Neil and I had hoped to retire at age 62. I knew his death would have financial ramifications, but in the last few months I started to wonder just what they would be.
In an attempt to help, my financial advisor gave me a checklist for assessing my future plans. I have to admit, this was hard. Not just because of the detailed financial budget questions, but because I had to look to the future.
Until then I had started to adjust to my present and cherish my past, but I had not yet been able to embrace my future. Neil and I dreamed of exploring the world in a little camper. We were going to drink coffee all morning, then sit around the campfire counting stars and drinking beer or wine all evening. We were going to surprise our relatives with unexpected visits. We were going to stay with friends at the beach, and while Neil napped or read in a hammock I would explore the shoreline collecting shells.
And when we came home from our travels, we imagined plenty of time to talk about the books we read, watch old movies, enjoy the Hallmark channel, walk the Chessie trail, and sit on our patio rockers and daydream. Now all that is gone. Oh I know, I can still do all those things, but they sound lonely and empty without Neil to share them.
“Well you have to figure out what you want to do in retirement to know how much money you need,” my financial advisor pointed out. “Do you want to stay in the house? Do you want to travel? Will you want to take the girls on trips with you? How will you spend your days?
Determined to figure out a plan, I began to reflect on those questions.. Do I want to work longer so I can take my daughters to Italy or Alaska? Do I have the resources to retire at 62 and keep my house? Do I even want to keep my house or do I want to move to Florida?
Then I started scrutinizing my finances and decided I was spending too much. Cable TV had to go; organic vegetables were a luxury I could no longer afford. Gym membership was Ok but the cell phone bill was too high. The deductibles on the car insurance were too low. To say I was becoming fixated on finances and the future was an understatement; I was totally absorbed.
And then one day a friend and I discovered we had both gone to Al-Anon over the years. We quickly recalled stories and slogans that touched us.
One day at a time, which means stop projecting what could happen.
Deal with what you can, then Let go and let God.
The beloved Serenity prayer: Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the
things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the
wisdom to know the difference.
Just for today, I will…. stop worrying? Not be afraid? Be happy
with what I have?
I remembered my chronic propensity to worry so much about the future that I miss the present. I was doing it again!
And so I decided yet another time to find that balance that continually eludes me. Sure I want to retire in the future but not at the risk of ruining my present. The cable wasn’t something I care about, but those fresh vegetables were. It wasn’t worth lowering my cell phone bill by a few dollars if I couldn’t reach the girls wherever they were. And Italy or Alaska or Florida, who knows? I remembered a joke whose punch line was something like, “If you want to hear God laugh, make plans.”
I know my readers well enough to recognize you understand exactly what I am talking about. So fill in the blank for yourself: Just for today……..
And feel free to share your answers here among friends!