Two years ago today, I began my official retirement from the rat race to write novels and spend more time with my beautiful wife, Cathy doing whatever we wanted for the rest of our lives.
My retirement dream was always to live my life as a struggling writer in a tropical climate who can make ends meet. When I met Cathy, I had just quit working at America Online. I didn’t have a job, and didn’t know if I ever wanted to have another job again. Cathy was a stock broker when we met, and her retirement dream was always to be an artist and help animals.
We mashed-up our dreams, used our Superpowers, and now we’re retired.
The Origins of Our Inspiration
We were married during a major ice storm on Valentine’s Day. Our church at the time, St George’s Episcopal, was only two blocks away from our apartment in Arlington, Virginia. The storm was so bad that it paralyzed the entire city and no one could drive anywhere. Even the sidewalks were all iced.
We slid our way to the church without falling and discovered that there was an earlier wedding. The couple who got married was still at the church because of all the ice on the roads. There was no one else there, except that couple and our Reverend, Ron Crocker. God, two witnesses and a preacher was all it took for us to be able to celebrate our first Valentines Day as a married couple in 2007.
After we were married, we followed some simple advice to achieve our retirement dreams. We learned how to use our Superpowers to retire early.
Our plan was simple. I went back to work, this time as a whistleblowing crusader. I had left government for the private sector because it was so corrupt. This time, I had nothing to lose except money and Cathy backed me up.
My idea was to launch my ‘struggling writing career’ by conducting research working in the government, and then publish what I found. In 2007, I had no idea what the hell I was going to find. Here is one example.
Cathy retired three years later in 2010, to work as a volunteer in our community. In the ten years after we were married until my retirement, I blew the whistle on corruption at the Science Applications International Corporation, United States Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board. I uncovered waste, fraud and abuse amounting to billions of dollars that had been unreported for decades.
For the next several years, we went on with our lives at the lake – me being a professional whistleblower and Cathy building her art business, until my sister Donna was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in mid-2016, and we began wondering about life and our priorities. It didn’t take long for us to decide to retire and we began making preparations to move to Florida almost immediately.
We adopted this mantra to guide our daily lives,
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Gandhi
and trusted the words of this Psalm to guide us along the way,
The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.1
Here’s a short book report on our progress from two years ago today. It was rocky in the beginning, but things have smoothed out along the way and now we are both firing on all cylinders!
I retired in 2017 at age 55, after being fired for blowing the whistle on corruption at the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C. I was reinstated by the courts, and then I resigned. For two years, I have reported extensively on the corruption I witnessed there. Now, bureaucrats who have spent their lives in the shadows are being exposed. Everything has gone according to plan. Here are two more examples.
Working together with Cathy, we formed the Capitol Hellway Media Company in late 2017, and I published this article to show anyone who is interested how they can use their Superpowers to retire early too. I even provide an example based on how we used ours.
The Trip To Florida
In the late Spring of 2017, we listed our Virginia home for sale and had a buyer in July who wanted to close no later than August. Needless to say, we joyfully jumped through hoops and packed up the moving van at our Virginia house so we could arrive at our new home in Naples Florida, exactly 10 days before a Category 5 Hurricane named Irma hit our shores.
The day before we ‘hit the road’ to Florida, our “Buyers from Hell” told our realtor Pat Licata that they couldn’t close on the home which was scheduled for closing the next morning at 8 AM due to ‘bank lending issues’ with their loan. We received the phone call cancelling the closing the night before at 8 PM while enjoying our last night in Virginia at our next door neighbor’s house saying our final goodbyes to our friends.
Moving Van at 202 Madison Circle, Lake of the Woods Virginia
The car was packed, the house was empty and the movers were long gone – well on their way to Florida to meet us in two days at our new house. We were literally sleeping on the floor that night with our kitties in tow, so we could all drive together to our retirement destination in Florida immediately after we closed on the home.
Nevertheless, we departed on schedule despite the fact we had not sold our house and arrived in Naples on September 1, 2017, to take possession of our new home at 10 AM. The movers showed up the next day and the unpacking phase of our retirement was underway.
SEPTEMBER 6, 2017
Six days after moving to Naples Florida, and four days before Hurricane Irma struck our shores, my sister Donna Edwards Foege passed away after battling cancer. On that day, I published this collection of poems that I had written throughout her illness and read to her during our many visits together in her final year of life on earth. The collection reflects how we talked about her life before cancer, and then at “The coldest wintry wind,” the next poem pivots to how her life rapidly changed and how she dealt with the knowledge of her imminent death.
Some readers may recall my Facebook live video reporting two years ago throughout Hurricane Irma – well, until all the cell towers got knocked out.
This short video is my report from inside the eye of Hurricane Irma that shows the flooding and damage along my street in Naples, Florida on September 10, 2017. Be sure to adjust your volume on the player if you don’t hear any sound.
Irma was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands on record, followed by Maria two weeks later that devastated Puerto Rico.
In the aftermath of the hurricane, we spent the next month attending my sister’s funeral in Virginia, picking up hurricane debris, making repairs, unpacking our household goods, and of course dealing with our “Buyers from Hell” in Virginia who were really causing us severe pain. We were blessed to finally close on that home by early October 2017, and when we did, I published this brief snippet to forever remind anyone selling lake homes at Lake of the Woods to beware of buyers from hell.
With the unsold home albatross no longer around our necks, my sister’s ashes buried and Hurricane Irma cleanup well underway, we turned our attention to beginning retirement.
On October 28, 2017, I asked our family and friends and colleagues on social media to “Join my writing and publishing adventure …click to read. A few days later, we registered Capitol Hellway Media Company as a Florida Domestic Limited Liability Company.
On January 1, 2019, Cathy Edwards Art officially became a subsidiary of the Capitol Hellway Media Company LLC. We decided it would be much easier and less costly than having two businesses so we consolidated everything. Now, I do my writing while Cathy paints pet portraits using colored pencils & pastels in our tropical paradise home in Naples, Florida with our kitties Munchkin and Beau.
My author domain is johnstuartedwards.com and it’s under development and will be released with my first book. Some of you who have known me a long time may remember that I owned that domain since the beginning of time, waiting for this day. Right now, it just points to the Capitol Hellway blog. In the future it will point to my books. Publicservant1.com, for the third book in the series, is the domain that will be published down the road and possibly serve as the IP for the entire Bandit series after it is published. Right now it is just a place marker.
In all, we currently have six books in the hopper, three I’m writing and three Cathy and I are writing together. Cathy, of course is the illustrator. We designed a series of children books this summer for our granddaughter. Here is the cover-mockup sketch for the first book in the series (the real cover is a secret). I can’t release any more information than that.
We have a ‘date night’ every Saturday guaranteed, and this project, we call it the “Gator Project” is what we work on together each Saturday afternoon before we go out. It really puts creativity on the brain and is outstanding for the sex drive.
The first draft of the manuscript for Beltway Bandits is done and I am working on my second draft now. The complete Trilogy of Bandits along with my other two novels, Our Programming and PS#1 have been outlined, summarized and contain about 20 cross scenes so far. There are connecting scenes across the novels and I want to make sure I have that all worked out in the first novel. My goal in doing it this way is see if I can create an experience for readers like a lightening strike. One experience for readers of a single novel, another ‘bonus’ experience for anyone who reads them all. It’s complicated.
For a complete rundown of everything we’re up to now and in the future, including our new Children books, check out our company website.
We have come a very long way in a very short time, and we still have a long way to go, but we’ll get there.
If you ever want to play, let us know. Superpowers work. We use ours every day.
Capitol Hellway Media Company
A Free Media Company in Naples Florida