Tag Archives: retirement

Preparing for the next big adventure

emma

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

Take a look at this little girl. Her name is Emma. She is our 3-year-old granddaughter. She makes our hearts sing.

Emma accompanied her father, the younger of our two sons, to Amarillo this weekend. She spent plenty of time playing with Grandma.

We are preparing to commence to get ready for the next big chapter in our life. It involves a big change for us. We’re going to relocate from Amarillo to somewhere near where this little girl lives with her parents and her two brothers.

That event will occur about the time I declare myself to be retired fully from the working world. I’m not there just yet.

My myriad part-time jobs have been winnowed down to just two. I like it that way.

Some time back I reported to you on this blog that my wife and I have made the emotional commitment to move.

Now, before we start getting the bum’s rush to scram from the High Plains, I want to stipulate that our move isn’t going to happen any time soon. That is, we aren’t yet ready to sell the home we built 20-plus years ago. We’ll get there … eventually.

We hope it will be sooner rather than later.

You see, our attachment to this little girl is getting stronger each time we see her, which we admit isn’t nearly as often as we would like.

I realized something about myself in 1984 when we moved from the Pacific Northwest to the Texas Gulf Coast to open another major chapter in our life story: It was that I am far more adaptable than I thought I would be. We made the move and we settled in nicely in Beaumont. Our sons came of age, grew up, went off to pursue their higher education and they have become fine men.

We went through a lesser — but still significant — change when we moved from Beaumont to Amarillo more than two decades ago. Again, we adapted easily to our new life on the High Plains.

My adaptability went through another stern test four years ago when my daily print journalism career came to a sudden conclusion.

But hey, no worries. The shock of that event wore off quickly, I should add. We’ve enjoyed ourselves immensely ever since.

Well, the next big chapter awaits. It involves the little girl in the picture.

Retirement will be a very good thing.

Ready for vacation to end? Yes … and no

retirement.pic_

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

FRANKFURT, Germany — Friends have asked me on occasion about how I respond to taking time off from work.

My answer usually has been: “I’m good for about a week, maybe 10 days. Then I’m ready to go home, to get back to the grind.”

Guess what. I’m no longer working full time. Neither is my wife. We’re in semi-retirement mode. Our 11-day journey to Germany and The Netherlands is about to end. And for the first time in as long as I can remember I can say that I’m not nearly as ready to return home as I was when I worked for a living.

What’s up with that? What gives?

It’s easy, man. We no longer have job requirements awaiting us. Sure, I still work a couple of part-time jobs. I’m grateful for them both. I’m having fun writing for an Amarillo television station’s website and greeting customers at an auto dealership.

But I have to tell you that our time away from all of that has been glorious in the extreme.

We got reacquainted with good friends. We met their spouses and their children. They showed us the sights and introduced us to cultures in western Europe with which we were unfamiliar.

At this moment, getting ready to catch an 11-hour flight home, I am not entirely ready for this adventure to end.

I believe our semi-retired status is pulling harder on us than any desire to return the “grind” that awaits us in the Panhandle of Texas.

OK, this much also is true. We miss Toby the Puppy; we’re looking forward to seeing our sons, their families and, oh yes, our granddaughter Emma.

But there’s a part of this marvelous journey in Europe I don’t want to end. There’s more to see. More to enjoy. More to taste and smell.

We’ll get back here eventually. My hope is that it’s sooner rather than later.

Anniversary reminds me of how things can work out

retirement.pic_

This is another in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

Everything happens for a reason. Is that too cliché to repeat here? Probably, but I just did it anyway.

An anniversary is fast approaching that reminds me of how life can throw you curve balls. You just have to be patient, keep the faith, rely on the love of others — and by golly, things can have this way of working out.

Later this week marks the fourth year since my full-time journalism career came to a sudden end. I wasn’t quite ready for it to conclude in that manner. It did, though.

I won’t belabor you again with the particulars, except to say that at the moment I learned that the job I’d been doing at the Amarillo Globe-News for nearly 18 years would be handed over to someone else was like being punched in the gut — and the face — at the same time.

I collected myself, went home, decided in the car on the way to the house that I would quit, came back the next day, cleared out my office, had an awkward conversation with my soon-to-be former employer and then left.

My wife and I departed Amarillo that very day for an eight-day vacation back east. We had a wonderful time seeing friends in Charlotte, N.C., and in Roanoke, Va.

We came home and started thinking about what we would do next.

I was too old — 63 years of age at the time — to seriously consider going back to work full time. I knew I couldn’t get hired because of my age.

Oh, sure, employers said they didn’t consider that. I know better. Ageism exists, man.

I decided to start the transition into retirement.

I’ve been working a number of part-time jobs in the four years since my departure from the craft that in many ways had defined me over the span of nearly 37 years. I was able to keep my hand in the profession I love so much: writing news features for KFDA News Channel 10, blogs (until recently) for Panhandle PBS and helping produce the Quay County Sun weekly newspaper in Tucumcari, N.M.

Along the way I made a startling discovery.

It was that while I didn’t want my career to end when it did and in the manner that it did — I am now happy that it did end.

We’re continuing that transition into full-time retirement. We plan to travel more. We plan to be our own bosses. We intend to see this continent of ours up close. All of those plans are proceeding.

We’ll have some more major changes in our life coming up. I won’t divulge them here. Our family and closest friends know what they are … so I’ll leave it at that.

My wife has told me I seem less stressed out these days. Hmmm. Imagine that.

The Associated Press and United Press International style books always instructed us to “avoid clichés like the plague.”

Thus, the cliché about things happening for a reason seems so trite.

Except that in this case, it’s flat-out true.

‘Have a nice weekend’? Sure … whatever you say

Retirement

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

I spoke earlier today with someone over the phone about an interview I am trying to arrange for a story I plan to write for KFDA NewsChannel 10.

It’s a part-time gig. I don’t work full time any longer. I’m semi-retired — with the emphasis increasing on the “retired” part and decreasing on the “semi” part.

When the conversation ended, the individual on the other end of the call invited me to “have a nice weekend.”

The thought occurred to me at that very moment: Uh, sure thing … except that my “weekends” are bleeding more and more into the rest of the week.

There are moments when I forget the day. It’s not that I’m suffering from some kind of short-term memory loss. It’s because my schedule is no longer wedded to responsibilities at the workplace.

To be truthful, one of my sisters told me about this phenomenon after she had retired some years ago. My other sister still has a full-time day job, so she still has those obligations.

Me? Or my wife? We have none of that.

My wife has been retired as well for a couple of years. I’m in the process of transitioning toward that status myself.

But I do understand fully the idea that “weekends” arrive at various times during the week. Their arrival isn’t necessarily at end of the Friday workday. It could arrive on Thursday, Tuesday … any day!

I will do my best, though, to keep a civil tongue in my mouth whenever someone wishes me a “nice weekend.” They mean well.

Hey, maybe they think I’m a young dude.

Facing down an RV demon

canyon

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

Yes, I have demons. We all do … I believe.

One of my demons involves the recreational vehicle my wife and I own, which is a 28-foot fifth wheel we pull behind our three-quarter-ton pickup.

On our most recent trip, I managed to face down my RV demon.

We went to Caprock Canyons State Park, which is about a 90-minute drive southeast of Amarillo. It’s a beautiful park, with rugged back country that one must see to believe.

It has several very nice campsites.

They’re all back-in sites. No pull-through sites. When we made our reservation at the state park, I asked perhaps three times whether there were any pull-through sites. “No sir,” came the reply. “They’re all back-ins.”

All righty, then. We’ll do it.

bison

So, we went to Caprock Canyons. We arrived at the park gate, said “hey” to a group of bison grazing near the office, and then drove to our site at the Honey Flats camping area.

We pulled the RV to the site, then positioned the truck and the fifth wheel in a fairly straight alignment with the site. I surely understand the principle of backing a vehicle up with another one hitched to the rear: you turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction of where you want to turn the attached vehicle.

I backed the rig up. No sweat.

OK, truth be told, I had done this once before. We drove to an RV resort in Mesa, Ariz., a year ago, where we hooked up with my sister and brother-in-law. It, too, only had back-in sites. I managed — after considerable grief and perspiration — to get the vehicle backed into the site. I had considerable navigational help from my wife, sis and bro-in-law.

After backing in, I was exhausted. Pooped, man.

This time, at Caprock Canyons, the ordeal was far less stressful.

For that I am grateful. I haven’t conquered the demon just yet.

However, it’s on the ropes.

We plan to knock the RV demon out soon enough.

Back country keeps calling

canyon

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

Four nights in one of Texas’s great natural wonders whetted my appetite for more of the same.

I was intrigued by what my wife and I saw as we took off on our morning hikes through some glorious back country in Caprock Canyons State Park, comprising more than 15,300 acres just about three miles north of Quitaque, Texas.

We chose to hike in the morning before it got too blasted hot. The temperatures were at or near 100 degrees almost every day we were camped out.

But we’d set out from a selected trail head and trudge along toward the red rock cliffs before us. They were a gorgeous site. As we got farther from the road, I was struck by the remoteness I would feel.

It was a wonderful feeling, knowing that we were “away from it all,” it only for a few days.

Caprock Canyons isn’t exactly at the end of the world. It just seemed that way for the four nights we parked our fifth wheel at the Honey Flats campsite.

We were told by Texas Parks & Wildlife rangers that bison were known to roam through that site. We didn’t see any out there. We did see several of the glorious beasts grazing in pasture just off the road that courses through the park.

What lies ahead for us as we move toward full-time retirement?

I hope more of the same. Since we live in an expansive and magnificent continent, I’m quite confident we’ll find it out there.

Perhaps by the time we have made the transition fully I will learn to accept the feeling of remoteness as the “new normal.”

Let’s not jump to conclusions

Retirement

This is another in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

I love most people … but I won’t disclose those I don’t love.

I’ve discovered, though, that when you reveal certain aspects of your life and how your life is changing, that people do tend occasionally to jump to vastly premature conclusions.

My wife and I have no made no secret of our desire to relocate, to live much closer to our granddaughter, Emma, who’s now 3. We want a front-row seat as she grows up.

I informed one of my bosses of that desire the other day. He’s fully aware of our medium- and long-term plans.

But when I mentioned it to him the other day at his office, one of his colleagues apparently told another colleague that “John’s moving!” Another of his colleagues came into his office and said, “I hear you’re moving.”

The implication in his statement clearly — to my ears, at least — was that the move is imminent.

I assured him it is not.

We are in the lengthy process of transitioning from semi-retirement into full-time retirement. Some things keep getting in the way of making that transition more rapidly. One of them relates to potential changes in some of my work responsibilities. There might be some significant changes coming up with one of my part-time jobs and I want to see how they play out.

We are proceeding with all deliberate speed — with the emphasis on “deliberate” — with our transition. We have some work to do on our house to prepare it for sale. Then we will hope for the best. After that, we have a lot of fifth-wheel travel in our future.

Just don’t push out the door quite yet. We’ll get there. Probably sooner rather than too much later.

My friends ask me all the time, “How ya doin’?”

My answer is always the same and I say it with absolutely sincerity.

“I’ve never felt better in my life.”

Accelerating the transition … just a bit

retirement_road

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

People essentially have two ways to move from their working lives to retirement.

They can jump into full retirement immediately, all at once. They walk away from the job, put their wristwatch into the drawer and never worry again about missing a deadline or an appointment.

Or, they can do it slowly.

My wife and I have chosen the latter approach to retirement.

We’ve decided to stay busy with part-time work. However, the time is approaching for us to make the transition fully into retirement.

So, we have decided to accelerate the pace of that transition … just a bit.

How is that acceleration taking place? I won’t go into too many details. Suffice to say, though, that we’re making more definitive travel plans. We also have begun some serious rehab on the yard, which — because we didn’t install an irrigation system when we had the house built in 1996 — suffered quite a bit during the drought of 2013-14.

We own a recreational vehicle that we enjoy taking on the road. Our plans involve more extensive travel in it across this fabulous continent of ours.

Just this week, for example, we penciled in a date next June to travel to the southeastern United States to visit some friends who are coming here from Israel. I met this lovely couple seven years ago while on a journey through the Holy Land; I stayed in their home in Lehavim, a city on the edge of the Judean Desert.

They’re coming to Atlanta to attend the 2017 Rotary International convention and plan to tour New Orleans and Nashville while they’re on this side of The Pond. We, too, are hoping to find them in either place and get caught up with them.

I’m going to stay busy with my part-time work. Two of the jobs involve the media. Eventually, I’ll have to part company with those jobs, which I enjoy beyond measure. They continue to challenge me and they keep me alert.

The time is fast approaching, though, to complete this transition.

We are looking forward with hope and with great joy at encountering what lies ahead.

Bring on the future!

A wild windup to a wondrous week

Retirement

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

Well now …

That was some ending to a totally delightful week on the road.

We awoke this morning at what has turned out to be my favorite RV park, in Gallup, N.M., to find our truck and fifth wheel dusted with snow.

I had to remind myself. Today is the First of May, yes?

We turned on the TV to watch the local news and we learned about high wind warnings all across New Mexico; they would be especially fierce between Grants and Santa Rosa — right in the line of fire, so to speak, of our route home.

Oh, brother. What do we do?

My wife reminded me of some obligations we have on Monday. If we were “fully retired,” she said, “we could pull up short of home, spend the night at an RV park somewhere and cruise on in the next day.”

Can’t do it.

We decided to wait a while before shoving off.

Then we took flight — in a manner of speaking.

Eastward we trudged: Me, Wife and Toby the Puppy — who I should add wasn’t the least bit concerned about a single thing. As long as he has his mother and yours truly, life is good.

We arrived in Gallup the previous day after driving from Casa Grande, Ariz., where the temperature had hit the high 70s. Gallup sits about 6,500 feet above sea level. Thus, it is cooler than the Valley of the Sun under normal circumstances.

There wasn’t a lot of snow to be seen. But as we moved closer to Grants, the scene changed. Not dramatically. But the snow crept closer to Interstate 40. Then we saw a westbound snowplow tossing the snow off the outside lane going in the opposite direction.

The temperature outside? A bracing 33 degrees.

This is May 1? Am I correct.

Onward we went.

Just as we crested the summit going into Albuquerque we started feeling the wind the weather guy was talking about earlier in the morning. I’m not sure it was of the dangerous variety. Besides, we’ve lived in the Texas Panhandle for more than 21 years, so we’re fairly used to the West Texas wind.

We did decide, though, to slow our rig down. Neither of us is daredevil enough to push the speed limit in what could be described as inclement weather.

Everyone else? They roared past us as though we were going backward.

Bully for them.

A six-hour trip home turned into a seven-hour trip home.

We did make a decision, though, from this experience. Once we do declare ourselves to be fully retired, and we no longer have those obligations awaiting us at home, we’ve decided against making RV park reservations too far in advance.

There’s no way to resist the forces of Mother Nature.

Flexibility is the key to this retirement thing. Or so I’ve been told.

Another travel milestone crossed

Retirement

This is the latest in a series of occasional blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

GALLUP, N.M. — I wasn’t waiting consciously for this revelation.

However, I knew I would recognize it when I felt it.

It occurred during our latest trip pulling our fifth wheel through three states.

The revelation showed itself when I realized I wasn’t thinking instinctively about returning home. Yes, I thought about when we would get back to our home on the Texas Tundra, but it was a conscious thought, one that I had to decide to think about.

We visited Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Sitting Bull Falls … all in far West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Then we tooled over to Casa Grande, Ariz., between Tucson and Phoenix, to visit my uncle and aunt.

We have laughed all along the way, ogling the sights and enjoying Mother Nature’s splendor. We have enjoyed catching up a bit with family members.

Through it all, I haven’t harbored a single instinctive thought about going home. When we first started taking our RV onto the highway, I would think about the end of a particular journey. I couldn’t help myself. It never detracted from my enjoying the many moments we’ve shared so far. However, those thoughts did cross my mind.

Now we find ourselves getting caught up routinely in the real-time joy we experience on the road.

I mention this to signify that our comfort with our 28-foot fifth wheel has taken us to a new level of enjoyment in the travel we plan to do once we declare ourselves to be fully retired.

We’re not there just yet.

However, we’ll know when that moment arrives, too.