Healthy, Tasty, Breakfast, Shanghai

How I eat at a hotel buffet today. 3.5 oz of smoked turkey, 4 egg whites, and a rice cake after a bracing 35 minutes on the treadmill.

No idea what the day will bring, but at least I’m starting off with the carbs and fats under control.

A Sweet Day

Phase V does not officially begin until midnight on the 31st, but today marks the start of my terminal PTO, so yesterday was the last day in the office in my career. Slammed right up to the last minute, I hadn’t had much of a chance to reflect on or savor the moment.

Then my son came home after a day at Universal Studios with a box full of pure Portland goodness: a half dozen of Voodoo Doughnuts’ most over-the-top creations.

Pacing myself through a vegan apple fritter, I thought quietly about an amazing if somewhat unconventional career. It was a road sparsely traveled, and that did make the difference. As I stepped off that path and onto another, I paused to pray that this new road would be just as scenic.

B”H

Entering Phase V

When I was twenty years old, I wanted to be a scholar. I wanted to read, to study, to write, to live a life of the mind like the professors and authors I admired. I wanted to teach, to learn, and to be a part of the grand conversations that form the intellectual fabric of our civilization.

Yet I was plagued by the unemployment rate among twentysomethings with doctorates, by the fact that at the end of ten years of higher education lay no reasonable assurance of a job, just the prospect of being another fish in a pool of Doctors of Philosophy fighting over adjunct professorships in obscure colleges. Overeducated and underemployed, I would spend years seeking a place in academia, overeducated and underemployed, and perhaps for life.

It would be nice to say that I cast all of these fears aside, knuckled down, pushed ahead with my dream, and built a respectable career as an historian/political scientist. But it would be a lie. Lacking the requisite confidence and courage, I ran away from my dream.

So I cooked up a new one: I would go into business. It was the early 1980s, after all, and our heroes were boardroom cowboys. I carried a briefcase, I read the Wall Street Journal, I was a 6’7″ version of Alex P. Keaton.  I went to a decent business school, got a job with the firm of an old family friend, hooked myself into China as its economic boom began, and held on for dear life.

And here I am, 37 years later, and every day, the dreams I left behind come back with greater urgency. My wife and son can tell. They sit me down and remind me that life is short. They tell me I don’t need to put off my dreams any longer. And I can no longer hide from the truth in their words.  It is time time for the dreams to rise again.

We all look at our lives in different ways. I see mine have gone in four phases. First I was a child, then a student, then I built a career, then I built a family. Now it is phase five. Now I chase my dreams. In 16 days the to-do list gets set aside, and I begin living my life by my bucket list.

The Air Over There

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As I sit under a pop-up panting in the summer heat of at the arid but alpine Lockwood Valley, I console myself with the thought that all too many of my summers past have been spent in pressurized aluminum tubes with a view something like the above, hurtling around Asia for work, weathering turbulence, thunderstorms, and tourists.

I will always be grateful to have had those times in my life, but I am just as grateful to have given up planes, taxis, hotels, and and endless parade of conference rooms for this modest view of pine trees, tents, squirrelly Scouts, and gruff Scouters. 

A breeze picks up, blowing tent flaps, kicking up dust, and offering a brief respite from the heat. A jet passes far overhead. I breathe deep, and smile. 

My Liquid Power Breakfast

I am short 26 days to retirement, and I am finding that I need all the help I can get to stay focused. Keeping my morning meals liquid has helped. Clockwise from left:

  • 64oz of ice water with 1.5 scoops of electrolytes
  • 50 grams of rolled oats and 32 grams of whey protein with 3 ounces of water (for a treat, I swap the water for plain unsweetened almond milk)
  • 32oz of homemade cold brew (Black Rifle Freedom Fuel dark roast)

Hope everyone had a safe and fun July 4th weekend!

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