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Get a Job You Lazy Bum!

It was HOT!  High humidity and 103 degrees.

This is the worst picture I could find of me to go with the 'Bum' title.

No, no one has actually come out and said that to us (while some may be thinking it).  When things get tough I do break down and think this to myself and wonder, “What the Hell am I doing?”.  But every time I sit down and actually run the numbers it is a dead end hole.

Why?  Here’s the short list:

Be Your ‘One True Self’

Well, first it’s a matter of expectations.  If we were content on settling down in one location and setting up camp for the next decade or more, I think we probably could find or create a job and nestle into a routine for the next 25 years until we hit 65 and offically qualify as Senior Citizens.  But, right now, that’s just not us.

Hilary and I both are gypsies.  Even while living in Atlanta for 20 years, I must have moved 20 times.  During our first year of marriage, we moved seven (yes, 7) times!  Hil in her own right has been a rolling stone long before I met her, traveling across the country working as a choreographer and teacher.

To a certain degree, be your one true self.  That may sound a little hokey, but unless you listen to your inner self- I believe bad things happen.  You get sick, gain weight, fall into bad habits, bad relationships, make bad decisions.  It could be the subtle subconscious frustration that leads to unwittingly doing things we know are bad for us- but we do them anyways.

Transformation takes time

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  I just ended a decade plus career in Real Estate and Construction Development.  We had some great years and lived the high life.  We enjoyed some luxuries many will never afford.  Things changed and that’s period of our life is over.  To pretend my career in real estate is not dead as doornails is like beating your head against the wall and wondering why it hurts.  I cannot singlehandedly ‘force’ the real estate and construction markets to rebound.  Nor do I wish to ‘wait’ until the economy starts growing dragging these industries along for the ride.

But that’s what you DO! No.  I have skills but I am not defined by my occupation.  I AM a husband.  I AM a father.  The list of ‘I AM’s’ define me, not the jobs I do to earn money.

I’ve learned a lot in the last decade (thankfully) and realize there are things I don’t want to do again in the future.  We want to spend time together as a family and we don’t want to be rooted to one place at this time.  The very nature of real estate is dirt- which pretty much means you have to stay put.

The re-invention, or re-creation of one self takes some time.  While a conscious decision get you rolling in a direction, hap or circumstance often plays a large role in finally determining where you land.  I believe that opportunity comes from being open and receptive.  Opportunity doesn’t come to close minded people.

You throw a lot of stuff on the wall and see what sticks.  That’s what we are doing right now.  There might be a few missteps and a lot plan changes, but you head in one direction and ‘tack’ when you’ve hit a dead end.

Who knows where we’ll be in a year- kind of exciting knowing it’s NOT the same place we are today!

The numbers don’t add up!

Let’s play devils advocate- I get a job.

First, remember- we’ve worked hard to get as close to having nothing and owing nothing as possible.  We are continually working to clear the clutter and crap that are anchors to our freedom.  In essence, we would have to start over and BUY everything all over again if we fell back into the home/apartment, furniture, cars kind of life that is considered the norm.

Next, my income expectations have dropped dramatically over the last year.  Once I could expect $80,000 to $100,000 for construction superintending or project management- today those opportunities are just not around.  These days, if I could find a job with benefits that paid $30-$40,000 per year I would consider myself lucky.

That being said, our overhead is not high.  We have some residual debt from the construction business, otherwise we run pretty lean and mean.  Despite that, after taxes are taken out you have all the associated overhead most people pay every month:

  • rent/mortgage
  • utilities
  • fuel
  • food
  • health insurance
  • car insurance
  • clothing expenses
  • home furnishings

These are the mandatory expenses.  Then you have the voluntary expenses that make life a little more pleasant:

  • Car payments
  • cable/internet payments
  • magazine subscriptions
  • hair care/manicures/pedicures/massages
  • gym memberships
  • video memberships
  • entertainment expenses
  • dining out
  • educational costs
  • child care costs

Even after the mandatory expenses for a family of four, we wouldn’t be actually ‘making’ any money.  We certainly wouldn’t be saving any money towards the mythical ‘retirement’ concept.

So Hil would have to get a job if we wanted to ‘save’ for the undefined and undetermined future we call ‘retirement’.  We waited a long time to make the conscious decision to have children.  Of course we made that decision when times were good, but that’s not the point and certainly doesn’t alter the fact that we made the conscious decision to bring children into this world.

Why have children if you cant spend time with them?  I know many many parents MUST both work to survive.  I think this economic fact is a travesty and one of the greatest breakdown in our capitalistic society.  As long as we possibly can, we choose not to participate in this concept.  We will sacrifice, be creative, and work hard to find alternatives.

So I can get a job to basically ‘run in place’?  We could afford to pay our bills but that’s about it.  No savings, no retirement, no vacations, no travel, no time with the kids.  No thanks!

Why be Normal?

I say that only partially facetiously.  As a lifelong entrepreneur, I found direction by NOT doing what everyone else is doing.  Moving in the opposite direction often provides a unique insight or opportunity simply because it’s a small niche.

There’s a wise old saying;

Prudent Actions Begit Prudent Results.

I would counter that with;

Extraordinary Actions Begit Extraordinary Results

What do you want for your life?

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6 comments to Get a Job You Lazy Bum!

  • Sheril Miller

    Hi there,

    I just read your post and loved it. It is the exact thing my husband and I were planning to do after we retired. When we retired, we bought the boat and 3 months later he died from lung cancer. I’ve just sold the boat and sometimes have mixed feelings about it, but the fact is that we waited too long and without him, it just isn’t the same. I can’t handle the boat and have decided to take my life in a different direction. Sometimes, I start imagining what it would have been like, and now will invision your family’s life on your boat. Please don’t let anyone else interfere in your dreams. You can enjoy more of this life than the richest of them can ever hope to. You have each other and your kids and that’s all God ever meant us to have.

    “A bad day sailing, is better than a good day on land”

  • big cheese

    Thank You for your kind comments. I hope your new directions takes you on a wonderful adventure.

    JC McDowell and the family unit.

  • Davina and Matt

    Sheril’s advice is so right. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve been in touch with over our three years of dreaming of being on a boat that have told me the same thing: do it now. Life can throw a curve ball in a minute. We’re so glad to hear about couples like yourself and Hil, who love each other and sincerely like one another. Your children will be surrounded in love and in today’s world, I can’t think of anything better. You can’t buy your children’s youth back, they just keep growing. The love they shower upon you when they are young is tremendous. Eat it up, bathe yourself in it….they will be independent before you know it. Money can buy creature comforts but it can’t buy all the amazing time you are now getting with your wife and kids. Thanks for the post and to Sheril, who makes me want to leave land even faster. My thoughts go out to her and her family and hope that something beautiful awaits her as well. Best wishes for a good week to all!

  • big cheese

    Very well put.

    You can always make more money, you can’t get the time back. It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do.

    Thanks for the comment.

    JC

  • Just found your website. Spent hours looking at gemini boats on net. Thinking of importing one to Ireland. Love your story. Safe sailing.
    Regards fin.

  • big cheese

    We love the Gemini. Thanks for the reading the website and the donation to the cruising coffee! If there’s anything we can let you know about the Gemini’s- let us know!

    Best Regards,

    JC