25 Comments
Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

One great thing I heard recently was this:

"No" is a full sentence. So it is fine to just say NO and not have to explain or justify or apologise for why you said it.

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That would be cool - such an important concept that many people struggle with...

I just moved to Lisbon and looking at Setubal for my next move, maybe we'll meet someday :)

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Excellent post, Shanna. Practically everyone I know back in the States has the "work for the man" mentality. I, too detested most of my jobs (even if I was good at some of them). The mindset to earn a paycheck and live the American Dream is for many, a fantasy. I tried for years to fit into that mindset, but I was never any good at it and people wondered what was wrong with me.

My husband and I stopped trying to please family and friends decades ago. So, minimal participation (when we wanted to) at holiday gatherings (have a bottle of our finest stress, please), and other events where I honestly don't think anyone would have noticed if we were there.

Some people have chosen to "punish" us for not fitting into their box. That's okay. We're happier now in our new country, and have found many like-minded people that we now call friends.

We're retired now (sort of) and enjoying the freedom to work when we want and at what we enjoy while living in and exploring Portugal. I've never felt more liberated and regret that I didn't do this sooner.

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Aug 5, 2022Liked by author

OMG...you have described PRECISELY how I feel. I'm still stuck here, but we have been actively making plans to move to a Blue state (I'm in KS, we are thinking MA) in the future, with my hopes to eventually emigrate to Nova Scotia, Canada. My parents are 79 and 83 and have multiple comorbidities, and I'm an only child, so. We were going to move abroad at retirement (I'm 48, husband is 50), but our compromised SCOTUS, mass shootings practically daily, a Christian Nationalist takeover of the GOP, our elections possibly becoming much less free, and much less fair...well, let's say it's moving up our deadline quite a bit. You are so lucky you did what you did, and enjoying a sense of peace that I haven't felt in 6 years.

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Hear, hear Shanna! So well said.

I would really love to not teach English anymore. That would be #1. And, yes, I am good at it too!

I also do not do crowds anymore. 3-4 people in a group is my limit. (I really value my continued good health!) Don´t do parties anymore either.

I have had many joe-jobs. (Thanks Wayne´s World, I even had a collection of name tags at one point.) Am working on a memoir called Job du Jour.

Counter intuitive I know, but working in mortuaries was some of the most interesting work I did in the past. The worst paying too. Working with the dead, nice and quiet. ;)

And Warren Buffet´s #1 piece of advice, say no! Doing so much more often will result in a simpler, happier life.

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Thx Shanna. Thanks for posting such fun and thought provoking material.

Glad to be one of your fellow expat homies! :)

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Aug 4, 2022·edited Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

You wrote my DON’T list! :)

On January 1, I prematurely left my soul sucking job of 20 years where I regularly witnessed illegal, immoral and unethical activities. It was one of the most consequential gifts in my life. It was because someone gave me that permission slip. Thanks for reinforcing the wisdom of my decision.

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Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

Your list of don’t want to dos is the same as mine. I would also add large family gatherings with my husband’s family, which (and I am not exaggerating) sometimes number up to 75 people. Before we moved to Portugal, I had finally, with some help, said no more after 30 years. And I just stopped caring that they would not like me. They all see me as an oddball liberal anyway. But joy of joys, now that we are in Portugal, I don’t have to ever show up and the funny thing is when we go back to the states, I enjoy seeing them again. Another wonderful aspect of moving to this beautiful country. I guess seeing them once a year has become okay. What a blessing to be able to live here!

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Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

Cheers to self employment! I figured out that I was a feral cat in the work world at an early age as well. Autonomy over more zeroes of income always wins out in my book. Will think about my list of no/not doing, going on a cruise likely tops the list! It's so nice to read your pieces at not feel like such an outlier in this way or at least feel like its okay to be an outlier. The pressure is always there to conform and "just try it"! ... "No thank you." (;

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I went on a cruise once. It was a surprise gift from my mother (I was supposed to just visit her and spend some time enjoying Puerto Rico where she lived back then -- Nope). Being on a cruise was like living in a big shopping mall. I dislike shopping malls INTENSELY. I enjoyed the daily outings my mother and I took to explore the various Caribbean islands we stopped at but having only 6-8 hours per island was a tease. Then it was back to that giant floating shopping mall and its plethora of unappealing activities. Saying "No" to future cruises is high on my list. I've also made my feelings clear about surprise gifts of travel (also "No"). It's that surprise part that is the no bueno. I enjoy travel otherwise.

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Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

It is not my job to make other people happy; my job is to make me happy.

So, while I have to obey laws (eh, I do speed pretty much every time I get in my car), I don't do things I don't want to and I do the things I like to do. If people don't like it, tough. It is not my job to make them happy. Now, I don't go out of my way to make other people unhappy....

I love my life. I left a job I really liked and was good at but at which I was not treated as I liked for the last year or so. When the cost benefit ratio got to be too much, I left. They were not happy but, not my problem. So, maybe there I DID go out of my way to make them unhappy!!

I love your newsletter and your attitude!

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Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

Great post, Shanna! I think giving yourself permission to stop doing <insert whatever you want here> comes with age and wisdom. I’m almost 50, but when I was 20, I bought into the “American dream” lie that I needed a huge house, great job and perfect family. I no longer realize that is the case. I have a lot of health challenges which I accept and WORK WITH. I don’t do crowds or really anything busy. I RARELY shop (thank goodness the hubby gets groceries!). I will never, ever, go to a live sporting or music event (unless maybe the symphony, which is a volume level I can handle!). I live in a 672 SF 1 BR 1 BA 1 car garage condo and am debt free. I am constantly downsizing (books and LEGOs are the hardest to get rid of - LOL) and striving for a simpler lifestyle. IT CAN BE DONE. You don’t have to run yourself ragged chasing after what others deem “normal.” I suspect Shakespeare was onto something when he wrote, “To thine own self be true.”

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Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

I just quit my job three weeks ago after 16.5 years of employment. I am so happy to be done with that work. I'm also done giving away my energy to people who don't deserve it. My father-in-law is the worst offender. 25 years of trying to bite my tongue, look the other way is over. I am also done with all-inclusive resorts. I've only been to two in my life but they are not for me. Buffet lines are the worst!

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Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

Funny, my don'ts are the same as yours. I can add some things I haven't ever done, like go somewhere in a tour group or on a cruise line.

I only liked my second job (seven years of it) and my last job (six months contract). Other than that, they were all either "take it or leave it" or just "leave it." Work is highly overrated. On the other hand, I don't like being retired either and wish I had more to structure my day. Oh well...

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Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

This will sound terrible, but I hate having to write 5 more Vote Forward letters every day to disenfranchised voters in swing states. I know, I signed up for this, I'm wanting to send out more letters than I did in 2020. I had actually hoped to double it, in fact. But each letter is hand-crafted, so it takes TIME.

The fact is, I'm pissed that I have to sit here and advocate when I would really like to be painting. Specifically, taking watercolor classes on SkillShare from a talented artist whose style I really love. I've told you before that I suffer from severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder and depression that has gotten worse every year since 2016, the pandemic about doing me in as an immunocompromised person. Art, cooking new recipes from different cultures, walking, and being with our animals are my coping skills that I have to *actively* work every single day so that I don't have a meltdown.

I'm mad that TPTB are forcing me to keep actively defending our democracy, when I'm just TIRED now. I'm so, so tired. I just want to paint and live in peace somehow. Ugh.

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Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

Jen - Do you REALLY have to write 5 more letters every day? Is this something you committed to with an organization, or is it a goal you made for yourself? Because if it’s a goal you made for yourself, while admirable, it’s OK to give yourself PERMISSION to admit that you’re not reaching your goal and that your goal needs modification. I do admire your dedication toward this effort (heaven knows we need people like you), but also realistically, YOU ALONE cannot save democracy. So if what you’re doing (or trying to do) is making you so miserable, then I’d say stop doing it. You will overall be happier and the earth will still keep turning, even without those extra 5 letters. ; )

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Hi, Lindsey...

Thanks for such a nice reply. :) As for my letters, I have committed to writing them for Vote Forward. You "adopt" voters and once you click on "adopt", you've committed to writing them. I mean, it's not like if I don't, that the Vote Forward police are going to come banging down my door, ROFL, but I have a strong sense of responsibility and accountability. Back in February, I thought, "I'm gonna write more letters than I did in 2020 for these midterms, YEAH!!", and I committed to writing 240 voters, with the hopes that I could maybe double it by the time they need to be mailed out (October 28th). I have 80 of them done already, I started in June, but for some reason I am finding this time around to be a total slog. Hand-writing 5 letters a day or a few times a week is a do-able amount--but right now, I just want to absorb myself in art. Maybe I should calculate how many weeks until the "big send" date, and see how many letters I need to do in the week to just make goal. That might actually be a lesser amount than I think?

Anyway, thank you again for such a thoughtful response, Shanna's community is so awesome and like-minded. I appreciate that! :)

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Just read this to my hubby along with all the comments and he’s (and I’m) fist pumping and yelling, “Yeah!” Thank you. We just got our PT visas and can’t wait to get there in a few weeks. If you’re up for that no-phone-and-no-work-talk coffee, I’ll buy. 😁

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Hi, Shanna! This year we’re living in Portimão, but intend to travel around searching for “our” place- we do know someone in Setúbal, though, and will be spending a little time there for sure! I’ll make a point to let you know beforehand in hopes of connecting. ❤️ Love this community you’ve created!

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Aug 4, 2022Liked by author

Always enjoy your writing but especially loved this topic, Shanna. I now refuse to feel guilty when I don’t do the things that others may expect, or do themselves. After all, I am the creator of my own life. (Barring outside interference…) But I’m also eternally grateful that I am able to make those choices - and always think of those who cannot.

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Aug 5, 2022Liked by author

Look at these comments--you really hit a nerve, and you can add me to the list of those who felt this one *hard.*

You would rock a tux.

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Aug 13, 2022Liked by author

I was doing quite well at my job and career which I never liked. For over 30 years I was a graphic designer for clients, products and services that I did not care about. No one understood how I just gave it all up in one day, one hour, one glorious moment when it dawned on me that I can say to my clients A BIG NO MORE! So, I reduced my income to 20% and expanded my happiness by at least 80%. I found new love, made new friends and moved out of the city to my long-neglected farm to grow herbs, wild flowers and many fruits and to pursue my hobbies....Now I am moving with my Love to Setubal in Portugal - and there is still so much to do in life - I wish I said NO some 20 years ago!

I loved Tom Hodgkinson’s letter - especially this part : The word “travel” is derived from the French travailler which means “work”. And the word travailler its itself derived from the Latin trapalium, meaning “three-pronged instrument of torture”.

Thank you for all Shanna!

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I once heard (I think it was Brene Brown who said it) that people who set boundaries are the most compassionate people, and that changed my life. Having a "don't" list is a great example of that.

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