2022 has been a different kind of year for me, so this will be a different kind of year-in-review.
It wasn’t a year full of travel to new places, or hikes to gorgeous mountain peaks, or lots of girls’ weekends. It was a year full of hard work, stress and planning for some incredible rewards at the end.
I’ve been pretty quiet about some of my goings on, for various reasons, so this might be the first you have heard of them! That said, I’ve never made a secret about my intention to retire early. In fact, when I first started working with my financial advisor at the age of 27, I told him (jokingly) that I wanted to retire at the age of 33. He told me I could make that work, but that I would need to revise my expectations about my standard of living – like, maybe a cardboard box.
But after working with him for the last 20 years, things had started to come to fruition. A few years ago I was able to pass all the financial modeling for a retirement at age 50. Woot woot! What got me there? Hard work, making use of my master’s degree in business and human resources, and a decent income. Add to that living within my means, not chasing after all the latest toys and pricey things to do, and saving over 50 percent of my gross income for several years. Oh, and ditching the spendthrift husband… My car is paid off and has been for over 10 years, and my home was financed on a really low interest rate.
I was still planning for age 50 at the beginning of the year. But things started deteriorating quickly at my work. I was in the position of having to tell my boss no a bit more frequently than I felt comfortable with, or else do things that I was not ok with doing. It was getting me on the wrong side of him and I could see the writing on the wall. That’s the trouble of a job in Human Resources when you have a boss who is towing a line on ethical behavior…
In February I went on a vacation to Minnesota to see the boyfriend and had my employees calling me to tell me what my boss was saying and doing behind my back. UGH… Minnesota in February was fun, but frigid, and it was kind of a test to see if I could indeed tolerate the winters here… I’m not sure I’m convinced that I can, but we’ll give it a try.
So I went home and spoke with a real estate agent friend to see about selling my home at the peak of the market, as inflation was really starting to fly and the prediction was of a new real estate bubble that was soon to burst. She gave me what I would need to do, a fix-it list that was actually really manageable due to the hot market out there. The most cumbersome part of it all was packing at least 75% of my belongings. Decluttering to stage the home. I am not, and have never been, a minimalist…
So I got to work, cleaning, purging, taking trips to Goodwill, and trying to do my best to downsize my life at least a little. I did a lot! I mean you would still look at all my stuff and see a whole lot of stuff, but it’s a lot less than before! Trust me on this. My boyfriend came out quietly in April to help me and another friend get the yard in shape and paint the deck and do some of the fix-it stuff on the list. We made a huge dent in it!
Then, there came the packing. My best friend Shelley was a godsend, helping me pack and purge and clean and purge and pack and clean and purge… Evenings and weekends for a few frantic weeks (but it felt like months). Thank you!
After what seemed like three years of backbreaking labor, I listed the house on May 11, with an offer review date of May 16. Well, hot market that it was, I received two offers over my asking price. I accepted the cash offer, with no inspection or contingencies, of $75,000 over my asking price. That was four days after the home hitting the market. So now that the house was sold, I had to move. So that’s where the big news comes in!
A few days later in May, I filed a formal retaliation complaint against my boss; the first complaint I have filed in my career. I had seriously considered it for weeks, had consulted with colleagues and waited until the straw that broke the camel’s back.
In June, after packing all my things into a 26 foot U-Haul (yes I’m crazy for doing the move myself, but the boyfriend is a powerhouse, and have you priced moving companies lately!?!), I moved quietly to Minnesota. My close friends and family knew, but I mostly kept it quiet because of my complaint and the subsequent investigation into my boss at work (which they still haven’t finished). My boss was looking for excuses about why scores of people were leaving, and I didn’t want to give him any. In Minnesota, I could take the profits from the sale of my house and purchase a larger home outright – no mortgage! And have quite a bit left over!
So, my boyfriend and I drove from Washington to Minnesota, and I even drove over the Rockies with that U-Haul! I was nervous coming down that huge incline, but I did it! And the sunset in Miles City, Montana was stunning before an all night drive across North Dakota.
After moving most of my things, I held back a small set of belongings in Washington, moved in with my mom, and went back to work. Due to the investigation, I wasn’t quite ready to make the decision to quit, but after things dragging on for a while and nothing being done, I decided that life was too short to be walking on eggshells with a toxic boss everyday. I put in my notice and my last day was September 20, 2022.
I did have a couple of trips already planned. I took four days to go down to the Oregon Coast and walk the beaches, eat some good food and look for agates. It was a nice post-retirement getaway. I had hoped that a friend could come with me, but that didn’t work out so I went solo.
Then I went home, packed the car and the cats and moved the rest of the way to Minnesota. Let me tell you, two LONG days driving solo across the country with two cats is… interesting. Cora meowed for a few hours each day and then mostly snoozed. Yellow mostly lay quietly, terror-stricken, looking as though he had lost all will to live. But they were good. An hour away from my new home on the second day, Cora just couldn’t hold it anymore and unloaded a giant pee in her carrier. I had to pull over and mop it up with paper towels so she wouldn’t have to stand in it. Poor girl!
Then I was finally able to work on unpacking some of my things and resettling my life. It felt good to have all my books around again, and my knick-knacks, and to have time to do a puzzle or go for a hike!
In October, my mom and I took a 10 day trip to Knoxville, Tennessee. My mom had been wanting to go to a jewelry-making convention for a few years, but it got postponed due to my dad’s death and then COVID. So this time, it was on! I spent the days touristing and hiking on my own while my mom attended her classes. It was very enjoyable for both of us. I loved that area of Tennessee and will certainly go back!
For the last couple of months, I’ve been lying low and relaxing. I have been catching up on reading, and working on puzzles. I have been having fun with our new flock of five chickens. They are terribly photo-shy, but we have three Buff Orpingtons and two English Orpingtons (a black one and a white one). In the photo, left to right, they are Harriet, Creamsicle, Scout, Winter and Ofelia (I can’t really tell the Buff girls apart though so they might be in a different order…). We got them in early July, and we just got our first two eggs on December 29!
I’m getting used to the cold in Minnesota, but am appreciating the lack of rain, which is very different than winter in the Pacific Northwest. I’m looking forward to ice-fishing too! Maybe next time I go I can actually catch a fish! In the spring, I’m planning to do another long road-trip, taking my time to see some of the other areas of the US that I haven’t been to yet!
So that’s my year in review. It wasn’t the typical year, but it has certainly been memorable! Moving to the Midwest is certainly one of the biggest life changes I have ever gone through, and although I was really nervous, things are working out well. I hope all of you have had a wonderful 2022, and are blessed with a happy, healthy and productive 2023!