Principles of Frugality and Ethics

What Do You Do?

  • June 11, 2014
  • 4 min read

I’m often asked ‘so what do you do?’ Hmm. That depends on who’s asking. I have to guess whether you really want to know what takes up my time, or whether you’re asking how I make a living. These two things are quite different at the moment.
Most people are satisfied when I tell them I make soap and natural body products to sell at markets. This takes up a day or two of my week and contributes to my income. But it’s not really the whole story.
Sometimes I say I’m writing a book. And a blog. With a children’s book in the pipeline. And some poems I’d like to publish… and magazine articles. These projects take up a few more days of the week. So far it doesn’t bring in any money, but this should change over the next year.
If I meet you in art circles, I might tell you I’ve completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts at Curtin University, and have used that to teach art to homeschool primary school students. I plan to illustrate my own books. I’m also planning a group art exhibition with and about women.
If I meet you at the local community gardens or other sustainability events, I’ll probably tell you about my sustainable living book. And that I run workshops on soap making and natural health care. You might know me from the bus stop swap project I run on my street, where I maintain a small community space for anyone to swap fresh produce, plants, recipes, and other items (there’s currently a lifejacket waiting for an new owner!). I might tell you I’m trying to get a local LETS group running in my town. And that I have taught the Living Smart course here, an 8 week course on sustainability.
Most of the sustainability projects above overlap with permaculture stuff. I did my Permaculture Design Course in 2013, and I use that to inform my gardening, soap business, alternative money systems and community projects. I might tell you I try to grow my own food, medicine and flowers. The garden is always calling me.
If you have kids, I’ll tell you I’m a mother. Every weekday at 3pm I drop whatever I’m doing (writing, soapmaking, gardening, drawing…) to meet my five year old at the bus stop. I leave earlier if I need a walk to get there. Parenting takes up a lot of my time.
Of course, I spend a fair bit of time cooking. Especially as I explore fermented foods, home pickled olives, yogurt, making my own mayonnaise and pasta, homemade sourdough bread and low-sugar baking. I don’t usually tell people about this though. It doesn’t really seem like a job, even though it consumes a big chunk of time.
At the moment, I’m managing the bookings for my mum’s upcoming Non Violent Communication (NVC) workshop. She’s one of a handful of certified NVC trainers in Australia. I’ve been to lots of her workshops, and sometimes I assist with the presentation or administration.
I’m also an investor. Some of my income comes from shares, selected to support my sustainability values. This doesn’t take up much time. It just keeps my other projects ticking along.
If you’re wondering where the rest of my income comes from, I’ll tell you I receive a government parenting payment. I’m setting up lots of other projects and income streams, so I won’t have to rely on that for much longer.
If you’re a local still trying to pin down how you know me, I might add that I dance at markets and festivals, just for fun. Lots of people around here know me as ‘that dancer from the markets’.
So… what do I do? A bit of everything, really.

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  • Rachel, writing articles for some of the BIG sustainability and survivalist sites would be a great income option. It would bring traffic back to your blog and many of the sites pay a reasonable amount for guest blog posts or articles/recipes.
    I love the idea of multiple income streams and it is something we are working towards as well. Great post!

    • Thanks Sav, that’s a great idea. So many possibilities!

  • Love this!

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