I said goodbye to many more of my patients this week, including the ones who wanted to get in for “one last visit” with me, even though they’d been seen recently. These were some of the hardest, too. At one point, I found myself sniffling at my desk after one of the most emotional goodbyes, when I suddenly decided to run out the door and chase my patient and give him my personal email and another tearful farewell. Not one of my shining moments for emotional “strength.” Then again, what are we, if not vulnerable and human?
I also went to my last choir rehearsal this week. This was also emotional because choir and other choristers are what have kept me sane through some very hard times. I said as much in my goodbye speech, too. On choir rehearsal night, I often think “oh man, I’m too tired for this. Maybe I should skip choir and stay home? Nah, I just have to make myself do it...” Then, the moment I walk into the rehearsal room I brighten up instantly and know “I feel SO much better. I did the right thing by coming here.” I’ll find ways to keep singing for the rest of my life.
My work goodbye party was this week as well. We catered Olive Garden and disported ourselves thoroughly. Okay, maybe “disported” is a bit strong of a word, as it conjures up images of people leaping about with abandon, or running around on the beach, or some such. We had a great time, though. It was extremely weird to have to leave and know that I wouldn’t be seeing patients again. I went up to the front desk to give one of my staff members a final hug, and of course got nailed with “just one more patient” who walked in the door and desperately needed my help. Which I gave him. If I hadn’t had that “just one more patient” I would have felt like Murphy’s Law had failed me, though, so I didn’t mind. Plus he really needed the help.
My final goodbye party was with friends, later on the same day as my work party. I will still be in Tucson for another week-ish, but a friend of mine was throwing a pre-dance party last weekend, and I decided to coopt it for my nefarious purposes, with her complete agreement. I got to see a ton of people I otherwise might not have gotten to say goodbye to before running off into the Wild Blue Yonder. And better, I got to shake my tail feather afterward to help dispel some of that “weird” feeling from knowing I wasn’t going back to work on Monday.
The Burnout Recovery Guide was released this weekend. Yay! It went well, with no major hitches, and I even got a positive review by an NP blogger, Jenni Feldmann. The first sale made me feel like “hey, I really can do this!” I am very happy with how everything has gone so far, and I’ll be working diligently to do good advertising so I can help as many burned out and burning out people as possible, and fund my travels.
Many many people keep telling me I am crazy for doing what I am doing, but one person told me: "You are my hero. You are doing what I said I'd do twenty years ago, and never did. And now I have to wait until retirement to do it. You GO girl!" That last person is the only one I am listening to. Actually, that's not true, but his is the only advice I am following. I don't mind being called crazy, and I am blessed with an incredibly supportive social circle, even if (especially since?) I'm a bit on the unconventional side.
Thus far, my “mini-retirement” life has been odd at best. I spent the first day thoroughly down and moping about, confused as to what I should do. I had a gazillion things that I -needed- to do, but felt lost without any structure and mostly didn’t do anything. And gave myself a headache in the process.
I am acutely feeling the loss of identity and self-worth that comes with leaving or losing a job in our society. I have spent years identifying with my work as an NP in a community health center, as it aligned so closely with my personal values. But now I have to (get to?) recreate my identity without relying on work as a crutch. I knew this was coming, and was expecting it. I look forward to taking on the challenge... once I get over the shock to my system.
I am now in day four of my mini-retirement, and doing much better. I created an hourly schedule for myself, which includes meals, mindfulness meditation and exercise (bike ride!), and four to-do lists. Lounging on the beach may not be my strong point, and I have to get ready for Japan anyway.
Onward to more goodbyes. And some hellos! And lots of trips to Goodwill!