We’ve been living the life of retirement – or as we like to call it living carefree – for 1 year and 25 days or so the daily ticker on the blog tells me. But I don’t yet know what that means – retirement. I have no idea.

Neither of us will ever willingly succumb to sitting back in a recliner snoozing all day, it’s not us by a mile. Ask those who know us well and they will testify. What I’m finding interesting though is that we’re just as busy as ever and while I’m not complaining, I wonder if the day will come when we will actually slow down a bit.  Just a bit.

We slowed down long enough for me to capture this moment in fall. I'm kinda lovin it.

We slowed down long enough for me to capture this moment. I’m kinda lovin it.

We’re defining our personal vision for retirement and hopefully, offering a bit of inspiration to others as well. When we left Oregon and drove across the country in Big Betty, I jokingly started writing a 10-step program for sliding into retirement.  I think it’s really important to have something on the sidelines waiting for you because retirement does not translate to stop living.  At least not in our book.

My 10-step program for sliding in to retirement:

  1. Jibber Jabber until you get it out of your system
  2. Enjoy the comfortable silence
  3. Look for moments of beauty
  4. Treat yourself to something yummy for breakfast
  5. Do something really big right away
  6. Define your personal vision of retirement
  7. Connect with a friend you haven’t seen for way too long
  8. Take a long drive together
  9. Let go of emotional baggage
  10. Embrace the unknown possibilities

I’ve been unpacking boxes. I’m unpacking boxes of things I haven’t seen in nearly 5 years.  The first time we retired – yes, you can retire more than once – we retired from our careers in California to begin the next chapter in Oregon. Our living space in our B&B was so small 80% of what we hold near and dear just stayed in storage.  I know, why keep it?  For 2 people who have done 3 major downsizes in the last 5 years, there are treasures I simply cannot part with.  We were brutal when we downsized and left California and somewhat again when we left Oregon. Thinking back, we packed 38 years of togetherness in a 16′ truck. That’s not a lot.

Lovin this fence as well.

Lovin this fence as well.

But here we are once again living in a house and unpacking boxes, the contents of which have me reminiscing all over the map.  And the words in my head – or the lack thereof – are all over the map as well.  There have been too many weeks of late when I thought my words had left me for good.  Is that retirement; a lack of words and the ability to string together a few cohesive thoughts with the touch of a keypad?  Maybe it’s just me.

Here’s a thought. Google Maps. Two words that have pretty much changed the way we all map our journies. Before we bought our house we of course went to Google Maps to check out the surrounding landscapes. And GPS.  Three great letters.  My GPS phone voice talks to me and guides me through this new life.  I swear one day she will respond with, “I told you to turn left dammit!”

I love it when the camera captures the rays of the sun.

I love it when the camera captures the rays of the sun.

Google Maps. It’s been a little over 5 months since the day we walked into Santiago, Spain.  May 16, and yet when I came across this 10-minute video highlighting the terrain and the wonders along the Camino, I was instantly back on our walk. Processing our Camino walk is an on-going work in progress. For the rest of our lives, there will be moments in ordinary days when we will find ourselves mentally walking the Camino.  I think know it’s by far the best gift we ever gave ourselves.

And I think that’s what retirement may be about.  Not to just sit back and wile away the days, but to live those days, whatever they bring.  Giving ourselves gifts of life. Whether you’re 40 or 50 or well into your 60’s and 70’s, live your best life. If you want to walk the Camino, do it.  There are no age boundaries for walking the Camino, just like there are no age boundaries in retirement.  And there are no set rules for retirement either.  You don’t have to have a lifetime of savings or have it all planned out right down to the last dotted “i”.   As the saying goes, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  Sometimes in life, taking a leap of faith is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

We are embracing the unknown possibilities as we find our way in this so-called life of retirement, and as I slowly find my words again. I figure it’s okay to slow down, speed up, or stay somewhat balanced in the middle, it’s all good.

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