A friend of mine recently commented that I live a blessed life. My first response was jaw-dropping disbelief and then immediate defensiveness. Luckily my rapid second response was understanding. For the last five years my husband and I have married, studied our passions in grad school, lived in the town of our dreams, built an amazing community of heart-centered friends and resided in the most beautiful apartment in the world. We do live a magnificent life.
However my understanding of a blessed life is one of happenchance. One of being carried on a current into the life you are supposed to live. That is not the life we live. Five years ago I spent three weeks shopping full time for an apartment. I went into half the rental properties in the Pioneer Valley. We made a list before shopping of the specifics of our dream apartment; really disgusting details like depth of kitchen sink, type of tub, direction of sunlight, number of windows, kind of stove, designated yoga space, in-home office, good energy, walking distance to town. When we found this apartment it not only met every single standard, it exceeded several.
We found what we desired because we articulated what we wanted first.
As for being in Northampton I decided I wanted to live here while we were in college. I moved a half hour from Northampton for my first year out and just at the point I was starting to sink into the Valley my husband found an amazing job elsewhere and whisked us away for two years. We spent those two years fantasizing and planning about coming back to Northampton. We didn’t fall into Northampton, we decided on it for all the obvious reasons.
One of the questions I learned growing up was how are you going to pay the bills? This is a very dangerous question. It is decidedly limiting, because some people work 100 hours a week to pay for fancy cars, yachts and mansions in Greece. I’ve never wanted to pay those bills. But I do want to pay rent on a sunny apartment, eat an absurd amount of locally grown produce and take all the yoga classes my heart desires. I do want to fly home for Christmas and wear very soft clothes. I do want to keep the heat up very high in our home and have accessibility to good swimming holes in the summer. I do want to pay off my student loans and buy a house one day. So here are the questions I’ve found useful.
- How many hours a week would you like to work?
- Do you want to be passionate about your work or work to support your passion?
- How much money a year do you need to pay the bills you want to pay?
- What are the little things that would bring you joy from week to week?
- What type of people do you want to surround yourself with?
- Do you want the responsibility for your work or do you want to be told what to do?
- Do you want to work during the week, or at night, or on weekends?
- Do you want to work five hour days, eight hour days or 24 hour days followed by whole days off?
- What is your ideal landscape?
- What weather and climate do you prefer?
- Do you want excitement and drama or monotony and simplicity?
- Do you want the same thing every day or something completely different?
- Do you want to work with people or alone?
- Do you want to work in groups or one on one?
- If money wasn’t an object where would you live and what would you do all day?
- Who do you need within five miles? 50 miles? 200 miles?
- What life changes would allow you to live a healthier lifestyle?
- How will you be fulfilled intellectually?
- How will you be fulfilled spiritually?
- How will you be fulfilled emotionally?
- How will you be fulfilled physically?
The amazing thing about people is that we all want something entirely different. I used to think everyone fantasized about living alone in a small New England town and writing eight hours a day after doing yoga in the morning overlooking the cornfields and mountains. But apparently everyone has very different desires. Luckily that allows us to get our car fixed somewhere, to send our children to school, to buy flowers on our way home and go to a movie on a Friday night. It takes all types.
We all need to pay the bills, but we get to pick the bills we pay and the jobs we take (or make).
Our life is blessed. I’ve always known that. Simply finding my other half is proof of that. But mostly our life is a compilation of what we want because we dared to ask the universe to provide it.
Copyright: subbotina / 123RF Stock Photo