Happy New Year! And here’s to 2019. I hope you achieve all your dreams and goals. But before moving ahead, I think it’s important to stop and reflect on where you’ve come so far. I fail to do this often myself. When I keep skipping ahead, I don’t give myself kudos for all I’ve accomplished. So, here’s what I accomplished last year and what I’ve learned from it.
2018 was another year of change for me. 2017 began with me caring for my 92 year old mother in my home and losing her in early April. It was devastating, but such a blessing to have been able to love and care for her in what we didn’t know would be her final months. My mother was my biggest teacher in life, and even in death, taught me so much. How to die with dignity, how to plan ahead and make your passing as easy as possible for those left behind, how to find joy every day despite what life throws at you. From the time of her passing, one thing loomed large in my mind: how to plan ahead for the life that I have. As the mother of 4 children, my mother had support. Each of us was able to provide support on some level, particularly my sister, her husband and I. We made sure she had activities and never felt alone. Having Mom with me made me look at my own life. I am single and have no children, and am closer to retirement than I realize some days. When I look ahead to my 80s and 90s, I wonder how I’ll get by and who I’ll call upon when I need help. It’s not a comfortable thought. Compound this with the fact that I lived in Seattle, one of the most expensive cities in the country, increasingly young and becoming less and less friendly to ‘older adults’. When I looked ahead at my life here, all I saw was working and working to make ends meet. While I saved for retirement and have a nice nest egg, would it ever be enough to sustain me in this particular city? The answer, sadly, was no.
And, Seattle continues to grow out of control. The city has lost its soul and is no longer the charming close knit city I grew to love in the 1980s. I always say, Seattle has my heart, but broke it. In February, I was visiting a close friend in Florida; sitting outside barefoot enjoying my morning coffee. And that’s when it hit me! If I moved to Florida, with its lower cost of living and elder-friendly environment, I might be able to find my way to an affordable retirement! The wheels started spinning immediately. And, as I’m prone to do, an plan was quickly formed and put into action. I put my condo on the market in late April, closed on it in late May and packed up my life in preparation for the move. I stayed with a friend in Seattle in the short term while I shopped for a house in Florida. In June, I found just what I was looking for! An adorable 1950s bungalow with all the charm and character I sought in a lovely neighborhood close to all the resources of downtown Orlando.
During this time, I had knee surgery and had to wait to recover before I could make the physical move, but by mid-August, I was in Florida and moving into my house. A house without a mortgage that will allow me to retire when the time comes. In truth, I could do that now, but I enjoy my work and don’t feel quite ready to completely step away.
In addition to knowing retirement is a reality for me now, there is another huge benefit from this move – I no longer have stress in my life! When in Seattle, I felt constant pressure to keep pushing, growing my business, staying ahead of the curve, keeping up with the pace of business there. In Florida, people take time to enjoy life. Lives aren’t defined by work. People have and take the time to build relationships. It’s been such an amazing development that I would never have imagined when 2018 began.
So, here I am, looking back at last year and appreciating the fact that I recognized a need for change and did what had to be done to make it successfully. I now have a life I can enjoy. Sure, I miss the things I love about Seattle, but having come back twice now, I see the stress and the crazy pace of growth and know it’s just not the right place for me now. It broke my heart, and probably won’t get a second chance. And the fun part? I know this isn’t the last change for me. I have every expectation that in another 5 years, I’ll be ready for another change. Maybe a condo on the Intracoastal waterway. Who knows. But it will develop and I’ll make it happen. Of this, I am sure.
So 2018, thank you for another adventure. Another boldly bicoastal adventure at that! I’m back on the East Coast, with all the differences that entails. And 2019? I can’t wait to see what this new year brings! But I know I’ll stay open and flexible to anything it brings.