Living Creatively

Note: This is a guest post by Aileen of Aileen Journey.
I’ve always thought that you had to follow the regular tradition of working a regular job and earning a good deal of money in order to have the “right” kind of life. What I wanted, though, was different. I wanted complete freedom. I wanted to go sit in cafes and bike ride and write. I have many things I want to say and I wanted to get my ideas out in to the world and get feedback on them.
Creative LivingThe problem is, I am the only parent of my two small children. I tried starting a retail store, which, I thought, would give me the passive income to be able to take care of my kids while having my time to myself. Unfortunately, a business partner ran it into the ground before I could get any income from it.
So, I took a regular job teaching high school. Then, because that job only helped me make ends meet (since I had big debts that my business partner left me with), I took a second job teaching college online. I was an incredibly busy person and pretty overwhelmed. I wanted out, but didn’t know what to do. Once I was out of debt, my lifestyle still cost quite a bit of money.
I started to consider what I was willing to give up for the life I really wanted. I started putting real numbers down on paper. I realized that a great deal of my income was going towards work-related expenses, such as childcare, a gym, convenience foods, and so forth. When I cut out the things that I wouldn’t need if I wasn’t “working”, my budget was actually manageable on just my online teaching job. I started considering quitting my job and earning money as an online instructor and building a writing career.
I had to get out of the mindset that I was doing something wrong. I had to remember that although many people think that earning a lot of money is the key to a good and successful life, my feeling is that freedom is the key. I wanted to have my life for myself. I still make plenty of money. I can do what I want and perhaps, if my writing career takes off, I will have even more money.
What’s important is thinking about what you truly want in your daily life. What would your perfect day or perfect week look like? You need to bypass the “should do’s” and go right to the problem solving. How can you work to get some of what you want into your life? What might you have to give up to get what you want? I had to give up sending my kids to childcare, but I could be home to get them ready for school. I gave up the gym, but now I have plenty of time to bicycle or run out in the real world, not on a schedule.
My term for this type of thinking is “creative living.” How can you consider what you really want and come up with solutions that will work for you and your family? Creative living requires letting go of the expectations from anyone around you and sometimes the “safe” way. There’s nothing particularly risky about my income. I have a few different places I can earn money and back up plans if they don’t work. The “safety” part that’s gone, though, is the regular path upwards. There are no raises or promotions when I’m on my own. I sink or swim by myself.
So many people feel stuck in their lives because they think of everything as a whole. They think they need a certain amount for expenses, but they don’t realize that maybe they wouldn’t have those expenses if they lived differently. Some people want to travel, some people want to live in a certain place. People want all sorts of things that are often possible with some creative problem solving.
For example, when I became unemployed quite suddenly and was dropped into big debt by my ex-business partner, I panicked. I had two very young children and a job offer that involved leaving for work at 6:30 in the morning, before their daycare opened. I needed to take the job, but didn’t know what to do with the children. What I ended up doing was moving my bedroom into the basement and renting out my former bedroom to a college student, in exchange for her taking care of the kids in the mornings. It worked well. It wasn’t easy when one babysitter would leave and I had to find another, but we managed in this way for years.
Here’s how you can live creatively:

  • Think about the specific pieces of the life you want.
  • Map them out.
  • Write up real numbers and schedules.
  • Then look at how you might be able to find creative solutions in order to achieve your ideal life.
  • Sometimes you have to do these things little by little. Take one piece at a time and work on finding the solution.

Thinking outside the box can help you to live outside whatever is boxing you in.
Aileen Journey is the mother of three, an online college instructor and blogs at about how to achieve your goals and dreams and at about how to decipher and respond to your children’s behavior.
This article is part of September 2008 theme: Fulfilling Career
Photo by notsogoodphotography


  1. Great post, Eileen! I found similar inspiration in a book called The Joy of Not Working. It’s concept of “not working” is similar to your concept of “creative living.” I wrote about in “Lessons on Boredom from ‘The Joy of Not Working'” at
    For anyone who wants additional tips on how to break out of the traditional work mold of 9 to 5 in a job you hate, it’s a great read! : )

  2. Thinking outside the box can help you to live outside whatever is boxing you in.

    I love that quote! Kudos to you on your creative living style. It really is a great way to live your life. Find out what goals you want to achieve, then break them down into real action steps and numbers.
    Thanks for the article!

  3. Eileen,
    I love that last sentence: Thinking outside the box can help you to live outside whatever is boxing you in.
    As a mom of four (now adult) children, this article resonates with me. I definitely had to think outside the box many times in order to reach goals for my family and myself.
    The most important piece of your success even before you started making specific plans was your determination, commitment and belief to find solutions. This lead you to being able to think creatively.
    As long as people wallow in “woe is me” or “nothing ever works out for me” or other such life-depleting thoughts, they’ll be stuck in thinking destructively instead of thinking creatively.
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and the steps that lead to your success.

  4. You keep mentioning how your business partner left you in debt, ran things into the ground…..if you were partners, why didn’t you also know what was going on?

  5. Near the end of the business I was acting as a kind of “silent” partner because I was taking care of babies and she was managing the business.
    I definitely learned a lot. I wouldn’t be so trusting next time. I gave up my business for no good reason. It felt like a horrible mistake and really messed up my life, but I had to find a way to deal with the fact that some people are manipulative and dishonest and I am now more careful.
    I do wish I could go back and do things differently, but I couldn’t so I had to move ahead and create my new life with a huge debt and a new mistrust/reduced naivete about people.

  6. Love it! Gonna start mapping out my plans 🙂

  7. I love your term ‘creative living’, Aileen.
    As I continue to practise the stress techniques that I teach I’m constantly amazed at how much more creative I’ve become.
    I used to think that creativity belonged solely to the world of The Arts. I now see it popping up in everything I do – whether it’s problem-solving, writing or decision-making.
    When we’re stressed it is like looking through the broad end of a funnel. We have limited vision. Balancing the nervous system turns the funnel around and allows us to discover our joy, in unimagined ways, as I’m discovering!

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