As of today it is 99 days until my target last day at work!  It might even be a little bit earlier if my replacement is on board reasonably soon.  After years of planning preparation, and months of anticipation, it is almost hard to believe that the countdown is now down to double digits!

Just 99 days, 70 workdays (a good portion of which I am taking off for various reasons), and fewer than 14 weeks of experiencing the Sunday night blues…

It still doesn’t feel entirely real, but our Board of Trustees is in the final stages of selecting my replacement, dates have been set for a couple of retirement parties, and I’ve been working on all of the paperwork needed for pension, health insurance, etc. so I think it is going to actually going to happen 🙂

I’ve been checking, re-checking, and then checking my financial planning spreadsheets and retirement budgets again, and no matter what scenario I run I think we are going to be able to support our current standard of living in retirement, so I’m starting to let myself get excited about the prospect of sleeping in accordance with my body clock instead of an alarm clock, making a dent in my very long project list, being able to take advantage of spur of the moment travel deals, going to exercise classes with my friends, and just unwinding after many years in stressful jobs.

Think these next days and weeks will fly by.  We will be taking a couple of trips even before my retirement date, I have a couple of work-related goals that will occupy my time, and just clearing out my office and tying up loose ends will make the time pass quickly.

And then, FREEDOM!





Stress and Anxiety

This says it all…

Image may contain: text

My world has been more chaotic than usual for a variety of reasons – a seemingly minor kitchen repair that has spiraled into a mini-remodel, too much to get done and too little time to do it, unexpected schedule changes, and trying to get ready for an upcoming vacation that will be really fun when we actually get there but puts a lot of extra stuff on my already over-full plate – and my control-freak tendencies are in overdrive as a result.

Adding to the challenge is a spouse whose anxiety manifests itself in disorganization, jumping from unfinished task to unfinished task, and difficulty paying attention.  It is a bad combination!

Fortunately I am managing to carve out time to swim, but its been a tough week….

Reflections, swimming

One of those days

Today was one of those days where one issue or challenge seemed to follow another and even “good” news had a dark twist.

These included –

  • A summons for jury duty…in downtown LA instead of any of the courthouses within a reasonable drive from here.
  • Being notified that I am being awarded a locally prestigious business leadership award from the Chamber of Commerce only to learn that the awards luncheon will take place at the local Trump National Golf Course, which creates both a personal issue for me and a potential political issue for my Board, some members of which had already proposed a boycott of sorts of events at the Trump golf course .  It is hard to “support” a business whose profits go to a President who has cut all federal funding for libraries from his budget proposal.
  • A voicemail from a crank who has for years called my work number monthly to demand that I resign and/or called my Board President to demand that I be fired.
  • Carving out time for a soul-restoring swim only to find the pool jammed and with a long wait time so that by the time I got in the water I had to cut my swim short.
  • Discovering that our dishwasher, which was full of dirty dishes, had detached from its mounting bracket such that the door would not close.

In other words, not much fun.

At the same time, I’ve managed to stay pretty positive and to salvage what I can from the days dramas and disasters.  I’ve postponed my jury service until December, and hopefully timed it for the week when the pool at our gym is usually closed for maintenance, and adjusted my schedule so that I can fit in a longer swim tomorrow.

I’ve reminded myself that the crank caller is really more of a nuisance than anything else, and that I am in good company since he makes similar calls to pretty much every Library Director in the greater LA area.

I’ve decided that accepting the Chamber of Commerce award even if it means attending an event that provides some small profit to Trump is better than rebuffing the many people in the Chamber of Commerce that I respect and have enjoyed working with over the years…but that I will use the opportunity as a platform to inform and educate people about Trump’s attack on libraries.

Tomorrow I will call the excellent appliance repair man that we discovered a few weeks ago when our refrigerator was leaking water, and hope that he can reinstall our dishwasher with new brackets.

And I will remember this morning’s beautiful walk along the ocean with Don, the great conversation a friend and I had when we met for coffee (tea for me!) this morning, my house that is clean and shiny after our cleaning lady came today, and the fact that I actually had a productive day at work and at home despite the challenges.

Even “one of those days” has its bright spots!





When you live by the beach…

Friends jokingly call our place the “Gould B&B” because of our steady stream of house guests.  It is a rare month when we don’t have overnight (or longer) visitors…family members, friends, and sometimes friends of friends.

We’d like to think they are all drawn by our good company, but we know that living three blocks from the beach, 30 minutes from LAX, and an hour or less from most of Southern California’s tourist attractions have a lot to do with our popularity…we certainly didn’t have this many visitors when we lived in Kentucky!

Whatever the draw we love catching up with people who live far away, and we are adept at changing out the guestroom linens (sometimes with only 24 hours between guests), cooking for a crowd, and playing tour guide.

This week, however, we set a new record as our 21 year old nephew has brought 11 of his closest friends to visit us from Canada for a week over their college break.  The seven guys are all bunking at our place and the five girls are sharing a cheap motel room a few blocks away, but they are all at our place for meals and to enjoy the pool, beach gear, Netflix subscription, and WiFi.

They are a great bunch of young people – polite, respectful, and they mostly clean up after themselves – but our little house is bursting at the seams, and every surface in the front part of the house has been turned into a bed.

Fortunately the dog loves them, and although I can see that he finds it a bit overwhelming, Don is coping with the chaos and not getting overly anxious (which was a worry for me)… even when a raucous game of charades had the house practically shaking last night.

We bought this house from my grandfather after my grandmother died and he needed to move to an assisted living facility.  They bought it in 1937, and it is where I spent many holidays and weekends and most summer vacations – often with a houseful of cousins.  Both my sister and I also brought college friends to visit my grandparents (albeit one at a time not a dozen!) and my niece has also brought her friends to visit.

I love that Josh feels comfortable enough to bring his friends here.  When he was little and he and his sisters would come visit us in the summertime the first thing he would say when we picked him up at the airport was “It’s good to be home!” and he still thinks of this as his home away from home…just as I did for my entire life until I had the privilege of making it my actual home.

I am so grateful that we have been able to share that experience with the next generations of our family, and with so many of our friends…even if I do think that the beach is as much of a draw as we are!






Acceptance, Expectations, Letting Go, Reflections

There isn’t a way things should be…

“There isn’t a way things should be. There’s just what happens, and what we do.” Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett was a best-selling English author who died in 2015 of early-onset Alzheimer’s, so he knew first hand about the futility of thinking that things “should” be a certain way…but it is a lesson that I am still struggling with.

Yesterday’s Valentine’s celebrations, or in our case lack thereof, demonstrated that despite lesson after lesson, I have yet to learn the futility of having unrealistic expectations that my life will somehow mimic a Hallmark commercial.

After 30 years of marriage I know full well that celebrations like Valentine’s Day have never been my husband’s strong suit, and his recent cognitive challenges have only made things harder for him in this regard as for so much else.  I also know that, despite the Hallmark commercials  and the abundance of Facebook posts and Instagram photos showcasing Valentines celebrations, there isn’t a way Valentines “should be”  and that sometimes just being together is enough.

I tried hard to remember all of this yesterday, and to focus on all of the good things in my life and my marriage, but I couldn’t shake a nagging feeling of disappointment, resentment, and sadness that the holiday didn’t live up to my hopes and expectations.  It is true that there were things that Don did, and didn’t do, regarding the holiday that I was rightly sad about,  but it is also true that how I reacted that colored what could have been a nice, low-key, day of togetherness even if there weren’t hearts and flowers and Hallmark cards.

It feels as if over the past couple of years the universe has been trying to teach me what Terry Pratchett said so clearly.   I know that if I don’t learn to give up my expectations  of how things “should” be, the coming years will be so much harder than they need to be, and yet I stumble time and time again.  Yesterday was no exception.

The process is painful, but each time this happens it feels as if there is another crack in the hard shell of my expectations, opening me to greater acceptance of the reality of whatever situation I am in and a more compassionate, grounded, and accepting response.


Reflections, Retirement, Work

What I will not miss

It might have been the effect of last week’s full/blue/super/red moon but that past 10 days or so have been full of the kind of issues and activities that make me very glad I will be retiring in a few months…which made me think about things I  definitely will not miss:

Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Customer complaints.  I’m not sure which is worse – the ones that are unfounded, the ones where we actually screwed up, or the ones where the complaint is about a situation that we just can’t do anything about…and we had all of those over the past couple of weeks.
  • Sticky (or as I sometimes call them, stinky) personnel issues.  Had one of those last week too.
  • Unstable/belligerent/intoxicated customers.  Last week we made several calls to law enforcement about a couple of these…one of which resulted in an arrest.
  • Board members who do things you really wish they wouldn’t but have to be handled with kid gloves because they are public officials…and your boss(es) to boot.
  • Entitled people of all kinds – and my work community has more than its share.  This includes community members who feel that their career/educational/financial success makes them “special,” employees sometimes who seem to forget what a great place this is to work or how well they are compensated relative to the “market” for their jobs, and volunteers (fortunately not many of them!) who feel that their volunteer service entitles them to special privileges.
  • Union contract negotiations – fortunately those won’t come up again until next year, after I am long gone, but I have done way too many of them in my career and will not miss the tension and divisiveness that they create.  Actually I won’t miss dealing with unions generally.  I believe in their value philosophically and know they offer important workplace protections in some environments, but in practice my experience is that the presence of a union creates an unhelpful sense of “us and them” and makes it more difficult to create a culture where all employees feel part of the same team.
  • Mandatory social events.  Even when I know the people, making small talk is exhausting for an introvert like me….and I absolutely hate dressing up!

Reading this list it is apparent that most of the things I will not miss have to do with people!

At the same time, people are also what I will miss the most.  Community members who really value what the library provides, volunteers and donors who give generously of their time and treasure, employees who are creative and innovative, and who stretch beyond the strict boundaries of their job descriptions  to create innovative programs and provide great service to our customers, professional colleagues who are always willing to share advice and give support. So many of these people have become friends, and I hope those bonds do not fray once I am retired.

It’s a cliche for sure, but at the end of the day, for better or worse, it really is all about the people.






Aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Retirement

Feeling positive

Don saw a new neurologist today and although further tests have been ordered we both left feeling better about his/our situation.  The new doctor is a good listener and observer and less inclined to leap to a diagnosis than the one we saw last year.  He has ordered a DATscan, which tests for Parkinson’s disease, based on his observations of Don’s movements and our report of his physical and cognitive issues, but says he thinks it will likely be negative.  He acknowledged the role anxiety can play in all of Don’s symptoms, and reaffirmed the importance of exercise, good nutrition, sleep, activities that engage the brain, and social outlets to both mitigate cognitive issues and manage anxiety.

We’ll see him again in about 6 weeks.

My guess is that the DATscan results will lead to more assessments and tests to get to the root cause of the cognitive and physical/movement issues, which we both know are real if fairly minor and seemingly quite stable at this stage.  In the meantime it is good to know that we are doing the right things to manage them, and to know that we are in the hands of a thoughtful and caring doctor.

It is also good to know that we are on the right track in terms of diet and exercise, and in our efforts to find more social outlets for Don.  What we need to work on is having him engage in more brain-stimulating activities – hobbies, games, learning new skills.  The neurologist said things that Don already enjoys are best.  When I told him about the Beach Cities Health District’s Memory Club he said that might be helpful, but not to do anything that requires spending money on special activities or equipment.

After the neurologist’s appointment I went with Don to his weekly restorative yoga class – definitely challenging for both brain and body and something I plan to work into my retirement schedule – and then we had lunch together before I went back to work.

All in all a good day, and one that has left us both feeling more optimistic about what at least the near future might hold.