Tuesday, March 31

Adjustments - An Extrovert on the Tundra

I always knew that the first few months of retirement would involve adjustments. The trip that Kate and I had planned was planned in part as a segue into that new era. A fun time to adjust to a new life stage for me and for us. Then that trip was derailed by my heart attack, creating a new set of adjustments that "trumped" the retirement changes, at least for a while. 

The fact is that the physical challenges of my heart attack were quite short term. I felt fine except for one hour or so and was only a little bit uncomfortable afterwards - and what little discomfort I had was due to a few tubes and ports that remained in my arms for a day or two. I didn't really feel any different than the days before. No worse and also no better. Just about the same. There were some physical adjustments to new medicines, and there are certainly mental adjustments to make as well. "How hard can I exercise?" "Is that pain or discomfort or feeling anything to worry about?" And oddly, my experiences with cancer 16 years ago prepared me quite well for the process of answering those questions.

One adjustment that I hadn't really anticipated was the effect on me of the relatively quieter life of a retired person. If the many Myers Briggs tests I have taken during my corporate lives at Pillsbury and Scoular are accurate (and at least on this metric I believe they are), I am an extrovert. I'm not always bubbly and outgoing, but I get energy from interactions with others. At least in part, I had apparently long been being "energized" by diverting serious discussions with my work colleagues down mostly useless but entertaining side roads by means of jokes and puns and silliness. And in retirement there was less opportunity for finding that energy. Kate can only accommodate so much of my silliness. So I need to find ways to replace that energy source. And during the winter in Minnesota idle conversations over the back fence are few and far between. It's been fun and energizing to get together with my buddy Harry - also recently retired - to watch soccer matches and hang out more than we used to have the chance to. 

Another "energy source" was the annual get-together with friends to watch basketball for twelve hours a day during the first weekend on the NCAA basketball tourney. Great fun, and lots and lots of silliness.

It also gave me a chance to work on my cooking skills with my new smoker.

Believe it or not, this is a staged photo. The actual cooking results have been excellent. 

My retirement adjustment process is going well. But it is a process, and not always in the ways I had anticipated.

Kate and I are now off on Opus 2 of our trip east (the short version). We picked up Madeline in Madison for her spring break week, and went on a lovely walk in the Madison arboretum as she taught on Friday. This spring-fed stream had sprung madly to life way earlier than its surroundings, covered with green aquatic plants that looked to us like they would make a lovely salad. Amazing.

We are now in Pennsylvania seeing childhood friends of Kate's and preparing for Kate's mother's 90th birthday party - which was delayed for a few weeks due my health issues when we first tried to head east. I'm looking forward to the party and to exploring the city with my camera in hand. York is an old city, and a fun one to look around in. And we'll be joining friends here in York to watch the Badgers and Spartans march on in the basketball tourney. Then it's on to Baltimore, North Carolina and who knows where? This part of retirement is easy to adjust to.