Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Closing the Door

Two final days of work (yes, I actually had things to do - many "case briefings" to write, lots of odds and ends, and organizing some files to pass on...almost the usual multi-tasking, detail-oriented brain jam that was much of the previous twelve years). Two co-workers took me out to a lovely lunch yesterday and two brought me flowers today....many stopped by for departing congrats and/or expression of envy. I didn’t know what to expect and don’t usually go in for much ceremony, sooooo, this felt good…to leave on an up-note. I will stay a bit connected to some events…one in a couple weeks, so that also made for a “soft landing”.

I sent the last email. Hit “shut down” for the last time. Changed the voice mail message. Many small acts of what was once routine – now a certain form of finality.  I slid the name plate out and stood at the door to my office…looking back in.  Still a desk and bookshelf, but it was….bare. Empty. I thought about the final process of getting there – reviewing and purging paper…and more paper….emails…stuff.  A gradual letting-go, separating. I closed the door. I walked down the stairs and out the front door, which closed behind me…for the last time as an employee…here or possibly any place. It felt…really….good. It felt really… right. And pretty exciting. Now what? Stay tuned (I almost said “Dear Readers” as though I was the Amy Adams character in Julie and Julia) Forgive me. I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Final Run-Up

So, this past weekend I knew (obviously) that I just had two more days of work. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I didn’t have to. I felt this palpable combo of anxiety and excitement. Close but not yet here. Known but full of mystery. Which manifested in a crazy attention deficient disorder. For example: watching a movie (4:44 and recently having seen The Hunter) I think ooooh, Willem Defoe is kinda sexy...wonder how old his is. Pause. Goggle. Age appropriate. Cool. Post this revelation on Facebook (not something I do often - just another symptom of the transitory A.D.D.). Back to the movie. Hmmmm, I’m thirsty. Pause. Refrigerator. Wine? Not really a thirst-quencher, but what the heck. Fuzzy water on the side. Back to the couch. And on it went. The real in-between. I’m not good at that.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Transition

As months passed, the circle of communication widened from inside my organization to friends and then to external “clients”. Many were surprised. All wished me well and not just a few wished they were at this fortunate point. No one asked why. Many could appreciate, I think, that the output/return quotient of the work-world is out of balance now with diminishing resources, more demands and lack of control… especially for those of us who have been at it for decades and even for those of us with meaningful work.

I started making lists of things to get done – jotting down ideas for places to go and things that might interest me and to explore – people to re-connect with – for "when I have time".  I started practicing doing whatever I wanted to on weekends. It felt good yet I wondered what the challenges of being able to do that (almost) every day would be. Would I finally learn to meditate or…drink in the daytime?  I suspect I will get bored and be inspired, be lazy and be active, travel far and wide and burrow in, watch a lot more movies and, I hope, live my own story.

As I moved closer to the end of work and start of whatever comes next, the feelings were similar to what I experienced getting divorced: relief and excitement and a sense of loss and disillusionment, which is dissipating as I move into “having time”…owning it and whatever goes in it.

When I knew

Let's talk about when I knew...there were two turning-points: Several years ago when I knew that the "fit" was getting strained for me and it was time to seriously plan/envision an exit. I committed to learning, contributing – and earning - as much as I could. The other was when the financial analysis, calculated using my July 2012 date (based on some things going on with projects, commitments, and a bit more in retirement benefits)  said: You can do this. This is when crossing over became a reality, not just something I was working towards. I felt (literally – it was physical) a heaviness lift…discontent and the strain of disconnect begin to dissipate. The goal became staying committed and making the transition with integrity. Mostly that meant when to communicate the decision. I opted for sooner rather than later. It seemed the right thing to do...and it was.

Crossing Over

I'm retiring soon - only two more days of work...after four decades of  jobs and self employment ranging from social service to waitressing to lawyering to collaboration/conflict resolution/mediation. I thought I'd participate in the modern age - having experiences (no matter how banal) and writing about them. This won't be practical advice, tips or resources for retirement. It will be a chronicle of what this transformation - this transition/adventure has been and continues to be for me. (I like double words with  slashes - that way I don't have to choose one word to describe something complex - watch out, there will no doubt be lots of them. Oh, and parentheticals).  This will be delivered in small doses. God knows (that would be small "g" if it wasn't the beginning of a sentence) I had the attention span of about two paragraphs when I was working full-tilt. I'm going to try and remember what it was like being in the work-world...as I cross over...become feral...live the answers I usually provided when anyone asked me "What are you going to do?": "Recover my authentic self" or "Whatever I want". Welcome to the ride.