Living the Dream

I’ve spent the last months in a state of flux. I don’t feel like I’ve really had a solid direction, it’s more like I’ve been in a holding pattern of sorts. We’ve been living off my severance package and haven’t had to worry too much about getting the bills paid, but that money won’t last forever.

We started the ball rolling on getting my retirement money from the brokerage that held the 401k funds from all the years I worked for the company. It wasn’t nearly as much as it could have been had the Great Recession of 2008 not decimated what I’d managed to save up until then. I spent the years since then stuffing my retirement as full as the law would allow. All that scrimping and saving paid off in the end.

The last thing you want to worry about when you retire is whether you will be living in a cold, empty shack eating cold cat food from the can when you’re 90 years old—providing you survive that long. That’s been my driving motivation when packing my retirement savings over the last eleven years or so.

I contacted a financial adviser that came highly recommended by a couple of savvy friends, and we started looking at all of our finances to see where we stood. It turns out that I did well. When I asked when I would have to go back to work, I was told “never, unless you want to.” That’s the answer I wanted to hear. It means you’ll keep hearing from me in this blog space without interruption.

Just knowing that I planned well for our future means that I probably won’t have to worry about affording groceries unless we get hit with hyperinflation. It means that I get to spend some time pursuing my dream of being a full-time fiction writer. I also know that unless I get lucky and my stellar (hahaha) writing draws the attention of a famous editor, I will spend the rest of my life sharing my hobby and passions with you, my audience.
The past several months have been a time of change. First Reader and I are getting used to being together almost all the time. I’m sure that I do things to get on her nerves, but that’s the nature of living with another human being. I’m glad we like each other. This could be a tense living situation if we didn’t.

With relative financial security ensured, at least for the moment, First Reader has been talking to some of our friends and planning our first summer as retirees. It starts the end of May with a drive east to attend another high school graduation and wagon train back home. This youngling is moving west to be with us.

We are home long enough to catch our breath and pack for a women’s motorcycle camping trip to the Four Corners region. We’ll spend a weekend riding around the area, meeting new women riders, and enjoying the great outdoors. I hope the weather cooperates, it’s been known to rain a bit in early June. Ah, well, it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve ridden in the rain.
While we haven’t planned anything in July with friends, we have a vacation cabin that needs attention. Oh, and a ton of birthdays in June, July, and August.

The 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is in August, and we already have our little cabin on US Hwy 16. We plan to stay the entire week and enjoy the insanity one more time. I’ve been to the rally almost every year for the last 25 years (First Reader even more), and it’s still a rush. I love seeing all the bikes, feeling the camaraderie, playing in someone else’s back yard. We ride the Black Hills once a year, and I love it. So many places exist to ride in that area that we can go for years without riding a road. Which reminds me, we’re due to revisit the Badlands soon.

The end of August brings another attempt at a world record motorcycle ride for women. Last year, our group was a handful of somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 women. This year we hope to see more women riders as we attempt to break the world record.

October brings a trip to Pennsylvania to attend a gallery opening for my cousin, the artist. We’ll get a chance to see family members I haven’t seen in decades. Re-introduce First Reader to those she met some twenty years ago. And allow her to meet family members she only knows through Facebook.

As usual, our calendar is filling up. These events don’t include those things that regularly happen throughout the year like birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, dinner dates, and the like. Between us, we have four kids, fourteen grandkids, and eight great-grandkids. Needless to say, we have a lot of birthdays to keep track of. While we have at least one birthday every month, February/March and June/July/August have the most family events.

For now, though, we still bowl every Thursday evening (where our drinking team has a bowling problem). I attend a yoga class on Tuesdays. I play D&D with my family when we can, which is not often enough. This month we’re plowing snow every day, so that keeps us going outdoors, too.

(C) 2020, JJ Shaun
Another snow day.

It’s good to know that we stand on solid financial ground, at least for the foreseeable future. So, for now, at least, I’ll work on improving my craft and sharing those results with you.

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