Wednesday, September 7, 2011

So I am retiring: now what? Part III

Author's Note:  As mentioned in the pasts, my blog is about what I am doing in retirement.  It tells the story of planning for retirement, implement it, and reviewing current activities.  It includes the on going series about retirement, short stories, travel, photography articles.  This is the third in the series of retirement articles.  This article is the "pat on the back."  It is about my accomplishments this past year with one minor exception.  I hope you enjoy.

So I am retiring: now what?  Part III

It’s been just a little over one year since I retired.  Wow, I have done a lot!  All that planning for retirement paid off.  I traveled a lot and learned more about photography and writing.  I even launched my photography website and a blog just about one year from my retirement date.

Some things didn’t evolve the way I thought they would.  Yet, I marvel at the amount of fun I have had.  My “to do” list was and continues to be lengthy.  At times, I have more on the list then I have time to do.  Indeed, I have had a difficult time finding the right balance.  The photography has overtaken almost everything else.  Although, I have done a fair share of writing, it nonetheless lags behind my photography. 

Exercise and trips to the gym fell behind, too.  On a recent visit to my doctor, he chided me for not getting enough exercise.  He said my blood test numbers, while within normal range, were not where he wanted to see them for cholesterol, glucose, and triglycerides since the numbers had regressed in the past year.  I was eating some of the wrong stuff and not getting enough exercise. 

I knew I was spending too much time at the computer learning and doing digital darkroom work.  I was enjoying the good life of retirement, photography, writing, and travel but not with enough exercise!  I knew this but wasn’t doing enough about it.  It was so easy to blow off going to the gym or getting on the treadmill when I was in the middle of my photography work.  Therefore, the doctor decided he would attempt to force me to pay more attention to the exercise and diet by having me get another blood test and come back to see him in three months (November to be exact).  Frankly, I have no excuse and agree with him.  The problem is getting out of the chair and going to exercise.  I get engrossed in all things photography.  When I do get out of the chair, I am off taking pictures.  One positive note about that is that I get some exercise hiking around forest preserves or the streets of Chicago taking pictures.  However, for the most part that exercise is not causing me to “break much of a sweat.”


In spite of the lack of exercise, I am proud of most of what I accomplished during the first year.  Let me summarize by listing the key successes during the past year:

1.      In June of last year, I spent ten days at one of the finest resorts (Le Blanc Spa Resort) in the world, located in Cancun, Mexico with my wife.

2.      In July, we stayed with a host family in Cuernavaca, Mexico and studied Spanish and Mexican culture for week at Universidad International.  We also went on great excursions to Mexico City, Tepotzlan, Taxco, and Teotihuacan.

3.      In August, I began four, six-week courses on Photoshop Elements and basic photography.

4.      In September, I began a series of fourteen, four and eight week online photography courses focused on developing my skills further regarding exposure, composition, shutter, aperture, and various digital post processing software that have lead to a basic certificate in photography.

5.      Concurrently, I have been working on a course that will eventually lead to a professional photography diploma issued by the New York Institute of Photography.

6.      I took six on line writing courses to help improve my grammar, writing style and technique as well as help me determine the type of writing that might interest me.  I have decided to focus on travel writing, my retirement series, and some short stories.

7.      In early December, the president of a local college asked me to photograph for a day a visiting Japanese delegation.  This was quite an experience, since I usually don’t do this type of photography.  It was quite educational.

8.      In April, an art consultant contacted me, who saw my images on one of the websites where I occasionally post my work.  She was interested in buying one of my Chicago Board of Trade photographs for a client who has offices in that building.  We finalized the sale of my image in May.  The joke now is I have lost my amateur status, but I think I have to sell a lot more images for that to happen.

9.      In April, I went to Le Claire, Iowa, on the Mississippi River, to photograph Pelicans.  Using a 70-300mm Nikkor Lens with a 1.4x Teleconverters, I managed to capture some great images of these magnificent birds.

10.  I launched my photography website in May of this year followed in June with my blog.  In one year, I went from working at the hospital to now managing a photography website and blog in order to display and share my photographic and writing work regarding the adventures of the past year and the future.

11.  In June of this year, I traveled with my wife and friends to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and enjoyed the pleasures of the Hard Rock Hotel Casino Spa Resort.

12.  I joined the Photographic Society of America (PSA) and local camera clubs while continuing to be involved with my writer’s group.  I am participating some of PSA’s mentoring and training programs.

13.  I started to learn photographic techniques like HDR, Photoshop CS5, and Lightroom 3 and will soon move on into special techniques like focus stacking and panoramic photography.

14.   I spent more time learning macro photography and started learning how to use flash, studio lights, and portrait techniques.

*    *    *

My plans for my second year of retirement include many adventures in learning and photography as well as continued work on my website and blog.  I plan to upgrade my website to sale my photography online.  I, also, plan to take a few more courses in digital post-processing and some technical elements of photography during the summer and fall, as well as focus on learning portrait photography, macro, close-up, and flash photography. 

In October, I am going on a photographic tour, joining other members of, for their 11th Annual Photographic Adventure Trip to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.  At the local camera clubs, I will be submitting images in monthly competitions as well as participate in a study group with Photographic Society of America.  These are great ways to get feedback on the quality of my photographic work.  In November, I will be attending a workshop on Photography at Elgin Community College.  I am already making plans for next year to participate in other photography adventures.

In December, Joann and I are going to Mexico to spend Christmas week enjoying a resort south of Cancun along the Riviera Maya.  Friends will be joining us for this trip.  Additionally, we are planning trips for Norway and other areas of Europe as we move into 2012.  As usually, we will probably go somewhere in the Caribbean or back to Mexico again to get away from the cold.

Next calendar year, will offer some interesting developments for us as Joann takes on new responsibilities with General Electric.  This could lead to relocation and many other adventures, yet to be determined.  Joann and I are working toward the day when we can travel even more.  We have even discussed perhaps staying for a few months in various places in the world once she retires.  However, that is still a little ways in the future.

I am proud of Joann.  For the past two years, she has studied through Ashford University distant learning program, twelve courses to earn her Masters in Education degree.  She has a strong desire to learn and succeed.  She is full of keen ideas.  Her goal, once she retires from General Electric is to teach or serve in some educational leadership capacity at the community or four-year college level.

She and I have many interesting discussions about education in America.  As she works on her course questions, assignments, and papers, we have many lively conversations.  Those talks help me stay engaged with what she is doing as well as many of the critical issues in the world of education and business.  Currently, she is working on her final Capstone (Thesis) paper.  I know she will graduate with honors when she walks up to get her diploma in October of this year.

For me, retirement is a joy.  It is full of challenges and many exciting accomplishments.  I frequently look back and think about being so glad that I had that conversation in the sauna a few years ago.  If that hadn’t occurred, I might still be trying to figure out what I want to do during retirement.

By John D. Roach, September 7, 2011