Sixty is the New…Retired???

As if I don’t have enough going on during the current convergence…dealing with the my little Tracker, the “automotive heart transplant candidate,”  I have also been helping move my 86 year old Mom and 93 year old Dad back down to the farm.  Turns out, they aren’t city folk after all…

Throw in one more simultaneous life-change, and you have the makings of what I have been calling “The Perfect Storm,” as all these things converge during the same week.  Coincidentally, sixty days ago, I could not have known about the first two “storm elements” when I announced my intent to retire from the self-proclaimed “Worlds Most Respected Service Brand” after 24 years.

It’s an interesting paradigm, this virtual environment.  I work on a team of 40 people around the USA, and we have no idea who’s twenty and who’s seventy.   So when news went out of my intent to retire, I got a lot of “Wow, you don’t SOUND old enough to retire!” comments.  So I felt compelled to explain myself more than I would in a typical office.  “I am not a quilting Grannie…I just want to stop working while I can enjoy my passions, like hiking, biking, kayaking.”  Reaction was mixed – From “You are going to face financial ruin by retiring early,” to “Congratulations on reclaiming your life!”

First visit to NYC with my 80's perm.

First visit to NYC with my 80’s perm.

I know a lot of people work from their RV…running businesses, websites, software companies, etc.  By “working,” I mean supporting themselves on the road, funding the lifestyle through flexible work arrangements or entrepreneurial endeavors.  But I think I may have been the rare exception, taking my full time, M-F corporate job on the road, one where I had to sign on to Instant Messenger at 8am every morning, and be available, producing data analysis reports until 5pm.  Thanks to the help of my brother Don, I even had a VOIP phone with a Dallas number that rang anywhere…even Mexico.  I’d like to think I was taking telecommuting to a whole new level.

The "Centurion" visits my Manhattan cubicle.

The “Centurion” visits my Manhattan cubicle.

There are so many things I won’t miss.   That nauseating knot in my stomach on a Sunday night, knowing I need to set my office up first thing Monday morning.    Having the first question of trip planning be  “How strong is the signal there?”   Or having to start my day to something called an “ALARM!

Visiting my client in Nice, France

Visiting my client in Nice, France

Although I have been with the same company for 24 years, I have had as many positions as I have milestones. Positions that have taken me to some phenomenal “regional meetings” in places like Hong Kong, Paris, Vietnam, South Africa, and Muscat, Oman. It was one incredible ride!

I think back to the first computer I ever had…an old Compaq that I found left in a supply cabinet because no one knew how to use the DOS commands and Function keys. I claimed it as mine, but wasn’t about to admit I didn’t even know how to turn the darned thing on! I prided myself in being the first on my team to have their own laptop…A 20 pound boat anchor with a screen the size of a large Smartphone today.

United Nations Plaza, 1993

United Nations Plaza, 1993

President's Club, 1997

President’s Club, 1997

Defining moments with the company have been many, as I worked my way up the corporate ladder and back down again.  From a dramatic lifestyle change of relocating from small town Texas to manage the United Nations account with an office on the 19th floor of the UN Secretariat Building in Manhattan, to my virtual invisible worker drone job on a homogenized team of 40.

Perhaps no greater milestone was “seeing the buildings fall” on 9/11, and realizing my life, my career, my friends paths would be altered forever for both the good and the bad.  I still recoil at the sound of fighter jets overhead, or the smell of burning rubber.   But it was a day where I never felt more like my company was “family,” as our President hosted daily “check-in calls,” just so we could all feel a connection after having been displaced from what was once our offices in lower Manhattan, now scattered to whatever office space could be secured within the Tri-state area. PIC00007b

And now to the final chapter.  Taking my job on the road, working full time from a 120 square feet, where my office had gone from what was once a window office with a wall of file cabinets, to a slimline IBM Thinkpad with a view that changes weekly.

My mobile office

My mobile office

But the direction of our company has changed.  My goals, once customer focused and relationship-centric are now 100% based on how many hours I bill out.  There are no longer metrics based on Customer Satisfaction.   I am no longer a Data Analyst with a focus on relationship building, but instead someone who logs cases about data analysis to justify my existence to the client.   Even our HR team has been “offshored,” attempting answers to my questions about my future in an accent I struggle to understand.   They say the mark of true wisdom is not only realizing that something no longer serves you, but how long it takes you to make a change.  I realized some time ago, but finally got the courage to admit…the corporate structure no longer serves me.
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Shipping my "office" back via UPS

Shipping my “office” back via UPS

So tomorrow, I will box up the Thinkpad and the Corporate Card for the last time…just two small items that now make up the sum substance of my “office.”  Today, I am a savvy “technomad,” defying the odds, coaxing out the last bit of bandwidth from the elbow of the Outer Banks, to the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest, to the hills of San Miguel de Allende.   Tomorrow, I will be just another retired RVer.   But I have pride in what I have done, and faith in my ability to create the life that lies ahead.

“I am an Idealist. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way” ~ Carl Sandburg

27 thoughts on “Sixty is the New…Retired???

  1. A week of big changes indeed! A huge congrats on the “retirement”, and I put that in inverted commas ‘coz I know you are going to be more active than ever. Ain’t no ‘ol Granny in you!

    Nina

  2. I know it’s tough making the decision to retire “early” but I’m betting a year from now you’ll look back with thanks for the decision you’ve made. Enjoy life with less concern about connectivity! Congratulations!

  3. I can relate to your feelings that have brought you to this time. For selfish reasons (because you will have more time to write) I am excited about what the future will bring.
    You have a special gift with your writing, by bringing every situation to life so that the reader can feel what you feel.
    I thought getting the Tracker fixed was the best birthday present, but your decision to shed the chains is really the best birthday gift.

  4. Hip, hip, hoooooray! Can’t think of anyone who will enjoy retirement more than you. Tons of congratulations!!! There may still be more lighthouses to fondle! ;-> Will there be another book soon?

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

  5. YOU, my dear are one hell of a person who happens to be female … I salute you and admire you tremendously ….

    Congratulations, Suzanne … what a life you’ve had and what a life you’ll have….

  6. So as you posted this mid week, I Propose a hike mid week at eleven AM with no regard for connectivity, or rush hour ending your day. Clicking champagne glasses in celebration with you on a mountain top of journeys in your future my friend. Cheers!

  7. Congratulations on your retirement. I’ve only been retired since April 2014 … a few days over 6 months and I can tell you there has never been a day I have regretted my decision. From a “workaholic”, I find myself saying more and more … “it’s the best decision I’ve ever made”.

    Enjoy your freedom!!

  8. Congratulations on your retirement from corporate America. I know you will enjoy your adventures even more now!
    I was in awe of you when you took off a year to travel the world solo. I’m still in awe of you & your accomplishments!
    I am proud to call you my friend!
    Happy travels!!!!
    Reta

  9. Excellent! I wish you Happy Trails for all your days. Oh how I envy you! Soon I will join the retired ranks (two years perhaps) and until then I dream and plan and dream some more.

    Enjoy every minute as I know you do. Such a fine, fine thing.

    And I am in agreement with others – when is the next book? LOVED the first – I was riveted. I’d buy the second in a heartbeat.

    All the best to you.

  10. Congratulations on your retirement. You’re going to love it – after you get over the “habit” of M-F working for your daily wages. That adjustment took me about 6 months. Write when you get a chance and I’ll tell you about my personal 4 rules for a successful retirement.
    Fully understand what it’s like to see a valued company morph into something unrecognizable. When my employer no longer pursued the founders’ goal of “making a contribution” and became slave to the shareholder theory of value, I knew it was time to leave.
    Tom, the awning fixer

  11. YIPEEE for you and one is never too “young” to retire. If you can, you do it! Life is too short and I so hear you about the change in business. You’ve had a good run miss now GO PLAY! That is an order (from those of us still working the corporate game).

  12. I am like Don…..sniff, sniff, what a story! Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I write this!
    I will never forget that phone call when you said you had been offered a job in the UN in NYC!! You had told them you would take it but had to discuss it with your parents first. Like we would have told you not to go, or it would have made any difference if we had!! :-)!! I said, “You go, gir!” Then when I hung up the phone I cried for days.
    I am so proud of you and your accomplishments and know there are many years ahead of fun days if you handle the rest of your life like you have the last!!
    You go, girl!!!
    Love you to the moon and back!
    Your Mom

  13. Well it sounds as if you’ve had a very fulfilling and successful career. One you can be proud of. Nowadays 60 is young and you can look forward to many many years doing what you want to do. 60 is young for our bike club, our oldest member is 85! You may even have a second successful career as a travel writer.

  14. Congratulations and welcome to the retired ranks. As usual your story is great and well told. A big jump, but looks as though you have made it for all the correct reasons for you.
    May the road ahead be as exciting and meaningful as has the road left behind.
    peace,
    Allen and Deede

  15. Congratulations! and Hooray! After all of your experiences, you are the best judge to know when its time to enter your next chapter in your life! So many don’t realize that until it’s too late! Enjoy enjoy enjoy! Looking forward to future updates!

  16. Yep! I remember sending my laptop back to the corporation, wondering what in the heck had I done. It’s sad when the company you started with changes into a place that’s so very different. I hope you’ll enjoy the not working state as much as I do.

  17. Congratulations on your retirement. I must admit I am a little envious, you are living my dream :)
    I look forward to your future posts. Wishing you all the best.

  18. Way to go on retiring early. I say retire when you want to, not on someone’s schedule. We retired @ 56husband/50wife and went fulltime rv. No regrets. As a matter of fact, we often wonder how in the world we could have handled several things that have come up if we were still working. I admire that you are taking that leap of faith that you can continue being original and not some cookie cutter individual that we are “expected” to be. Now you can really live an exciting life, not to say it wasn’t before, but now you will be in so much more control of your day to day world. We love the pictures you have taken during your travels. Love pictures taken that include your Winnie. Campsites are so comforting. Great narrative too. Clark & Sandy

  19. Congratulations to you!
    Owning our own business for the past 26 years, my husband and I are definitely ready to retire ourselves. But we will have a semi-retirement. We plan to RV full time making our living by taking a portion of our business on the road with us.
    We’re planning on heading out June 2016. Until then we’ll keep dreaming the dream and before we know it, we’ll be living the dream.

  20. I’m a little late to the party, but I’m so excited for you! Perfect age to retire and still have many, many years of fun ahead. Your work history sounds so exciting, how in the world would you ever retire and still have as interesting a future? Full-timing, of course. You go, girl! Congratulations on your past, your birthday, and your future on the road! :)

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