I have a 17-year-old daughter who is finishing up a year in Vitoria, Brazil. She's been having the time of her life in a gorgeous coastal city with the beaches of her dreams and the cute guys to match. What's not to like?
Tara told us that we could buy a beautiful home ("All marble floors!") on a spectacular beach ("White sand!") in a number of lovely cities ("Amazing architecture!") with friendly neighbors ("Dancing all night with people who don't know you but love you anyway!")
In fact, she helpfully suggested that we could snag one of these properties for a mere $100,000...less than half of the median price for a typical house in our area.
She went on to say that we could buy a house on the coast in Brazil and retire there, with a delightful lifestyle, plenty of great friends, outstanding and inexpensive medical care, and zero chance of boredom or loneliness.
We weren't surprised that she suggested this. After all, she has an ulterior motive--why, SHE could be the one to manage the property until we decide to retire! She would, of course, have to live in beautiful, coastal, hunk-heavy, dance-crazed Brazil in order to do this, but she was willing to make this supreme sacrifice to support our perfect retirement.
How thoughtful. No, really. It sounds fantastic. I'm turning 45 in June, and that's not too early to think about how I want to spend the next few phases of my life. I truly appreciate the suggestion.
The people I admire most are those who continue to reinvent themselves about every decade, and who laugh out loud at the notion of retirement. They're on their fifth or sixth "career" and fully expect to have a couple more, just for fun.
What we really long for in retirement is time to play, and what we don't recognize is that we should be playing on a daily basis. We need to live our lives in a way that connects us to our creativity and joy. Think of it as the Brazilian plan.
How do you picture yourself at age 65? 75? 85? You've got a decent shot at living to be 100.
Howard and Marika Stone have been inspiring people to reinvent themselves as they get older. On their website, 2Young2Retire.com, they share dozens of stories of folks who have done just that. Their intention is to help others "navigate the uncharted waters of longevity" and they do so with great passion and humor.
Whether we're 20 or 70, we can use mindfulness to help us see who we want to be next. The first step? Pay attention to what we consider to be FUN. Focus on what we do that feels like we're playing instead of working. Notice our "guilty pleasures"--those things we do when we think we should be working on something else.
Here's the good news: You can get paid for having fun. You can help your community while you're doing what you can only describe as goofing off. You can learn new skills and demonstrate overlooked talents in a way that helps others while making you laugh. And it's not too early to start thinking about what that might look like.
Retire your idea of retirement and embrace the concept of reinvention. Look at what you're dreaming about doing, and be mindful of how you can start "investing" in your opportunities for greater fun. That's my personal prescription for the not-enough-Social-Security blues.
That, and perhaps finding a lovely house on the coast in Brazil, where I can become fluent in Portuguese and become a painter, or a novelist, or start a school, or build a playground, or design a community garden, or write songs, or dance til dawn, or be the happiest grandmother alive. Or all of the above.
I'll tell my daughter to start looking.
Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse in Portland, Oregon. Through her company, Real-World Mindfulness Training, she teaches fun and effective eyes-wide-open alternatives to meditation. To subscribe, please visit http://www.MassageYourMind.com