Tuesday, 31 March 2009

And so it begins

I don't know quite what I expected to feel on leaving work. I thought I would be a bit sad perhaps, to leave my colleagues behind. I thought I would be excited about the new life ahead. I thought it would feel odd. And if I am honest I probably had not thought about it too much, feeling that I couldn't really second guess how I would feel and that the important thing had been to decide that this was what I wanted to do. Heaven knows, making my mind up was hard enough to do!

The last day was strange, clearing out my desk, throwing armfuls of paper into the confidential waste and rescuing a couple of articles I had written for technical journals. I don't think I will need them but my memory is so sieve-like that I won't be able to remember who published them without a copy. It felt like the slenderest of insurance policies, throwing away years of notes and journals and presentations and hanging onto two publications, too small a legacy for twenty years of professional life. I handed in my laptop and my blackberry, feeling strangely naked. My handbag felt too light and I felt like a balloon, floating free, with that same slight sadness I feel when I see a balloon let go, floating up in the sky, gone, out of reach.

We had farewell drinks. We all said we would keep in touch but there is only one person who has become such a friend that I know that I will see continue to see her. It felt an oddly anticlimactic thing, slipping out of the door without a real fanfare or farewell. That was my fault really. I had inadvertently arranged my farewell when my boss and some of my senior colleagues were away at a conference and I didn't want to come back again just for a send off so I didn't reschedule it. Part of me just wanted to get on with it.

Last week hardly felt any different. I don't normally work on Friday so it was really just Thursday, usually a working from home day, when I had additional time. I sorted papers for the cottage, tidied my handbag, sowed sweetpeas by the dozen, took my work suits to the dry cleaners. It could have been just an extra day's holiday although there was no Thursday morning conference call. I looked out of the window a bit, wondering what to do. I walked round the garden.

I knew that today would be the day when it really hit home. Today I normally get up, pack my bag, check my diary, make a call or two and drive to the station to catch the train to London. Today I got up at about a quarter to eight, only half an hour later than usual. I thought I would drift if I stayed at home so I went to yoga and relished the sense of a second class in a week, my body suddenly surprising me by a rightness to a posture that I had not realised was lacking, tightness relaxing, sinews stretching. My tight hamstrings still make touching my toes a distant dream but it was good to give myself fully to something, letting the distractions go, focussing on the body so fully that the mind quietens.

I am torn now between a sense that I should work frantically through the masses of things to do which I have been putting on various lists for weeks and thinking that I should take my time. There is always tomorrow and the tomorrow after that. Too much rushing about will prevent whatever it is that I want to give room for from emerging. Sorry if that sounds too new-agey but that is how it feels, although I am a boringly practical person. But too much solitude and lassitude will not be good for me either. I know I am someone who needs people to fire off as well as time to myself. I am also someone who has had a lifetime of responding to deadlines, of working best under pressure, of whizzing around on an adrenalin high which I have been slowly weaning myself from over these last couple of years.

So today I am going to live in the day, quiet and still with a pale grey sky and some Spring warmth in the air. I have my Offa's Dyke walk in a few weeks' time to give me a focus and something to plan for so I am not going totally cold turkey. I have counted out the seed potatoes and watered in the greenhouse and there is a suspicious cat related stain to clean from under the dresser. There is Welsh class tonight and boiler services to be arranged and the cottage accounts to do.

I think I might start with the suspicious stain. Doesn't do to get too excited too soon.

21 comments:

  1. Bound to be a period of readjustment - won't take too long though - just breathe that crystal clear air in deeply and - enjoy every second of it - you've earned it!

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  2. I remember that feeling vaguely -- what do I do first when I have only myself and my family to think of and care for. It took some adjusting, but I wouldn't trade it now for the world.

    Just let it happen. It'll be wonderful, I promise.

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  3. you sound like I sort of thought you would. You can't just be a different person yet, it'll sort of take a while to blur into.

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  4. This all sounds too, too familiar - just about how I started when I retired - rest assured it gets easier - within a few weeks you will wonder how you ever found time to go to work!

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  5. It must be so disorientating, but I expect your days will be filled so quickly. They'll contain more time for you, hopefully. Emma x

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  6. Take it as it comes - you will feel strange as habits of a lifetime change but I am sure you will also know when you need company. It will be good to relax for a while and pick up, move on from there.

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  7. Congratulations! This, as they say, is the start of the rest of your life. Just let it happen.

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  8. You have an amazing awareness of the process you are going through - we get so caught up in the world of work and the pace can be different - you are in the right place

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  9. It will take a while to get used to a new routine.
    I am like this in the summer holidays but by the end of that time, I don't really want to go back to school!

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  10. You've done it, that's the main thing. Da Dah! Let your new life begin.

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  11. You made it, Elizabeth.....out of the office and into your life. Enjoy every bit of it, and please let us know about as many of the delicious moments as you can.

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  12. Don't you find that writing (via blogging or whatever) helps? For me, there's something about taking the time to consider how I'm feeling and then committing it to paper (or screen) that seems to calm and clarify. I think the new you will gently emerge after this period of unsettledness.

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  13. 'Feste lente' - make haste slowly. Enjoy these unusual days.

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  14. I've got a lifetime's worth of stuff accumulated around me. I'm slowly weeding it out. But I don't let that old stuff get in the way of the new things I'm discovering and doing.

    I suspect you'll encounter something like that. In fact, I think you already have.

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  15. Just give it time Elizabeth. I think the busy bit will come with the manic gardening that takes place any time now. I do know what you mean about needing others to fire off though xx

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  16. Know exactly what you mean by that mixture of sadness and elation when you see a balloon... why is that? I don't know. I hope you have had a lovely day. I bet you have :-) x

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  17. Take it slowly, don't feel you have to get everything done at once! Like everyone else has said, you will soon wonder how you had time to go to work!

    Love the primroses, too!

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  18. Hurrah - you've done it! Don't worry about the sense of loss at not having work to revolve around. You will replace it with so much more and soon be wondering how you ever had time to go to the office. Congratulations! Perhaps now you will be able to visit me in my new house (if I ever get it that is).

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  19. You have turned a corner and are walking along a new path....new and wonderful adventures are ahead! Different from what you have left behind, but certainly meaningful and promising for the person you are and the choice you have made.

    I have a quote for you, from Edith Schaeffer that I ran across this week: "We foolish mortals sometimes live through years of not realizing how short life is and that "Today" IS our life."

    May you bask in your new freedom to enjoy whatever "Today" brings your way and savor the drops of sweetness that you did not have time for in the past.

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  20. Elizabeth, I just finished reading your "Journey In and Out of Darkness" and I am fascinated by the contrast of then...and now. I am myself coming out of a rather long period of if not darkness, then certainly a greyness. You are alive, your have started your new life, and you are so joyful. Thank you for what you write and the way you write it.

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  21. Oh good luck and chin up. Just spending some time catching up with peoples blogs I have wanted to read but haven't had a chance recently.
    Thik of all the blog reading & PC time you have now!
    Hope all goes well.
    CKx

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