Want Versus Will

I’ve been having an amicable discussion with my older (retired!) brother Don about whether or not I have the will to adhere to the kind of budget that will be required should I decide to retire soon.   I will be turning 60 this year, and have been a slave to the Corporate Ball and Chain since I was in my early 20’s.   I am growing weary of the effort required to stay competitive in a rapid paced, ever “bar raising,” cut-throat environment.

Taking my job on the road has been a blessing, as it has enabled me to stomach the rigors of the job for a little longer.  Without the promise of the ability to roam, to see ever-changing  sights outside my window, and have enriching experiences (at least on the weekends!) I would have quit two years ago.   But I have to be honest, sitting inside a 160 square ft living space for 8-10 hours a day, five days a week while listening to the sounds of play outside my window is starting to get to me.

Tough to see in this photo, but these are recumbent bikes hooked together…for those days when you feel like a ride around town in the skeleton of a giant rattlesnake!

One of the many reasons work has become so intolerable is because they keep cutting staff.  I used to joke that my biggest fear was being the last person left on the team to “clean out the stables” after all the young thoroughbreds had moved on to another race.   And sure enough, my prophecy has come true.  I don’t want to work this hard anymore.   When I was young, I thought people over 50 were too slow to cut it in the corporate arena.  Now, I see we are just too wise.

I spent the last year circling through the more populated parts of the Eastern USA….lots of cities with infrastructure nearby, like Austin, Asheville, and up the eastern seaboard where there was an abundance of nature to be found just outside large cities with strong cell signals for both Verizon and AT&T.   Some of those cities like New York and Atlanta even had “built in friends” from previous years when I lived there to coax me out of my fiberglass virtual office each evening.

Austin’s Whole Foods has an entire walk-in beer cooler

hhmmm….this could take me a while.

So as I now turn my compass toward the less populated west, I can’t help but worry if the infrastructure will be there to offer the support that I need to continue to be an “engaged employee” in this demanding work environment.  And can I find the balance I need to keep me from losing myself in the job.   As I search RV parks near places I long to visit like Big Bend, the Davis Mountains, and all those National Parks spread out west, is it realistic to think I can do this in between the work days?   Hopping from town to town on the weekends to be ready to roll come Monday morning?

This is historic “Rainey Street,” the new up and coming nightlife hotspot in Austin.

New “Container Bar” on Rainey Street, made from shipping containers. Pick your color, from “Amazon Foliage” to “Field Khaki.”

And once I get to the \wide open spaces that so many RVers blog about, am I going to be content to sit under “house arrest” like a rolling prison cell, when the only diversions are distant trails to be hiked, remote rivers to be kayaked, and so many National Parks with no hook-ups?

Another Rainey Street Bar, taking “rustic” to a new level.

I won’t kid myself, Don is right.  I have always enjoyed “the finer things in life.”   But looking back, do I really miss those things?  The high rolling parties and luxury hotels?  Weekend jaunts to the Hamptons? Twelve dollar Vodka Martinis and French manicures?  Not in the least.  I cherish those memories, but I have no desire to have that life back.  At all.

My “Devil With the Blue Dress” high-flyin’ days in New York

So I am testing myself these two weeks while in Austin.  Can I live here in a “foodie city” with so many entertainment venues to tempt me, yet still do it on a budget?  Can I find ways to enjoy all the city has to offer “on the cheap?”

Austin Food Courts — where all good Airstreams go to die…

My first real test came upon finding out that my second-favorite opera, Tosca, was playing right down the street at the beautiful Long Center for Performing Arts on Lady Bird Lake.  It is only a short walking distance from the Pecan Grove RV Park.   Could I stoop to seats in the nosebleed section, yet still feel the passion of the show?

Beautiful Long Center for Performing Arts on Lady Bird Lake

Intermission during Puccini’s “Tosca”

Or could I go to Uchi, Austin’s number one restaurant, and hold fast to the “Sake Social” menu, the “early bird special” of sorts where sake is $3 a glass and a large yellowtail roll can be had for $6?

Uchi Sushi Chef David fast at work

Pork Steakie with Watermelon Radish

Of course, all the places along Barton Springs Restaurant Row offer Happy Hour specials.  Chuy’s has $4 margaritas with free chips and queso, while Uncle Billy’s offers $2.50 drafts all day on Tuesdays.

Chuy’s hubcap ceiling….looking for one to match the Winnie.

And there’s always the Food Trucks.  Although there was no power in “Ms. P’s Electric Cock,” I have enjoyed healthy, good value meals on the fly from Torchy’s Tacos to Thai food.

So which comes first?   The chicken who is seeking a cheap place to roost?   Or the egg in my hot off the grill breakfast taco from the deli next door that costs more than a carton of eggs?   Truth be known, if I didn’t need the infrastructure for work, I probably wouldn’t be staying in RV Parks where it costs me $250 a week to park along a hike and bike path, near brew pubs, restaurants, and theatres.

I see the remote desert out west as a Catch 22, the draw being the wide open spaces and an abundance of nature to be explored, with lots of solitude and sunsets.  But is it only going to frustrate the hell out of me, since I am confined to a fiberglass cell?

I guess there is only one way to find out…but one thing I do know, if it comes down to want for the finer things versus will to keep the nomadic lifestyle going, no question –The lifestyle wins hands down.   Nothing has ever felt so right…even during this dreadful, seemingly never-ending winter!

18 thoughts on “Want Versus Will

  1. I haven’t met one person who retired early and wished they hadn’t or regretted it. But I have met many who wished they had. Life is shorter than it seems. Let go and fly is my advice which you did not ask for. You have shown you can handle anything.

  2. At 62, you can get the Senior Pass as well as begin Social Security. I’m sure you know this … You can get an annual pass for the National Parks for $80, unless they’ve gone up … then $10 lifetime at 62. I have saved tons of money using it. I got it immediately upon turning 62.

    it’s doable …. I boondocked, stayed in motels, camped in state and national parks but my gas mileage was 20-26 mpg.

    New Mexico has like a $245 year fee then $4 for a camping spot in all their parks. I just don’t like desert that much or I would have considered it.

    When I was your age, 60 … ELEVEN years ago… holy wow.! 2003 … was when my son went off to college … I closed my shop and off I went.

    When I got married so late in life and had my son .. I had lived a single life for 41 years. I did what I wanted and spent whatever I wanted on whatever I wanted. When surprise! I got married and immediately got pregnant… interesting… seriously… I stayed at home with him for the most part.

    I did without …. BOY did I do without. I made more money than my husband when we married. Regardless… now? I don’t want to spend money on taking me out to great places to eat. been there done that.

    The other day when the ice had temporarily melted! I decided to take me somewhere… nothing. …walked around a bit and decided instead of paying $12-$20 for a meal ~ I no longer drink ~ …. that was just … okay… I came home and had my vegetarian meal… usually picked up at Whole Foods already cooked … lasts me at least a couple ~ three meals… with a great salad I get … no dressing … it lasts for two days or three… I still enjoy hanging at WF ~ get a drink or water ~ I like to walk in the neighborhoods … a different neighborhood now and then …

    when I was traveling … I loved getting a freshly baked muffin and coffee and soak in the local culture…. that’s not expensive! AND you get a better cross section of people… all the classes go to these great little cafes and bakeries… love it.

    I can not begin to tell you how unusual that my not wanting to go fancy any longer is. My entire lifestyle was one big … what’s happening next … party or club or food prepared beautifully in a gorgeous restaurant … dressed to the nines and playing the games that single people play.

    I really enjoyed musicals and shows … I had season passes at various times. Now? It’s too crowded … can’t find a parking place … the last time I went to a play, I couldn’t hear it very well and well, gripe bitch and moan … just really didn’t enjoy the experience.

    I’d rather be in nature. The city life was my life. Fought commuter traffic and corporate people as you described .,.. hating getting up and getting dressed EVERY morning and hurrying to the office and work work work work work … and work … hiss

    My point? it’s all a matter of what you get used to … I gave up sugar over a year ago.. don’t even want any now. Don’t miss getting dressed to impress people so that they will think I’m gorgeous and go ooooo or waiters being obsequious … bartenders used to be my best buddies whenever I went into any city or town … I made friends in a local financial district bar …

    just makes me tired now… Haha … I remember .. we ‘girls’ would go to the bar/club with the best hors d’oeuvres … that would be our dinner and we’d flirt and play and play and play and so forth… I also worked in a lot of places where socialization was taken for granted… Advertising and PR … drank lunch … or brunch … it was part of the job. BUT stressful on many levels.

    If your bills are such that are manageable with lots of boondocking … and there are a lot of places that you can.

    go for it … if you can’t make it? do what a bunch of other single women have done and camp host in various places… remember Darlene & Nicole? at the GTG? they kill me… they’re in Oregon right now … you have their blog?


    If I were younger and had an RV … I would love to do that. They are like you … can do anything and love to hike and all that physical stuff…

    Also, if you can’t make it … with your skills?… you could always find something again online… lots of work camping jobs… there’s a website if you don’t have it.

    to read that you consider yourself in a prison… is no good, Suzanne. plan a two year budget ~ give a two week notice… … hopefully, you’re out of debt. … and do what you’ve always done … go on another adventure…

    $250/week in a wonderful area is wonderful … but camping at South Side Beach in Washington State or Crater Lake or the Grand Tetons …. is also very wonderful. Going to the Sun Road? in Glacier National Park? get down.

    So much gorgeous stuff to see and you’re very active and in good health … go for it… you could die tomorrow afternoon … I mean you really could ~ and as you’re lying there going … dang! I’m dying… who gets my dollars… you’d be reeeeal sorry that you hadn’t hiked through the HOH Rain forest …
    You’re a very resourceful woman… you will and can make money to have fun. and… to me, that’s what it’s about. at least it was until I got g’babies… 😉

    June 2012 … I think of Going to the Sun Road at night to make me smile … and relax me… there were a lot of wonderful experiences in 2012 but I remember this one .. the most.


  3. Wow, I don’t think I can top the previous commenters with advice. But c’mon now…if I can manage to bust out of my high-stress/low-reward corporate job at only 51, it’s a complete no-brainer to do it at 59 1/2!

    We only have so many years on this earth…and (quite often) even fewer of those years with the physical abilities to see, hear, and climb those gorgeous mountains and paddle those serene lakes.

    Now, as far as thinking you can’t have fine meals and entertainment once retired, that’s BS too. Your house has wheels! You park at the fancy spots just long enough to get your fancy fix. Once filled up on fancy, drive back to the hinterlands to enjoy some free boondocking or low-rent living to balance out the fancy! What’s the worse that could happen? You start finding you want more fancy than you can afford? Then just get a little part-time job somewhere (or start a little online business) to fill the coffers again. Problem solved!

    There’s one simple, undeniable truth to your situation — Every week you continue to postpone your dreams, is one less week you’ll have to actually live them!!!

  4. Too, it’s relative….

    “sitting inside a 160 square ft living space for 8-10 hours a day, five days a week while listening to the sounds of play outside my window is starting to get to me.”

    Most of us sit in a tiny cubicle 8-10 hours a day, five days a week, and have no windows.

  5. I would never discourage anyone from taking early retirement … I just stress to those considering it that for me personally it’s been fried catfish instead of sushi and street musicians instead of opera houses but it’s all relative and what you are willing to adjust for and what you are looking for as the least of all inhibitors to your happiness. In your case I mainly feel sad that 12 hour days don’t seem long enough for the mother ship or that like me, we stumbled onto somewhat unrewarding careers that provide(d) not enough time for a more rewarding personal life. I will say that if you do have to work somewhere, rolling across America over six wheels has got to be better than my old pastel carpeted-wall cubicle. 🙂

  6. Sherry — Thanks for the vote of confidence. I don’t worry about you either, my friend! You have proven the same and more.

    Kim — Thanks for the comment. I know the grass is always greener, but wish I could find something like you found, with a little longer “chain. If I didn’t have to show “available” in IM all day, it would not feel nearly as confining.

    Carolyn? I love your comments as always! With the exception of HIPO and the family, I think our lives have a lot of parallels and aligned thinking. Now I am just going to post this comment as my next “Guest blog!” 😉

    Lynne — Your last “undeniable truth” rings LOUD in my ears!!

    Barbara — Thanks for the comment. Trust me, I have done plenty of time in Cubicle Nation! In fact, in my first two jobs working elbow to elbow at a long folding table, you had to get promoted to get a cubicle. LOL!!

    Donald — I know giving up the opera was a real hardship for you!! HAHAHAHAA!!!! xxx

  7. My husband and I both grew up in camping families. There was never extra $$ for any of that fancy stuff (my dad was in Education; his dad was a preacher and his mom a teacher). When we got out of college and got married, we lived on a shoestring. It’s only been in the past 10 years that we’ve both made good salaries (if 70-100K can be considered good and I get the feeling not by some standards). We have no debt, own our house, and two big fifth wheels (one parked year round and one for towing) and a truck camper (for me to go solo whenever I want). Neither of us is retired. He can telecommute some now and full time in 2015. I’ve been teaching university classes online for over 10 years so I travel solo a bit more than we travel together (until next year). We’ve never spent a lot of money and don’t care two figs for the “finer” things in life. Just down to earth, down home, what you see is what you get — that’s us. I’ve taken up photography and on my travels I photograph “real” small town life and what I like to call “lost communities.” Nothing like exploring your (rhetorical) roots. Because of health issues, we don’t drink and our food needs are simple. The only thing we have to watch out for when traveling is that we have excellent internet signals and that’s usually not possible boondocking. So we belong to several camping clubs and that REALLY cuts down on both short term and long term stays. My last few overnights cost me about $10 each at nice campgrounds with full hook ups. It’s like someone else said — it’s all in what you get used to. I would imagine that the solitary life would be hard for someone who is or used to be into partying and clubbing. That’s never been something that appealed to me but wandering small towns and talking to “real” people with plenty of solitude in between is how i want to spend my “old age” traveling. I go nuts without something to do so I’m always writing new ebooks and creating low-cost online mini-courses about traveling and other stuff (nothing academic and all focused on topics the general public would find interesting). Residual income from the ebooks and courses provides any extras I need traveling. I would think that with your on-the-go lifestyle, you would be like me and go crazy without something to do. Now’s the time to start thinking about and planning an online business of some sort. Just enough to keep your mind and imagination and creativity sharp but not enough to sap all your time. Before your retire and after you retire, you’ll either be sitting in a house/apt somewhere or you’ll be traveling. Me? I’d rather be on the open road no matter what else I’m doing. Good luck.

  8. Wow, you have complete blog posts in your comments box! All I get is “nice photo.”
    Now, what will you do with all those “life jackets,” Ignore them, or be rescued from “prison?”
    Follow your heart…the head has too many “what ifs” that fuel procrastination.
    We sold our home and quit our jobs the first time when I was 49. When money ran low we came back, got different jobs, and worked for a couple three years and took off again, and again, and again. We still work summer jobs, enough for beer and eating out once in a while. We are on S. Security, now…not much but it helps.
    You wouldn’t trade back your travel for all the money spent, and when is the last time you heard someone say “I wish I would have worked longer.”
    We’re watching and waiting. Truth or dare (giggle)? 🙂
    Box Canyon Mark

  9. I think if you can release the chain you have to IM you will be happier in your travel pursuits. I’d focus your energy on finding a different job or scaling your current job back to 3 or 4 days per week.

    “If I didn’t have to show “available” in IM all day, it would not feel nearly as confining.”

    My husband and I have been traveling/working on the road for the last 10-12 months. We’ve had some months in which we indulge in more expensive meals and entertainment (we’ve been in the SF Bay area for the last few months on a work assignment) and other months in which we enjoy home-cooked meals and seek out free entertainment. They balance out over the year.

    • Jeanne — thanks for the comment. Unfortunately I have worked for the same unforgiving corporation now for 23 years, and they don’t see the benefit of “flex time.” Their attitude is, “There are 200 people waiting to take your job, so if you don’t want it, step out of the way.” I’ll get there….one of these days!

      Lee — Thanks so much for stopping by. I wish I could find a little online business of some sort. I keep telling myself, “I am only one thought away.” LOL! Sounds like you have worked out a very nice arrangement, there!

      BC Mark — “The first sighting of the Bluebonnet is the harbinger of freedom.” 😉

      Thanks EVERYONE for the really GREAT comments!! Good tips, advice, conversations, and perspectives, indeed!

    • OMG!!! Nicole and Darlene!! I keep thinking I will catch up with you guys, but you are moving way too fast for me! I have been meaning to write you and tell you how much I fell in LOVE with Ohiopyle!! I had never heard of it before you guys….and I ended up staying another week longer than planned. I might still be there if it weren’t for the snow. LOL! What a great place you recommended! One of my favorites. I am heading west soon, following in your footsteps!

  10. We can’t afford to stop working at 60 & 63 but we manage our work time. We work six months in order to play six months. At first we thought we would not be able to but our clients now wait for us. Plus Colin loves his photography and will never retire. For us this lifestyle works.

    If you wait until you have worked for that company for 25 years would there be a huge pension? It might be worth if financially.

    Are they willing to negotiate something like a few months off here and there? Before you out and out quit do try and see if they will offer you some leeway. Yes there many be others waiting to take your job but why haven’t they replaced all of your coworkers who have quit. You may be more valuable then you know.

    As to the finer things in life, I think that as one gets older our values change.

    Life is short, don’t waste it.

    • Hi, Contessa….thanks for stopping by!

      Many of the US corporations did away with their pension plans about 10 years ago in lieu of the 401K. So the time is only relevant when considering how many years the employee has been saving. And I have always been a saver. So for me, it is more about having to turn loose of that hard earned savings to pay ridiculous health care costs. It will cost me more in one month to insure than I have spent in the last two years combined on healthcare.

      They haven’t replaced the others because our new credo is “Do more with less!” LOL! We are being “spun off” in the second quarter, so they have to keep expenses lean. By that time, everyone will have forgotten that there used to be a team of more than one.

      You and Colin sure have the best possible arrangement! To not only have to work 6 months, but to also love what you are doing is such a gift!

      Keep on dancing!

  11. Suzanne,
    Wow! I first read this a few days ago with the responses you had then. I had to walk away and think about what I wanted to write. I was surprised, but then I didn’t realize how tightly you are held by your job. I never made it to 23 years in any job. 9.5 was the best that I ever made it. I loved what I did for a living, but unfortunately the MBA holders pushed my way of making a living across the pacific ocean. I never wanted to retire, but the week after I reached 65 years and ten months my boss made me an offer that I could not turn down. So I retired right in 2008 right during the last economic downturn. Financially painful, but I got to spend the next two years with my youngest grand daughter whom my wife was caring while her parents had to work. The most awesome time I have ever spent.
    What bothered me was your feeling as a prisoner tied to your little fiberglass moving house. That is what really got my attention. I loved what I did to earn my living, but I could not have worked under those conditions. With your talents as a writer and photographer I find it hard to believe that you could not find a way to support your self and still exercise that need to see our wonderful world. Don’t be a prisoner to a company which no longer values you enough to give you some freedom. Figure out how to use your talents to your advantage. I provided my employers my best for 45 years and helped them make lots of money. Not one of those five companies exists today. Life is too short and jobs too transient to waste one’s life at an unrewarding job. If they value you they should respect you, if not take care of yourself.

    • Hi, Allen,

      I know, I have to laugh that this post hit my “personal record” for number of comments. It started out to be a post about whether or not I could stick to a budget, which morphed into “Can’t I PLEASE quit this job NOW?” hahaha! A lot of my work has been pushed across the ocean too, ergo the source of a lot of my discontent, because I now have to “QC” their work. 😉

      I am only a prisoner because I allow myself to be. It is nothing more than “Fear.” And the guilt of quitting a job that has afforded me a lot of nice things in my life, at a time when so many are desperately looking for work. But maybe that is a sign it is time for the old timers like me to step aside and give someone else a chance, huh?

      Thanks for following along, and your always nice compliments about the blog. I loved your sentence about the two years spent with your grand daughter!


  12. Love your blog and plan to continue being a fan. As to your comment about downsizing staff and requiring more and more—I retired 3 wks ago at age 63. I am a nurse (or was). Did you know that new government regulations base reimbursement to hospitals on patient satisfaction? So if you save a patient’s life, yet they are not happy with your care in some way, you are reprimanded. Forget that! Patient satisfaction, not outcomes, are the new standards. Speed of care, not quality, counts. Have been researching the motorhome lifestyle for several years. Plan to purchase and begin traveling part time in the next several months. Will be using your blog and several others as guidelines as to where to go and where to stay. Hope to meet you someday “on the road”.

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