Garden Badassery

Once upon a time, a princess lived in a regular home with a garden that she loved to tend to. Unfortunately, she married a crazy wizard who cast a love spell on her which ate up all of her free time. The princess never had time to look after her garden anymore. The garden became just as crazy as the wizard, from missing her touch and shadow. Instead of bringing her joy, the garden made the princess sad and more than a little mad as it reminded the princess of all that she had lost.

Then the wizard sickened and died and the spell was broken, at long last. The princess widow moved from her little place (now a place of sadness) and claimed the wizard’s castle as her home. She spent the next couple of years ridding the castle of the effects of the wizard’s long, crazy rule and became transformed into a badass princess widow as a result.

The princess widow still had no time to devote to a garden even though she was now free to do so. She hadn’t forgotten her love of growing things and vowed one day to create a little garden in her castle aerie, overlooking the village.

And in the spring of 2017, the badass princess widow finally could make this dream come true.

The beginnings of the Badass Rooftop Garden
Copper tag proclaiming that here grows the world’s most expensive pole beans ($3.95 for seeds; $200+ for containers, soil, stakes etc.) 😉
Cherry tomatoes, basil and rosemary
Mint and Lemon Balm, for future fresh leaf teas
Pole Bean Buddha

And she went back to growing things happily ever after.

Rock on,

The WB

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A-Z Reflections of a Survivor

Survivor Badass

Made it through another April and another A-Z Challenge. This is my 3rd year (and 3rd year of successful completion!).

I found having a theme made it easier to write the posts, actually. This was NOT what I was expecting at all. And, also in the NOT what I was expecting department is this: I think I have decided to actually put off retirement for a bit longer than I was thinking at the beginning of the challenge.

I was so sure, that by working through all my little trepidations, by April 30 I would have convinced myself to pull the plug at 60, if not sooner. I also was thinking of moving, once retired, to my lakeside dream abode.

Instead I am (surprise!) undertaking yet another renovation project at Chez Badass – once again investing in my current space and making the people at the bank love me even more than they already do.

This time the foyer (shared space between my tenant and myself) is getting an overhaul, as well as the bathroom on the stair landing, just outside the apartment proper (as a second, guest bathroom). I’m also fixing up the former janitor’s closet off of the foyer, to be a kitchenette for my tenants’ use, and making a bunch of other little improvements too. The ceiling in this closet has to be removed in order to get at the plumbing for the landing bathroom so it seemed the perfect time to do the other improvements to this space as well.

I have to thank my sponsor (Full Time Employment) for making this renovation project happen. 😉

With regards to the lakeside dream home, it could still be a thing. However, I am not as enamoured of the idea as I have been for the past 6 months.

Let’s face it – I have it pretty sweet right here. The library, recreation/seniors centre and many shops that I patronize are all within easy walking distance (5-10 minutes for most). Also within walking distance are the river and some beautiful trails. My building is commercial as well as residential, so I have year-round property maintenance set up. This means I don’t have to cut grass or shovel snow –  just pay others to do it for me (and claim as a legit business expense). And because of the zoning of the property, I can park my future Airstream (drool) or what-have-you trailer right in my driveway, year-round. Some years ago, I checked the bylaws and this was confirmed by the city staff. Public transit is available practically right outside my doorstep. I still get mail delivered right to my door. And I can pick up the City’s free downtown wifi in my office if I had want to.

Pretty much a retiree’s dream set-up, doncha think?

I’m still going to be checking out waterfront real estate options as I ramble around the province, and I’ll be loving the idea of moving to each place under consideration for at least 15 minutes. I may change my mind (yet again) but if I do move, there’s a lot of boxes that need to be checked off first.

I figure now that I can probably get my lake fix via camping, renting a cottage and/or crashing with visiting  Me Too for bit every summer.

Going through this exercise and theme has made me appreciate what I do have even more.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Z is for Zen – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

Z is for feeling Zen about retiring

Housekeeping: Despite deleting a suspicious plug-in and working with Bluehost to try and fix things, some people are still having trouble commenting on the blog. Thank you for keeping me informed about this problem! I am going to try changing my blog’s theme next, to see if that helps. Some spam is getting through again, as well as some comments but why things are not “normal”, I have no idea! No other blogger seems to be reporting this problem (that I can find) so I continue to be stumped but will keep looking for solutions. It will be a case of trial and (much) error I fear, and I thank you for continuing to read, and especially for your patience.

The informal meaning of the word “Zen” is “relaxed and not worrying about things you cannot change“.

Since I believe that my retirement is almost totally within my ability to change at this point, it’s probably not the right word to describe how I am feeling about things at the end of this blogging challenge.

But I can’t think of a better word – especially a Z word – for today, so Zen it is.

By taking this month to explore, in my mind and on ye olde blogge, my thoughts, feelings, goals and dreams about retiring I am more at peace about it.

I’ve opened all the closet doors and exposed my inner bogeymen to the light while focusing on my April theme. They’re still very much there (fears of  do I have enough money and/or time left to fulfill my retirement dreams mainly – especially the latter one) but they are diminished in size. I’ve acknowledged their existence to myself and decided not to let fear rule my decision making at this time.

I have a clearer picture of the type of retirement I would like to enjoy and feel confident it is do-able. As well, I am confident that I have enough resources – specifically: personal resiliency/adaptability – to deal with the unexpected.

I also feel that if suddenly something (Health, I am looking at you!) changed and I had to take retirement before I was really ready, I would be more informed and prepared than I was a month ago.

For a short while during this month, I was visualizing and mentally preparing for retiring as early as age 60. That’s a little over 2 years away. Having “loved/lived the idea for 15 minutes”, now I am not so sure I’ll be ready by then.

There’s more work I would like to do on my building and right now that is more important to me. Investing in the property has an impact on my retirement plan.  As of today, I am willing to work longer in order to make those improvements happen.

I think I will still retire earlier than 65 and hope that when I do, it will be as totally badass as I envision. I’ll be doing everything within my power to make sure that happens.

Thanks for following this challenge (and my first posting series!) this month. We now return to our regular programming…

Rock on,

The WB

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Y is for Yearning – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

Y is for Yearning for a Badass Retirement

 

Yesterday one of my colleagues retired from my work, after 20 years spent with the organization. She is only 52. One of the post-work goals she shared with us at her party was that she and her husband are going to tour the States, visiting NFL stadiums (and taking in games, I presume). Not something I would ever want to spend my time on, but hey…different strokes for different folks, right?

I had thought that seeing Diane off would have stirred even more yearnings for retirement in my soul than I already have, but surprisingly it didn’t. During this month of researching and writing posts about quitting work for good, I have had so many conflicting feelings about the subject, particularly when. And I am no closer to knowing “when” now than I was back in March.

What I am sure of is this: my yearnings for breaking the (golden) shackles of work are related mainly to not having enough time (or yet, money) to pursue my true “Dabbler” nature. I do love my work but it takes a lot of my energy, especially right now. And that leaves very little left over for other pursuits. And so my yearnings for retirement increase during these times, often dramatically.

I have this painting hanging over my iMac. I gaze at it often, as I am doing right now. It is a wedding gift from JD’s cousin’s husband, a talented painter of landscapes.

Autumn Road by Michael Roth

I can lose myself easily in this painting. I am walking down that northern lane and taking in the beauty of where I am on the path, and anticipating the beautiful views to come, just around the bend.

For me this symbolizes my yearnings for retirement (and more free time for indulging my dabbling). I love where I am now, but also can’t wait to continue the journey and see what’s around the corner.*

Rock on,

The WB

*One of pluses of reaching this age is the ability to hold opposite and conflicting thoughts in one’s brain and finding that completely natural and normal.

 

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X is for Marking the Spot – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

X marks the spot!

X marks the spot on the calendar for quitting work and starting retirement.

Which has not been marked yet – at least, not on any of my calendars!

I did receive my personal code in the mail and have been able to set up my My Service Canada account. I know what I would receive per month if I turned 65 today and what I will receive if I retire at 60, and start my life as an OAP. And I can get a number for any time in between those 5 years. So that is settled!

But instead of being more certain of when I will want to retire as I progress through my theme for this challenge, I find the opposite has happened. For now, I am doubtful I will retire as early as 60. I do think I will want to work a little longer in order to hit certain financial goals, and that’s OK with me.

After all I do enjoy my work, and I am feeling more confident of being able to realize a long, healthy life. Because of this:

A few weeks back, I went again to the neurologist investigating my TIAs of last year, written about here and here. His office called me in for a follow-up. I really like this guy. He seems straight up and kinda cool. Very humble, soft-spoken and has this grey, hippy-ish, mullet-ish, uncontrolled hair. A very wool socks and Birks kind of a guy. Very un-neurologist.

Because I value his opinion, I asked him to tell me frankly – if he was me, knowing what he knows about strokes and risk and having the same medical history as me – how would this affect his decision-making regarding the rest of his life?

He gave it some thought and said “You want to know about your risk, right?” Then he told me that I was probably at lower risk than the general population with respect to having a future stroke, since I had been “caught” and was now on preventative medication.

That made me feel a whole lot better about my prospects and also about having to pop these damn pills daily.

So I am feeling more relaxed about these things and about time in general.

My X will mark the spot sometime between 60 and 65. That is all I think know for now, and that’s OK.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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W is for Wealth – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

W is for Wealth but Wealth is more than just money

 

For me, money is just a small (but important!) part of being “wealthy”.

Even though I wonder if I have enough in savings yet for when I am ready to retire, I feel incredibly wealthy just the same.

Traditionally, definitions of wealth describe it as an “abundance of material possessions or money”.

The Widow Badass definition describes wealth as an “abundance of needs being met”.

These needs include:

  • healthy, loving relationships
  • physical health
  • intellectual stimulation
  • creature comforts, including a cozy home
  • feeling safe
  • feeling valued
  • (no consumer debt and) spare cash in the bank

I know some so-called rich people who are actually quite poor by my definition because certain needs are not being met.

And I know some average or low-income people who possess wealth beyond measure because they have everything BUT a lot of extra dough to throw around.

The key, I think, is recognizing and paying attention to your wealth, otherwise known as “counting your blessings”.

What does it matter how much abundance you possess, if you are too blind to recognize and value it?

Rock on,

The WB

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V is for Vacation – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

 

V is for Vacay!

I had this funny idea when I first started exploring my thinking about retirement. That once you were retired, vacations were…well…redundant. I mean…every day was now gonna be a Vacation (from work) Day, right?*

Not surprising since I am still fully in harness, so to speak. I use my allotted “Sick Days” when ill and “Vacation Days” for other days I need away from work – whether actually going anywhere or not.

Many has been the Vacation Day taken for finishing an assignment for school, helping out my mom and stepdad, or responding to a renovation or other crisis at doing some other mid-week chores for Chez Badass! In my defence, it is no small wonder that I think this way about vacation. Turns out I have been doing it wrong for most of my working life.

Sorry, Batman

Merriam-Webster defines vacation as “a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation”. It says nothing about having to be employed in order to be able to use the word. Or finishing papers for your Masters degree. Ahem.

Seems to me that most of my life I have been using a good part of my allotted Vacation Days in the pursuit of things that are definitely NOT “vacation”. No “travel” and definitely no “recreation” occurred on these days. But I digress…

I don’t know if I can express to you how looking up this definition has expanded my mind not only about vacation but also about retirement. But I’m gonna try.

Instead of thinking of retirement as merely “not working”, this has caused me to see retirement in a new light…that it is an occupation in its own right, however you choose to define it or spend your time.

Therefore, why wouldn’t you still call a trip away “a vacation” from your retired life?!

Mind. Blown.

Rock on,

The WB

*Please tell me I am not alone in this misguided thinking.

 

 

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U is for Understanding – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

U is for Understanding Retirement

Warning: Italics-heavy post ahead. 😉

You know what? When I started this challenge I had figured that by now I would have a much clearer understanding of what my thoughts, feelings and especially direction in retirement would be.

Hah! Far from it.

I’m still not even sure when I’m going to pull the plug on my steady paycheque. It might be as soon as 60 but then again…I might not feel financially comfortable or otherwise ready then.

I do have a sort of “magic” number in my head, that I would like to see to see in my RRSPs (registered retirement savings plan), and another magic number that I would like to see in my TFSA (tax-free savings account) before I stop being employed.

I would also like to see the demand loan on my building (what I call my “mortgage” except it’s not one, really) knocked down as much as possible before my paycheques end. Especially if I am going to be staying on here – at the current Chez Badass – for a while yet, instead of living the lakeside dream. I do not want to be caught tenant-less at some point in the future and be having to pony up the (hefty) commercial property tax bill PLUS the loan money every month with no rent AND paycheque coming in to help cover it.

It would drain me in an awful big hurry. I would feel compelled to find work again. Which is not to say I won’t ever want to work for pay again in my retirement years…I just don’t want to ever feel I have to do so, if I can help it.

What I have gained an understanding of is this: I want maximum possibilities to be able to explore in my retirement.

I understand I don’t want to hear the word “No” for the relatively modest (but extravagant for me) post-work life I have envisioned of yearly winter escapes and other occasional explorations abroad, North American road-trips (with a funky trailer or hippy van), hiking, art, and whatever else takes my interest as I progress through this thing called the rest of my life.

And I understand now that I have an over-arching goal for my money. Whereas for the past three years (and first time in my life!) I have been thoroughly enjoying spending my free (and borrowed) cash on whatever the WB wants*, now I am exploring how little I can live on and how much more I can squirrel away for future freedom.

You know what, maybe I have gained the most important understanding about retirement of all. I do have choices and I can create the type of retirement that I envision with proper planning and a little luck. It just needs me to continue on with the inner and outer information-gathering. (I admit it was a little ambitious of me to think I would have it all sorted out within the 26 days of this challenge…)

Life is a journey and retirement is not the end. It is the continuation and hopefully one of the better parts of the journey.

Rock on,

The WB

*And by whatever the WB wants, I mean things like cleaning up a lifetime of my late husband’s hoarding; replacing knob and tube wiring and a heating/cooling system, plumbing and roofing; installing solar panels to generate income; creating a functioning home including new kitchen, laundry and bath; getting dining room furniture, putting curtains (finally!) on the windows, refinishing beat-up furniture left to me; treating myself to a new mattress/bedding; and many more mundane home-establishing type things, too numerous to mention. Oh yeah, and the occasional cheap holiday. And kick-ass boots. You know, real Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous -type stuff…hehehe!

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T is for Teaching – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

T is for Teaching

I have been heard to say (loudly and vehemently) that now that I was done with my MBA, you would never find me in school again. Unless it was for a totally fun class, like say quilting or watercolour painting.

But what if I went back – not as a student – but as a teacher?

I do have a Bachelor of Education in Adult Education degree as well as a Science degree – pursued and achieved because at one point in my career I was put in charge of training at a large (125+ souls) laboratory. That was a lot of responsibility and I felt I needed some “training” myself, so as to do the best job possible. Turns out it was only for a brief time period because part-way through my studies, I took the opportunity to join my current employer. I still completed my schooling and the degree, but never got to use it in the way I had envisioned…

My dad worked part-time as a teacher after he retired. He taught a course prepping aspiring millwrights to take their exam, at his local community college. He loved it.

I could see myself doing something similar, when I retire. Whether for a fun or serious course…I do know how to put a course together and deliver it.

And, I do have a career’s worth of knowledge to share.

And, if I created an online course (an introvert’s dream!), I could do it from anywhere I happened to be at the moment.

Hmmmm….

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

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S is for Services – Preparing for a Badass Retirement #AtoZChallenge

S is for Access to Services

One of the things that crosses my mind as I contemplate the idea of moving north and lakeside in my retirement life is the availability of services and the ease of accessing them.

Let’s face it, I am on the downward slide of things and am well-past middle-age. (Unless I am going to live to be 114 – then I am smack in the middle of life, still. Hehehe!)

Is moving to a much smaller, more rural, less services-intense community wise? Where every hospital visit entails a long road trip to a major centre and appointments with specialists the same?

Where prolonged power outages are more common, the winters are wilder, and the (GASP!) internet/cell service may be dodgy?!?!?!

It’s the last point that really has me questioning if this is the right move for me. I can be prepared to wait out/deal with everything else. I would rather have to chop wood for heat than go without Ye Olde Interwebs (or use of my smartphone!!!) at my fingertips.

Sign o’ the times, right?

But all is not lost. This article gives me hope.

Perhaps my dream lakeside home will be (internet) ready for me by the time I am ready for it.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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