Saturday, November 12, 2011

Just don't call it a Master Plan

I'd been considering this blog for a few years, but never had the time to really think it through.  I wanted to discuss the 4 great mysteries of retirement: What, When, Where and How. How-to books abound (16,165 in a recent Amazon search) but I hoped that flesh-and-blood people with real-time experiences would join in the virtual conversation. Retirement is much like raising kids: there's plenty of advice from so-called professionals to well-meaning friends and relatives, but each path is unique. There is no pat answer or easy fix, just a very long list of choices.



All of a sudden, I have time. Last Monday I was laid off from my job at Imapp, Inc., a small Tampa company. And now it's smaller.  Or, as my husband says, "Honey, you were fired." Fired, axed, laid off, you name it, it's all the same thing.  Often without much warning, you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands. And choices to make.

Since it's my blog, I'm going to start with a few background entries, just cause my life is so damned interesting. Also, there's no present without the past. Anyway, stick around for the back story.

*****

In 1983 when my father was 58, he accepted a golden handshake from Exxon. He'd worked there for well over 30 years, and was known as a creative problem solver, the go-to guy for new projects. When he retired at this young age, you would have thought he'd won the jackpot. And it was good - my mother had been battling breast cancer and they didn't know how that would turn out. They spent the next 20 years traveling around the world, crossing destinations and adventures off their ever-evolving list.

Dad often said, and repeated shortly before his death a few years ago, "Do what I did. Get out while you're still young enough to enjoy life because it's goes by much too quickly."

And so it was that I planned to stop working before I turned 60.  This was my master plan, and I was determined to make it happen.

But life has a way of fucking up master plans. In 2008, Bill, my husband, friend and co-conspirator, was forced into early retirement. In the course of one crummy day in Bill's life, my salary and access to group medical insurance became critical. We regrouped and I became the reluctant winner of bread.

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