Oh hello, Thursday.
If it’s Thursday it must be life: examined day. Thursday is a solid marker in the week owing to my commitment to write and publish this newsletter.
Most of my hours, days, and weeks move in a flexible and unstructured way. I have but few things that tie me to a calendar or a clock, for better or worse.
In addition to writing and publishing this newsletter, my regular activities include grant deadlines (I'm a grant writer for a nonprofit organization), multiple daily walks with Milo, lunch/coffee dates, a weekly call with Tammy, and Caffeine Hour on Tuesday with friends of our small and newly-formed Setúbal Social Club.
These touchpoints keep me from completely flailing around like an unlashed sail in heavy winds because if left to my own devices, I often drift unmoored.
When I moved to Portugal, I knew I wanted to downshift my work life.
I started working when I was 12, babysitting and doing odd jobs to buy a pony and to pay for his feed and other things he needed.
Although I started working at a young age, I didn't start working continuously until I turned sixteen. During my brief high school years, I worked at a gas station, at a fast food joint, as a telemarketer, at Sea World (what a crappy job that was!), and other fabulous low-paying grunt jobs that teenagers are qualified to do.
Now, as I think about the lack of overwhelming obligations or the necessity to do things in a time-bound way (but those grant deadlines—oy!), I've realize I might be semi-retired. It kind of snuck up on my, but I think that’s what it is.
With this state comes a new perspective to my sense of self, and I'm unsure of what to make of it, yet.
I Don't Know What to Think
In the wake of the pandemic, my income took a dramatic nosedive. I thought I was just in a holding pattern and that clients/projects would return once the pandemic cleared out in a few months. Ha—a few months—that was wishful thinking.
The pandemic-fueled work loss and my already-desire to stop working so damn much coincided, and I realized it was unlikely that I would jump back on the ladder to climb up to my former workload and income. I'm done with that part of my life; now, I'm left to figure out who I am without work devouring a majority of my time.
I don't want to hustle. I've got no hustle left in me. But now what?
Build, Tear Down, Rebuild
I'm not closing my business any time soon, in fact, I'm going to add small group sessions to my Move to Portugal program. I'm also open to suitable copywriting, branding, or editing gigs (just no more grant writing, please).
Luckily, I don't need to work the way I did in the U.S. I can be selective about the projects I take on since living in Portugal requires much less money than I needed in California.
As I set about to rebuild, after finding myself in a state of semi-retiredness, I see this deconstruction/reconstruction of self as essential.
If you've been reading my writing for a while, you'll have gleaned that I'm not much of a clinger to things, especially to identities that are predicated on what we do, which is temporal, anyway.
Going forward, I want to focus on the pursuits and work I enjoy and stop doing those activities that aren’t a fit. This means building my moving abroad consultancy, but in a small way. I want to stay nimble; I'm not looking to grow unsustainably. In fact, growth isn't even the point—it's about recalibrating and rebuilding to be sure I'm doing the right things—for me and for my clients.
WTH is Retirement, Anyway?
I always wanted to retire* by the time I was fifty-five, and now I've found myself within striking distance of that goal thanks to a global pandemic.
And by retired, I mean the ending of the necessity to work for money, not the cessation of doing gratifying work that I enjoy, like writing. Of course, I will probably always work in some capacity, as long as my body and brain allow me to do so, but it will be nice to be at a point where I don't need to rely on the income, should my body or brain decide it's no longer fit for purpose.
So who is this semi-retired person staring back at me in the mirror? How did she get here, and where did the time go? What will she do next?
My life in Portugal is key to this next chapter. Surely if I had stayed in the States my relationship to work, and to money, would be different than it is, here. I’m so grateful that I had the foresight and will to move abroad, which has improved my quality of life and prospects for the future.
Over to You
What about you? What will you do to realize the life that’s best for you? Maybe you’re already living it, or deconstructing what you know and do for the chance at a more fulfilling life that aligns with your values and dreams. Tell me, what will you do next?
*I did retire at age thirty, for nearly a year, but that’s another story for another time.
Thank you Pamela, Denny, Lisa, Pat, Barb, Amelia, Judy, Tracy, Deb, Ken, Rob W. and anonymous someones for your support.
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