Monday, October 7, 2013


I recently celebrated my 50th birthday, as did hubby a few months earlier. Matt has 6 years until retirement, when we can sail off into the sunset.

Or at least that's been my retirement dream for as long as I can remember. Ever since I moved to the Virgin Islands when I was 19, I've known that's where I want to spend my life. It's home. It's where I feel comfortable, and don't have to try to be anything but me. I'd dreamed of staying there forever.

Then living got in the way of my life and I went to Puerto Rico to pursue another dream: getting my PhD. Then I moved to South Carolina to pursue yet another dream: paying off my student loan debt. Then I found a dream I didn't even know I had: I fell in love and married Matt. Then we started finding and chasing new dreams together: living in Europe, finding Muggle and falling in love with him, traveling, and planning our retirement together.

Even with all that, my dream of returning to the Virgin Islands has always been there in the back of my mind. But "stuff" always gets in the way. Career, husband, aging parents, pets, friends, health concerns, and just getting older in general.

I still find myself looking forward to buying a sailboat and retiring aboard, sailing the Caribbean, getting rid of all the obligations and responsibilities that go with the "dirt-dweller" life: the stuff we accumulate under the silly notion that stuff = happiness.

But now, instead of getting excited when I fantasize about that life I'd dreamed of, I get stressed. I worry about leaving aging relatives, parents with health concerns, how to accommodate the pets while living aboard or just living in the islands (Tibetan Terriers haven't evolved for the tropics!), how Matt would actually deal with the relatively nomadic lifestyle that I enjoy, how we'd handle what seems like a constantly escalating number of health issues, and most worrisome of all, how I'd deal with those things now that I'm older.

At 19, running away from "everything" to pursue my dreams was simple. I packed my bags, I moved. Seriously, I didn't exactly know where the Virgin Islands were when I boarded the plane back then. (I don't know why more 20, 21, 22-year-olds don't do that, why they already seem so concerned with "security." They'll never be able to do it as easily as they can now!) Now, though, as an adult, with responsibilities and obligations, with homes, pets, family, and "stuff," it now seems so much more complicated.

It shouldn't be. If we really want something, we should do it. All of those "concerns" are merely excuses. They can all be accommodated. Planes fly on schedules and it would take me almost as long to get to upstate NY or Chicago from the Virgin Islands as it does from South Carolina. So much of our "stuff" is stuck in closets and drawers, never to come out, but there "just in case," that it really isn't a real reason to worry at all. We should get rid of it anyway.

To keep our (my?) dreams of sailing the world (or at least just traveling it) alive after retirement, and perhaps to give me a shot of courage, I've been living vicariously through my new friends Carol and David Rocco. They spent their honeymoon in St. John, USVI, fell in love, decided that's where they wanted to be, and did it. They pursued their dream, made it happen, and are now experiencing all the excitement, angst, wonder, stress, and elation of discovering a new life. They're my heroes.

Myra Nelson, another friend through my online writing group, and her husband Jack, packed up and retired to Costa Rica. She'd been a teacher in Philly, and also spent time traveling through Asia and teaching English in Japan. We met Myra and Jack while in CR last year. I'm in awe of their adventure, and her openness in sharing her experience going through a health scare as an expat. She gives me hope!

Sarah Corbett settled in Costa Rica in 1992--before it became the hot spot for expat Americans, where they could live in an English-speaking community filled with other Americans. She's immersed herself in the culture and her blog is filled with fun, funny, and wonderful tidbits that both intrigue me and make me worry about my hubby's ability to ever retire anywhere outside of suburbia USA! (Especially tales and photos of some of the "visitors" they've had, like the one she talks about in THIS blog post, or in the picture below.)

The green Lora that visited Sarah one morning.
(Huge, yes, but kind of cute, isn't it?)

Of course, in suburbia USA, we rarely get visitors like these that have showed up in Sarah's yard, either, so it balances out:

Wooly Anteater visiting Sarah

Central American Silky Possum


Our neighbors, Misty and Terry, dreamed of moving to the west coast and last year, packed their bags and headed to San Diego. Four pets and all (3 cats and a dog---they're now up to 3 cats and 2 dogs). Normandie Fischer has sailed the world with a boat full of kids and now pursues her dream of writing while sailing up and down the east coast to visit her new grandbaby.

All of these friends are my heroes because not only were they all brave enough to pursue their dreams, but they're also keeping my dreams alive. When I wonder if Matt and I will have what it takes to pack our bags and take that leap of faith that everything will be just fine, I look to these friends who were brave, who knew what they wanted, and did what they needed to do to make it happen. I want to think Matt and I will be able to, but I'm not sure. I do know that these friends are my heroes and inspiration. Thank you all for being brave enough to chase your dreams, and help me keep my dream alive!

If you need some help keeping your dreams alive, here are some blogs that might inspire you. I know they inspire me!

Carol and David on their VI adventure at

Myra Nelson at

Sarah Morgan at

Normandie Fischer

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