Work VS Paid Employment

I’ve been listening to the audiobook, Your Money or Your Life (updated version) during my daily commute. It’s a personal finance book that’s been around for close to 30 years now. The updated version has a forward by Mr. Money Mustache – just in case you want to make sure you’re getting the most updated version of the book!

Today’s listen involved a discussion on the difference between work and paid employment. The author mentioned that we need to separate the idea of work from paid employment. Work, she explains, is something you choose to do and would continue to do even without a paycheck. This is generally something you feel called to do or are passionate about. Paid employment, on the other hand, is where you exchange your time for money to move closer to a goal (usually financial independence). Occasionally, work and paid employment come together in a job, but it’s not the norm.

My day job of a school librarian used to be a situation where work and paid employment merged, but not so much anymore. COVID brought about a number of changes, as did a change in work flows and areas of responsibility. This school year has certainly been interesting to say the least! I’ve been able to dip my toes back into certain parts of the job I hadn’t touched in 5 years. It’s been a welcome change, as well as a confidence booster. Libraries and children’s literacy are important to me and I will continue to be involved in these areas (library board and therapy dog volunteer) even after paid employment ends.

My sewing biz is what my financial advisor refers to as my passion project. I fully expect to be busy teaching, technical editing and running the online retail portion of my biz for many years to come. I’ll make quilts to donate to charity, mentor young sewists and probably volunteer at the quilt museum once I leave the hallowed halls of public education.

But I won’t have to be there at 7:10 a.m. every day! Come on May 2024 (or sooner)!

it’s ok to change your mind

You can turn your hobby into a business…and turn that business back into a hobby. It’s perfectly okay!

A talented friend recently announced that she’s ending her long-standing quilting podcast. This comes on the heels of her and her business partner closing down their pattern/sewing biz last summer. I listened to her farewell episode tonight. She’d lost her love of sewing because she was always sewing for business and had no time to sew for pleasure. She didn’t set foot in her sewing room for over 6 months. She said her husband was even worried about her.

I can so totally relate! My day job directly impacts the amount of time and energy I have to devote to my business. That is one reason I stopped making t-shirt and baby quilts. I was busy and enjoyed creating the quilts, but I when I looked at the numbers, I wasn’t making any money after I accounted for all the time spent making those quilts.

So, I looked at my options:
(1) Teach from home. I did this for about a year with weekly after-school sewing sessions. Everyone had a great time, but having strangers in my house was just a little too unnerving for me. Occasionally, I have a group of neighborhood kids or children of co-workers in studio for a private lesson, but that’s about it.

(2) Rent space outside of my home to teach classes. Available, but too expensive with just 4-6 students.

(3) Affiliate with a local quilt shop. This has been the best solution. One shop marks up my fee per student and I suggest sell products for her. Another shop took 30% of the class fee and expected me to fill the class. I offered classes through Parks and Rec, but their class minimums were so high that the class never made. A local business offered use of their classroom space for free during biz hours. I was very grateful to have this option available. I am hopeful that I will be able to do summer camps this year.

(4) Technical editing. This has consistently been the BEST option as it is a service that is location independent.

do more of what brings you joy

For me, it’s spending time in my studio (aka “my happy place” ) stitching away on Miss Addie, my freearm Singer Featherweight 222. I never expected to own one, given the rarity of this model. Of course, there’s a story behind how she arrived on my doorstep, but that’s for another time. Let’s just say that being patient, paying cash and wanting a working machine versus a collectible edition helped make it happen.

Miss Addie is also a tangible reminder that life is short and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. My bout with Bell’s palsy and my husband’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis Summer 2019 put life in a completely different perspective. Self-care and indulging myself once in a while became a priority. Hubs is doing well 18 months post-surgery. It’s time for the caregiver (me) to start taking care of herself again.

Self-care meant many hours spent decluttering my studio and rehoming fabric, supplies and machines I no longer needed or wanted. My space feels much lighter now. It’s merely the first step on my way to a sewing studio makeover. I’m eager to get my design wall installed – but this means a fabric storage cabinet has to go. More decluttering to come!

Besides eat right, exercising and getting more sleep, self-care also involved spiffing up the wardrobe a bit. I’m now teaching more and with the gig at the SE Quilt & Textile Museum, I needed the boost of self-confidence that comes from looking put together and being well-rested.

I’m also reading more – personally and virtually via Zoom with Sadie to read with our therapy dog READ kiddos. Some in-person visiting opportunities are starting back up. We’ll be visiting GA Tech at the end of March for Wellness Week.

I got so tired of 2020’s Blursday that I made a promise to observe the holidays in 2021. We celebrated Mardi Gras with take-out from Pappadeaux’s on Tuesday. If you need help with day-to-day holidays, the folks at National Day Calendar do an outstanding job of celebrating the every day.

Other than travel, I’ve resumed the activities that brought me joy pre-COVID. Here’s hoping we can get back to a mask-free somewhat normal within 6-12 months. It absolutely stinks to have to teach while wearing a mask all day!

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