Early Retirement
Maintaining Balance
by Robin Charlton
One of the best things we did in life was
accomplish our dream of early retirement.
That said, looking back I am also very glad
we stopped to smell the roses along the way.
It takes discipline and hard work to save for
early retirement, but you don’t want to miss
out on the good life has to offer while you
strive to achieve it. It makes me think of the
Trace Adkins song, “You're Gonna Miss
This.”

Surprisingly, some of my favorite memories
are of the days back in the working phase
of my life. While saving for retirement, we
spent practically every non-snowy weekend
enjoying the Colorado mountains. We’d go on long forested hikes and relax
with a picnic lunch at a beautiful mountain lake. Usually on the long hike back
down the mountain we’d share our hopes for the future -- where will we go first
when we retire, what are our own
personal must-do’s in this lifetime.
This period of stability was truly
special. It allowed us to enjoy the
love and companionship of our
sheltie Chaucer from his puppyhood
through old age. We made lifelong
friends with whom we spent hours
and hours playing cards and board
games, singing songs, going on
camping trips, and enjoying their
kids’ early years.
We carried this same philosophy into our retirement as well. People some-
times ask us how we decide on the destination of our next travel adventure.
The biggest factor has often been family – most especially our parents. We
planned a lot of our longer trips to dovetail with a shorter trip Dad and Mom
Charlton were excited about and could share with us. Many of these trips
involved cruises and “safer,” more comfortable destinations. Even as
we were experiencing these wonderful journeys, we knew to savor each
memory. Our last trip together was to Hawaii about ten days before Dad
passed. Our farewell hug was at the cruiseport after a truly memorable and
joy-filled cruise – and how glad we were in hindsight to have spent this
last special trip together.
Being retired also allowed me to spend the last few years of my Mom’s life with
her in Maine. The trips Robert and I took got shorter in length because I didn’t
want to be away from her as long. So we picked destinations we wanted to
make quick visits to -- ones that held deep meaning for us but are considered
by many as more adventurous: Israel,
Palestine, and Jordan, for example.

After my Mom passed away we spent
four months in Southeast Asia and
Japan, and, while it was great to cover
so much territory, it felt a little like too
much of a good thing. Since then our
lives have been about rebalancing.
We're reconnecting with our close
friends and family and working to find
the right balance between exploring the
exciting unknown world around us while
not losing touch with what’s important
at home. That balance is uniquely
individual, and, as we're learning,
changes as life unfolds.
Admittedly, achieving goals and attaining dreams is important in life. For us,
seeing the world is something we feel compelled to do, and when we are doing
it we feel truly happy. But equal to that now in my mind is the value of sharing
day-to-day life with the people we care about most, and embracing the good of
the everyday.