I Almost Fell Into The Safety Net

The time is now. The pressure is on. I’m starting to think about the consequences.

I took a big risk and spent a bunch of money on the adventure of a lifetime. Along the way I wrote about my adventure, showed the images I made on the blog, and wrote two photography eBooks that I gave away for free to build my audience. Now is the time I have to either make something of it that I can live on or retreat.

Sometimes I think of it like learning to be a trapeze artist. Not that I’ve ever learned to be a trapeze artist, I’m just using my imagination here 😉

I conquer my biggest fears by taking the first step then climbing the ladder to the top.

I grab the trapeze and jump from the platform and start to swing.

The crowd is watching in anticipation.

Now I have three choices:

  • I can just keep hanging on and swing back and forth like a pendulum until it is too boring for anyone to watch;
  • I can take a big risk and let go, reaching for the next trapeze, hoping to catch it before I make a humiliating fall;
  • or, I can just reach for the safety net now and at least fall gracefully.

I never thought about it in these terms until I almost reached for the safety net. I was offered a job. A really good job. A nice high paying job that was the perfect six months that would allow me to travel again in the winter (unless I got sucked into the vortex, which is a real risk).

I turned it down. I didn’t want to give up my plans of spending time with my family and working on my own projects and only being here for four months. But I offered to work part time on a remote basis. I thought if I could work one or two days per week from wherever I am I could still do everything I wanted to do and make a bit of cash at the same time. The counter-offer was two days per week but not remotely. Well, maybe sometimes remotely, perhaps remotely, unless they need me, which is like always. So I turned it down.

Am I crazy? I could work two days per week for four months and make enough money to survive in my new “need less” lifestyle for the whole winter. Sounds pretty sweet doesn’t it? Yup. Except that it wouldn’t include travel time and I don’t live in the city where the job is. And, of course, there would be exceptions. Just this one time we need you to come in to do this thing. And oh, we promised the client something, so we need you to do it too. I’ve been there before.

I started thinking that between the working, the travelling, and the getting ready to work (’cause like it takes so long to do my hair and iron my clothes and stuff) it would swell into 25 hours a week that I could be devoting to my own projects. Or to hanging out with my parents.

What if my own projects end up actually taking off? What if it is possible I really can do this? Would I be giving up on my big dream too early? Was getting in to Canadian Geographic a sign that this life as a nomadic photographer really is possible? It could be real?

I could reach for that safety net now, call it a great year of travel, and move on. But so far this risk taking thing has been working out. My life of risk and adventure has been exhilarating – the life I have always wanted. The life story I would have written for myself.

So … I am going to take another risk.

I am going to put all my eggs in my own basket and not give up too early.

I am going to create some more photography products and see if I can make a go of it.

I am going to create some businesses I can run online from anywhere in world.

I only have one life and I am going to write myself a really exciting life story.

And if I fall, I may fall ungracefully and make a huge ugly splat on the floor. But at least it will be a spectacle and that’s better than being boring.

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  1. says

    Anne….i struggle with this as well on a daily basis. I went to four days a week so i could have three days for photo related things. Its slow going but there has been some positives this year as well. I say better to try and fail then to sit around when your old and cant walk anymore wondering if you should have taken your shot. I have taken a different path going into commercial photography which i love doing however the money is not quite enough to give up my day job just yet. You will get there! Dont give up!
    andy gimino recently posted..Stepping StonesMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Andy, thank you so much for your encouragement! I think that’s the thing – if I give up now I will still never know if I could have made it and I’ve devoted a year to it now, I’m just about to turn the corner and try to make a living from it. And when I am old and cannot walk I will still be able to work on software! I can go back to my old career then if I have to. I really appreciate your support and friendship Andy.

  2. says

    I think you have to grab the opportunities when they come your way and follow your dreams. I could think of a number of times in life when I wasn’t brave enough to grab a possibility and chose to stay with what felt safe. Safe is a very conservative way of living – it pays the bills. But it doesn’t provide that satisfaction we really crave. Sometimes we have to take a leap of faith. Daunting perhaps……..
    LensScaper recently posted..Switzerland’s Highest MountainMy Profile

  3. Joe Hudspeth says

    You have everything it takes Anne-drive, determination, courage and faith. Fear is the “Great Equalizer” and if that part of the equation is not conquered, the it will equalize. So, girl, Take heart, Take flight and may God guide your journey.

  4. Sharon W says

    Anne – I admire what you’ve done and thoroughly enjoy your images. Keep doing what you love, and I’m sure it will reward you handsomely!

  5. says

    I played it safe for years… and I was never happy. Now I’m doing what I love and it’s starting to work out. The dream is possible, I’m sure of it. Run with it.

  6. Darlene says

    I had a feeling you wouldn’t be going back to the 9 – 5 routine! The job offer likely was just what you needed to give you confidence that your skills are marketable and that you should use those skills to do what you love. I wish you all the best, no matter where the path may take you as your future unfolds.

  7. says

    Hey, Anne! This is such a timely post for me! I just read “The Alchemist” for the first time and I think you are the photography-version of this parable! I agree with Darlene that the offer came to test your determination and confidence. All things come together to make your dreams come true if you really believe in yourself. You are a talented photographer and I look forward to your future endeavors!

  8. says

    You are such a HUGE inspiration, Anne!! I can’t wait to see the size of the success you put together here, I have no doubt it’s gonna be amazing. After reading your post here, I have an inclination myself to reach for that next trapeze here….
    Toad Hollow Photography recently posted..Catching ButterfliesMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Toad, I just wish it would take shape faster so I would know if it is going to work out. But I guess this is an exciting time when I’m not sure what it is going to look like. Scary but exciting! Thanks for your comments.

  9. says

    anne, i am retired and want to sell everything and do what you are doing i retired 2 yrs ago and have been studying and taking classes at our community college and love photography . I so want to take off and see the world thru a new perspective.
    blessing and best of

    • says

      Hi Bob, I hope you do get a chance to sell everything and travel and do what you love. Do you have a plan or a timeframe for doing this? Is there anything holding you back? Feel free to email me if you have any questions about your travel plans. I’d be glad to help if I can.

    • says

      Hi Emme, it is a balancing act for sure but you are so right about making sure everything is in perspective and that we spend as much time with our parents as we can. I would hate to spend the small amount of time I have back home working on a job that doesn’t help me reach my ultimate goals when I could be spending time with my family and then working on my own projects as well. Thanks for your visit and comments Emme, it is much appreciated.

  10. Hoot says

    Good for you. And gutsy of you to say it out loud so to speak here while still in the process of filling in the blanks.
    Too long to copy and paste here but apropos I came across that Teddy Roosevelt quote y’day, your words remind me of his. (Google “It is not the critic who counts….. ” if you’ve not seen it.)

    • says

      Hi Hoot, what a great quote! I love the end part that reads “… if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat”. I’m sure it would be easier to write about this risk I am taking after I succeed (or not write about it at all if I fail) but I find that through the blog I have so much support and encouragement from people who want me to succeed and might just take a risk themselves after watching my journey that it makes writing about it very rewarding. Thank you so much for sharing the quote with me!

      • Susan says

        This quote from Teddy Roosevelt made me think of another quote I like very much:

        “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.” by Benjamin Mays.

        After all, it is the journey itself that matters most. And every journey begins by having a goal.

        • says

          That is so true Susan! Thank you very much for sharing this most applicable quote with me. It’s a hard balance between having the goal and remembering that reaching the goal isn’t everything, it’s about the journey.

  11. Hoot says

    Hi Anne, glad Mr. Roosevelt’s words were a fit.

    Purely an out of the blue intuition, but occurs to me that Richard Bach’s site might as well. He just finished a cross country trip in a one-person seaplane—but those handful of words hardly convey what he and his many writings are about. Anyway, fwiw…

  12. says

    Good for you Anne. I think you are right to continue to live the dream and you deserve admiration for announcing it to all.

    It takes a strong commitment to do what you have done so far but I imagine you have proved to yourself that it can be done.

    Your story so far has no doubt been inspirational to many and for that alone you deserve to feel justifiably proud.

    I wish you well in your next adventure and look forward to reading more of your progress.

    Thanks for sharing, best, Phil
    Phil recently posted..Low level photography – Nature PhotographyMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Phil, thank you so much for your kind comments. I really want to live an adventure in my lifetime and it has been so worth it to make the changes in my life necessary to do so. I hope I have inspired others to take a leap and live their dreams too.

  13. Janet says

    Strong woman you are. Hang in there! I had seen how good you were in ‘that old job’. Let me see how good you are in this new one. Oh, if you find that online business… share with us :)

  14. Roger says

    If you don’t follow this through to the bitter, but hopefully sweet, end you will have diminished everything you have done to this point. If you do not follow through this amazing year will amount to a yearlong Hippi vacation. You, your work and especially gift for teaching are so much more than that. Circumstances may force you to make concessions, but even if that happens you will be a different and better woman than when you started. If your journey was worth starting, then it is worth working to accomplish. Don’t give up unless there is no other possibility for your professional survival. Best of luck; you are to be admired.

    • says

      Roger, thank you so much for your encouraging words. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to get this kind of encouragement to continue my journey and new way of life. Some days it’s hard to keep plugging along feeling like I’m starting all over again – but then again it is challenging and rewarding to start something new and it also gives me a sense of accomplishment knowing that I can start over in a new field and make something out of nothing. Thanks again for your supportive message.

    • says

      Thank you Roger, you certainly have a point there. I’m glad I gave myself this opportunity to make my dream come true. I think that’s one thing people miss sometimes. The opportunity doesn’t come from somewhere else, you have to give it to yourself.

  15. ed says

    I have just stumbled on your site. This has been my dream for 30 years. My wife and I wanted to bicycle and photograph across canada right up to and including the arctic. Never happened. But now we have been focusing on an rv trip throughout North America. To do as you are doing. As I read of your adventure I can hardley sit at my desk. But my dream will happen in time Lord willing. You can bet I will follow you on the net and your adventures. Produce the ebooks people will buy them. Market yourself big time people need to follow your adventure. I learned at an early age 16 how fleeting and fragile life is. Money and things mean nothing Live and persue your dream.

    • says

      Hello Ed, thank you very much for your comments. It sounds like we are extremely like-minded in our desire to live our dreams now. You just never know how long this life will last and now that I have the life I want I am enjoying it so much more. I hope you and your wife do get a chance to RV through North America. It has been a wonderful journey for us. My husband just started a blog that also has travel stories, but is more about the RVing side of things if you are interest: http://www.loveyourrv.com I’m sure he would love to answer any RV questions you might have.

  16. says

    Anne: Satchel Paige used to say, “Don’t look back, they may be gaining on you”. I am trying to turn those things I love and value, photography (this should really be creativity) kids, education, and conservation into something. I am not as of yet a good photographer. As you know you have helped a lot so I can be. But I have won a few “awards” honorable mentions, good comments from pros, and since I live on the edge in almost all ways, I have everything to gain by giving this a go. It is always a question as to when do you give up, or go on. Nothing I have done for love and heart has ever failed. All things I have done cause you ought to, have failed, and often miserably. Changing, or having to change to a simple lifestyle I have found opens up possibilities that weren’t there as maintaining “the lifestyle” takes so much out of you. One of the biggest obstacles, and success doesn’t seem to change it a lot, is how difficult it is for people you know to support you.
    Love the simplicity of your books. For me they are a huge part of your success. They are simple, yet informative. And aren’t overloaded with things not needed.

    • says

      Hi Sam, I find the part of your comment “nothing I have done for love and heart has ever failed” very interesting. I think it is that passion we put into things that makes all the difference. When we do something because we feel we should or because it is what is expected of us, the passion is not there and that is what drives success. It is sometimes difficult to get the people in your life to support you when you make a big change, but I have found that success does change that or at least it has for me. Some people in my life couldn’t understand why I would give up a successful and lucrative career, but now that they see me succeeding in my new career they understand why I did it. So far I have discovered that the best plan is to never “give up”. Sometimes you might change direction, or change your plan, but if the question is whether to give up the answer is always no. I have wondered many times in my transition whether it was time to give up and often thought that I would. But I didn’t. I think it is about the mentality. If the question is whether to give up, don’t. If the question is whether to change, then maybe you should :)

  17. says

    Hello Anne, I’ve messaged you regarding how you’re managing to sustain this lifestyle thinking that you held some secret formula to making it work. After digging more in your blog and reading comments I’m realizing you struggle with the same fears doubts and challenges as we all do. I have very little in the form of ties and have whimsically attempted twice to drive and shoot and live (car camping).

    I understand now that you had sold your house to finance your first year, taking an even bigger risk. So I guess a lot of us are in the same boat. Here’s to hoping we can all learn to paddle and grow together. I’ll be watching.
    Cheers, Wayne

    • says

      Hi Wayne, It feels like a big risk at first, but I’m so much happier now that I am living my dream, travelling around seeing and experiencing new places all the time. I feel like I’m really living now. I just got to the point where it seemed more risky to not do it. Yes, I financed my first year through the sale of my house. Now we drive a lot less spending more time in one place and camping for free on BLM land. It’s amazing how little money you can live on when you don’t have to live in a city. Thanks for your visit and comments!

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