It’s been roughly four months since I created this blog, and three months since I moved to Austin: seems like a good time to assess my progress on living up to Write Learning’s vision of mindful and sustainable creativity.
As might be expected, it’s been an up-and-down experience. For some reason, I didn’t fully anticipate how long it would take to settle into this new life, and even though I left Colorado because of geography and a relative lack of roots, I find myself missing aspects of my 13.5 years there quite keenly. Too often these days, I feel caught between lives, a sensation compounded by social media and my efforts to be involved in both my Denver and Austin schools.
On the plus side, I seem to have found my way to a new routine. Now, in a typical week I’ll visit the Austin Zen Center five times, for about ten hours total. I’m an unpaid staff member at Clearview Sudbury School at least fifteen hours per week—”at least” because I’m finding it hard to scale back and work a part-time job given a full-time passion, and thus I often stay past my shift and work some on my off days. Thirdly, having auditioned my way into both ensembles of Chorus Austin, I’m spending at least eight hours each week rehearsing and practicing.
This doesn’t take into account the biking I do in order to get to school and choir, or my thrice-weekly runs down the nearby Shoal Creek Path. As much as I enjoy being voluntarily carless—especially the win-win-win for my health, wallet, and the environment—it does require significantly more time. (Not to mention, driving was my main opportunity for listening to my podcasts, with which I’m seriously falling behind.)
For those of you keeping score at home, this puts me near 40 hours per week of activities I love, but which don’t pay. And I haven’t even begun to discuss either this blog (which I’ve seriously neglected this past week) or CASE (which is, by the way, the primary reason I drastically rearranged my life last spring).
Part of the problem is that the line between paying and non-paying work isn’t as clear as it might seem. That is, while I am clearly not generating an income at this point (a few odd jobs notwithstanding), I can’t always say that a given task isn’t an investment, something that may very well pay off in the future.
It doesn’t help that much or most of the time I don’t know what I’m doing. Blogging seriously or professionally, opposed to strictly for fun, is rather a new thing for me. How often to post, how narrow or broad a focus to maintain, how to craft my posts to maximize their chances of finding a wide audience and leading to good advice, paid work, and donations to CASE—these are among the many things I don’t yet know; things easily enough discovered, but requiring time to address.
Similarly, building up a nonprofit to support a niche on the educational landscape is something for which I find myself somewhat lacking in training and experience. I’ve discussed here (and likely will continue discussing) my questions regarding how to take grand schemes from the proverbial drawing board to real life, how much a foundation to lay before approaching foundations, individual donors, and clients. As of yet, however, I have not found many answers. I do believe I’m making progress, but far too slowly for my tastes. And meanwhile, the money is slowly but steadily draining from my savings.
To the extent that this blog is the story of my current life quest, I’d say it’s one of recovering my intuition (or ability to listen and follow it) and applying the lessons I’ve acquired in my fifteen-year Sudbury career to my own life (walking the walk, you might say). To the extent that I have a plan, I’m still on track for finding a blend of activities that draw on my passions and feed my soul; I still have many months before my expenses must be covered by income rather than savings.
That said, this is frankly a nerve-wracking process, having launched myself into uncharted territory with no guarantee of success. Living the dream, it turns out, is much scarier than simply dreaming.