Really Retired

This week I finished my work as a part-time research nurse with UNC School of Medicine–Psychiatry Department. It’s the position I took six months after retiring from my full-time job as a school nurse– which I’d done for twenty years of my forty-four year career. UNC was where I began in nursing after graduating there in May of 1977. Ending my career where I started felt like coming full circle. Now, it’s time to Really Retire— no more part-time gradual exits, no more hanging on to that career security–time to just let go.

“Retirement Paradise” by aag_photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

When I retired from that job in March of 2017, I was ready to leave but uncertain about the next steps.

Now, I look back at what I wrote in a blog post Afraid of the Next Chapter and see the irony of comparing anything to my marriage that would dissolve a couple years later.

The week I retired from school nursing reminded me of the week I got married; unbelievable that it was my turn to enter a new chapter of life. I’d watched many of my friends retiring like I’d watched those who married before me, observing them for how to approach that new venture, going to them for advice. But ultimately, it felt a bit surreal and like I’d set the whole process in motion and couldn’t stop it now. It was awkward, like I wasn’t sure where I was stepping and while people told me about their experiences of retirement, I knew it was different for each person. I had to go it alone. While most of me was tired and ready for my new life, part of me was scared, afraid of the next chapter.

With my friend, Debra who staged a first aid scene for me to walk into– thus the bandaids!

At that time, I had no idea that my marriage would be ending after my school nursing retirement.

I was used to my routine, working the ten months of the academic year with two months off in summer; the daily rhythm of a middle school and the way time is measured there; the certainty of knowing where I would be for eight hours each weekday with little free time to fret. I think that as much as I fight routine, there is a feeling of safety when things stay the same. It gives me a sense of control, of knowing where to place my feet instead of feeling like I’m off kilter.

I was in a waiting period, writing a lot, planning a trip, and hoping to hear back from a part-time job as a research nurse–which is the one I just ended. I wrestled with how to spend my day without the familiar tasks of school nursing, feeling a bit uneasy for no apparent reason.

I’d thought I would establish a coaching business and a writing business during that intial period after leaving the school. I was so tired and at a loss for what to do next. Looking at those two goals, it came to me, “It’s not realistic to start two businesses simultaneously.” My coaching class had emphasized Underpromising when it came to weekly goals (described in post Underpromising: Is that Settling?). I’d never started a business and didn’t know all the steps involved.

Ultimately, I decided to just go with my heart and write– working on my memoir to move it toward publication.

Reading my post now, I see the entry from my journal notation:

I return to what I’d written in my devotional book, “First day of school and I’m not there. Feels empty.”

then the rest of that entry

but also feels like I’ve moved on and I’m full of wonder with how God is going to move in my life.”

Like my wedding day, now forty years ago, we will trust the process as we approach a new chapter, that is both scary and exciting, with plot twists that we couldn’t anticipate.

WOW! “plot twists that we couldn’t anticipate” I’ll say!

Eno River hike November 2019– Going on my new path

Now, it’s almost four and a half years since I moved into the part-time position as research nurse and had more free time. I experienced some of what retirement is like, but now, I’m ready to move on and experience more of the freedom and relaxation which is full retirement. I’m ready to put my RN license into retired status, which had felt risky four years ago but feels right now.

Many people I know have needed to approach retirement gradually. I’ve always worked–beginning as a girl growing up on a farm and earning money working in tobacco after fifth grade. Now I feel more secure and ready to completely let go–and see where this Real Retirement leads. As I said before, “I’m full of wonder with how God is going to move in my life.” I think this also relates to the loss of my marriage and the desire that I’ve expressed in my Online Dating posts to find a new life partner.

Now that I’ve Really Retired, my hope is for that leisurely time that allows for good things to unfold.

I don’t know what situation you’re in– if perhaps you’re gradually retiring or transitioning to something else. My hope for you, is that you’ll find what you need to move forward.

Blessings on you in the week ahead, whatever steps you’re taking.


7 thoughts on “Really Retired

    • Hey Ruben,
      Thanks so much. I sure have something to learn from your and Robin’s playbook! LOL! Hope y’all are well and enjoying European life. I intend to enjoy mine more than ever.
      You take care,


  1. I am so glad that you have reached a point in life that we all strive to arrive. I have retired many times and failed at meeting any of the goals. With all that leisure time my mind began wandering and discovering new challenges to be explored. in most cases, I found a monetary angle and progressed. If you wonder about stress, that is good stress. Life, to me, is a journey with many mini journies attached. Even the most insignificant hold great importance and value. Your journey is such we all are learning the importance of your life. Love and Blessing to you. John


    • Hey John,
      Thanks so much for sharing how your journey as been. I love how you say, “a journey with many mini journeys attached.” That is so true and all of those side trips have significance as you say.
      I appreciate your support and encouragement of my sharing through my posts. Sometimes along the way, you wonder if what you’re saying, doing makes any difference but you just keep on, trusting.
      Blessings on you and the current journey, whether it seems like a mini or the main path.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My sister is an RN and has gone through a similar retirement then ready for REAL retirement journey. She retired 2 years ago but then the pandemic and she’s in a small town with a shortage of nurses and and and. Now .. she’s ready to really really retire. Your post is very relatable! Congratulations on this big step and all that comes next! P.S. I always enjoy your posts, may not always comment, but always appreciate the thoughtfulness of your words. ~ MJ


    • Hey MJ,
      Thanks so much for reading and never feel any guilt about not commenting. I haven’t done well on reading your posts—and I apologize. Time just gets away from me–my excuse!
      Yes, you know when it’s time to let it all go–and for me, that’s now. When you’ve worked so many years it doesn’t come natural to NOT work. I’m ready to ease into that and I hope your sister has found her way as well.
      Best to you, and to her, MJ.


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