How could I be missing this?

I really can’t believe that I am about to write this.  Its not that I am unhappy with the freedom of retirement.  I went to Florida for a week on a whim.  I spent a week skiing in the Rockies, something I could only dream about for the past twenty years.  I get up each day and set my own schedule.  I have even learned to skip the guilt when that schedule includes just kicking back with a good book.  And yet, I am about to tell you I am missing something.

20180226_103810

I’ve thought about it for a while now and at first I wasn’t sure what it was that was missing but the other day, having a very leisurely two hour breakfast with my wife, it became clear.  Deb asked if I was actually missing doing tax returns, something that kept me locked in battle from mid-January to mid-April every year for the past thirty-five plus years.  I was quick to answer, and apologies to any former client reading this, no way.  How would I be missing the stress, especially in a year when the tax law changes are creating countless more hours spent in planning?  How could I be missing the hours stacked on hours of time spent at the office?  The simple answer, I didn’t miss that.  But I was missing something and that turns out to be something I can’t replace.

Tax season, as it has always been known, is more or less a war.  It starts well before the first W-2’s or 1099’s hit the mailboxes.  It begins slowly as the office and staff gear up for battle.  Even before the first client enters through the doors, there will be hours of training on the law changes, software updates and procedures that will be put in place to handle over seven thousand tax returns to be compiled, reviewed, signed, filed and mailed all before April 15th.  It will speed up in mid January and by February 1st will consume everyone in the office, demanding conservatively eighty hours a week just to keep up.  So where am I going?  What masochist would miss that?  Well…..me.

co-workers

Don’t get me wrong, its not the hours, its not the work, its the workers.  I said it was a war.  In a war, you lean on the soldiers around you.  You depend on them.  They become your family.  Tax season was no different.  We were all in it together.  We knew when the stress or the hours were getting to one of us.  We stepped in.  We encouraged.  We told war stories and we laughed.  We were comrades and only someone who dealt wth it could understand the connections we formed.  If knowledge made you proficient at solving tax problems, empathy saved you.  That’s what I was missing.  I was on R&R while my comrades were going to battle together.  I missed the companionship, the hugs, the general encouragement from people going through the same process.

So here is the reality, at some point you step back from the battle and it moves on without you.  I will, for as long as they will include me, go back for the occassional lunch or the social hour, but I know it won’t and can’t be the same.  Their battle stories will now be their stories and not mine.  Conditions will change, and people will change.  Life will evolve.  Eventually, just as Thomas Hardy wrote, I won’t be able to go back home, the home that work, during a tax season, always became.  That family of co-workers I battled along side will have moved on, fighting new battles, their battles.

Every person who retires will go through, to some degree, this feeling of loss.  I am missing it now and though difficult, I must find a way to come to grips with it.  I will need to find things and people to fill my days and eventually, I will leave the battle behind.  I will leave the battle to those younger and still energetic enough to fight it.  If any of them are reading this now, here’s my advice.  Hang together, appreciate each other and realize that one day you will miss it as much as I do.  But for now, as tough as the hours may be, as stressful as the work may seem, you have comrades in arms who are sharing it all.  That’s what I miss and always will.

20170817_073533

The Hotel Room …. or how we became friends for life

I had two cups of coffee this morning.  One cup leaves me talkative but two cups and I’m sarcastic.  I thought I ought to take advantage of that and write this next piece.  You’ve been warned of my sarcasm if you intend to continue reading.

Years ago, fall of 1986 to be exact, my two year old daughter was going to a sitter just a few doors down from us.  When I was dropping her off one morning, there was a new father dropping off his two daughters.  We exchanged hellos and that was that.  A couple days later, My wife and I attended a neighborhood casino night.  We were new to the neighborhood and not knowing anyone there we attempted to mingle while playing casino games.  At the end of the gaming session and prior to the auction for prizes, I noticed the new father I had met at the sitter and realizing he hadn’t known anyone either, introduced him to my wife.  He in turn introduced his wife and we boldly joined them at their table.  The auction was rolling along when a room for a weekend at the Embassy Suites in Milwaukee came up for bid.  We had been looking for a quick get away, so my wife and I started bidding on the room with our play money winnings.  The bidding soon passed our total.  About to bow out of the action, our new found neighbors offered to throw in their meager winnings and we offered up the entire works on our next bid.  Now I fully expected to be immediately outbid, or should I say, hoped we would be outbid.  After all, we really didn’t know our partners in this bid let alone intend to share a suite with them as our first date.  And you guessed it.  No one bid.  I was the anxious owner of a Milwaukee hotel room with let’s be honest here, total strangers.  For all I knew they had been forced to move after a recent stalking charge leveled by their previous neighbors.  Worse yet, they would turn out to be swingers and my wife and I …. well we weren’t … aren’t.  Disclaimer here, my wife worries that the reader will get the wrong idea …. well don’t.

I decided the best course of action would be to graciously hand the room over to them and formulate our early exit.  And again you guessed it or you figured out there wasn’t much of a story if they accepted my offer.  They were already setting a date with my wife for our hotel stay.  Now I WAS convinced this couple was either crazy or desperate, possibly both.  Before I could make up excuses, like I snore loudly or I prefer to sleep in the nude, I don’t but I thought it might scare them off, unless of course they really were swingers, we were scheduled to all head down to the Embassy Suites that very next weekend.

The weekend came and my wife was actually looking forward to our “group date”, which made me begin to worry about her as well, after all, I had only known her for nine years and maybe she was really good at keeping secrets.  We had decided to bring our daughter with us, as had they, but I was still wondering how this would work?  At this point, my detail planner wife explained that it was a suite, implying, though adjoining, two rooms.  We would take one and they could have the other.  All I had to worry about was hitting it off conversationally.  My anxiousness was reducing.

Arrival in Milwaukee.  The suite turned out to be a shared bedroom and sitting area with at least a separation of sorts between the two areas.  Remember how I said we brought the kids.  The three of them were already thick as thieves from the common sitter we shared.  And again you guessed it.  They all wanted to be together in the sitting area on that wonderful fold out couch that only three kids under the age of six could not only love but share.  And that left us right where it turns out BOTH couples had thought wasn’t going to happen …. sharing two queen beds in the same room.  Thank god for wine and a mini bar.

It has been over thirty years since that night.  Not only did we survive our time together …. turns out they were as nervous as we were …. our families traveled together many more times in the years that followed.  Through multiple moves by our friends, first to Chicago, then back to the Madison area and eventually settling in the St. Louis area, through our children’s graduations and two of their weddings, and even through grieving the passing of Doug’s wife Carol two years ago, we are still and always will be best friends.  It is clearly not the same without Carol as part of the “Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice” running joke of our first meeting, but nothing can break up a friendship forged by sharing a room as your first date.

Thank you Embassy Suite.  From that night forward, Doug and Carol and their family became an integral part of our family’s life.  Without your donated room to that casino night thirty “odd” years ago, my wife and I would never have discovered one of the most likable, family oriented and adventuresome couples with whom we have spent a lifetime.

To quote someone “Ain’t life funny sometimes.”

Cycle of Fear…Nervousness part II

As a frame of reference, that is my three year old grandchild climbing in that wire tunnel.  Now his ability to conquer fear is his lack of experience.  To a three year old, “what could possibly go wrong, Opa?”

It’s been awhile since I worked on this series.  I guess I was “fearing” trying to finish it and my “anxiousness” got the better of me.  The truth is, I got distracted.  Life has kind of gotten in the way and more pressing blog posts were required.  But I’m back on track.

Ironically, I am about to do another public presentation.  I am past the fear, after all it is a topic that is near and dear to me.  I am even past the anxious stage for the most part, the date was set and the outline has been made.  All that’s left is for me to step up in front of the crowd.  Am I nervous, yes.  No one truly knows how the first words out of your mouth will be received.  That is the state of “nervousness”.  Your fear at having to step out or into your act has subsided, somewhat, and that feeling of being anxious has also calmed down.  It’s just a little voice in the back of your brain asking “are you absolutely sure you want to do this?”  Your answer, if you’ve made it to this point, is “do I really have a choice?”

All that is left is for you to push back that voice in your head and step into the light.  You really can’t turn back very easily at this point.  For me, I have found myself on the strut of an airplane 4000 feet up ready to jump, or strapped into a harness connected to an over sized kite running headlong toward a 3000 foot cliff, or grabbing the cables of a 60 degree, 800 foot climb to the top of a mountain, or even just stepping out onto the stage in front of four hundred people.  In every case, the answer for me was “no, I don’t have a choice.”  I really couldn’t turn back, so I pushed back the nervousness with that last bit of commitment and I was there.

I will never tell you this is easy.  If it were, there wouldn’t be the next stage, excitement.  I will also tell you that it doesn’t get easier each time you try it.  You just move through the stages faster and that’s thanks to experience.  Just convince yourself that you are going to go through with it and walk fear back with reassurance, reduce anxiousness with preparation and finally tell nervousness to fuel your energy.

If you’ve made it this far, the last two stages are lined up and they are the pay-off for the effort; excitement and energy.  Stay tuned and I will get to these two next time.

Thanks for reading and always, thanks for trying.

Cycle of Fear …. Nervousness

When last I wrote about the cycle of fear, I had discussed fear and it’s follow up, anxiousness.  While fear meant to protect us from dangerous behavior, once gotten past, you would settle into anxiousness.  Anxiousness differed from fear in that once we had moved beyond fear by rationalizing out the true dangers and having decided we could proceed without dying, we settled into the fact that we were prepared to go through with our decision.  Anxiousness kept us aware of the process.  At this level, we could now try to identify our safety nets and attempt to move toward our ultimate action.

For me, this cycle is experienced every time I decide to speak publically.  The fear originally came from believing I couldn’t step in front of a large crowd and successfully get through the material without freezing.  Early on I had come to grips with my fear and agreed to face the crowd.  When I accept a speaking engagement these days, I am able to skip through the fear step rather quickly just based on past experience.  After all, I haven’t ever died up there.  At least not yet.  But every time, I still deal with the anxiousness as I consider the material and my worthiness and ability to interpret it and deliver it to the audience.

The next step in this cycle is then nervousness.  Nervousness is the result of being so close to the event that there is no turning back.  You have worked through anxiousness by realizing that you do know how to do or present what you are about to do.  You have prepared yourself mentally and physically.  You have reasonably ruled out the biggest dangers and you are now entering a state of nervousness where your anxiety has been muted or at least turned down to a tolerable level.  You are ready to proceed and are actually wanting this to get going so that it can eventually be over.

For my best example of this phase, I will describe my experience as I jumped out of a perfectly good plane.  Yes, I had the parachute.  When I first considered taking a parachute jump, I definitely started at fear.  I was about to climb to three thousand feet where once out on the wing of this small plane, I would, in the words of my instructor, simply step back and enjoy the fall.  As I went through my one half hour of training, I began to get past fear.  Others had done this and survived.  I would be tethered to the plane so my chute would open automatically and he would be with me as I jumped, just in case I had to open my emergency chute.  Other than everything, what could go wrong?  I did work through the fear phase of the cycle and eventually quiet it down enough that I was willing to suit up and climb aboard the plane.  Now came the next phase, anxiousness.  My level of anxiousness climbed right along with the plane and peaked at that moment when I was told to step out onto the wing.  “Move feet” was all I could think of and somehow they did.  And there I was, on the wing with the wind trying its hardest to rip me loose and throw me spiraling to the ground far below.  Suddenly, I was no longer anxious.  There was NO GOING BACK.  As the trainer waited to give me the drop sign, I realized I was simply nervous.  I actually screamed into the wind to let me jump.

I will admit that it is an extremely thin line that separates anxiousness and nervousness but it’s there.  At anxiousness, there is a sense that you can still back out and possible even save face in the process.  But once you cross that line, it’s just nerves now.  You stepped on stage, you buckled into the terrifying roller coaster, you stepped off the edge or in my case you wanted to step off the wing.  Between the wind and the engine roar, it just seemed like anything would be better than standing there hanging on for dear life.

I apologize for leaving you out on the wing, but this story will have to wait until I can finish the next part of the cycle; excitement.  Stay tuned but in the meantime try to enjoy this sense of nervousness as you wait.

Cycle of Fear…Being Anxious

I have been thinking about this next piece for a while now.  You might say I am actually having some true anxiety about writing it.  I wrote a first piece on some options for dealing with fear (see Cycle of Fear).  In this segment I will talk about the next stage, anxiousness.

There is a difference between being anxious and suffering from anxiety.  Anxiety is very close to fear.  In fact it is so close that it is hard to distinguish between them.  Where fear is generally irrational, anxiety is more analytic.  Fear is a primal emotion and it is hardwired into our psyche.  It is meant to protect us from harm.  Anxiety is a modern emotion and comes from our experiences.  Anxiety is understanding that we are about to do something that needs serious consideration.  I want to look at being anxious.  Being anxious is different from suffering anxiety.  Being anxious can actually be something good, as in “my child was really anxious to open her Christmas presents”.  It is at the stage of anxiousness that we can begin to rationalize that though fearful about our challenge, we can convince ourselves to continue forward if we can identify some safety nets.

I am going to use the paragliding adventure my daughter talked me into attempting.  We started the adventure by having our lunch at a cliff side cantina where we could watch the gliders take off from the cliff above us, pass over our position and then soar out over the valley.  The thought of running off a cliff had definitely brought on a heavy dose of fear.  The next step in the adventure would be a hike up the remaining several hundred feet of the mountain to ready ourselves for the flight.  For me, sitting there watching the gliders ahead of us strap in and then head down the short run to the edge of the cliff, brought me one step closer to realizing that I was going to have to overcome my fear if I was actually going to go through with this.  At this point there was very little difference between my fear and my anxiety.  As we waited, it became obvious that there was clearly a process and in fact everyone who left before us returned smoothly back to the cliff at the end of their flight.  I think that had they landed somewhere else, out of my sight, I may have had a much harder time moving from being fearful to being anxious.  I was now in the analytic phase of this whole thing and I was one step closer to the point of no return.  I could still back out, but instead of fear I was actually feeling anxious to get me turn.

Fear and anxiety hold us back.  Either one can stop us in our tracks, but if we can reduce fear down to being anxious, we can begin to accept the risk.  Anxiousness puts us in a position that having reduced our fear, we are ready to move into a state of anticipation for the next step.  If we can reduce our anxiousness by analyzing the risk and identifying the safety nets, we will hopefully move into the next stage.  But more on that next time.

The Cycle of Fear

I recently was asked to present a sermon before three services at my church and am currently preparing for my public speaking sessions where the topics can be challenging and the crowds relatively large.  I am often asked by people how I can seem so comfortable doing public speaking.  I will tell you that I am never comfortable at first.  In fact, each time I have to go through the same process.  It is the explanation behind my theory on the cycle of fear.  That cycle is a process that goes through several stages as it moves us from fear to energy.  Over the next several posts I will attempt to explain the stages of that cycle and hopefully give some insight on how to deal with them.

My cycle of fear moves through these stages; Fear – Anxiety – Nervousness – Excitement – Energy.  As we move through the stages and provided we do move through the stages, we ultimately end up with the energy derived from the act we started out fearing.

Franklin Roosevelt

So stage one is fear.  Franklin Roosevelt, preparing a nation to face a world war, aptly stated, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.  Fear is the belief that something bad, and perhaps irreversible will result if we under take a particular action.  It can stop us from acting.  If, in fact the action may have been truly ill advised, fear actually saves us.  However, when our fear is irrational, it stops us from realizing potentially rewarding experiences.

523617_10150965411834792_652220332_n

I will never forget the day I decided I would actually jump out of a perfectly good airplane from 5000 feet or for that matter the day I decided it was perfectly okay to leap off a 3000 foot cliff attached to a paraglider.  The fear I faced as I approached both of those adventures was real.  It would have been enough to stop me from realizing two of the most exciting experiences of my life.  By the same token, stepping in front of a crowd of 400 plus participants can be no less daunting and yet just as rewarding.  For many, that seemingly non life threatening activity, can freeze them in their tracks.

554188_10150965413904792_1992364274_n

So how do we get past that first stage?  My approach has been a combination of several steps.  The first step is to analyze the activity.  What is the worst that could happen?  Could I actually be injured?  What safety nets are built into the activity?  Often, a brief analysis will reveal that you are going to live.  Important point here, if that isn’t revealed, then heed the fear and look for a better activity.  In my parachute jump, there was a pretty reliable parachute as well as an instructor that was there with me all the way.  With the paragliding, I was actually hooked to a seasoned glider pilot.  The fact that he spoke no english created some angst but none the less, multiple people had flown off the cliff before me and all had returned intact.

Step two for me, when time allows, is to procrastinate.  This sounds just plain wrong but let me explain.  When faced with true fear there are two possibilities, fight or flight.  procrastination is a form of fight.  You have subconsciously not chosen flight.  In that decision, you took one more step toward acceptance.  The key with this step is to make sure you are moving in the direction of stage two, anxiety.  In anxiety, you are moving away from fear toward the belief that you can actually attempt this.  But anxiety is the topic of my next blog.

The third step is to stop over thinking.  This is actually harder to do than it sounds.  It requires a desire to see this thing through and that means I need to stop focusing on the fear and to start looking at the possibilities.  This is what Roosevelt meant when he said we only have fear itself to fear.  When we start considering the positive outcomes, we leave fear behind and we begin to move forward through the cycle.

When ever I have to face fear over a challenge I am about to take, I hear my daughter’s words echoing in my head, “Stop thinking about it and get ready for how exciting it will feel when you are done”.  If I had never jumped off that cliff that day, I wouldn’t have experienced how incredibly exciting it turned out to be.  She was so right!

Facing our fears is not easy but the reward that often awaits us for taking on the challenge is worth it.  Think it over, pause to let acceptance move us forward and stop over thinking the negative and focus on the possibilities.

paraglider

Coming soon….turning fear down to anxiety.

 

 

 

 

Retirement 101….

First step, Plan less.  Second step, slow down.  So I am into the third step but not yet sure what to call it.  I would always tell my clients that the first phase of retirement should be thought of as a vacation.  The primary reason for this was the fact that vacations accomplish two things.  First, they disconnect us from work.  We need to stop reading the emails for a while and stop worrying about the day to day connection we feel at the work place. Second, they come to an end.  As much as we want them to not do that, the reality is they do.  While we are working we are controlled by the time clock, the requirements of the job and the need for the paycheck.  In retirement those elements are gone.  If we just retired to retire, there would be this tendency to never do anything again.  The permanent vacation.  Desirable image but not the reality anyone would truly live or thrive in.  The need to move on dictates the need for the vacation to end.

So I am nearing the end of the first phase of my vacation.  It has been incredibly relaxing and stress reducing.  But here is the key.  I have no intention of replacing one stress with another.  I simply need to move into the next phase.  I have always been about helping people meet their goals.  I have spent a lifetime learning my trade and perfecting its processes.  The next phase in my retirement will now involve me finding outlets through which I can continue to practice my trade, my purpose.  The difference, no time clock, no job definition, no employer….no obligation.

So I am ready to name it.  Retirement tip number three… wait for it… be picky.  Once it is clear that your obligations have been removed and as your vacation phase is coming to an end, it is time to explore your outlets.  But be picky.  This is now your time and your choice.  You have spent a career, actually a lifetime developing your purpose.  Do not waste it …. nurture it.  Stress free, passion driven, purposeful life.  A zillion opportunities await from volunteering to entrepreneurship.  Look for those that serve your need.  Avoid obligation.  Be picky.   The future IS really yours.

Retirement 101….the three “tions”

I have been telling my clients for years, I should say had been telling my clients (I will need to get used to that), that there were three “tions” (shuns) that make for a successful retirement.

The first tion is “vacation”.  Every retirement should start with a vacation.  Vacations are designed to let us disconnect from work.  While we are enjoying our vacation we generally stop thinking about work.  Some will be able to resist that temptation to look at their emails and voice mails and others will actually stop thinking about work altogether.  The key to taking this first period as a vacation, is that vacations are always going to come to an end.  This is not to say that the retiree can’t think of everyday from here on in as vacation, but its just not a reality.  Life will pull us back in and that is where the next tion comes in.

While on vacation, I asked my clients to realize the next tion and that is “obligation”.  For the retiree that obligation they felt each workday morning is now gone.  There is no obligation any more.  The retiree has the right to say yes to those things they wish to do and no to those they don’t.  They can do things for money if they want, but they are not obligated to needing to be paid.  Volunteering becomes something that now replaces punching the clock.  And remember, volunteering means if and when I want to.

The third tion is “passion”.  The biggest fear in retirement is wasting away.  This is why the vacation can’t last forever and the only true obligation, is to oneself to find and exercise their passion.  I have often asked people to tell me what they do that they are passionate about.  The answer is often a description of the job they did in their career.  But this is only what they did and not why they did what they did the way the did.  I would have them think of a recent day at work where they came home with that smile nothing could wipe off.  I then would ask them to visualize what they were doing that day.  It is in that action that they will find their passion.  Now it is their goal to exercise that passion in the things they do with their retirement.  The beauty is that they have no obligations in their way and all the time they want to dedicate to their passion.  They only need the outlet in which to express it.

So where am I in all of this?  Have I heeded my own words.  I have had the vacation or should say I am in week three of it and electing to stay on it for a little longer.  I have definitely started enjoying the lack of obligation.  I have even said no a couple of times already and for anyone truly familiar with me, they know I never really was good at that.  So I am exploring my passion.  I know what my passion is, see my earlier blog “Life as a Labyrinth”.  I am now working on its expression.  I know I have some opportunities to mentor, and maybe even some consulting, but I am ordained to being selective even picky about for whom and how that might happen.  I am trying to balance my need to fulfill my passion with not becoming obligated into making it another career.  For now I am content to talk with anyone who would listen to anything they want to talk about.  Maybe I should just offer some retirement seminars.  The art of successful retirement made easy.  Stay tuned as even I am not sure where this is going.  I only know I intend to savor the ride.

Retirement 101

I guess my first lesson in retirement 101 was to plan less, see my earlier blog “Ah…Retirement, the sweet smell of Success” as well as “Retirement…What’s a guy going to do”.  Everyone will want to know what you are going to do in retirement.  Some will want to know out of worry that you may waste away while others I suspect are jealous and would like to scare you into staying on.  If you oblige everyone with a plan list, you soon find out that the list gets too long and starts to include things even you don’t want to do.  The less you plan the better you will be.

My second lesson now comes with the seasoning of almost two weeks of official retirement under my belt.  And here it is, there’s just no need to rush.  Remember that list,20170828_172740 even though I advised against, I did have one and admit it so do you.  Realize that you have a lifetime remaining to knock it out.  Don’t hurry.  Not only will there be plenty of time to tackle it, you never got to them before and you continued to operate just fine.  That messy closet; it always was.  Those little projects; still didn’t change your life.  All those books you needed to read; you still carried on just fine without their content.  Not only were you able to survive previously having not yet done them, you will need to lean on these little projects to get out of the big ones you don’t want to do later.  Every gambler knows, never play your hold cards before you have to.

20170829_170419

I personally lucked out on my first day.  I was hundreds of miles from home watching a total eclipse of the sun.  Not only was I unavailable to start any of the items on the forbidden list, I was too engrossed in the day to even worry about them.  No one was going to speed up the moon so that I could get back to the list.  In fact, watching it unfold was an epiphany of sorts.  The beauty was in the gradualness of it all and that became my symbol of just how retirement ought to unfold.  I left the day come to me and I took in what it had to offer.  No rush, no deadlines, just an opportunity to relax into the moment.

20170829_170500 (1)

There is no telling if there will be  a series here so take advantage of these two pieces of advice as soon as you can.  For those still awaiting retirement, know this, it is in fact scary going into it, don’t pretend you either didn’t or won’t harbor a few concerns, but the stress falloff is a treat.  I suspect these first two weeks have extended my life by a year each.  So plan less and don’t rush anything.  Take your time.  The more you follow this treatise, the more time you just might have to do all those things you never had time to do before.

Aaron Rodgers said it best “R.E.L.A.X”.  He did and then so did we.

Aah…Retirement, the sweet smell of Success

It is week one of my newly acquired retirement.  I feel compelled to let my worriers know, so far so good, and for those of you approaching retirement a few pieces of advice.

First and foremost, don’t over plan.  Everyone wants to know what you are going to do.  Don’t be shy, tell them you don’t know but you will seize every opportunity.  Only in this way can you disconnect gracefully and not create a guilty conscience at day one.  Let life roll towards you now.  Instead of trudging up that hill, tackling each day, let the day come to you.

20170821_131347

My day one, without any intent or knowledge on my part, was the day of the total eclipse.  My daughter Bailey, had planned it several months prior and it never dawned on me that it would be my first full day of retirement.  What an incredible way to start.  We took off on Sunday morning bound for St. Louis with daughters and grandchildren in tow.  Monday we traveled 35 miles south to the center of the path in a little town called Festus, MO.  I would explain the origin of the name but that can be your adventure.  At 1:18 pm the moon and sun reached totality.  No words can explain the emotion but save to say we shared it with about a thousand people.  The cheers from the crowd, followed by the awe as we gazed upon the eclipse was worth all the effort.  We were surrounded in a 360 degree sunset which leaves one stunned and speechless.  Birds were flying crazily to their nests and the insects came suddenly alert with a cacophony of noise.   Two minutes and thirty seconds later it was over.  We had traveled four hundred miles and spent nearly seven hours collectively in our cars to witness a two minute and thirty second event.  To stand there and witness it first hand in the mid day dusk was priceless in every sense of the word.  That evening even my three year old grandson Jackson, was telling his dinner friends all about how the moon swallowed the sun and he saw it!

20170821_131657

Though the picture cannot do it justice, totality and 360 degrees of sunset.

Not bad for day one.  The next two days found me exploring a museum with Jackson and then time spent catching up with a dear friend and his family in a neighboring city.

20170820_153820_001

Jackson with his body guard, Kathryn, about to enter the high point of this insane structure.  We will title this “no fear” but maybe a little vertigo for Kathryn.

The Arch

Threw in a visit to the Gateway Arch.  More vertigo, some claustrophobia and an awe struck Jackson peering through the windows 630 feet up.

It is now day three and I am promising myself to add some routine to my days.  Nothing too big, just activities I can build on.  Oh yes, and the honey do list.  That started this morning and in my opinion I did a bang up job.  This is by no way an invitation to make this a habit but my suspicion is it will become one of the routines.  Well, at least now I have all the time in the world to do it.

I admit it is early, but I think I just might like this gig.  I am feeling that all the effort that went into the journey was worth it and that I am feeling a great sense of success at its end.  If you are close, I hope your first days are just as exciting.  Just remember, don’t chase them, let the days and the weeks and the months and the years all come to you.  And then embrace each one for the gift it is.