Alone.

I’ve Been Alone For Two Years.

Two years ago my wife and I Sold our City House in 7 days, then used Craigslist to Sell 30 years of stuff in 24 hours and moved to our retirement cabin in the North Georgia Mountains.  Downsizing move complete!!

All good, right?

Only one problem:  I still had to work.  In The City.

I've Been Alone For The Past Two Years. Here's what I've learned. Click To Tweet

Due to a nursing home situation with my mother-in-law (Alzheimer’s), we moved 2 years earlier than we’d originally planned. Today, the story of what we’ve learned since the move.  Two years with plenty of time to think.

Two years of being Alone.


2 Years, Alone.

The path has led to a lot of “Alone” time, for both my wife and I.  We’ve both learned from it, and we believe in hindsight we made the right decision for our circumstances.  Everything in Life comes with pros and cons.  Deal with it, and focus on the positives.

Some background:  Our mountain cabin is too far from my office to commute (~2 1/2 hours, each way), and my employer doesn’t allow telecommuting (I sneak in Friday’s from home.  Our secret, ok?).  We realized we had no real choice but to get a small City Apartment for the weeknights while I still had to be in the office.  We’d make it work.  

“Retirement In Only 2 Years” became our mantra.

We made a mutual commitment for two years, even though neither of us cared for it much.  The HUGE “Pro”:  We live together in the mountains each weekend, and it’s made the Alone time during the weeknights a burden we could bear.

At least we were living our Retirement Dream every weekend, and the retirement countdown had begun. Click To Tweet

We Had Achieved A Milestone

With the completion of our downsizing move, we’d achieved a major milestone in our retirement journey.  Now, it was now only a matter of time until I retired.  The countdown had begun.

“Retirement In Only 2 Years”

But that Milestone also led to two years of being Alone.

Alone hasn’t been easy.

For the past 26 months, I’ve spent 3 nights a week, Alone.   I realize many folks spend more time “Alone” than that, but I can only write about my experience.  One thing I’ve learned is deep empathy for folks who are Alone but not by choice, and I hope you can learn from our experience even though it may be less intense than what you’re going through.

Our typical weekly routine is as follows:

  • I spend 3 nights in the City.  Mon-Wed nights, alone.
  • Then, we spend 4 nights in the retirement mountain cabin. Thur-Sun, together.

After work on Mon-Wed, I walk the two blocks to my City Apartment and my wife hangs out at the cabin with the dogs.  3 nights in The City X 6 hours per night and the math is clear.

18 Hours A Week, Alone.

My wife and I tend to think about the split between City/Cabin nights as a teeter-totter, with our 4 nights in the cabin tilting the board in favor vs. the 3 nights in the City.   We’ve Got This.  We’re balancing it the best we can, and it’s worked reasonably well.

But we’re ready for it to be over.

We’ve endured, but we’re looking forward to ending this “forced isolation” in our lives.  It’s been a sacrifice we knew we had to make, and we’ve made it.

The Good News:   My Apartment Lease Expires on June 3.  

Retirement is only 45 days away.

I’m going home.


Alone.

Since this period of isolation is ending, it seems a good time to write about the experience of being Alone.  What do you learn while spending two years in isolation?  I’ve thought about it as I prepared for this post, and there are some things I’ve learned which are worth sharing.

More transparency than usual, perhaps, but it’s where the mood leads as I write these words at my trusted Apartment table, so I follow.  I hope you appreciate the heartfelt words as I write about the experience.

An Aside:  As my long-time readers know, I tend to alternate between “Hard” and “Soft” topics in my posts.  I’ve realized during my journey the importance of both. Patience, please, if you prefer the “hard” stuff, more of that coming soon.  In the end, it’s all about balance. Money matters, but it’s far from the most important thing in life.


The Reality Of Being Alone

95% of the words you’ve read on this blog have been written at this apartment table.  Alone.

As I work on this post, I’ve realized that for the majority of those 18 hours/week of being Alone, I’ve been sitting at the table shown above.  Writing.  Thinking.  Then writing some more.  I wrote yesterday.

I’m writing now.

I’m sitting at that table as I type these words.  I’m currently in the 17th of my 18 Hours of “Alone” this week, and I just took that self-portrait photograph.  I’m typing on the Chromebook at the table at this very moment.  That desk lamp is still on, and my shadow is still on that wall.

Since moving into the apartment, I’ve written over 100,000 words on this blog.  95% of those words have been written from that table.  I’ve spent over 600 hours sitting at this table, writing.

That table and The Retirement Manifesto are two of the things which have kept me sane. Click To Tweet

Preparing For Alone

Knowing in advance that we were heading to this lifestyle, we had time to prepare.   I thought about what I was going to do with all of that time, and I made a decision.  Since the “Alone” time was unavoidable, I wanted to use it in the most productive means possible, so I’ve focused on:

  • No T.V.
  • This blog.
  • And Exercise.

I decided in advance that I would find a way to apply a Purpose to this time, and it’s served me well.

Lesson #1: If possible, plan in advance to put your Alone time to work for a real Purpose. Click To Tweet

What Do I Do When I’m Alone?

With an active mind,  I pre-determined to put the time to strong use and challenged myself to fill the time productively.  I decided to not have a T.V. at my Apartment, for the sole purpose that avoiding the time suck would force me to put the time to good use.  I decided to focus on this blog, and I decided to get serious about physical fitness.  I spend a lot of time exercising, and I spend a lot of time sitting at my table.  Seems a reasonable balance.

I’ve found this blog to be richly rewarding.  I’ve discovered that I love to write.  I’m helping people.  I’m making friends.  I’m making an impact.  I’ve discovered that I love to Swim In Cold Water.

Rewarding, indeed.

My typical night goes something like this:

  • 5:00 pm:  Home from work, chill for 30 mins. Call my wife. Scan the phone.  Post on Twitter or Facebook.
  • 6:00 pm:  Workout.  Almost every night.  Jogging, swimming, biking, or gym.
  • 7:30 pm:  Dinner.
  • 8:00 – 10:00:  Blog.  Call my wife to say goodnight.

I’m shockingly busy, and it’s all good, value-added activity.  It challenges me physically, mentally and artistically.  I’ve started working with photography, and enjoy experimenting with various photo editing platforms.  Developing my photographic/artistic side has been an interesting challenge.  It’s kept me busy, and it’s kept my focus off being Alone.

Taken after an April jog, Alone,  in Atlanta’s Chastain Park

Lessons Learned From Being Alone

In addition to the importance of keeping yourself busy,  I’ve learned some other things.

  • I’ve learned the deepest empathy for widows/widowers/divorcees, and those alone not by choice.
  • I’ve learned that your Mindset matters.

I’ve learned to…

  • …Focus on the positive instead of the negative.
  • …Take time to talk with your spouse.  Every day.
  • …Go to dinner with co-workers who are doing a relo, you may start a friendship.
  • …Take time to slow down and think.
  • …Be a guest on podcasts, it challenges the mind.
  • …Schedule time to talk to friends.
  • …Talk to my Dad, every week.  Treasure the relationship.
  • …Get outside as much as possible.

I’ve learned…..

  • …That Sweat Is Good.
  • …That I Love Writing.
  • …That Cold Water Swimming is amazing.
  • …That Atlanta has some great parks.
  • …That Loneliness is inversely related to a Purposeful activity.
  • …That It feels good to help someone.
  • …That being Alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely.

My wife’s learned a lot, too.  Obviously, I can only write from my perspective, but we’ve talked about being Alone, and our experiences over the past two years.  We talked about this post tonight and shared a lot of the same opinions about the importance of staying busy, and how it makes being Alone more tolerable.  She’s learned a lot of the same lessons that I have.

My wife’s first pottery birdhouse.  Done while she was Alone.

She’s found that she loves pottery, probably as much as I love writing.  For the record, she’s better at pottery than I am with the written word.  We’ve both found things we love, and it’s helped us deal with being Alone.


It’s Almost Over

As a wrap-up to this post, an update on my Apartment move-out plan.  My last night in the apartment will be May 31. I realized this week that I’m only going to spend 7 more nights in my apartment.

I’m traveling a lot during the final weeks of my career, teaching my successor the ropes.

I just packed my truck with the first load to haul back to the cabin, and I started selling stuff we don’t need.  I’m feeling the excitement of making my final move to our retirement cabin.  I only have three more trips from Atlanta to the mountains to move my stuff.

I’m Going Home.


The table that’s been the Headquarters Of The Retirement Manifesto for the past two years is gone.

I started this post on that table, but I didn’t finish it there.  Instead, I finished it on a lap desk while seated in my recliner (this lap desk is going to take some getting used to).  The table is gone. It was picked up by a nice guy yesterday named Scott after he saw the above ad on Craigslist.  I helped him load it on his trailer.  He wasn’t in a hurry, and we had a nice chat.  He congratulated me on my retirement.

Turns out he’s moving to the mountains, just 20 miles from our retirement cabin, and he’s taking my table with him.   I’ve got his card, may call him sometime.

Small world, isn’t it?


Conclusion

I don’t like being Alone.  Sometimes in Life, we have to choose a short-term sacrifice to achieve a longer-term goal.  If you’re facing a sacrifice, make sure the longer gain is worth the short-term pain.  Then, decide in advance how you’ll minimize the disadvantages of the short-term situation, and get on with it.

Find a Purpose, and set some Challenges for yourself to achieve new things.  Be intentional with your mindset. Fill your time with things that motivate you.  Set some goals.  Focus on Relationships.  Take time to think.

Get some exercise.

Develop your artistic side.

Live your life.

I’ve learned a lot by being Alone over these past 2 years.  Most importantly, I’ve learned that the mindset you adopt is important as you face challenges during your journey.  No one has a perfect life.  Make the best decision you can for your situation, then determine to make the best of it.  Focus your mind on the Positives, not the Negatives.

Being Alone doesn’t need to mean being Lonely.  Still, I’m happy than in a few short weeks I’ll no longer be Alone.  I’ll be with my wife, and she with me.  We’ve made the sacrifice, and it’s time to achieve the longer-term benefits in our early retirement.  Retirement is only 45 days away.

In your life, find a way to minimize the pain of short-term sacrifices you make to achieve your longer-term goals.

Even if you find yourself Alone.

Your Retirement, And Your Life, Will Be Better For It.

For The Comments:  What sacrifices have you had to make in your life for longer-term gain, and what steps did you take to minimize the pain?   Are there ways that the lessons I learned while being Alone can be applied to other sacrifices taken during life?   Your thoughts, please?  Let’s chat…..

63 comments

  1. As far as sacrifices that I’ve made on my journey to FI, I have turned down numerous job opportunities in Europe because I need to be near my mother who has health problems. I haven’t considered it that big of a sacrifice to be honest, the jobs would not have advanced my career as much as they would have just been a great life experience. But I’ve traveled to Europe enough that I’ve gotten my share.

    As far as being alone, glad to hear you are finishing up. I sound like more of an introvert than you probably, so I need my alone time and generally enjoy it. But I find that I do tend to spend a bit too much time alone, and I’m looking for ways to rectify that more

    1. Congrats on having your priorities straight. We’ve made some sacrifices for our parents, too (my mother-in-law lived with us for 4 years, Alzheimers), and always felt it was the right thing to do. Our parents took care of us for 20 years, it’s only fair we that we return the favor, if possible.

  2. A question jumps into my mind. I spend a lot of time on the road for work, away from my wife and kids. My wife says it takes me a few days to adapt back to living with the family. Do you notice anything similar?

    1. Funny you mention that, FTF. Absolutely, there’s an adjustment period. I drive home Thur nights, and usually walk the dogs around our 1.3 mile trail shortly after I get home. Somehow, walking that trail puts me back into my cabin mindset, and makes the adjustment smoother. After 2 years of making that adjustment every week, it’s become part of the routine. I, too, spent years on the road for business. I won’t miss that, it sure is nice to be home!

  3. This is really good, Fritz – it helps bring us into your world over these past couple of years. That’s got to be rough to have to spend that much time away from your wife.

    The good thing is that it sounds like it’s helped you find yourself a little more. It cost you a lot of time to do it, but the nice thing is that it’ll all be behind you shortly.

    I used to go out-of-town for training for work on a regular basis. That was a little easier though because I was much younger and was only dating my wife at the time. I think it would be a tremendous strain to do that now, especially with our daughter.

    Nowadays, I only head out for a conference maybe once a year and I’m missing the family by the end of the trip for sure. Couldn’t imagine doing that every week… props to you!

    — Jim

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Jim. I’ve traveled for most of my career, so we’ve been used to me being on the road. Two straight years was a different story, but we’ve learned from it and we’ve grown in the process, so in hindsight it’s been worth it.

      Regarding conferences, maybe now you can appreciate my Commandment #4 of No Obligations. I just want to stay home for a while…..

  4. Awesome post Fritz!

    My fiancée and I are definitely in the midst of a short-term sacrifice at the moment. We recently moved out of our apartment and moved back in with my parents. This isn’t something we wanted to do, but we are adamant on making a significant down payment on our starter home within the next couple of years. Living in a high cost of living area like Northern Virginia/DC, homes seem to be starting around the 500’s now.

    Our actual plan is to save up over the next 2 1/2 years, and then move down South and purchase our starter home in cash (Dave Ramsey Plan). Will see how it goes month by month, but it is also giving us a chance to build stronger relationships with our families again!

    1. Hey Sean, great example of a short-term sacrifice for long-term gain. I’m sure it’s challenging at times, but think about how rewarding it will be when you finally move into your own house, which you’ve paid for in CASH! Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else! (Ironically, I’m working on a draft of a future post about exactly that quote from Dave Ramsey). Thanks for stopping by, good luck with the parents!

  5. I personally learned alot of the same things you learned about being alone during my ten years in prison. I’m a natural extrovert, so I’d never been alone before. But in prison I learned to become quieter, listen more, think more, and speak and move with purpose more. Prison wasn’t a good experience, but the things I learned finding peace being alone was. Like you, I started to see the TV as my enemy, and the thoughts in my head as my way out of the difficult time. I can identify.

    “Everything in Life comes with pros and cons. Deal with it, and focus on the positives.”
    You kind of summed up the road to success with this quote.

    1. Billy, your prison story was inspiring to me, and I actually thought about you when I wrote this post. I can’t imagine 10 years in prison, but your story proves that even time alone in prison can be put to good use if you have the right mindset.

      Thanks for the shoutout on that quote. It’s how I choose to live my life, and I know it’s how you’ve chosen to live yours. Kindred spirits, my friend.

  6. Hi Fritz
    Your post resonated with me. Over all our married life (of 40 years) my husband has travelled extensively. We bought a new house in January 1995, and it was May of that year before he had stayed as many nights in the house as he had out of it! Add into that mix, myself going back to work, and also having to travel, fortunately not too much while the children were small. However for the last 4 years of my working life (2 in Amsterdam, 2 in London), I was away from home 3 or 4 nights a week, and sometimes weekends too. It was a major factor in my decision to retire early.
    I hadn’t discovered blogging then, so I just worked late in the evening and started early the next morning. (Hotel rooms can be very boring!) Often I was the person turning off the lights in the evening and putting them on again the next morning. Not a healthy life!
    At weekends, I had to be persuaded to do anything. Often from Amsterdam, I was getting in at 10:30pm on a Friday night. At least in London I was home by 8:30pm. Sunday nights were written off, preparing for the 4am / 4:30 am start for the 6am flight out.
    After 4 years of it, I was worn out. When I stopped, it was total bliss. Even now, I smile every Monday morning!
    Enjoy your together time with your wife.

    1. Erith, I can’t imagine maintaining that schedule for 4 years. One big advantage I had vs. business travel is the luxury of my own apartment. No bags to pack, no airports to traverse, and a beautiful swimming pool right outside my apartment door!

      I love your blog, and the way you’re living your life in retirement. While your sacrifice was great, the reward has been greater. I hope I can say the same after decades in retirement. You’re an inspiration to me, and I’m proud to call you a friend.

      1. For 6 months I had my own apartment in Amsterdam (paid for by my company). It was relative bliss. At least I had my own space and could leave things there. I found it so much more restful, despite the long days.
        In London, I got totally sad – I left my shirts at a laundry on my way to the tube station for the flight home, and picked them up on a Monday morning, laundered. The hotel kept a bag for me, so I was able to travel with just a small rucksack.
        It tells you are away far too much when the hotel and airline staff recognise you and greet you by name!
        Make the most of that retirement!

  7. My husband travels and I’m the one at home with the kids. Its just the way we’ve lived our lives for more than 20 years. Fortunately for him, I’ve always been very independent. And I agree, alone is not lonely. I’m working hard to become even more productive during the time my husband is traveling. With three daughters, that isn’t too hard.

    This year we are planting a garden as a family to help save money of fresh produce and eat healthier. Gardening is great exercise as well. I wish you and your wife much happiness as your retirement begins.

    1. My wife was home with our daughter when my mid-career jobs required heavy travel for ~15 years. I can totally relate. Good luck with that garden, we’re planning one for next summer, when retirement will give us the time to turn a patch of our back yard into a fresh produce market!

  8. Love this message, Fritz. Sacrifices are indeed difficult, but there’s a silver lining somewhere. We just need to be in the right mindset to find it…and remember it when some days are more difficult than others.

    I’m grateful you chose to spend your alone time the way you did. Because we’ve all learned from you and built relationships. So thank you.

    I’m sacrificing my income right now to spend the days with my granddaughter. The long-term bond and benefits are yet to come, but the baby smiles and snuggles help minimize the pain of no paycheck.

    Ecstatic for both of you that your alone time is coming to an end!

  9. Great post Fritz! Learning how to be alone and not be lonely is great retirement preparation! A commitment to being productive while being alone is a great routine to carry forward. Hope your transition is smooth and retirement is everything you hoped for!

  10. “Due to a nursing home situation with my mother-in-law (Alzheimer’s), we moved 2 years earlier than we’d originally planned.” Both you and your wife are such wonderful people to make this sacrifice so that she could be in a nicer nursing home near the cabin. You only briefly touched on that part, but the fact that you both did this so her Mom could be in a nice place and basically so that SHE would not be alone. Hat’s off to you both.

    There were a few times in my career that projects went nearly every waking hour. My last big one took me to Scotland many times for intense on-site testing. Although I wasn’t “alone” as I stayed with my coworkers (all men) in a rustic cabin for weeks and sometimes months on end, it was hard to only use Skype to talk to my husband. He was the one left alone. So your story gives me the feelings that my husband had to bear. Like you, he found lots of cool projects and exercise challenges during that time. But it was bittersweet. I enjoy watching your countdown to retirement. Getting close!

  11. Great stuff fritz… make me think. The Mrs was gone for most of last week. It takes some getting used to. As much as we tend to complain, it’s just not the same.

    Congrats again!!

  12. Well glad it’s almost over for you. As a person who has been single for quite. some. time., I can hopefully assure most people that being alone, at least for me, kind of rocks! I mean I do want to have a boyfriend or husband, but I’m perfectly happy and OK without one. And I get the TV remote all. to. myself. lol! I did at one point have to make some social time sacrifices when my finances were at their lowest, and that was sometimes difficult. Thank god for netflix! 🙂 And yes I worked out too. But it can be challenging. I think as an introvert I’d like to find a partner who identifies with that so we can be alone…together. 🙂

  13. Great post. Thanks for sharing your experience. Two years is a long time to be apart, but 3 days per week doesn’t sound that bad. At least, you have plenty of time together.
    One of my friends has a long distance marriage. She raises the kids in Oregon and he works in Florida. It’s been that way for 15 years already. That’s crazy to me.
    Anyway, your time alone in the apartment is ending so soon. I’m looking forward to reading more about your ER soon. I like alternating between hard/soft topics too.
    As for sacrifice, my last 2 years on the job were really tough. I just had to put my head down and bull through it. I’m so glad that is over with.

  14. Hi Fritz,
    I really enjoy your blog. I’ve been a regular reader since meeting Kirk on the PCT. I’ve been a single parent for the last 21 years. I currently live with my two sons (22 y.o. and 26 y.o.) and I rent a room to another 22 y.o. college student. For the last six months I was also renting another room to a not so pleasant college student. I found myself in the opposite position as yourself, I was searching for alone time. The end result was very similar: more gym time, trail time, and running friends time. I retire on May 1st at 55 y.o. I will be thru hiking the Continental Divide Trail starting May 4th where I will have plenty of alone time, my favorite kind.
    Thank you for your blog,
    Susan

    1. And I really enjoy readers like you! Too cool that you met Kirk on the PCT! He’s heading back out there shortly to finish it up. Good luck on the CDT, I can only imagine how much you enjoy that Wilderness Solitude with all those 20-somethings living in your house!

      Congrats on your retirement – we’re within a month of each other, and both 55. That’s kinda cool, methinks.

  15. I’m going through this right now, and you encouraged me. After retiring 1/1/18 we sold our home and relocated to another State. My husband does not want to retire (he is 66, I am 68). He owns his business and loves his work. So he is living with his son part time taking care of his business and I’m alone in our retirement home. Positive thinking, daily phone contact, FaceTime with old friends and taking up new hobbies keeps me sane and fulfilled. We are forging our marriage using a new model. Thank you again for this article!

  16. Fritz,
    This post so resonated with me.

    I moved to our retirement house over 5 years ago as part a strategic career move. My self employed husband stayed to run his business 3 hours (and one mountain pass) away. Most weekends I am the one commuting every Friday afternoon and Sunday evening. We are both very independent, but I am looking forward to ditching the weekend commute and reintegrating ourselves into same household living beginning in July. It definitely is NOT for everyone, but it worked for us.

    Your decision to not have a TV in the apartment and use your time so positively was very inspiring. I tended to work late into the evenings, come home and veg with the TV and a glass of wine after our evening phone date. On the nights that I make the conscious decision NOT to turn on the TV, but to listen to a book, podcast or music, I get so much more done.

    The softer side of retirement is a bit daunting as we will need to build a life that doesn’t include work. Our strategy will include me working for a few more years to smooth out the transition period that our age gap provided. My employer is on notice that 50+ hour work weeks are a thing of the past for me.

    1. Stacy, thanks for the “resonated with me” comment. I hesitated a bit with this one, more transparent than most of my posts. I’m pleased that it “resonates” with the readers, and am pleased at the exchanges in the comments.

      It sounds like we’re living similar lives. How ironic that we’ll both be adjusting to “same household living” over the summer. Good luck with the transition, I’ll keep you posted on mine!

  17. Great recap Fritz. Although I’m 14 years into retirement. (Able to retire at 56 by the foresight of a great employer and grace of God). Still, being proactive at setting goals has not been my strong suit, your blog is a world of encouragement. Best to you and your wife and I look forward to our paths crossing again.

    1. “Your blog is a world of encouragement”. Music to my ears, David. Looking forward to crossing paths again, as well. Congrats on 14 years of retirement, you did well to get out at 56, and I look forward to joining you in the “retired” ranks in 45 days!

  18. The end is in sight! You did a great job staying focused on being productive during that time.

    To Joe’s point above, I remember at least two close friends whose parents had long distance marriages when we were growing up. Their moms raised them in California while their dads worked out of state or even out of the country. I remember that was pretty tough for the kids but I’m sure it was a lot tougher for their moms having to carry the whole parenting burden alone.

    I recently discovered that I still love a certain amount of alone time. I adore my family and don’t like to be away from them too much but short periods like a few days at a time would be tolerable.

    We spent most of our early relationship in a long distance relationship before my husband and I got married. We did that because I had to support my parents and it was only possible for me to afford one household at the time but it was smart because it let me build a really solid career foundation and grow that career into one where I can try to put together an FI plan for our family. It wasn’t easy but we made the best of those years and it was well worth it. We continue to make some hard choices now to ensure that we are saving properly and are on the road to some kind of FI in the future.

    1. Revanche! Great to see you browsing my site! I can’t imagine parents who try to raise kids in long distance marriages. Makes my sacrifice look tame by comparison, for sure! Good for you for making the required sacrifice to care for your parents, sounds like the long-term benefits were worth the short-term pain. Good luck on your FI Journey, and thanks again for stopping by!

  19. Hard to be away from one’s spouse and pets, but I love how you 1) chose blogging, jogging, and swimming to fill your evenings, and 2) learned empathy for those not alone by choice, and 3) chose a positive mindset. Because of those three things, others have benefited from your experience. Great post 👍👍

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Carol. I sincerely hope folks benefit from my experience, and my words. PS – sneak update for you (we’ll see how many folks read the comments!)…I took a few videos of me and the four dogs in our woods. Hoping to play around with it for my first video editing project, which I’ll share here if I ever figure out how to use my video editing software. Stay tuned….

        1. Drone replacement hasn’t happened yet, but it will! Just some Iphone video I took of our 4 dogs in the woods, I’m going to try to play with 4 video clips to see if I can edit them together and start learning my software, in preparation for buying a drone!

  20. Wow and I complain that I only see my husband a couple of hours a day but 2 years! Enjoy your early retirement Fritz! I can’t believe such a stunning table sold for just $100. It’s about $2k in stores for that size and solid oak!

    1. Gees, I should have sold it to you for $1,000 right?? Haha. Seriously, it wasn’t about the money for me. I was willing to leave it by the dumpster if necessary, no room for it in our Great Retirement Cabin, and I really didn’t want to have to deal with moving it, only to sell it later.

      Scott got a great deal, and I got rid of my table. All’s good. Enjoy those couple of hours a day with your husband, it could be a lot worse! Smiles.

  21. Awesome! And Congrats! I’ve always enjoyed solitude and (echoing Tonya above) being alone “together”. It’s my jam so we have structured our relationship that way because it serves both our needs. But you made a choice, a hard decision, and put another’s needs above your own and chose a lifestyle that isn’t your “jam”. Kudos. I would have a hard time doing the opposite – moving in with family and losing my alone time. Everyone is fighting a “hard hard” battle in this life. The battles are often quite invisible. Thanks, Fritz!

    1. “The battles are often quite invisible”.

      Wow, what a statement. And true. Glad to hear you’ve structured your relationship in a way that fits your “jam”, that’s what life’s all about, right? You’re crushing it, BB, looking forward to reading about your travels in Guatemala!

  22. I am personally in awe of all that both of you have accomplished — and sacrificed — over these past few years. When we met, it was in the early days of those two years, but even back then, I could see you were laser-focused on the prize. Your freedom. Kudos to you and to Jackie. So well deserved. And isn’t it great what we can do when we shut off the TV and explore what life has to offer beyond cable and commercials?

    I love your blog and have shared it with so many, so yes, you have helped oodles of people and I, personally, can’t wait to see what’s next for you. You have inspired me in so many ways and I have a feeling, you’ll continue to inspire me once you have even more time to share your vast knowledge and experience.

    1. Gwen, I appreciate the friendship we have with you and Dave. Funny that you picked up on that “laser-focus”. Definitely a goal we’ve been working toward, and we’re willing to make the sacrifices to make it happen! Thanks for sharing my blog, it pleases me beyond words to know that my words are capable of inspiring folks. I’m just a simple guy with a keyboard, typing the thoughts as they pass through my brain. Isn’t the internet an amazing thing?

      Let’s plan a dinner together again soon. Friends are worth celebrating, right?

  23. Fritz,
    Be alone has been very difficult for me. I did not choose this path in life, and find no matter how it happens you do have to deal with it. You have a choice to face it, accept it, or let it consume you. It can and will consume you if you are left alone by the lost of your beloved spouse. I spent more time this winter watching TV (smart choice not to have one in your apartment), and found myself falling into depression. I am not one to medicate to deal with life. Finally, and with God’s intervention I happened upon two friends that helped me regain my sense of direction. First was a Senior exercise program that I attend 3 days a week. Gets me out of the house, helps my “poor” body feel better, not to mention what the interaction with others my age does for me. Secondly, a former co-worker from years ago happened to be at the same place at the same time, and from our conversation I found myself offering to help him at the local food bank that he and his wife had started years ago in Madison County. I am volunteering one day a week at the food bank and have taken on the responsibility of managing the “senior food program” for him. You may wonder what has this done for me. It’s hard to express how much this has helped me. Exercise is so very important for everyone. You mindset changes, and you realize no matter why you are alone, you have to pick yourself up and go on. Giving back to the community by volunteering gives me a sense of involvement, and has helped me by helping others. I am blessed beyond words.

    1. Brenda, you were one of the people I thought about, specifically, as I wrote this post. I can’t imagine the loss you’re dealing with after the death of your husband, and I do sincerely empathize with your situation.

      I’m pleased to hear about your exercise program and food bank work. No doubt in my mind, exercise and charitable work do wonders for your life. Glad to hear you’re finding your way, my prayers are with you.

  24. Excellent post, Fritz. Congrats on embracing a healthy mindset during your alone time and choosing not to have a TV in your apartment. You are about to be rewarded for your sacrifice and hard work! It will be that much sweeter for what you gave up.

    I am alone, single and divorced. I would love for that to change but while it is what it is, I choose to embrace it and make the most of my time. You are right about helping other people. When I spend my time helping others there is no room for self pity. Instead I feel purposeful. The blessing of being single is all that extra time. The choice is how to spend it. I choose to love, teach and give back :).

  25. “I choose to love, teach and give back.” Great mindset, when you find yourself Alone against your choice. I hope you find the man of your dreams, and remain Purposeful regardless of what the future brings. Thanks for your transparent comment, I empathize with your situation.

  26. Back in 2016, I’ve spent 8 months alone, supporting myself and it was an interesting period… I learned more about myself, I took courses and had meetings with different friends… it’s cool you’re sharing your deep perspective on this sensitive topic, thank you!

  27. Enjoyed reading this Fritz.

    Being alone has so many different meanings. Whether in person or in your head. Being physically alone is one thing but mentally when there is nobody in sight can be brutal. That suffering in silence is the hardest part for many people.

    Yet sometimes solitude can provide the glimpse into the wonder of being alone. I always had that feeling as a kid when standing at the ocean edge and gazing miles into the distance. It was always therapeutic for me and that has not changed as I have gotten older.

    I like to be alone but I hate feeling lonely.

  28. Fritz,

    My career frequently required me to travel, but only once for an extended period. My wife could not accompany me on a four month special assignment in Italy, though she did visit once for a couple of weeks.

    My work in Milan predated the internet, so my entertainment choices were limited. Without access to many English language books, I relied on newspapers and periodicals. But my yearning for books must have been great. Within 12 months after returning to the states my wife and I opened our own used bookstore.

    While in Italy – with many hours alone – I tried my hand at charcoal drawings. A couple of street artists I met in Milan encouraged me. A couple of my Elvis portraits created in Milan later were sold at an auction for the Memphis Make-a-Wish chapter.

    Cooking in Italy was fun, and I perfected my gumbo recipe while there. Finding okra was difficult because my translation dictionary lacked the word. Later I discovered the Italian word is “ocra”. The Milanese grocer didn’t recognize my attempt at drawing an okra pod, and was confused when I tried asking for “fuzzy zucchini”.

    Spending four months alone in another country was lonely, but the experience certainly helped me appreciate all the little and big things my wife brings to our marriage.

  29. Fritz, great post. Also resonated with me and I wish I read this a few years ago before I took a 2 year assignment half way around the world. Daily Skype calls to my wife was critical. I wish I thought about Filling time with purposeful activity instead of just more work. I did exercise more but wish I did more. It was an experience and I was so happy when it was done. Quarterly home visits were precious!!

    Great, thoughtful post!

  30. How do you define Retirement?
    It is living as you desire, based upon your attitude and affordability.
    It is accepting that what does not get done today, will still be there tomorrow.
    Learning to appreciate every day that God has granted you, especially while sharing with those you love.

  31. This post made me think because my wife and I have contemplated me becoming a super commuter. We would move back to our home state. I would keep my job and I would fly back for three-four days and fly home. The bad thing is that if we have kids this puts a lot of the burden on her. The conundrum I face is this. I worked really hard in my job. I love what I do. I am at the top of my career and I don’t want to give that up (nor does my wife want me to). At the same time we have aging parents, most of our friends our back in our home state so what do we do? This is a tough decision that would be made easier if we were FI, but we aren’t so what do we do? I wish I had the answer.

  32. Welcome (almost) to the RE club! My last year of work I spent 40 weeks commuting from home in Denver to a client in central Massachusetts. The whole time I knew it was my last year so that helped a lot…similar to you I bet. I too had a “no TV” rule while alone. Alone is hard, very. But having an end date make so much difference 🙂

  33. Jason, a tough situation, indeed. Be careful how you approach it. In my case, we knew it was a temporary situation. In your case, it sounds like it may be a longer term commitment. In my experience observing folks who have done “super-commuting”, it’s rare when one can manage it successful for > 2 years, or so.

    Perhaps you can look for a job in your home state before finalizing your decision? Good luck, keep us posted. Being Alone isn’t something to be taken lightly, especially when you still have your children at home.

  34. Hayzoos, Fritz! Reminds of the summer I spent alone in the dorms while in college. It was not a good experience. A very lonely time that I hope never to repeat. I think it taught me something about myself though: That I need people in my life and nourish those relationships. Lemonade from a big fat lemon.

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