A Final Word

Where Are We Now?

It is late November 2020 as I write and a couple of weeks short of 2 years since I retired. My days are spent however I choose – mostly outdoors – gardening, growing food and long contemplative walks with my beloved dog. On bad weather days it’s reading, learning, podcasts – taking the time to enjoy cultural pursuits which would have seemed such a luxury when working full time.

Of course Covid has put paid to most of the social activities I enjoyed in my first year, but they will return.

Despite living in the same house for 21 years, I have only become part of the small and friendly community that exists in our quiet cul-de-sac in the last 2. And what a difference that made when each Thursday we took to the edges of our front gardens to clap for the carers. All around me were no longer strangers, where I had been afraid to be drawn into conversation for fear of losing a precious 10 minutes of time needed elsewhere – but friends, smiling and waving and sharing in something.

My hopes and dreams for the boys and I for the future are simple ones – that we stay happy and healthy and enjoy lives well lived in whatever form that takes for each of us. For me, if every day played out like today, like yesterday, like the last 2 years – I will be blissfully happy.

The boys are both well. My eldest (whose heart surgery was a catalyst for the timing of my resignation) is fully recovered and thriving. He was always the driving force behind our holiday habit, filled with wanderlust and never happier than when away somewhere warm. A supremely talented composer, he has managed to obtain a very hard won place at Sydney University to study Music Composition for film and television. He will be moving to the other side of the world in February for a four year degree. I didn’t realise it was possible to be the proudest parent on the planet and yet that the very same thing could break my heart. But I will cherish visiting him in Australia and watching his career unfold as he follows his passion – I am genuinely in awe of his talent and of what a wonderful human being he is.

My youngest has turned into a fine young man. Crippling anxiety overtook him in his teenage years and there were some dark, dark days. Despite mammoth efforts on both our parts, he has not been able to continue at school. I fought against this for a long time, doing everything I could to get him back on track and to try to get him an education. But much to his relief and his mental health – I have mellowed 😊. I have come to terms with the fact that the school system does not suit everyone and that he will make his own way in his own good time. Fiercely intelligent, kind and empathetic as he is, I have no doubt that he will lead a fine life, whether he comes back to formal education or not. His emotional intelligence far exceeds his 16 years and in his own way he will change the world.

So that’s us 😊

There’s little more to say other than thank you for reading, for engaging and for sharing the last few years with me. Wherever you are, whatever trials of life you may face, I wish you all the very very best.

With love,

Jo xx

10 thoughts on “A Final Word”

  1. Jo – these posts have been so interesting to read, and it’s been lovely to catch up on how things have gone for you and your family. I found myself nodding along with so many things you wrote about how early retirement actually went; your experience mirrors mine in quite a few respects!

    Honestly Jo, you have a really great, very readable writing style. These posts were so good to read, and I’m sure the not-yet-retired readers will get even more value out of them than I did.

    Things are so strange at the moment, but I hope that once we start to move to a more normal way of life you might just consider not stopping the blog?

    I know it’s difficult and I totally get that anything which reminds you of corporate life gives you the heebie-jeebies at the moment, but perhaps you might think it over? You have a real talent for writing, imo!

    Very best wishes from Jane

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  2. A melancholy end but thank you for sharing your story. Ultimately this is your journey not ours. We are merely along for the ride 😊

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  3. What lovely updates! I am also hoping to retire next year at 46, and my daughter is younger but also autistic (with her main challenges similarly being anxiety related), so a lot resonates. Having said that (and as you said), many professional mums I know have told me that their neurotypical children have needed them more as they got older, not less. So I think the time that you have had to give your boys will have helped (and will continue to help!) both of them immensely.

    Since finally recognising them after my daughter’s diagnosis, I often wonder if my own autistic traits have pushed me towards the FIREd life. I’ve had many highs and lows in my career, but as successful as I’ve looked from the outside I have always felt a bit of a fraud – playing a role that I didn’t really fit. Fun at times but also exhausting. When it’s over I know I’ll struggle to adjust to the change, and to no longer being able to place a value on myself based on a fat salary and tax contributions: but I do fundamentally believe it will be good for me as a human, not to have to fold myself into that particular box any more. Just to be able to exhale, decompress, become more myself.

    You’ve had an amazing life so far and it doesn’t sound like it is going to get any less amazing from here. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us, to inspire those of us a few steps behind. We value it more than I suspect you can know.

    Hope to still follow your adventures and news now and again on Twitter!

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  4. Jo thank you for taking the time to write your blog and document your journey. It was a pleasure for me to follow it and I learned a lot. Best wishes.

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  5. I have just found this blog yesterday and already read the entire content! Loved it all, mainly as it resonates with myself. Albeit I am 8 years from FI I am confident from reading these blog that I have my plans well mapped out. Thanks for the great content!

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story. As someone balanced in those final months of indecision (and dreaming of that quiet, growing garden), it has been a balm to read. May next spring’s flowers see us all in more peaceful times.

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