Entering Retirement

Post Date: May 19th, 2013


As the last two weeks of work unfolded, my stress level was so high I vibrated with tension. I worried about finishing trials and sentencings, having a farewell luncheon, moving out, and about my staff members finding new placements. All the while there was the low, incessant drum beat of the actual transition itself: finishing a vocation and entering a new phase of life.

The worries occupied my conscious mind, leaving the transition to be worked out in my unconscious mind. I frequently felt fatigued and slept an hour or more longer than usual at night. My dreams were plentiful, active and vivid, and I knew when I awoke that this was how I was processing closing a structured work life and opening to something different.

The magnitude of this transition manifested in my becoming keenly aware of the enormity of what I did as a judge. I began to agonize over decisions and perseverate about them afterwards. It felt as though I was returning to my judicial birth, a time when pronouncing someone guilty reverberated in my being. Since then I have made that pronouncement thousands and thousands of times without a personal reaction. Yet in the process of shedding my robe, I again became highly sensitive to the powers of a judge.

On the lighter side, my retirement party was vivacious and well attended. A judge rarely hears people’s reactions, so the many farewell comments were meaningful to me. My court reporter is now situated with another judge. My clerk is being interviewed soon and I feel optimistic about her horizons. My husband, an excellent mover, worked with me last weekend to accomplish this final move, leaving me with only two boxes, a plant and plant stand for my final day. On that day I silently celebrated never again having to walk into work through a noisy, dark, dank, dirty entrance. I cheered internally when I presented my work identification card for the last time. I skipped up to the administrative office to turn in my key and key cards.

Most importantly, I was able to approach my last day with equanimity and happiness, satisfied with a job well done. I’m honored to be able to look back over my career through the lens of an upcoming Lifetime Achievement Award. All is well that ends well.

My first act of retirement: a nap!

Next, a celebration dinner of trout, salad, rice and wine. 

Now on to gently re-discovering my internal rhythms and living by them in concert with the rhythms of nature. 

And moving forward with writing in my own rhythm and voice.

I’m filled with wonder about exploring this new chapter of my life.