Six months ago today I began my new life, my Second Half. So much has happened in that time, it seems only fitting to stop and take stock of the changes.
Health: Six months ago chronic stress from my job had caused me to lose a third of my hair, and I was sleeping no more than four hours a night. I had also lost a substantial amount of weight, although most of that was voluntary as I joined OG on his weight loss program for better health. Today my hair has grown back (I even have a fun new haircut!), and I sleep around seven hours most nights. I exercise six days a week and have recently added yoga to my routine. OG exercises daily, and his 55-lb weight loss has allowed him to throw away his cholesterol and blood pressure medications. In addition to our exercise routines, we're both more active in general. The beautiful weather and convenient location of our condo encourage us to do many of our errands on foot. We enjoy exploring and searching out new places and activities and have already found a number of new favorites.
Home: The biggest change. Moving is always difficult and stressful, but we were lucky enough to sell our home in Minnesota without much hassle and relocate to Carmel, California. It's a good thing we already owned a condo here because the new house we purchased in March has a good basic floor plan and spectacular views but is unfit for human habitation. We are basically rebuilding it from the studs out. At this point demolition is complete, and the new heating system and interior framing are well underway. Friday, we spent 2 1/2 hours with the lighting designer choosing fixtures and developing the whole lighting plan. Our contractor says we're still on schedule to complete the project at the end of November, and I hope he's right. So far it's been a fun experience and not too stressful, aided by the fact that we're not trying to live in a construction zone.
Work: Before I retired, I spent several months thinking about what I wanted to do in my new life. Since I was already a published fiction author, I knew I wanted to continue writing. However, I also wanted to expand my literary horizons a bit. I decided to start my own company offering editing and book cover design services to independent authors. Although I have not yet formally launched the company, I have been learning the intricacies of Photoshop and have designed three covers for a friend's indie-published novella series. I've also designed a cover for my own first venture into self-publishing. I figured if I hope to work with other self-published authors, I need to understand and experience the process first hand. That book, a contemporary bodyguard romance entitled Unwritten Rules, should be ready for release in the next couple of months. After that, I hope to complete and self publish a Christmas novella in time for the holidays. I want to remain flexible and not drive myself crazy, but I think it's important to have goals. We'll check back in six months and see how I've done meeting them.
Finances: I would be remiss if I didn't address this important topic. After all, money doesn't grow on trees, and I don't want to pretend it does. Before I took the big plunge and retired earlier than planned, OG and I took stock and decided we could afford it. I hope that's still true (I think it is), but we really don't know yet. Right now we're living off cash assets and haven't started drawing any actual retirement income. I expect that to happen later this year after we move into our new house and sell the condo. At that point, we should know exactly where we stand financially. Health insurance has been one of my largest concerns, as it is for most early retirees. For now we're on COBRA from my former employer. It runs out right about the time OG becomes eligible for Medicare next year, and I'll have to buy an individual policy. I just hope my good health continues and the Affordable Care Act lives up to its name.
So there you have it: the last six months in a nutshell. OG and I have given up the security of a regular paycheck and moved half-way across the country, away from everything we've known, in search of a healthier, more fulfilling life in The Second Half. I think we've found it. I'm grateful for where we are and what we have every minute of every day. (And I think OG's coming around, too!)