My therapist recently said, “Raven, you’re really doing it. You’re making it and it’s even more impressive without a partner to lean on or having to work extra jobs. I hope you take time to celebrate how much you’ve accomplished. You really do trust the Universe.”
This is all true, but I don’t write it to brag. I write it to say that if I can do it — “it” meaning live the life I desire — so can you.
1. Constantly adjust your expectations. When I first moved to Vermont, I left a tenured and cushy position in the NYC public schools. I had the highest salary I’d ever made, plus amazing union benefits. After accepting a teaching position here (and after the salary was misquoted by $5k), I wondered how I’d make it. It was significantly less than NYC and though the rents were lower, it’s not cheap to live here. I left that teaching job after a year, and laugh now because I’d love to have that salary. I’d never go back to having a boss, but there’s nothing like a steady paycheck. What I thought I needed to survive was not based on Vermont life, but the one I left. Adjust your expectations for the next step.
2. Be flexible. In other words, learn how to hustle. That doesn’t mean grit your teeth and bear awful jobs. Nor does it mean to grab work just for the money. Every hour wasted on work you dread — is one less from your life. How much is that worth? Flexibility is taking gigs that are enjoyable and help you develop your gift. You like the people, the venue and quote a price that matches your time and energy.
3. Ask yourself: how much do I really need to live a happy life? So many clients of mine long to leave their jobs and strike out on their own, but are terrified of the financial risk. Money masks the real fear — which lies in our inability to remain in a place of trust. Believe me, trust is an hour to hour practice. Some months, I pay my bills with little left over. Other months, I comfortably sail through. The thread that runs through it all is trust. I never know how many clients or what gigs will show up. However, my business always pays my bills without me having to take extra jobs, and that is amazing — especially in Vermont. I mean, I make my living as a Tarot reader and writer. How crazy is that? What helps is that I don’t need much to have a happy life — and my happiness lies in how relaxed I can be in the face of certain uncertainty. I love beautiful things and fine food but my freedom isn’t in stuff or having a set amount in the bank. Sure, I’d love to make more money — and my magical notebook has been incredible in this regard. But the true richness is the absolute freedom in my schedule to live the life I want.
4. Ask yourself: how do I want to feel on a daily basis? My desire is to be relaxed so that I can create. Anxiety and stress can produce good work, but it’s certainly not optimal creativity. When I get caught up in worry or “future-tripping”, that’s when all my demons flair up and I lose my faith. In those moments, I acknowledge how I’m feeling, do my best to comfort myself, and go back to my journals and say, “See? Here, here and here. This is where X came through, or I was able to travel here, or that client came in at the very moment I needed one.” It restores my faith that I’m on the path I’ve chosen, and will be met every time in my hour of need. It is a benevolent energy that surrounds me — and my work is to dismantle my ever-present need to figure out, control and fix.
5. Be comfortable with not-knowing. Uncertainty is just that. When you decide to be an entrepreneur, or leave a relationship that is slowly killing your soul, or step away from ideologies that promote violence, or take up ballroom dancing or downhilll skiing at 60, there is always risk. It’s not about conquering fear. Throw that out, because fear is part of the cake batter. It’s about being comfortable in the not-knowing but extending trust anyway, always trusting that you will care for yourself and be cared for, your needs met and your path lit. Or not lit, but you love it enough to keep walking because there is no other choice but to follow the calling of your soul. That’s where your freedom lies.