This is the start of my six month retirement post. The one about how I’ve
floundered around for the last few months trying to sort out a few details rattling around in my head and life.
Which seems, totally ludicrous, given that I chose all the details about my exit to retirement. But there you have it. It’s not quite as easy as just walking out the door one last time – or it wasn’t for me anyway.
But still I did flounder. I felt lost. It was a huge adjustment to take the trauma nurse away from that setting. I think, honestly, I was addicted to the go go go of my specialty. I spent every day giving 110% first and foremost to my patients then to my surgeons. They aren’t a demanding lot but I wanted it to be the best it could be, always. I spent many hours behind the scenes working on equipment, pick lists, an orientation manual and proposals for specialty equipment. A hugely significant number of hours providing one on one education for nursing staff, all the while maintaining good patient outcomes with “content” surgeons.
Then, it was gone. I was left with a casual job that, while I have learnt quite a bit, isn’t near as difficult as what I came from. Healthy patients with good outcomes. Windows, which are such a fabulous work place “perk”. Lunch and parking often provided. I work somewhere between 2 and 8 shifts a month.
Which means tons of days off. Which is where I’ve felt lost. I burnt through the to do lists quickly for a while. We went skiing. Took a trip to Scotland and stopped in England for visits with family and friends. I spent a week at my mom’s. Countless days with my grandchildren which has been the cream on top as you can read here in Marvelous Monday.
I’ve kept busy but it’s still like something is missing. The retirement gig is not all about the money as those investment guys would have you believe. It’s more about losing that “thing” you do professionally and are passionate about. Which is not my identity.
I’m still, and always will be, many things. I’m a caring, compassionate, slightly in your face Energizer Bunny. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, cousin, friend and Nan. So I haven’t “lost” my identity obviously. I am busy doing a variety of thing so what’s missing you ask? It’s the sense of commitment, the passion and the challenge.
None of that is about me, the nurse. I will always carry the nurse in me even if I am no longer practicing in acute care or even in any capacity. I am a nurse.
So it turns out that commitment, passion and the challenge aren’t really there when it’s time to weed the garden, do volunteer work or clean the bathroom. They aren’t even there when you are painting, walking or playing soccer. I strongly suspect this “drive” is what pulls retirees back into encore careers; that desire to be committed and going.
I still stand with my decision to retire when I did. 60 is a good number to give up a physically demanding, mentally challenging full time role. It didn’t take long for the major aches and pains to diminish. It’s still a sleep challenge some nights so I am really happy that I am not starting down the path of evenings and midnight call again. I don’t miss the nightly routine of making lunch or the dragging my tired body out of bed at 0605.
Which brings me back to the crux of the matter. Where to find fulfillment for that drive, and that passion? Where to find that challenge which then leads to satisfaction? It seems, from the retirees that I’ve talked to, many don’t seem to miss these things and often don’t look back. Perhaps I just need more time before just the average “to do” list is challenging enough. Or perhaps it’s time to find a new challenge. Your guess is a good as mine what that might be but there are a couple of areas I am leaning towards.
In the meantime I keep busy but I’ve realized that it’s, for the most part, a non stress busy. There is more time to do those projects, or have a walk and lunch with a friend or go berry picking. There is time to blog, time to take photos and time to reflect.
A year of change. Be sure to check back in six months to figure out how I embraced this next stage in my life.