Doubts

The Tapas Life I’m living is really quite excellent.  It has all the aspects I have come to view as necessary in my desired Tapas Life (in no particular order):  meaning, fun, health (exercise/diet), beauty, learning, family, community, comfort, flexibility, variety, and reasonable finances.  This tasty melange has been assembled with the thought in mind that each aspect of it has “legs,” i.e., it can continue on for 20-30 years.

But I admit I have my doubts from time to time.  I really love the piano, but have found out that I have a progressive malady called Dupuytren’s Contracture that is gradually trying to cause the tendons/muscles of my 2-3 central fingers to shrink up.  I’m fighting this with aggressive stretching.  Will I win, or will it?  Time will tell — but this could put piano in jeopardy for me.  I’m told a surgical procedure exists if my hands get bad enough.  Will this restore them?  Who knows?

I expect to arrive at the point of 10,000 hours of intensive practice at the piano around 3-4 years from now.  This is the point at which one is supposedly going to be pretty decent.  From my standpoint, I already am — at least compared to what I imagined possible.  And I’ll surely be better a few years from now.  Practice, practice, practice.  It will be tragic if the piano slips from my reach.

I talk through this as an example of the doubts I have about the longevity of my Tapas.  Will my hand health last 20-30 years?  We’ll see.

Will the economy and investments tank for a prolonged period, curbing our financial well-being?  Nobody can say.

Will my knees hold out so I can keep biking to get the cardio I need as part of my Younger Next Year exercise program?  Will something else give out, health-wise, that will limit our travels (this could be an issue of mine or an issue of my wife’s)?  How long will golf be doable?  One can’t know.

I really like my Life Coaching work.  Where will I find clients going forward?  For the past couple of years, they’ve just materialized, delivered to me by the universe, so to speak.  And this in a way that has me with a steady stream of 2-4 clients (my max is 5, so it doesn’t become a whole career).  I like this, but have no idea if it will continue.  Or if it will get harder as I get older.  Simply don’t know.

Will my plentiful supply of Exotic Fish (see eponymous post) keep swimming my way, or will my aquarium thin out and become sparse, leaving me with less of these nourishing relationships?

What will happen to the balance of my Tapas Life as and when one or both of our kids get married (if that comes to pass)?  And if there are grandchildren?  What if my wife or I don’t get along with their spouse?  Where will kids be living?  How will these events affect the years to come, and the flow of my Tapas Life?

Eventually, even my high-powered wife may choose to slow down.  How will that affect our lives, and what will be the interplay with my Tapas Life?

Plenty to wonder about.  I know I often come off as pretty cheerful and sans souci.  I just wanted you to know that I have my doubts about whether this carefully assembled Tapas Life of mine has legs.  And I have the doubts a few times a month, more than just occasionally.  And you may, too.  It seems only natural.

I generally confront those doubts by telling myself that whatever comes along, my Tapas Life will be malleable enough to morph with the vicissitudes the stream of time brings my way.  And that settles me down to enjoy life as I currently know it, rather than worrying about the unknowables.

In a significant way, the Tapas Life is the most flexible one:  if a Tapa conks out, others are still there to sustain you.  And a fresh Tapa can be created to fill the space.  Tapas that lose their mojo can be sent to pasture.  New Tapas that catch your interest are yours for the taking.

So if you or I have our doubts, I guess that’s no surprise.  And it’s comforting to know that the Tapas Life is resilient enough to take an occasional contratemp in stride.

Onward!

 

Tapas Life Pioneers

I hadn’t run into any people living the Tapas Life in the regular course of my life.  Yet I found it hard to believe that I am the first to choose to live life in this fashion — lots of bite-sized activities and engagements.

In the course of working on our book, Tapas Life, my co-author suggested that it would be good to include the experiences of other 50- or 60-somethings.  So I took on finding 24 people to interview about their views on what they imagined life would be like after their long career (if they were still in that career);  or what life had been like after they long career (if it had already been brought to a close).

This was not hard.  My list of interview candidates quickly grew to over 70 people.

I started in on the interviews and was gratified to learn that there are indeed some folks out there living the Tapas Life.  In fact some 70-somethings have been living the Tapas Life for 15+ years!  These pioneers have created a new form of post-career life out of whole cloth with no role models.  They are courageous to look at friends and family and essentially say, “No, we aren’t going to live this stage of our lives like everyone else has forever — we’re going to do something completely new and different.”

Not surprisingly, these pioneers love their lives, just like I love my Tapas Life.  To a person (or a couple), they say that they are incredibly lucky and living the best possible life.  Some are quite well off, and others have more modest means (after all, as Martin Seligman points out in Authentic Happiness, there’s little correlation between happiness and wealth past a moderate point).  All are living beyond their expectations.

In our book, my co-author and I will share some of this group’s experience.  It is truly inspirational to hear their stories.

Not everybody’s living a Tapas Life, of course.  Some are “retired” in the traditional sense of the word, playing golf or tennis and traveling, volunteering, enjoying hobbies.  Some are in a second or third very active career.  Whenever you connect with two dozen people/couples, diversity abounds.

A common thread for any who have grandchildren is the delight those little ones provide.  No surprises there!

Now a request:  everyone on my list so far has been in the Western half of the U.S.   If you know a 50- or 60-something in the Eastern half of the U.S. who is still working and willing to talk with me about their thoughts on the years ahead after their long career;  or somebody who has already concluded their long career who is willing to talk with me about their experiences (regardless of the type of life they are leading), please let me know at werdna39@aol.com. Thanks!  Please note that I’m specifically not looking for any sort of story or situation — just people willing to give me 45-60 minutes of their time for an interview.  They can love their lives, hate their lives, be lukewarm, and be doing anything at all.  Again, thanks.

The main message that keeps smacking me in the middle of the forehead is that you can absolutely design the life you want!  All it takes is envisioning it, laying out some first steps (such as just doing things you like, as I’ve talked about in earlier posts), and then getting started down the path.  Talk with others about what you are seeking, and doors will open that facilitate your journey.  Amazing.  And wonderful.

 

 

Thinking About Finances

While I’m living my Tapas Life and loving it, it doesn’t necessarily result in much income.  Sure, my Life Coaching Tapa may bring in something like $6K/year.  My little startup could turn into real money.  Or not.  My board work could turn into some income after a couple years.  Or not.  Sometimes the time I invest in investing pays off.  Sometimes the results are more akin to a kennel…  Eventually, I’ll have some Social Security income (even though the media would have us all believe none of us will ever get our SocSec payments, I’m guessing guys my age (60) won’t be significantly impacted by the trimming that will eventually be needed), but when I push the numbers on that, it looks like waiting ’til I’m 67 makes excellent sense.  Unless I figure I’m going to live ’til I’m 86 or older, in which case waiting until I’m 70 makes more sense.  But that’s all 7-10 years from now.

I didn’t assemble my Tapas Life with making money in mind.  I saved well while I was the worker-bee and my very talented and hard-working wife earns well now that I’m not.  So I have the luxury of not having to include an income goal in my particular Tapas Life.  Hey, at least I cut back my wine purchase dollars by about 90% from prior years, since I figure we’ve got enough in the cellar to last us until we’re dead and gone.

When I think about my wife someday leaving the workforce, I get very focused on our investments and, in particular, our self-directed IRA investments.  The simple fact will one day be that if those investments do decently, we will be living very nicely.  And if they don’t,  we’ll either have to dig into savings or cut back our lifestyle or both.  It’s a little scary to think about that, especially with us both out of the workforce.  To be sure, we could probably earn a few dibs here and there (especially my wife), but we might both be living the Tapas Life by then, and that would at a minimum be disruptive.  First world problem, I suppose.

At our age, the usual advice is to start moving some of our savings into less risky investments.  These days, that means “investments with no income,” unless you count a fraction of a percent up to a few percent as appreciable income when compared to the inflation rate.  How does one make that work?  Not sure.  In today’s world it’s a quandary.  On the other hand, I think that that advice for people 60-ish was based on the notion of life ending at 78, rather than 88, so perhaps sticking with somewhat higher risk/reward investments for another decade isn’t such a bad idea.  At least I hope it’s not!

These are my musings on finance at present.  Perhaps the useful takeaway for readers of this blog is simply that financial planning for one’s post-long-career life is a complex matter, continues changing as the world changes, and because of its impact on your later years merits your attention greatly.

What Do You Value?

In the last couple of posts, I talked about having found my way to a Meaningful Tapa (in my case, Life Coaching).  And early on in this blog, I wrote about forming my Tapas Life simply by doing things I enjoyed, gradually building up a full portfolio of fine activities.

This brings to mind a question:  How does one know a particular activity will be to their liking?

When I think about sizing things up for a good fit, I like to have some criteria.  When you seek to buy a shirt, for example, you know you want size Medium, you know you want color Red, you know you want material Cotton, you know you want style Polo Shirt.  And so on.  It’s the same with sizing up a potential Tapa.  But your Values, some of the core elements that comprise your Character, are important in addition to things like calendar considerations, pay (if it is a remunerated activity), and other such concrete matters.

My wife introduced me (and our kids) to the VIA Signature Strength survey.  You can Google it and find your way to it on a website of the University of Pennsylvania (you’ll have to register — not sure why — but they’ve never communicated with me since registering 4 years ago).  It does take on the order of 45 minutes to take the survey, as it is a bunch of multiple-choice questions.  And it’s well worth your time since the survey yields a concise list of your top 24 Character Strengths.  Here are the first few from the survey I took 2 years ago (this was the second time that I took the survey, and the results were totally consistent — I guess it’s a well-designed tool).

(PLEASE NOTE:  if you are reading this post on the www.TapasLife.com website, you can click on the image shown below to expand it, which will make viewing a lot easier!)

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(PLEASE NOTE:  if you are subscribed to my blog and receive the posts by email, if an excerpt from my VIA Signature Strength survey doesn’t appear in your email, please come to the blog at www.TapasLife.com to check out the survey excerpt.  Thanks.)

Anybody and everybody who knows me even a little bit will look at these 4 aspects of my Character and say, “Yup — that’s Andy!”  These are facets of life that I value greatly.  And they are very helpful in deciding if a Tapa I am contemplating as an addition to my Tapas Life will be satisfying.

Consider one of the first Tapas I added to my Tapas Life, before I even knew that I was assembling a Tapas Life and before the name “Tapas Life” had ever crossed my mind:  taking piano lessons.  Here’s something I’d never done before for more than a few weeks a couple times in my life, even though I had dabbled at piano since I was a teenager.  Most things I’ve heard about piano lessons revolve around the notion that it’s a lot of work.  How was I to know if it would be worth the effort for me?  At the time, I had never heard of the VIA Signature Strength survey, but if I had, I would’ve noticed that piano lessons would resonate well with my top three Strengths.  Gratitude:  I’m grateful for having grown up around piano music;  I’m grateful to own the piano that my grandparents gave to my mom and that then passed to me;  I’m grateful to have found a wonderfully supportive piano teacher — the one both our kids worked with when they were little;  I’m grateful for the opportunity to create music in our home;  and so on.  Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence:  I love piano music and really appreciate a world class performer’s special talents — and they are inspiring models for me;  I love the beauty of the works of the great composers (especially Bach for the complexity and precision, Chopin for the emotion and depth, and many others);  I love it when I’m finally able to play something after a lot of work (there are wistful Chopin pieces on which I get all choked up each and every time I play them;  there are multiple composers’ exciting/powerful pieces which leave me laughing out loud from sheer delight every time I pound out their thundering finale).  Curiosity and Interest in the World:  I love how the more I work with a piece, the more I understand how it’s put together and it’s nuances, the more I can see what the composer was up to (yes, I can go to YouTube and have it made obvious for me, but I prefer exploring on my own since I grasp the material better);  I love learning about the composers, their lives and times and interrelatedness;  I love learning new pieces (my teacher assigns me music I’ve never heard from composers I’ve never heard of — and most of it is a gift!).

I could go on.  As you can see, had I had the VIA Signature Strength survey in hand, I could be pretty sure that piano lessons would be for me (more so after also considering my 8th Strength:  Industry, Diligence, and Perseverance…).

Call them Strengths.  Call them Values or things you value.  Call them elements of your Character.  Call them what you wish to — and they are useful measuring sticks to size up a potential new Tapa to be added to your Tapas Life.

Of course, nothing precludes skipping decision-making altogether and jumping right in for a bit of good old Trial and Error.  Try a lot of things and keep the ones that work!

 

Life Coaching

Going into Life Coaching, I was concerned about two needed skills:  Dancing in the Moment (I’ll explain) and Acting on Intuition.  And they were somewhat intertwined.  Here’s why.

When I was in my 30s, I decided that I was a pretty logical guy, primarily a logical guy, and that I would therefore ignore any intuition I might experience or any hunch I might have in favor of figuring the situation out logically.  And so, for around 28 years, I very deliberately stomped on any intuitive feelings.  Part of that turns out to be stomping on a fair number of emotional reactions.  I don’t mean emotional like screaming at someone, but rather the sensing of what emotions one is feeling at any given moment.

A benefit of this is that I’ve had a more even keel than most for decades now.  A cost of this is that I’ve been less fully alive than I might’ve been.

But one must experience one’s emotions and sense one’s intuitions in order to be able to act on them, and that’s needed in Life Coaching.

Related to this way of being since my 30s, when somebody said something to me, I didn’t “just respond.”  I heard what they said, mulled it over logically, constructed possible responses in my head, picked one, and responded.  This was, to me, a part of being logical in life.  And, this is anathema to Dancing in the Moment.  This coaching technique requires that when you hear the client say something, you come right back with an observation or recapitulation or open-ended question based on your emotion-based intuitive reaction — instantly.  There’s no “thinking about it.”  It’s an immediate response without contemplation.

So, I was worried about being able to Act on my (carefully squashed) Intuition and about being able to Dance in the Moment.

I hired a Life Coach of my own and found that with some attention to these attributes and some practice, I did, indeed, have these capabilities buried inside me.  And they started to come back to life with practice.  Concerns allayed, I progressed with the training program at the Coaches’ Training Institute (CTI) in San Rafael, the outfit founded by the authors of the “Co-Active Coaching” book.

The learning is extremely experiential.  So one is always either practicing elements of coaching, being coached, or observing and commenting on a coaching activity;  or debriefing with others on the gleanings of the just-completed exercise.  This is an excellent learning modality for me personally, and it is hard for me to imagine learning Life Coaching any other way.  I loved it!

I’m an introvert, and so being around other people a lot uses up my energy and results in me wanting to be alone to recharge (likely playing piano, on my bike, in nature, with a book or magazine).  The CTI classes were all-day 3-day weekends.  And yet, by Sunday afternoon, I found myself positively energized, instead of needing to slink off to recharge!  This was a different kind of human interaction, and one that I thrived on.

Early in the course, we had homework to do a practice coaching session.  And soon we were encouraged to secure a coaching client — even if it was for 20 bucks — or free.  As I did this, I found that I was able to help another person make a significant improvement to their life.  Wow!  This was meaningful!

Since completing the course (five of those packed 3-day weekends), I’ve had 2-4 coaching clients at any given moment.  I cap my Life Coaching activity at five clients, since it is a Tapa, and not a new career.  The fact is that at any point in time, several of my Tapas threaten to expand to take over a lot of my time, and I work to keep each one in check.  It’s easy with Life Coaching — five clients max.  I could go on and make the further investment of getting certified as a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, but haven’t been motivated to do so to date.  I’m not a perfectionist and I do find my Life Coaching activity to be providing a lot of valuable service to others.  Perhaps I’ll go back to get certified someday, but not now.  Meanwhile, I do coaching work with a client for an hour or a bit more twice a month.  So you can see that the time commitment fits comfortably into my Tapas Life.

I don’t really know what counsel I can give you about finding your own Meaningful Tapa.  As you’ve seen, I wandered into mine.  The best advice I can give is to be aware that you are searching for one.  Or perhaps you are lucky enough to already know what yours is.

I will in coming posts at least provide some food for thought on the topics of Happiness and Meaning.

 

 

Something Missing

If you’ve been reading most or all of these posts, you can see that over the period of a few years I’ve built myself an interesting and varied life.  It’s very different from the years when I was working at my long career.  Those where made up of either work and leisure time (pre-kids) or work and family (post-kids).  These Tapas Life years are so much more diverse in their array of activities and their engagement with many more of the opportunities that surround us.

And yet, I found my then newly-named Tapas Life to be missing something.  I didn’t know what, though.  It just felt somehow empty, despite it’s rainbow of enjoyable elements.

The world was fortunately awash with print articles talking about Meaningful Work at that time.  In reading some of those articles, the light bulb started to glow ever so dimly.  My wife actually wrote her doctoral dissertation on a related topic, so I was able to easily explore further at the dinner table.  After enough soak time rattling around in my brain-case, the fully-formed notion that I needed a Meaningful Tapa emerged.

Of course, I had no clue what that might be.  I did come to realize that without a Meaningful Tapa, my Tapas Life was incomplete.  Part of the problem was that I had very carefully and with lots of consideration and planning programmed myself to pursue a set of Life Goals back in the mid-1980s, and achieved the last of those in 2000, aged 48.  What made that a “problem” is that there was really nothing else I wanted out of my time on the planet other than the delight of grandchildren, a matter waaaaaay out of my control!  So I had lots of “what’s the point” chatter in my inner dialogue, and this went on rather steadily.  I’m a reasonably upbeat guy, or this might have led to a poor outcome…

The environmentalist part of me also regarded my Tapas Life (thus far, still incomplete) as purely hedonistic, a mere vehicle for consumption of the Earth’s resources.  A leech of sorts, if you will.  Certainly not very flattering and quite dissonant with my values.

As is often the case for an introvert like me, I just kept having silent discussions with myself and chewing on the topic, at length.  This was a frustrating process for me, as I usually have a clue of where I’m heading (I sure as hell had a clue of where I was heading when I way busy going after those life goals!).  This time I did not.

To be sure, my time on the Board and Exec Committee of our synagogue was in some degree meaningful.  My service to our family is definitely meaningful, and yet it is so ingrained as to feel simply that it is a basic part of me, not as though it is something I am doing.  And so some other chunk was missing from my life, something that would become my Meaningful Tapa.

More on that in the next post.

Re-Entry

With folks waiting a little later in life to get married these days, there’s a good possibility that one parent, usually a Mom, will suspend or give up her career to be at home raising kids for 20+ years.  When she emerges on the other side of that invaluable calling, she is likely to be 47-57 years old.  And like the person who’s completed their long career, she has the opportunity to enjoy another 25-30+ energetic, productive, fulfilling years.

She has available to her whatever she knew before having kids as well as the extensive learning that comes from being a primary caregiver to sponge-like minds that are ever-changing.  And the seasoning that those intervening decades of life bring.

If she’s like my wife, she may have discovered an entirely new passion.  My wife was a big-time sales manager in the high-tech world before stepping into the even bigger-time world of raising our two kids.  Along the way, through volunteering at our local grade school, she discovered the world of Organization Development.  She had a lot of the needed skills (the so-called “soft skills,” which are actually the HARD skills!) innately and from her years as a manager.  And she went back to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. in the field, which prepared her for a whole new life — one she looooves!

Or she could be like a friend of ours who discovered career consulting/coaching and went back to school to receive a degree in that.  She now has her own business and is thriving, helping others, doing good in the world while feeding her soul.

Or a re-entering Mom maybe can’t wait to get back to the career she stepped out of, and is able to renew contacts (which may have been kept alive over the years) and jump back in.  After all, people of this stripe have a lot of energy and are raring to go and can make a really good addition to a team/organization.

On the other hand, another form of re-entry may well be a Tapas Life.  The empty-nester has the freedom to recreate her life from a blank page.

Maybe it’s a bit of work, whether for pay or as a volunteer.  How much is enough?  Half time?  One or two days a week?  A few hours here, a few hours there?  Hard to know without giving it a try.  Just go for it and see what feels right.

And maybe it’s some play!  A sport, a hobby, travel, the arts, doing fun stuff with the spouse.

Maybe some learning — always wanted to be able to speak Spanish, play piano, etc.

Maybe more socializing, having friends over more often, weekend getaways with close friends, meeting pals for coffee or tennis or a hike or a concert or a movie.

As with any Tapas Life being assembled, it is a process, it is a somewhat random walk, it is some trial and error.  Do something you want to and keep it if it’s tasty.  And then add something else.  By and by, perhaps after months or years (4-5 years, in my case, although I didn’t realize that what I was doing was building a Tapas Life, because nobody had yet illuminated the concept!), the Tapas Life is built.  Tapas can still be added and deleted at any time — lots of flexibility.  So one can continue tuning, overhauling, augmenting, attenuating — whatever’s needed at the moment.

After the incomparably wonderful role of raising kids, the Tapas Life can be a terrific and rewarding way to spring from the empty nest, and one hopefully envisioned and adopted by more as time goes by.

Another Few Tapas Life Days

It feels like I’ve been context-switching pretty constantly for a bit.  That’s one of the things that makes the Tapas Life so wonderful — it never gets boring and things abound that are fresh.

  • Travel:  got back from 5 days in Puerto Vallarta visiting some friends in their gorgeous home there.  This was a two-fer, as they are Exotic Fish.  And they introduced us to some really nice friends who visited, too.
  • Business:  hour-long phone call with one of the investors in the start-up which I serve as CEO part time.  Also paid the corporate franchise tax in both California and Delaware.
  • Family Service:  took my wife to her office.  Later in the day paid for the car maintenance that had been done while we were away.  Later on, took my wife to the gym and brought my bike along (see next Tapa).  That night took my wife to collect her car at the shop.
  • Exercise:  rode my bike from the gym to the grocery, hitting 83% of my max heart rate (near the top of the aerobic zone) for about 20 minutes.  Shopped for dinner fixings (Family Service and also Culinary Tapas) and then biked home another 20 minutes at a similar pace.  This is part of the new regimen I talked about in the “Keep Learning” post, from the Younger Next Year book.
  • Music:  piano lesson (and, of course, practice every day, usually for a couple of hours — I love it!).
  • Travel:  booked the last air-travel segment of our next planned big trip.  Now need to work on apartments, hotels, trains, and ferries;  and schedule museum times for the places that require that.
  • Business:  weekly meeting with start-up team.
  • Travel:  sent my passport in to have 48 pages added.  Went through the regular 28-page book in just over three years.
  • Finance:  paid credit card bills.
  • Community:  hour-long call with my co-leader to plan next Monday’s call with the group of around 20 people from last year’s Leadership course.
  • Family:  hour-long call with my brother.
  • Meaningful:  hour-long call to be there for a friend.
  • House-dad:  found the right furniture for the project of turning kids’ bedrooms into a guest bedroom and an office (with second guest bedroom adaptability).
  • Wine:  have been enjoying a delicious bottle that’s been in our cellar for 16 years — well worth the wait!  Investing in the future can be a very good thing.
  • Meaningful:  scheduled a meeting to help a friend.
  • Community:  scheduled a bike ride with friends for Sunday (Exercise Tapa, too).
  • Business:  met with attorney to work through a stock voting matter.
  • Music:  had a terrific young chamber music group (see “Jon Nakamatsu” post) over to our house to practice for a couple hours with their mentor.  What a pleasure to experience their talent right in our living room!
  • Meaningful:  a couple of Life Coaching sessions (more on this in a future post) scheduled for tomorrow.

Now if I could just stop procrastinating on sorting a stack of stuff that needs filing, I’d be in really good shape!  But, seriously, my so-called “retirement” is plenty busy, full of activities I enjoy, includes Tapas that continue building towards the future, and keep me interested (and perhaps even interesting).  And there’s still white space and room for emergent goodies (the Puerto Vallarta trip came together on not much notice);  our son asked this afternoon at 4:45 if he could join us for dinner, and that was an easy ask to accommodate and a delightful surprise.

Build your own Tapas Life when you’re done with your long career — you’ll thrive!

 

Gigahertz

You know how they’re always advertising that some computer or phone has a whizzy new processor that runs at 1.5 or 2.3 or 3.7 Gigahertz (GHz)?  Faster, better, wow.

When I completed my long career, I did just the opposite.  It felt to me when I left the executive ranks and became a house-dad overnight as though I’d gone from 5 GHz to around 10 Megahertz (MHz) — waaaaay slower (500 times slower).  During my long career, time was carefully parceled out in 15-minute increments.  Days were packed from dawn to bedtime.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but this overflowed into all aspects of my life.  When I drove down the freeway, I often did so at 80-90 mph, weaving in and out of lanes around the traffic, watching for cops.  When we went on vacation, it took me 4-7 days to slow down and enjoy myself, and then it would be right back into the 5 GHz life.  I was impatient pretty much all the time, except with our kids and, most of the time, my wife.  When I’d sit in meetings, I was always edgy, trying to get to the heart of matters quickly, poking people with pointed questions to cut through their story and get to the point.  I wolfed my meals.  Waiting in lines was intolerable.

When I became house-dad, everything changed all at once to feel as though it was happening in slo-mo.  This was a lot easier to adjust to than I had imagined it would be.  People asked me if I missed work and the answer was, “No, not really.”  Fortunately, I’d not come to have my identity wrapped up in my long career.  There was probably a time 10-15 years earlier when it was, but that time had passed as I became more bored with my long career and gradually separated my identity from it.

After a year at home, I convinced my wife that we no longer needed our trusty minivan and traded it in for a Prius.  For the first time, I started to notice my fuel economy, and it became sort of a game (Prius owners may identify here!).  I decided that I’d just set the cruise control at 60 mph when I was on the freeway.  No more speeding, weaving, head-bobbing looking for the fuzz.  Second lane from the right, steady as she goes.  Pretty different!  And I remained happy and comfortable with that for almost a decade.

As I assembled my TapasLife, I almost imperceptibly inched up from 10 MHz to 20 and 50 and 100 MHz.  Over the past year, now the third year since crowning my Tapas Life with my Meaningful Tapa (more in a future post), my life has been accelerating more markedly — 200 MHz, 500.  My Tapas starting clicking along, growing, gaining their own cadence.  And a completely different form of Gigahertz life started to appear on the horizon.

In the past couple of months, I’ve started driving 65-75 mph on the freeway.  I don’t think I’ll allow weaving and looking for police cars to come back.  But I do seem to be somewhat more mindful of my available time.  My schedule in any given week is a lot fuller than it was for some few years.  And it’s full of my Tapas Life.  Everything I’m doing is really enjoyable.  My  left and right brains are fed.  Social connection is nourished.  Personal growth if fostered.

For a while, as things have gotten busier, I’ve had a mindset of “I’ll be caught up soon and then can relax.”  I’m now coming to the realization that the TapasLife I’ve built will have long time periods during which it is loaded up with activities and interactions.  So I’ve started to readjust my mindset to one that appreciates the packed time as I experience it, with no expectation that it will slow down.  And I notice that sometimes a day or two appear with nothing going on, and I soak up that slow time before my new GHz life phase kicks back in.

When I’m reveling in the richness of my GHz TapasLife, it’s hard for me to fathom folks who end their long careers and do almost nothing.  There’s so much more rewarding life to be lived!  With luck, I’ll be able to cruise along at this accelerated pace for another 20-30 years.  Some existing Tapas will likely drop off and other new ones will likely show up.  I’m sure I don’t want to crank back up to 5 GHz (!), but 1-2 GHz feels increasingly tasty.

Make the best of your own post-long-career life!  Allow yourself to drop down from GHz to MHz for a while, regrouping, catching your breath, getting your energy back.  And then assemble your TapasLife Tapa by Tapa, exploring, navigating by trial and error and/or purposefully.  And then you, too, may find yourself gaining speed back into a more wonderful Gigahertz life than you could’ve imagined!