Total Life Change: The Dame, The Dog, and the Dao

Total life change is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.

Change begins with choice.

As young adults, we embrace these choices. It is the first time you can change your world, for many of us, freed from the rules and expectations of others, to the degree we are comfortable unfettering ourselves.

We start our careers, find life partners, move from one city to another, discover new foods, new music, arts, interest, and hobbies, and we may travel and explore the world. It is a great adventure.

By the time we are ready for retirement reinvention, we’ve been knocked about by life. We recognize that the voyage to change your world is not always the idyllic cruise of our youthful imaginings. I am comforted when I feel as if I am following the dao, the right path, for me.

This infographic portrays the three areas of learning as I embrace my total life change.

PlanningInfoGraphic

Home is all about this Dame. I am a Taurus, and my home is my sanctuary.

I spent several months doing online research about where to live, coordinating real estate prices, climate preferences, and kennel club locations. During a drive from North Carolina to South Florida, I did drive-bys of 14 homes in four communities in which I did expanded drive-throughs to check out the neighborhoods.

I could not have accomplished this time-consuming research without a GPS. This was my first experience with one. It was heaven to be freed from maps and pulling over to read them.

I already knew that my budget affords marginal neighborhoods.

This long day of driving narrowed my search down to one area of St. Augustine and resigned me to manufactured housing. Change begins with choice, and making these decisions are necessary toward taking actionable steps.

Now I am educating myself about manufactured housing, including what to look for, whether to buy a used mobile and transport it to my own lot (yes), the differences between cement pads, runners, and pilings (also called footers), utilities hook-ups, and cost of transporting the unit.

An unexpected benefit of this has been two long, nice conversations with my bro who knows a great deal about mobile homes and construction. Our relationship has not always been easy for either of us! I appreciate having his expert advice.

Simultaneously, I have been educating myself about health testing for Doberman Pinschers and updating my knowledge of the great breeding kennels in the US.

I am making slow progress on the dread financial and legal front, a part of my life I have been putting off for decades – so why rush into now as I close in on 70? That’s an ironical aside. Without this part of my plans supporting home and dog, no matter how right it may feel, there can be no dao.

There are days when I consider no longer having my campus job as a touchstone of my reality. My work has been a large and important part of my identity. Not having this income makes total life change seems as fearsome as entering the cave of Daenarys’s dragons.

Mostly, my retirement reinvention is giving me a renewed sense of vibrancy, energy, and life.