Keep Your Eye on the Prize: Retirement
I've heard that you truly feel retired on the first day you would have been back at work had you not retired. August 8th was that day for me. It felt a bit like I was playing hookey from school. There was also a sneaking feeling of elation, a surreal quality and the limitless possibilities of being able to reinvent my day-to-day life. Rather than retirement, I'm looking at this chapter as a reinvention. Though I'm remaining busy, with two websites and launching a new business, I now have the luxury of time, which is a pretty precious commodity. I will not confirm or deny whether there was a happy dance for 1 that day.
With the final decision to retire, the end of the school year, celebrations, and our trip to Italy, I feel like the last three months are a bit of a blur. I do want to back up just a bit to my final chapter before retirement and share an amazing evening with you. For years Scott and I have hosted holiday parties, and end-of-year parties, for our teams in education. My end of the year party for my team, with teachers, clinicians, admins and support staff, was extra special. As I wrote in this post back in June, I think we were all feeling the love on that night. We celebrated the success of our programs, our students, and our collaborations over many years. We did some important work together, and it is worthy of celebration.
The bitter with the sweet
For each of us the path to making big life changes, like retirement, is unique. For some, the process is as simple as filling out paperwork and setting a date to pack up the office. As it turns out, my path to retirement was not an easy one. Behind the scenes, there were negotiations about benefits that were stressful and left me feeling unsupported at best; disillusioned at worst. I received kind support and care from dear friends, as well as people I didn't necessarily expect it from; but the reverse was also true. I came home one day to find that our home almost burned down (you can still see the scorched earth in the images). But so much worse, during that same time frame, our friends Maryanne and Brooks--Maryanne is principal of our school--suffered a tragic loss that left us all aching for their family and trying to help pick up the pieces at work. The end of the school year was a time tinged with sadness and stress; my road to retirement was definitely bittersweet.
In the end, I knew I had made the right choice about my decision to retire now. It was time to celebrate and move forward. One of my favorite moments was graduation for our adult special education students. My insightful, kind-hearted teachers surprised me with a special award at the graduation attended by students, teachers, administrators and board members. That moment of thoughtfulness and appreciation, surrounded by our wonderful students and teams, was unforgettable for me.
Now that I've had some time to reflect on the monumental life change that is retirement, I want to celebrate the people who have been the most involved in my career. Looking at these happy faces, reliving that amazing night, makes me smile all over again. Scott is well-known for his song parodies and wrote a clever one for me to the tune of "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers. Loved it!! This party started at 4:30 and for a few of us, ended about 2:15 am. Special educators need to blow off a little steam every now and then! ;)
I kept telling myself that if I could make it through those last tumultuous months, I would finally be able to relax and let it all sink in.
I kept my eye on the prize.
Celebrating with my team was one way of keeping my eye on the prize. There were also a few special lunches with dear friends and one amazing celebratory girls' night out on the town as my career wound down. One final way I kept my eye on the prize was to visualize arriving in Positano. For months, I knew I would have miles to tread, stressful meetings, difficult negotiations, painful goodbyes and new milestones to meet before I would be truly retired from my 33 years in education. As you can imagine, I breathed a big sigh of relief at this moment in Positano in July.
I've heard from a number of readers who are verging on retirement or other big life changes. It is such an exciting time.
Are you keeping your eye on the prize?
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