When I first started The Next Phase blog about my life post-work in the high-tech industry, I had an informal list of things I wanted to do. They all involved change of some kind, just as Not Working was a huge change from either Working Very Hard or Searching for the Next Job.
Of course, just sleeping later than 6 a.m. and staying inside when it poured or snowed instead of commuting through the icky weather was an excellent change. But I was determined to grow and learn new things, to explore talents and skills that had always been pushed to the back burner by the demands of a high-intensity job or by the 24-hour role of Working Mother. To boldly go where I had never gone before. This phase was going to be for me.
Oddly enough, creating this blog wasn’t even on the list. I was inspired to do it by my friend Martha Schaefer and I read her blog, Therapeutic Misadventures, every morning. Creating and writing this blog has been immensely rewarding and stimulates me to write non-fiction, something that was previously confined to the World of Work.
Going to the Bucket List
Next, I did went to the top of my Bucket List and studied to be a docent for Boston by Foot. As my regular readers know, this involved an intense, multi-week program of lectures, papers, reading, going on tours and practicing tours before graduating in June. Fortunately, my experience in public speaking from the World of Work came in handy as I am not intimidated by talking to groups. In fact, it invigorates me. If you put a microphone in my hands, I can be downright dangerous. Once, I even won a standup comedy competition at a technology conference. (Well, it doesn’t take much to be funny in the tech world.)
I spent the past summer and into the fall giving tours of the Victorian Back Bay for @BostonbyFoot and enjoying every minute of it. One last VBB tour is scheduled for October 27 before I pack it in for the year. But I plan to learn another tour over the winter so I can lead even more groups in 2014. The new tour will probably be The Dark Side of Boston, which deals with witches, pirates, epidemics, bank robbery and the Great Molasses Flood.
Now that the tour season is wrapping up, it’s time for a new challenge and I turned to the next item on the Bucket List: learning to paint in oils. In the past I have done a lot of work in graphics and black and white media from charcoal to crowquill pen and mixed media. My goal now is to work in bright colors and scale up to large canvasses. Fortunately, the fall course schedule for Assabet Valley Regional Vocational High School landed in my mailbox and there it was: a course called Mastering Oil Painting. I signed up immediately.
Last night I had my second class and started a canvas based on a photograph my son took at the Wee Wee Caye Marine Lab during a high school science trip to Belize. It has an interesting composition with a lot of unusual shapes and a variety of bright colors—just what I was looking for. If the work goes well, I will share my progress.
Classes run until Thanksgiving week so I have a lot of work ahead of me. But that’s half the fun. Besides, I’ll be coloring outside the lines.