Although it may not seem so at first glance, this tale is about freedom in retirement, and why I prefer retirement even in my diminished circumstances. Retirement gives the freedom to go with the flow, take it as it comes, and not worry about needing to be in a specific place or do a specific thing (at least for the most part, for me).
I recently spent ten days in Denver. It was lovely. A couple days it was sixty degrees, other days it was typical Denver weather in January. I visited with family, especially enjoying the fact that I got to see my year old niece for the first time (my 49 year old brother just had his first child). We visited, had some very large family dinners, and stayed up late. I also did some searching of apartment homes and condos and explored various neighborhoods to compare my downsizing options with those here in Dallas. This trip was a perfect example of the freedom ofroad tripping as well as the freedom of not having a job to report to.
Although I knew my brother would be in town, I had not decided when I would travel until the day before. At that time I simply threw clothes and cooler together, grabbed my laptop and the few things I needed to work on the road, asked a friend to bring in the mail and I was gone. the only major planning of this trip was dog boarding (my normal dog person was out of town). No reservations, no vacation time to request, no airport reservations to make
Saturday as we were watching TV, the nice weatherman spoke of upcoming snow and freezing temps on Monday and Tuesday. I smiled at my sister, kissed everyone goodbye and headed out on Monday morning. Again, no reservations, no pre-planning, just pack up and head out on the open road.
Unfortunately, life was not quite so simple! I had not checked Texas weather before we left. Upon arriving in the Texas panhandle to spend the night, I was informed that overnight white outs and four foot drifts were expected. Not to be delayed, and figuring that Texas weather couldn't really be that bad, I headed homeward. I should have stayed in Colorado. What is normally a five hour drive took nine and a half. There is a sheet of ice a half an inch thick everywhere, and we have rolling brownouts. Everything is closed! I think I need to look at downsizing on an island somewhere!
What has this to do with freedom in retirement? More than you might think. Although I came back yesterday, I could just have easily decided to remain in Colorado or elsewhere, with little or not effort, and would only have to contact my family to assure them I still lived. Now that I'm home, I can cuddle with the dog, sew, snack while watching the TV and never leave the house. No checking in with the boss, taking leave, or other bureaucracy to deal with. I do have some income streams that I am working on, but at this point they are all "home based" meaning they can go where I go.
So as I sit here, wondering if I should move south or to the islands, I reflect on the beauty of answering only to a few family members and online clients, gather the blanket around me, and appreciate the freedom of time that I enjoy.
Note: Although this missive is about retirement and freedom, I would be remiss if I did not at least mention my other freedom, that is freedom of worry or having to leave my home during a weather crisis. My relaxation also comes from the knowledge that I can eat well without leaving my home for a week and that I have all the supplies I need for cooking, sewing and entertainment. My ice storm has not required me to run to the store to stock up, grab movies or books, or go to the hardware and grab the last bag of salt or sand. Living Richly in Retirement also includes planning for all the eventualities that happen in our lives. If you are experiencing storms now, how are you dealing with them. How did you prepare?