Retirement Transition and Change

Journal Entry #2 by Barbara Beizer

By September 21, 2009 No Comments

Four Days Out
Going to Pieces…

Mark Epstein wrote “Going to Pieces without Falling Apart.”  That’s me today, only I am not sure about the falling apart part.

My normal level of irreverence torqued up into overdrive.  Flip comments about people and projects that only some think funny.  I am relying on the good will I’ve built up over the years.  Do I have enough deposits in that bank to off-set this behavior?  I envision a bridge on fire.  This helps.

I did a presentation that turned out to be the same one I did for that group last year.  They wanted an updated version—ooops.  Friends in the room asked questions that led us to the right spot.  Thank heavens for those friends. 

Then I totally forgot two different meetings, and on top of that simply ignored a whole set of emails on another project.  Worse, when asked, I swore I had responded.  Oooops again.  Had to go back and apologize more times in a week than I usually do in a year’s time. 

My brain was like an etch-a-sketch, emptying important information right out of my consciousness.  I pride myself on being competent.  I don’t mind apologizing when I’m wrong, but geez, so many times! 

I asked a friend if you forget a lot of things when you retire.  She said, “I hope so – I’m counting on losing a lot of stuff I can’t use and don’t want any more.”  

Maybe I’m not falling apart.  But, how much energy am I using to keep it together?   I can’t wait to leave.

Two Days Out
My To-Do List

Here’s what I’ll do when I am liberated from my corporate job:

• Partner – He lives in New York City, I live in Washington, DC.  He’s not retiring.   We’ve had a fulfilling, loving, commuting relationship for more than 14 years.  No reason to change that now.
• Grandchildren — I am not committing to any regular help (which my son asked for as soon as I set a retirement date), but will spend much more time with my totally adorable grandchildren, my son and his wife.   Later in the summer, we go to England to visit partner’s son and wife and welcome grandchild number three!   I like babies, so this is sheer pleasure.
• Friends – I’ll visit and enjoy my friends much more often.  Already, two delicious weekends away …a spa in the Berkshires and a house in the country… are planned for the fall.  
• Consulting – but, only projects I want to work on, for my “old” company and others.  I think I want to keep doing what I love to do for three years or so, until I’m 70. 
• Non-profit volunteering – I’ll keep working with the two organizations I’m already active in.  In the fall, I’ll go to the local training to become a board member of a non-profit. 
• Exercise – I’ll play more tennis and renew my yoga and workout routines – ok, not routines, but some kind of regular effort. 
• Jewelry – I’ll spend more time learning about silver wire and making beautiful sculptural pieces to wear. 
• Travel –At the bottom of the list.  Mostly because I have already been a lot of places.  I love trips, though, and would like to visit Bhutan and some parts of Africa before I die. 

Last Day of Work
Ending on a High

For a few days now I’ve been so excited, you’d think I was 12 and having a birthday party with all my best friends.

Looking back, there isn’t much I’ve left undone.  There are things I wish had not happened in my life, but since they did, I’m inclined to think I’m a better person for it – or at least more interesting. 

Like alcoholism – runs in my family and ran into my life, until I made a decision at 43 to face life sober.  I ran with a cocktail crowd in the 50’s and 60’s, a hip, soft-drug crowd in the 70’s and by the 80’s I had gotten to a point where I didn’t want to answer my phone and I hated beautiful, sunny days because even I had to admit I was in trouble if I stayed indoors and drank.  So, I’d take my tall glass of wine and sit in a lounge chair outside.

During all that drinking time, I raised my son, hung with lots of friends, worked here and there, went through two relationships and a marriage, played volleyball, had several dogs and cats, moved from DC to LA and back to DC, traveled, and, well, didn’t grow up much.  Sort of an extended hippie phase – I thought it was all very cool.  Intermittently miserable, but cool. 

One day on the advice of a friend, I went to an Adult Children of Alcoholics seminar for a whole day.   I woke up the next morning with a new and painful realization of what alcoholism does to one’s family, friends and self, in that order, and a conviction not to drink that has lasted 24 years, a day at a time as we say.

Now I’m more grown up.  Life is full of choices.  That’s a great high.

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