In September 2012, after fifty years as a government employee, 20 in uniform and 30 as a diplomat, I hung my pinstripe suit in the closet and turned in my government identification cards. I actually spent three whole months doing nothing just to see if I was cut out for the life of idle retirement. Turns out I wasn’t.
After celebrating the holidays, I decided that sitting around watching the grass grow was not my cup of tea. I was not free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and 2013 was going to be the year I decided just what it was I wanted to do.
I’d been writing a lot and by this time had 20 books published, so I determined to greatly increase that number. I also liked to travel—heck, I’d been packing and unpacking for half a century, so why not keep doing it?
The year 2013 was the year of travel, but of all the trips I made that year, five stand out.
When I decide to do something, I never do it halfway. In 2013, for example, despite falling and breaking my femur on July 4, 2013, I still kept up a travel schedule that earned me some major frequent flier miles.
Before the fall, I traveled to Arizona and New Mexico in March to participate in an Air Force personnel recovery exercise, Angel Thunder, something I did every year from 2006 to 2009. On this trip I visited the old mining town of Playa, New Mexico and Tombstone, Arizona.
In May I went to Cameroon for a Canadian magazine, Afrique Expansion, to cover the national day celebrations, and took a road trip where I visited an ape sanctuary and the coast. After that trip I came back to the US and went to Dearborn, Michigan where I was grand marshal for the city’s Memorial Day parade.
Despite a broken hip (which at the time the doctors and I thought was just a bruise) I drove from Maryland to Chautauqua, New York to participate in a week of activities at Chautauqua Institution.
In August, when the fracture was diagnosed and I had surgery, I was housebound for ten weeks, but the doctors cleared me to drive to Suffolk, Virginia in November to work with a team of defense consultants on an important training project.
In addition to the great scenery at each location, each of these trips was also a culinary delight, from some exotic dishes in Cameroon to mouth-watering barbecue in Suffolk.
It was in 2013 that I decided the word retirement didn’t fit me, so whenever anyone asked, I simply said I had made the transition from government employment to independent consultant and author.
Hard to believe it’s been nearly eight years since that transition. I guess it’s true what they say, time flies when you’re having fun.
If you’re on the verge of making that big step from a job you’ve held for a long time, and you’re suffering anxiety about the transition, try thinking of it as exactly that. It’s not the end of anything. It’s a new beginning. As time flies, let your imagination soar with it. – NWI