Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New Life So Far

 I’ve got a few weeks of retirement/vacation/unemployment under my belt now… and I’m still not sure what to call it! But I have already made a few discoveries about myself. Firstly, that I am lazy! I had very good intentions to blog every day and go to the gym every day and be very creative and productive and healthy, but I’m not doing a very good job of that just yet.

 In my first few days off, I bounced around the apartment doing a lot of little chores like washing windows, organizing my sock drawer, and repairing a lamp. But having knocked those off the list, I felt a bit at sea. I did go to the gym most days, but that only took up a couple of hours, leaving me a lot of time to spend A) wondering if I’ve done the right thing in quitting my job, and B) staring at my phone. I have an amazing capacity to just loll around and check Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter all day!

Then I got sick, and even my gym routine went out the window. It took a few doctor visits and blood tests to figure out what was wrong with me, and luckily, just some antibiotics to fix it, but not before my brain went off into some anxious (and literally feverish) spins about how much COBRA payments were costing me and what would be happening with Obamacare, and pre-existing conditions, and deductibles and premiums and co-payments, oh my.

 The healthcare costs are my main spending these days— immediately upon starting my semi-retirement (I’m just going to call it that for now), I found myself with a hankering for peanut butter sandwiches. That plus some salad greens, cheese and crackers, and a baggie full of nuts and raisins, has been my primary diet on these lazy days, and I get really annoyed with myself if I forget to bring my own water bottle from home and have to buy one. Sweetie and I have occasionally gone out for lunch at pizza places, middle-Eastern restaurants, and Chipotle, but on the whole, I’ve been really good about cutting my spending on food. I also haven’t spent much on any other miscellaneous items or clothes, other than finding my favorite jeans on sale and snapping up a couple pairs since I’ll be wearing them a lot more!

 Our basic costs of living— housing, insurance, etc— are a big drain right now, but so far, my net worth has pretty much stayed steady, even increasing a little— stock market fluctuations will have a much bigger effect at this point than any day to day spending, at least in the short term. But it is painful to see all this negative cash flow.

 Right now, I’m just giving myself some time to settle into this new life and figure out a new rhythm— it’s more of a challenge than I thought it would be. Although I did not think of myself as wrapped up in my old career as a big part of my identity, I am uncertain about what my identity is now. What I mean is that I didn’t base my self-worth on making a lot of money and being at a certain professional level— I was proud of it, but my career was less about prestige than it was about an inner feeling of competence. I liked knowing what I was good at my job (most of it, anyway) and I felt satisfaction in getting things done. Now that source of satisfaction is missing and I need to replace it with something. I need to feel like I’m good at something, and productive. It’s scary to not have a clear idea what that will be, and to contemplate doing something new where I am clueless and might be frustrated at first because I don’t know what I’m doing and make mistakes. The part of my life that gave me confidence and security has been replaced by doubt and uncertainty.

 But this is temporary. I know things will settle down— we’ve got a house to buy, an apartment to sell, and a new life to build, none of which will happen overnight, so I need to be patient with myself. And we have money in the bank to get us through the next steps. I still feel incredibly lucky to have these choices and decisions to make.


T'Pol said...

Hi Madame X,

Your experiences are very important to me because, I may be in your shoes within a couple of years and may be even earlier. I have had breaks during my 29 years of work life but I have always found myself very very lazy. Before I am fully retired, I must develop new and healthy habits. My relationship to my smart phone is also not much different than yours. So, I am hoping to read more posts from you to lead the way. I wish you a very healthy, productive and nice semi-retirement.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Madame X, I've heard that it takes about six months to recover and re-engage once you stop working. Give yourself some time to be lazy in the interim.

I'm still tracking to retiring in about 7 1/2 years (I'll be 56), but since I have what appears to be a long-term partner, I'm not going to be deciding unilaterally. The other big change in the last few years is that I have had some health problems that are rare and have unpredictable future outcomes. I've had a couple of surgeries that led to my current diagnosis, and there could be more ahead. At the very least, I need scans a couple of times per year and ongoing monitoring from a specialist to catch any recurrence early, so I will certainly keep working to maintain my (really good) health insurance as long as there is uncertainty about the future of health insurance in the US. My backup plan is that I'm a dual citizen in a country that has universal health care, and I'd have zero hesitation about moving there.

Kimberly said...

Congrats on semi-retirement! As far as filling your time, feeling the satisfaction of getting things done, etc... If I were in your shoes, I'd spend some time soul-searching and seeing which non-profits could benefit from your expertise! Promise yourself you won't get wrapped up in drama, or tale things TOO seriously, and I'm sure tou and ant organization you become involved with would benefit greatly!! My entire goal of retiring early is so that I can dedicate time to the dog rescue I love and a new LGBT Health Center which is in the baby stages at this point! <3

bigun1_6605 said...

About four months into your retirement, you will find yourself one night reading a book and will then look up at the ceiling and say "I can't believe I am so relaxed". Went to my doctor and he said your blood pressure is down, I replied I am retired, he said, "We see this a lot".