It’s my life.

Over the past several years, I’ve been working on remaking my life. I dumped the loser “fiance,” got off the antidepressants, took control of my financial life, and stopped drinking booze. Within the next year or two, I’ll have ditched the practice of law and my time will be my own. It’s all part of a master plan. A master plan for the next phase of my life. I’ve got all the pieces in place. All I lack is an end game. A vision of what comes next, when Next gets here.

Sometimes I think I’ll live in Austin during winter and at the cabin in Canada in the summer. (As things stand currently, I’ll have to split summers with my sister, who has a similar plan.) The cabin, which sits on the rugged shoreline of Lake Superior, is cozy and tranquil. It’s a perfect writing retreat. It’s a retreat from pretty much everything civilized. The nearest real grocery store is an hour’s drive into town. Summering (or half-summering) there would be a sweet respite. In theory.

As for my home base, I often do a loop around North America in my musings: Seattle or Bellingham, Washington or Portland, Oregon (too expensive?); Asheville, North Carolina (not progressive enough?); Central Mexico (by myself?); somewhere overseas (but, the cats); and I end up back in Austin. The cost of living here is relatively inexpensive and it’s a fairly progressive city. At least for Texas, it is. But it’s dreadfully hot many months of the year. And it’s getting a bit crowded these days, losing much of its charm.

Occasionally my continent-loop ends in compromise. Somewhere safe. I move to the Texas Hill Country. I buy a little piece of land. And a home with a bit more square footage and a screened porch for the Three Black Cats. I envision learning to grow a proper garden. Collecting rainwater. Installing solar panels and a metal roof. I ride my bike to the farmers market. (Apparently my garden isn’t entirely successful. Mostly because I leave and go to Canada for half the summer.) It sounds peaceful. I pull out my real estate app and start looking at homes.

Regardless of where my home base is, if I spend my summers at the cabin, I’ll be living a life much like my parents lived. Much like my sister plans to live. Shouldn’t I be a little more adventurous? Am I being lazy? Wouldn’t doing the Texas/Canada plan be living my parents’ life, instead of my own? Just as I was living my parents’ vision of life by going to college, then law school, then working in an office most of my life?

I read lots of early (and average-age) retirement blogs. I read of people’s adventures all over the world: Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Thailand, Spain, Africa, Italy, Ireland. Of people’s adventures traveling the United States in RVs, buying (or building) tiny houses, doing house-sitting gigs taking care of llamas on the French countryside. The Texas/Canada plan seems tired in comparison.

Sadie, too, is having trouble thinking outside the box.

Sadie, too, is having trouble thinking outside the box.

Living my parents’ vision of life has narrowed my thinking. And has me fearful of living differently. After all, I’m embarking on this next phase, this untested unknown phase, on my own. Not as part of a couple, as with most of the blogs I read. I have conditioning to overcome. Conditioning that says men can do this sort of crazy risk-taking, but women can’t. Men can pack up and move to Mexico, or Panama. Women can’t. Not on their own. Women need to stick with the tried and true plan. Play it safe. Keep working. Build that stash into such a pile that it can withstand all eventualities. And then live somewhere safe. Maybe thirty miles or so from where they live currently. Do the Texas/Canada Plan.

And then I watch this video a blogging friend recently sent to me: Avicii’s I Could Be the One. I’m having fantasies now of grabbing my crotch on my way out the BigLaw door. And of remaking my life somewhere else. Somewhere that’s entirely mine.

About Unconfirmed Bachelorette

Unconfirmed Bachelorette, a/k/a Ella, is a 50-something-year-old lawyer who wishes fervently she could retire from the practice of law and write full time. Never-married-childfree Ella resides in Austin, Texas with her three fluffy black rescue cats.
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62 Responses to It’s my life.

  1. foguth says:

    Um, before you decide on a plan, which includes transporting pets across country borders, you might want to research what that will entail. I say this because Canadian friends had a similar (though reverse) plan and for 4 years they spent summers at their home in British Columbia and winters in Panama – they brought their dog and had to go through all sorts of expense, etc. to bring her.
    After 4 years, they sold their house in Panama because the red tape was too frustrating.

    Like

  2. Ron Griffin says:

    Love your work. Can’t wait to see what you do next. I would love to reblog this. I think a lot of people feel the way you do. I would love to chat when you have time.

    Like

  3. Millie says:

    Crotch grabbing your way out the door! hahahahaha, love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cindy knoke says:

    I am convinced you’ll do it. You have determination, you have made more challenging changes, and you are carefully planning for your “retirement.” My brother, the judge, scoffs at my “retirement.” He’s jealous!

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  5. josie416 says:

    My mother took me, age four, to Mexico with her in 1956, when that sort of thing was just not done. We spent five years there, and then she realized all her friends were American, so we moved back. She had no job on returning, one year of college, little savings. She spent the next four years working various clerical jobs and folk-dancing (with me in tow, now ages 8 through 12) four nights a week. Then she read Walden Two, dragged me across the country (1965) to join a communal household in D.C., which was a prelude to her co-founding Twin Oaks Community, still extant and thriving. twinoakscommunity.org (Don’t think about joining; they are great people but they won’t take your cats.)

    I have had plenty of adventures with and without my mom. Here’s my “wisdom” on the subject: 1. Make sure wherever you go you will be able to have some social contacts, and a close friend or two. 2. Adventure is great in retrospect and you generally won’t regret it, but the process itself is just as full of misery and pain (and joy and whatever the opposite of pain is) as the less adventurous part. 3. Like having a baby, it’s a HUGE commitment, and you should do it only if you have to. And by have to, I mean perhaps that you are restless, seeking, driven, want change, need change. 4. Ignore all those “been all over the world” blogs and do what’s in your heart (including going all over the world if you want).

    I live in Harrisonburg, VA, which is probably not progressive enough for you, but Asheville NC is groovy’sville and gorgeous. You should check it out. And if you do, look us up in H’burg. Two smart sassy females; we’ll probably hate each other. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • What an interesting upbringing you had, Josie. We did a lot of moving around, but my folks were conventional. Your mom’s way sounds like lots more fun.

      I think I’m having trouble envisioning my next life because of the constriction of my current life. It could be that Austin looks much better when I’m free from the daily grind. But I do believe a fact-finding mission to Asheville is in order. I will look you up!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. lian says:

    I’m trying to figure the master plan for my next phase also. I fantasize about selling everything, and traveling free and unencumbered to wherever my fancy takes me. But I have two cats, and whatever I do must be easy and comfortable for them. I’m looking into what it takes to move them to Europe for a few years – others have done it, but I’m intimidated. Looking forward to reading what you decide for your plan. Think you’re a year or so ahead of me.

    Hilarious video – could be me. Except I hope to have a better ending.

    Like

    • I’m intimidated, too. Having a modest home base in Europe might be a way to work the cats into the dream of traveling Europe somewhat unencumbered. Getting them there might be OK. Just keep them with you in their carriers under the seat on the plane. (I’d have to take two friends.) I’m interested to hear what you learn about cat logistics. Please share!

      Yes, the ending was a downer. But maybe her injuries were minor and she collected a legal settlement to help fund her retirement.

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  7. You should definitely move to the PNW (unless you really like that pesky year-round sunshine). I live in Salem, just ever-so-slightly south of Portland and it’s still affordable here. Also, we accept all cats regardless of breed, sexual orientation, or propensity to meow loudly.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ainsobriety says:

    I love your plan. You can always have some adventure trips. Texas/Canada would be great.
    Just know your tax law so you don’t end up paying in both countries!

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  9. Robert Crisp says:

    Good to hear from you on the ol’ blogs…all of this sounds delightful (if a bit stressful). Still, you’re in a remarkable position. I look forward to reading what comes next.

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  10. less4success says:

    I suspect traveling somewhere more exotic will look a lot more accessible once you’re no longer spending the vast majority of your time working. So don’t feel like you need to make a decision prior to retiring 🙂

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    • I think that is spot on. I’m sitting here trying to figure it all out now, and it’s impossible to know from here how I’ll feel there. These ruminations likely are my means of escaping the drudgery of my current existence.

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  11. franhunne4u says:

    I myself do not think of Texas as a safe place, but then I am spoilt … I live in Germany. Stricter gun laws, nicer place for women (in general), and in the East of Germany there would even be solitary living possible – which I detest. I think women need social contacts even more than men do. Humans are conditioned to live in groups. To spend some place where I could be killed and not being found for weeks would frighten me.

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    • Fran, interesting point about social contacts. I think my views on that will change when I’m not working, as well. Right now, all I want to do is hunker down away from people and recover from the day/week.

      Liked by 1 person

      • franhunne4u says:

        They have found out, most people (not all, obviously, we are not all alike) still prosper from some kind of regularity, and go into retirement and the total lack of appointments totally unprepared. That is why they recommend some charity work for the elderly.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Jim Mcg says:

    I have similar travel fantasies, about the globe trotting RV. At the same time, I kind of know it IS a fantasy. In many travel blogs I sense an underlying pining for a permanent home to return to. About choosing a place to live, i sometimes ask myself if I won the lottery, where would I choose as a home? Inevitably my social connections still figure, my friends and family. Sorry, I couldn’t give a stuff about pets, but I recognise the connection to loved ones. No (wo)man is an island, and if your cats have a bearing on your decisions it’s really important to figure them in! I used to tell myself home is where the heart is, but it’s not as simple as that. Where you live is important on a variety of fronts, so it’s a big decision to make. Look forward to seeing your updates on it.

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    • Jim, this gets to the heart of it for me. I’m fairly certain I need a home base (or two), with adventure forays from time to time. As to where home base will be, I have no children, so the world is my oyster (so long as I can get the kitties there with minimal trauma). If money was no object, where is my perfect place? Damned if I know.

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  13. I didn’t read all of the comments, so I’m not sure if someone’s said it or not, but if the Texas-Canada plan is what you want to do and you know it would make you happy, it doesn’t matter if it was also your parents’ and sister’s plan, because it’s a lot of other people’s plans, too. But, if you’re just doing it because you want to do *something*, then i agree you should give it a bit more thought. Besides, you can always just come visit us in Panama for a few weeks out of the winter :).

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    • I don’t know what I want, Rebecca! You’re so right: the Texas/Canada plan could be a lazy default. Or, it could be a terrific plan, which is why multiple parties are choosing it. I need to stop working forthwith so I can sort out this important life issue. Including, perhaps, an exploratory visit to Panama.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Amazing funny video – Really shows the ‘dark dream’ in all of us!

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  15. Tahira says:

    I believe you’ve proven, in the last several years, that you can do whatever you put your mind to, Ella 🙂

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  16. Do it. Test drive a city or two before you buy something. Rent your place out and pick somewhere to go and rent there. That way you can always return if you wish. When you get there, take a few classes and do some volunteering to establish a social circle. The place in Canada will be there if you wish regardless of where you go. Who knows what’s waiting for you out there? Carpe diem.

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    • I like the way you think, Colleen. I could be a gypsy until I find my spot. And you’re right, Canada will always be there. Just as it was always there as I was growing up and moving from state to state over half a dozen times. Thanks, Colleen!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kim G says:

        One thing to consider is the fact that the USD vs CAD is *very* strong right now and that isn’t likely to last forever. If you want to buy property, that kind of discount doesn’t come around every year.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. msgrant1953 says:

    I never would have thought ever that I would end up in MIchigan, but here I am. Do I know anyone near me? Nope. Am I generally on my own? Yes, And I’m happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love Michigan, msgrant! I lived there in my childhood, and my folks are from there. I sometimes think of adding Grand Rapids to my continent-loop, but I’ve been in the south so long, I don’t know how to do snow. I don’t even own a heavy coat. But your point about striking out somewhere totally outside your comfort zone, being generally on your own, and being happy, is well taken. I expect I’d do well in that environment, too. And besides, snow shoveling is good exercise.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Kim G says:

    This post really resonates with me. I retired three years ago, with the longstanding plan of moving to Mexico. So where am I? Still stuck in Boston!!!! For some reason it has been *very* hard to pull the trigger. Like you, I’m single. My original plan had been to move to Mexico City to be with my BF. Sadly we broke up 2 years ago, and now I’d be launching myself into the void, so to speak. Fortunately, I speak Spanish, so I’m not limited to some place where there are a lot of expats. But I still can’t really get off the dime. Now I’m stuck tinkering with my house here.

    By the way, this house has also become something of a ball-and-chain. It seems there’s always some reason related to it that keeps me from leaving, whether it’s the need to rake leaves in the fall, shovel the sidewalk in the winter (used to have a housemate for that; now he’s gone), the odd jury-duty notice, and the like. So consider that before deciding to have houses in two different places.

    As for Central Mexico, I think you should really consider that more seriously. Central Mexico is a long one-day drive from Austin, or a leisurely two-days’ drive. Though I haven’t done it personally, I know people who take pets back and forth across the border all the time. It has a fantastic climate, neither too hot nor too cold. And it’s currently very cheap, with the peso down roughly 25% over the past year vs the USD. For example, you could get this charmer of a house in Zacatecas for about $85,000 USD. (http://www.vivanuncios.com.mx/a-venta-inmuebles/zacatecas-zac/bonita-casa-en-calle-del-angel/1001078314770910153763409) And then you’d be a hop, skip, and a jump from the heart of a beautiful, historic silver town. Or you could go another couple of hours south to San Miguel de Allende, where lack of Spanish is no problem, as the town is full of Gringos and Mexicans who’ve learned some English.

    And I frankly consider Mexico more culturally foreign than any place in Western Europe. Living there would certainly be more exotic than living in France, in my opinion. And it has the ease of driving back to Texas whenever you want to visit.

    Anyway, best of luck with your journey, wherever it might take you.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where indecision reigns supreme.

    Like

    • Kim, you inspire. As you point out, Mexico is not all that difficult to pull off. It could begin as simply as renting out my condo (or you, your house) and leasing a furnished place south of the border. I could do it for a few years while the investment account grows, and come back to Texas if I find it doesn’t suit me. It would also mean I could leave the BigLaw paycheck sooner, not needing to have as much of a stash to say adios.

      I know some Spanish, having taken several years of it in high school. I attempt to talk with my cleaner (my only remaining luxury from my non-frugal life) in Spanish. It is evident I don’t know enough to be comfortable in a purely Spanish-speaking environment. It seems you’ve hit on a way for me to set things in motion. And distract myself from the doldrums until it’s time to quit the law. It seems I need to research the best way to learn Spanish aside from immersion.

      I think we move toward a new adventure when fear of the known becomes greater than fear of the unknown. I’m at the point. It sounds like you might be, too. Vamanos! Before I beat you to that little charmer of a house.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kim G says:

        Look at Spanish as a kind of investment. While I had taken a few years of Spanish in high school, and was able to say a few things, the fact is I really was pretty close to zero Spanish when I met my ex in Jan ’07. But I really put my mind to learning, found a tutor on Craigslist who’d come to my office in the evenings, and only charged me $20 per hour. And I just worked, and worked, and worked, and continue working today. But the payoff has been incredible in terms of broadening my horizons, AND by allowing me to live anywhere south of the border easily, save for Brazil, where they don’t speak Spanish. As for that charmer of a house, there are plenty more where that one came from. Outside of San Miguel de Allende, Monterrey, and Mexico City, housing in Mexico can be had QUITE cheaply, especially now as the country is holding a 25% off sale.

        Saludos y buena suerte! You can do it!

        Liked by 1 person

        • That’s it. I’m going to look into finding a tutor. And you’re right, while I can order a beer and ask for the bathroom (or tell my cleaner there’s no leche for the cafe), I’m at pretty much zero. A tutor and exploratory trips. That will plant the seed. Thanks, Kim!

          Liked by 1 person

        • I have signed up for Spanish lessons on Duolingo. I took the test to try to place out of beginner, but failed. I do know more than I remembered, however. I also talked to a friend last night about a group class she takes with a tutor. I’m guessing they’re ahead of me, but when I feel a little more confident, I have that option. Thanks for the inspiration, Kim!

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          • Kim G says:

            Hola Ella! Kudos! The most important factor in learning a new language is determination and persistence. It’s a bit like learning a musical instrument; you just have to keep practicing. However my own belief is that we humans have an innate ability to learn languages, and if you believe the same, you will eventually speak Spanish. Saludos y buena suerte!

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  19. Sometimes I wonder if we women feel more trapped than men by expectations. Not too many guys we know would care much about whether their vision for the future was too similar to that of their parents or other relatives, and I say, find what’s right for you, regardless of whether it’s been done by someone else. If you decide you want to do something more adventurous, hats off! And if you decide you want to do the Texas/Canada split, that’s great too! We don’t get more points in life by being different for different’s sake, so find what feels right in your heart and gut. And please keep us posted on what you decide! 🙂

    Like

    • ONL, I can’t tell whether I’m feeling trapped by expectations, or trapped by fear. It’s a strange feeling not knowing what I want, still, at age 52. I thought I’d have figured it out by now. I’m hopeful that when I quit the practice of law, I’ll find my way out of this fog. I’ll find my way to a place where I can tap into the wisdom of my heart and gut. Mr. and Mrs. ONL, you are lucky to know exactly how and where you want to live Your Next Life.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. YAM says:

    I read the first two paragraphs of this post and wondered if you and I were in fact the same person. I ❤ you and your blog, and I thank you for your kind words about mine! You've motivated me to start drafting a new post after 2 years.

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  21. Thank you, YAM. It’s so kind of you to let me know I lit a fire. I am looking forward to reading everything you write. I wonder if that’s because we might be the same person.

    Like

  22. megeastwood says:

    Sadie might just be a genius. Inside the box is out of fashion, but that doesn’t mean that boxes aren’t fun! Sometimes things are a classic for a reason.

    Like

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