"Distinguished Life Fellow Report"
John E. Sadler, M.D.
John Schowalter has graciously asked me to write something of what life is like as a Distinguished Life Fellow who is ambivalent about retiring.
Curiosity is a part of my being from my very early years. Wanting to see what was around the next bend while hiking. Wanting to see what is over the next hill. Wanting to know what is behind the "magic" of card tricks. Wanting to understand the scientific approach as wel as what is behind magical thinking.
Curiosity came into play in a different way when, about 10 years ago, my wife and I asked ourselves what would we like to do differently in our marriage. We started studying Italian, one of the languages that neither one of us knew. We were not yet retired, but I was able to take a sabbatical. We started out by spending two weeks in Montepulciano where we studied in an immersion format, eight hours per day. I have been able to give myself several sabbaticals over the years, spend studying Italian either in Montepulciano, Florence, Rome or Bologna, the site of our preferred school partly because Bologna has been a university town since 1088. Unlike Florence and Rome, there are no English-speaking tourists in Bologna.
I retired a few years ago and became a full-time student of Italian, German and Russian. I had started studying Russian as an engineering student. However, my CEO later approached me to return to help out until they could complete their recruitment. Given the shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists, it will come as no surprise that I was needed there for another 4 years. But, the agreement included having "mini-sabbaticals" every few months for study of Italian in Italy, as well as here at the University of Colorado, where there is an excellent department of Italian.
The word sabbatical I can spell, but the R word I have not learned how. I still enjoy the clinical challenges of trying to help children and their families. I have been able to cover a community mental health center here in the Denver area, but also able to intersperse the work with sabbaticals. The same with a residential treatment center where I have covered until they completed their recruitment process. My curiosity plays out in trying to understand my patients, their families and their treatment settings. My curiosity is demonstrated in mentoring as it includes trying to help staff understand the patient's biopsychosocially, rather than just treating them, without that kind of understanding.
My sabbaticals have included studying German in Berlin, cycling "Die Romatische Strasse." (the Romantic Road), etc. They have included cycling in Italy, sometimes in Puglia, sometimes in Tuscany, sometimes in Sardinia and most recently the Lakes District which includes Lago Maggiore, Lago Lugano, Lago di Garda, etc. Some of the study here in Boulder with my Italian Professors from Bologna through Skype, twice weekly, when not in Italy. Plus my wife and I study privately each week with our Italian professor from Milan.
Fortunately my family is here in the Boulder/Denver area and I have contact with my two children here with my two granddaughters, and with my 16 year-old grandson in Maine, who came with me last year to Italy to study Italian in Bologna.
In summary, it is probably not so important that I have not been able to spell the R word, as I am having fun with an interesting mix in my life of family, limited professional responsibilities and language studies, the last of which my wife shares.