One year later, I like to think that I have positioned myself pretty well in retirement. While I did not make the huge step of moving to a yard-less condo, I did position myself in such a way that I have minimal maintenance, lower payments, and the ability to be mobile when and where I want-an important part of my life.
After all, while my travel is limited to a month to three per year, I am still a person who wants to go when I go, homebody or not. My moving to 1300 square feet, renting from someone I know well (eliminating the pesky maintenance but allowing me to paint in turquoise and yellow) and overall lowering my expenses have allowed me to be more mobile AND allowed me financial flexibility.
There is, however, one area where my "free as a bird lifestyle" is, well, not so free. You see, I have two canines. These four legged family members have to be fed on a regular basis, let out, and played with. While I may not have to get a sitter or plan dinner for the kids, I still have to go home and feed the dog! I know that people all over the world manage to go to work with dogs crated for ten hours per day, after about six hours my pups rebel.
In other words, the "go for breakfast then go shopping, meet for lunch, go to knitting and then hit happy hour" lifestyle is not for me. I try to be out of the house either the morning OR the afternoon. They need to be fed around five. Since I cannot even on my best day keep up with the dog or walk as long as he can, I need to have a dog walker. When I travel, it's board or bring. It goes on.
Having said all that, I would not live without either of them. My previous dogs, which some readers may remember, lived to be 18 and 19 respectively. They slept with my husband and I (and then myself) all that time. They went to Germany with us, with all that entailed. I was worried more about the dogs than myself-and I went to Germany hating to fly and deathly ill, ready to have surgery as soon as I arrived.
When I lost my second dog, I thought I would wait some time before inviting dogs into my life again. I was wrong. My six month or a year hiatus turned into welcoming a new family member a couple months later-and I have no regrets. Will I have dogs when these puppies leave me? Probably not. Might these dogs go to live with my son someday when he moves out? Possibly, as they have grown greatly attached.
Meanwhile though, my canines are part and parcel of my retirement. When I have to leave happy hour to come and feed them. When I pay the friendly dog walker. When we're driving cross country and one of them wakes up from the back seats and licks my neck. And when I'm trying to sleep late on Saturday and a wet tongue wakes me up-like it or not.
What would I do without them, after all!