Signs of fall begin to show their faces; the distant mountains are glowing with a winter-like light. Color has not yet kissed the trees, though they have started to turn from brilliant to dull greens with a slight hint of decay.
Baby loons who have spent the summer at flight school are awkwardly soaring overhead as they excitedly shout, “I’m flying! Look at me, I’m flying!” in their immature, cracking loon voices. Their big trip to Florida is just around the corner.
The sounds of silence have begun: fewer passing boats, fewer sounds of wakes hitting the shore, fewer sounds of glee from water skiing and tubing kids. Some will be back for a last hurrah for Labor Day.
It’s weirdly silent around here, as my wife and two of the triplets have gone back for the start of senior year in high school. I’ll soon follow them after some meetings that will keep me here till Labor Day.
Leaving here is the saddest part of our year, just as arriving is our happiest.
Over the past few years, when my family stayed at my dad’s place on the lake, we’ve known his “listed” camp could be sold at any moment, and each year when we left, we assumed it was our last. Now that we have our own place, it’s reassuring that we’ll be back, God willing.
Leaving the Nest
Next season will be filled with the angst of our own little loons flying off, with three off to college at once and the start of their independence. Our hope is that this place will be a magnet to draw the kids and their eventual families back to us. I cherish each hour with these kids, even the toughest moments of their emotional or hormonal discord.
How will we write the next chapter? In what ways will it be written for us?
When the kids were born I crafted a grand plan that took years of hard work to implement. The goal was to not travel, and to be with the family all summer at the lake so they could spend every summer of their new lives here. Mission accomplished. They came here at four months and have not missed a summer yet, with this their 17th. One hopes they’ll consider staying here, like people we’ve met on the lake who have lived every summer of their lives here. One man across the lake is finishing summer number 88, and many of his childhood friends, who also spent summers here, are still with him. The deep friendships my kids have made on this lake stand a chance to be lifelong as they spend the summers here throughout their lives.
Crafting the ability to work from here and avoid business travel for the summer months was a logistical nightmare. It was only made possible because we made a plan and spent years laying out how to put ourselves in a position to make it work.
Time for a New Plan
Now Laurie and I have to build a new plan for this next chapter with three kids of the same age in college at once, and what to do with our newfound time together. Retirement isn’t in my DNA, but taking more time for more fun stuff is. It’s time now to make the plan, which will have to be implemented by this time next year.
What’s your plan?
Are you like a pinball, bouncing from place to place randomly? Or do you have a roadmap with a destination, but still willing to make some random exits for adventure?
Goals and plans were ingrained in me at a young age, though I admit it took me years to actually start using them. I spent a few years wandering aimlessly, trying to find myself, but once I knew what I wanted to pursue, I made a plan and lived it.
I watch my own kids and their friends. Some know exactly what they want, but most are still searching. Though they usually figure it out, it’s not always easy. For instance, a middle-aged neighbor who completed med school and most of his residency woke up realizing he didn’t like being a doctor. So after investing years, he had the courage to drop out.
I once hired an editor who completed law school, worked in a firm, was making more money than she thought possible, and knew within a couple of years that law was not for her. Her dream was to become an editor.
These kinds of decisions are not easy, so most of us tend to get stuck because of our reliance on the money we make, the commitment we made, or because it’s what our parents wanted for us.
Is your life a success if you awaken daily and hate your job? One man I met this week told me he loved retirement because he’d spent his life in a job he hated. What if he had never made it to retirement?
Find out what you love, make a plan, then do what you love. And if you get tired of it, bored, or you don’t love it anymore, have the courage to move on, no matter how good the money is. The strings will only get more difficult to unwind. I have a friend who was making millions as an attorney, dropped out, and has struggled to survive living as an artist, and he is the happiest he has ever been. Money did not buy him happiness.
Plan for joy.
Life won’t always be joyful, and getting where you want to be won’t always be joy-filled or easy. Tough tasks are worthwhile when they ultimately lead you to a place of joy. I have no problem spending years laying the groundwork to get where I ultimately want to be, because I am focusing on implementing the roadmap for the future.
Plans are needed at every new chapter. Have you made yours?
PS: You might be thinking that having a plan sounds boring. Being spontaneous is also important. Though I love having a year or two to look forward to things like art trips, painting trips, or family vacations, it’s also fun to take an occasional left turn and make a spontaneous decision. If that’s you, our 10th-year Fine Art Trip is doing a pilgrimage to the land of Van Gogh, Cesanne, Picasso, and many other artists and art treasures in the South of France. It’s coming up in October, and there should still be a seat or two left unless they’ve sold since I last checked on Thursday.
Since Labor Day is upon us, I hope you have a great Labor Day weekend. Take the time to do something special.
I just read the article on planning. Eric’s writing is very peaceful and inspiring. My husband and I are in our early 80s and planning a major move to another city.This might sound crazy to some, but we still want adventure in our lives. I will look forward to Eric’s Sunday “stories.” Glad I found him..
Appreciate your article Eric. Thanks
Love reading Sunday coffee. I am 66 and still working but finding myself not loving this job anymore. I have did it for 43 years and I can’t tell if I am tired of it or just tired. Right now retirement is not an option. Even I do retire, what then? Wait to die??? This aging thing is not easy. Your writing perks me up though. Thanks
Again…You are a terrific writer…painter of words…
I love your story and sharing the truth about the hard and fruitful work of planning.
I work with Encorepreneurs…Those who embrace the time freedom and resources to pursue what matters most in the second half of life.
I have not met one yet who did not invest in the groundwork to map it out…then explore, experiment and continue to adjust along the way.
P.S. I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday and overheard a guy stating that he was retiring and interested in Art.
I pointed to the rack where Plein Air Magazine was in plain sight… He smiled and gave a thumbs up!
First my word for my life is laughter, why because I had if for a year and it worked so well everyday putting it out to the Universe I decided to make it my all time word.
My hubby retired in Dec and we have an RV. Selling our house in VA and settling in AZ the RV is called the beach runner so we will be making many trips to the beaches around the west Coast.
I wondered when he retired if he’d be happy but he is totally over the moon. We could never have children so I have no idea what that experience is like.
I love our life I create art he loves lots of little projects.so we are in our happy place no doubt.
My husband is back East for 4 weeks and I’m here in AZ, today is my birthday and people are concerned I won’t have a good one. How I see it is every day is a gift and today is no different.
Wonderful thoughts. My husband and I have reached a crossroad we didn’t expect when he was laid off last year. While we had expected the layoff, and had planned for that, what we didn’t expect was how hard it would to find work again for someone who is over 60. Now working a barely over minimum wage job in a retail store with crazy hours we have started making our next plan. First step is getting educated, then the decision should be easier. To complicate matters our adult son has issues and still lives with us. I still work and like my job although the pace and stress of it get to me sometimes. My painting hobby helps me cope. I enjoy reading your thoughts on Sundays as they always inspire me. Enjoy your kids senior year, it goes so fast.
By committing to the Fine Art Connoisseur trip each year, I have a year to plan for joy! Just by making this decision; art information, images, ideas, study, conversations come my way (without effort) all year, Anticipation has been a great motivator for me. I am so grateful, Jill
Ah, plans and goals! Mt husband and I made plans and goals early in our marriage and one year I decided we ought to review them. So I announced a staff meeting in the afternoon every New Year’s Day to go over and rewrite plans and goals. My husband’s only question was, “Will there be refreshments?” Life does take some turns that alter goals, but often they become opportunities. Without goals we may not have had many years of sailing and I may not have taken up painting when I first saw Eric’s Paint By Note. Both joyful activities.
I love the the feeling of peace that comes when I read Erics writings!
I look forward to my sunday morning “conversation ” with you. It is usually early, quiet and although Iwe live in the midwest, I can envision you on your porch overlooking the lake. I have a tree line with rabbits and an occasional deer. I enjoy your inner thoughts and gives me a chance to reflect on my life. Keep up your passages, I really enjoy them.