I started this blog in 2014 as I began my year-long sabbatical. I thought My Year Away would be informative. I even hoped it would be life changing. Simply put, it was.
I remember wondering what it would be like to be away from the office for an entire year. Would I be bored? Would I miss the office? Would I miss my job? Will I have enough to do for a whole year?
One of the goals of my sabbaticals was to recharge, think new thoughts, do more “everyday” writing (as opposed to definitely-not-every-day-academic writing). I set up the blog to help me with that.
I did other things too. I planted a garden. I learned to play the handbells. I went on two cruises—including a trip to the Panama Canal, which was a bucket list destination for me. I went to the Grand Canyon. Heck, I even went to Greece and Turkey! I’ve always loved to travel, but the sabbatical woke up a part of my soul that is satisfied only when I am sitting in a cafe in Rome, eating caccio e pepe. Or staring at the wake from the aft of a ship. Or contemplating my next adventure.
And, I read. I read a lot. I read about travel (of course). I read cookbooks. I read fiction. I even read books about statistics. I read history. Lots of history. And I started reading presidential biographies.
Fast forward to the end of 2020. As I contemplate my sabbatical—My Year Away—I realize that it was really a foreshadow of what my life could be like in retirement.
My new life as a retired professor begins in two weeks. What will I do? Well, for starters, I’ll read. I’m still working my way through the presidents. (This may be good or bad news depending on your perspective, but reading these presidential biographies has shown me how messed up our politics have been from the very beginning.) I’ll have a garden next to the house we’re restoring in Paducah, Kentucky. I plan to travel just as soon as COVID stops nipping at our heels. I will not, however, be playing the handbells.
I plan to continue to write as well. I hope to write my blog posts more often than I have in the past couple of years. And I also plan to branch out and tell stories in other ways. During these past several months while living on Zoom, I’ve discovered that the digital space is more interesting than I had imagined. For example, venturing into podcasting with a former grad student (check out “Pandemic Professors” on Spotify!), I learned all sorts of new skills. As a result, the hubster and I are planning to launch a You Tube channel for our Paducah house restoration called “(re)Tired Renovators.” Given my knowledge acquisition and retention as I work my way through iMovie tutorials, we may only make it through one show before we keel over. But we’re going to give it a shot. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a Social Media Influencer at 65?
During My Year Away the first time, I tried new things, learned a bunch, stretched myself, and experienced life. In two weeks, as I begin My Year Away again, I hope my first year of retirement will, once again, allow me to stretch, learn, and experience life in even more new ways.
I’m not gonna lie. Giving up my identity as a tenured professor at a research university is going to take some time. While I won’t miss grading (not even one little bit), I will miss my colleagues. I’ll miss my lovely C.S. Lewis office. I’ll miss seeing a new publication in print. I’ll miss creating new classes. I don’t feel old—although applying for Part A and B of Medicare did make me think for a minute. But, it’s time to try new things. It’s time to start a new journey. It’s time.
I’m ready for the challenge.