What Is Simple? Dianne’s Story

One Year + 9 Days

In my world, simple is experiencing a renaissance.  Everywhere I look, people are trying to declutter their minds, their possessions and their inboxes. But, simple is a broad category.  Over the next few posts, I have asked a few “experts” to jot down their thoughts on the subject.

This first guest post is from Dianne, who has actually done something many of us working stiffs only dream about.  After saving enough money to take a year off,  she recently said adios to her life as a corporate CPA.  She is chronicling her year of idyllic joblessness over at Skinny Seahorse.

My version of the simple year – 12 months of blissful unemployment

Since college I dreamed of occupying the corner office with a big company.  It was as elusive as our family portrait (see bottom of post).  But I was destined to be the next big shot and every decision I made was to move closer to that goal.

Until well – dramatic pause – it wasn’t.

The need to simplify my life had been lurking, hiding in the shadows for a year or so.  Stalking me, ready to rob me of the life I worked so hard for.  Some days I would walk a little faster, trying to outrun the feeling that something wasn’t right.

Then the day came – it stared me in the face.  Beady little eyes saying – look lady, it’s time for you to make a decision.   When my fight or flight instinct kicked in – I flew.  Flew like an ostrich.  (Meaning, I didn’t really fly, but ran oddly in a zigzag pattern – appearing as if I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going to the casual observer.)

I decided to take a year off.

Luckily I am a planner.  I had been dreaming about a family sabbatical for over five years.  It took forever for me to crawl my way out of debt.  The moment that was a reality (another fabulous day in my life), I began funneling all my money into savings.  We never let our income dictate our lifestyle.  Instead of buying a bigger house, we stayed in what I like to call a mini-house.  We didn’t buy a big fancy car (although I begged my husband for a Cadillac.)  And we only occasionally splurged on a value meal rather than dining off the dollar menu.

My goal for my year-off was to well, live simply.  Stop the chaos and prioritize my family life.  I envisioned every day would be as follows:

  1. Wake up and with Bridget Bardot hair, lazily saunter to the kitchen and make some coffee.  Sun streaming in through the windows would cause my clean kitchen sink to sparkle.
  2. Sing a lullaby to my children.  They would wake up with smiles and laughter. And no wet beds.
  3. After breakfast, we’d merrily skip to the playground, laughing and holding hands the whole way.
  4. We’d end the day with a big family hug, some light bedtime reading and the kids willingly going to sleep.

Um – I hear you laughing.

Okay – so no days are like that – particularly the willingness to go to bed at night, but something similar did happen.  You may want to sit down for this because it’s possible you may hit the floor laughing…

The birds chirp louder, the sun shines brighter and the flowers are more colorful. Sometimes I swear Snow White, the seven dwarves and Bambi are going to walk out of the woods and greet me with a sprig of holly.  (Told you!)

So what’s it like to take a family sabbatical?

The Simple

  • I take naps
  • I don’t have to rearrange my schedule to go to the doctor, hairdresser or any other appointment
  • My to do list is short
  • My inbox is empty
  • My mind is clear
  • I have time

The Not So Simple

  • I spend 24/7 with my spouse – it’s no trip to Disney Land
  • I spend 24/7 with my children – ditto on the Disney Land
  • We watch our money closer than ever – any spending beyond our budget means my year off gets shorter
  • I worry about the day I have to go back to work. It’s like a Lays potato chip – you just can’t have one.  But in my case, that one is 12 months off.

I am blessed to have this opportunity.  It’s a pivotal time in my life.  I feel myself changing.  And I like it.

So for this one year, I have my all.   Not the quintessential definition of all, but the simple version.  I prefer the latter.  My grass seems greener over here.

Despite the abundance of time I have on my hands, I cannot manage to wrangle my family together for a family portrait.  So, this is my version – a collage.

Despite the abundance of time I have on my hands, I cannot manage to wrangle my family together for a family portrait. So, this is my version – a collage.




6 Responses to What Is Simple? Dianne’s Story

  1. Is this a sabbatical and can return to current job position? Or, will job hunting be a part of the 12 months. Just wondering if Dianne would worry about finding/not finding another job or if that’s not part of the stresses?

    • Hi Tara! When I left my position – I left for good, there is no job being held for me. I didn’t want any obligations during my year. I want to be free to go down new paths should the right opportunity present itself. I’m working on creating a financial product for women who are in debt. It’s called the Fiscal Flamingo. My hope is this will take off. And if it doesn’t I’m a CPA so employment is not terribly difficult to find – but you just never, right. So – after a long winded answer to your question – yes! Absolutely I worry! But, I suppose, there is always something to worry about….

  2. Love the post and am looking forwarding to checking out your blog. I recently had a similar realization. We have our own business (2) and after 8 long years, Hubby and I were both able to quit our “other” jobs and concentrate on our businesses. I noticed that I am way less stressed, much nicer to – well, everyone – I walk slower and see what’s around me, and I listen to my kids more. I hope you enjoy your journey as much as we are enjoying our new, simpler life!

  3. I love this post. I didn’t work for most of last year (maternity leave) and can identify with a lot of what you say about the joys of not working. Going back hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be, but I still look back fondly on that time. I especially liked not having to deal with work emails all the time. I always open my work inbox with trepidation.

  4. Pingback: Saturday Morning Coffee - Skinny Seahorse

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