By Jenni Gate
2014 has been an incredible year full of ups and downs and major decisions. This year, my daughter graduated from college, hurray, Andrea! We traveled to Alaska for her graduation this month. We flew to Washington DC this autumn to visit friends and family. We made two major trips, one to Ecuador in the spring and the other to Thailand in the summer, with the purpose of checking into countries where it might be possible to leave our stressful, corporate-America, rat-race jobs behind and live a simpler life while doing something good for the planet for a few years.
We returned from Thailand with a new-found zest for seeing the world before our knees or hips give out or one of us contracts a serious illness. In Thailand, we met a couple a little older than us who had joined the Peace Corps as a way to achieve the same objectives. It opened doors for them that they never imagined. They inspired us to attend a Peace Corps information meeting, and we applied. We are waiting to hear, some time in mid-January, whether we will be accepted.
In the meantime, we are preparing to move. This entails major projects on our 100-year-old house before putting it on the market. We re-sided, re-roofed, painted every room, built a deck, landscaped and made endless repairs. I got certified to teach English as a foreign language, and I volunteer to teach once a week at a refugee center. We have parents and adult children to work with and prepare for our absence during this transition. All of this happened while working full-time and overtime in stress-laden jobs.
Our plans are in action, and we are sorting through all our possessions, working to get them down to two suitcases each plus some furniture we will store while we’re away. This is a major task. My husband has lived in the house over 21 years. Every room is full of memories and mementos. We have scanned photos, scanned books we want to keep, photographed items we want to remember. Loads of things have already been sold, gone to charity, or to the dump, and there are still loads more to go.
We know there is a good chance we may not be chosen for the Peace Corps. If that plan falls through, we intend to move abroad when the house sells. We have researched Southeast Asia endlessly. It may be our starting point, and we may stay in one place or move several times over the next few years. Our intention is not a full retirement to another country, but a more fulfilling life where we can work and contribute something of value without eating up all our retirement savings for a few years. We will most likely return to the U.S. when our adult children begin having children. We have been calling this next phase of our lives the Catch 55, the years when we are too old to hire but too young to retire.
2015 holds the promise of big changes ahead. We have the world at our fingertips. We will enter a new community, face new challenges, and learn a new culture. We will grieve for the many changes that take us away from friends and family. For us, it will be a year of transitions, turmoil, thrills, tenacity, and the great unknown.
I hope 2015 will be momentous for all of you as well, but without the turmoil. Our resolution is to sell our house, move abroad, and change our lives.
Happy New Year to all! What are your resolutions, intentions, or hopes for 2015? How do you celebrate?