Vacationing To Versus Vacationing From

Some time back, I posted a blog piece discussing the concept of vacationing after retirement.  You can review it at http://www.terrilabonte.com/tag/vacations/.  I asked whether you can still call it a vacation when you no longer have a job from which to vacate.  After considering the routine of my post-employment life and the activities I enjoyed on a couple of trips Max and I took after retirement, I concluded that the word “vacation” is still appropriate.

Recently, we visited Williamsburg, Virginia. There is something about the whole vibe of Williamsburg that relaxes me, reduces my physical and mental pace, and delights me.  Max and I have been there together three times now. Each time, we have highlighted different sights and experiences.  We repeat some activities, but, for the most part, each visit has been different. This time, we experienced a rather impressive number of new adventures.

If I had to put a label on the theme of this trip that made it different from prior visits, I’d probably say that this trip focused on “immersive” experiences.

We went to a reenactment of an actual colonial trial.  We’ve done that in the past. This time, though, I volunteered to play the part of the plaintiff. As wild and madcap and uncharacteristic as it was for me to willingly put myself at the center of attention, I actually enjoyed myself.  And I did a really good job.  Just ask my new agent.

In the colonial city, we also participated in three “nation-builder” talks.  Three fantastically smart and incredibly brave historic interpreters channeled George Washington, George Mason, and Thomas Jefferson.  These gentlemen spent some time “introducing themselves” to explain who they were and into which specific time period we present day tourists had stumbled. Then, unbelievably, they took questions- any random questions from anyone in the audience (I know because I raised my hand and asked one).  It was mindboggling how much these guys knew.  What was even more incredible was how deftly they molded the massive quantities of data that must be filed away in their brains into coherent, conversational, and seamless answers to questions they didn’t know the audience would ask.  I was in awe.

Not only were these presentations impressive exhibitions of historical prowess, they were damned entertaining.  It was more than a mite chizzly in Williamsburg when we were there. The temperatures were in the upper 40s during the nation-building presentations and there was a less-than-gentle “brrrrr…eeze.” We sat in the cold and wind for 45 minutes for each of the talks. We were so mesmerized, we barely felt the blood freeze in our veins.

We ate dinner in one of the colonial taverns for the first time on this trip. We went to Christina Campbell’s, which is a restoration of George Washington’s favorite restaurant in Williamsburg.  I say that I have the eating habits of your typical four-year-old.  If a four-year-old won’t eat it, I probably won’t either.  At Christina Campbell’s, I even pushed the boundaries of my non-adventurous eating.  I tried the spoonbread.  I didn’t like it, but I got into the spirit of the thing and tried it.

Our “immersive experiences” did not stop at the colonial city.  We also visited Busch Gardens.  Our main objective for this excursion was to go on two special animal tours. During those tours, we interacted with Clydesdales, border collies, sheep, and wolves. What made the tours even more special was the fact that Max and I were apparently the only two people in the park more interested in animals than roller coasters.  On both tours, we were the only two participants.  We had private Clydesdale, collie, sheep, and wolf training lessons.  I got to pet a Clydesdale, shake hands with a border collie, feed a sheep, and play tetherball with a wolf.  It was all pretty terrific, but I have to admit that asking a wolf to jump for her ball and throwing her hot dogs when she did so was over-the-top cool.

This trip really was very different from our other trips.  When I think about it, I realize it wasn’t different only because of the activities we enjoyed.  The concept of “immersion” went deeper than that. I felt more engaged and connected with the entire experience.

I think my “immersion” experience had to do with the whole work versus retirement thing.  When I was working, I looked forward to vacations with almost the same intensity of a dialysis patient waiting for a kidney. The fun of a vacation generated at least as much from what I was escaping as it did from the trip itself. I had to spend a sizeable portion of the vacation bailing work-related stress out of my saturated brain before I could notice the delights of what was actually going on around me during the vacation.  Then, there was the period at the end of the vacation when I was reigniting to go back to work.  Those periods at the beginning and end of the vacation were not unpleasant.  They were helpful and regenerating.  It was a personal and professional advantage to take that time to reset my brain.  The thing is, though, that it didn’t really matter where I was or what I was doing when engaged in those “decompress and regenerate” cycles.  My focus was on the process of resetting my brain, not on the process of experiencing new places, people, and activities.  Those new places, people, and activities were really just a backdrop to my own attempts to renew my brain.

Even after I retired, I think I still had the “vacationing from” mentality rather than the “vacationing to” mentality.  Taking care of my mother, even before she suffered the stroke, replaced my “regular” job.  I didn’t work as many hours at this “new job,” but I invested all my love and energy to create as beautiful an experience as I could for her.  In creating that beautiful experience for my mother, I also created one for myself, but doing so required energy and focus.  When I went on vacation during the time I was caring for my mother, I had as much need to concentrate on renewing myself as I did when I had a paying job.

I think this trip to Williamsburg might have been my first vacation that was really about the vacation itself.  It is kind of ironic that, after grappling with whether a pleasure trip is still a vacation after you retire, I should come to the conclusion that post-work vacations may be more pure vacation than those trips during career life.

Now that I no longer have to focus on renewing my worn-out brain during vacations, I find myself much more able to throw myself into the experience of the vacation itself. A vacation is now an event instead of a respite from events.   I can immerse myself in the novelty of the experience.  I can participate more fully in the “only on vacation” moments- the activities, the sightseeing, the food, the environment, etc.  Everything about the vacation seems somehow more “in focus” than when I took a vacation while I was working.  It feels like I was experiencing vacations in 2D when I was still working and now I can perceive the vacation third dimension because the part of my brain that shut down to destress while I vacationed from work is now available to process a richer, more complete experience.

I don’t know whether I would say that vacationing after retirement is “better” or “more fun” than vacationing while one is still working, but it certainly feels different to me.

What do you think?  Are vacations different after you retire?  What has your experience been?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  Please also email me if you would like to join the launch party for my book,  Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In RetirementThere are still lines available for the conference call.  

Also, if you would like to get an early copy of the book, you can go to https://secure.mybookorders.com/Orderpage/2076  to order.  If you use the promo code terri, you will receive a 15% discount.  Those of you who are attending the launch party, either virtually or in real life, may want to wait as I will be offering a larger discount for party participants.

Finally, Happy Mothers’ Day! I’ve been working on a Mothers’ Day post, but it just wasn’t coming together as quickly as I had hoped.  I decided I would rather do it just-ice rather than just-in time, so terrilabonte.com will be celebrating Mothers’ Day at some future date.  For those of you living in the real world, though…. have a warm, wonderful celebration of motherhood whether your mom is in this world with you or not.

Phew!!!!! Hope I haven’t exhausted any of you.  Please try to get some rest today, after reading this marathon!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

 

A Day To Par-tay!!!

I recently told you that my book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement, would soon be making its world debut.  I’m happy to announce that you will be able to order your very own copy starting on May 19, 2018.  You can get your hands on this hot commodity by visiting my direct-to-reader sales website.  I will give you the address when the website is up and running. The book will be available in paperback and electronic editions.

You can also get the paperback and electronic versions at the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites, but I hope you’ll go to my direct-to-reader site and order there because then I get to keep more of your money!  I have spent a lot of time trying to think of a graceful way to say that, but, as you can see, I have failed.  In addition to my greed, the other good reason to go to my direct-to-reader sales page to buy this masterpiece is because I will be offering you, my far-flung blog friends, a special discount code to use when ordering.

My book release is a momentous event in my life and I want to celebrate.  More specifically, I want to celebrate with you. I will be hosting a launch party on Saturday, May 19, 2018, and would like you non-local folks to join us virtually.  The event will be from 4:00pm-5:00pm EDT.  If you would like to join us, please send me an email at terriretirement@gmail.com.  I will provide you with the information you need to call in and celebrate with us. I also plan to have my lovely assistant take photos during the party and send them out to you in real time.  Please let me know in your email if you are okay with me providing your address to said lovely assistant so she can include you in the photo frenzy.   I have some activities planned that everyone in the room and everyone on the call should enjoy.  There will also be an opportunity to win a fabulous prize.  Well, kind of fabulous.

There will be limited phone lines available for the virtual party, so please email me your interest as soon as you know you want to attend.

I hope that you will be able to participate.  Please stay tuned to my blog for the website and discount code to use when ordering book copies.  Because I am incredibly socially awkward and insecure, I will be offering an extra discount for those people who attend the launch party.  I am sure that will incentivize crowds of crazed fans to participate! Or, maybe, at least one or two people who are mildly fond of me.  Either way, I’m good.

As always, thank you all for your support and encouragement.  In addition to celebrating the launch of Changing My Mind, the party will celebrate all my friends- all of you- because, even if you are miles away, you are all close in my heart!

What do you think about the idea of a virtual launch party?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  If you would like to attend the virtual launch party, please email me soon to receive the call-in info!

Have a day worth celebrating today!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Writer’s High

I previously told you that I’ve written a book. I call it Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement. The book is based on this blog, but there is some new information and I’ve structured the content in a new, more effective way. The bottom line is that the book chronicles my observations about navigating the transition from work life to retirement. I poke fun at the comical moments. I vivisect the sad moments. I offer practical tips for thriving during reinvention. I think it will be available for purchase by May 19, 2018. I’ll keep you posted and give you more information when we get closer to launch date.

The reason I am not certain about timetables and purchase sources at this point is that this is all very new to me. I am learning the process as I go through it. The folks at the author services company have been helpful, but there are numerous steps to climb to reach the point where the book will be completed and available for purchase. Each step has its own estimated timeframes, so the total time is going to be highly variable depending on how well each step goes. I am just starting the marketing and distribution piece of this project. The people at the author services company tell me that everything should be done before May 19. Still, I’m not sure I completely believe that. Either I can’t quite conceive that this is really happening after dreaming about it my whole life or I just have trust issues.

I’m not really writing this to educate you on the publishing process. Nor am I writing it to get you revved up to buy a book when they become available (although it would be great if you did get revved up to buy a book when they become available.) I am writing this to report on a momentous milestone.

Throughout the production portion of the book project, I have been making numerous design and stylistic decisions. I’ve also had several rounds of proofreading and editing. I’ve read the typeset version of the book many times and approved the final copy to send to the printer. I’ve worked with the cover designers to select front cover art and produce a compelling back cover. I was incredibly psyched when I signed off on each step. It felt so real and important, somehow. Then the realest and most important thing ever happened. I received the first actual copy of my book to approve for distribution.

When I opened the box and saw my book, I think I discovered a new form of exercise. I wasn’t aware of moving any part of my body, but my physiology sure seemed convinced that I was. I think my pulse rate increased. I immediately felt endorphins explode inside me. I’m sure I was actually burning calories just looking at the book. There is no way that my body was behaving remotely like my usual “at rest” condition. I’m sure I was exceeding the maximum daily allowance of giddiness. My body could barely contain itself. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t concentrate on anything beyond the fact that I was actually holding MY book in my hands!!!. Two weeks  later, I am still having a hard time trying to keep my overheated psyche stuffed inside my skin. My excitement and energy just push out from inside me so firmly, my face cracks open into a ragged tear of a grin, even when I don’t know I’m even thinking about it.

Changing My Mind is beautiful. I love it. I hope other people will love it, too. On the other hand, even if no one else loves it, I have to say that I feel something kind of miraculous just knowing that I’ve created this lovely little bit of me. I always say I am an expert at nothing except examining my own navel. The thing is, everyone has a navel and I guess one navel looks very much like another. Hopefully, my navel-gazing musings ring true for other people as well.

So, what do you think?  Do I need to just chill out or is this as exciting as I think it is?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a creative day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂