation! Cheers, Dragon Gal
How appropriate that I’m reading this, sitting on the couch. coffee in hand, a dog on either side of me… ________________________________
I so appreciate this post. I live a frugal lifestyle but due to chronic illness I live life in the slow lane. I love reading frugal blogs/vlogs/podcasts/books but many leave me feeling bad about not running around with my hair on fire. Thank you SO much for this post……..a breath of fresh air.
Honestly – I’m looking forward to the days when I DON’T run around like a crazy woman!!
Thanks for the comment – it was lovely to read. I hope that you’re chill and cruisy. Sounds like you have every reason to be.
It was my pleasure…….my your day be blessed.