I’m confused. When people hear about our lives, they feel compelled to impart a bit of wisdom– like this pearl from a new acquaintance: “Whatever you do, don’t drop dead in Europe. My friend did that and his wife had a helluva time getting him home.”
I paused for a second, considering my response while mentally discarding:
- “Oh that’s terrible.”
- “Why are you telling me this?”
Before settling on, “Thank you. I’ll do my best.”
Because, once I thought about it, the advice wasn’t all that bad. I think I’d shorten it though: “Whatever you do, don’t drop dead.” When you are a full-time traveler of a certain age, you worry about this.
This actually wasn’t my topic for the week, but its timely. I spent the last week in bed with the flu. I checked my symptoms on WebMD and took my blood pressure. (Yes, I travel with one carry-on sized suitcase yet still managed to fit in a blood pressure monitor—and a scale. I’m writing this naked on the couch, but I weighed-in this morning!)
Bottom line, there are three things you need to get under control before you can hit the road full-time (or even part-time): Your health, your finances, and—assuming you sell your home–your stuff.
I’ll cover these topics eventually, but health is the timeliest.
Since I’ve sold my house and most of my possessions, my assets are readily convertible to cash. My son Mike recently said, “Jez Mom, if you die now, I won’t have anything to do.” (He said this with no indication of longing; it was more a sense of wonderment)
Not so fast, Mike. You may have to bring my body back from Europe. I hear that’s difficult.
Better yet, don’t bring me back. Spread my ashes in Paris, push me in the Seine, sneak me into the catacombs—I’ll blend in over time.
Behind the gallows humor is the simple fact that I worry about this stuff. Every time my heart skips a beat, I drop to my knees and scream, “Why me, God? Why here?” It’s scary to live so far away from your medical care.
(Spoiler alert: I’m looking at changing where we get our medical care. Stay tuned.)
When it comes to dropping dead (and life in general), we can only control what we can control. The corollary is, we must control those things we can control. My response has been to get in shape. I want to walk into Machu Picchu at dawn–breathless, but for the right reasons.
At no time in my life has fitness been more important.
I don’t want to trivialize the difficulty of this. I spent thirty years as that woman “…who would look cute if she’d just drop twenty pounds.” It’s hard work, and I stink at it.
Yet the realization of how physically challenging nomadic retirement is has forced me to focus on it. Thank you, Guatemala! We eat better. And we walk. Everywhere.
My daughter, Taylor, gave me a Fitbit. It’s wonderful–a tiny version of my mother strapped to my wrist–a constant drip of well-intentioned nagging. (I mean that in the best possible way, I do)
Now, if it’s nine at night and I don’t have my steps in, I pull on my sneakers. By the time the sunsets in Ireland, it’s nearly 11. I’m out of excuses. (Yes mom, it’s safe here to walk at night, it is)
The benefit is real; I’ve lost twenty pounds since the start of the year. I’m now the woman, “…who would look cute if she was 20 years younger.” This brings me to the corollary of the corollary: We must not obsess over those things we can’t control.
While I was lying in bed with the flu, I told myself, “You’re healthy. You’re in the best shape of your life. You will survive this.”
And believe it or not, somehow that helped.
Categories: How To