Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Retirement...What Comes Next? Giving Thanks for What Is

"A year ago"...just the words are evocative of so much for every human on the planet, but they feel particularly poignant today, at home in this huge nation of the ever-dissatisfied and ready to believe in fairy tales called the United States of America. No, I will not take on the big picture for longer than a phrase or two, but if you are on the outside, looking in, please have a thought for the sane left here. We are hopeful, we are grateful, but we are mourning as well, for the loss of life and livelihood that need not have been as great, for the families grieving today. And still we deny. I choose to affirm, to believe in new life.

(This is where I was hiking a year ago, back when travel was a safe thing to do, remember?)


Enter the new homebound entrepreneurs; housewife and househusband starting all over at 50.

We have taken a leap of faith, but not an unusual one, the way I see it. MY quarantine conclusion is one I have already written about in a previous post: using the time at home to unvent* the online French school Commence le Dream.

While I was in the midst of creating the concept, I mentioned to my beloved husband that I would need his particular gift of a French voice in order to record the lessons that would be dialogs. He grumbled, as husbands do: "I am not an actor, I am not into radio, I do not like cameras..." And one day, in his inbox appeared an early retirement offer from his employer, and he started to consider his options.

Retire? Start over? Start a business that I love? Mais oui!

There has been some heart-skipping excitement around here for the past few months.  It is a combination of anticipation, relief, wonder, gladness, and Now What?! And that is just me.
Thierry, who is leaving a career and a place of many friendships, strong connections and a decent living, has additional layers of feelings. 

We felt much the same when we bought our first house when we were 25, in an urban environment where even the realtors acted as though we were trying to do something not quite kosher, making a large purchase so young. We were committing to the unknown, to a huge project; like now. It was so frightening it felt intoxicating.

The next big move was just five or six years later; moving from France to Iowa. Again; thrills, chills and what-ifs competed for space in our minds and souls. And, we did it anyway. We are primed for one more.

In the mean time, I have been raising five children: navigating the ever-changing landscape of these beautiful souls as they develop, soar, crash, and pick themselves back up, over and over. I have had to learn and relearn to make time for meditation, exercise and reading. I have figured out how to keep families on two sides of the Atlantic part of our lives; on a budget. Every day, we must reinvent new ways to thrive as a couple and as a family unit: through homeschool, public school, triumphs, regrets, sickness and health. Building a business? Piece of g√Ęteau.

We still have kids to raise, college tuitions to help navigate, food to be put on the table, and big dreams to live out. We plan, however, to do it on our own terms, in freedom and in gratitude for all that has been and all there is today. 

This is Thanksgiving week here. Have a marvelous holiday, whatever it might look like this year. Giving thanks for family, loved ones everywhere and dear readers that you are. 


*Word coined by Elizabeth Zimmerman, who recognized that there is nothing new under the sun, but sometimes one stumbles upon a method that seems like it is entirely novel, so "unvent".