February 11, 2011

What a ride it has been lately.  On January 22, 2011, my mother suffered a stroke and was hospitalized.  It affected the right side of her brain and her speech/language center. Very frustrating for her.  The early days were spent worrying about a second stroke and whether she would move her left side. We knew that she would have to go to a rehab center.  We thought that we had found a good one but after hearing about her assessments the staff  decided that she needed more help than they could provide. We heard about a nursing center that was part of a retirement community and only provided a few beds to the public.  We liked the fact that many of the people in the facility were paying a lot of money for independent and assisted living so the expectations for good care were high.  To date it appears to be a good choice.

Just after my mother was settled into rehab I got sick with flu-like and then upper respiratory symptoms so I haven’t been able to visit her and help my siblings out this past week.

I check my office email once daily but the emails have pretty much dropped off to nothing. Occasionally someone will contact me to wish me well.  I know I have been distracted with my mother but still I am amazed that after 30 years I am finding it so easy to move on with my life. Work was always only the thing that financed the important things that comprised my life, not my identity. I also accomplished all I wanted to at work. It was clear that the types of assignments that I always thrived on were not likely to come my way and I was not happy with my last assignment over the course of this past year. Still I ended my career sitting in a windowed office with three windows,  I had a Blackberry, and I’d reached a salary level that put me in the top 4% of all women.  On top of that I had had the opportunity to be substantively involved from the early days, providing IT support, for several contracts that became models for national health behavior surveillance systems and health communications.  In addition I provided IT support for a number of national education studies and evaluations that have informed policy decisions over the last three decades.  I have had other types of assignments throughout my career but these are the ones I treasure the most.   I also think that since I realized that coverage might be a problem once my current assignment ended that I started to process the possibility of termination months ago.

I have begun working on a budget as I am trying to save as much of my severance as possible.  Fortunately one can live cheaply in my city.  My goal for Monday is to start the schedule that I planned to put into place before my mother had her stroke. I plan to walk to the Aquatic Fitness Center and begin my day with a swim and some exercise.  Then I’ll stop by Joe’s for a cup of coffee before heading home. I would like to start buying my food daily so that I am not wasting food.  We all know the trap of buying stuff that we never eat and end up throwing away. Now I have more incentive to just buy what I need. I am being giving tips from a number of folks in town who are pros at living cheaply.

I still need to purchase an all-in-one printer so I can print, copy and fax from home and I need a new mattress set.  My washer needs some repair as well.  These are all things I plan to take care of while I am still receiving my severance.  In the coming weeks I need to do some painting as well.  I have been needing to paint the first floor of my house for a number of years, but now I will have the time to actually get it done.

I am signing off for today as I have used up the time I set aside for blogging!

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January 21 – Day 4

My first day of retirement.  I slept in and then went down to Joe’s for breakfast.  In future I will probably eat at home and just get coffee while I talk to the other guys who have been laid off or are retired or are local home improvement contractors.  I drove down this morning but plan to walk down to the Aquatic Fitness Center which I joined before going to work on Wednesday.  I’ll work out and/or swim before going to Joe’s for a cup of coffee.

My friends at Joe’ s (and Joe)  were very supportive.  They are looking forward to seeing me more often.   I talked to them  about lawyers that they like. Will do the same with others until I arrive at a consensus about which lawyer to contact.

Ran some errands and enjoyed the fact that it was Friday and not a busy Saturday.

I dropped by  a friend’s house for a cup of coffee and we had a good visit.  He encouraged me to drop by more often and I told him I will definitely drop by more often.

Went home and let the dogs out.  They are enjoying the fact that I am sleeping in and home more.

All and all a good first day.  After talking to folks around town one lawyer’s name kept coming up so I called and made an appointment.  I’ll have him review my severance agreement before I sign it.

As I think about the weekend I keep reminding myself that I can enjoy the weekend now and leave all my errands for weekdays.   I think I am going to like being retired.

 

 

 

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January 20 – Day 3

Today I felt even more relaxed and can’t wait for the transition to be completed so I don’t have to make this commute!

Decided to pack the car as soon as I got to work which I did.

Had a nice lunch at Thai Farm and managed to complete everything I wanted to by 4:00 so I got a jump on rush hour.

I was asked if I wanted to come back next week for a lunch with my team and some other folks that wanted to be part of a lunch for me. I said I would be delighted to come back for lunch.

Notified my personnel supervisor that I was done and turned in my badge and my blackberry.  Stopped by HR to ask a couple of questions.

Was surprised at how easy it was to walk out of the office the last time and then out of the building.  Said goodbye to my staff before I left.  They have been very supportive and shared nice sentiments with me over the last couple of days. I will treasure their thoughts.

I will have to get a new cell phone. A friend told me about Consumer Cellular where I could get a cheap plan and a free phone and accessories. That should be enough for me — something that will let family members contact me in an emergency.

Decided that I wanted to have a lawyer review my severance agreement before I signed it and decided to get a Greenbelt lawyer.

I feel as though I have gotten my life back!

 

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January 19 – Day 2

What a day this has been!  As soon as I woke up,  I noticed the reduction in my stress level. I also enjoyed knowing that I would get to work when I got there.  I felt rested and was already regretting that I had agreed to this two-day transition. By the time I got to work it was clear that word had spread through the grapevine.  I immediately started receiving calls wishing me well and expressing concern and sorrow that I would no longer to be around.

I guess this was to be expected after 30 years, but it was great to experience the sheer volume of people who called or came to my office. A good friend took me out to lunch at That’s Amore and I really enjoyed it.  I ended up staying until after 7:00 to make sure I completed everything I wanted to complete that day.

Two of my favorite people at work invited me to lunch tomorrow.  I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather spend my last lunch with.

Had a terrible commute home and was grateful that I won’t have to deal with this commute much longer.

 

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January 18 – Day 1

This morning I received an email from my personnel supervisor wanting to meet with me.   We scheduled a time. As the morning passed my intuition kicked into high gear and I became certain that I was going to be terminated.   My intuition was correct and I was terminated after having been employed at this company for more than thirty years.  I also had turned 60 last October.

My immediate feeling was one of relief as I had been preparing for this day for a while.  I was also scared as I knew it meant that I was going to try to live cheaply for the next six years, trying not to dip into retirement until my 66th birthday.   I was also grateful because I qualified for a benefit that would provide a continuation of my insurance until I reached Medicare age.  I would be paying what the company’s  employees paid for health insurance — much less than  Cobra.  It was this benefit that made me think that I could swing living on my savings. We’ll see how that works out.

I had already removed personal items from my office several months ago because I thought my project coverage would end at the end of 2010. I made an effort to get rid of old materials that I was saving for easy reference rather than because they needed to be archived or saved.  I had had to pack my office to have the rug replaced a few months earlier and, at that time, I took the trouble to pack my items separately from those that belonged to the company.  I never bothered to unpack my stuff.  It was nice knowing that I could move out of my office easily and quickly.

Before I left my meeting I was asked to sign a statement that I has received a severance agreement.  I was also asked to check with my assignment supervisor to transition any remaining work.  I did and agreed to come in the next two days to finish a task and make sure some things were documented.  Then I left.

 

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