My calendar has a reminder for my own life event; three years ago in 2011 was my last day of employment at NMC, the day after I set out into the Great Wide Open. Like most people, I have the decisions I deeply regret.
That one is not on the list.
This is not a dig at the place I spent 5 fantastic years; they still are doing good stuff without me. No one is that important in an organization. But I have not been into three years of freedom, of what might be called a mid-life sabbatical. At a conference in 2008, Stefan Sagmeister planted a seed; its the message in his Power of Time off TED talk.
Year Zero. This was my odyssey, 6 months, 15,000 miles traveling around the US and Canada, visiting the people I had first gotten to know via the web. That really was the dream plan, and while it had many losses and finds not anticipated, that’s what the trip is all about. I still ponder about the bits I captured in the Storybox, some of which I retold via Cowbird. I may never do much more, but that experience was all mine.
Year One. In 2012, I was actually going back on the salary life at UMW where I had no firm plan, but for my own reasons decided to jump back off 6 months later. No regrets there either. I got to live and hang with DTLT, work with those great faculty at UMW, and teach my first ds106 classes. I did some more traveling in the Northeast to visit people I did not see on the Odyssey, but I ran out of steam before I could trek out to the Canadian Maritimes, and returned home to rest in November.
Year Two. This time last year, I marked the date while in Singapore, part of a trip that included conferences and workshops in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and also teaching an online ds106 class for UMW. I had a burst of travel in the Spring, and then enjoyed June to September at home in Strawberry doing important work… in my garden. And then another swing of conferences and such from Alaska to Virginia to Puerto Rico to the UK.
Year Three. It begins now. I’ve pretty much been based at home since November, but hardly sitting around. I’ve had a few web site gigs, and am working on a few projects with other colleagues, and am about to start up another travel spree with a keynote and talk at Skidmore College next week, starting next week an online ds106 course for GMU, another in April in Breckinridge, CO, attending the OER14 conference in the UK and doing a week of work at the Open University in May, a talk at a conference mid May in Manitoba, and possible swings to New York City, Virginia, and a long shot at Sydney in June. After one more keynote in Tucson in July, I hope to slow down, maybe do another road trip.
I still question if I can do this for the long haul. Getting closer to or slipping through the safety net is ongoing background static, and managing self paid health care is a not so fun game.
It’s not really time off as much as time that is mine. It’s afforded by the facts that I do not support anyone else, my little house does not cost much to maintain, and I have no driving needs for expensive toys, fancy cars, jet planes. I have also benefitted by the financial cushion given sadly my the loss of my godmother and my own mother.
But still going after three years feels pretty good to me.