Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Transition Time: Summer to Fall (School)

It's been a great summer. When I transitioned from Industry to Education 17 years ago, I underestimated the wonder of Summer Vacations!

After decades of two and three weeks of vacation a year, I now enjoy Christmas, Spring, and Summer vacations. Summer vacation (10 weeks) is almost over. I go back to work next week. And that's good too. I enjoy what I do for work. I enjoy the people I work: colleagues, students, staff, parents. They're good people, united in service of youth. What we do matters, and I'm grateful to play a part.

This summer has been good, especially in contrast to last summer, a summer of support as my wife endured the early stages of her breast cancer journey: surgery, chemo, radiation, and rehab. We purchased a two-month parking pass at the local hospital where most of her treatments and doctor visits took place. The outcomes were good, but we didn't "vacate" much. I took a day-trip to the Los Angeles Space Museum with one of my daughters and her children. It was a great day, and the only real outing of that summer. Whew.

This summer's highlights include cooking, tennis, reading, and relaxing in the local mountains for two weeks.

My wife and I signed up for HelloFresh, and we cooked dinners together three nights a week all summer. We even took the meals with us when we time-shared up in Lake Arrowhead in late July. Some of the best meals I've ever eaten, and it turns out that my wife and I work well together in the kitchen. Good fun. Good eats. Good learning experience. I've become a better cook as a result!

I went into the summer with an experiment in mind: a ten week retirement. I'd read several books just before summer vacation, including the Four Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferris. I'd also read several books on retirement. Most people find it difficult to fill the days, weeks, and months of leisure know as retirement. I thought I'd give it some practice. Tim Ferris encourages younger people to attempt to forge a lifestyle where they can enjoy mini-retirements throughout their lives, not just when they reach retirement age. Retiring is more uncertain for many, especially younger people in an age of fewer pension plans, etc. But as that time approaches for me, I've been working on getting Younger Next Year (read the book, took the advice). I also listened to Tim Ferris and tried on the summer as if it were an mini-retirement. I joined OLLI at CSUF, and organization for life-long learners housed locally at Cal State Fullerton. I envisioned myself getting more involved than I did, but what I did get involved in was tennis! I rediscovered how much I enjoy playing the game, especially with people who balance competition, fun, and camaraderie! Playing doubles tennis with 60, 70, and 80 year-olds was a blast, and a challenge. Two hours, twice a week was a stamina building endeavor. I was inspired to go out and practice some, get some online coaching, and just generally work to recover and expand my tennis skills. It was so much fun.

I read a lot this summer too. Mostly non-fiction. I even expanded my life experience by buying an Amazon Echo and subscribing to audible. I now have technology in place to read to me while I play digital solitaire. Some fun! Right now I'm reading Reality is Broken, a book about enhancing real life with some lessons learned from virtual life -- game life. It's an interesting read that includes a lot of information on the world of gamers and gaming.

I love to travel, and this summer, with Leslie's slightly improved energy levels, we were able to schedule and enjoy two weeks in the local mountains at Lake Arrowhead Chalets. We've been there before, but never just the two of us. That was fun and set the stage for a trip three weeks later with the Haan Clan, my daughter and her family. The eight of us had a blast. We hiked, I ran, and we played. I read the biography of Hope Solo, and watched the US vs Japan game from 1999. Awesome. (Earlier in the summer, I watched a number of the Women's World Cup matches. Good fun, especially as the Women's Team USA was victorious. So happy for the team!

And that was my summer. Last school year was great. This summer was great. And I expect the new school year will be great too! Why? Because "wherever you go, there you are." Life happens. It can be drudgery or a dance. I choose to work at making it a dance. That's energizing, exciting, and fun. I don't need frenetic, adrenaline pumping, over-the-top fun, but I do enjoy a good mix of productivity and play... whether I'm on vacation or working. It turns out, that productivity and play is a good mix whether I'm doing a mini-retirement or a school year of work. So much depends on attitude and adjusting to the music.

I've enjoyed my summer, and I'm looking forward to the challenges (and fun) that the coming school year will bring. I am reminded of what my grandfather Evans taught me: "Happiness is not a destination, but a way of travel."

Travel on dear friends. Enjoy the dance!


  1. I am so glad that Leslie is better, and that you had a great retirement.
    For nearly the first 6 months of 2014 I wondered whether I had started my retirement early. I didn't travel because I was trying to me my severance pay stretch for an unforeseeable length of time, but I did a lot of what I envisions would be my retirement life: walking, gardening, reading, volunteering. there was some stress in it but I think that came primarily from unforeseen and unchosen circumstances, and from the loss of a community and fellowship and a home that I had enjoyed for 20 years.

    1. @Dennis: Retirement does have its uncertainties, but even more so when it is unexpected, I suppose. I enjoyed my mini-retirement, and I will miss parts of it, especially the Monday and Friday tennis I think. But I did discover a lost passion. That was unexpected and enlivening. Now, it's back to work, in part to fund my next one-week retirement at Thanksgiving (vacation with Joanna and family in San Diego) then another "trip" to Palm Springs the week before Christmas (Candy and Chris may join Leslie for a couple of day). Oh, and Labor Day I have a tennis date with the Monday tennis crew. It's good that you got to explore what you would do as a retiree, next time, I hope it is less unexpected. Many of the activities you enjoyed in your six month retirement, you can continue while working, eh? Enjoy the rest of your summer, Cousin!