Today is the first day of the rest of my life. No, that is not a trite simile. I am now retired. Yesterday was tough – all the final goodbyes, the packing up of my laptop and phone, and finally, looking at my now-bare desk. Bittersweet. This six month journey was filled with experiences – some wonderful, and some challenging. I have some final comments on my work transition before this blog really becomes about retirement.
It was a month of Lasts. I completed my last expense report. I had my last 6am conference call. I helped a last client through a crisis. I held my last team call. I gave my last official advice. I wrote my last work blog post. I signed on to my work email for the last time. I uploaded all my documents to the shared drive for my team to reference. I swore at the VPN as it repeatedly kicked me off for the last time. Each Last was acknowledged.
I channeled my inner Pollyanna. One of the difficult things when you develop, grow and run a product for 17+ years is people think it will disappear when you leave. My task was to convince those with doubts that my team was more than capable of not only carrying on, but will make improvements going forward. I had to sound positive, and confident. I have three incredibly smart and talented ladies now running my business, and I found I had to pep-talk them pretty frequently. The last week, I heard from each of them that they were ready. I did my job, and that really made me feel wonderful.
No sadness allowed. This was the hard part. I had to be very disciplined internally to keep my stress level down. As I completed each of my “Lasts”, there was a moment of sadness. Well, not for the 6am conference calls, but for pretty much everything else. My desk looked very bare. I had to allow myself a moment to acknowledge the emotion, and then dismiss it. Practicing the meditation techniques I learned in a career of high stress really came in handy for this. I kept reminding myself that for every “Last” there will be a “First” to offset it. It helped.
Change of scenery. The last two weeks of work were spent at our condo on Maui.
Yes, I did work my hours – there was too much to finish to skimp on time. My husband and son had to work some each morning, so I had company. The fact the weather was showery due to passing hurricanes made it not so onerous. What was important was I had a change of location to help me with separation. Maybe it was the hours I did spend watching the ocean and listening to the waves crash, but I found I was able to get over the last bit of stress. When I returned home, I was able to face my Last Day.
Now, about that Last Day. Yeah, it was rough. I admit it. Writing farewell emails was almost as tough as reading the responses that came back from colleagues. Yes, I did get “something in my eye” at a few points. Yes, I was sad, but I expected all that. It was hard to pack up that laptop and phone, and even harder to drop them off at the FedEx Office. I had to remind myself that it was not as momentous as dropping my son off at University, but it sure felt similar. I was closing a chapter of my life, and one that defined me for more than 30 years. I had been happy in my career, and I worked with wonderful people. I did a meditation after I returned home, and reflected on my accomplishments, how my leaving opened up opportunities for promotion of three wonderful ladies, and comforted myself that with social media, I will still be able to keep in touch with all my past and present work friends. I recently convinced my own mentor and beloved former boss to join Facebook, and she is having a wonderful time connecting with those of us who worked with her and missed her terribly – especially me. I finally reflected on the fact when one door closes, another opens, and I have a door to fabulous experiences open in front of me. I then made my family their favorite dinner, and we celebrated by opening a very special bottle of wine, saved for this occasion. I went to bed serene and happy.
Today is my day of “Firsts”. I had my first breakfast without checking work email. I ran errands without having my Bluetooth earpiece tuned to my work phone to take the inevitable work call. I didn’t need a meditation this morning for the first time. The bare desk in the earlier picture isn’t so bare anymore. I have my iPad set up on its keyboard, and the fuzzy inbox that is actually a dog bed used by my 25 pound, 46 inch long Maine Coon, Spock, was filled again as I worked on this post. (He needs to be right next to me at all times, and the bed partially contains him.) I unpacked my box with the desk toys from my office in San Francisco, and arranged them in appropriate places. I set up my new wifi printer. I wrote this blog post with Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony blaring the whole time, which I would never have been able to do before, in case my office phone rang. There will be more Firsts as the day and week goes along, but I am doing well.
This whole “retired” thing has not yet hit me. I don’t really feel all that different, but I know that will change as the weeks go on and reality sinks in. I’m pretty darned excited about this door that just opened, and can’t wait to see the world beyond.