Like me, you’ve probably asked yourself, When did I get old enough to retire? I still ask myself, When did I get old?
My husband Rob of thirty-one years and I met and married in our early forties. We have a blended family of two sons and two daughters, but through the years we’ve always made time to travel. We visited over 30 countries. We lived in Sweden without knowing the language, trekked through Israel, distributed clothing and hospital supplies to 14 cities while traveling through Russia and Siberia on the former Communist Youth Propaganda train, and sailed from Seattle, Washington on a WWII ship for 14 months to transport Russian Jews from the Black Sea to Israel (secret: I didn’t know how to swim).
Side Note: Before each international journey, we always make sure we have our important medical records and passports with us. Just as important, we travel light. Less is always best. Rob taught me early to always be aware of your surroundings, especially when the KGB was watching.
When I was sixty, Rob came up with a great idea. Well, he thought it was a great idea. “Let’s move,” he announced. I quickly answered, “Where can we move that’s better than Surf City?” He smiled. “How about South Carolina?” I answered, “I was born in South Carolina but that doesn’t mean I want to live there. What if we don’t fit in with the southern culture? What if our family needs us here? What if we don’t make new friends?”
The many what if’s brought fear to my soul, but in my heart and spirit I knew it was time to close one chapter and enter a new one. So we made the major decision to leave sunny Southern California and return to my southern roots in sultry South Carolina. I waved good-bye to my safe shore and jumped in to a new ocean.
A month later after settling in our southern brick home on a little pond in Fort Mill, I asked myself, Now what? I always wanted to work in a bookstore so I applied for a part-time job at Books A Million. I traveled to various states to assist in opening new bookstores. I met authors who inspired me. I was in my element.
When the economy took a dive in 2008, I was forced to retire. At sixty-two, I again asked myself, Now what? Since Rob was still working part-time, I decided to sit down at my desk and finish the book I had started when I lived in California. I enjoyed the rewarding and sometimes challenging writing journey (hours alone in my office on my iMac), but I always made time for my new friends, my favorite books, and my long walks.
My published book Lady and the Sea kept my retired days filled with book signings sprinkled with speaking engagements. I had an East Coast book launch in Charlotte, North Carolina. I flew to California a few months later for my West Coast book launch. For several years I co-hosted a blog-talk radio show. I interviewed and befriended upcoming authors and New York Times best sellers. I was back in my element.
Side note: If you want to write a book, but don’t know where to start (I’m asked this question all the time), my answer is simple. Start by writing. And join a writers critique group. I’m a member of Word Weavers International, a writers group that offers everything a writer could ask for.
Another side note: If you have any fear of pursuing your dream—whether it be writing, painting, singing—make a habit of taking deep breaths, praying, then walking—or running—toward that dream!
Three years ago I heard about a 1988 motor home for sale for only $5,000.00. “Should we?” I asked. “Why not? Lets travel while we can. I don’t want to end up sitting around watching depressing news and reruns of our favorite programs like some of our neighbors,” Rob answered.
Now with thee-ol’ RV parked in our driveway, we asked ourselves, Now what? Then we heard about a first response organization, Christ In Action (CIA). Before we could pack up thee-ol’ RV for a relaxing test run, we were on the road with CIA to the 2015 Wimberley, Texas flood to ‘bring hope to America’s families’ who had lost everything.
We returned home thankful for a home to return to, and thankful for the opportunity to help those in need. We started to finally plan our relaxed trip when, suddenly, the 2015 South Carolina Thousand Year-Flood hit. So instead of heading south to Florida, we drove east to Kingstree (SC). After another challenging and rewarding deployment, we drove straight to a quiet RV park in Myrtle Beach. We had now figured out why we had bought thee-ol’ RV. It was for challenging and relaxing adventures!