This is a topic I am learning about.
A year and a half ago I retired from a very active job as an elementary school principal. It was a good decision and I don’t regret taking it.
For the first time in 31 years, I am learning and experiencing lots of new things. I have trekked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro through the Western Highlands of Scotland and most recently the Ausangate Range in Peru.
I am much fitter than I was when I had a regular job. Before I was just too busy to keep in good shape and I am a bit shocked how little real exercise I got. My moods were really affected by my work and it took way too long to return to a calm state after the strains of a long school year.
My pace is not so crazy anymore. Apart from my training, I write a lot more, I read and listen more too. I listen especially to lots of podcasts on VoicEd Radio and I really enjoy the work I am doing to help Stephen Hurley and this wonderful venture into the world of internet radio.
There is another side to this which I find interesting. I saw someone last week that I used to work with when I was a principal. She asked what I was doing these days and before I could answer, she made the reply.
I didn’t really bother to correct her, there didn’t seem to be much of a point. When you don’t have a regular job people sometimes don’t know what to do with you.
This is an interesting part of retirement, or it might just be the result of getting older. It is easier when you are not defined by your job to be discounted by others. It is easier to disappear.
It is interesting how quiet things can get. I volunteered to act as a supply principal for my school board when I retired – silence. I have volunteered and applied for other jobs with the same result.
A school in our neighbourhood doesn’t have a regular principal or VP, but because I am from a different school board I can’t even offer my services. I used to do lots of work for the local faculty of education here in our city – that work dried up as soon as I was no longer an active principal.
Other things just don’t make much sense. I visit my mother in the hospital almost daily, but my brother won’t answer my notes to him on how she is doing. It’s almost as if this work is unnecessary and irrelevant. Friends, many of them retired as well, don’t reach out. Opportunities seem to dry up. It is a little like you begin to disappear.
This could go on for a while, as long as I define myself by who I was. At 60, I doubt that I will ever be actively employed again. This is a world that is dominated everywhere by youth – there is still little value placed on the older ones in our society.
To counter this, I need to find my new value. I need to look for the positive opportunity whenever it comes up. I don’t think conventional employers like school boards and universities will change. In some ways that is too bad because I think I have a great deal to offer – especially when a school has no administrators!
Instead, I need to find meaning and value in my own projects or in projects where the door is still open. VoicEd Radio is terrific that way and the creative work within this growing community is wonderful.
The work we are doing with Christie Lake Climb for Kids is a challenge and has the potential to channel more financial support to children who really need a positive change in their lives. This project was started last year when we took our first group of trekkers into the Peruvian Andes up to 5200m. The group trained and fundraised for a year and we made almost $28,000 for Christie Lake Kids programming.
So the future will be defined by the projects that work and the people who are open to what I can still offer. This is a new path.
I am no longer defined by a job I did for 31 years and how I define myself now has to be based on other factors, many that were not all that important when I was working full time. This is a work in progress, one that I don’t often read about but one that is probably worthy of further discussion.
It is interesting with more and more people retiring all the time that this doesn’t seem to be a topic that gets much attention. Do we have any sense of the social capital out there that still has great value?
Maybe this should change. Maybe we should talk more about this.
Thanks to all of you who were able to attend our launch last Friday. We had a great turnout and now we need to fill the final 7 spots to make sure we have a group for 2019. Pretty exciting to see so many people out to celebrate 2018 and hopefully, take part in this year’s trek.
We have 7 trekkers and we need 7 more by mid-November to offer a trip for next July (departure July 12). You may be thinking of going or you may know someone who would be great on this trek. There are always lots of reasons for putting off adventure, but there is only one good reason to go – try something really different that changes you and the lives of children!
I know that the people who went with us last year would all agree with this. Climbing in Peru was great, climbing with a wonderful, committed group of people was even better.
So this week I am making the big push to fill up our group. I am sending emails, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram messages – anything I can think of to get people motivated to move way outside their comfort zone.
What certainly works better than social media is word of mouth. The people who came with us last year were all linked to others in the group. If you are reading this maybe you are that link – bring a friend, a colleague or partner! Think what you can learn and experience together!
If you are planning on waiting until next time you may be too late – life doesn’t wait and neither should you.
To help you make up your mind we do have some resources for you.
- A new ESRI Story Map that has all the information we have on the trip, including the booking form, itinerary and the video invitation.
- a great Climb for Kids digital poster – we have copies of the poster and can make more if you need them. We can even supply you with these to pass on to your friends.
- If it would help if I contacted you or someone else directly via email I am happy to do this – please feel free to pass on my address and phone number (613-218-9615) if this will help.
Climb for Kids is a great group experience – we combine adventure with a unique opportunity to help kids – please consider joining us!!
Booking form: https://bit.ly/2Q06H3u
A very cool Tour de Mont Blue Interactive Map: http://u.osmfr.org/m/206457/
Our video promotion!
I am reading about trails. Robert Moor has written a magical book called On Trails An Exploration
This is an interesting book – trails are different from paths, ‘trails tend to form in reverse, messily, from the passage of dirty feet.’ (page 68 On Trails) It has got me thinking.
Trails are where we find something magical. The trail through giant ancient plants on Kilimanjaro. The feral goat who looks down on you on the West Highland Way, the ghostly llama as darkness gathers.
Trails also lead to friends, new and old, sometimes family and loved ones too.
Trails draw you into a new life and once you walk the trail you are really part of the trail.
You don’t go once, you go again.
Because of those who walked the trails before I now am hooked. I dream about old trails – can I do them better, can I experience more, can I test myself in some other fashion. The trail takes on dreams and the dreams make me want to push on do more, learn more, experience more.
The pathways are not just pathways. When I walk, I need to do it for another reason too. There are two reasons that I have figured out so far. To help in some way children in poverty and to connect to my family.
For me, working for children is a matter of social justice. I walk, raise money and then support programs that actually can break the cycle of poverty. That is why I can only walk for Christie Lake Kids – the cycle can be broken, but it takes innovation and a huge community effort. I want to be part of that effort.
Second – connecting to my family is what I want to do. I am 60 years old. I don’t have to worry about making an impact or being successful in my job. I am happily beyond that. But I do need to reach out to my partner and my children in important ways. So, I need to take the path with them.
Last year I walked with my daughter. This summer I trekked with my partner. In a few weeks, I will hike with my son.
If I am going to do something like this it has to be for kids, social justice or family.
There are, I hope many more trails and many more wonderful people to meet as we raise money and awareness. In between treks for Christie Lake Kids, I will walk with my family – all of them.
This is where the trail will lead.