It's Been One Year......

It’s been exactly one year since I made the decision to be a fulltime luthier!

After 15 years working for the City of Kettle Falls with massive burnout I made a major life change that has provided me with more happiness, better health and a better understanding about financial stability. The past 12 months have been wonderful because I finally have the freedom to enjoy my life on my terms and work on becoming the person I truly want to be.

Happiness. Without it, we would be miserable, right? Webster’s definition of happiness is: “Good fortune, a state of well-being and contentment.” What makes me happy is spending time with my family, spending time with my best friend Melinda, and working in my shop.

This past year I became a grandfather! Quincy Strandberg was born on September 9th, 2017. Besides spending time with my new grandson and my three kids (all adults in their own right), I enjoy spending time with my best friend Melinda who I plan to marry this fall. I wish I had met her 20 years ago. We are always there for each other and together we are building something very strong. Finally, my choice to leave the rat race and be a fulltime luthier has allowed me the freedom to be creative and productive using my hands and knowledge to build stringed instruments, whenever I want! This is something I have a real passion for- craftsmanship. It’s a skill that only gets better with experience and time.

Health. Without it, we would be miserable, right? Webster’s definition of health is:  “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit.” While working at my previous job for the city, I began to suffer from anxiety, insomnia and eczema. I wasn’t coping well with the stress. All those negative outside factors are now gone. Vanished. Oh they still exist, but they are outside of my small little universe and I plan to keep it that way. Now I have the freedom and time to invest in more important things like real friendships, cooking healthier and finding clarity about things that really matter in the bigger picture.

I am always trying to learn new things and understand different viewpoints. I try to stay positive and associate with like-minded positive people. I’m trying to grow as a person and make my small universe a better place.  

Financial Stability. Without it, we would be miserable, right? The definition of financial stability is: “Living without debt and creating a financially secure environment.” One important factor in making the decision to become a fulltime luthier is that I had zero debt. It took many years to eliminate my consumer debt and pay off my house. This was challenging because in the past I’ve made some bad choices and purchased things I didn’t really need or things I thought I needed. There were times I even had to buy groceries and gas with a credit card, but I worked hard to pay off those cards and cut them up.

I bought my first house 18 years ago. It’s a small house built in 1935 that is reminiscent of a cottage. I purchased the house with a 15-year mortgage and spent the following years doing improvements and upgrades to make the house comfortable to suit my needs. Since I walked away from the day job, my only expenses now are utilities, insurance, groceries and gas. I don’t subscribe to cable TV and I sure as heck don’t miss it. The credit cards are gone. I admit I had a couple financially scary months at first; it was my new reality that I needed to adjust to, but I was creative in finding solutions and I did it without panic. Well… some minor panic. However, that panic created positive motivation. I couldn’t lay around and waste time, I had to get into the shop and make some sawdust. Making sawdust meant making money. The first step toward immediate cash flow was generating business by doing repairs and setups for customers and for the House of Music in Colville.  I no longer had that steady paycheck to rely on and I do not intend to go back to another day job.

Around the same time I left my job at the city, Melinda turned me onto a Netflix show called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. I watched it several times and decided I need to make a plan. I gutted my shop down to bare shelves; if it didn’t pertain to luthiery it was gifted, taken to the dump, or it went into a storage shed to be dealt with later. I also took this same approach to my home. I made seven trips to the dump that week and removed as much clutter and unnecessary items from my life as possible. I mean really, how many pots and pans and screwdrivers does one person need? Decluttering also meant eliminating people and organizations that were no longer important to my overall plan. I called these my time wasters. I must say, the purge was liberating! All these ‘things’ were actually feeling like a heavy anchor around my neck. Everything now serves a purpose and function and is part of my plan for a happy, healthy and financially stable life

Now that I’m living my dream of being a fulltime luthier I am enjoying a happier, healthier and financially stable lifestyle. I have the freedom to make my own choices and decisions. I am in control of my own time and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it!

Someone once told me, “There are two kinds of people. Those with lots of money and those with lots of time. You can’t have both.” As long as I’m able to maintain my lifestyle I prefer to be the person with lots of time. And, as Melinda once told me, “We’re on this planet for only so long”. Think about that for a minute.

I prefer to make the best use of my time.