Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Bag Lady ponders

I've been thinking about recent trips I've taken and what they've meant to me.
  • One in August to Rockland, Maine, for our fifth six-day sail on the Schooner Heritage. 
  • Two weeks later, to rural New York and a retreat for women who love a veteran. 
  • Two weeks after that, to nearby Vashon Island, Washington for a first-time weekend with five other bloggers. 
  • And next Monday, a six-day vacation in Akumal, Mexico, to snorkel and sun and explore ruins and celebrate the wedding of Art's daughter Laura.
When I think about the trips, I think about my life these days. I started this blog in January 2010 because I was six months away from quitting my job of 20 years. I was excited and terrified. I worried about the money - in spite of a reassuring spreadsheet - and wondered if I'd find enough to do. Nearly three years later, life looks quite different.

The Schooner Heritage is a favorite trip for us, even though it's not easy to get to Maine from Seattle - and nearly impossible on a budget. The sail is a source of deep relaxation for us, but for my husband Art it's a chance to help sail, and put on a costume to be a pirate one morning at breakfast (very embarrassing!!!), and eat comfort food and wonderful lobster. I think if we could only take one trip a year Art would choose this one. He's a very good sport about taking all my other travel suggestions, but this one's for him.

The New York retreat came up just a couple of months before, held by the wife of the psychotherapist who took Art and me to Viet Nam back in 2005, as a way to help Art heal from PTSD. That was a life-changing journey. We even wrote a book about it. A retreat just for the women, though - "they also serve who also stand and wait." The trip reminded me how grateful I am for the financial resources to take this trip, and of the opportunities that can happen for me if I'm willing to say "yes".

The Vashon retreat - with five bloggers I met through the written word before we saw each other face to fact - full of laughter and easy conversation. This virtual community has become a real place for me, where friends are found. We found that our written words reflected the people we really are. We six bloggers already knew each other by the time we arrived at our lodging.

And the trip to Mexico. We are so proud of daughter Laura's accomplishments and are delighted with Brian, the man she's chosen to share her life with. Five of Art's six children will be there next week, plus Laura's mom and stepdad and half brother, and Brian's family.  I'm grateful for this blended family I'm a part of - including the experience of planning a gathering with Laura's mom Nancy for when Laura and Brian come to visit in December! It reminds me that we really are all in this together. 

For me, travel isn't just about going places. It's about learning and growing, meeting people from other places, using my ordinary eyes and ears to experience the other-ordinary. When I worked, travel was about relaxation. Now it's about living. For some reason I hadn't thought about that until recently - in spite of the 22 trips we've taken since my last day of work in June of 2010.

When I'm home I'm learning and growing as well. Two weeks ago we hosted a Swiss family - a mother and three of her children - for four days at our home. We all talked and laughed and learned. I'm almost ready to be certified as a mediator - I brought my own talents to a new field and love how I can be useful in the community. We were interviewed last week by a journalist from a local paper. While we talked about our book, we found mutual interests. I've even agreed to speak briefly at a local event honoring veterans, and to donate a copy of the book to a silent auction. Again, it's about being willing to say "yes".

In January 2010, the Bag Lady saw only the money. She didn't see the life. And I look at the spreadsheet now. It's still pretty encouraging. Probably wouldn't be if we'd bought a new car, or an RV,  or seen the world from a first-class place instead of a sensible one. Fortunately, I'm fine with sensible.


Terra said...

Your retirement journey is going along beautifully. My husband and I love retirement too.

#1Nana said...

...and there's still so much to say yes too! I hope M,exico is another great adventure. que le vaya bien!

Teresa Evangeline said...

What a wonderful life you are continuing to create for yourselves. Have a great time in Mexico!

Olga said...

I love this beautifully reflective post, but especially these words:

When I worked, travel was about relaxation. Now it's about living. For some reason I hadn't thought about that until recently - in spite of the 22 trips we've taken since my last day of work in June of 2010.

Many more happy trails to you.

Perpetua said...

That's what I call a retirement worth having, Linda. I love the way your perspective has changed.

DJan said...

I think it's the jumping off into a new frame of life that is scary. You certainly have a wonderful life, Linda. I'm glad to be a part of it! You are what I call a "doer" and not a "wish-I'd-done-that" kind of person! Have fun and don't forget your camera. :-)

marciamayo said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm still in the newly-retired frantic mode. I think of your often with your "Bag Lady" title.

Linda Reeder said...

Like DJan said, you are a doer. You get an idea, make a plan and act!
And I agree that travel is about learning. I've learned so much on the trips we've take here at home and abroad. We're slowing down a bit in our traveling, but we still have a few more big ones in us.

Rosaria Williams said...

It's all about living! Marvelous attitude!

Ms Sparrow said...

You have accomplishing an amazing amount of living in the short time since you retired!

Bonnie said...

I am so inspired by your reflections. I worry about the money too when your post reminds me its about so much more. I can retire any time but I've committed to another year of work for the money. There is so much more to living!!

The Odd Essay said...

I've been retired 15 years and can only add to your thoughtful piece that each year into retirement brings more opportunities, more experiences, and life just gets broader and more wonderful. If only more people were open to "adventure"..... to the ability to say "yes".

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Your sensible life sounds fantastic! It's so wise to prepare financially and then focus on growth and experience. You're doing great!

Sally Wessely said...

I love that you ponder because I learn from you. I carry so much of what you say with me. You are simply amazing. I love that you are living life to the fullest. I was especially struck by your last few line. I know you are moving on into life and putting those money fear behind.

Sandi said...

I love the reflective voice here, and can relate to your thoughts on travel.

"For me, travel isn't just about going places. It's about learning and growing, meeting people from other places, using my ordinary eyes and ears to experience the other-ordinary."

That's what I want my traveling to be, not just a list of places I've been, but a journey of seeing new things, meeting new people, and learning along the way.

Well put!

Enjoy your adventurous living!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I must say you are living a great life after the work stopped. Enjoy the Mexican wedding. We also had one. It was fun!

Dee said...

Dear Linda, I found your posting today so inspiring and it helped me realize that I, too, might add a little traveling to my schedule. I say that the reason I don't go places is because of the three cats with whom I live. But I know that two friends here are willing to take care of the cats. So the reason must be that I truly think I can't afford to travel. And yet I've never explored the options. Thank you for engendering these thoughts.

Oh, and I read Deb and Sandi and Sally's postings on the visit with the bloggers. How wonderful for all of you. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Interesting piece. In 2010, when I retired, I thought nothing about the money. I had a nice little pension from 21 years of teaching. I had a small annuity as did my husband. I was only thinking about living an exciting life.

It did not turn out that way. Hoping to find a part time job to supplement that small pension, I found that all my resumes were ignored. All the nonprofits for whom I wanted to work were hiring youngsters right out of college. Totally the opposite from the era when I graduated from college and it was the older, experienced people who were getting hired. My, how times change.

Life back here in Fresno is fine. Just not what I had expected. Glad to know you have had just the opposite experience.