What Matters Most

The long, dry summer of 2018 in the high desert of Northern Nevada was a record breaker. For 56 consecutive days the temperature hit at least 90, and on 20 of those days the mercury crept up to 100 or more. If that wasn’t enough to make you hide indoors, thick smoke from historic wildfires certainly did.

In the garden, my roses absorbed plenty of water through the drip system. But I could do nothing to shade them from the sweltering sun or help them respire (the plant equivalent to breathing). They had to figure out a way to survive on their own. It wasn’t until I noticed a marked drop in new buds that I understood their game plan.

They prioritized.

I looked it up. When conditions are less than favorable, roses put their energy into keeping their foliage healthy and hydrated. Producing blooms takes a back seat.

How smart is that? It’s exactly what humans do when times are tough.

In my (almost) 65 years, I’ve weathered periodic financial crises with my parents and my husband. It’s a no-brainer that you first focus your resources on the necessities – food, shelter, transportation. If there’s anything left over, maybe you keep a few luxuries – internet, television, dinners out.

Rose - Blog 8You just have to figure out what matters most.

That’s actually how I retired 15 months ahead of schedule. When I realized that a climate change at work had extinguished my passion, I started preparing for departure. First I paid off my car and consumer accounts. Then I began socking money away to create a cushion. Finally, I plugged my projected date into the retirement system’s website.

I cringed. The hit to my pension was roughly 50% of my discretionary budget.

It took me less than a minute to remember how fortunate I am to have a pension at all, shrug my shoulders, and request transition documents. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

When my husband and I were younger, we used to joke about how nice it would be to stay home and have somebody deposit money in our checking account every so often. In retirement, I’m living that fantasy.

Sure, I can’t buy every pretty thing I see (I have enough stuff anyway), and I can no longer treat the family to a dinner out whenever the mood strikes (they’re working and have decent incomes anyway). It’s a fair exchange for peace of mind.

Sometimes in my head I hear that old MasterCard commercial. You know the one.

The freedom to get up each morning and do whatever I want? Priceless.

Is it a nice day? Hmmm, I think I’ll do some gardening. Is it windy or cold out? Maybe I’ll do some writing. Do my grandsons want me to hang out with them at the lake? Heck yeah!

My roses figured out how to survive on less this past summer. Because I also figured out what matters most, I’m having the time of life.

2 thoughts on “What Matters Most

  1. You sure have a way with words. We faced the same problems with retirement. It seems now that we have more than ever. You’ll settle in. We did.


    1. My husband is retiring early, too. End of next month. After seeing how happy I’ve been this year, he decided to shave nine months off his schedule. I can’t wait until we are both free of the rat race! 😊


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