Robert Trevena worked for county for 30 years. He retired as director of Athens-Clarke County’s Housing and Community Development Department. Robert is enjoying every minute of his new “career” finding out new ways to learn, travel, explore and stay healthy.
What brought you to Athens?
I came to Athens back in 1979 to go to school at the University of Georgia after spending a few years in the army. I fell in love with the place. I got a job with the before I graduated from the University. I got my introduction to public administration through that office and continued by working with the Community Development Block Grant program. It was a great way to get to know Athens through the Area Planning and Development Commission. I got to travel around to a lot of our area’s small towns and counties, but Athens is the place to be! I was fortunate enough to work in a field that I wanted to work in. I went to work for a great organization that provided good benefits and challenging opportunities every day.
How are you spending your time now that you’re retired?
I play a lot more now than I do work. Athens is a great place to not only work, but to play, live and retire. I’ve been retired for about three years and have enjoyed every minute of it. I don’t miss too much about working-waking up early every morning, working 10-12 hours days during the week and sometimes the weekends. Now my days are a little more leisurely. Here’s what a typical day for me looks like:
I usually get up around 7:30, have some coffee, catch up on the news.
I’ll do a little bit of yoga.
Usually go play petanque
Go to the YMCA
Aside from working with the Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST) Citizens Advisory Committee, my life is pretty relaxing. After being retired for a couple years, I was asked me to join and I felt a sense of duty and obligation to be there. So, this past year, I’ve been working with that committee. Even after working 30 years with the county, I’m still learning new things about Athens through this work. I will be glad when it’s over and I can get back to my rigid schedule of napping and going the YMCA.
What’s something you’ve been able to learn now that you’ve got more free time?
One of the things I’ve really enjoyed learning how to do is play the didgeridoo. It’s good for your breathing, helps with sleep apnea and it’s a really fun way to pass the hours- blowing through a hollow log. I like music and have a pretty large music selection that I’ve collected over the years. I’ve got some albums from my mom and dad. My wife and I started to collect records as soon as we established a household. I love different kinds of music and haven’t been particularly talented at playing any instruments, but I found that I can carry a rhythm. I just thought it would be fun. It kind of goes along with meditation, yoga, deep breathing and relaxation. It’s incredible. All it takes is 45 minutes of yoga and then blowing on an instrument and you’re very relaxed and oxygenated.
Share with us about your experience with the game of pétanque…
Pétanque has just been a great experience. I was introduced to the game by Heidi Davidson, former mayor. She’s been a good friend for many years. Heidi was playing with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UGA. When I came along three years ago, there were about 5 or 6 of us that would play. I became really infatuated with the game. It’s French. You use steel balls and play on gravel. It’s similar to Bocce. It can be a game or a sport. Over the past couple of years, it’s definitely become more sporty for me. We go to tournaments around the region. We’ve got a club now with 45 people-the Classic City Pétanque Club. I’m the president.
I just really dig it. You take a small ball the size of a ping pong and toss it 6 to 8 meters in front of you on the gravel lots. Then you take your steel ball (about the size of a baseball) and throw it in an underhand manner that makes it spin and stop as close to the small ball as you can. Then your opponent tries to get closer to the target or knock your ball out the way. It takes a little bit of skill and not a whole lot of strength.
That’s one of the coolest things about having this time is being able to learn new skills and meet new people. Every day is an opportunity for me. I try to do something physical, something productive and something creative every day. Usually that gets me through to happy hour.
How do you age and live well?
It’s not an easy thing to age, but I’ve found if that you need to be active and get out with people and do things you enjoy. Giving up fast food is good. Watch your diet and exercise. If you stay reasonably healthy you can have a lot of fun. Life doesn’t end after your career. For me, retirement is a whole new career. I never dreamt it could be this much fun.