December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tick, Tick, Tick to RETIREMENT!

Hola darlings!

This is it - FIVE MORE WORKING DAYS TO R DAY!

It's coming true - early retirement, and I still can't believe it, but I don't want to pinch myself because if this is just a dream, I sure don't want to wake up.

I gave my "official" notice to Human Resources on January 5th and then spoke with the head of the Practice Group I am in, in early afternoon, giving him the news and the whys/wherefores.  From there, news spread like wildfire.  Until I gave "official notice" I had kept it very close to my vest, telling only one friend at the office whom I knew would keep her lips zipped.  She did.  And of course, my best buddy Ann, whom I've known since 1991.  So it was a BIG surprise, this news of my impending retirement, and something of a bomb to everyone at the firm.

Suffice to say that my bomb turned into a NEUTRON BOMB.  Wow - I never imagined so much drama, but there's been drama a-plenty, mostly surrounding who would be my successor.  It's been - interesting, since we learned, although it's never been officially announced, that evidently the firm's new "policy" is NO NEW HIRES.  Nope - those left behind will have to suck it up and take over the gargantuan work-load (and incumbent stress) I shouldered.  Well, good luck with that.



My last work day is January 30th.  I cannot tell you how many people have come up to me -- people I didn't even know knew who the heck I was -- wishing me well and congratulating me on my "early escape."  There have been lots of lunches with co-workers, a supper with special friends last Tuesday night (it was SO much fun!), and my last week will be very busy with social events and work.

Monday afternoon there will be a "goodbye"get-together with my co-workers over cake in one of our conference rooms. Thursday lunch with two of the attorneys I've worked with for years at the firm.  Friday night, FREEDOM DAY, dinner and drinks with two special friends at Kegel's, one of my favorite places to eat, drink and make merry.  I will turn in my card-keys and commuter-pass and cell phone I never learned how to use, and collect a check for my accumulated PTO and start paying a ridiculously expensive amount every month to COBRA my health and dental insurance.  I won't qualify for Medicare for 18 months.  But my investment advisor and I have both crunched the numbers (me, several times), and I have enough for a comfortable (not lavish) retirement.  Investment advisor advised me to travel, play chess, and laugh a lot.  I like his advice :)

We had a meeting a week ago Saturday and went over the numbers once again and I received lots of good news.  Mind you, I'm not sure I believe his projections 100%, but he does this day in and day out for his living, working with people of moderate means like moi, and he's an upright guy, so I take what he says more seriously than anything I might hear from the kinds of "advisors" and brokers I interact with on a daily basis.  JH is, first and foremost, NOT a salesman. He truly cares about his clients.

I've saved a lot over the years, diligently working at it.  It was a concept I absorbed and adopted as a credo way back in the early 1970's, when I started working full-time.  Dad had always told us that if we wanted something, we would have to do it for ourselves, that nobody was going to magically appear and hand anything to us on a platter.  We would have to work HARD for what we wanted.  My parents did not preach, they worked their butts off (Mom worked full-time outside the home as well as Dad to support our family of eight) and showed us how to go by example.  Mom took me to the local bank when I was 15 to open my very first savings and checking account. I received a "free" Miriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary for opening a savings account of $150. (I still have that precious dictionary more than 45 years later). After that, I was solely in charge of the funds I earned at a part-time job after school and on weekends during school year, and worked full-time in an office (at $1.65 an hour) during the summer from the time I was 14. (Mom and Dad got tired of running my checks through their checking account!)  Of course, before that, there was baby-sitting and chore money saved up, a quarter at a time, turned over to the parents or put into a piggy bank. Every penny counted then - and now!  I still pick up found coins off the street - what can I say?  You know the old saying, A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED.

Please do not under-estimate teaching your children and young loved ones the ins-and-outs of saving money from an early age on.  Hopefully it will stand them in good stead in future years.

Earlier this year, as things shook out, I ended up downsizing to a smaller and less expensive house (I called it my Retirement Home), when early retirement wasn't even on my event horizon!  Downsizing had always been my plan, it just happened earlier than I thought it would.  As it turned out, it was a fortuitous event. The disciplined saving habits of this child of Depression-Era parents has and will continue to pay off. Thank you, Mom and Dad!  I am very fortunate, and very grateful to be in this position.

Best of all, the anxiety/stress induced angina I've been suffering through for months is rapidly fading into nothingness.  I fully expect to be angina-free as of 5:00 p.m. on January 30, 2015.  WHOOP WHOOP!

What's the saying - one picture is worth a thousand words?  What is a music video worth, then?  I love DONE (Band Perry, above), because in a work context it expresses fully what I've experienced my past twelve plus years of working at the firm.  Time to say GOOD BYE-EYE, OOO OOOH MY-EYE, OOMPH.

I also came across this wonderful music video from the early days.  Does anyone remember the band YES?  I did not remember their name, but I remembered a phrase from the song that cropped up into my memory the past few days. I went hunting for it on You Tube last night.  Found it!  Outside of the wonderful movie "Joe Versus the Volcano" which contains galvanic scenes of worker bees drudging toward the monolithic concrete monster building in which they slave away day in and day out, the words of this song, but most of all, the imagery, fully speaks to what I am experiencing in these, my final days of WORKING ON SOMEONE ELSE'S TIME CLOCK.   I hope you enjoy it's message and meaning as much as I do:


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