Monday, October 18, 2010

So How's Skip Doing?

In the last 3 months, while I've posted on a monthly, rather than daily, basis, I haven't mentioned much about Skip.

She is happy that I'm less stressed-out since getting laid off, but worries a bit about our finances. She trusts me to figure this out, though!

It's a lot nicer for her in the mornings that she doesn't have to "share" me with a work schedule filled with conference calls and deadlines. I enjoy our mornings together. We're both creature of habit and love the new routines we have.

She has been getting a bit restless to get out. Unfortunately, with the cooler weather upon us, the patio isn't the wonderful, relaxing spot it was all summer. Last weekend, we decided to try out a "chowderfest" at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. It was a lovely day, weather-wise, a bit cool and breezy, but sunny. We enjoyed the drive there and back. Surprisingly, the food at the chowderfest was just "ok." We did take a walk around part of the museum after lunch and saw an exhibit of antique ship figureheads that were quite cool and I took a quick tour of a tall ship docked there.

MS does slowly but surely progress. Of late, Skip's hands are experiencing the biggest impact. Her fingers are weakening, making it harder to hold silverware and use the computer keyboard. On the left hand, the fingers are curling as well. We're working on stretching them a bit; I'm happy that I have more time so special projects like stretching exercises can be done without having it feel like one more thing being piled on top. I'm confident we can get them straightened out again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Test Driving Retirement

Years ago, in the naivete of youth, I thought I'd retire at 50. Then, it moved out to 55. Then, as Skip's disease progressed and we started having expenses I hadn't anticipated, such as for household assistance, I figured we were looking at many more years of employment before I could retire ... would probably have to delay until 62. And, since I worked at home, I figured I was extending the years during which I could work without issue, since I could care for Skip intermittently during the work day.

I should point out that I've pretty much wanted to retire since I began working. I know there are some people out there who don't want to stop working. I do not count myself among them. I've enjoyed aspects of all my jobs and found satisfaction from them in many ways, but always looked forward to the day when my time wasn't spoken for by an employer. Maybe this is because I've never found a job that I was passionate about.

After being laid off, as I thought about finding a new job -- learning the ropes, having all those new responsibilities -- the prospect of imminent retirement looked better and better. I've found it very hard over the last few years to handle the triad of responsibilities for caregiving, a demanding job and self-care. And, when anything got deferred on the margin, it was always the self-care that got kicked to the curb. I thought if I didn't have to manage a job, I might actually start exercising, cooking healthfully and getting more sleep, all things I'd stopped over the last few years.

Also, if it turns out we can't swing retirement financially, having a significant gap in my resume isn't likely to be a huge issue during this "jobless recovery." There are millions of folks in the US who have been jobless for really long periods of time. Otherwise, the President and Congress wouldn't have extended unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks. (Unfortunately, this extension is only in force for the folks who were unemployment in May 2010.)

I am still browsing the career sites and the sites of companies that I know employ home-based employees. Keeping those options open while I give retirement a spin!