Being, Lovelife, Loving
Comments 4

International or IHOP?

A good scenario:  international pancakes while on an international flight
Unless you are living under a rock, you have been thinking about your retirement.  Now before you start gasping and screaming at the screen, “Are you serious?   I can hardly figure out my grocery budget AND we’re pregnant AND Petmeds is not covered by my FSA AND my parents might have to move in with us pretty soon, so ….. NO I’M NOT THINKING ABOUT  MY RETIREMENT!”  
…..  deep breath….   that’s why I said, “thinking about” not “ready for” … calm down, people!
My husband and I were driving our Zipcar one carefree afternoon , when I asked,  “Do you think when we’re old and retired our lives will be more international or more IHOP?”   
I like IHOP.  I like their commercials featuring piles of pancakes and efforts to creatively stuff them with sausage or fruit (and in some cases, sausage AND fruit AND cream AND chocolate chips – oy vey!).  I love that it is family and budget friendly.  I love that they have an early bird dinner menu that starts right after most of us finish eating lunch.  What I meant by that question is to think about whether we’ll be in a position to comfortably enjoy international vacations while we are hitting our golden stride, or will we be forced to eat at IHOP not out of a craving for Rooty Tooty Fresh N Fruity, but out of necessity?  As expected, my husband answered the question surely but slowly, “uh….  in-ter-na-tion-al I would hope.”  
This is so not a discussion on the economy or politics.  I just really think about what I can do presently, and the baby steps thereafter, to live the life I would like for us today and in years to come.  
Lately I have been asking myself, “What do I value?” as I’ve been determining my career and life direction as an individual and as a homemaker.  How do the values I have drive the choices I make that will get us closer to that international or IHOP setup we have our sights on?  
I am proud to have been a teacher for many years.  I value raising and caring for children even though that gig has been making me a smidge crazy.  My husband and I value my sanity and cheerfulness, so it is now just part time.  I want to focus more of my energy and time into being a good writer, because I value creativity, expression, and connecting with other people.  Fun and fulfilling?  Yes!  Profitable?  Not so much.  That’s one for IHOP.  Hmm…
I enjoy homemaking.  I am good at it.  We value having a home that is warm,  inviting, and kind of feels like a hotel.   Lately I have been staying in more and spending out less (nice… where’s my passport?).  Household chores don’t bother me, but we rely on two ladies to regularly make our apartment stay warm,  inviting, and kind of like a hotel (oh wait… I meant my international CREPE passport—- seriously, that’s on the IHOP menu).
I like going food shopping and market trawling because I value making natural and nurturing meals for my husband and me (saving money, that’s one for international!  hooray me!)  unless that evening or afternoon he decides he’d be more excited to eat a burrito or shish taouk (spending on take out, driving me nuts. Another one for IHOP-  boo!  hiss!). 
We maintain solid relationships with friends & family we value across the continent, as well as in Asia, Australia, & Europe who have great homes with lots of extra room to accommodate their growing broods.  Open invitations for us to come for a visit are quite the blessing (we’re non smokers, he packs light, we make funny conversation, we’re self reliant and super nice …. pretty ideal house guests — go international!).
This checks and balances thing might go on and on and on.  Each day I can add points to either side.  Each day I can do something that starts tipping the favor in one direction versus the other, depending on my choices or on my perception of things.  It’s not so much the international vs. IHOP thing, as it is the comfortably-growing-into-a-valuable-and-exciting-life-together thing.  To know we have a choice and some accountability for the life we have now and ahead of us, be it international or IHOP is the real thing here.  
I am confident I will be fine wherever or however we end up, as long as we do our best to live in line with what’s most valuable to us every moment of every day.  It’s not hard to do.  I find that my life and relationships flow so much better when I am aware of how actions, people, and things fit into what I value.  If we live our lives that way, whether we vacation while shouting Viva La France or while ordering Viva La French Toast (again, another menu item, I kid you not)  it will undoubtedly still be our golden years.
“You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.”  
                                   Woody Allen



  1. I think about this as well, although not so much in the form of retirement, but just in life in general. As an expat, it's hard for me to imagine even what continent I'm going to be living on when I do retire. And that's really hard.

  2. Hi Deidre! That is hard to think about given the expat life. Let's hope that whatever continent you do end up on, between now and then you continue living and enjoying each day in line with what's true to you and to your husband! Thanks for reading and commenting, Deidre!

  3. I agree, getting values in place is the place to start. I watched how my parents made the tough decision—corporate ladder or watching all my volleyball games. I loved seeing my Dad in the stands and my Mom home when I got off the bus and that made so much of a difference growing up. Can I be international NOW when I am young and IHOP later when I don't feel like getting on a plane or walking all over Europe? Ha!

  4. We are on the same wave length! First of all, yes, having had parents who were present with me each day while growing up certainly put my own values about family and relationships in place. Second, yes, I think if possible having the international life NOW while we are young makes so much more sense. Then we can reminisce about all of our international adventures comfortably from an iHOP booth in our old age 😉

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