Friday, April 3, 2015

Change is the Only Constant

Anyone who has read my blog knows I am always completely open and honest about the events in my life - how I feel about them, how I deal with them, and how they affect my life both present and future. My posts up to this point have focused on the losses in my life, Eddie's death and the death of my mother, and the changes I had to make as a result of those losses. The upcoming change in my life may not be on the same level as losing my husband and my mother, but it is going to be significant just the same. I have been thinking about and planning my retirement for some time now. I know it is the right thing to do and the right time to do it. I'm not reconsidering my decision or having second thoughts of any kind. But as the time inches closer I will admit having some feelings of apprehension and uncertainty. A way of life that I have known and depended on for 30 years is about to disappear and that will mean another change for me. Other than part-time jobs while going to college, teaching is the only thing I have ever done. I have held the same job in the same school system for 30 years. The only changes that took place were when my original school was joined with another and rebuilt, when I switched from teaching special education to teaching fourth grade, and when I moved from one room to another farther down the hall. Most people experience many more changes during their professional careers than I have (the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports people hold an average of 11 jobs during their adult working years)!

While Eddie and I were married we talked about and even planned what we would do when we both retired. He was from South Georgia where his family owned property in the country as well as along the water on the east coast. He was a big hunter and fisherman and I loved the beach, so it was a given that when the time came we would move to one of those two places and live out our remaining years. It never entered my mind that I would have to come up with a different plan, one for just me, until Eddie died suddenly. Everything changed for me after that...I had to adjust to a new life on my own; I had to make new plans for the present as well as for the future; I had to accept that sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. One major constant during that time was my job, and I soon came to rely very heavily on the schedule and routine it provided for me. That may sound dreary and boring to some people, but knowing I had to be somewhere and do a certain thing at a certain time kept me going and in turn kept me sane. I learned very quickly that I didn't do well with a lot of down time and nothing specific to do. To this day, six years later, I still need to stay busy and focused on something. Too much unstructured time on my hands leads to thinking which leads to asking questions and wondering why again - in other words backsliding. And I do not want my retirement to lead to that!

So now the time has come for me to rethink what I'm going to do with the rest of my life. I've talked about moving back to my hometown, and that's still an option, but it's not something I'm going to do right away. I'll give more serious thought to that down the road. I've joked about buying a condo and moving to the beach, but that's only going to happen if I win the lottery! (I do however intend to visit there more often.) I want to do more to promote my book (something I promised my mother), and I would like to find groups to speak to about my experiences. I know there are options for part-time work in my field, and I intend to pursue some of those. Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to not having to go to bed at 9:30, get up at 5:30, work 9-10 hours a day, grade papers on the weekend, and still never be caught up! I will be relieved to not have such a strict schedule, but I'm not ready to be without any schedule at all. I'm sure in time I'll find a happy medium between the two extremes - it will just be one more adjustment in my life - proving once again that "Life Goes On".

"Retirement may be an ending, a closing, but it is also a new beginning."
~Catherine Pulsifier


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