I really don’t know where to begin this retirement blog and thinking about it doesn’t seem to help, so I’ll just begin and see where it goes. I think it’s basically a blog about confusion, about not being able to tease complexity apart and not being able to take decisions. One of my favourite ‘life’ mantras, one I’ve included in these pages before, is the one created by Thomas Gordon who wrote the bestseller I’m OK; You’re OK. In summary he said : A winner takes a big problem and teases it apart so that it becomes actionable, a loser takes a lot of little problems and rolls them together so that they become non-actionable.
I find that my retirement life has a propensity to roll problems / challenges together and make me feel stuck. Everything’s all too difficult to deal with. I’m not saying it wasn’t always the way in my life, I have a talent for over-reaching myself and making our lives complicated, stressful even. Putting the best perspective on it, it’s a desire to live life to the full, so full that the glass is over-flowing, pouring down the side and onto the tablecloth. And, as we know, that creates a mess. So is there a difference now I’m retired? Maybe one difference is that, when you’re retired, you’ve got more time to devote to really over-complicating things. You know really devote yourself and your new found freedom to over-egging the cake. Put simply, trying to pack too much in.
Basically my version of complexity, or part of it at least, is based on, what we might be called, a property/ies situation. Let me explain. But I can’t promise it will come out in a well-organised manner. First, there is the problem of selling my late mother’s house. Basically it’s in a state and has, I suppose, if the estate agent knows what they are about, been priced accordingly. I guess people see it and think they can get it for a pittance and so put in, almost insultingly, low offers. We have no problem rejecting them. The offers are going up and we’re at the level of them being somewhere close to the figure we have in our heads, or my head anyway. Mrs Summerhouse, for a variety of reasons, is more inclined to just let it go. It’s pointless saying to her but if we get more money you can have a new car / diamond ring / dress / pair of shoes, because she has no interest in any of the above. The difficulty of making a decision is compounded by the fact that if I don’t get the figure I have in mind then I have this plan to do it up and either sell it at an increased price or rent it out as other houses in the street are.*
Wait it gets worse, as you know, we are currently running number one son’s gardening business and it’s getting to the time of year when the garden maintenance side of the business might be reducing. We want to keep the chaps going through the winter if we can and I’ve already written about trying to develop the landscaping side of things. Mrs SH is, you will remember, currently working her way through an on-line garden design course with this possibility in mind. But there is also another possibility and this is back to my late mother’s house. In some ways if we don’t sell it then we thought it might be fun to give the house a make-over and, and here’s the complicated bit – again, use the chaps with their reduced gardening hours, to work on the house. Possibly a win-win situation. We get cheaper labour, the house gets renovated and the chaps get paid through the winter. This makes me less willing to accept low offers on the house. Of course this strategy is not without risk, few strategies are. We might still not be able to sell the house for more than we will have put into it and being a landlord holds little appeal. Hmm, my head is starting to spin a bit.
But there’s more and I don’t expect any sympathy for my situation. You’ve got too much time on your hands, that’s your trouble. I wish I had your problems, etc, etc. However…. the other complication, all tied up with the above, is what to do with the money if we ever get it. I have no interest in having money in the bank and, when we’ve had money in the past, I have had this inclination to buy something like land or property. But I’m being leaned on not to buy anything else – like the house / land in Ireland that I wrote about some time ago. Which brings me back to our land in Durango, Colorado. Not that I’ve written much about this aspect of our retirement. A whole can of worms / possibilities – take your pick –around this land we’ve owned for about fifteen years – sell it, leave it, build a house on it. Blame my daughter for the re-awakening of this latter idea / project, because she bought me, for my birthday present, the very nice book above and reading it set me going about building a cabin on the land. This latter option would be nothing fancy, just a building that would come under the banner of Tiny Houses. I even sent an email to an architect in Durango who had a blog about Tiny Houses on their website. Not heard back from them, perhaps my email saying we had a tiny budget to build the tiny house put them off our project. But we haven’t built anything tiny or large thus far because we didn’t have any spare cash. Now if, and I repeat if, we do have cash we could build something suitably modest but a project none the less. If we did build the ‘even further complications’ would be whether we would ever be able to live in it for any length of time. Re-enter the tricky problem of flying with the dogs.
You see how it’s all getting a bit involved. Now throw into the soup the letter I’ve received from the pensions people – lump sum or increased monthly pension – and then ladle on the fact that that in less than three years time we have to repay quite an outstanding mortgage amount and that, if we sold the house and put a bit more in, like the pensions lump sum, for example, we could afford to do this and this is of course the sensible option, you pay off your debts but then this is extremely dull as a course of action and I’d rather continue to be a bit adventurous, and you’ve got a situation that’s very hard to tease apart. All this thinking and mental wrestling is taking up my retirement time a treat but I’m not at all sure that’s a good thing. Somewhere in all this mess there are decisions to be taken, quite important ones that could possibly affect our retirement future. Ooh er. I’d better get back to teasing my life apart.
* after this weekend this whole thing got even more complicated but this blog is enough for now.