We were prepared and we weren't. For the past few years, we have been working a plan to be ready for any major changes that might come up: saving, reducing expenses, replacing all the mechanics of our home from roof to flooring, that sort of thing. We figured that, in time, I'd have (maybe terminal) health problems or Nancy would retire early, either voluntarily or not. We thought it would be best to be as ready as possible.
Good thing, because when things change, they can change fast.
Nancy was advised of the advantages of retiring before December 1st of this year sometime in mid-November (I still wonder why none of her co-workers where she has spent the last 26 years ever thought to mention this "deal" a little sooner). We then had a week of intense discussion and some wild number-crunching, coming to the conclusion that when a rare opportunity comes a-knockin', you should answer the door and let it on in.
So this is her first week of retirement, and it looks like things will be just fine. The weather report today predicts an ugly commute next Monday (ice, cold rain and all that); someone here will still be in her jammies thinking about what's good for breakfast. I have always held -- and it's been proven both while a working tool and now as a gentleman of leisure -- that one gets more done more accurately, efficiently and with no stress, if one can organize his/her day without interference from above, below or the side. The first few days of this week we've gotten a long list of chores and running around completed without leaving early or wasting any effort, simply because we can do things in the right order and at the right time. The entire working world all on the road at the same time -- the madness of rush hour -- starts everything off wrong, and you know how much control you usually have over the timing and flow of your work once you get there.
Because of the short time frame and a lot of misinformation and misdirection over the phone from Social Security/Medicare and Healthcare.gov, we still don't have the health insurance thing set up. A policy for the two of us, retail, would be $1300 a month, so that's a no-go. Well, I've dealt with them before and have found that dreaded visit to the downtown office is what will have to be done to straighten out at least the SS/Medicare part out. Healthcare.gov is just as screwed up as you've heard.
But if we were afraid of the turmoil of change, we wouldn't have gotten to what looks like a sweet spot today. The school-year schedule, the fixed hours of work and having to ask months in advance for vacation days, ridiculous personnel evaluations, supporting multiple cars because everyone has to be different places at the same time, wanting better stuff: those are just some of the things whose absence leaves room for the light to shine through.
No one's watching you now, no one needs to be pleased or placated, and your permanent record is closed and filed away. I think it's going to be all right.