Released in March of 2020, the anything-but-typical self-help book “Make A Living Living,” written by the New Zealand-dwelling, globetrotting Nina Karnikowski, will reinstill some vigor into your life. Karnikowski, @travelswithnina, is a sustainable travel writer and environmentalist who has made her living doing what she loves: traveling the world, photographing her journeys and writing about her experiences. Karnikowski is forward-moving and conscientious of this planet and its people. She embraces and celebrates culture, nature and the simple things in life. Above all, she’s no hypocrite. She embodies her book’s title to a T— she makes her living by living.
So often people get lost in the linear trajectory that they think life has in store for them: Twelve years of public school turn into four years (or more) of college. Those four years of college turn into 40 years in a dreaded job, where people constantly anticipate the weekend and retirement. This endless cycle of waiting for something better, waiting for college, waiting for your dream job, waiting for retirement, is certainly not the way to live.
As clichéd as the quote is, “Life is meant to be lived to the fullest” has a lot of value in it. Every day should be cherished like the gift that it is. Karnikowski’s book rejects the pre-packaged linear trajectory offered to us, instead advocating for living the zealous life people have always craved. The first step in achieving a fulfilling life, according to Karnikowski, requires practicing your true passions. These passions, in turn, can be transformed into a way to pay the bills. These two simple steps boil down to one poignant philosophy: making a living, living.
Karnikowski’s “Make a Living Living” highlights 26 individuals:
An Australian vegan chocolatier (@locolovechocolate). A tiny-house builder who prioritizes a simple life (@treeheads_co). Both stationary and globetrotting photographers (@anneschwalbe @jsutcallmesimba and @mattia_passarini @foundintranslations). Moroccan riad home renovators and owners (@riadjardinsecret). A California mountain weaver (@rhiannonmgriego). A party host of elegant five-course dinners for women (@feisty_feast). A knitter that has taken social media by storm (@theknitter). A florist who works out of his garage (@bloomandburn). A traveling woodcarver that is constantly inspired by his everchanging surroundings (@alephgeddis).
A surf retreat founder who unites women from all over the globe (@saltihearts). An erudite tea company founder (@livingtea). A horticulturist who overcame adversity and blossomed (@ambertamm). Quirky, unique artists who are moved by their surroundings (@sarkomeene and @jatindersinghdurhailary). Winemakers who are a part of the entire process from grape to “vino” (@domaine.dandelion). An ever-growing-in-their-art potter (@panpottery). An ethical fashion designer that works for a cause and employs native women for the creation of her designs (@zazi.vintage). Ibiza bed and breakfast homeowners (@casaamoreibiza). Soap and sauce makers who prioritize their family over growing their business (@churchfarmgeneralstore).
These 26 individuals’ stories are emotional and passionate; they embody every essence of making a living, living. Beyond their inspiring stories, these creative beings are galvanizing. They bestow their life advice, in tow with an abundance of mobilizing quotes to inspire every reader and human they encounter in their life who wishes to follow in their footsteps. With this inspiration, these newly mobilized readers can break their linear trajectory by following their true passions and synthesizing them into monetized realities.
What about money? These 26 creators didn’t follow their passions with the ultimate goal of striking it rich. Instead, they pursued their passions with gusto and because of their love for their craft, money followed. By adoring what they do every day, these creative individuals have found the perfect balance between a happy life that they can be proud of and a life that brings in just enough money to get by.
This book is by no means for those that want to strike it fiscally rich. Instead, it’s a book laden with lessons for those who want to be rich in passion, rich in life experiences, rich in time with loved ones and rich in daily stimulation that in turn, engages every creative muscle in the body. “Make a Living Living” is for individuals who prioritize not the finer things in life, but the more fulfilling things: love, nature, family and passion.
In her book, Karnikowski doesn’t just include the stories and life advice of these 26 creators; she also includes exercises that can help each and every reader find and consequently follow their passions. These exercises include mapping projects, elevator pitches, recap sessions, mood boards and a choose-your-own-journey section that matches a location with your travel goals (whether it be a road trip, art/culture, spirit, nature or color).
The exercises help your mind connect theory with praxis, ideas with reality. As a young college student, I found these exercises quite helpful — I’m at a formative age, where the power to choose my future is entirely in my hands. With concrete exercises and 26 examples of exemplary, successful and happy people who followed their passions and made a career out of them, I feel emboldened and encouraged. I feel prepared to find my passions and follow through, making them a practical reality and ultimately, a living.
Often, being a college student feels overwhelming and quite linear, as general and major requirements are crossed off and GPAs are maintained all for the ultimate goal of getting into a fantastic grad school or a well-paying job. However, this book became a refuge for me, because it reminded me that the future is still mine for the taking. The future is uncertain for all of us — whether you’re 20 or 82, you have the ever-present power to follow through with your passions and turn them into a sufficient source of income.
“Make a Living Living” is a must-read. A must-read for teens who have no idea what direction they want their life to take. A must-read for college students who are feeling burnt out and lost. A must-read for middle-aged adults who are sick of their desk jobs. A must-read for the grandma who wants to make money from her past-time passions. A must-read for anybody and everybody who wants to restore, redirect or re-impassion their lives. These 26 individuals aren’t exceptionally extraordinary or incredibly lucky; rather, they are dedicated, persistent and determined. We all have that fire inside of us — it’s just up to us to ignite it so that we too, can make a living, living.