Friday, 31 January 2014

Tipping Point

I have been around and around these questions: 'What will retirement look like? Where will we live? and what will I do with all of those hours that will no longer be filled up with students and teachers and excel spreadsheets?'  I have also wondered, 'When will I know?'

I spoke with a lovely and wise retiree this past December on a quick foray into a warmer climate and she shared one of those "tipping-point" tidbits that stick in your brain.  I have often quizzed any retiree that has crossed my path lately, and I put my usual question out to her, 'How do you know when it is time?'  She smiled and shared that, for her, it was reaching that point in her career when there were no more mountains to climb.   She felt she had arrived and a new life was beckoning to her with a new role and new experiences. I carried this little bit of observation home with me, back to the winter blizzards, icy sidewalks and my life work.

I measured the distance I had traveled in my career and what was over the current mountain top - all I could see for miles was crystal clear air, blue, brilliant skies and a crisp new page of my life.  In the past, I had already usually filled in a few lines before I took a glance in that direction.  Then, I was well on my way defining the next challenge I would take on, how this program here might be elevated from great to fantastic or that process over there might be made more efficient or effective. I always had a plan brewing before I peaked into the next year.  Not  this year.  I felt like I was standing just below the tip of a ski jump, not yet able to see what lay ahead, not even mapping it out from past experience, but finally, just ready to jump!

The biggest decision was to go for it; the rest of it is the details.  I think the details always preempted the decision before.  A new perspective broadened my horizon - thank goodness for wise women!  So, I am retiring within the year.

The first detail to manage was our living accommodations.   These details have been littering my path for at least three years as I ran the scenarios through my mind, back and forth, here? there? where?  That was then followed by hours of number crunching, thousands of words of discussing and months of thinking.  So, the numbers are crunched and the silence is deafening as the words fall into their slots in the plan for the next five years.

What lies ahead?  Many of you have already arrived and thank you, as you were my best source of data as I mined for guidance.  We have been blessed with a gift I wish I could claim as forethought - one of those, all knowing decisions you make when everyone slaps you on the back for being so brilliant.   Alas, this was more an accident than a plan but when we purchased our small home three years ago, we actually had latched on to a source of income that will hopefully pad the retirement rocking chair somewhat and catapult us off into the rest of the world we so want to explore.  

A year ago, we finished the bottom two levels of our house because it seemed to be a good investment and it would give us the extra room to entertain our large family and the many grandchildren.  Well, the family has spread out across our beautiful country and the grandchildren who are close are not quite as inclined to hang out at Grandma's when it is only a few blocks to go home so, we have finally realized that with a few more dollars, we can change our lovely family room, guest rooms, bathroom and backyard into a rental property that will finance our dreams over the coming years and maybe even provide living space for a live-in caretaker that could keep us out of the nursing home - but that will be in a later plan!

So, now, we are sourcing plumbers and general contractors, cabinet makers and finish carpenters and getting closer to our dream.  With the vacancy rate near 0% in Calgary, I think, it is now or never.  We can at least pay for the small renovations required  and, if it pans out, we will hopefully be able to finance some sunny forays into new countries, cultures and experiences.  Next career - Landlord!  Stay tuned!

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