3 Thoughts from 3 Months

I just looked back on our last published post… it was in the beginning of August. So, for that I apologize.

That being said, I wanted to fill you in on things that have happened in the mean time.

It’s been quite a change. We’re finally getting to sit, to unwind and to actually write on the blog. We’re in the Azores at the moment. Yeah, Portuguese islands somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.

It’s beautiful, it’s relaxed. And it’s really the first time we’ve had a chance to settle down and reflect on what we’ve been up to.

So what has happened since we last wrote?

  • We left LA and drove across the country in a little over two weeks, visiting friends and family along the way.
  • Went to FinCon 19 in Washington, DC. Had a blast catching up with old friends and making new ones.
  • Spent some time with Mr. Wow’s family on the East coast.
  • Flew to Europe.
  • Spent a week in each Brussels, Amsterdam, and Porto, with a quick stop through Oktoberfest.
  • Meet up with some fine FIRE folks for a week of FIRE related discussions in the Douro Valley of Portugal.
  • Spent 4 days in Braga, Portugal.
  • Then meet up with some friends from LA in Porto, and drove to Lisbon over the course of a week, stopping in some fantastic places.
  • And now we’re here:
Yeah we aren’t really near much.

That’s a lot. It’s great to spend time with friends and family, but there’s something to be said about finding your own space, and being with yourself.

I was asked by a friend:

“What is it that you’ve learned over the first 3 months of not working?”

There’s a lot, but I wanted to highlight a few things that really stand out.

Some people just need some time to unwind.

I left my job as a data engineer, and in the previous 3 months, I haven’t had a desire to do much of anything. Mostly I’ve been reading the news and become infatuated with the goings on in the nation’s capital.

But, after working for almost 20 years straight, I just want to sit around and do nothing for a while. I think that’s a big part of the lack of productivity on the blog. I don’t know that I will be able to sit idle for an extended period of time, but for the time being I’m content just sitting around and not doing much of anything.

Oddly, Mrs. Wow isn’t going through that same process. My belief is that since she’s been running her own company and setting her own schedule for some time now, she’s used to it. When she wanted a day to relax, she took one. And that is a huge benefit to the shift to this new life style. For her, it was a incremental shift, for me, it was a huge difference. And I think that’s why she’s transitioning better. She’s also still involved with her company, so it’s kind of business as usual.

Travel is Stressful

Everyone thinks traveling is easy. There’s a romanticized vision of gallivanting around world and taking Instagram worthy pictures at every turn.

That’s vacation, that’s not traveling. That’s going to an all inclusive and turning your brain off while people just wait on you hand and foot.

When traveling, that’s just not the case. Everything becomes a production. That inevitable discussion about what you want to eat for dinner becomes a full on ordeal. What do you want, what’s available, where is it? And that’s just before you get to the place to eat. Then once there, can you even understand what the food is? Can you order from the staff, as they speak a different language?

I think something is lost in translation here.

All these things in and of themselves are not a huge deal. But, compiled over time, they start to build.

I tend to be the one that plans our trips and figures out the details. And as such, I end up making a lot of decisions. Decisions take brain power and effort. It is exhausting to constantly be battling different options.

Just the other day, we found our way to a super market and while walking around, Mrs. Wow turns to me and says:

What do you want to eat for dinner?

I shut down, I couldn’t answer. I just got snappy back and said, “I don’t know, I don’t care. I don’t have any decision power left.”

Luckily, she took the reins and figured out that we were going to have pasta for dinner, instead of us just having a huge fight in the middle of a Portuguese super market. Juvenile? Maybe, but that stress adds up, and it’s something to be aware of.

There’s a lot of time to think

We just got back to our apartment from one of our current favorite pass-times, a walk. We like to go for a walk along the shore and just talk. It gives us a chance to grapple with some other parts of our lives.

We’ve made it a point to stay at least a week in every place, so we aren’t forced into cramming as much into every day as possible. It allows some space, which was the exact reason for this trip in the first place.

A walk along the beach.

An interesting outcome from those talks is the realization that I don’t have any particular passion.

They say you need to “retire to” something. And I am starting to realize that’s truly the case. I find myself sitting in these various places getting antsy and anxious. I need something to sink my teeth into, something to work on.

This blog is fun and all. It’s something that I want to start up again and continue, but it’s not exactly something that lights my britches on fire. I don’t know that I will ever be a maestro of the written word.

The fact is that the Mrs. has a passion and is working on it. I just well… don’t. I was never super passionate about my job, and never really had any true hobbies to speak of.

And now, I’ve had the time to just sit and stew. I think part of my original plan was just hitching my wagon to the Mrs. and have her passion spill over. That means that I’m fully dependent on her for my happiness.

That’s not fair to her, and it is certainly not the best thing for me. I don’t know. I think this is something that I need to figure out. So, where does that leave me?

It leaves me with a lot of things to think about.

Do you know what you plan on doing once you’re done with your job?

21 Comments

  • Financially Fit Mom November 13, 2019 at 5:41 am

    Wow, sounds like y’all are seeing some amazing sights (and enjoying some new tastes?!) on your adventures! I totally understand that feeling of wanting something to pour yourself into and just not having it. I’m working on accepting and owning that I’m just not a one (or two or three) thing person and I not only thrive but also NEED change in my life. For years, I’ve been chasing this idea of a passion and coming up short and I think there is something to be found in a passion for variety. I have had instances where I would discover something I had a deep pull toward and dive in and spend months or sometimes even years involved and then it would fizzle. I’m working to appreciate this cycle. When I was working with a bartender last week, he suggested a couple books and basically said (my interpretation here) that as I read I will either become passionate about it or I won’t. He did, and he’s the greatest craft cocktail bartender in Boise because of his passion for it. Others don’t have the same passion he has for the liquor and process and they are NOT the greatest bartenders 🙂 In this, I had the thought that I think it’s ok to want to try all kinds of different things and know that along the way, some things I’ll fall into hard for awhile and other things I’ll learn about the surface material and move on. And that’s ok.

    I don’t know if that offers any help at all, but I do think more people struggle with this than we’d think so I think it’s awesome that you shared your struggles and I hope you write more about the process you use to work through it and your successes along the way.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 13, 2019 at 8:35 am

      You are preaching to the choir on this one. I love all things, and if there’s one thing I am passionate about, it’s learning. Learning all sorts of new things.

      I think that’s going to be the process, try a whole host of different things. See what sticks, and if it doesn’t maybe I’ll be able to take a bunch of different skills and synthesize them together to make something different. That’s one of the things that I am actually really excited about having all the time. I want to learn a new language, learn to surf, learn to play an instrument. I just don’t know that those things are something that will drive me out of bed in the morning, but there’s only one way to find out.

      Reply
  • 5am Joel November 13, 2019 at 5:57 am

    Welcome back! Love your guys’ travel stories. It’s never the ‘usual’ places that everyone else visits. You truly explore, and I admire that!

    It’s been 20 months since I left work, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But I’m having the time of my life being a homemaker, and I’m happier than ever.

    There’s no rush to find something new Dude.

    Godspeed!

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 13, 2019 at 8:31 am

      Glad to see it’s not a unique problem. I do think being on the road makes it a little tricky, since there is no real “homemaking”. That’s something that I would really love to do, cooking, fiddling with stuff.

      It’s kind of weird that the constant disruption has been just that a disruption. Which is great in a way, but also pretty tough as well.

      Reply
  • Ali November 13, 2019 at 6:18 am

    Great read! Wonderful catching up on your recent whereabouts, and I absolutely agree with the comments above RE: a passion — i don’t think it’s the sole key to a meaningful life and i’m not sure it’s something that can always be discovered. For me, I’ve found my meaning through gratitude and being present in the moment. A bit cheesy when I read that last sentence back again, but it’s the truth!

    Hope our paths cross again in the future.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 13, 2019 at 8:28 am

      I 100% agree with you. I don’t know that it’s a sole key to a meaningful life. But, it certainly helps when you wake up in the morning and have something to sink your teeth into.

      Gratitude is something that we all need to continue to practice. There’s certainly not enough in the world.

      Something that I’ve really been struggling with is the being present in the moment. I’m trying my best to be present in the moment. We’re really enjoying what we’ve been doing, but it’s an interesting shift that I’ve seen. Something that I never quite expected.

      Enjoying and being thankful for the experiences that we have and the ability and opportunity is something that I am constantly trying to remind myself.

      Reply
  • freddy smidlap November 13, 2019 at 6:53 am

    oh, hey. you’re preaching to the choir on the passion void subject. that’s why i’m still working. mrs. me could just be a gardener and fine art painter all day every day and be happy as a clam. me….not so much. the 40 hours a week i come to this work thing seem about right to fill up the week and still have time for the stuff i want to do. i was thinking of getting a puppy to hang with our adult dog and training another animal. it was really rewarding the last time.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 13, 2019 at 8:22 am

      I’m thinking it might be something that I look into once we settle down a little bit more. Until then, I’ll have to figure out somethings to do while on the road. It’s a interesting situation to find yourself in, and certainly something that I never thought I would be dealing with.

      I am starting to find more and more that I can sink my teeth into, but man was it something that I didn’t really expect to be dealing with so soon.

      Reply
  • Jason W November 13, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Anything you wish you would have done differently heading into this stage of your journey? It seems travel makes the discovery process more challenging without the comfort of a home base, but the eclectic experiences of global travel and hopefully meeting interesting people will help build a arsenal of ideas to add to the spreadsheet and try over time (just assuming there’s a spreadsheet) 🙂 I’m in a similar position, MK has her writing passion which has developed into a full-time gig (directly and indirectly). I find enough satisfaction, social engagement, and mental stimulation through the corporate sphere for now, but am trying to gain a better foothold outside this identity. While I enjoy cooking, hiking/traveling, exercising, and being part of this amazing community, these items don’t have the sense of the level of being a full-time passion…

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 18, 2019 at 1:32 am

      As far as doing things differently, I think it would have been nice to have it planned out a little more. We kind of just were thrown into it, and decided that we would take some time off, with no real purpose of plan. The numbers worked, we had some circumstances that caused us to do it now. So, maybe that would be been a change?

      That being said, I’m torn on that. It’s one of those things that I don’t know if I would have been ready or ever pulled the trigger on my own. Sometimes it’s just great to forced into things, it causes you to figure your way through something you are paralyzed by.

      I definitely think travel adds another element of stress on top of it. But for some deeply personal reasons we wanted to break free from our area, and just detach for a while. That was the whole point of traveling for a bit. Complete detachment.

      “While I enjoy cooking, hiking/traveling, exercising, and being part of this amazing community, these items don’t have the sense of the level of being a full-time passion…” This is exactly it… I love cooking, and traveling, working out. I even have some side projects I’ve been working on. But there’s not an over arching theme to any of that, it’s all one off tasks.

      Maybe that’s ok… maybe it will just sort out and align at some point. Just not there quite yet.

      Reply
  • Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto November 13, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Mr. Wow, thanks for your transparency. There’s no doubt that the transition out of the working world is HUGE, and not talked about often enough. It’s a major emphasis of my book (April 2020!), and something I’ve really gotten focused on in my writing. My wife really struggled with the transition, and it wasn’t until she started a charity that she started coming to grips with our “New Reality”. Take it easy on yourself, and throw a few things against the wall. Most will fall to the floor, but, oh, the joy that can be found in those few things that stick. I’ll be following closely…

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 18, 2019 at 1:37 am

      A book?!?! Holy mackerel! Well that gave you something to work on that’s for certain.

      I think that’s something that I am definitely needing to do. I need to try a bunch of different things and see what really lights my fire. I have a bunch of ideas. And we will see what happens when I actually attempt some of them. it’s a little hard to do some of the stuff as we are pretty mobile at the moment, but I am starting to get a list together to try and work on some things.

      The first of which is trying to get back into writing here more, so hopefully you will actually have something to follow 🙂

      Reply
  • wendy November 13, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I’m glad you shared this – it’s not talked about enough in the FIRE world. It’s my biggest concern with reaching FIRE in a few years… as a single person, I’m even more concerned because I feel it’s easier to wallow or get depressed without someone to distract/cajole, etc.
    As much as I want to travel, I think I’ll need a home base/nest pretty quickly because a lot of what I want to spend time investigating, learning, mastering requires physical space and tools (gardening, cooking, carpentry, bees, etc.)
    Thanks for posting! Hope you two keep enjoying the trip and embrace the chance for deep contemplation.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 18, 2019 at 1:41 am

      It really is something that kind of gets glossed over, and as we’re going through it, I don’t think it really should be. I think it’s something that I might have to explore some more.

      Traveling is great, and it definitely adds something to your life. And I think there are plenty of things you can do while you are traveling that can translate to home.

      It’s funny, the first couple weeks we were just excited to see everything, but as it’s progressed, we are starting to settle in and these more grandiose issues are starting to show. It is interesting. It’s just something to be prepared for when you do finally take the plunge.

      Reply
  • WebProf November 14, 2019 at 5:51 am

    I took early retirement after a stressful job. I come from an Asian culture where constantly working or being busy doesn’t define us. How we live and how we relax does. Meaning of work and life differs across the globe. The culture in USA is historically based on a hard work ethic and feeling guilty if we relax even on weekends. My culture believes in a work and life balance. I travel around the globe and see how people work and relax and what they focus on. No need to feel guilt if you aren’t busy all the time. Retirement is a chance and a choice not available for everyone. If you can afford it consider yourself lucky.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 18, 2019 at 1:44 am

      I don’t know that it’s a guilt of not being busy. It’s more of a rudderless existence at the time being. You are exactly right, it’s a balance. But balance implies there are two sides that need to be even, so if one is not in the appropriate ratio, the whole thing is thrown off.

      It is certainly not lost on me that this is a first world problem. And it’s an exclusive one of those. So, I am very thankful to be in the position I am in, and constantly remind myself of that when I’m not feeling a little glum.

      Reply
  • Crispy Doc November 14, 2019 at 10:18 am

    The passion void has ebbed and flowed over the years, although as I cut back significantly at work, oddly there has been no shortage of interests, fascinating books, or new skills to try and fail at until I succeed or move on.

    The slowly built vacuum seemed to suck interesting people and ideas into my orbit, and being rooted in a community meant once word got out that there was a weirdo afoot, all the other more shy weirdos seemed to scramble out of their hiding places to extend a tentative hand. Maybe you’ll find that in between travel you need roots in one place more than the original plan called for?

    I’m also going to risk heresy: maybe considering some variant of re-engagement with paid work that is minimal enough to keep it an interesting remunerative hobby, on your terms, compatible with your travel plans, and that develops an area of expertise within your prior job just sexy enough to entice you to keep learning cool stuff on someone else’s dime could help you transition.

    Sometimes it’s just doing more of what you are currently doing and waiting out the doldrums and the fog. An old favorite poem from Richard Brautigan follows.

    Karma Repair Kit: Items 1-4

    1. Get enough food to eat, and eat it.

    2. Find a place to sleep where it is quiet, and sleep there.

    3. Reduce intellectual and emotional noise until you arrive at the silence of yourself, and listen to it.

    4.

    If it all fails, you can always revert to being the dude with good beer next to the giant inflatable flamingo. Not a terrible Plan B.

    Wishing you luck in figuring out your Act Two, and sorting through your IPS for time.

    CD

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 18, 2019 at 1:54 am

      There is no shortage of interests on my part that’s for sure. There are so many things that I want to learn and do. I just don’t know there is an overarching theme, but maybe that’s just something I think needs to be there at the moment. It’s doesn’t have to exist once I come to grips with it? Don’t know.

      Paid work is something that we’ve been tossing around as well. Going somewhere to learn something new, on their dime, with some appropriate mentorship. Seems reasonable enough.

      As time progresses, I think it will start to clear. There will be things that come into focus, and I think this whole traveling thing is a distraction at the moment. That’s not a bad thing, and I think it’s needed, but it doesn’t lend itself to really figuring out the deep dark underbelly of this whole thing.

      I am looking forward to seeing the other weirdos present themselves. I don’t know that our mobile lifestyle at the moment lends itself to that. But, it’s something that I’m keenly aware happens, and am looking forward to it.

      If plan B is the worst that happens… I’m game!

      Reply
  • P November 17, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Hi from LA. I too “suffer” from lack of passion. I’ve been semi retired for nearly 20 years. I never fully quit as I needed something to do. Luckily I found a gig that keeps me occupied for 6 months and then I can appreciate my time off. It can be hard to find a balance that works for you, but in time you’ll find a rhythm. Doing nothing for a while to decompress is a good start. Taking walks and a few activities a week has been enough for me to prevent boredom.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW November 18, 2019 at 1:56 am

      Thanks, that’s really encouraging. I think it’s the finding a balance part that’s hard. It’s a bunch of hurry up and wait. There’s not really a way to accelerate it at all.

      Eventually things will start to align, even over that past few weeks, it seems as though that’s what is going on. It’s change, change is hard, and change requires time to readjust.

      Reply
      • P November 18, 2019 at 9:33 am

        Yes it sounds like you are “wired for productivity” like I am. Trying to “undo” that goal and re – prioritize takes time.

        Reply

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