October 14, 2016

It happened on October 14th.  I knew it at the time, and was relieved.  I wasn’t sure it would last, but it has for two weeks.  What happened is I gave up my struggle, my angst about not being able to retire with my job all tidy.  What replaced that struggle was a peace with whatever was going to happen.

On that day I had another event staring at me, that was taking place on the 20th.  It’s an event with a labyrinth of details, involving a lot of people and taking nine weeks for the preparation.  On the afternoon of the 14th, I took care of the next set of details, and realized it would be okay.  I no longer needed or wanted to be experiencing stress.  I felt some peace, thus some ease.  The 20th came, the event happened.  Mistakes occurred, repairs made, and the outcome was delightful for our students.  At the luncheon wrapping up the event, my colleagues acknowledged my fifteen years of contributions.  This was my last time to do this, and it felt just right.  Not too happy, not too sad.  Just right.

I work in Special Education as a Transition Coordinator.  I attend a lot of annual IEP (Individual Education Program) meetings. In order to remember for the next year, I  right notes to myself about information I gave, and next steps for that student and family.  Yesterday I was writing notes from a challenging meeting.  I decided it would be nice for the next person to know what helped moderate the challenges.  I added a sticky note, which started with: “Dear new Transition Coordinator”.  Writing that gave me great delight,  and I plan to do more of that.  I have no idea how the new Transition Coordinator will react, and it doesn’t matter.  It makes me grin, and is helping me acknowledge it won’t be me next year.



Those starfish!

I coordinated an event at work, and the event happened a couple of nights ago.  I do not enjoy the preparation for it, and worry that it won’t work out as hoped.  I was looking forward to it being over, as it is the last time, in fifteen years, of doing this event.  The relief I was anticipating is not there.  I recall now that a similar activity last April also did not have that feeling of relief.  Then and now, I feel some sadness.  That my self-imposed stress about it was not perhaps, stress well spent, in retrospect.

This week has been another emotional week for me.  I have been upset about a couple of things:  some students’ needs are being unmet, and lack of response from some of my co-workers.  Neither of these issues are new, but my heightened reaction is new to me.  I find myself upset that I am looking at the same problems for twenty years.  I am upset with myself for not effecting change,  and upset with my workplace.  I am then upset with being upset!!  

I am reminded of the times I have moved out of a house.  I have been driven to clean that house to a standard I don’t even try to reach when I reside there.  I have said, I don’t want anyone else to clean up my dirt.  I am now realizing that is my approach to retiring:  I want it all tidy for the next person.  It’s a standard I don’t think I will attain.

In my field, we talk about systemic problems versus individual problems, and about having professional impact on the system  in which we work.  As I look at leaving this field, I am wondering about my professional impact at my workplace.  Not saying I didn’t have impact, but through my current lenses of frustration and discouragement, I  can’t recall having had impact.  I think about the adage of the person on the beach throwing in one starfish at a time.  Historically my work has been like that, one starfish at a time. I am now concerned I  needed to focus on how they all ended up stranded on that beach in the first place.( Actually, I need to focus on both aspects!  A challenge to which I don’t always rise.)  When reflecting on this with a co-worker, she reminded me of a student last year, that with our joint efforts, we made a big impact in his life. He is one “starfish” I am glad I tossed back into that proverbial ocean.

With that in mind,  this is what I want to remember:  I have been in this profession for thirty-seven years.  I have continued to grow in my skills and  my understanding of my work. I am appreciative of the work opportunities I have had.  All in all, it has been satisfying work.  I want to finish strong, continuing to work from what I believe to be the best I can give to this job.  Since I work with people, I will never get it done, but next May I will stop, retire and call it good.

230 Days

Today I had a jarring experience. I came home feeling sad about retiring.  This is not how I have been feeling typically.  I usually come home and look at my countdown app, assuring myself this working gig is indeed going to end!

There are two Transition Coordinators in the school district and I have one of those jobs. ( I just edited: and I am one of them.  I just realized that is what’s this is about.). The other Transition Coordinator and I met with our boss, to discuss the hiring process, and what we believe we bring to the job, to the profession.  I felt like I was talking about me in the past tense.  Many days it’s great to be leaving as I am so looking forward to being retired. Today I had the jolt of realizing I am leaving a fair amount of my definition of me.  So maybe this is part of the separation process:  from “I am one of the two Transition Coordinators in the district” to “I have a job as one of the two Transition Coordinators in the district.”  Hear the difference?

Just as I understand my co-workers will start detaching from me, perhaps I need to start detaching from “I am a Transition Coordinator”.  While continuing to do my job.  I am still relevant, no, what I do for/with students, families and staff is still relevant.  I am always relevant.  So, there it is.  I am scared of not being relevant.

I told my boss today  it is wonderful to be able to retire while I still like my job.  But I am realizing that liking my job means there are many aspects of it I will miss. I have been the Transition Coordinator for sixteen years.  In the last few years I have enjoyed feeling a greater level of competence and confidence in my work. This is pretty gratifying.  I have worked in the same building and with some of the same staff, for twenty years.  A couple of decades is a long time, and a lot of relationships are work-related only, that I do not anticipate moving into friendships.  Those relationships will be ending.  Which is fine, as I don’t want a huge amount of people to maintain friendships!  It just part of a huge life change that caught up with me today.

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