“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!