Idle Anticipation

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” Bill Patterson, Calvin and Hobbes

My last day of work is arriving soon. I will turn over my computer-yikes! Is it possible? I have checked work emails 24-7 for many years. What will I do when the urge hits to see what is happening at work? Well, I hope I smile and remind myself- ‘oh that’s right, I’m retired!’

I was raised around a puritan work ethic-make every minute count. And I sure tried to do that. I crammed into every hour not only many things, but I tried to make them as varied as possible so that I constantly had to switch hats as they say. A master juggler of multi-tasking! Well, my arms are tired and I don’t see the balls so well anymore.

I recently read a wonderful book (that I highly recommend!) A Gentleman in Moscow written by Amor Towles. The main character Rostov is questioned early into the book about his daily activities. Rostov responds, “Dining. Discussing. Reading. Reflecting. The usual rigmarole.” 

My new goal! Dining, discussing, reading, reflecting. Retirement rigmarole!

“Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good plays, good company, good conversation-what are they? They are the happiest people in the world.” William Lyon Phelps

Only Once

“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.” Antonio Banderas

I have an apparently peculiar quirk. I think that I should only have to do something once. Say it once. Touch it once. File it once. Isn’t that the teaching of efficiency? Oh dear…I have another quirk-I think things should be efficient.

No wonder some days annoy me. My expectations that things should run efficiently and smoothly are adversely affecting my blood pressure. Ah…a splash of insight. Many of the above expectations occur in an office and are impacted by other people; other people who are messing with my mode of efficiency.

Wait. That still admits I have an expectation of efficiency. Perhaps I could change that to a desire for efficiency, but realize that a multitude of events, and people, will complicate my hope. I do get paid for that complication. However, it does slow things down. Damn…another expectation-that I will get a lot of things done in a day. Some days it takes all day to get someone to get labs done right, packaged correctly, picked up and processed as they should be. How could that take so long? I don’t know, but some days it does.

What am I left with? Go to work, don’t expect people to be competent,  an office to be efficient, or to get much done. There! My frustration could vanish.

But who would I become?

Best I keep my quirks, and learn how to manage letting go of my expectations of others. Perhaps that was the mother of invention to the happy hour/cocktail after a day’s work!



Decisions, Decisions!

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu

Clarity is a valued commodity. How many times do I wish I could look up in the sky, or down on the street and see sentences written by my future of exactly what I should be doing. I have never seen it, and it is not from a lack of trying!

Sometimes I am faced with a clear decision which must be made. I weigh the pros and the cons, discuss with friends, and seek ethereal guidance. I realize that the point of absolute certainty may never arrive, so I make the decision based on the facts I have at hand.

Other times, the need for a decision is not so clear. It isn’t that I must make a decision, it is if I WANT to make a decision. Wanting to make a decision changes things by choice. Sometimes other people are affected by that choice. If others would be unhappy with my selected choice, it could seem that I was callous to their feelings.

Yet,I believe that there are natural ‘change point’ times in a person’s life. Somehow your soul lets you know that it is time for a change. You don’t mean anyone ill will. You don’t mean for your decision to have any negative impact on anyone else. But you know that the time is right for you to make a change.

Such has happened in my life over the last few months. I have been at my current job for 13 years. I like who I work with, and I like what I do. Yet, when I read Steve Jobs tip: “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been NO for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” I knew that his sentiment rang true for me.

I studied to be a nurse. I moved into the administrative role for the last many years. I have decided to return to working with patients. I will be directing a research department and working with the physicians and patients who come seeking clinical trials. Our first clinical trial is for patients who have had surgery for melanoma. Melanoma is not the most prevalent skin cancer, but it is one of the most progressive. We are working with a company to develop a vaccine to prevent re-occurance of the melanoma.

I am certain that when I look into the mirror in the mornings, there will be days that I wish I wasn’t going to spend my day at work. But if I have to work, I am pretty certain that when I look into the hopeful eyes of a patient who is seeking medical advances for such devastating diseases, that I will be grateful that my days of working will be in an effort to help those who so  desperately need help.

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson