This Just Hit Me

Yesterday we drove from the Isle of Skye up to Inverness in Scotland. As I drove away from Skye I was aware of a strange new sensation. Not like an ache in a limb or butterflies in my stomach, it was something softer. It was a feeling like a new cushion that I was resting on. I remember thinking, where’s my typical stress from a long drive? As I write this I’m sitting outside our Airbnb on the Black Isle looking out across the water towards Inverness at rolling foothills and fields, and I can still feel the same cushion.

I’ve been retired since April of 2018. And yesterday is literally the first time I can say I have really noticed a different version of myself. I feel like a sense of peace has finally set in. Perhaps it’s because I just spent 7 days in a remote part of the Isle of Skye looking out at some of the most breathtaking landscape I have ever seen. I had the horizon in front of me, along with sheep and Highland cows grazing nearby in the fields. Even the rocky hills in the distance topped with blankets of green grasses were calming. At times the wind blew rain sideways and the windows of the house were awash in sheets of water, leaving our views blurry and vague. And then a cow would stroll by to its next spot to graze or flop down to digest its breakfast. Sigh.

It’s taken me almost 18 months of being away from everything that was familiar before I retired, to feel a shift. I don’t want to engage anymore in banter with family or past colleagues about my old job, or my previous clients, or my company’s position in the market, or the way it felt to process the day while driving to and fro in traffic. That old dialogue doesn’t fit me anymore. What I want now is to turn the volume down so I can hear the sound of silence at night. Or the tea kettle when it reaches the right temperature for my morning coffee. I want to be able to sit still for long enough that a butterfly could land on my shoe. And then take a long walk where I can see the outdoors across great distances. I thrive when I hear seagulls, water, wind, and even muffled voices. That’s all part of this new cushion I can feel that replaced my old tensions. 

Today I can say for sure that all of our efforts to reach financial independence and retire early, were worth it. This first year post-FIRE has been such a gift to me. The reality that we planned and saved enough to stop participating in the noise that I used to live with is a relief. And for sure I have completely stopped worrying about whether “will we have enough.” I have done the math, talked to “the pros,” read the books, and done the planning with Ali. That feels like old news now.

Wow. So this is what “relaxed” feels like. Sitting outside in the morning sun along the Beauly Firth in Scotland today, I feel I’m finally there.

14 comments

  1. I love reading this piece. Leaving behind a phase of professional life isn’t so black and white. It takes a long time to process, and let go, and transition into a new stage. It’s not as if one walks out of an office and that life is 100% behind us. It’s more nuanced, and I’m glad you shared your journey. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really loved my work. I was good at it and I got a lot of recognition from clients, co-workers and bosses. And now I feel almost 100% removed from that time in my life. I love that we are moving on to new things.

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  2. Well described Alison, the uncoiling process is a beautiful thing even though it seemed
    to be taking forrrevvver at the time.

    Also really love sunday lunch through the evening to monday morning now, parts of the
    week I’ve always despised with the accompanying sickly stomach feeling. We’ll even
    stay out late on a sunday night now just because we can.

    Glad you’re enjoying Scotland.

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    • Thanks for this DN. I really appreciate the comment from someone who’s really been there recently.

      Now to find my next new project after I master sleeping in. (still working on that)

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  3. That.is.awesome! I have experienced this at a smaller level by switching from a fulltime job in an office to freelancing from home (or Bulgaria, or wherever). Just the lack of office politics or a commute make such a huge difference to stress levels… and I’m sure being on Skye makes them disappear entirely ^^

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really don’t miss the office banter and the complaining. Free lance would have been interesting but really at this point, a full on jumping of ship was much more interesting and long overdue.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post and congrats on FIRE. You seem to be enjoying all the new possibilities having a bit of time can open up. I hope you enjoyed your trip and next time you come to the UK let me know and I’ll recommend some great places to visit!

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    • Thanks. We are working at making the most out of our new found time. Some days we are better at it than others. One thing I have found to be a new corner stone to my day is a nap. I do think the UK will be on our list for next year as mum loves it. Cheers!

      Like

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