About a year ago, out of the blue, the woman for whom I had worked for 12 years announced that she needed to cut expenses and since her biggest expense was me, she was cutting my hours from 40 to 25. After a stunned and hurt silence, I managed to choke out WHAT???? She explained that she had worked hard all of her life and didn't want to work that hard any more. WHAT???? She went on to explain that her priorities were changing, she wanted to travel more, and there were other things she wanted to pursue. WHAT???? I had one month to look for additional work. Again, I repeat, WHAT????
My immediate thought was to channel the old song Take This Job and Shove It with an accompanying video of me expressing my displeasure with her. There are times I still wish I had done just that. But after I had retrieved the cell phone I had flung across the room, taken a long walk around the block and ate some chocolate, I stopped complaining about her, stopped whining "how can she do that to me??", and started focusing on what my life would look like from that point on.
I work in real estate, providing marketing, transaction management and general support for an agent. Since I have worked full time for years, my first thought was to replace my current job with another one just like it. There are always agents looking for experienced assistants and I was sure I could find another one with whom I could work. I immediately flew to Seattle to meet with several other agents. But something happened while I was sitting in the interviews. I realized I didn't want to take another full time job. I didn't want to exchange the agent with whom I worked for another who might do the exact same thing in 6 months or a year. Instead, I began to imagine what my life might be like if I no longer worked 40 hours.
That I would miss the money is a given. I had become quite used to having more than enough to live a comfortable life with a little left over for travel and leisure. But let's face it, at 60 years old how many full time years do I realistically have? Why not start to ease back on the spending and see just how little I could live on.
After a year of part time pay, I'd say it's about 80/20 in favor of the good. On the plus side is my schedule. Since I don't work until 1pm, I can do all of my shopping in the morning hours while others are at work, and evenings out with friends no longer have to end at 9. I no longer look on Sunday evening as the beginning of the end, dreading Monday morning's alarm. In fact, I no longer have an alarm...I do, however, still have an early rising dog who demands a walk, but that's another story. I have time to read, design and make jewelry, blog, write, walk my dog...all in the hours when I would have been at my desk answering emails. Having to work in the afternoons keeps me from frittering away the hours (for the most part!) and keeps me on task. I have become much more conscious of the amount of money I spend. I am not ready to be on the TV show where the family uses cloth instead of toilet paper and shops the dollar store for dented cans, but I am definitely more reluctant to pay full price for anything.
One thing I have realized about myself during this past year...I would rather have a small amount of something wonderful than a large econobag of something so-so. One bakery fresh cookie rather than a bag of store bought. One elegant piece of dark chocolate instead of a jumbo bag of M&Ms. I would rather watch a movie on Netflix sitting on my very comfortable couch than spend $12 to sit next to strangers who refuse to shut off their cell phones and talk out loud during the good parts.
Are there drawbacks? Of course. But I believe life is what we make of it. I am choosing to look forward, to be appreciative of what I have and not saddened by what I do not. I have good health, a great family and a terrifically quirky dog. I live in a beautiful city that I love, surrounded by fabulous friends whom I also love. I live a full time life on part time pay and cannot imagine anything better.