Just over three months ago, I began the transition from the Coast Guard back to civilian life. As I shared in a post right after the ceremony, I spent the summer enjoying some time off to reconnect with the family before moving forward with whatever the next chapter of my life has in store. Today I'll share a bit about the summer vacations and the job search.
The vacations with my family had a restorative impact on my soul that far exceeded my wildest dreams. Most of my summer was filled with one-on-one trips with my Amy and each of our kids. For good measure, I also added a solo week on the motorcycle to just explore. Before the summer started, I had planned to use this blog to share what we were doing and what I was thinking. But as you saw, I didn't do much writing here. I did, however, start a writing habit I'll try to carry into the future: I made at least three specific entries each day into a "gratitude log" to capture things I noticed during the day. Many are just small things--small moments that can easily pass unnoticed. But the simple act of writing them down helped me to live attentively in the moment, notice, and appreciate them.
Another thing I tried to do this summer was to live more spontaneously. By nature, I'm a planner. Some of my closest friends were shocked to hear that Katie and I went to France with nothing planned in advance other than hotel reservations. But that turned into the best vacation I ever had. Actually it tied for best with trips to Hawai'i with Amy and Maria, and an RV trip to Ohio and Illinois with Austin. They were all the best. :-)
I discovered that when I lived without firm plans, good things tended to appear. Things just worked out as if they were meant to be. Over and over and over. And even when things looked like they could be going bad, like when Maria and I got a flat tire descending the steepest road in the country to one of the most beautiful valleys I've seen, a person appeared as if on cue to help fix it. He had just changed a flat on the exact same model vehicle the day before, so he knew exactly where to find everything.
Someday I may do a proper post to share specifics on the things we did or places we visited. For now, I've just shared a few of my pictures at the bottom. I've shared five or so from each trip in chronological order. And I'll make an offer to travel with you and serve as your guide if you're heading to the Big Island or Paris. I'm available as soon as I build up some vacation time at work.
What, work? Yes, I'm going back to work soon! I started the summer with no idea what I would do in the next chapter of life. I remained open to see where I was led.
After a few days in Hawai'i, I tried to tip the scales in favor of staying there. We met a cat standing guard at Mountain Thunder Coffee in Kona. If they were hiring, I was ready to start. I left her my card with a link to my resume thinking "CAN I HAZ A JOB?" But it just wasn't meant to be.
Throughout the summer, I viewed chance encounters with new people as possible connections to reveal where I was meant to work next. That openness led to a some possibilities I wouldn't normally have considered.
Once I returned to DC, I reached out to a small handful of places where I thought I could make a difference.
At the end of the process, I found myself wishing all five "Dans" at the retirement could each take one of the jobs. Everyone I met and interviewed with were great organizations where I could see myself working and doing good. But there's just one of me. So I've chosen to make a difference with E3 Federal Solutions. It was a tough choice, but I felt a real sense of peace after accepting the offer. It sure feels like the right place for me now.
It's been a quite a ride since the transition started at the retirement ceremony in May. More than anything, I'm so thankful for the five mini-vacations that restored my sense of awe and wonder in the world and in my family. I'll start the next chapter a grateful man.