What are you going to do next school year? This is a question I have been asked over a hundred times over the course of the past several months. As I wind up the 2018-2019 school year, my official answer is... nothing... and hopefully a lot of it. I have always been fascinated and confused by the idea that we are all working for a retirement that might last 30 years or sadly, none at all. Life would be so much simpler if we knew our expiration date. It would also be a pretty morbid. But it would allow us to make important decisions in a timely manner. A couple of years ago, I knew I wanted to do something different. Every job I've had has been great. Both school districts where I've worked have been interesting and challenging. But after 24 years in education maybe there was something else I was meant to do. Or maybe I am meant to do the exact same thing. Like most people, I really have no idea. The only thing I knew for sure was that I have 9 years until I could take full retirement. Or maybe I would just keep working. The more I thought about it the more I confused myself. Then I began to think about the idea that if I am transitioning to another position or another school or another town and I only have to work 9 more years, why not take a year of retirement in my 50's instead of waiting to take my retirement all at once. I'm young enough to still be active but old enough to understand time and good health may not last forever. I hope my health continues to be good, but I'm a realist. Today, I can hike up a mountain or play 18 holes of golf. In 9 years, I hope to be able to do those things. In 20 years, I will be 72. 72 is the new 62, but 62 isn't 52. I'm on the clock and it's not ticking backwards. Through Shannon's good work and frugalness, we can make it a year without working full-time. Ashton is off to the University of Alabama and her next step in life. For the first time in many years, we aren't tied to the next school calendar, next softball game, next meeting, or any one of Ashton's thousand activities. For the first time in 24 years, our time is about to be our time. A strange feeling, but an interesting thought. As an added bonus, but a challenge for public schools, open positions in education are growing by the day. If you are available and you are willing to move, jobs are widely available. And for the first time since Ashton started kindergarten we can go to any school in any town for any length of time. It's a nervous feeling and an exciting thought. It's almost a perfect storm. A really good perfect storm. So why not? Why not pre-retire? What's the worst that could happen? I get really bored? I drive Shannon crazy? Both are likely, but it sounds like a risk I am willing to take. And after much consideration she has agreed. I think. It's an opportunity I can't pass up. Sure, I looked for jobs but I didn't come across anything that I had to have. This led me to thinking about "The List" (see above). If I am going to take a year off, I don't want to waste the opportunity. I don't want to sleep until 10:00 am and then get up and watch the world pass by. I want to do stuff. Hence, "The List". A comprehensive and probably ever-changing list of stuff to do and places to go. Nothing too fancy or complicated, just things and experiences I've thought about doing over the last 30 years. Now I can do them. Without stressing about my job. Or worrying about the next meeting, the next budget, or filling the next open teaching position. Or going on vacation but reading 50 emails and sending 15 texts when I should be concentrating on finding my golf ball. Note to self: My ball is usually in the water, woods, or out of bounds. I realize there are certain items on "The List" that are silly, but it's my list. Shannon and I have 500 days (roughly... it made for a good blog title) to do over a 100 things ("The List" is growing) that we never seem to get accomplished when work is always around the corner. After Christmas, I started to share my idea with different people and I was struck by one thing. Not a single person said "That's a terrible idea. What kind of idiot who had the means would take a year just to do some simple fun things they've always wanted to do. You should be at a desk stressed over finances and personnel decisions!" I'm not sure what I expected, but everyone said the opposite. "Great idea! Sounds like fun! Why not! You won't regret it! Work will still be here when you get back!". So there you have it. I retire. At least for a year. Maybe it goes well and maybe it doesn't, but I won't know until I wander about, donate blood, read a few books, play some golf, go to some baseball games, look for good cheeseburgers and tacos, drive around the country, get in better shape, piddle in my yard, visit Ashton in Alabama, watch some college football, and take pictures with a bunch of random dogs (and 1 cat). At the end of all of this, we will get our new dog Baxter who will be with us until my next stab at retirement in roughly 10 years. While I try out this plan, my hope is "The List" keeps me structured and the blog allows me to document my small adventures. I don't anticipate anyone visiting the blog, but I'll have my own historical record of what I did. I'm sure there might be some things on "The List" that I don't accomplish. So what, the journey is the destination. In 500 days, I will be a year older, a little poorer, have a new dog, Ashton will be a sophomore in college, and maybe... just maybe... I'll have a new job. It seems like a plan. Time will tell if it's a good plan. Or a great plan!