Carolyn’s View of This Crazy Adventure


I never anticipated the journey that is now unfolding in my life. I didn’t even have a passport until I was 51-years-old, there was just no need. I never traveled much. Yet the wish and desire to see the world has always been there, tucked away, protected from disappointment.

Suddenly, the opportunity is here, and here we are, grabbing at it with both hands. However, one does not undertake such an adventure without a little bit of fear and drama. What’s that, we are selling everything we own? Our home, the furniture, our knick-knacks, all the stufcrazy-womanf of a lifetime so far? We are leaving our parents, our kids, the grandkids? Are we nuts? Are we perhaps slightly insane?

Truth be told, I have wondered at times if we are. This is no small task, not physically, not mentally, and most certainly not emotionally! We are in uncharted waters, and we haven’t even gotten on a plane yet.

I worked as an Interior Designer, and greatly enjoyed that part of my life. I have loved working with so many different kinds of people. It is a very rewarding experience to turn a home into everything a client dreams it could be. People who become interior designers are often by nature a bit OCD. We are planners, organizers, and nesters, both for ourselves, and our clients. We love to create “home” (at least those in residential design do). We search for the essence of what makes a home warm, aesthetically pleasing, comforting, and welcoming.

Now you’ve gone and taken this type of person (me), and thrust me into the great unknown. I have had to let go of my “nest;” all of the familiar things that make my house a home. The familiar, the safe, the cozy, the known, it is all gone. Now there is a vast unknown spread out before me like a black hole. Let me be clear here, I have agreed to this black hole experience, but it has not all been easy.

First came the night I could barely breathe when the reality of what we are doing came crashing down upon me. My poor husband was worried that I had developed cold feet. But it wasn’t cold feet… more like stone cold fear. The reality of leaving home and family had just become very real.

Then there was my neurotic need to keep the house spotless while it was on market. I got so wound up over every little speck of dust and any fingerprint on the stainless steel appliances! It got so bad I think Kev thought I might explode.

One night I got home (after the house had just been shown) to find a mess in the family room, our bed unmade, and more messes in the kitchen. There was even peanut butter smeared on the refrigerator handles! When I saw the mess I found myself getting very upset. That is until I looked at my husband, and realized he was just messing with me.

My initial reaction to the mess was to become very upset. I thought my house had been shown that way! Once I discovered that my husband was responsible, and had set it up after the house had been shown, I immediately laughed at myself.

His strategy worked. He had defused the bomb that is Carolyn! We had a good laugh together, and I was able to relax (okay, just a little bit).

img_3141The experience of having an estate sale also proved to be challenging. We spent weeks going through every nook and cranny in the house. We pulled out all the things we did not want sold. It was exhausting work, and the house became a wreck! Then came the day that the husband and wife team we hired to do the sale arrived to take photos. I was at work while the photo shoot was being done. When I came home, I found an overly large vase and flowers on my nook table. I freaked out!

The vase was not at all to my taste. I thought it was a disaster. The estate sale people had placed it there for the photo shoot. My overreaction to the vase made me realize I had a long way to go before I actually detached from the house, and the items inside. I knew I needed to “not care,” and that started me in the right direction. By the time the sale was almost ready I could not wait for it to start! I was finally ready to let it all go, and get on with this adventure.

My boys are supportive of our decision to move abroad. They are anxious for us to get settled so that they can come visit. In spite of that, the thought of being so far away makes my heart yearn for them all the more.1074097_585527624830977_1961596177_o

My elderly mother fears she will not see me again, and tells me often that I may be coming home sooner than I think for her funeral. Not really something I want to hear, or have to think about, but it is always a possibility. I’ve always had a fear that when I say goodbye to my parents, it could be the last time. I faced that reality last May while we were in Europe. I spoke to both of my parents on Mother’s Day. It was to be the last time I heard my father’s voice; he passed away the following day. He was golfing with my brothers when he passed; it was quick and he did not suffer. I will always be glad he was with family. I realized then that even if I had been home working, I would still not have been able to talk to him again. This helped me realize that there is too much in life outside of our control. If we wait for everything to be just right, the opportunity for adventure will pass us by.

In addition to the letting go of our home, and leaving our family, comes the reality of navigating a foreign country. We only know two people there so far: an immigration attorney and the gal helping us find a home. Really we don’t “know” these people; we are just acquainted with them. We have to learn the language, find a home, figure out how things work over there, make some friends, and try not to let homesickness completely overtake us. I am 100% all in. I’m very excited and grateful for such an awesome opportunity. I am also scared, worried, and am already missing my family and friends. I sure hope that our experience will turn out to be wonderful and that we will not show up back here in two years with our tails between our legs.

Months ago I heard a song on the radio. It was before we had even put our home on the market. At that point, we were only in the talking and planning stages. It was exciting and scary. One verse of the song said, “…and if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” I guess I needed to hear those words right then, because I am here to tell you this big wonderful dream is scary. I know we will be fine, I know we will be blessed. I have a wonderful, strong, and loving man by my side. I am sure there will be mistakes made along the way, and trials and homesickness. But there will also be beauty, history and discovery that will fill our hearts. So we are willing to pay the price so that we can look back later in life and say, “WOW, look what we did!” We will spend the remainder of our lives cherishing the memories we are about to make.

In the meantime, the days are ticking by quickly until we “launch” ourselves into our new life. Wish us luck!

What’s it like to be retired?

Both Carolyn and I have been asked multiple times, “What is it like to be retired?”

It’s a hard question to answer. For the most part, retirement is simply the lack of a designated place to show up to every weekday. Otherwise, somehow the days get filled with a variety of things. Carolyn has been especially busy… we went through our electronic calendars and realized that she had something slated for almost every day leading up to our Jan. 16th flight to Portugal. Do you want to meet up with her? I think she has 3:30 to 4:30 open on January 8th.

In addition, we’re living under the good graces of my sister Lynne. Which, despite the scalp-scarifying tongue action of her cat and a dog that has more energy than Donald Trump’s hairdresser, it is a very nice place to live. We couldn’t be happier with our temporary living conditions.

But that’s just the thing: they’re temporary. It’s someone else’s home. So the rhythms of retired life haven’t hit us yet.

Even after we land in Portugal, that will remain unchanged for a while. The first thing we’re going to have to do is find a place to buy. And then another (because we’re buying an extra place to rent out through Airbnb and VRBO, both for a little income as well as for a great place for friends and family (in other words, YOU) to come visit).

Now, buying a home can be daunting. Buying one in a new city you’ve only been to for four days can be even more daunting. Buying one in a new city you’ve only been to for four days in an entirely different country, well, that’s just plain stupid!

But we’re doing it anyway. I’ve always been a jump-in-feet-first kinda guy. It generally has worked for me over the years. I’m so pleased and feel so grateful to be with a woman who is willing to hold my hand and jump in with me. We’re both confident it will all work out. But we’re equally confident that if it doesn’t, we’ll just go to plan C. Portugal is already Plan B, but we’re happy with its ascension to Plan A. We’re excited to be going.

What we may be left with for rain attire after our estate sale.

So yeah, we have no idea what it’s like to be retired yet. We can tell you what it’s like to pretty much not own anything anymore. It’s actually very nice. It’s just stuff. We’re after the memories and the adventures. Americans can keep going crazy with buying stuff and making that the most important goal in their lives. But we’re leaving that behind for the adventure.

Of course, this next weekend we’re driving to Bend, Oregon to see Caleb, Carolyn’s son, and it’s supposed to get down to 2 degrees on Saturday night. Fahrenheit. And we sold most of our cold weather gear- who needs that in Europe? Especially when you don’t plan on visiting Scandinavia in the winter. I guess that’s how you start accumulating stuff. I wonder if I can track down the guy who bought my ski coat at the estate sale…

Anyway, since what we’re doing is a bit uncommon, we may never be able to answer what retirement is really like. All we really can say right now is: so far, so good!