Appreciation

Today, 9/17, was a day off. It is hot around here, but I didn\’t make it out of bed in time for running in cool temperature. Instead, I headed off to a state park about 25 miles away. That park is mostly forest, so runnable even if it is very hot. It has a 2.75 mile paved bike path. It is a hilly park so climbing muscles get used. I had a lovely time for 2.5 hours.

I spent some of today\’s run thinking about the road less traveled. I am unbelievably happy to be outside the system of 5 day work weeks. I am also outside the television system and the religion system and the meat eater system and the sedentary system and the over eating getting fat system and the big house system and the dote on your children system, and the corporate manager system.

I am also incredibly pleased to be part of the gig economy. I\’m happy to be working even though technically retired. And I look around at the gray hairs standing behind cash registers and I know that we share a secret. Many of us are not there primarily for the money. We are there because we want to be and are receiving non-physical riches.

After I came home from running, and showered, I took a nap and read a book. I suddenly had to put the book down for a moment and cry over how grateful and appreciative I am to have my life. I just feel wonderful, even about the difficult job at Starbucks. I feel hopeful of my future and the slow molding of thoughts which is my writing project. I feel hopeful about running long term. I love being free of the systems. (Aside: I should mention that Starbucks is difficult because it is on your feet, involves lifting and being on the go for 6 or so hours. The physical is the challenging part. So different from the difficulties from my corporate desk job.)

In my life, there were many roads not taken. And, many times where I\’ve failed to complete someone else\’s road and had to quit. But now I feel as if all the roads I\’ve taken brought me to the exact right spot. The exact right spot is not for the rich and famous. It is for the thoughtful. It is for the runner. It is for enjoyment and fascination.

I have spent my life involved with mental improvement and spiritual studies. Somehow, this has resulted in a great deal of healing. I now think of my parents fondly. Fondly! Incredible since ours was a classic alcoholic and dysfunctional home. I think of various experiences I\’ve had and am grateful for the journey. I\’m excited that the journey is not over. I can envision where it is going and how it will feel. I know so.

The end of The Road not Taken by Robert Frost:
\”Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.\”

A Year Later

A year ago today, I quit my career and entered phase 3 of my life. Best.decision.ever.

What you should know, if you retire early, is that it is about quality of life and not money. My career was basically about making and saving money. Now, my focus is on learning new things and building a new life.

The key thing is that I am happy. I can\’t really explain why I was so unhappy at my career and the environment of the Gulf Coast. I should have been able to generate a good attitude regardless, but never did. However, upon moving north to Missouri and now working part time, I was instantly happy, and haven\’t looked back. Joy is now a skill I have and I do have to produce it consciously but it seems easy given my current way of living.

My plan for phase 3 of my life has been adhered to: move to Missouri, run alot, work part time, learn to be a writer and produce a publishable work from the material I wrote before I quit my career.

The good side of my writing project is that it is making steady progress. I have my content together and am now trying to sort through the information and organize it. I have learned much about the business of writing and publishing in the past year, enough to know what direction I am headed and what it could look like. I have the tools, though still learning to use them. As my writing project moves forward, it is bringing people and experiences into my life which I wouldn\’t otherwise have. I live near a public library which has a writing center funded by the Kaufmann Foundation. So, they have many classes, groups and staff to help writers. They even have a book making machine right in the library.

I never planned for my writing to be my source of financial support, so I am free to work on it a bit too slowly. What I wish I could do better is spend more of my afternoons writing, and doing deep work. But napping and then working out seem to take precedence, especially if I was up at 3 am for work. I seem to need the down time and then later on it is difficult to get my mind turned on and focused. I have been working on the habit of just getting my body into the chair at my desk, without YouTube.

I have entered a very happy time at my barista job. I have learned enough to be a valuable team member and to have fun. The young partners are accepting me. My body is better physically for working on my feet, lifting, bending, reaching, instead of spending all day at a computer. My mind is better for having to learn almost a whole new barista language and software. I\’m having to use parts of my brain that engineers don\’t need to use and so I didn\’t use them for decades. There is big value in an old person learning new things (hint: mental longevity). This part time job provides health insurance and pays most of my day to day living expenses. My assets have increased since quitting my career.

I survived the winter, but did not start 3 races due to cold weather. In Texas, I did not start races due to heat. But I did run all winter. I have run all summer. The Gulf Coast was a huge problem with overwhelming heat for 8 or so months a year. I suffered from heat related illness every weekend. That problem has disappeared here in Missouri. And so, I run faster more often. Running fast has been a blast. I had a great marathon a week ago. Even at mile 21, I was very happy (check out my smile):

In the area of Missouri where I now live, I am around people whom I\’ve known for 30 or more years. In terms of social capital, I am very rich. I got to celebrate my 34th sobriety anniversary with numerous people I got sober with all those years ago.

I have become a neuro science geek. Part of my writing project involves studying neuro science to explain addiction and recovery. In my retired life, I have time to read neuro science books and addiction books, which seem to be coming out at a furious pace. Luckily, the public library stocks the latest and greatest books.

Here is a video from today\’s jaunt in the forest:

Heart of America Marathon 2019

Well, I did it! I ran a race! I didn\’t not-make-it-to-the-start. I did run pretty hard and for most of the way.

The day started comfortable cool at about 60F, but very humid, foggy in fact. The race was not huge, only about 300 runners. The first half of the race was more down hill than not, so I made it to the half point in about 2:20. The half is in the middle of a long steep hill, known as the Easley Hill. (If a hill has a name, you know it is knarley).

After that, the sun came out and as time wore one, I got slower and put in a few walk breaks. I got a blister on the bottom of one foot. It took me a long time to figure out that tightening that shoe would help. Finally, I did stop and tighten it and it did help.

Miles 23 – 26 were mostly flat, but in the sun. I was sweating profusely and dying on the vine as far as speed goes. Second place in my age group passed me during mile 25, but I had nothing to go after her with. I finished in 5:13 by garmin time.

All in all, I\’m please with how much I ran (as opposed to walking). I\’m pleased that I kept jogging the last mile even though I was hurting. I just said to myself, \”well, this is how it is supposed to feel if you try to keep running 26 miles.\”

I thought of Courtney Dauwalter during the last couple of miles (see second video below). I know a marathon is nothing compared to UTMB 100. But thats the race I was in. I know Courtney keeps going. She goes in her pain cave and keeps going. So, I tried that too. It was hot but I told myself that I wouldn\’t die if I got a little over heated in the last couple of miles. Just keep going. I am feeling the emotion of accomplishment as we speak.

I rewarded myself on the way home with a Quick Trip grilled cheese and Coke Zero.

My next marathon (#97) is in 6 weeks.