Category Archives: Musings

These posts are a variety of categories, ruminations, or just plain don’t fall into other categories.

The Modern Seasonal Worker

I’ve been cogitating a post about the cost of independence for a couple days, but that feels heavy and just…Meh.

However, I have had a wonderful time lately ogling tiny houses and campers.  The funny aspect of that is that I don’t camp!  I can, though, completely see myself in a tiny house.

But, it occurs to me that these might be  perfect and affordable housing solutions for those of you who would like to do seasonal work in different places around the U.S.A.    Actually, they would work anywhere you are willing to drive/pull them, or for that matter ship them.  So you aren’t necessarily limited to the lower 48 and/or Alaska.

Some of the seasonal jobs with the National Park Service for example, will provide the camper space as part of the compensation – saving the time, energy, and expense of hunting up dorm or temporary housing.    People already do this with RVs, but those are generally more expensive to acquire, maintain, and operate.

How frugally, economically, and without much space do you think you could live?   

Today, go and play with the idea of being a turtle and carrying your home on your back.   What kind of freedom would it give you to take the kind of jobs you want to take if you did not have to worry about where to live when you got there?  Would being a modern seasonal worker, moving around to different seasonal or temporary jobs, work for you?

Here’s an itty bitty camper that doesn’t need a big truck to pull.  Think you could “live” in this for a season?

Click here to see the Happier Camper

Maybe need a little more space, but still want to pull it behind you?

Check out the Beauer Telescoping Camper Here

And then there’s my favorite idea; a tiny house.   LOTS of options here, and you do need a more powerful vehicle to move them.   Be still my heart…

Portable Tiny Houses in Cedar

Tumbleweed Brand Tiny Houses

General Info About Tiny Living

Article with the Author of a Tiny House Blog

Another Tiny House page

So, what do you think?   If you could travel with your own living quarters, would being a modern traveling  seasonal worker suit you?

Think about it!

Have a fun day-dreaming.




Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Make Your Own Checklist for Semi-Retirement

Last evening, my husband and I were discussing a new employee of his who was struggling a bit with the process of the work.  I suggested that my husband make an outline, or checklist, for the kid to follow.   Perhaps having it written down is how he learns?  Or perhaps he just can’t “see” it when he hears it?

This works for planning too.   In flying, it’s “Plan the flight.  Fly the plan.”    Planning gives you an opportunity to examine the situation in advance, and make the necessary adjustments BEFORE you begin.

Starting is as simple as making a list of the variables that affect you.

Try taking these items and decide which of them would be relevant to what YOU need to live a semi-retired lifestyle.  Try putting them in an order that flows for you.  What has to happen first? Second?

Create YOUR checklist for Semi-Retirement.
What is your timeline?

(Is this something you can control or change?)

Debt  Minimization Plan
Physical location

(One or multiple?  Fluid?)


(Tiny house? Portable?  Multiple?)


(Public?  Vehicle? Scooter?  Combo?)

Present Job Skills Inventory
Needed Job Skills Inventory
Physical Limitations
Healthcare and Insurance
Income Sources in Place
Education or Certification Needed
Citizenship or Immigration Issues
Taxation Implications

(Start with how much you NEED.  Focus on how much you WANT.)

Job Stacking Options

(More than one “job” at a time for periods of time)

Equipment or Supplies Needed

(Sailboat?  RV?  High-end Camera? Laptop?)

Disposition of Unwanted/Unneeded/Unnecessary Belongings
“Ideal” day in your life
“Ideal” blocks of time off or time of year off
What is your “dream” job or work?

How can you get that job? What needs to happen?

What skills or training or experience can you get now that will make that happen?

Time off plans

(What do you want to do?  Where?)

Do you need or want a fall back plan?
Money handling and banking process

(Online?  International?)

Who are your cheerleaders or where can you find them?

(The ones who will support and encourage you.  Meetups?  HR?  Forums.)

This list isn’t all-inclusive, but it’s a great starting point.  Examine each point and see if it is a topic you will need to address.  If not, cross it off and move to the next one.  Start thinking (daydream!) about how you want your life to look.

How many things are on your checklist?  Are you closer than you thought you were to being able to make this happen?  Farther?

What do you need to do FIRST?  What CAN you do now?

Plan your semi-retired life.  LIVE your semi-retired plan.

Oh yeah.  MOST IMPORTANTLY….make it FUN.



Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Why the “Gig” Economy Works for Semi-Retirees

Ever heard of the “Gig” Economy?

In a nutshell, it’s a workforce that goes from one work “gig” to another, getting paid above or under the table.  ( “freelancing” is a variation on this)  Although its origins are musical, it has come to define independent contracting in the workplace. In a recent  article, Dave Ashton of SnapCar made an argument for replacing certain types of traditional employees with contractors.  Make no mistake, he takes a controversial political position, more understandable perhaps when you recognize that it is based on the French economy and not the USA.

His general point is that the market is better served by independent contractors than by employees in some positions.  It’s a Randian workplace utopia view – that if everyone acts in their own self-interest all the time, everyone is served.  Workers are more efficient because they generally work harder since their income directly relates to their actions, AND they net more take-home pay.  Of course it’s also better for employers because they need fewer employees for whom they pay government-mandated taxes for benefits.

I recall studying about Lima, Peru’s cash economy when I was in grad school.   It existed with full knowledge and tacit support of the government because it provided enough income for the poor to survive – thus keeping them off public assistance and out of the budget.

Then I realized I didn’t need to start a revolution to do this.  It’s already underway, driven by…my kids?  Millennials strike again.

This article about Millennials (formerly called Gen Y) was right on target.  Millennials  “… see work as something that helps them live the rest of their lives rather than seeing work as life — in other words, they work to live rather than living to work. On the whole, they’d rather work at an interesting job for less money that allows them plenty of time out of the office (or working at home) rather than putting in 12-hour days for a six-figure salary.”

Yep.  That’s a Millennial for you.   Drives workplace managers crazy because of the low retention rates and the sometimes inflated self-worth and expectations.   Remember, Millennials are also known as the Trophy Generation.  (Read whole article here)

Dare I suggest that it’s the workplace that needs to change?

And certainly it has in many ways.  We have Gen X to thank for casual Fridays after all.   Silicon Valley is littered with modern workplaces with everything from required sabbaticals to free gourmet food to onsite spas in an effort to make getting the job done more balanced and less stressful.  It’s progress, even if it’s mostly in California.

As for the rest of us?  Well, right now the option is to choose.    Two – five weeks vacation a year in exchange for income and benefits.  It’s a classic exchange, freedom for security.

Or, the slightly terrifying Go-Your-Own-Way Gig Economy.    (It helps if you picture your boss humming Fleetwood Mac)

I’d be severely remiss not to give credit and acknowledgement to my mom, who has worked as a freelance illustrator, artist, pet-sitter, portrait teacher, and walk-leader for over thirty years.  I don’t think she ever considered herself a bleeding edge pioneer of freedom from the workplace.

Not sure where to start?  Go find a Millennial and buy them a cup of coffee.  Oh wait….that’s a latte.  Pick his or her brain about work, play, and having it all.

You might be surprised what a Boomer can learn from youngsters these days.



Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Hope for the Animas

The picture that you see in your email with this blog is the Animas River in Durango, CO.  This is the river that received the dump of toxic metals and waste recently when EPA sub-contractors broke a dam in an abandoned mine.

Durango is just about my favorite place to be in the USA.  I love that town, and would travel there all the time if I could.  My heart was just broken by this news.   However, there are reports that the river is coming back and the toxicity may not be as bad as initially feared.

So today, I’d just like to share some of the Animas and Durango with you.  If you haven’t been there, put it on your list!

downsized_0523120804 IMG_0971 IMG_0976 IMG_0987 Durango Moon

Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Embracing the Dance

There’s a popular meme on Facebook these days that says something like “Taking one step forward and one step backwards isn’t failure, it’s a cha-cha.”

Some days, I wouldn’t mind smacking the people who come up with these adorable little Pollyannaisms.

Moving forward on the new life/work relationship I am working to construct, I find that the most constant mental challenge I am facing is holding the line.    When I get a setback in my plan, such as something (COBRA) coming in WAY more expensive than it should have, or I don’t get work days that I hoped to get, or I have to PAY to register to be a substitute teacher, I find my mind races right toward the familiar security of finding a JOB.

Not the kind of jobs I WANT to do – contract, seasonal, temporary, freelance.  The kind that sucks up all my time in exchange for some amount of money that is “enough.”

My brain wants what it knows – the “security” of a steady reliable income and the blasted benefit of health insurance.   This feels safer somehow, even though intellectually I know it’s the absolute opposite of my heart’s desire.   I recall reading a statistic, no doubt manipulated, that surveyed Americans frequently report a willingness to give up freedoms in exchange for security.

I hate that.  Hate it about myself when I fall prey to it.   The anxiety and fear of the unknown.  I have to consciously fight the temptation to apply for positions that would only lock me right back into the handcuffs I so diligently Houdini’d out of just weeks ago.

The idea of applying for immediate openings teaching secondary school is definitely tied to the anxiety I feel about this massive life change I’ve made.  I DO want to look into this more, and I do believe teaching may ultimately be a very good place for me.  But, I do not want to rush it.  And I was doing just that.

So, this morning, I am taking a deep breath, and reminding myself not to give in too easily.  Hold the line.  Don’t bolt at the first setback (or second, or third) and head for any port.   Set the sails and weather the storm.  It might just be a small squall that will collapse under its own weight.

And so, this week, a cha-cha.   Got an extra day of work I wasn’t expecting at the summer position.  Yay!  A victory.    Got the COBRA pricing.  Aye.  Two steps back.

Queue the music.

Have a spectacular day.






Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Dream Board Your Working Retirement Career Plan

I’m a huge believer in dream or vision boards to help you achieve your goals.    Done correctly, they can move you in the direction you want to go more quickly and with determination.

A dream or vision board is just a visual representation of your goals.  The point is to reach beyond your grasp.  Don’t hesitate to think BIG.  Dream BIG.

The easiest way to make one is to get together with a group of friends, and have everyone bring a magazine.   Go through and cut out pictures that represent your “blue sky” dreams – a house in the mountains, a sailboat, a cruise, time to do yoga or art…whatever.  Fill up a board or card with these images.   I am a fan of mixing practical with what seems impossible, and of what I WANT along with what I NEED.

To get the most out of your board, here are five keys to taking this from just a fun mental getaway to actually making it WORK toward helping you achieve the goals.

Put It On Display

Once you have finished your dream board, put it right out there where you will see it every day.  Hang it over your desk, or on the kitchen wall.     Somewhere that is very present.  Every time I have created a board and put it over my desk, I’ve gradually accomplished or satisfied many of the goals.    Now, to be fair, I don’t have a goal to own a 100 foot yacht; Mine are closer to home such as a month at the mountains, or taking my kids to see national landmarks.

Keep It Updated

If you accomplish something, move that image to a scrapbook and put something else up on the board in its place.  It should be a living thing that flows with your life.  You can cover images that are no longer relevant, or remove them and put new ones up.

Or, do a new board at least once a year. Twice a year if you are making good progress.

Put a Time Frame On Each Item

My first experience with a dream board success was remarkably simple.  Attending a workshop for new leaders with a direct sales company, the manager gave us all a blank sheet of paper, and a box of crayons.

She instructed us to spend 30 minutes drawing just one personal goal we wanted to achieve from our business.    When we were done, she had us put a goal date on it.   She urged us to stretch – go for something that seemed just a bit crazy.

IMG_1075Here’s my drawing.  As a child, my grandparents had summered in the mountains.  Growing up and living in Florida, I wanted my kids to have the experience of going out into cool, refreshing air during the months we normally hunkered down in air-conditioned escape from the sweltering heat.    I knew we’d never be able to take a whole summer, so I set my goal on taking my family to the mountains for a month.    I drew the picture in December of 2001.    July of 2003 was 19 months away and seemed completely impossible to me.  I was still working full-time, so I’d never be able to get that much vacation at once.   I doubted we could afford it either.

I came home from the meeting and tacked the drawing on my bulletin board right over the top of my computer.  I worked virtual office at the time, at home, at a computer, eight to ten hours a day.  I accomplished the goal two months before the target date I had arbitrarily slapped on it.

Which brings me to my next point.

Be Careful What You Wish For!

I’d always wanted to do this.  At the time, money wasn’t my biggest obstacle.  I had a good job as a project manager, and my husband was still drawing a salary from his business.

What I did NOT have was time.  At best, I got two weeks vacation per year, plus maybe two additional personal days.

Right up until I got RIF’d (reduction-in-force) from my job in April of 2003.  I did know that the layoff was coming well in advance, and I was one of the very last of over six hundred people to get severed.  And, I could have tried to move internally to another position.  I didn’t want to.  I wanted to drive my income from direct sales and spend more time with my kids.

So, the argument can be made both ways.  I achieved the dream a month early, as we spent June 2003 in a rented house in Beech Mtn, NC.    I paid for it entirely with my direct sales earnings.      I clearly WANTED this more than I wanted to stay with that employer.  The  dream was very present in my life….right in front of my face day in day out.  Whether or not the universe had a hand in making it possible for me to get the TIME?  I believe so.

Uplevel It

Consider stepping it up a bit and wearing something every day that also keeps your goals and dreams at the forefront of your mind.    It can be symbolic or direct.

Examples might be a bracelet that spells out the word “WRITE” or a t-shirt with an emblem of a goal.   A song you play on the way to work every day.    A charm necklace, or locket with images that represent the goals.

This becomes like a talisman…it’s a physical reminder that connects directly to your brain.   Every time you touch it or see it your mind thinks “That.  Go for that.”

Dream and Visioning work is something that I am very passionate about, and I also have some skill helping others get clarity on what they want and how to begin to go about it.  I hope to do an online class for this soon, combined with a virtual Dream Board party.

Ah…guess I need to put that on MY board, huh?  🙂

Have a wonderful day.





Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Is This Really “Retired?”

Whether or not the lifestyle I am advocating is really “retired” depends on your perception and choices.   As in many things, one person’s perfection is another’s poison.

For example, the position I left in January had the ability to have a different schedule every month.  Some months, I could work almost nothing, and others the entire time.  If I didn’t like  a trip, I could exchange it.  But, for me, it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage the physical demands – nevermind that I had to fly to Chicago from Florida just to GET to work.   It’s a dream job for many, and was for me at one time.  My recent internal transfer solved some of the issues with the other job, but created new problems that couldn’t be resolved without me leaving the company.

So, really, I “retired” from that industry and NOT from working.

The question becomes what kind of work, where is the work, does the work pay enough, is there “enough” work, etc.

As you know, my goal is to take 8 – 12 weeks a year completely off. Right now, that’s looking very challenging.

I still have one child at home who needs attention, and there are bills to pay.   Ideally, my income would come from four sources. In summer, I would teach at a nearby math/science summer camp.  In the fall perhaps work at a retail (oooh…book) store or combine direct sales with a personal passion – teaching how to create vision/dream boards that WORK. Year round I would write and draw – freelance articles, sunflower characters, e-books, this blog, and if I am really feeling adventurous I will start putting some fiction out there in contests.  The fourth source is the fill-in piece…some substitute teaching, infant care, pet sitting, and getting rid of all my stuff on ebay.

And this brings me to an interesting point which also relates to the dilemma I currently face.

I do need income.  Now.  Several of the things I want to do take time to build into steady revenue.

But looking at my list of preferred work above…do you see a common thread?  Because it is screaming at me.  Three of the four things, and arguably an option in the fourth, involve teaching.

And what am I doing right here with this blog?  Yep.  Teaching.

It is something I genuinely enjoy.  I also get very solid feedback that it is a strength for me in the classroom as well.  Up until the past week, my classroom work has all been with adults.  This week I had my first experience teaching a few middle and a bunch of high schoolers.  It went…GREAT.  Now, I completely get that seven hours with motivated students is an extremely skewed sample!  But the positive feedback on both my approach and my way of explaining the material was consistent with what I’ve been told before.  Good to know.

That being the case…why the devil am I not trying to get a position teaching?  It’s the ultimate semi-retirement, right?  About 40 weeks during the school year, breaks at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Spring.

My first reason is out of a profound respect for teachers.  It is hard work.  I firmly believe that is one job that  should NOT be done for the schedule alone.  That’s not fair to the students.  I think people who teach need to want to teach.

But other than the fact that I would prefer to have my weeks off in the winter, the second best reason I can give you is that I am slightly terrified of it.   I do worry about the environment and the horror stories I hear.   I’d be very suited to teaching online, but need at least a year in the classroom before I could move to that program in our state.  IF, and it’s a big if, I turn out to have both a love and gift for the work, teaching online would allow me to take my weeks off at a different time of year.

First, I have to pass the subject test. No small feat, as I haven’t studied any of the subjects I might choose in over twenty-five years.  Most of them, like a foreign language, require practice to stay current.   I’d have to study first.  In some cases a LOT.

I may have just decided to change course a bit to get to my destination.  Ruminations to ensue.  My timing sucks a bit.  It would have helped me to come to this realization sooner, since school starts here in three weeks.

Is there anything in your life that mirrors this?   Any choices for Semi-Retirement that you might re-examine?   Any options you have previously discarded that bear a second look?

Here’s to a weekend of cramming.




Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Boomer Dreaming

I am a “Baby-Boomer.”

This wasn’t always so.  When I was young, babies born between 1956 and 1964 were generally called “tweeners,” as we were born between the baby “boom” years which ended in 1955 and before the baby “bust” years which began in 1965.

Sometime in the late 80’s or early 90’s the poobahs-that-be decided to lump us into the Baby Boom.   We are a very dichotomous group.

Older Boomers are generally pretty well off, having been raised in an era when common practice involved one career, one employer, pensions, and gold watches.  They also benefited immensely from increased housing valuations.

Younger Boomers have had a tougher time in many ways.  By the time we got to school, there was never enough of anything.  Not enough books or desks to go around.   Tests were mimeographed and we wrote the answers only on our own notebook paper, etc.  When we hit the workforce from the mid-seventies to early eighties, competition was stiff for good jobs. Older Boomers are collecting Social Security easily and earlier.  We don’t even know if it will still be around for us.

All in all, having had to fight for everything most of our lives, we’re a pretty competitive group.   As employees though, we are a dream.  We’ve got fabulous work ethic, we stay on task, are rarely late, and are very task oriented and professional in the workplace.

But we were raised in an era when you were expected to have one career and stay with one company, and yet we have come into our earnings years when seismic shifts in employment practices occurred.   Pensions are all but gone in the private sector, and hardly anyone stays with a company long enough to earn one anyway.  Companies no longer shy away from massive reductions-in-force (RIFs),  to send technology and customer service jobs to less expensive overseas workers. Even the vaunted IBM no longer has a lifetime employment policy.

All of this is long around way to explain part of the reason why a “semi-retired” life seems like a strange concept to many Boomers.  When I talk to a member of the Millennial generation about a work/life balance that includes working hard for periods of time and then taking stretches of time off, they are confused.  Doesn’t everyone already work that way? 

It’s hard to imagine  when you’ve been schooled to be thrilled to get a third week vacation after ten years, if you can just hang on that long.

The more people I talk to though, the more I find people whose eyes light up when I describe what I mean.  “I would LOVE that!”  I hear over and over again.  But how?

What about health insurance?  What if you leave and then you can’t find another job?  What about my mortgage?  What kind of work can I do?  Do I HAVE to start my own business or freelance?   How much money will I need?   Where do I find seasonal or contract job?  Do I have to move?

I’m going to try to answer those questions…or at least point you in the direction of the answers.  Because in the end, you really design it yourself.

For me, semi-retired means longer blocks of time off.  So, ideally, I would work 40 weeks a year and not work for 12.  But that might mean 20 on and 6 off.  I just want longer blocks of no work.

For someone else, it might be fewer hours or days per week.  Or fixed time periods off each year when business is slow.  Or maybe a two months on, one month off sequence.

How would it look for you?  If you could finance it and get the health coverage you need…what would YOUR Semi-Retired Life look like?

Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Dream Job Alert!

Happy New Year!

I wanted very much to interview the Techspert I met on my recent cruise for this blog.  However, the poohbahs wouldn’t okay it.   I can tell you a little bit about it.

This position teaches onboard computer related courses, including some photography, photo editing, email, data storage and retrieval, safe internet and data use.

The contracts are four months at a time.

Insurance benefits are available after 200 days on payroll.

You get a single person room on an upper level forward – these berths are in an area marked “staff only” and are where the ship management berths are located.

Pay is approximately $3K a month what from I can tell.

Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.

Gotta Love the Feds…

In several articles I have mentioned that one of the largest employers of part-year workers is the federal government.   This may also be true of state governments, but I haven’t gotten that far with my research.   There are numerous books and websites that can help you with the nuances of actually GETTING these jobs – but here is how you FIND them.

Step One

All positions are posted via the central clearing house website

Step Two

You may enter specific location or keywords right on the front page, but I suggest you simply click “Search Jobs” first. This will bring you to a second screen where you may select a job type.


Have some fun here searching a variety of ways.  You can be very targeted by selecting just one job type at a time, or you can go very broad to see not only what types are out there, but where the positions are located.

You must also enter something in the “keyword” field.  For this example I simply chose the word “temporary.”

Step Three

Have some fun searching different ways to see what you find.  In the photo below I searched the keyword “temporary,” and also set the job type to Seasonal and Temporary.


Notice that each position shows a pay range, a location (sometimes multiple – click on that link to see where), and additional details including the last one on the right that states who may apply.

Clicking on the job description gets you PAGES of details about qualifications, requirements, etc.

Next week I will provide you with what I can find about the application and selection process.

Go have some fun – see anything that sounds perfect for you?


Recovering MBA. Writer. Photographer. Scanner. Learning Addict. Airplane Geek. Teacher. Certification Collector. Serenity Seeker. Semi-retiree in training.