I’m off to Life@50+ National Event in Miami!

by Chloe Jeffreys · 5 comments

in Women in Midlife

Lifeat50Miami

At the invitation of AARP, I’ll be attending the Life@50+ National Event in Miami, Florida next week as a social media champion. It wasn’t exactly easy squeezing in a 6000-mile roundtrip for a couple of days between shifts at the hospital, but since my personal mission and AARP’s corporate vision sync so well these days I took them up on their very kind offer.

My Mission and the Vision of AARP

Many years ago, I unintentionally–and apparently irrevocably–offended a friend when she came up with this notion that a little blog project she and I were involved with at that time needed a Mission Statement. She’d been out of the work force for over a decade and didn’t understand that I was suffocating in a dysfunctional corporate culture that espoused a flowery yet meaningless Mission Statement. I told her that the mere thought of having a Mission or Vision Statement of my very own made me throw up a little bit in my mouth.

Back then I didn’t see the point of a blogging Mission Statement because, as you all well know, my one and only mission for blogging was for the freedom to say the eff word on the Internet. It didn’t go any deeper than that and, no matter how you slice it, cussing on the Internet cannot be spun into any sort of meaningful Mission or Vision Statement.

che-guevera-irony-illboard

So I find it a little bit funny–although my old friend would probably disagree–that here I am, many years later, writing about Mission and Vision Statements here on my little blog. But, fear not, this isn’t about my blogging Mission Statement. My mission here is still mostly the same; find new and unique ways to say the eff word, but with this small twist:

As God is my witness, blogging will never, EVER, make me cry again!

Calamity as a Catalyst for Change

A Kiss in BarcelonaI’ve observed that human beings have a great capacity for tolerating a high level of misery as long as it’s comfortably convenient, and that no one voluntarily makes drastic changes in their lives unless something significant occurs that jolts them out of complacency. Only when faced with a crisis big enough that inaction becomes more distressing than action are most of us willing to become proactive about changing the direction of our lives. On January 1, 2012, Jeff and I experienced just such a crisis.

After the kids left home, my husband and I had just been getting by. I had my blog and all my internet friends keeping me company and help me escape my unhappy reality, and I left my husband mostly to his own devices. Hours and even days would go by where I’d ignore him with my nose in my laptop laughing and carrying on with the intangible. On the surface, I felt like we were very happy; underneath the surface I didn’t want to look too closely. At least not until that fateful day in 2012 when the walls of our tunnel came crashing down around us and we were spit out into the realization that just getting by wasn’t enough for either of us.

We determined that staying together meant our lives needed purpose and meaning and joy, for both of us. Neither of us could stick our heads into our own private escape worlds where we pretended that somehow it was all going to work out even though we weren’t doing anything constructive to make it so.

Despite my innate aversion of corporate culture lingo, my husband and I developed what would be our vision for the second half of our lives. Creating this vision for our lives wasn’t a planned thing, but more like a process of elimination that included two fundamental premises:

1. Neither of us want to be unhappy.

2. Neither of us want the other to be unhappy either.

After a lot of intensive counseling, and armed with the above two truths, we recommitted ourselves to each other during our 25th anniversary celebration. Then I had major surgery on my lady parts. In September, I launched a doomed business venture, and by December of 2012 we made the decision that I should quit that dysfunctional corporate job that was making us both so unhappy and we should walk away from our irretrievably underwater mortgage.

Despite some serious emotional setbacks experienced during and after the failure of my business, I am proud that both my husband and I have stayed very focused on what matters. In truth, the failure of my business was a direct result of its inability to fit into the clear parameters we’d set back in 2012 that our choices need to make us both happy.

Priorities Matter. 

We only get one life, and it is up to us to define our own priorities. Maybe society says we should have a big house, or a job that’s secure no matter how it makes us feel inside. Or maybe society tells us that we should want to be our own boss, pursue fame, popularity, or even influence. But the way I see it, if you are taking medication in order to maintain your sanity so you can have the things society says you should have then maybe it’s time to set some new priorities.

Using mutual happiness as a guideline, here are the top three priorities my husband and I set in 2012 against which all our decisions are measured:

1. Joy – Does this decision bring us both joy? 

2. Peace – Does this decision foster mutual contentment and peace of mind? 

3. Retirement – Does this decision move us towards our financial goals that include a reasonably comfortable retirement where we’ll be able to continue pursuing priorities 1 and 2?

If the answer to these three questions is yes, then it’s a go. But if the answer to any of them is no, then it’s a “Hell No!” and we move on.

A Dream Home Shouldn’t Be a Nightmare

ParkGuellChloeandTickOn Friday, we became the proud owners of 2.5 acres of land where we’ll build our dream retirement home next year. It’s going to be a tough year for us as we both work very hard making the money we’re going to need to make all of this happen while staying committed to joy and peace so that our marriage doesn’t fall out of balance again.

It is because of my priorities that I’m going to Miami to attend Life@50+. When I went last time, I was stunned to find out that AARP is not a club for old people. Today’s AARP realizes that retirement won’t look like it did for our parents and grandparents. Today’s AARP is for people like me and my husband who are busy actively creating the second half of our lives. Membership in AARP opens the door to a world of discounts and other resources to help people over 50 make the most of the second half of our lives.

I hope you’ll follow me in the next few days on Twitter and Facebook as I travel to Miami to check out what’s going on with today’s AARP. Find me at #AARPDiscounts!

And just for fun, I’ll be hanging with some cool people including a couple of my favorite bloggers, the GypsyNesters, who just released their best-selling book, Going Gypsy.

going-gypsy-book-cover

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn Quyle Landau May 14, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Way to go Chloe! Everything about your game plan is appealing to me… now, if I could just get myself to follow you. Bravo for walking away from the bull shit. xo
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Chloe Jeffreys May 18, 2015 at 11:21 am

It was such a good decision for me. I really do hope we can get together soon somewhere in the PNW. I’m not sure when or how, but I want to make that happen.
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Becky Ann Luschei May 11, 2015 at 6:54 am

Hi Chloe! Thanks for the thoughtful, insightful and candid post! My hubby is getting ready to retire. He submitted his letter of retirement to his company last week. The last few years leading up to that point has been very tough! I actually felt I’d lost my husband for a while. We weren’t getting along. We fought about the tiniest of things! We fought about money but we don’t have money problems. I thought we were doomed. Then, he submitted the letter (last day is July 16, 2015) and it’s like a whole world of weight was lifted off his shoulders! I actually had a joyous weekend working garden projects with him! It was great! I found parallels between my/our situation here in your post. You gave me hope and insight. I hope you keep talking about life at our stage in the game. Congratulations on the invite by AARP. I hope you have fun there.

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Chloe Jeffreys May 18, 2015 at 11:28 am

Becky Ann, I’ve heard many stories from other women similar to yours about their husband’s retirements. I think men and women often have different approaches to midlife and post-retirement. For women, not having to deal with reproductive issues anymore is a tremendous freedom. Suddenly we can start thinking about and doing all of the things we’ve always dreamed about without the worry about what a baby might do to our plans.

From what I’ve seen, women often struggle the most with their children leaving the nest. For men, it’s retirement from their jobs. For American men in particular their jobs define them. It’s who they are. It’s how they describe themselves to others at a cocktail party or a neighborhood barbeque. I think men often see midlife and retirement as an ending, a loss of identity, much the same way women feel about not having children at home to actively raise anymore..

But it sounds like your husband is going through his transition. Handing in that paperwork must have been such a relief. Now he can start thinking about and planning for his next adventure instead of dreading the ending of what has been his life for many, many years.

Congratulations to you on the start of a new adventure! I think we’ve got to be about the luckiest generation to ever live to have decades of post-childbearing to look forward to. It’s truly a miracle.
Chloe Jeffreys recently posted..I’m off to Life@50+ National Event in Miami!My Profile

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