It’s amazing what we can see and experience when we slow down. The other day I went off to run errands…garden supplies and groceries.
On my first stop I noticed a man (probably in his late 60s) in a motorized cart near the back of the store. Seeing that no one was around and that he was struggling to reach something on the shelf, I offered to help. We chatted and after about five minutes I indicated that I was going to look in the next aisle for my items, attempting to bring the conversation to a polite close. But the gentleman continued to talk and I listened. I learned about where he grew up, his businesses, religion, military history, golf handicap and that he once met Donald Trump during a Military Veterans Tournament. The conversation continued with his questions of me. “Are those your real teeth?” and “You’re Irish, aren’t you?” and “Would you like to be our guest at the May 2017 Veterans Golf Tournament in Virginia?” I chuckled with each question and gave him my responses: “Yes, Yes, and that is so kind of you, but no thank you.” About 45 minutes after we said “Hello”, we wished each other a good day.
My next stop was the local market. Nearly done, I turned a corner and saw that Progresso soup – typically $2.50 per can – was on sale for 88¢, if I purchased ten cans. I am fairly confident that I would have not noticed such an opportunity to save in times past. The busy career woman, homeowner, mother, and wife usually “squeezes in a quick trip” and rushes through the process in order to get the absolute bare necessities to keep hearth and home together.
I arrived home and was lifting the bags out of my car when one of my neighbors called out. He was back from a month-long overseas visit with his 81-year-old mother who had surgery. I had noticed that he was very concerned about her before the trip. So we greeted each other and he gave me the status of the situation.
What an interesting day of “noticing”: a soup sale and two vulnerable men who needed the gentle embrace of human connection. And as I think of these men now, I feel a sweet wave of gratitude that our paths did cross and that I did notice them. Now that I have slowed down, I wonder what more is out there for me to notice? Perhaps, an even bigger question might be, “How much have I missed because I was rushing?”
All The Best, Brigid
Those were dirty words some days. Hard to get out of bed. Hard to be enthused about the waiting projects and people. Impossible to imagine a thing called “retirement.” Like you I would imagine, I gritted my teeth and soldiered on. Have to work to get the money to keep the present stable and to plan for the future, right? But the truth is I also had many glorious days of great partnerships, getting results, and achieving good outcomes. How exhilarating!
So, here I am, after fifty years of earning a paycheck, in the early days of retirement. I made it! My official exit from employment was on January 20, 2017. When the first Sunday rolled around, I noticed the restlessness, agitation, dread….the anticipation of MONDAY! I had to remind myself that a new chapter had begun. This angst repeated on a second and third Sunday and disappeared completely in the fourth week. I have also noticed that my usual breathless-scampering-to-get-things-done behavior is gone. Whew. What a relief!
And this refreshing pause has given me the room to continue reflecting on my career. Initially, the usual questions:
- Did I really contribute to the well-being of the organization or its patrons?
- Did my work matter?
- Did I make a difference?
Since I had given the boss a six-month notice of my exit, he had the luxury of preparing for a smooth transition of my authority and responsibilities… and I had the luxury of beginning the internal work of change before I left the job.
Based on my own assessment and the feedback given to me by others over the years, I can make peace with these (self-worth) questions. Indeed, my work usually met the test of “good enough”. And there were those occasions, I now immodestly declare, when I excelled by going the extra mile or achieving what most thought to be the impossible. In short, my conclusion is, “You did ok, kid.”
With that evaluation accomplished, I was able to reflect on others:
- Those who mentored me in my business and clinical positions
- Colleagues who stood by me with their encouragement and partnership
- Those who brought me lunch, chocolate, or a good joke when I needed it
- Those I have worked for..the geniuses, rascals, posers, certifiable jerks, and the walk-on-water leaders whose inspiration made me want to jump out of bed every morning to get to work!
- Those who have worked for me…staff who were loyal, hardworking, very smart, resourceful, and made me want to be a walk-on-water leader for them!
I am grateful for it all.. the awful and the exhilarating days. I taught and I learned. I was inspired and I inspired. I gave my career a lot and it gave me as much in return.
All the Best,
Unexpected sunshine with warm breezes arrived this February day in the Mid-Atlantic region. How glorious! Abandoning my inside chores, I took to the garden. While there, a poem emerged. After yard work, supper, and shower I put it to paper.
I went to my Garden to set Her free
of piled up leaves and wind-blown debris.
"I’ll bring forth weeds and thorns, she teased.
“But I’ll give you blooms; I think you’ll be pleased.”
And as I worked, I saw something new.
Yes, up from the dirt a shoot pushed through.
I had to inquire. “Are you weed or a bloom?
Shall I pluck you out or give you more room?”
And the Garden spoke, “Let that little one be.
Leave it there and watch and then you’ll see.”
Since I think that my Garden is wiser than me,
I did as She asked. So...... we shall see.
All the Best, Brigid