It’s been sixteen years since I was told that day would be my last at The Research Company. Devastated, angry, and relieved to be free of them, I stepped forward onto an uncertain path. I was surprised my course returned me to school nursing. When I retired from that position last March, I had no idea that my path would continue to a part-time job as the nurse for a psychiatric research study– this time for real.
The Research Company had recruited me to work on clinical trials with a psychiatrist they said would be joining the staff. But that never happened. Instead, I felt trapped, doing studies that weren’t remotely related to mental health.
Ironic that eighteen years after I was hired by that toxic company for studies that never materialized, I’m now hired to work part-time with a study led by a renown psychiatrist. I walk into the office that is loft-like with a bay of desks, one that is mine for eight hours each week. I think back to how my life has unfolded.
In early January, our life coaching alumni group participated in a visioning exercise. We were to focus on our coaching practice in the new year, imagining a butterfly leading us to our goal. I could see a beautiful monarch in flight, like those that symbolize the healing care of lymphatic massage. In my mind’s eye, the butterfly becomes supersized and picks me up at my middle school and carries me to a place I can’t see. All I know is that I’d been lifted through no effort of my own.
Weeks later, with less than two months until retirement, I talked with my friend, Jennifer. Feeling internal pressure to have the next chapter in place, I shared my frustration that I wasn’t further along with establishing my coaching and writing businesses.
“I hope you can let your retirement flow, organically,” she said. “You’ve worked hard and it’s time to stop striving.”
I appreciated her wisdom. She’d been retired for a couple of years and had experience with that chapter of life. I thought about her word, organic and was reminded of being carried by the butterfly.
Jennifer’s wisdom and the butterfly came to me often over the weeks before and after my last day at the school. Both helped me relax about what would happen next. Things did flow as my writing expanded to meet deadlines, and I postponed working on my coaching business.
Over the first months of retirement, my energy was restored. I didn’t realize how deeply tired I’d been. Gradually, my interest increased for working with people in a meaningful way, using my skills as a nurse to balance the solitary quiet of writing. About that time, a former co-worker had called and asked if I’d be interested in the research job. No striving to find that position, just a gift that flowed into my hands, organically.
While The Research Company hadn’t worked out, my experience there taught me how to work with studies. Now, I could use those skills for psychiatric research that was part-time and flexible, while I gradually developed a coaching practice– just enough meaningful work.
I imagine that monarch flying into my new office and landing on the lamp at my desk, the brilliant colors of the monarch standing out against the green shade. This is where that path has led me, flowing organically to the next stop on my way.
How About You?
Have you ever come back to a place in your life that you didn’t expect to return to?
How was the experience the second time around?
In what ways have you experienced flow in a time of transition?