Whether changing your life style, downsizing or, as in our case, following a dream (a well as the other two points), what is the hardest step to pursuing change?
I’ve ‘given it all up’ in my life, not once, but twice. By choice. The first time I gave up everything was to travel the world by bicycle. When I met people they would inevitably ask, “What’s the hardest thing you have had to do?” The answer was always ~ to go in the first place.
Giving it all up for Mr P and I was about giving up our home and downsizing. Big time. We went through everything we owned and sold off or gave away what really couldn’t be kept. The small amount we could keep was limited by available storage space (read: relatives’ spare room).
In both cases, it was also about giving up the familiar. Saying good bye to family and friends, not knowing when we would, or even possibly if we would, see them again. It was about giving up a steady income and relying solely on eeking out what we had and doing odd work to fund our dreams.
Downsizing in Stages
Our move to France, via international hops, necessitated all of the above. We downsized our life in stages. Selling off almost everything we owned, we packed our lives into 3 very large boxes that we shipped to Spain for Mr P’s first wine job. We took the opportunity and travelled there on our only mode of transport left, a motorbike. (Hence the shipping of the boxes.)
We then sold the motorbike and more things. This time we fit into 4 simple suitcases, and headed to the next wine job, in New Zealand. Of note, we did buy a very long pillow whilst in Spain. The first new thing we owned as part of our new life. We couldn’t seem to part with it, so it came with us. Changing your life has to have some adaptability.
A State of Mind
Next came the United States, but due to baggage restrictions we had to shrink what we had even further. We were down to 1 piece of luggage each. The pillow, alas, was given to a woman at an Information Booth at New Zealand’s Airport (amidst much laughter). No matter what, it kept putting us over the weight limit. We truly miss that pillow.
In the States we had our moment of epiphany. Whilst making yet another bold wine for someone, we made the decision that what we really wanted to do was make our own wine. We wanted a wine that was more complex, different. And maybe it was shooting ourselves in the make ourselves rich foot, but we wanted a wine not designed for mass market consumption. It was a now or never moment. We decided to take the leap. And fate pushed us over the edge.
Following our Dream
The first question, was where? That had a fairly easy answer. Since day dot, Pumpjack has always been passionate about Burgundy’s wine. It’s where wine started in France, and where the wine has amazing diversity due to the land and climate ~ the terroir. So Burgundy, or Bourgogne, became our ultimate goal.
Now, the how. We decided first and foremost we would get ourselves to France. Once there, we could work out the details. Also, we needed to learn French if we were going to make a go of it in France. So, we needed time to be able to do this, learn the lay of the land and decide if this was the path we wanted.
Timing, or fate, was on our side as almost immediately on making the decision, we were offered two long-term house sitting positions, the first in Limouge followed quickly by one near Chablis, in Burgundy. It was an easy decision.
It’s Easy from Here (…well….)
We had the where and the how under our belts. Within a month of the decision, we found ourselves in France, speaking almost no French, with almost no money, no jobs, and 2 suitcases. We’d done the hard part.
It took the first year to learn enough French to do anything, to meet people and to start to understand how things were done. Especially when it came to wine. Then nearing the end of that year we were offered a vineyard to recover and make wine from. A year later and our first harvest and then first wines were made. And were they the wines that we dreamed of? The wines we wanted to make? Yes! … and no.
Changing Your Life
When making these life changing decisions you must also learn to be flexible, adaptable, and make the best from what you have. For us, the recovering vineyard turned out to be a big project, much bigger than we had first realised.
Our dreams of making our wine, selling it and realising our fortune from it were alas a little high pitched. At least, the making our fortune bit. The yield was very small. The flip side, however, was the wine was very interesting, and we think very, very good. There was simply not a lot of it.
We had to re-consider and diversify consequently. If we couldn’t produce enough grapes, we would look to buy grapes or their juice from others. We navigated French paperwork (oh my!) and set up Mr P as a Negociant (someone who makes wine from other peoples grapes, etc.). As for myself, I opened my first shop on Etsy, and Pumpjack & Piddlewick was born.
All Change, again
And then the little Chateau we were looking after was to be sold. We took the time to consider did we like living in France now. The answer was yes, so it was time to buy our own home. We also took the time to determine where. Chablis area is lovely, but limited in the type of grapes. The decision was made to move further south, but still stay in Burgundy.
Duly done, we now live in a restoration tardis of a home with slowly emerging garden. With our change of venue, Mr P took time out of wine making to write and publish a book (*available from Amazon). And there are books 2, 3 and 4 in the pipeline. Will he return to wine making, most likely, one day. Changing your life is as much about following your heart as opportunity.
Is It Worth It?
The hardest decision still has been and will always be to make that decision and go. There were and are many times we have had to tighten our belts and live on almost nothing. We still live very frugally, but consequently we are so much more appreciative of what we have.
So, it’s hard. But is it worth changing your life?
Heck yes! Why? Because best of all, we are happy. Happier than we have ever been. We appreciate what we have so much more, as well as what we have accomplished. For us, it truly has been worth giving it all up.
We are affiliated with AmazonUK, so as they sell Mr P’s ‘Guccifer2.0‘ book I figured I would link to this write up. If you are not based in the UK, simply search Guccifer2.0 on your countries Amazon. It is a print on demand book, with free shipping if you order from your own Amazon.
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It is very hard to shift away from the status quo. I think for us life with stressful and unfulfilling jobs had got to the point of being intolerable. Otherwise we would probably have never made the move. We were richer then, but much happier now. I don’t miss the old lifestyle one jot!
It’s a classic for a reason, but money doesn’t buy happiness. I also gave up a stressful well-paid job, and do not regret it for a minute. I think time gives you happiness. Time to think, contemplate, enjoy and decide for yourself. 🙂