Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action. If you’d like to submit your story of how simplicity has worked in your life, please read more here. You can write about anything from decluttering a junk drawer to simplifying your diet. Let your small and big changes inspire others.
Tammy and CJ
We are not counselors or psychologists. We hold degrees in music and education and we are totally nuts about each other. Classroom teaching proved too bureaucratic and constraining for us, so we opened our own studio in 2005 where we teach guitar and language arts. Working for ourselves has not been easy by any standard, but the rewards are many and just keep coming. Since our escape from 9-5, 8-6, or 7-7, we have astonished ourselves with our capabilities.
We married in 1997. Our reception was an unforgettable bacchanal. We took our honeymoon to run inviolate around Arizona and then promptly settled into mediocrity. Crappy jobs, poor diet, no exercise and too many movie nights all contributed to our long fall from the South Rim and the wild fun that we, together, enjoyed so much.
From 1998 to 2006 both of us or one of us worked full-time in the public schools, plunging even further into the abyss. We found ourselves, in 2005 near the end of our careers as school teachers, overweight insomniacs, sick, tired and very angry. We were still getting all our props and had a lot of cred, replete with glowing teacher assessments and a bitchin’ resume. But we were like, We can pay the bills – so what. Most grave was Tam’s Levaquin poisoning of January 2006. Sown in Tam’s constant pain and CJ’s dismay at his inability to control the situation, the seeds of change began to grow.
Opening our studio was the tipping point for us. CJ, a classically trained guitarist, now has three hours to practice and revive his composing skills. Tammy is able to teach children to read, write, and master something other than a standardized test. Our office space is simple with few decorations. Instead of running around tending to all the oughts, musts, and shoulds presented us, we focus on guitar and instruction. At the age of 37, CJ fine-tuned his technique by studying with three classical musicians. Tammy earned her M.Ed. We are able to work from home in the morning and commute together, to and from “the office” where we put in four hours or less each day.
We continue to work on clearing our home and lives of clutter in all its forms.
Every day begins at 5:30 with a five-mile walk and at least an hour at a local coffee shop where we have mastered two-word books totaling 2,200 words for the fun of it, simplified and automated our finances, and started writing a book. The development and evolution of our daily habits has precluded the need to wish days away. The fear of waking only to find ourselves in yet another boredom-filled, mediocre day, terrified us sufficiently to shake up our routines and commit to fun. The Great Jollyhoombah is what we used to call the manic state leading up to a week off, but no more. Now every day is The Great Jollyhoombah. Why not?
Read more from Tammy and CJ at The Great Jollyhoombah.