Tag Archives: retirement

Listless

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When I started writing this blog almost a year ago, I did so because I was determined to remake a large portion of my life.  Writing on a regular basis was the first step.  Now I’ve taken the second step, a much larger step: I’ve left my job of almost 20 years.  I have been officially retired (and unemployed) for 10 days.

I was shopping for college graduation cards one day last week, on my way to a lunch gathering with former co-workers.  As I was scanning for a catchy picture or wording in the sea of graphics and sayings, I heard a voice ask, “So, how does it feel?”  I turned to my left to see my friend, the executive director of the non-profit organization I support.  I smiled as I shook my head side to side and replied, “I’m not sure.  I just feel like I’m in the middle of a week off.”  “However,” I continued, “I have this overwhelming urge to make a list.”

We laughed and chatted a few minutes and then went our separate ways.  As I got in my car to head to lunch, I realized that I was feeling quite unsettled and it had to do with that business of making a list.  I am one of those people who likes to have a plan, likes to be organized and likes to see the fruits of my labors.  In other words, I like to put my to-do’s/want to-do’s on paper and then mark them off when I’m done.  This is how I have handled all the years of juggling home, job, church, volunteering, etc.  We are a busy society and I know I am not the only “list fanatic” out there.

Yet, one thing I have griped about for the last couple of years is how scheduled and structured my life has been.  In my mind, remaking my life  was going to be throwing all those lists to the wind.  She who is not known for being the queen of spontaneity was going to become such overnight.

Well that was pretty foolish thinking on my part.  It has not taken me long to realize that my grandmother was right all those years ago when she told me we needed structure and routine in our lives.  She was recounting how she managed her life after my grandfather died unexpectedly and early from a heart attack.  In spite of her grief and her desire to do everything to the contrary, she made a point of continuing to get up at the same time every morning, getting dressed for the day and having her meals on schedule.

I’ve seen the value of this in the lives of friends who have lost their jobs.  Suddenly the anchor line has been cut and they are drifting.   Clinging to whatever schedule of living they had when employed helps them stay on course.  I’ve seen it in people who have returned home after serving time in prison.  The schedule they lived under provided some semblance of stability.  Freedom, so greatly desired while serving time, becomes a major stumbling block upon release.  And how many of us have known young people – maybe this includes you – who enlisted in the military because they needed structure and discipline in their lives?

The List

The List

While I don’t have the next year of my life all planned out, I do have some goals I’ll be working toward.  Having a sense of purpose is critically important to our well-being as humans.  When I got home after my luncheon last week, I made a to-do list.

It’s not real long or detailed, but it’s my anchor for the next week or two as I continue working on this remake.  My life is certainly different and yet, there is at least one part of it that will be the same:  the list.

What I am interested in seeing – I feel like a spectator here – is what happens to this blog.  While the focus of my posts has always been on the positive side of the craziness of everyday living, I’m not sure where my thoughts and ideas will take me in the weeks to come.  I am definitely going to spend some time getting to know some of the incredibly interesting people I know are out there in the WordPress world.  I feel sure there will be some new influences that may lead me to make some changes here.  Who knows?  It’s just part of the remake!

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Two Must Do’s on Your Way Out

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We’ve all been on our way out at some point…on our way out of school, out of a club, or in my case, out of what has been my work home for the past 19 years.  Once I knew my timeline for leaving, I also knew what my “must do’s” would be before the last day.

First:  leave the place better than I found it.  This is one of those lessons instilled in children by mothers everywhere.  In my case, it was most often heard when our family was preparing to leave a rented beach house and head home.  We had to clean the place until it was in better shape than when we arrived.  So for the past two months, I’ve worked to wrap up every project and meet every commitment.  I’ve cleaned out the paper files and the electronic files.  If I’ve worked on a project with a co-worker, I’ve saved those files to a disc, given it to my colleague and made sure she knew what materials were still available to her.  I’ve created all kinds of “how to” guides so others would have a step by step outline to follow when tackling some of the work I always did that will now be divvied out to them.  I’ve written posts and articles that can be used during the next two or three months so someone else will have time to orient herself to the work.  I want my going out to be helpful, not crippling.

The other must do:  say goodbye in person.  Typically there is some kind of reception for people who are retiring or leaving.  I know my health education team members well.  I decided I didn’t want them going to the time, expense and effort to plan, set up, buy and prepare food, create and email out some kind of invitation, host and then clean up.  What I really wanted to do is what I have done:  spoken individually to the many people who have meant so much to me.  I wanted to thank people for being kind, for helping me, for covering for me, for teaching me.  I wanted to tell them how much it meant to me when they shared their family stories, their family photos and their joys and sorrows.  When you have laughed and cried together, when you have prayed together and for each other – those are ties that bind and I wanted to honor those above all else.

When you think about it, shouldn’t this be the way we live every day – not just when we’re on the way out?

If you have any more “must do’s,” post them!  I have 5 more days!

Resolved

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Last month it seemed as if every press release, article and Facebook post I wrote in my work as a health educator had to do with making New Year’s resolutions.  We love a new start in life, don’t we?  And we like making that new start at the beginning of some unit of time – the beginning of the week, the month or the year.

As I began 2012, I promised myself (swore to myself) that I was going to change my work life.  I spent more time than any sane person should just contemplating what I wanted in a typical day.  Then I spent more time thinking about and listing what I really enjoyed doing in my current profession, what I could possibly carry over into my new life that could earn money and new skills I’d be willing to learn to make money.  I do want to continue eating, among other things, in this new life.

The upshot of all that reflection was the understanding that I don’t want a typical day.  Now, I am a firm believer in the value of routine, especially when another area of life is in total chaos.  But for awhile at least, I’d like each day to be very different.  Some days starting with a workout, others with work responsibilities, still others with several cups of coffee, conversation with a good friend or the newspaper.

Writing this blog was step one in my makeover.  Step two was coming up with some other possible ways to make money (that are not illegal or immoral, even though that could be really fun).  A friend and I have some ideas we are working on now and the possibility of success is looking good!  Another friend/former colleague and I are talking about some things we can do together as well.  Two totally different options that will get me closer to the “no typical day” work life I want.  And I fully intend to try to do both, since I will be in control of my time.

Next up is doing the paperwork to take advantage of an early retirement package.  This offer (may also be read as:  push to get more of us to leave) is only good until June of this year.  My husband and I have crunched the numbers for months, refinanced our home and done a few other things to make it possible for me to make this change.  I will be signing the papers next week.  I’ve been alternating between thrilled and terrified, but the needle on the emotional gauge is slowly and surely leaning toward thrilled.

So, while my resolution from last year has not been completed, I’m well on my way and for the first time in a long time, I am EXCITED about my professional future.  My inspiration, when this process seemed to be crawling backward and progress was nowhere to be seen, came from a little collection of 365 daily sayings that sits on my kitchen table.  Several years ago I was in a car wreck.  It’s a good story on its own.  Some (insert your own descriptive term or use mine) knucklehead made an appointment to test drive a used car, got in the car with the owner, then forced the owner out and took off in his newly stolen vehicle.  While making haste on one of our city streets, he decided to go through a red light at the same time I was going through the green light.  The result:  two demolished vehicles, me to the hospital and he to jail.  Fortunately my injuries were not major and my family and friends showered me with love.  One of my sisters sent this inspirational calendar and I read the day’s quote/saying aloud at dinner almost every night.  I call it “today’s word.”  calendar

The entry for January 1 is in the picture.  It reads:  “People will be more impressed by what you finish than by what you start.”  It’s a great way to remind myself that while the starting point of any new venture may be exciting, it’s the finish that really matters.

My wish for you?  That no matter how many times you start or restart an effort this year, you will find yourself at the end of this year having finished it.