So what's on my mind today?
- A bit of Christmas - even if Christmas thoughts should wait until December.
- What should I say when people ask what I do, now that I've retired early?
- How I like getting comments on my blog and try to listen to them.
- Am I embarrassing?
Seems like an eclectic list, just right for the eclectic and smiley mood that I'm in today (if there is such thing as an eclectic mood, that is).
Getting Ready for Christmas
Although it's not yet December, we have to arrange for cards and gifts to be delivered to our family overseas, so our planning needs to start a bit earlier.
I really enjoy Christmas time. Growing up, it was always fun, with family and friends getting together, and everybody in good spirits. Our children are coming home for Christmas, Rebecca on holiday from her job in Zurich, and Sam from university in England. That will make it extra special.
Am I cheating by still enjoying it so much when I'm not religious? I hope not. That so many people are in a happy and upbeat mood has to be good, irrespective of religious beliefs. I'm currently living in a Muslim country, which has a population from almost every religion you can think of, and it's uplifting seeing how generous people are with their Christmas wishes, even when it's not part of their religion. Isn't that how the world should be?
I'll need to figure out what Christmas gifts to buy for my loved ones. It's true that the real joy of gifts is in the giving rather than in the receiving - seeing the look on someone's face when you've chosen a gift that's just right is magical. I'll put my thinking cap on and see what ideas I can come up with.
While that thinking cap is on, what would I put onto my Christmas list, assuming I've behaved well enough this year to still be in Santa's good books?
Oh, my friend made a suggestion for my list. He figured, "what do you get someone who retired early?", his answer..."a job!". What a funny guy, oh, how I laughed. Nope, that's definitely not going on my list!
This is my first Christmas since becoming early retired, so I'm in a new phase of my life now, my mindset is certainly different. For one thing, we know we're leaving Dubai in July 2018 to go travelling. We'll give up our apartment, so will have to sell or donate many of our belongings, and pack and store those that we want to keep. It therefore doesn't make sense for my Christmas list to include items that we're going to have to dispose of or store six months down the line.
So what goes on the list? The obvious new thing is our travel plans, and I suspect items related to this will be the main feature. Thinking cap on, here goes with my Christmas list 2017:
Backpack - this is probably in the too expensive and too difficult box. I don't even know what type I want yet.
Micro fibre towel - something like this.
Packing cubes - so that I can keep my packing tidy. Sally will tell you that I'm a little bit OCD (she'd actually say quite a lot).
Blow up travel pillow - to try and get comfortable on trains, planes and buses.
Bodyglide - Stops chafing on long runs in hot weather. I promise, you don't want any more detail than that!
Portable phone battery charger
Mini portable speaker - perhaps something like this
Kindle Gift Voucher
High 5 Energy Gels (some without caffeine, some with)
A head massage - a little bit of luxury available at the barber shop in our building
Chocolate - you can't go wrong with chocolate!
A Charity Gift - I bought these a few years back and thought they were a good idea.
The charity gift is at the bottom of the list, not because it's the least important, but because it was added last. A shoutout to Rich who commented on last week's post and who sowed this seed in my mind. I'm really not just saying this - if I could choose one thing to get this Christmas, it would be that. I did this for my sister's family a few years back, I thought it was a good idea and I think they did too.
There we have it, not that it matters to you, but these are some of the things that are on my Christmas list. I hope this doesn't come across in the wrong way, it's just a bit of fun and I'm not expecting to get all these things, none or one is good with me. Our family likes it if we can give some ideas, which they can use or ignore as they wish.
What should I say when people ask me what I do?
I thought it was only me who wondered about this, but it also came up in a podcast that I listened to earlier this week.
And also in a conversation that I had with a friend the other day. I had to think what I say and, although I'm not 100% sure, I think that I generally answer "nothing".
Now, that's not an accurate thing to say because I do things, as I talked about in last weeks post. But it is difficult to know what to say. I could say "I've retired", but that doesn't sound right, that's saying what I don't do, i.e. I don't work a corporate job anymore. Another friend suggested I say that I'm "an investor", but although I have some investments, I certainly don't feel that I'm an investor, and it's not what I spend most of my time doing.
And so, while my answer of "nothing" is plainly incorrect, it generally sparks a short conversation during which I explain what my current life is. I'd be interested to hear how others in a similar situation respond - I could use the help to improve my own answer. If you have a suggestion, leave a comment below.
By the way, another friend said that my "nothing" response was useless and that I needed to work on my elevator pitch. I think he said that nobody would want to give me a job if I respond like that. Guess what, it was the same friend who said I should put getting a job on my Christmas list. I don't think he gets that I don't want a job ;)
And a second by the way, this talk of jobs made me remember something. After I'd quit my job, I used to jokingly tell my son that I was unemployed. He looked at me and said, "Dad, you're not unemployed, you're economically useless". Talk about being put in my place! And may be not what I'll use when someone asks me what I do.
Getting comments on my blog
If you've commented on my blog, thank you so much. When I write my posts, I'm hoping that it isn't all drivel, and so a comment here and there gives me hope that occasionally I've made a little bit of sense.
I'm amazed at how much I'm enjoying blogging and taking my first baby steps within the blogging community. I started my blog to entertain myself and also share my early retirement experience and cost information in the hope that it may be useful to others. What I hadn't expected was that it would be so thought provoking for me. I promise that if you see me gazing vacantly into the distance, I'm actually reflecting on some interesting aspect of life...honest.
As I said, the comments that I receive are much appreciated. Along with something I read in another blog, two comments in the past week have made me change my behavior today, albeit in just a small way. One comment was that financial independence gives us the opportunity to give something back - I know it is just a tiny thing, but that fed through to the charity gift item on my Christmas list. The other comment was about different types of early retirement days - I'm quite routine driven at the moment and sometimes I feel I'm cheating by taking a lazy time out - well, it seems that isn't cheating at all, so I've got a book and am going to enjoy a "lazy" read and cup of coffee this afternoon.
Am I embarrassing?
If you ask my kids, then I'm sure they would answer a resounding "yes", but I've always told them that it is the role of the parent to embarrass the kids, and I like to think I've done a good job with that!
So why the question? Yesterday I had lunch with a friend (I know, it sounds like I have lots of friends, and I promise I'm not inventing all of them) and she mentioned my blog. In fact she mentioned 3 things about it.
The first was a good thing. She told me that she used my post, should you prioritise saving for kid's college or early retirement, to get some information to tell her husband. It was nice to hear that it was useful.
The second was a good thing as well. My friend's husband then commented that I was very honest in what I wrote. Honesty is the best policy as they say, and I was glad he thought my posts come across in that way.
The third thing wasn't something that I was expecting. She gave me some feedback from a mutual friend who felt that parts of my blog were embarrassing and why didn't she tell me to stop. I was intrigued, why embarrassing? It seems that it's back to the honesty thing. I'm writing what I think, what it costs and what I do, and it appears that some find it weird that I would admit that I do things such as the laundry, mop the floors and clean the toilets. I guess in my corporate job, I was reasonably successful, and the insinuation is that now doing such tasks must show how far I have fallen! It makes me smile, for sure they're not my favourite things to do, but they're OK, and they don't take so long to get through. And after all, it's the same chores as most people on the planet do and, if they're not, they probably should.
I can't promise that I'm not embarrassing, but I can say for certain that I'm not embarrassed.