It’s time for a plan…

You can’t stop time – or even pause it.  The sand flows through the hourglass unconstrained, taunting.  As each grain falls, I hear a nearly imperceptible ping.  Reality is calling.  I need a plan – just one plan.  My problem is, I have a bevy of plans….

  •             Join the Peace Corps
  •             Buy a fixer upper in Ireland
  •             Bike from Gdansk to Budapest
  •             Hike across England along Hadrian’s Wall
  •             Live in Macedonia or Albania or Montenegro
  •             Immerse myself in French and, of course, in Paris
  •             Crisscross the United States living out of my car
  •             Hole up in Slovakia to write the great American novel
  •             Return home, settle down, and grow old gracefully

My son, Ryan, once said I had too many “crazy ideas” – many of which never came to fruition.  It’s a point well taken.  Lots of my ideas never bore fruit.  “Don’t get me wrong mom.  Those things you did pull off were awesome.”  They included:

  •  Live in Ireland one homeless summer between North Carolina and Colorado
  • Take a 2 month road trip:  Husband Pat, 10 year old Ryan, 11 year old friend, 5 year old Taylor (I delegated this.  Three kids, one man, 10,000 miles, and one smart wife)
  • Move to Colorado, learn to ski
  • Live in Europe (perhaps not Slovakia – but it turned out well)
  • Visit all 50 of the United States (finished in tiny, elusive Rhode Island)
  • Quit my job to follow a girl to Philly (sorry, Ryan, wrong list. That one’s yours)

Perhaps I need to cull my list (but let’s be honest, I won’t) or at least prioritize (I’ll try).  Biking and hiking will be physically demanding, requiring every drop of stamina I can muster.  These are “now or never” items.  I can drive across the United States in my dotage.  Great idea, but it can wait.  Living in Ireland fulfills Pat’s need for a nest and provides a home base to access Europe – eastern and otherwise.  I’ll shift that up.  Paris will always be there, thank goodness.  This idea is my personal favorite.  My brain flits through options like a whirling dervish – a never ending twitter feed of hair brain schemes.

This September we will be back in the United States.  I will buy the smallest and lightest notebook computer I can find – one which slips into my backpack virtually unnoticed.  A computer which is nimble enough to bike across Europe, live in far flung places, email letters home from a Peace Corps outpost.  It will be part talisman, part catalyst, part confident and the keeper of the list – shinny and silver and unconditionally supportive.

All this brings me back to the reason I started this blog.  It wasn’t to capture trip reports or to reflect on life lessons from abroad.  Both have been unexpected gifts – but neither the original intent.   My goal is simple, to explore non-conventional retirement options and to share the results.  That is the “world in between”.

It’s a fool’s errand to some and disinteresting to others.  Many of my friends are wallowing in their personal definition of retirement bliss.  Conventional or otherwise, I am happy for them.  Their list is, as it should be, their list.  A beating wanderlust heart crafted my list.  And as those last grains of sand drip through the hourglass, I will be scribbling new ideas.  I’m okay with that.  There is no shame in crazy dreams – even those left unfulfilled.

Categories: Ruminations


8 replies

  1. there’s nothing to say you can’t quit your job and come to Philly too!

  2. Love your list!!! I will live vicariously through you!

  3. This is an ambitious and wonderful list of “what to do next”, and you’ve done so much already! I see one HUGE divide in the list. One item, joining the Peace Corps, is centered on service work for others; the other items, while excellent, focus on your own development (even though, of course, some of these would impact others as well). I would urge you to give the Peace Corps some consideration while you are still young enough and fit enough to be accepted and want to make a difference in the country to which you would be assigned. I say this having served in the Peace Corps when I was just out of college; the experience completely changed my life. I think the impact is not so substantial for a mature person, who, after all, already has many life-altering experiences, but still, it will be a magical two years. Feel free to contact me directly for more information if you think you might consider this route, and good luck in whatever your choice is.

    • Thanks Susan… I’ll keep this for when the time comes. I do plan to apply for the Peace Corps – but also realize they have a say in whether or not I am selected (I plan to apply in a professional position). Very nice to hear it was a positive experience for you. That’s wonderful.

      I teach English as a volunteer – in the US to immigrants, then in Slovakia, and now in Hungary. In my blog, I at times mention I take French (oh la la!)… I set a path on both of these years ago due to the specific value the Peace Corps places on these skills (and, of course in the case of English, it has value beyond the Peace Corps and has been tremendously rewarding).

      Keep in touch… and thanks for the encouragement!

  4. I like Annie’s suggestion…In fact, think we should all quit our jobs and move to Philly…I’m sure Ryan wouldn’t mind us all bonking with him 🙂

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