Chris, I don't understand your problem. You've been teaching photography, and you obviously have a grasp of the history of photography. Why should retirement change your approach to your own photography? Your statement that you're "coming to grips with new potentials" sounds a bit overly-dramatic to me. Anyone who stops coming to grips with new potentials might as well just hang it up and move on into the great unknown. If you're alive you come to grips with new potentials every day.
I've retired twice too. I spent 26 years in the Air Force, retired as a full colonel, and started a small, sometimes two-or-three, but usually one man corporation doing software engineering. Over a course of 30 years I did all sorts of interesting things for outfits like Cirrus Logic, the state of Colorado, and local clients, even taught the C programming language for a while at Colorado Tech. I closed the company at the end of 2008.
But since Korea in 1953, when I was flying F84s out of Taegu, I've been photographing more or less constantly, as you say, "everything." Actually, not "everything," but everything that strikes my fancy: people on the street and elsewhere, abandoned farms, dying western towns, abandoned goldmines in Colorado, birds on the wing in Florida, landscapes, though I'm not awfully good at that, but improving with Slobodan's help. As you saw, I even occasionally break a personal rule and shoot flowers (but only when they're part of a larger scene). You can see what I consider some of my best from the past 59 years at www.FineArtSnaps.com
and a more extensive and less carefully culled collection in the photo gallery at www.russ-lewis.com
So I guess I don't really understand the quest for a "personal style." John's right, Timo does marvelous work and has a personal style. But part of the reason Timo has such a recognizable style is that Timo confines his work to a very limited range of subject matter. How about Ansel? Did his "recognizable style" extend to pictures like "Woman Behind Screen Door?" How about Henri? Did his recognizable style extend to his pictures of wooded areas? How about Elliott? He's probably my favorite photographer, but does he even have
a "recognizable" style. Some -- I'd even stick my neck out and say most -- great photographers have (sometimes behind the scenes) been eclectic shooters.
Yet all the greats do have what I'd call a recognizable style. You might miss the fact that a single picture is by Robert Frank, but put three or four together and you can't miss it. The styles come from the fact that these people all shot what struck their fancy, and each fancy was a bit different.
So, my advice is this: go on making "joyful snapshots of anything and everything," but learn to cull with a passion. Never, never, never show anything that doesn't jump out at you after it's been tucked away unviewed for at least a couple weeks. (As the long-time LuLaers know, I break this rule from time to time, but I always regret it.)
Welcome aboard, Chris.