I've been marking each day during the month of December. Counting each one down. On December 31, I'll close the door to my office, turn in my ID badge and parking sticker. I will then slowly walk through the security gates of where I've worked for 34 years. I won't turn around for one last look because I will either be close to tears or already crying and I hate for people to see me cry. I know that once I'm outside those gates, they'll close behind me and I doubt very much I'll ever be back inside again.
They call it retirement. I think that word is too final. I call it the second phase of my life. After all, I'm not even close to being finished with life's adventures, I'm just moving onto a new phase.
No longer will I have to get up at the crack of dawn (or dark), find Sunday afternoons come around too quickly, worry about getting safely to work on icy roads or have to leave for work on a beautiful summer morning. At 56 years of age, I can go where I want, when I want and rarely have to be in a certain place at a specific time.
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Yet....I'm a people person and my current job has taken me on email, phone or travel all over the United States. I've been working here so long that when I travel across the country to meetings it's like a class reunion. I'll no longer have that social interaction or be known as a subject matter expert in my profession. I've sweated dirt to make it up the career ladder and now I'm walking away from it.
I became eligible to retire last year but chose to stay, telling those who asked me why I was still working that I wasn't sure what I'd do with my free time. My mind was changed when I was presented with an opportunity to work part time for my favorite, now retired manager. I'm honored to be asked to join his team and my new job is interesting and gives me the flexibility to work where I want, when I want. Such a wonderful opportunity, if I declined I knew it wouldn't come around again. I couldn't pass it up.
I've been building a mental plan on how to keep busy, stay active and healthy. Much of this centers on horses (of course)! I've set seasonal riding goals for 2010. I'll maintain the web page for our barn and network with the trainers and my fellow riders. I'll join the local APHA club, pitch in to help and maybe I'll ride Champ (aka Want My Autograph) in one of their shows. I'll continue to mentor anybody who is interested in horses, spreading the wealth as best I can.
But I will never forget the great trip I've had on the ride of my career. I'm grateful for the experience and humbled at the upcoming opportunity. As 2010 dawns, so will a new life for this 50+rider.