Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Working Free -- A Way of Life . . .

As a person who has been working free most of my life, I look for and continually find a subculture of people in our country . . . and the world for that matter, who have figured out that it is neither a law nor a requirement to earn their income through the traditional five day per week 9-5 job model. Now, I won’t say that all people who conform to the traditional work/job model are not interesting, but generally, I find that they are not as interesting as the working free set.

I have found over the years that the most interesting aspect of the people who work free is the diversity. There is really no way to stereotype them. They vary by age, gender, race, education, the work they do, the hours they spend doing it, the hours of the day and the days of the week they work, the incomes they generate, where they work, how they work and other variables. There really are no stereotypical working free people.

Let me give you a few examples. In the past two weeks, I have spent time with my son, a free worker. He chooses to work on contract for different employers. A contract may last for a month or three months, six months or longer. When a contract ends, he may take off on some R&R. He’s been to Hawaii twice this year, so far, and plans another trip there in the fall. Then he plans to take a trip around the world. He also is developing other business ideas of his own that he will be able to operate from virtually anywhere since they will be on the Internet. Now, I have to admit that he’s a chip off the old block. He grew up under my influence and learned about working free from the time he was old enough to walk and talk. He traveled with me, worked with me and learned by OJT, so to speak.

I met a woman recently who decided that she was tired of the old working model and is following her passion for interior design and decorating. But, she wants a lot of freedom, so she is not looking to set up a formal office or shop. She is creating her own workspace to reflect her freedom.

I dropped off my main audio studio computer today with my “computer guy.” I’ve known Don since we were both quite a bit younger. He was an electrical engineer back then working with a major aviation firm. But, his passion was recording and eventually he left the aviation firm and went into recording full time. Then he managed a company I was a partner in. Then he went into computers. For the past 15 or more years he has been in the computer business. For a while, he had a storefront operation with several employees. But, for the past eight to ten years he has worked from his home in lovely wooded rural communities without employees. He recently built a new home in an idyllic location. He designed and built in a beautiful office and work area with a separate entrance. His wife works with him, but she is now branching out to follow her passion, which, coincidentally is . . . interior design and decorating.

I have six brothers in law and a sister in law from my first marriage. We are all still great friends. Virtually all of them have created very different ways of generating incomes, yet they all work very untraditionally. Let’s see, one is an artist, another does high-value home improvements and creates one of a kind, western style picture frames out of cattle horns, dear antlers, various kinds of wood – and they are in demand at high prices. Another brother does furniture restoration. Still another runs a wholesale brokerage and supplies various kinds of materials and supplies to prisons and other state institutions. Another spends part of his time working in high tech medical simulation training and another part of his time traveling around the world taking breathtaking photographs. My sister in law is an aerobics choreographer. She has created and markets her own line of DVDs, is invited to train aerobic instructors internationally and designs aerobic routines for some of the celebrity aerobic instructors. Even my former wife does massage therapy and various other kinds of holistic therapy. And not one of them works a traditional 9-5 job.

While in New York State a week ago for my one brother in law’s wedding, the bride’s mother was a massage therapist and works from an area of her home that is separate from the rest of the house. She also provides other holistic therapy as part of her services. And the bride’s aunt and cousin (mother and daughter) operate a beautiful bed and breakfast on a hill overlooking Seneca Lake, one of the larger of the Finger Lakes.

As I keep posting, I’m going to continue to explore more and more diverse ways to work free. I’ll talk with various people and learn about their motivations, passions, joys and challenges. I’ll learn how much they earn. I’ll explore their philosophies of life, working and what kind of lifestyles and work styles they enjoy. All of this is with the intent of providing ideas, information and inspiration for readers of this blog both for people wanting to break away from traditional jobs and for those already working free. There will be postings from other people, including John Applegath, the author of the original book on Working Free that affirmed my belief in this lifestyle and was my inspiration for creating this blog. And, I invite you, the reader, to spread the word about my blog to as many other people as possible. I also invite you to contact me and tell me about your working free story. Til next time, I’m . . .

Ed Helvey
The Virginia Sound Man

1 comment:


Something I've noticed is that many people would like to be free to work at their passion but hold themselves back, I suspect because they are not encouraged and supported to do so. I'm one who has been doing her thing independently since 1977, and it hasn't always been easy. Spouses and family members become anxious when you don't have a steady JOB, neighbors and friends become envious and either make snide remarks or don't respect your time when you are focused on a project: "But you're home, why can't I just stop in to visit?" Prospective landlords won't rent to you because you aren't employed and therefore a risk. (I'm president of my own company and can't ever be fired!) Condo associations refuse to allow you to work from your own home even if you have no visitors; but own a web site.

I hope your work on this subject will change public opinion for the better.