Just a couple of weeks ago, we attended the funeral of my aunt who passed away at age 62 after a three-year battle with ALS. My aunt (dad’s sister) always had a big hug and a funny story ready to share. She made holidays extra special, like making candy at Christmas and arranging egg hunts at Easter. She loved and cared for her family and friends — it’s probably no surprise to you to hear she spent her career in nursing. I’ll miss her.
What was especially difficult is not knowing what to say. My aunts and uncles lost their dad (my grandpa) a month before I lost my dad (their sibling). Now, my cousins lost their mom. I didn’t know what to say in 2015 to my family and I still don’t know what to say in 2018.
Fortunately, my grandma knows what to say — my grandma who has buried her husband and two children in the last three years left us with some sage advice.
“Live in the future. Stop looking in the past.”
While shooting the Talkin’ Trash series with Mr. Groovy, Garrett said we’re no longer paying for our past mistakes because we’re now debt free. Paying off our debt helped immensely in being able to put the past to rest and move on.
I know a lot of folks who focus on the past, who want to continue to recount stories from the past, who just can’t move on with their lives because they don’t have any plans for their future.
I used to be one of those people. I used to be stuck in the past. I didn’t dream. I didn’t have goals. I didn’t have money.
Once we started putting this “get out of debt, achieve financial freedom” plan together, I started to dream again. Our financial situation improved immediately after putting our goals on paper and our plan to work.
“It’s only money.”
When the kids grew up, Grandma went back to school for nursing and then later a doctorate in psychology. She’s a hard-working frugalista who make a good living as a mobile therapist just before retirement. Both of her daughters went on to become nurses themselves.
When we told Grandma about what’s in store for me and Garrett, she encouraged us to focus on our future endeavors and to stop living in the past, to go on an adventure, to not worry so much about what could happen. Sharing our concerns about earning money to support our lifestyle, Grandma said, “It’s only money.”
I could write up a post about other work we could pursue if our plans don’t turn out, like getting our commercial driving licenses or Amazon Camperforce, but it’s suddenly less important to me. I only need a back-up plan if I think we’ll fail.
If we think about how we’ll make it work, whatever “it” is, we’ll find ways to make a living. What we seek is not to make space in our lives for fear about the future and an obsessive need for back-up plans on our back-up plans. We need to lighten up and go have some fun.
“Eat your piece of cake.”
After my aunt’s funeral, we gathered for a meal with family and friends. Chicken, spaghetti, and frosted cakes were on the menu.
A couple of folks mentioned to grandma that they “shouldn’t have had the cake.”
In recounting the story to me and Garrett the next day, Grandma said that she told these people, “Eat your piece of cake.” Why? Because life’s too short and you don’t know what could happen tomorrow.
While we may not be financially independent yet, the pursuit of financial independence/early retirement might be a waste of time. Instead, let’s eat the cake now.