Friday, January 23, 2015

The Right Moves

In the darkness, I stir from my dreams and my thoughts begin to sneak in.  Like a bully, they force themselves into my slumber and I awake.  Before I know it, my mind is racing with the same thoughts that I've contemplated time and time again.  When I've worn myself down to exhaustion, I begin to flirt with sleep.  My routine thoughts are slowly replaced with things so random and so unreal ... it jolts me to reality once again.  Damn it!  I had almost succumbed to sleep, but recognizing that my arrival at work without any shoes wasn't really happening has me awake again!

Our minds are like computers, always processing our thoughts and experiences.  It seems that since we finally sold our two houses, my mind is constantly calculating our next move.  Selling everything and moving onto a boat to sail away and "live the dream" requires a strategy when you're not financially independent.  At almost 50 years old, Ken and I don't want to sail through our entire life savings while cruising.  It wouldn't be hard to do.

While I lay in bed, I constantly run the numbers.  Okay let's go through this again ... we'll budget $1500 per month, which will mostly come from rental income.  We'll have a small amount of savings for rental repairs and those times when our rental is vacant (we have a vacant rental as I write this, and working on repairs).  We'll use a portion of the money from the house sales to get our sailboat ready for cruising (solar panels, generator, ground tackle, etc.).  How much will that cost?!  Is our budget realistic?  The remainder of the house money ... we can't touch it!  That money has to be around for later years.  Is that possible?  Surely not.  What if the boat engine needs replacing or we need new rigging?  How long will our sails last?  What if our rudder falls off?  What if our boat becomes a money pit?!

Okay, well maybe we'll have to dip into that money every now and then ... but first we'll try to pick up income along the way.  After all, Ken and I are both smart and he can build a house for God's sake!  We've got some ideas that we're keeping to ourselves for now.  Yeah, we'll be okay .... right?  Okay, well maybe if we just dip into that money just a LITTLE bit every year.  We'll invest the money, so we should be able to make as much as we take out.  So taking a little bit every now and then to fill in the gaps won't be so bad ... if we make the right investment.  Where do we invest?

The stock market is volatile, but if we're patient and stay in for the long haul we may be okay.  But another "correction" is sure to be overdue.  So perhaps a CD ... that's a joke these days.  Okay, but if we keep our rentals they'll eventually be worth more and provide more income.  We could sell those someday ... but then we'd have to add all those years of depreciation to the profit for the tax man.  

Are you exhausted yet?  Are you keeping up?  Oh, my mind!  These are the thoughts that torment me every night.

One thing is certain ... we don't want to work the rest of our lives.  We're ready to travel and break through the mental barriers that our society has placed on us.  We're planning our next move ... just hope it's the right one.  Wait, what am I saying?  The "right" move is going for adventure and having the courage to leave the comforts of work and routine.  After all, it's not "comfortable" at all.

I'm sure that many cruisers-in-the-making have these same fears and thoughts, except for those financially fortunate.  I tell myself this is all part of the crossroads we've finally reached.  If we didn't have these thoughts and doubts then we're probably not feeling anything.  We just wanna make the right moves today, so our tomorrows are ones we want to live ... just like Suze Orman said. 

Have you had these thoughts?  What have you chosen to do to make sure you're not penniless someday?  We'd love to hear from you!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Brief Friendship ...

Since moving into our condo, I made a new friend that I've mentioned in our post about living in "Mayberry" ... Miss Margaret.  We've met a few times in the past 10 weeks, and I grew fond of our 86 year young neighbor.  Just before Christmas a quick "hello" turned into an hour visit.  I learned about the death of her husband seven years ago after battling cancer, about how she lost everything in Hurricane Katrina in 2005 which caused her & her husband to relocate to the "Northshore" of Lake Pontchartrain.  She shared photos of her son, daughter and grand-kids ... and a few stories that they'd probably rather not be told!  I admired the photo on the wall of her in her bridal gown many years ago ... she was beautiful.  Yes, she'd been married over 50 years.  It wasn't easy ... in fact, she told me about how she left her husband three times in the first year!  I laughed when she told me about the time he wanted to go drinking with his buddies, so she raised the hood of his car when he wasn't looking and pulled the wires loose.  Unfortunately, his best friend saw what she was up to and her plan backfired.  Before she knew it, they left in the car for a night of drinking.  Evidently, they worked things out.

When I came home from work last week to see an ambulance leaving her residence, my heart sank.  Surely Miss Margaret was just having problem with her feet again.  She's a diabetic and has been having some problems with circulation.  Just a few days earlier she was standing inside her front door (inches from our front door) and on the telephone.  As I walked up to our door, she broke away from her phone conversation for a minute to tell me she was having problems with her feet again and was going to need surgery.  Her feet were bright red, and I told her she'd better go sit down!  She laughed, got back to her conversation, and I went inside.  

A couple of days later, I mentioned to Ken that I still hadn't seen Miss Margaret and I hoped she was okay.  Yes, she must be in the hospital recovering from her foot surgery.  When Ken came inside this past Sunday from putting out the trash, he told me that Miss Margaret's daughter was outside ... and Miss Margaret was gone.  Gone?!  My heart sank once again.  Surely Ken  misunderstood.  

It seems that Miss Margaret's daughter and son-in-law had come over last week to wrap the pipes in preparation for a freeze that night, and while they were there Miss Margaret had a stroke.  That's when they called the ambulance and I came home.  Miss Margaret never recovered and passed away three days later.  

I was saddened to hear of Miss Margaret's passing, but thankful that I had the chance to meet her.  She reminded me of my grandmother, who passed away several years ago.  She was a full-blooded Italian, and so was Miss Margaret.  The very first time I met her I knew she had to be Italian ... and she had the same eyes as my grandmother.  I miss my grandmother, and I already miss Miss Margaret.

What also saddens me is that fact that I didn't spend more time with my new friend.  Even though she had family nearby, still drove her car, and was still sharp as a tack ... I sensed her loneliness.  I planned on having her over for hot tea soon, and even told her so.  I wanted my mom to meet her, as she'd enjoy meeting another older Italian woman like her own mother was.  

Fortunately, I knocked on Miss Margaret's door on Christmas Eve to wish her a "Merry Christmas", give her a little bag of goodies, and introduce her to my daughter.  She seemed surprised and genuinely appreciative that I knocked on her door to say "hello" and give her a little gift.  We talked for a little while before we headed to New Orleans for dinner.  I'm so glad that I at least followed through with that plan to wish her a "Merry Christmas" and introduce her to our daughter.

In life, I have so many good intentions that I don't always follow through on.  Life gets hectic, I sometimes get lazy, and time passes on.  The loss of my new friend is another reminder of why I want to simplify my life.  I want more time to not only travel ... but tend to my family and friends!  These are the important things in life.  I can't wait to slow down ... wouldn't it be great if we all did?!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Winter Sucks, But I Love My Christmas Gifts!

It's now the 8th of January and I just haven't been motivated to write a post lately.  I seem to go through this every January.  My creative juices have frozen and I just want to hibernate.  Winter sucks!

Yeah, it would be pretty great if I lived in Colorado where I could learn how to snow board or ski.  I could wear those cute leggings, hats and scarves while I burn loads of calories going down the slopes ... but I don't live in Colorado and there's no snow in Louisiana.  For those who think the South doesn't experience winter ... it was 19 degrees this morning and it's frigid outside.  It's a damp cold that gets to your bones.  Luckily, I have an office job a few days a week and I'm keeping comfortable.

Anyway, Nirvana's been ignored while she sits in the boatyard.  But, the paint and products we need to use don't like this cold weather and the job is too hard (and expensive) to rush it and have problems later.  At least Nirvana's pretty much ready to go with painting her bottom and deck when the weather gets warmer.  We just hope she doesn't hold it against us that we're not visiting her every day.

Christmas is always low-key at our place as far as gifts are concerned.  But, the few things that we exchange always have something to do with cruising ... and they're always pretty cool!  Our daughter and son-in-law got Ken a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses (they shouldn't have spent that much), which have been put aside until we start sailing.  They wouldn't last a week on Ken's job sites.  

The kids gave me a really cool book filled with stories of mermaids.  I can't wait to start reading it!  I've always loved whimsical things such as mermaids, fairies, wizards and castles.  In fact, I have a really cool collection of sand castles that I won't give up when we downsize.  I'm sure our daughter will take good care of them for me.  They also gave us a LifeStraw Personal Water Filter ... have you heard of this?  It sounds pretty cool.  It was Time Magazine's "Invention of the Year"!  It's supposed to filter out a lot of bacteria in the water ... but not salt.  Wouldn't that be great?  Anyway, this will be great to have on hand when exploring.

I got Ken some quik-dry shirts, a tropical button-up shirt, and some really nice sandals for the boat.  He got me a light-weight blouse that I had my eye on for the boat and a really cool solar powered wireless speaker that I wanted.  It's shock-proof, waterproof and can also charge my phone or i-Pod!  This little speaker looks really rugged.  There are so many cool solar-powered gadgets coming on the market these days.  If I had all the things I want ... we wouldn't be able to walk on the deck because it would be covered with stuff charging.  I'm excited to try this out on the boat this Spring.

I had an Amazon coupon, so I treated myself to the book, "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail".  I hadn't heard about this book, but Reese Witherspoon just produced the movie in which she plays the leading role.  It looks really good, and it's a true story about a woman who destroys her marriage after losing her mother and dealing with her grief through drugs ... and men.  She decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone to find herself.  I guess it worked out for her ... now she has a best-selling book that's been made into a movie.  Anyway, I hear the book is really inspiring, honest and at times raw.  I love psychology, travel and the challenges of life so I think I'll enjoy this book.

We ended the year in New Orleans with a free outdoor "Train" concert in the French Quarter.  We'd never seen them before, and they didn't disappoint.  They sounded great and have so many good songs ... you know, "Drops of Jupiter" for instance.  Although we were tempted to stay until midnight for the fireworks, we didn't want to fight the crowds and the traffic.  So, we headed back home and were in bed just after midnight ... just the way we wanted.

Hope you all had a great New Year's ... I think 2015 will really kick off when the weather warms up!  2014 was the "year of change" for us, and this year will probably be the "year of boat work".  I'm hoping that 2016 will be "magical" ... like this mermaid!

Hasta luego ... until then.  Mid-Life Cruising!
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