A blank calendar filled with possibilities

Sue has taken up watercolor painting.

“What are you going to do?”

After I decided to end my 31-year teaching career, I heard this question often.

“I really don't have a plan,” I usually answered.

When I was working and raising a family, most days were planned.

A blank calendar presented an exciting challenge.

A retired friend once advised me that it doesn't take a long list of activities to make the post-work life satisfying and exciting. Just some little things, punctuated by a nap or two, rewarded by Happy Hour at 5. My friend does some big things, like travel and visiting his kids and grandkids, but he was talking about the day-to-day.

Sue recently read an article on the Forbes website that brilliantly captures this idea. Author Andy Robin calls his new life the Tapas Life, after the Spanish appetizers. Life without full-time work allows you to try things. You don't have to fill your plate and the menu is as varied as you want it to be.

Like sampling candy at See's. Or having a flight at a brewery.

Sue and I are in our second year after stepping out of the workplace.

We have loved some big things, like off-season travel. One item will stay on our plate as long as health and budget permit: long-distance trekking. The Camino de Santiago walk in Spain last spring was so inspiring and enjoyable that we intend to do more trips like it (but perhaps not quite as long).

Along with the travel, we enjoy blogging. It allows us to communicate with friends, relatives and strangers around the world as we travel.

We have tried many appetizers, or tapas. Sue has taken up watercolor painting and frequent long walks around our neighborhood in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California. She loves reading. In the summer, she swam almost every day.

We start our days with coffee and leisurely reading our favorite snapshots of the world on Flipboard. We go to weekday matinee movies, with a senior discount. Day trips to Yosemite or Merced for bicycling. Movie nights at home. TV series on Netflix (why did Breaking Bad have to end?).

I have taken up yoga at home (learned from some great instructors on the web). I listen to music while using our eliptical trainer. Several online classes through iTunesU and Open University have been terrific. I occasionally have a beer and dinner with former colleagues. I love TED talks and have tried assembling model ships. I have read non-fiction books in areas outside my field of political science, such as psychology and science. I bicycle around the neighborhood and sometimes beyond.

I tried golf for awhile, but I have put it on hold while I figure out a way to keep my perfectionist side off the course.

Now, Sue and I know we want some tapas that may not be available where we live. So, we are going to try out some new places and, when we find one we like, we will move. It will be hard to leave our longtime home and friends.

There will be new challenges. Some will be difficult. You never know what menu choices will be around the next corner!


Categories: Reflections | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “A blank calendar filled with possibilities

  1. Sue you are following my dream… that is what I plan to do. Also start piano lessons. Go figure.


    • 2orangebags

      You’re going to learn to paint? Great! Let’s take a class together. I’m still far too controlling (what a surprise!) to be very good.


  2. Ellen

    It all sounds fabulous! Enjoy life to it’s fullest. Tom is enjoying retirement and had taken up golf! We’ve built a bocce court at the house and have a blast playing. I’m looking forward to the day when I can break my pencils work, walk out the door at 5:00pm and never have to return. Remember .. stay thristy my friends!


  3. Cathy Owens

    Well said Reg, and such good wisdom for Greg and me in our pending retirements.

    We love you and Sue lots!


  4. Cynthia

    Great paintings Sue! Thanks for sharing them.

    Very inspirational blog post. We are so lucky to have our health and enough funds to explore, taste, and savor. Happy Trails!


  5. Jr McGovern

    So glad you are both marching right along. Painting is also on my bucket list. Since Spain I have continued to walk & taken up Yoga. Bev & I are planning to meet in NYC for a day over the holidays. Season Greetings to my Camino friends from California. JR


    • 2orangebags

      Junior, so good to hear from you. Glad all is well. Have a great time in New York and give our best to Bev! Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with adventure!


  6. Kathy Chappell

    Wow-where do we begin? Of course we are happy for you but have mixed feelings. Now we can all visit each other in our new homes. Well, not sure how soon we will be able to get our place in Ventura-but eventually. Lots to talk about. No matter where we all live, we will always remain close friends for sure. Love you both, Kathy and Doug


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