Saturday, January 19, 2013

In the Home Stretch Toward R-Day

My iPhone is
Tracking the Countdown for me
When I gave my written notice of my plan to retire, R-Day was about 75 or so days into the future. It is now less than two weeks away. In the last few weeks, I've been taking note of many of "the lasts." The last time I will conduct a training workshop. The last time I will work in dangerous neighborhoods in Omaha. The last staff meeting I will attend. The last time that the first thing I see every morning is a rectangular metal box labeled "pest management device." That's government lingo for fancy mouse trap.

Yesterday was another one of those "last times." My colleagues and I had been at a client work site all week conducting a program compliance review. That's government lingo for what is essentially an audit. The staff of the nonprofit organization are people I've known and worked with for 10, 20 and up to 27 years. You get to know people and have shared experiences over that length of time. The review went well even though it's always an exhausting experience for both sides. After concluding the exit report, I decided to take a couple minutes for my personal comments about what working with them had meant to me over the years.

Very much to my surprise, they presented me with an agency mug (filled with candy!) and a card that had been signed by more than 20 of their staff who I've worked with over the past three decades. I was very surprised, as well as humbled, by the gesture. Inside my head, I was having a Sally Field moment of, "They like me! They really like me!" Throughout my working life, it has always been the clients who made the work worthwhile for me. When I read one of the comments, "Thanks for making a difference," I realized that the last 40 years have not been wasted. As a government employee, I've always believed in the idea that I am a public servant.

Time to relax? I hope not!

In the last few weeks, people have made comments to me like Now you get to relax, You'll be able to sleep late, What are you going to do with all of your free time?, You'll find out who the talk show hosts are on afternoon TV. Clearly, these comments come from people who do not know me well! I'm already becoming obsessed with getting as many activities on my retirement calendar as possible! One thing about being a genealogist is that your research is never completely done. There are always documents to transcribe, photographs to scan, ancestor stories to write, and libraries, archives and cemeteries to visit.

In the past year, I've become more involved in my local genealogy society. Tom, our president, made the comment, "Now we'll have a full-time publicity director when you retire!" I'm not so sure I'd take it that far, but I certainly have a commitment to my volunteer hours as a retiree. I also plan to attend more meetings and programs sponsored by the American Society for Training and Development-Lincoln, an activity that has been sorely missing in my life the last couple years. I intend to keep up my skills with various software programs by attending workshops. After all, I'm not going to sit around eating bon bons and watching soap operas all day! Even though I won't be reporting in to a paying job, beginning February 1, I will be CEO of my own life.

Finding the new normal

I've given thought to what the new normal will look like for me, but I'm not about to cast it in stone. Retirement will be a process, just as my working life was. In time, I will make those changes from not having to do chores on weekends, squeezing in errands between the end of the workday and before preparing dinner. I've already got a pretty good handle on the various senior discount days around town. And after lunch with a friend, I will no longer have to lament, "I don't want to go back to work this afternoon" because I won't have to.

As for sleeping late? That's not going to happen. I usually wake up by 4:30 and have always found the time between 4:30 and 6:30 a.m. to be most conducive to my creative process. For me, sleeping late means not getting up until 6 a.m. But who knows? Maybe I'll become the night owl that I was when in college.

Today, January 19, marks the 30th anniversary of my Mom's death. She was only 55. She never had the chance to grow old. She never had the chance to retire. She was the strongest influence in my life and I plan to have this next phase of my life reflect one of her guiding principles - live life to the fullest. I still miss her every day. And I know she would be very happy for me as I enter this next phase.

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  1. My favorite: "I will be CEO of my own life." Great approach. Of course, I was a business professor, so I would like that. But, it is totally true.
    Continued best wishes! ;-)

    1. Thanks, Dr. Bill! Always appreciate your feedback!

  2. First time, it didn't post at all, then it posted same thing twice. Weird. Ain't technology great! ;-)

  3. Good blog, Susan. I like the way you tied in the comments about your mother.

    1. Thank you, Judy. Looking forward to getting together for lunch once I'm "free" !!

  4. Susan it seems that your retirement is well organized and I am sure it will be very productive. Just don't forget to smell the roses.

    1. Organized remains to bee seen, Donna! I know I'll definitely enjoy doing what I want to do!