It’s been some time since I’ve visited, and this post will explain why.
In 2016, my 92 year old mother moved from Maryland to Seattle, WA to live with me. I thought it would be a joyous time that I could spend with my mother, with years to look forward to. Sadly, that would not be the case. One month after moving in, she fell and was hospitalized for some time. I very quickly became her caregiver and found her 100% dependent on me for cooking, getting to appointments, etc. Luckily, she could still care for herself. Five short months later, she passed away and my life had another major shift. Having seen how dependent she was on me, made me realize I did not have the same safety net in my life. I’m single and have no children. Who would take care of me when I needed help? That was the beginning of a long thought process of looking ahead and reassessing my life.
I was led to a decision that Seattle was not going to fit my life in future years. It had already outgrown its charm, become a very self-involved city where people put their job and status above relationships. A very ‘me’ place. It wasn’t the city I’d love for so many years. It had also become a very young city where there were fewer and fewer resources for ‘mature’ people. And, it is getting far too expensive for someone who would eventually be on a fixed income. I could not see myself at 92 living there. So, where? That became the all-consuming thought on my mind over the next year. I didn’t want to be anyplace where there is a true Winter. Snow is pretty from a distance, but I don’t want to deal with it. Many people I knew had homes, or moved to, the Southwest – not an area I enjoy or could see myself living in. Back to New England? Well, no. There is snow. So where?
While visiting a friend in Florida, a state in which I’d lived before, I realized the answer was there! What few people realize about Florida is that there are a few vibrant cities that are not retirement villages, that have families, and young people and folks of all age groups. Orlando is one of those cities. My friend lived there, and I have family within an easy drive. And looking ahead to retirement? Well, clearly this is a state that is friendly to retired people. So, in February, 2018, I made the decision to uproot myself once again. Again, crossing the country and returning to the East Coast of my roots. Maybe Southern East Coast, but East nonetheless.
Unlike my move from Maryland to Washington 5 years earlier, I did have doubts. I was leaving behind some very significant relationships. I was leaving an area of the country that I love. Was I making a mistake? The thought did occur to me on occasion. Happily, so far, the reality has been that it was the perfect choice. In August, 2018, I made the cross country trip to a newly purchased home (that I paid cash for!) that is exactly what I wanted. I’m just minutes from my friend and have made several new friends already. People here are more relaxed, more interested in building (and keeping) relationships. I don’t feel stressed here. I don’t feel like I have to compete to keep up. In other words, it’s just what I had hoped it would be, and in some ways, even more!
Is this the perfect place forever? I hope so, but am realistic enough to know that this can change too. I’ve got many years ahead of me and who knows what life will bring my way. But I do know this. For now, I am exactly where I should be. My job search strategy and retirement life coaching fit perfectly with this city. Maybe down the road, I’ll reach another fork, but for now I am here, relishing in a new opportunity to be happy and build a new life. Some people think I’m part gypsy, but I go back to my Pilgrim roots of people who risked everything to seek a new life. It’s in my blood, and I’ve become quite adept at starting over. I find it exciting!
I’ll try and keep up and share more of this experience with you. Today, I want to leave you with one thing. If where you’re at right now, whether that be physically, job-wise, happiness-wise, isn’t where you want to be, YOU have the power to change! You CAN do it. Maybe it’s not the gigantic life shifts I’ve made, but you can do it!