Renovating upstairs — does this count as Art Saturday?

Nick and I have been discontent for quite a number of months.  We have felt… trapped.  Trapped by our finances.  Trapped by our house.  Trapped by work… just… trapped.  

We’ve been asking ourselves some tough questions over the past couple of months – specifically:

  1. Is this the life we want to live?  (Answer: no).
  2. If this is NOT the life we want to live… then – what IS the life we want to live? (see thoughts below).
  3. And… what steps do we need to take to get from point A (current life)… to point B (desired life).

I count myself very fortunate that I’m married to my best friend who shares the same core values as me.  

So – a fantastic starting point for us (if not the most important thing for our family)… is that Nick and I want the same things out of life.  Let me start by telling you what we absolutely DON’T care about:

  • We don’t care about status symbols (the desire for fancy, expensive cars utterly escapes us… same goes for flashy, ostentatious house).
  • We don’t care about following fashion or wearing “brands”.
  • We don’t care about being “hot” or “sexy”.
  • We don’t care about fitting in… or conforming-to-the-norm.  We both have a motto:  Stupid-Rules-Don’t-Apply (more on that here).
  • We don’t care about fitting in or conforming to any kind of societal system (long story).

Here’s what we DO care about:

  • We care about our children.
  • We care about our little family.
  • We care about making beautiful memories.
  • We care about enjoying our work – and doing meaningful and fulfilling work… not just work-for-the-sake-of-money (although, occasionally crappy projects will come… and that’s manageable.  We can handle the occasional crappy project.  What we can’t handle is the thought of a lifetime of dull, mundane, meaningless, utterly boring work).
  • We care about investing in LIFE… instead of in “stuff”.
  • We want to go on adventures with our children and suck the marrow out of life.
  • We care about being healthy (which is vastly different to the manic quest for “hotness”)
  • We want our kids to develop a love of knowledge and learning (and not to be forced to parrot-fashion masses of irrelevant information by an archaic, one-size-fits-all educational System).
  • We want our kids to have a healthy self-esteem and confidence in their abilities and who they are as people.
  • We want to be relevant to this world… this earth… and the people that live here.
  • We want our lives to have meaning.
  • We want to help, uplift, encourage, inspire, mentor, develop and love other people.
  • We care about community (and our LONG term dream is to live in community with a handful of like-minded families).
  • And above all… we want to keep questioning.  Questioning God.  Questioning life.  Questioning the system.  Questioning the rules. Questioning “the answers”.  We want to have open, child-like hearts of yearning and learning – and the only way to do this… is to question.  Some answers will come.  Many others won’t come.  And that’s fine.  The life of a Questioner is a journey.  The life of a Knower is a destination.  I’d rather go on the journey, thank-you.

So – what crazy plans have Nick and Heather hatched now?

Here it is!

Step 1:  Fix the house!  (upstairs bathroom & bedroom… downstairs bathrooms… and whole house needs a coat of paint!)

Step 2:  Sell the house!!!  (this will be like pulling up a huge, heavy, burdensome anchor so that our little family ship can finally sail – to wherever we want to go!!)

Step 3:  Use part of profit from sale of house to go on a long, wonderful overseas adventure with our kids!  (insert Disney World here – and all kinds of other fun, memorable stuff!)

Step 4:  Once we’re back from our long, decadent family adventure – we shall:  MOVE TO THE SEA!! (we have our eye on Scarborough on the Cape Peninsula).  We will downscale our lives significantly (I can’t wait to rid ourselves of all the clutter and “stuff”!!!)… and will rent a small, modest home – with a beautiful view of the sea.  We will have enough money left to financially cushion us for a year – if need be – while Nick establishes himself in Cape Town.  And Nick, being a ridiculously talented and award-winning cinematographer and film editor with his own Red One camera (and 2 of his movies showing at Cannes)… will not (according to me) need to worry about getting hired in Cape Town.

Step 1 is already full-steam ahead! We’re currently renovating the upstairs bedroom & bathroom…

Morgan loves to paint… even if it’s floors.

It’s the quality of life that Cape Town offers (that one simply can NOT have in Johannesburg) that draws us and calls us.  The fact that we can go for sunset walks on the beach – every day (if we want).  The fact that Cape Town is so ridiculously beautiful… mountains, the sea, and let’s not even mention all the wine farms with their massive oaks, their idyllic picnic spots and play areas for kids… and so much more.  Cape Town offers a certain quality of life for young families that we simply can not access whilst living in the suburbs of Johannesburg.

And that’s what we want:  a small, simple home (the less “stuff” and clutter – the better for my sanity!) – and – we want to cut our living expenses and debt so drastically, for this primary purpose:  we’d rather use that money on experiences… on adventures… on travel…. on making memories with our children…. than buying and accumulating more “stuff” – or getting a bigger house or bigger car.

We want to collect memories and invest in experiences!!  For us – this is the priceless investment:  Quality Time.  Family Time.  Having Fun.  Making Memories.  Doing the stuff that makes us come alive.  Being happy and fulfilled.

The rest is meaningless.

I’ll end this post with this thought:

Somebody once said to me (when I articulated my dream):  “But Heather… what happens when you get old… and you’ve spent all your money… and you’re too old to work… and you haven’t got a house or savings or anything to call your own?  What then?”

My deepest fear… and I can’t emphasise this enough:  my deepest fear – is that I will get old / frail / sick and reach the end of my life one day – and realise that I have WASTED it on NOTHING… on accumulating meaningless “stuff”… meaningless “things”… never having followed my dreams… never having accomplished anything of substance.

My deepest fear is that I would die – before having truly LIVED.

I would much rather live in a tiny room in my old age… a shack if need be (if it ever came to that).  But if the walls of my little room are covered with photos and cherished memories of people, places, adventures, dreams I chased, projects that impacted the lives of others, my precious family, beautiful moments… then I will die with a smile on my face – knowing that I didn’t bury the talents I was entrusted with… didn’t ignore the beautiful dreams I was imbued with… didn’t waste the life I was gifted with.

And my final breath would be a peaceful smile.