One of the reasons I started Boomer Retirement Briefs was to share how other boomers are making their way through the retirement planning process. What are folks creating in this new era of living? We Boomers no longer consider a slow and fading “retirement.” It’s about the “new boomer retirement.”
Depending what you’ve been reading over the years, one of two scenarios dominates the Boomer retirement. Either all of us boomers will die penniless after having years of unhappy old age. Or, we’ll be leaving millions to our offspring since we were too cheap to spend our savings in retirement. Somehow, I don’t think either end of that pendulum is right. Instead, let me offer an alternative to consider. Here is an inventive look at one boomer couple who set out to run wild and explore the world after the kids flew the coop. They are truly reinventing their idea of “retirement”.
Twitter is a powerful tool
I saw a tweet from the Gypsynesters that caught my attention. They are some of the most interesting folks I follow on Twitter. Their tweet read “After 30 years of marriage and 3 kids, we’re whittled down to 16 boxes.”
What an attention grabber. What exactly did the Gypsynesters mean by this? So, I opened the link to their blog post and was struck by this post from Veronica, the wife in the Gypsynester couple. She and husband David were preparing for their new phase of the adventure. The children are no longer living under their roof. They didn’t need the big house any longer. Traveling the world seemed more interesting now.
So, they were packing only their most treasured keepsakes for old age. Everything else was going. They weren’t “downsizing”…they were totally eliminating all material stuff. Including their house! They were off for a life of travel and adventure, blogging, and book writing. When all was said and done, their treasures fit into just 16 packing boxes. Wow.
Why did this particular article strike such a chord with me?
There are some 500 million tweets sent every day (that’s 6000 per second!). So, why did this one, at this moment, grab my attention? Could it be because my hubby and I are exactly 2 weeks into our era as empty nesters? Could it be because I am a family history buff and love to collect things and stuff and more things and more stuff? After all, my stuff could have a great family story behind it. Or could turn out to be valuable generations from now.
Or, did this tweet stop me in my tracks because I never imagined having to sort through our family stories and history and pack them away in anything less than 16,000 boxes? Sitting here on the patio reflecting on this blog post suggests that it’s a combination of all of the above.
Such a great way to invent a new boomer retirement
Perhaps more interesting to me, is how much I find myself admiring this couple. They have completely transformed what boomers are doing today. And, they’ve upended how we might think about life before and during retirement. Should 16 boxes perhaps be a goal? Wouldn’t it be incredibly freeing and exhilarating to wake up one morning and have nothing tying you down? You could go anywhere and do anything because the grass didn’t need mowing. You’d see that there weren’t any dishes to be put away. And, with the kids long gone, no one would be clamoring for dinner. That actually has quite an appeal.
The boomers I’ve talked to are each unique. We all seem to be exploring new things to do. Everyone is going to new places and thinking about how they will spend their time in their later 50s, 60s and 70s. Each has a wonderful and interesting story. But, Veronica and David are clearly pushing the boundaries. They give us permission to think way beyond what we think of as “downsizing” or “reinventing retirement”.
How much more exciting this first year of empty-nesthood could be now that we can entertain completely different ways to create our living arrangement. I don’t think I’m ready to sell it all, but maybe in a few years? Maybe never? But, to take the time to have the discussion with my wonderful hubby will certainly make for some lively conversation.
Digging around on the Gypsynester’s site and FaceBook pages, I connected with many of David’s points about becoming an empty nester. I simply embrace the very idea of once again being in command of my own home and destiny. Yet, so many others rue the day that will be coming.
For example, we often find ourselves in the midst of drama from friends and colleagues. Many are so sorry to hear that our last little chick is leaving the nest. (Meaning: Just what will the two of you find to talk about now?) Others comment about how it’s going to be so quiet around the house now. (Meaning: How boring life is going to be without the children.) And, a favorite is from those who inquire, “Whatever will you do without the darlings at home?” (Meaning: You aren’t individuals any longer. You are parents. Our life ends when the last child leaves.)
We were beginning to think that maybe something was wrong with us. I found myself giddy with excitement counting down the days until residence hall move-in at the University (August 25th). We could barely wait! While younger daughter told everyone how excited she was to be leaving, we were telling those same people that we were even more excited!
Parenting was a full-time, 24/7, never-ending job. We recognized that our job was to raise adults, not raise children as the popular phrase goes. You don’t want a child at the end of 18 years of hard work. After all your hard work, you want to launch a well-adjusted, independent, contributing young adult into the world. You want them to go out and start their journey with a well-equipped tool bag filled with a few recipes, a screwdriver and hammer, and laundry detergent. It’s so important that your chicks be filled with the confidence that they can do it on their own now. The rest is up to them and the values you instilled. That is success for any parent. And, your reward is an empty nest. Time to celebrate!
Take a look at what the Gypsynesters have been up to
Whether you are a never-been-nester, near empty-nester, a new empty-nester or a pro at empty-nesthood, take a read through the Gypsynesters blog. David and Veronica might give you some new and fascinating ideas for looking forward to the next part of your personal journey. Post a comment about what you are doing as you define your new boomer retirement era. I’d love to hear your new and interesting ideas and how you are pushing those boundaries.
For a few other fun blogs to help you define your new boomer retirement, check these out:
- Lots of good travel info for boomers at my itchy travel feet (cute name!)
- Don’t scoff at this one: AARP. It is a terrific resource for all kinds of ideas for us boomers – from working in retirement to volunteering to keeping up on the ever changing health care system.
- An interesting site to look around, including a listing of boomer blogs that have something for everyone.