No e-mail messages. No appointments. Now what?

Monday morning I turned on my computer, opened my email to find this message: You have no mail. No Appointments. Please enjoy your day. I thought to myself, “I’ve never seen that message before, now what”?

As many know, I retired from full time employment effective June 30, 2014. So as I write, I am less than 30 days into this new adventure….this new exciting time of my life. This is a time of life that many people long for….they plan for it for years. They can’t wait until the day comes when they can say adios, sleep late, start the day with a cross word puzzle and no place to go. No more meetings. No more evening events. No more working weekends. Life is short, don’t waste it all at work. Right?

Truthfully, I don’t know what I’m doing right now. Have I retired? Am I on sabbatical? Is this just a weird dream? I have been working full time or part time for the past fifty-two consecutive years. A year ago Sandy and I decided that this would be my last year of full time employment. She and I wanted more time for to see our children, grandchildren and personal travel. I informed my employer and went back to a busy work life. Then, surprise surprise, a full year had passed, my retirement day arrived and I said goodbye.

As the final days of employment approached, we established our “when Dan retires plan” which covers the first 100 days. The plan includes 70 days of travel. We’ve been to Perdido Key, Florida with the family. It was great. This month, I play golf two days a week. We walk and work out every day. We have dinner with friends. We watched all of the World Cup soccer games and Cardinal baseball games.  We live the life of leisure. So, why do I question this way of life?

This may sound odd to some people but, I enjoyed my work. I consider myself blessed to have had interesting, challenging work opportunities for most of my adult life. I have invested myself greatly of mind and physical energy in setting goals, achieving goals, working long hours…always trying to accomplish something worthwhile. Now, as I suspected, I miss it.

At the same time, honestly, the day to day– no e-mail messages, no appointments, nothing special going on–this lifestyle is pretty enjoyable at the moment. We are planning a 60 day trip by car, boat, air and train that will take us out through North Dakota, to Glacier National Park in Montana, then Alberta, Canada, on to the Cascades in Western Washington, to Mazama in Eastern Washington, to Vancouver BC, from there to an Alaska cruise ending in Anchorage. Shortly thereafter we will get back in the car for the coastal drive down through Oregon and Northern California. After we see the California red woods we’ll head in the direction of Colorado before driving home. We expect to be in Saint Louis by October….just in time to see the Cardinals in another World Series, Missouri University defend their reputation in the SEC, SLU Billiken basketball, and exciting multi-media events in Nine Network’s Public Media Commons.

So, what happens after the trip? What happens in October? Do I go back to Nine Network and contribute in some way? Do I join a consulting firm? Or, a marketing firm? Do I become a self-employed consultant? Should I invest time and money in a start up? Do I decide to retire for good? Maybe we live on the West coast for half of the year? I ponder all of these as possibilities.

Something nags at me and constantly resurfaces in the back of my mind because I know this to be true….“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile” Albert Einstein

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

So we pray…

Saint Theresa’s Prayer

May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing,
dance, praise and love.

“We sanctify all we are grateful for”

– Anthony DeMello SJ

Each morning when I wake, often my first thought is “thank you.” I am grateful for my family, my friends, my opportunities….what comes next?