Monday, April 28, 2008

Eat the Dessert First

When I was young, I had two uncles on my mothers side who had planned to take their big trip to Europe with their wives as soon as they retired. One of each couple died by the time they were 50. I vowed then that I wouldn't make the same mistake - I would eat the dessert first, and if I never got to the lima beans - well, so be it!

Jack and I had gone straight from school to parenthood, and we promised each other at that time that when the time came we would go and do something special, just the two of us. This was the time.

But how to finance our adventure? The only real asset we had was our house. We figured we had enough equity to allow us at least a year of freedom. We considered renting it out while we were gone, but we didn't really want to get into the landlord business. Besides, a rental agreement could also limit our ability to allow for serendipity - to stay, move, or come back earlier or later than we'd planned. So the first thing to do was to put the house up for sale.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Quick before we change our minds

That decision changed our lives. We began to make plans right away before we came to our senses.

To skip ahead many years - Jack and I have just published a book describing two of the years we lived in the highlands, telling of the people we met and loved and the place that was magic to us (see my home page.) I won't repeat those stories here - only to say that we caught the changing of not only a generation, but an ancient way of life.

But back to our story. We had lived and raised our children in our cozy suburban house in the Twin Cities for the prior 12 years. I had lived my whole life in Minneapolis and this move would mean leaving family and lifelong friends for an unknown period of time. It would mean leaving both my job and Jack's customers and we would not be able to work in Scotland (if they think you have to work they won't let you in.) So what would we live on and how would we pass our time once we were there? How would we be accepted by the local people?

We knew we would be living in a tiny village on the sea - far away from the nearest real town. (We knew this because we had found the spot while on a vacation trip several years before.) Jack and I are both city people and knew that living in a small isolated community where everyone knew everyone else would be a completely new experience. But - tally-ho - nothing ventured and all that!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

So here the road begins

I was 43 years old - happily past the midlife crisis - but with 20+ years to go before retirement. The filling in the sandwich generation. My parents were old but not yet at the point of needing active assistance, and my girls had left home to seek their own path. I had post-partum depression. My resume had dropped the "mother" part. (Or so I naively thought at the time.)

I was working then at a wonderful gallery specializing in tribal arts, doing everything from research and advertising art to bookkeeping. It was my dream job. I got to work with delightful people and beautiful images, and boredom was never an issue. What more could one ask? Well - my husband, Jack, was a free-lance writer so health care and pension was an issue. I loved the work but could not really see myself doing it for another 20 years. So what to do? What if there was a better way of life out there and we would never know? Why not try something completely different?

Jack and I sat by the fire one night listening to the radio and dreaming of possibilities. I don't know what program we were listening to but someone was reading a poem to celebrate Valentines Day - Marlow's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love"
"Come live with me and be my love
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills and fields
Woods or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks......."

Why not move to Scotland and live in a little cottage by the sea? Right! I started keeping a journal. And so it began.