Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Sometimes I think about how much of our daily lives revolves around consumption. We consume food so we don’t die, we work so we can buy food, we spend our excess money on stuff that we want and occasionally need and as we cross things off our To Buy list, we add new items to it. We have to work harder because the list keeps growing and consuming is a tough cycle to break. Here’s a day in my consumerist life.
As a child, I was quite taken with Willy Wonka’s meal gum. As I’ve grown, I’ve often daydreamed of its invention as it would make life much more productive. I’d love to replace time spent eating with time spent making, creating, and doing. As someone has yet to invent a chewing gum food alternative, I’m forced to settle for the second best: The NutriBullet. Every morning for the last few weeks, I throw a bunch of healthy stuff into the bullet and BOOM, fifteen seconds later it’s drink-able.
Mundane drinking > mundane eating.
On this morning, my smoothie included oats, almond milk, spinach, strawberries, zucchini, and blueberries. Scoff if you must (a few weeks ago I would have), but it’s actually pretty tasty and, more importantly, totally convenient!
My chilli plant has gotten big big big and is producing lots of chills, which is exciting. It’s miraculous to me what a little bit of water, some soil, and a seed can come together to create when sunlight’s involved.
Lately, David and I have been dreaming about shipping container houses with ample garden spaces, hoards of plant babies, and lots of natural light. But we’ve also been thinking a lot about central city flats with small balconies and public parks. Problem is, we want both. Both the city pad and a country oasis. We want modern, stream-lined homes with energy efficient appliances and we want homes full of found objects from centuries past that are sustainably repurposed for our modern desires. We want to save the environment, but we want to get on planes and travel the world, see the sites, and take something back to prove we were there. We want both, we want it all, and all this wanting is quite frankly ridiculous.
I often wonder, is all this wanting just a fixture of our entitled and over-stimulated generation or is it a by-product of being an ambitious person? I’d like to think it’s the latter, but more often than not I find myself thinking it’s the former. The wants of our generation are not sustainable. Or can we really have it all?
I don’t think many people will be happy with the answer.
When I catch myself double-tapping my way through Instagram or clicking through the pages of my favourite blogs and getting lost in the fantasies of the lives of others, I often close my eyes and remind myself to work hard and stay humble. To chase my dreams, but keep simplicity and sustainability at the forefront. Our lives are great and we have much to be thankful for. Our worries are small and our opportunities are huge.
On the topic of huge opportunities, Liam and I are marching forward with Gradient and are constantly striving to push ourselves to grow and learn. This last Tuesday, we were especially focused on our business consumption– specifically relating to our finances and business plan. When it comes to both money and hardcore business planning, I’m the first to admit that I’m not especially great at all the nitty-gritty details, so it’s important that I find great resources to help me navigate those uncertain waters.
For business planning, I can’t recommend the book Business Model Generation enough. David initially bought it for me whilst we were living in Boston. At the time, the two of us were hatching a plan to start a social network-esque community engagement product and though our plan fizzled out, the communicative illustrations and real-talkin’ messages conveyed in the book stuck with me. Whilst Liam and I decide how to push forward with our own model, I’ve been referring to this book time and time again. And as our model changes and our business grows, I’ll likely keep thumbing through it.
As much as I love and believe in planning, I also believe that a very important part of any business plan is to be adaptable. We never know when a client will fall through or a new acquaintance will ask us to deliver a big job. It’s important to be open to new opportunities and advancements, but to be able to think them through to fit the overall plan. That’s why I like planning with sticky-notes. Things feel in flux with sticky notes, but like building blocks, too. If something changes an a particular block doesn’t fit where it used to, there’s room to restructure and build in a slightly different way.
Now, I realise that this post is beginning to sound very heavy-handed, but I promise we’re not like that. See, we like to keep things light-hearted and fun! We enjoy laughing, we like connecting with our clients and believe that no matter the price of the things we want in life, the most valuable things that we have are our relationships, our smiles, and our memories. Working together, Liam and I remind each other that the reason we’ve pioneered out on our own ins’t to Scrooge McDuck dive our way into piles of dollar bills, but because we care about what we do, we enjoy it, and we want to help others who care about what they do better communicate about their brand of awesome, too. We believe that when people care about the things they make and the people they work with– like, really care– the world is better for it. If caring were a currency, we’d be rich.
But caring isn’t a currency and people like me who would like to trade on good-will, beautiful trinkets and thoughtful favours need to get wise and name a price. Then we need to deliver on our promises, send out invoices, and– more often than not– chase ‘em up. And for me, that’s the most difficult part of having a business. (Though I have to say, whenever I start to get queazy about money matters, I refer to Kathleen Shannon’s post about thinking of money as energy. So so good, though I’m admittedly not always great at it.)
After our planning session wrapped for the day, we meandered our way through town. After all that capital-b-and-p Business Planninge, ducking into Chapel Place Gallery to scope out some art was a very welcome diversion. This piece, Touch and Go by Henrietta Dubrey, caught my eye. I like the tension between the two figures. They remind me of interlocked fingers or barges narrowly passing each other in a harbour.
We stopped in The Pantiles, which was charmingly decorated with bunting, and enjoyed a coffee as we prepared for a meeting that was sure to be especially taxing to a brain like mine. Enter excellent resource #2: BSR Bespoke, Accountants Extraordinaire.
After learning so much about setting up our business, tax exemptions, and how I can’t keep buying my clients coffee/lunch and thinking we’ll just claim it back, Liam and I walked out to a beautiful rainbow. Was this a sign of pots of gold on the horizon? I don’t know, but I was feeling pretty blessed either way.
With our heads full of numbers, we were happily lured into Wetherspoons for a last minute beer with our friends Sam and Scott. Sometimes I think that maybe I consume too much on the alcohol funtimez-front, but then I walk into Wetherspoons where half the occupants are basically human beer casks and feel a little better about my personal intake. Like, it could seriously be so much worse.
You might remember Sam from his TWV posts here, here, and here. Scott, however, has not done a TWV but you may have seen his face here once or twice due to his involvement in the Tunbridge Wells Writers. Scott, in addition to being a brilliant comedian, is also the man who develops most of my film. One day, I want to take some really horrific photos on a roll of film and drop it off like “Oh, hey! Here’s another roll of film full of boring pseudo-artistic tourist photos and stuff. Kbye!” and scare the crap out of him.
Buuuuut now I’ve just given that secret away so I probably won’t do it but would’t it be so funny if I did?!
The evening continued with a Disney sing-along and a deep discussion about which Disney characters and moments shaped us. We were sitting in the dark for most of the evening, which was both strange but also helpful as it gave the nature of our conversation more drama. Birthdays should always be about drama, don’t you think? It makes them more memorable that way.
Liam and Nick’s three cats were not invited to the party as they are basically furry, land-walking piranhas and eat e’rything they find, regardless of whether or not it’s edible. They could smell our prawn crackers and hear our laughter so they sat directly outside the door, trying to peer through it and find a way to break in.
Keeping cats is kind of funny when you think about it. Don’t get me wrong, thinking about the amount of love I have for Le Chat sometimes makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode, but on a less personal not it’s funny that we buy these animals, feed them, clean up after them (which can be really yucky, can I get an amen?) and get what in return? Indifference. Bad behaviour. Dirty paw prints across freshly cleaned floors/tables/beds/keyboards. But then they jump on our laps and purr and give us lovely little nuzzles and somehow that is worth it to us.
Consumption, people. It’s everywhere.