All posts filed under: What’s Next…

Thoughts on my Gap Year, Encore Career, and Whatever Comes Next

Stop Talking and Listen

Old habits can be very hard to break. Case in point: my difficulty in breaking out of the mold of being a stereotypical male. I’m reminded of this far too often and in many different ways. However, one of the more consistent occurrences involves listening. Or, to be more accurate, not listening. The stereotype is that men are encouraged, and even trained, to be the center of attention. It is a stereotype, in this case, because it is usually true. Studies show that boys are called on more in school, that boys grow up to become men who talk more in meetings, and that we interrupt women more than we interrupt men. Most of the time I fall into this pattern of interruption because I’m not thinking. But a few times I do it knowingly and with the best of intentions. That was the case earlier this year when I found myself talking over a friend to “help her” explain something that I thought might be difficult to articulate. Not because she isn’t a smart, …

Bumpy roads often lead to beautiful places

When much-maligned Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez was asked how he felt after his ballclub just completed an improbable four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series (NLCS), he went back to something his mother told him: “Often bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.” Then, in light of earning the franchise’s first trip to the World Series, he added, “And this is a beautiful place.” Oh, is it ever! NLCS Most Valuable Player Howie Kendrick—one of 18 resident “Los Viejos” (the Old Men) on the Nats playoff roster over the age of 30—said, “I can truly say this is the best time of my career, the best moment of my career this year.” I can add that in my 55 years of being enthralled by baseball—beginning as a nine-year-old with a 1964 trip to Wrigley Field on a family vacation to see the Cubs play Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals; to following Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants from afar, as a kid growing up in Middle …

All That’s Left to Learn

Gap years provide opportunities to try something new or—if your time off comes later in life—to return and revisit neglected passions. In the last six months I’ve taken a writing course. I’ve incorporated my long-time love of guitar playing into my daily routine. A course on wine or bourbon tasting, to gain fresh insights into a couple of my more pleasurable pursuits, may be in my future. Perhaps I’ll use the new bike path that runs in front of our house as the impetus to rekindle my passion for cycling. And while I’d given yoga a chance in the past, there were always other, seemingly more important, calls on my attention. But I now find myself here, in my gap year, returning to the yoga studio. There’s a very logical reason for making this move: my muscles and joints were crying out for more flexibility. Several months ago I tripped while stepping off the train in London and fell to the concrete platform, landing directly on my right knee. For a number of weeks the …

Follow Your Heart

What happens when, facing a choice, your heart suddenly inserts itself into the conversation? The final question in the recent Democratic presidential debate focused on resilience in the face of personal setbacks. All the candidates had strong responses, but South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg had—by almost all reviews—the most moving story. It connected at such a personal level for many because it was an account of following his heart. A military officer and elected official from a deeply conservative state, Buttigieg spoke eloquently about living in fear of the impact that would result from revealing that he was gay. Yet he reached a point, he said, where he was “not interested in not knowing what it was like to be in love any longer.” The good news ending to his story of following the heart is that “When I trusted voters to judge me based on the job that I did for them, they decided to trust me and reelected me with eighty percent of the vote.” As an ambitious young politician, the safe approach …

It Gets Late Early Out Here

A couple—friends since our years in Staunton in the 1980s—came to visit this weekend. We spent most of our time over the past three days cooking, drinking wine, eating, playing guitars, and talking. But mostly talking. No matter if it has been a decade since college and you’re meeting with your former classmates at a wedding, or almost four decades since you moved to a new town and established lasting relationships, when you gather with long-time friends the stories pick up where you last left off and weekends can turn magical. The legendary New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra once noted that towards the end of his career he played a good number of games in left field. When World Series games were still played in the daylight, left field in old Yankees Stadium could be difficult to navigate because of the deep, autumn shadows. Berra was asked about playing that position and he said, “It gets late early out here.” People laughed, but Berra recalled that someone told him that there is truth in …

Wonder

Imagine living 99 years inspired by a sense of wonder. Entering into the world as children, we began with the curiosity and amazement found at the heart of a wonder-filled life. Yet along our journeys, most step out of this sense of wonderment and instead become cautious, cynical, hardened, haughty or any number of other traits designed to protect our egos and allow us to function—or so we believe—in the adult world. In taking that step, we too often lose a generous, more imaginative perspective. Wonder came into my consciousness last week while I was in Charlottesville for the memorial service of a long-time friend, Anne Worrell. I met Anne soon after moving to Virginia in the early 1980s, and over the years I came to know her primarily as a historic preservationist, businesswoman, newspaper publisher, philanthropist, and convener extraordinaire. With her husband Gene she founded their first newspaper, the Virginia Tennessean, in Bristol, and together they grew the company to be one of the largest chains of small dailies in the country. Anne, who …

Discipline

An acquaintance who overcame addiction to remake her life once told me, “Discipline is remembering what you really want.” So much of what we accomplish comes back to having the discipline to achieve our goals. After years of giving in to dependency, my friend wanted to change her life in a way that aligned with her goals; with what she — when she was brutally honest with herself — really wanted from life.* As a different person than I was in my 20s or 40s, I’m now focusing on what I really want to accomplish in the years ahead. Discipline is hard and involves pain, no matter where you are in your life journey: in school, beginning a career, as a senior manager, building and growing a business, caring for others, living out a gap year, sailing along effortlessly, or fighting addiction. However, it has been said, “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” …