Free at last! Free at last! Thank the Lord, I’m free at last!
I had planned to make these words from the old spiritual my mantra for 2013. Before I left my job (see the About Me page for complete details), I expected to shout them from the rooftops. The truth of my response to leaving the world of “regular” employment after thirty-seven years is somewhat more complicated.
Mine was not the triumphant retirement I’d planned as recently as six months ago. Instead, it arrived a few years ahead of schedule and brought along a niggling degree of economic, as well as emotional, insecurity. My head knows my husband and I have tucked away a comfortable sum, but my heart still quakes at the thought of January 15th, the first payday in decades when no check will arrive.
Although I was able to leave on my own terms rather than being laid off or terminated, my departure wasn't the warm experience I’d envisioned. I gave my notice and was requested to leave the following day—not surprising, but not gratifying either after more than sixteen years. After a brief, pleasant announcement, a few co-workers stopped by to wish me well, and I slipped away unnoticed during the employee holiday party. As I turned out the lights in my office for the last time, carried my remaining belongings to my car, and drove off all I could think was what an anti-climactic end to one of the most important chapters of my life.
But in truth, I didn’t expect more. During my career, I’ve watched enough people come and go to know that in business no one is ever missed for long. And I don’t intend to waste time dwelling in the past; it isn’t worth the energy. I have a new life to plan. And that’s what this blog is about—planning for and making the most of The Second Half.
I’ve devoted much of the past six months to self-discovery, not an altruistic pursuit but critical at this point. When I graduated from college, I didn’t spend five minutes considering what I wanted (or needed) to do with my life. Like so many, I was simply looking for a job. And that first job led to more than three decades in the insurance business. I enjoyed many aspects of my job, but it probably wasn’t the best match for an Art History major. Now I get a do-over.