I’m Game

One mantra I always try to remember is a simple one. “Just say yes”. This applies to new experiences and social invitations. It has typically worked out very well for me. Last week I really put it to the test with three experimental outings. It’s a good thing I sprang into action because I was quite morose.

The first was a book club. It is a public one and I have no idea how I came across it, but I have been itching to go all throughout the pandemic. It included a light dinner followed by the book discussion outside on the patio. Yes, there was wine. It was lovely. In some ways it exceeded my expectations, but then I went into with low ones, so it wasn’t a large hurdle. LOL.

Since I signed up as a solo, I shared a table with a retired nurse. She was lovely. We had a great evening together. All of the ladies were very nice. Success. I will be going back next month. I already have the book.

Next up was Sunday Funday. I did go to church. I am not a church-goer, but I am feeling the need to connect with a community. This seemed like a possibility. My kids are agape. Once again, it was a lovely event. I really enjoyed it. The church has a young minister. I thoroughly enjoyed the sermon. I got a little teary towards the end of the service. I just felt a welling of emotion and tenderness. Huh, I was surprised.

As with many churches, they have a coffee hour afterwards. I was thinking about it when someone called my name. Who the heck knows me? My GF from the Book Club. Do we dare say divine intervention? I enjoyed coffee and meeting some folks. I will be back again.

Of course I have to balance the goodness of church with some badness. That would be the latter part of my Sunday Funday. A work GF invited me a comedy club show. She is young (around 28 years old), so I was amused that I got the invite. I sprang for dinner before the show and we had a blast. The comics were funny and the crowd was ready to have a great time.

Somehow after the show, we ended up doing shots with all the comics. It was my brilliant idea. Don’t ask. One of the comics was smitten with my work GF. Afterwards, he made sure to tell her not once, not twice, but three times his Instagram handle. He is cute. I told her to go for it. The next day she said he was too short. GIVE ME A BREAK. That is why she wouldn’t have a date? He is about an inch or two taller than her. I told her my Ex was the same height as me (true). I also suggested that she try dating outside of her normal type and see what happens. I left it there.

This buzz of activity has been good for me. This week I have a Meetup concert with a guy from Bumble. That should be interesting…. I also have my daughter’s baby shower coming up in a couple of weeks. It will be up in her new city, so once again I will be traveling for a quick weekend trip.

I need to keep the momentum of activities up. Yes, I know that Covid is rampaging through Florida because Florida folks simply cannot get anything right. Sigh. Don’t get me started on that topic. Next up on my list of activities is getting back to golf lessons. I need to learn. It will help my Bumble game. 😎😁

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Bumbling Thru Week One

Oh good grief, I cannot believe I jumped onto Bumble and am giving it the old college try. Right before I came over here to write something about sex and dating for Hump Day, I was trying to figure out some wittier openers than “Hello, I liked your profile”. So lame.

Thankfully the internet is full of suggestions, so I am trying out a few and I will report back. I have about six guys that are intermittently chatting. One has a MeetUp group, so I am joining them at a concert later this week. I am not sure he is a good match, but perhaps there can be a friendship.

One guy is too far away and he’s not a match. Don’t ask, he’s just not the one for me. I’ve got a couple that are simply dropping breadcrumbs. Some are better at breadcrumbing than others.

Am I disappointed? No, not really. I expected this nonsense. It gives me time and practice to work on my banter.

One of my breadcrumb dudes had this exchange with me on Sunday night. I was feeling feisty because I had a great day (which I will tell you about tomorrow). I admire his unflappable nature and willingness to test the waters.

I really did just turn off the phone and head off to bed. I decided to see how this would play out. Midmorning on Monday, I got this message:

But he is a BD (Breadcrumb dropper). I gave him two days that I was free. Nope, he hasn’t picked up on that. It could be because we switched to direct text, but naw, he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. Time will tell.

I just had one guy unmatch with me due to my very corny opening line. That’s OK, he doesn’t have a good sense of humor if he cannot chuckle at a lame joke in an awkward situation. Here is my reenactment:

🍋🍋 Sorry, I couldn’t find an opening lime…. sorry, that was really 🌽🌽. 😂

Yeah, that did have the maturity of a 10-year-old. But come on, it is kind of funny, right? Am I completely off on this? Should I be more serious? Who the hell can be serious on these apps anyway? OK, maybe I will drop that one as an opener.

Yeah, this is going to a marathon, not a sprint. That’s OK, I have some other tricks up my sleeve for meeting folks in real life. More to follow… in the meantime, if you have any hints or suggestions, I can obviously use the help. LOL.

I am BORED

Last week I spent my 40-hour work week doing….. virtually nothing. I can easily do this job in 20 hours. It is not a challenge and there isn’t enough work for me. Yet, I show up every day so I can collect a very nice paycheck.

Sometimes I ask myself if I can ready do this for a decade. I don’t think I can. My job involves mainly my expertise and knowledge, but few daily tasks. My boss is very smart and I like her, but she is also a control freak and somewhat nutty. She has been traveling for two weeks. We have had at most three email exchanges. I don’t need to be micro-managed, but I helped her put together a major presentation for senior leadership about my department and … crickets. I scheduled a meeting with her upon my return and hopefully she will provide a debrief then.

I see other jobs online. Jobs that would allow me to work remotely and travel a little. My initial job description included 25% travel. That hasn’t happened. OK, there is a pandemic, but before the pandemic I had put in a goal about visiting all of our offices. She shot it down immediately.

The money for these new jobs would be the same or more. I am tempted. The problem is I am now in the age bracket where women are overlooked and not hired. Do I leave my safe and sure thing for the great unknown?

I was looking at the CEO’s calendar (because I have too much time on my hands) and he has lunch scheduled with an equity group that loves to buy firms like ours. Interesting. We all know that he will be selling the company in about five years or less. To prepare for the sale, he probably needs to acquire a few companies. Is he meeting with this guy to get acquisition funding or has he reached the point he is ready to sell?

WHY WON’T MY CRYSTAL BALL WORK?

I can hold tight and give my daughter time to land at her job. She is about two years away from being in a position to buy a home and settle into her post-residency life. I give her that timeline because she has the fellowship and then needs a year to settle into private practice.

Do I move close to them in order to be their support network? Is that too much of a sacrifice on my part? Am I doing it just to settle? Can I handle the cold winters of the Northeast? I have been living in southern Florida for 38 years.

Maybe all of this rambling is just two glasses of wine talking. Once again, I just need patience.

Stay the Course!

Remember the movie, “Up” by Pixar? The talking dogs were hilarious. “Cone of Shame” and “SQUIRREL!” have been inside family jokes ever since.

When it comes to my financial plan, I am guilty of being like a dog who hears, “SQUIRREL”. My head swings around and I focus on the new shiny object before me. Fortunately, I will pause as I research the new idea.

This happened last week when I thought about revising some of my savings buckets. Fortunately I re-read my financial plan and realized it wasn’t in the plan. My idea for short-term gain would have a far greater long-term impact.

This week, I was listening to a podcast by Howard Clark. Betty (Chambers on the Road) recommended his website. Thank you for the recommendation! Howard mentioned during a Q&A about having made $4,000 profit by buying his car when it came off lease and reselling it. A listener turned around and made $8,000 profit using his advice.

Let me just say that I am not a fan of leasing, but I digress.

I jumped up on Kelly Blue Book and found out that my 2017 car with 77K miles has increased by $3,000 in value over the past year. That’s crazy! That is a 25% gain for a depreciating asset. Truly the world is upside down these days.

My car is paid off, so I immediately thought of the following plan: buy my electric/hybrid now, get the federal tax credit and I will be driving a brand new car for no more than $260 a month! It makes perfect sense.

However, there are two issues: 1) that is not the current plan that my advisor and I mapped out. SQUIRREL! 2) I am going to have a heck of a time finding the car I want. There is a huge waiting list for hybrids.

Reluctantly, I decided to continue to stay on my course. This does not involve trading my car in for a new one. My plan does not involve reducing my retirement and HSA contributions for a year. I have to remember the compounding I will lose if I do this.

I did make one shift. I removed my initial investment out of the stock market. I have invested about $4,500 over the past year. I cashed that out, but left in the gains. I have done extraordinarily well in my index fund and made a ridiculous return (+30%).

Normally, I would just ride that ride because I don’t mind the ups and downs. However, since I am looking to purchase my home and all the investment gurus agree, my down payment monies need to be in a safe haven. My aggressive index fund is not a safe place.

Last year, during the scary early summer of the pandemic, I thought about investing in REIT’s (real estate investment trusts). My thought was maybe apartments. Retail and hospitality made me too nervous.

Silly me. Many Retail and Lodging REITS had returns between 75% to 195% over the past year. Rats. I should have invested. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

My instincts are generally pretty good on these trends. I think perhaps I should set up a brokerage account with funds specifically for these crazy ideas.

I had a work colleague who would invest in some one-off stock and watch its ups and downs. His strategy was once it hit a certain pre-determined point that made him feel like he got a great return, he would pull the initial investment. Then the ups and downs were happening only with his gains. I liked that strategy.

Let me pat myself on the head and give myself a treat for resisting the allure of the SQUIRREL!!

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Morose

I have been having a small pity party for myself over the past day or so. No particular reason. I have been feeling a bit lonely of late, but I immediately addressed this. I don’t feel sexy and desirable on Bumble, and the guys I like don’t reciprocate. I am mildly concerned about housing costs increasing unchecked for both rentals and purchases. Sigh. Let’s unpack these things.

I have addressed the loneliness in several ways. I went to a great book club with plans to return next month. Even though I am not religious, I am going to church tomorrow. I was baptized Episcopalian and since they are a rather mild-mannered group, I am going to give it a whirl. Plus one of the girls at work invited me to a comedy club, so I really have no reason to complain. My social calendar looks good.

Let’s jump ahead to housing before I address body image, etc. If my apartment complex brings me up to their current asking rental rate, my rent will jump about 18% or more. That works out to about $300 a month. Ouch. Can I afford it? Fortunately yes, but it will slow my savings goals. Could I buy something instead? Perhaps, but the market is hyper-stimulated and I prefer not to make a long-term commitment in that type of environment. I’ll just try to work some magic with my renewal and hope for the best.

Now, the whole body image and dating elephant. I cringe when I see guys who put their weight on their profile and it is 25+ less than my weight. I cringe when I see guys who want someone to share their “active” life meaning one filled with exercise, clean diet, etc. I am not that woman.

I am trying to figure out my exercise routine. It is a constant struggle for me because my default is not jogging, gym, tennis, golf, etc. My default is a good book. I need to lose at least 30 pounds. 40-50 pounds would be better. I am not even trying to get back to what I weighed in my 20’s. I am trying to get to something reasonable.

As usual, as I think about exercise, my first thought is to throw some money at it with classes or a gym membership. Then I realize that is an absurd solution for me. I won’t follow through.

I think my first steps need to be small ones so I can build upon them. When I went back to John Acuff’s book, Finish, he recommends the first thing you do when goal setting is take any goal and cut it in half. He’s right.

I also think that if I am going to tackle weight and exercise, I should start with simple non-scale goals. Things like using the hunger scale, focus on a plant-based diet, move my body X times a week in any way I want, drink water, sleep. I will think about this some more.

In the meantime, the weather matches my mood. Rain is predicted for most of the weekend. I have half a bottle of wine that perhaps I will finish and some movies on my watch list. Fuck exercise for the moment. I prefer to sulk today.

Photo by Marc Zimmer on Unsplash

Kindness

In my Toastmasters meeting this week, someone gave a speech about kindness and its ties to happiness. We challenged club members to provide some acts of kindness and report back.

I had done mine earlier in the day. I emailed a former work colleague with words of support. He is in a crisis that is unimaginable. He is the smart expert who needs to navigate, but there are many other stakeholders involved who are consumed by grief, rage and horrible loss. They are integral to the decision-making, but their hearts are broken.

I did not expect him to answer me so quickly, but he did. He graciously thanked me for my note. I don’t know how I can help other than to let him know that I am thinking and praying for him. Perhaps that is enough for now.

May his load be lightened.

I will rebuild an altar from the broken fragments of my heart

Rabbi Yehuda HaChasid, a Polish rabbi who moved to Jerusalem in 1700
Photo by Sean Oulashin on Unsplash

Got Vaccinated?

It is fascinating to listen to people justify why they haven’t gotten vaccinated. None of this makes any sense to me, but I quietly listen and keep my opinions to myself.

I have three people who had Covid and think that this gives them sufficient immunity. Personally that is not a risk I would take, but their body, their choice.

I heard that one of our senior leaders is just flat out against it. Not only will he not get it, but he won’t let other family members (all adults) under his roof either. That is not someone I want to engage in a conversation about his decision. I will avoid that topic with him, however, he is a leader and this spills over to work because if I know about it, surely his direct reports know and it can be an influence on their decision to get vaccinated.

I know others that just don’t think they need it. They didn’t get a flu shot or shingles, so why bother with this. They are uneasy about the side effects and hear the stories of folks who got Covid anyway. They even recognize that the break-thru Covid cases are mild, but they don’t want to get the vaccine.

I just sit back and listen. I don’t preach, lecture, guilt or in any way push any of these people to get their vaccine. Maybe I should, but I like having peace and quiet. These are grown people and if they aren’t willing to take the time to get educated about the vaccines and take care of themselves, is it my responsibility to offer up my perspective. Nope. I am not going to do it.

We have others, like me, that obtained their vaccination as soon as possible. All of us agreed that our side effects were mild to moderate, but very short-lived. It is a real mixed bag of vaccinated and non-vaccinated folks in my world.

One colleague was outraged that my daughter’s residency graduation required proof of vaccination in order to attend the ceremony. She was all about “nobody telling her” while completely forgetting about others that would be at the event. I just listened. Hey, I am vaccinated. I can go where I want and do what I want without limitations. That alone is a great reason to get it, but there are a lot of folks who aren’t buying it.

In some ways this relates to my post about radicalization. Have we always been so (dare I say) ignorant? Is it ignorance? Is it selfishness? I don’t know, but I do know that the only person I can control and be responsible for is myself. That is enough for now.

Meanwhile, Covid cases are rising and non-vaccinated folks represent the vast majority of the cases. The New York Times had an article specifically about the very small Arkansas town my mother retired to. I had spent quite a bit of time at the hospital in the article. This is a fantastic small hospital and now they are in the midst of a horrific Covid outbreak because less than a third of the patient base got vaccinated. So sad and so unnecessary.

What does concern me the most is what one immunologist said. This doctor said that unvaccinated people become the host for new variants. They are easy for the virus to penetrate and wreak havoc. The major pharmaceutical companies are already preparing for this because why else would they be talking about booster shots. Booster shots cover variants. That is why we have annual flu shots. We are a long way from the end of this pandemic because of stubborn, non-vaccinated people. Shame on them.

My Toes are in the Water

It is Wednesday, Hump Day, so once again my topic is sex and relationships. It shouldn’t be too graphic today, so you won’t need to clutch your pearls.

I joined Bumble last night. Sigh. I had the single girls at work take a couple of photos and help me sort through the ones I already have so I could set up my profile. I haven’t done much online dating, so just filling out the profile info is daunting at times. I find it hard to describe myself and what I want.

One thing I will say is that the men on Bumble are very attractive. I was impressed. Of course, what will be interesting is if I actually match with any of them. I swiped quite a bit and then stopped around 10:00. I also joined the Bumble BF section and swiped right on some ladies who are looking for friends. Perhaps something will come from that as well.

The reason I finally decided to put my toes in the Bumble water is that I am reading a book, “Love After 50” by Francine Russo. She is a big proponent of online dating. What is really interesting about the book is her chapters on sex for older couples. She has really redefined sex for me. I also feel like a friggin’ sex goddess because I am generally GGG as Dan Savage would say. GGG = Good, Giving and Game. Francine had some interesting stories about what defines sex for those over 60, 70 and beyond. Fascinating.

Back to online dating, one point that Francine makes is that online dating takes time. Not only the time of the daily swipes and messages, but also that it is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience. There it is again — that word, that attitude, that aspiration I strive for. She also is quite fine with 30 days on, jump off for a break and jump back on. My plan is to try Bumble, jump off when my brain explodes and then try Hinge.

At the very least, I might get some notable blog posts out of this….or not. I need more or better photos. I need to think about my profile more, but I also need to not overthink this.

Cross your fingers and wish me luck. Throw in some patience for good measure…

Photo by Rune Enstad on Unsplash

Retirement Update :: July 2021

Figuring out my retirement path is an interesting mental exercise. I had a financial planner look at my situation and we delved deep into the numbers. I pulled out the report to remind me of what we discussed and where I needed to be headed. I am glad I did.

My housing costs may come out higher than he projected.  I want to retire sooner rather than later. What might help is to figure out a side hustle that brings in about $500/month.  The question becomes the time loss factor of that equation.  What I mean is does the value of my loss of free time exceed the money I would earn from such a hustle.  I think I value my free time more.

I am looking down the road at another decade of working full time.  Is that so bad?  I have a feeling the time will move quickly.  I am already beginning the third year at this job.  

There are a couple of wild cards in the equation that I do not dare calculate.  First would be my dad’s passing.  I don’t know what he has set up and I won’t ask.  It’s his money.  However, he still has a very robust retirement fund.  He owns a vacation home that will sell very quickly for a hefty number.  He has been always been careful with his money, so I suspect there could be something headed my way.  I can’t quantify it, so I need to ignore it.

The other wild card is my employment.  I can’t quantify or predict this job either.  I think the company will change dramatically prior to my retirement.  It will be sold or something and with that leadership shift, my job will be examined very closely.  Couple that with being an older woman at that time and I could easily be put out to pasture.  

How will that factor into my daughter and her family?  She has gently expressed an interest in having family nearby as she grows a family.  I would love that too but there are so many things to consider that it warrants a post of its own.

All of this makes me sigh and think again about the place I want to buy.  It will be at the top of my purchase price budget.  Will that be worth it?  What about the other neighborhoods that are my runner-ups?  They would give me about a 15% savings.  Is it worthwhile?  I guess I just need to wait until it is time for me to buy something and let things play out at that time.  Plus I can always change course if things shift.  For example, I could always sell the place and downsize if I lose my job.  I could put any inheritance towards the mortgage if I get something.  

I must keep in mind what my financial planner said, “we can only plan with what we know.”  He is so right.  I can run numbers endlessly and still have incorrect assumptions.  Some extra time post-pandemic to figure out the area will be a good thing for me.  I can spend some time exploring and finding new things to do.  Make some friends, enjoy some new activities.

I think I want everything nice and tidy.  I want to feel financially safe and secure immediately.  That isn’t really going to happen.  I am financially safe and secure.  My savings continue to accumulate.  I went on a rager of a spending spree for my various family trips, but that is over, so I should be coming out the other side of that.  Since July is a 3-paycheck month, this will all balance itself out. 

I went through an exercise of cutting back my HSA and 401k contributions for a year so I could increase my savings.  When I read through my financial plan, I realized that it was a short-sighted plan and I need to stay the course.  

Patience. This all circles around to patience. This all goes back to everything will fall into place at the appropriate time, so I just need to give it time and space to do so. Sigh. In the meantime, perhaps I need to buy some more lottery tickets…

Just Puttering Along

I have been away from the keyboard but I have been doing a lot of thinking nonetheless. Thinking about the future. Thinking about how to best spend my free time. Thinking about how to make friends, friendships and connecting with family. Lots of thinking.

I don’t have anything profound or meaningful to report. My daughter just took her boards and is breathing a sigh of relief. The baby is due in about 8 weeks or so. They have moved closer to the in-laws for her fellowship. The hubby’s big job is lining up with offer letters. They are doing great.

My son is motoring along also. Thanks to my bestie, he has a 30-year military veteran guiding him through the officer recruitment process. There have been bumps in the road, but these have been resolved. Now it appears things are lining up for his interview with the recruiting board. Cross your fingers. In the meantime, he is temping and making good money. His head is in a better place these days, so I am relieved. He just needs to find a new apartment in 30 days.

For me, I have been fine. I have been very introspective lately. Spending time with so much family has really caused me to reflect on missed opportunities. My Ex was never one to want to interact with my family. My mom also kept hers at arm’s length. Now that I have the freedom to decide, I want to spend more time with them. One of my cousins wants to set up a quarterly Zoom with all the cousins. I think that’s a good start.

I have given myself the goal of 2 social events per month for the remainder of the year. These can be MeetUps, book clubs, live music, etc. They need to be with strangers so I can start making friends. My July events are a book club and a free live music event. I need to think about August. Perhaps church is an option. I am not a religious person, but the right church could offer the right social context perhaps.

I am trying to keep moving my body. I will never be a super athlete, but if I can just keep walking and doing some other things, I will be healthier mentally and physically. I wonder if I will do more in retirement. Who knows? It has been so incredibly rainy this summer, that I haven’t tried to sign up for more golf lessons. I don’t begrudge the rain because a really rainy summer keeps the hurricanes at bay around here. I will take that trade-off every time.

Perhaps my introspective vaguely melancholy mood is due to my current state of waiting. I am waiting for my grandchild’s birth, waiting for my son to get settled in his next chapter, waiting for my savings to grow so I can perhaps buy a home, waiting for the real estate market to settle down so I can do that, waiting for retirement, waiting for the pandemic to subside so we can all return to a more normal existence. Waiting. Patience. Ugh. Two things that really aren’t my thing- LOL. But I am learning to relax and let it unfold. I guess that’s a win.

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