The Winds of Change

The Winds of Change

We are born, toddle around, go to school, graduate, start working, raise a family, deal with successes and failures, then hopefully retire.  The seasons change. Money markets balloon and crash.  Political parties change and with so go the policies.

Yet, with all this change, nowhere in our culture do we have any education in how to gracefully dance with it.  We are not taught to be like a sailors who can set their sails in any wind to have it take them where ever they wants to go.  We also are not taught that we can dream and create the magic in our lives to be what we want.

This week, I am retiring after a lifetime of work, raising children, and volunteering in whatever community I lived in.  I am finalizing my plans to retire in Portugal with my Husband, 2 dogs, a cat, 3 guitars, 6 duffel bags and a carry on in 5 weeks.  Yep, if you were to add up the stress points according to Dr. Thomas Holmes, I should be over the charts.  Holmes researched how we boggle through the changes in our lives, thus collecting stress points.   If you collect over 450 points in a year, year in and year out, he documented how it translates into cancer, type II diabetes, heart disease and more.  He also clearly wrote that it isn’t the change that is the problem but our attitude toward the change.  This years changes for us put us well over 2,000 points but it was with careful planning, vision and daily adjustments in our attitudes that we have come through with our feet on the ground.

I realized a few years back that we would not be able to retire and would have to work until the day we died.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I have loved so much of the work I have done in life and certainly loved our last business of owning and running the Pony House Inn, suites, and cottages.  We had a charming place in the center of the Historic District of Springfield, Oregon, and ran a boutique furnished housing business that paid us well.  

We just couldn’t quit.  At age 68, I realized that my body, mind, and soul were crying for a change.  I longed to play more music, write, paint, spend lazy lunches with friends and family and don't forget to ride bikes and walk our dogs.  

I had two choices. One, I could take the position of being a victim and struggle with life because I was born into a country that no longer values seniors if they were not working or rich. Or two, get my hand out of the coconut, think outside the box.

I realized that I was born on a planet, not just a country, state or community and there were many places I could retire and live my dreams.  This would mean big change though.  I’m turning 70 this year and Mark is turning 75.  We decided to go for it and seize the moment.  People around us said “you are crazy”  I of course responded with my classic response. “We all know I am crazy, that doesn’t make me wrong”

I started my research with a list of 12 things I wanted in my retirement community to meet conditions of satisfaction.  I joined a group called International Living and examined countries and communities I would never have considered if I hadn’t been open minded.  Unfortunately, my beloved country of the USA only had 4 of the items on my list of 12.  Portugal was the only country with all 12.  

Next step we went on a scouting trip to Portugal and she exceeded our expectations.  So last fall, we launched our planning to officially sell everything here in the US and start our next adventure in life.  We were actively resetting our sails in the wind that was blowing our way.  

When I tell folks we are retiring in Portugal, I get the following questions:

1) Why Portugal?  
2) Do you have family or friends there?
3) Are you from there and do you speak Portuguese?  
4) What about healthcare?

When I would answer with I had a list of 12 items, many folks didn't really want to hear about them.  So I would leave it at that and said it was a strategic choice.   I found it interesting that only question #4, healthcare was on my list of 12.  By the way Portugal rates #3 in the world for healthcare in quality, availability, and cost.

The other items were not my priorities.  My husband Mark and I hosted international students for over 30 years and we make friends and family where ever we go. So yes, we have lots of friends and family in Portugal, we just haven't met them yet.  

English is my first language and Portuguese will be my 5th.  We will go through the pain of change to learn the language even though 80% of the population speak very good English.  A new language is part of the adventure.  I will also continue to work on my French and Spanish.  As Dr. Thomas Holmes pointed out "It is not the change that is the problem, but our attitudes toward the change.  

My point in this story is not to recruit anyone to retire or move to Portugal but rather, listen the changes blowing in the wind in your lives. Notice how you look outside the box for solutions for a glorious new adventure despite the change.  With every adversity is the seed for a new adventure.  What is blowing in the wind for your next adventure..... Listen, watch, and seize the day!

A Cat Stevens tune came to mind to reflect this blog... "Wind"

The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale: A Self-Assessment to Understand the Impact of Long-Term Stress
The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale (AKA the Social Readjustment Rating Scale) measures your stress level, and whether you’re at risk of becoming sick.