Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Trimming the fat

The older I get, the more I realize that I don't want to waste time with things that make me unhappy. I've also realized that I don't need to live in the future or the past. Life is what is happening right now. Today. So I want to make it count. If there are things in my life that cause me anxiety and distress, I want to clear them out of my life. If there are people that are toxic to be around, I want to avoid them. You might be wondering where all of this is coming from. I've experienced a lot of big life changes in the past three years, and I finally have a little time to reflect.  I left my Ph.D. program, at the risk of feeling like a failure, because the research and lack of regular human interaction made me absolutely miserable. I bought a business right before the recession, ran it successfully for a year, and then made the decision to close it when the recession hit rock bottom, and when I realized it wasn't something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  I also started two online businesses: my Etsy shop and The Nanny Space, a matchmaking service for families and nannies. Finally, I left a job I hated and went back to school to get my teaching license. I've made some mistakes along the way, I've gone through financial and emotional hardship, but I have learned so much. I feel like the past year was a fresh start for me. Going back to school was a big risk. I had to sacrifice a lot of time, energy, and financial stability, and it's scary to start all over in your thirties. But looking back on it now, I am so glad I went with my gut and took the leap.

This past week, I've been contemplating another really big decision. I've decided to close The Nanny Space. It pains me to do so because it's something I created from the ground up. It was an immense amount of work, and I actually think it turned out really well. But I've settled on a new career path, and I don't feel like there is a place for it in my life now. I can only do so much. There are several other contributing factors to my decision, but the final catalyst is really just my gut feeling, which usually tends to be right, so I am going with it.

The other day I cleaned out our garage, our basement, our closets, and got rid of all the crap I don't need or use. I was inspired by Chelsea's post. It felt really good and seemed like an apt metaphor for how I want my life to be right now. I want to purge my life of all the unnecessary crap.

Going back to school was sort of terrifying. But in doing so,  I feel like I got rid of some of the major stressors in my life and have begun to create a life for myself that allows me to do all of the things I love. And isn't that what life is really about? Doing what you love with the people you love? I'll never have a lot of money, but I love what I do, I love the people I have around me, and I love the life I have, even with all of its trials and imperfections. And I won't have regrets. I've risked a lot, and therefore, I've done a lot, and I've learned a lot. It was really good to spend time with my brother in New York. He's an inspiration to me. Tim has been able to pursue what he loves most in life: travel, art, and surfing.  It didn't come without sacrifice or failures. He's had some failed business endeavors as well. But I guess you have to fail to succeed. You have to take risks to find what you love. I like this excerpt from Vickie Milazzo's This I Believe essay:

I believe in stepping out. I learned this from living in fear.  Success is not about the achievement. Every time I step out into the unknown, win or lose, I succeed. I might break a leg or invest in a losing business idea, but I won't end up at my 90th birthday with nothing more than stale white cake and regrets. Bad things can happen when we step out, but I believe worse things happen to our souls when we don't.
--Vickie Milazzo

So here's to trimming the fat, cleaning the basement, stepping out, and enjoying the here and now.


  1. Thank you! I'm in the process of " trimming the fat" and questioning whether I should trust that gut feeling. It's nice to know that sometimes you have to stop over analyzing things and just follow your instincts.

  2. Good for you! I have been meaning to get started in this same path...but can't seem to really get in there.

  3. I loved this post! I've been feeling this exact same way lately. Sometimes the biggest rewards come with the biggest sacrafices. I just need that kick in the butt to get the ball rolling! Best of luck with chasing your dreams and trimming the fat :)

  4. Here here! I just had a conversation with a friend that made me very sad. He said that dreams die. That what you do to make a living will not be what you wanted to do, but you have to support your family. Live until you die. It just seemed so apathetic and defeatist. He is 25 and has already given up? He did mean live like you and I thinking of living. This was not live as in 'live it up' it was for survive. Maybe his dream is having a family, rather than an exciting career, and that is fine. The way he worded it was not.
    So let us clean out the crap, both the physical things and the emotional road blocks, and go out and really live! And living means making mistakes. But, as my beloved Anne of Green Gables once said "Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it."

  5. Wow, that's a lot to think about on a Wednesday morning! All joking aside, this does inspire me to look at my own life and try to be conscious of where I'm putting my energy and why.

  6. Well put my friend!

    Sometimes you must risk to grow. Love this post. You are my inspiration, Courtney!!

  7. @ chelsea: i think there is a way to manage both- supporting a family while doing something you don't detest. it just means making sacrifices. different things make different people happy though, i guess. some people need more money to find happiness. then again, i don't have kids yet, so who knows.

  8. This is a wonderful post in every way! I've been thinking a lot about these kinds of things too. Nine months out of the year I teach at university. It's a good job, and I don't hate it, but I don't love it either. And I've been doing it now for eight years. I've been thinking about taking a break this fall and really, really giving my online store all of my time. It's what I do actually love doing, but I've been too timid to give up a job that's a reliable pay check. This post feels like a good bit of motivation!!


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