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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pulling Out Roots

A few years ago, whenever I returned from a vacation, I immediately checked in with the office.  It wasn't that I thought they couldn't get along without me for a week (although I certainly didn't want them to know that); but this was my other home, my other family, and I needed to know what was going on.  When the word "retirment" began creeping into conversations, I couldn't imagine it.  This was what I did, a large part of who I was.  How could I just stop doing it?

Fast forward to last spring.  Budget cuts. Decision time. And I decided it was in everyone's best interest to step up and take early retirement. After all, I was trying to get seriously back into my writing so maybe this was the opportunity I'd been waiting for.  We agreed I'd stay into December and that was that.  But what would it be like?  Leaving the job, the department I'd headed for fifteen years (been part of for twenty), all my friends and coworkers...would it be like ripping out a tree by its roots?  Was it going to hurt?

Homestretch time now.  Under a month to go.  I realized last night that I'm doing what I used to do whenever we had to move (another thing I don't do well).  I'm slowly breaking off the roots, a couple here, a couple there, so when the time comes the tree will be already loosened and easy to pull out.  I'm working through my lunch hour instead of joining others, opting out of conference calls on upcoming changes, deferring decisions to my successor, and taking home personal items from my office, one or two a day.  I declined the usual retirement party. 

Instead I'm spending more time on this - blogging, networking with writers and others, learning, and writing.  Focusing on what's ahead, not what I'm leaving behind.  For the most part it's working.  I've started thinking about my job as interfering with my writing and I'm looking forward to being able to write full time. 

But what will it be like on that last day?  When my office is stripped bare of my things and I've turned in my keys?  When all the good-byes have been said?  When I walk out the back door on that last Friday?  How much will it hurt?

How about you?  How do you prepare for big changes in your life?  Does it work?

Countdown to retirement and writing full time: 16 work days to go.

I'm currently enjoying: LAST TO DIE by Kate Brady.

Groaner of the Day: There were three Indian squaws. One slept on a deer skin, one slept on an elk skin, and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin. All three became pregnant. The first two each had a baby boy. The one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys. This just goes to prove that... the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

(Aw, come on - you know you missed them.)


Dru said...

LOL at your groaner.

I've since learned to keep my office very minimalistic so when I leave, it's goodbye.

I prepare myself mentally and sometimes it works.

Maria Zannini said...

It's bittersweet but liberating.

For the first six months after I retired, I had this gnawing feeling that I had something else to do. It took me a year before I stopped getting up at 4:30am.

On my last day I was tying up loose ends and calling to say goodbye to my long distance company friends. My best friend ragged on me to hurry up because she wanted to take me to lunch. She stopped past the company lounge and said: Give me a second, I have to pick up something. When she opened the door, my whole department yelled 'Surprise!'

I sure was! LOL.

Everyone got together and threw me a party. What made it even more poignant was that the budget for parties had been cut. They bought everything out of their own pockets. That's when I realized what I was leaving behind.

I miss my friends--but boy, I love this freedom.

Mason Canyon said...

The groaner is cute. I can't image what you're going through. I'm not good with change. It sounds like what you're doing will be helpful in the end. Good luck and keep thinking of all the good things to come.

Thoughts in Progress

Linda Leszczuk said...

Dru - A little math lesson in my groaner. :grin:

Unfortunately, I'm a nester. Set me in one place for a couple days and I put down roots. Which is probably why I stayed in one office for twenty years.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Maria - I'm really hoping my co-workers don't do that. It will make it so much harder to leave. That's why I told them no retirement party. I'd rather just tip toe out the door.

But the freedom does sound good.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Mason - Hey, two votes for my groaner. Thanks! And thanks for the good wishes. I think once I get through the actually "leaving" I'll be fine.

jackie b central texas said...

Last place I left work wise was so glad to see the door shut behind me it was not funny, of course did not work there 20 years either! Change and I are old friends, we hate each other as a matter of fact.. Give me my daily fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants non-routine any day though as opposed to going to a job every day that no longer appeals to me and will take change gladly!

Have finally put down roots in one home for the first time since getting married at 19 and moving for 18 years to different places in Texas so my husband could advance from job to job in his company... We have been here almost 11 years and that is the longest have lived in one place since I was a child....

Congratulations Linda on making it to your goal while you are still able to enjoy it rather than because of illness or other disaster!

Happy social networking and full time ability to write!

jackie >_<

Linda Leszczuk said...

Well, hi jackie b and welcome to my blog. I hopped over to yours to see who my new visitor was and saw two things that made me smile -chihuahuas and support for Maria Z. in the current round of voting. I'll go back later when I have time to read a bit. Hope you'll visit me again.

jackie b central texas said...

Linda, I read a lot more than I comment on posts.. Nice to see you too and GO MARIA right!

jackie >_<

Stacy McKitrick said...

I wouldn't have the problem you're having. Whenever I go on vacation, I'm happy to be leaving and sad when I have to return. So, retirement would be like a vacation where I didn't have to return!

I was at a job for 14 years and left for another. I do miss the people I worked with so I make sure to meet them for dinner at least once every 3 months or so. You could do the same. If they are friends, they can remain that way.

So - you're saying there are only 16 work days left in 2010? Damn - where did this year go?

Linda Leszczuk said...

Stacy - Don't panic. My countdown only runs till Dec. 10. That's my last day. There's more work days in 2010 for the rest of you. :grin: