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!





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.




Letting Go, Retirement, Uncategorized

No more Sunday blues

I follow a lot of personal finance and early retirement blogs, and recently discovered Our Next Life, which is written by a couple that is quite a bit younger than me but  has been travelling a somewhat similar path to early retirement…although their’s will be much “earlier” than mine!

For the past few months I have followed Tanja and Mark’s journey as they have checked and rechecked their finances, plotted how they will spend their days, and thoughtfully planned how they will exit their careers.  I’ve empathized with their fears and uncertainty, and learned from them how I might approach my own transition in a few months time.

At the end of this week Tanja and Mark will be retiring, and today they posted about what the “last Monday” feels like:

Intellectually, we know this: the last Monday means no more Sunday blues, no more worrying that we didn’t catch up on enough sleep over the weekend and are starting  another week tired, no more of that feeling of enjoying our work and appreciating our colleagues and clients but still wondering how we’ll survive another week with all its demands.

The last few months have brought a number of things into stark relief: how much we’ll miss a lot about our work, how grateful we are to have spent our careers surrounded with people we admire and are inspired by, how lucky we’ve been to do work that makes us proud. But also what a toll doing that work has taken on our health, and the knowledge that we’ll have many of these health challenges well after we leave the work behind.”

Their comments really resonated with me, as when I retire in June I too will be leaving a job that has been more than just a job and that has allowed me “to experience something real and special with great people” and to feel that I have made a difference.  There is much that I will miss… and yet my body and my soul are crying out for a life with no more squeezing my “real life” into the rare evenings and weekends without work commitments, a life with no more Sunday blues, no more starting the week tired and wondering how I will survive whatever the week will throw at me.

I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that my impending retirement doesn’t create anxiety – about whether my financial plans are adequate to support a long life without work, whether my vision of how I will spend my days is sufficient, whether the people who think I am crazy for leaving the workforce so early are right.

I hope, and I believe, that when June 2018 rolls around I will feel what Tanja and Mark are feeling today as they walk the last few steps of their journey to a new life –

“We feel sure this is the right choice for us, we feel confident in our preparation and backup plans, and we have a vision for what’s next. And that feels kind of amazing. It makes the thousands of words here, the hours and hours of planning and replanning, and all the emotions along the way feel worthwhile.”

Congratulations Tanja and Mark…you’ve been great role models for me, and I look forward to continuing to learn from your experiences.




Change, Retirement

Wanting better

Last August I announced that I will be retiring when my current employment contract ends on June 30, 2018.  Late last month our Board hired a recruiter, so the process of finding my replacement is well underway.

I am definitely ready to move on to the next phase of my life, but I also know that the prospect of a new leader and the inevitable change to come is causing some anxiety for our staff and volunteers which leaves me feeling a bit guilty.  And if I am honest, even though I am excited about what my future holds and looking forward to a happy retirement, the prospect of change makes me a bit anxious too.

On Friday night one of our long-time volunteers (who has also become a friend) hosted her annual holiday potluck for the staff and volunteers at the branch where she volunteers, and we had a funny conversation about the changes to come. She asked if I would come to the party next year, and I told her that I probably would not as I don’t want to usurp the new Director, but it would depend on who the Director was and my relationship with that person.  She then said she wished the Board would just promote our current Deputy Director because everyone likes her and that would result in the least amount of change.  I explained that as public officials the Board has an obligation to conduct a thorough and transparent search for my replacement, and said that things will probably be even better with someone new at the helm.  Her response  – “I don’t like change, and I don’t want better.”

At the time I thought her comment was funny, but the more I think about it the more it  makes me sad.  I wonder how many people are so anxious about change that they don’t want it at all, even when it is for the better?  I see many people who are unwilling to leave or change situations that are clearly making them unhappy, even when they have opportunities to do something better, so I think that it is probably a lot.

I hope that I do not become one of those people.  If I am unhappy with a situation or circumstance I want to be open to making the changes, whether in my attitude and approach or in the situation itself, that will make things better.  And when change is thrust upon me, I want to be the kind of person who is open to the lessons and opportunities that it brings.  I don’t always like change, but I do “want better.”


Reflections, Retirement

Lasts, and the road ahead

In August I publicly announced that I would be retiring at the end of June, 2018 when my current contract with my employer comes to an end.  Ten months is a long notice period, and June still feels like a very long way away, but as autumn slides into winter I can feel the time getting shorter and the “lasts” mounting up.

I’ve had my last performance evaluation, and experienced my last audit.  I just got back from what is probably my last professional conference, or at least the last that I will attend as a working professional.   I’ve been through  my last election cycle for my publicly elected governing board, and my last of a variety of recurring programs and activities. I am now replying to invitations to many work-related holiday parties and events that have become traditions over the past 14 years knowing they too will be my last.

Each of these lasts marks another step on the journey to a future that I have planned for, and dreamed, of for many years, so they are in that sense happy occasions.  But these lasts are also associated with people who I have come to know well and care about deeply but  may rarely (if ever) see once I retire, so each is also bittersweet.

I have many plans for the next phase of my life’s journey and long lists of projects I want to complete, trips I want to take, activities I want to explore, and books I want to read. After many years where my social life was inextricably intertwined with my work and professional live, I have successfully created a life outside of work, with friends who are not tied to my profession or my job.  I have worked hard to make sure our finances are in order, and am confident that we can sustain our lifestyle even when the inevitable economic downturns come.  In short,  as much as I think I can be, I am ready.

At the same time, I am acutely aware that there is much that I do not know about the road ahead…from “little” things like the specifics of how our days will unfold without the structure of my job, to how our relationship will fare with so much togetherness, to the big uncertainties about Don’s health (and mine!) and how the aging process will affect our lives.  I would be lying if I said that I was not more than a little anxious about these things.

A few weeks ago one of my favorite blogs, Rob Firchau’s The Hammock Papers, had a poem by David Whyte that I keep reading and re-reading –

The road in the end taking the path the sun had taken,
into the western sea, and the moon rising behind you
as you stood where ground turned to ocean: no way
to your future now but the way your shadow could take,
walking before you across water, going where shadows go,
no way to make sense of a world that wouldn’t let you pass
except to call an end to the way you had come,
to take out each frayed letter you brought
and light their illumined corners, and to read
them as they drifted through the western light;
to empty your bags; to sort this and to leave that;
to promise what you needed to promise all along,
and to abandon the shoes that had brought you here
right at the water’s edge, not because you had given up
but because now, you would find a different way to tread,
and because, through it all, part of you could still walk on,
no matter how, over the waves.

David Whyte

At this time of “sorting this and leaving that” I am finding that David Whyte’s beautiful words are a great comfort…