the author on her beloved Criollo in Argentina Julia Hubbel

On living well late in life: how I am gearing up right now

The itinerary for Bhutan landed this morning. The cost has increased by a thousand dollars for just nine days, the result of new fees imposed by the government. I am going with a lower-cost outfit. They have to pay those fees, so I have to pay them back. It's not going to get cheaper. I could cancel a trip I've been dreaming of for a long time, or take the bitter pill and move on.

I choose the latter. Sure it's going to be more expensive, but look. When I get back from this trip I have foot surgery which plops me down for three months Chances are I won't be spending much at all and can pay off the credit card fast. I am going to cram as much life into the last half of 2022 as I can, given  that this is the end of my sixties. In January, it's a whole new decade.

I am off to Colombia two weeks after hand surgery. I will be hiking and riding with one hand in a cast. Looking around at places to rent for part of the year. You bet I look forward to that.

In October I get foot surgery as soon as I return from, Bhutan and Thailand.

And before that I am in the middle of packing up my entire house, selling off, giving away and consigning about 85% of everything I own after a failed company and the end of my Oregon dream.

That's with one hand almost completely down, one foot dragging.

I'm going to do it anyway.

There's nobody around here who can help me with the majority of it. My buddy JC up in Portland will lend his size and strength to the big stuff, but he is battling Covid right now. So moving the furniture downstairs to stage it for taking it out for sale is on me. You learn all kinds of tricks, like putting rugs on the wood floor to pull heavy stuff and how to lever those items down to the basement by using towels, body weight and gravity. Not a single ding or accident. You learn to use your noggin, and I trust my strength and judgment.

In the middle of all that I have to write articles, finish an insurance claim, continue to exercise so that I walk into the surgery theater in top shape. I  have to plan the itineraries for both trips, tease out the gear list and pack for them so that I don't mistakenly pack away my last down jacket before heading into the Himalayas.

I have done it before: Left without a down jacket. Not smart.

This has been a year, hasn't it? As I watch the country whose national anthem used to make me tear up tear itself apart in so many ways, I am also seeking out what my options are. I have to get highly creative, for America is now too expensive for me. That is, if I want any kind of life that I want to live, so I have to choose to live a very different way: as in give up familiarity, a lot of creature comforts and much more.

I am all in here. Comfort is an easy thing to forfeit for a more vivid life as I age.

This morning I read a piece from The Good Men Project over on Medium which speaks to what I think about aging vibrantly and courageously, which really are my things. Here is that article:

Stop Letting Age Hold You Back
Why your later years may be your most creative.

One of my Saga supporters, Beth Bruno, who also writes for Medium, wrote this, which I want to offer as additional reading along the same lines:

I Am Banishing ‘I’m Too Old’ and ‘It’s Too Late’ From My Vocabulary
These are the saddest words in the English language

I am continuing to pepper my inner world with aging people who are living way out loud, moving to Mexico, living overseas, making very different choices late in life in order to have a life worth living. While a friend both admonished and praised me in the same phone call for looking for a different country, ultimately he realized that he spoke from two positions I don't share: I don't have his financial resources, and he has family, lots of it, here in America.

Without those, the truth is that unless I want to be constantly hounded by financial worries the rest of my life as far too many of us in the USA are, it makes both fiscal and FUN sense to get the hell out of Dodge.

In a few minutes I have to begin a very long laundry list of tos-do's today, from my financials to more packing to making a clothing and gear list for both trips and starting to make piles for both in a big bedroom recently cleared of all the furniture for that purpose. By the end of the month, the house goes up for sale.

I have no clue how fast it will sell. I may come back from Colombia and find out I've got a week to find a place to stay. That'll be fun. Or, I may end up sitting in this emptied house for months on end, given the real estate slowdown.

Does it matter?

Absolutely not. Either way I will be challenged, and either way I will make the best of it.

My friend Melissa, who has graciously agreed to allow me to rent her basement in Denver so that I can traipse the world with a US address until such time as I've made a final decision, is an elder concierge. She watches her old folks as they go through medical procedures, and she is witness to their decline. She is sometimes the only one who stands witness at their funerals as family members only show up to parce through the belongings.

At 65, she is well aware, as am I, that their future could well be ours if we don't mind our bodies well and take care of our minds with good food, movement and good company. Such proximity to the really aged reminds us that being close to seventy AIN'T OLD unless we have already set ourselves up to think that way.

I am energized and focused. Most of the big decisions are already made, and the train has left the station.

Meanwhile, late in the day, I take time to go out and wander the yard where the trees I planted are growing gorgeously, new blooms are everywhere, and the birds are thoroughly enjoying the seeds and suet. In other words I am enjoying where I am right here, right now, as I get ready to move on.

My front yard Julia Hubbel

While it will be hard to give this up, I said that about my last garden. The way I see it, if I am willing to let go of what I am and what I have, what's next could be ever so much better.

You and I are never, ever too old for that.

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