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.)