Retirement after 5 months

Retirement after 5 months

The editor of ‘finewiner’ was kind enough to allow me to write about how my process of retiring is going.  I don’t think I will write anything that is groundbreaking or new as this is a common process for most of us ‘finewiners.’  In my world there has always been the question of what motivates people to get up in the morning and go out into the day.  There are at least four groups of people that have differing motivations.

Group one are those that are motivated by how things work.  These tend to be people that are more like engineers—how to increase efficiency, return on investment, how to make things better and faster.  Group two are those that motivated by creativity. These are the poets and painters and writers who are not interested in ‘sameness’ but in uniqueness and are drawn to the well written phrase, the aesthetics of things.  Group three are those motivated by service—the nurses, the teachers, the mental health workers—motivated by being in service to others.  The fourth group are more like grasshoppers and have a hard time defining what it is that motivates them and tend to move to different things once they become bored.

I’m in the third group. As a joke I’ve said that when I’m reincarnated, I’ll come back as a black lab—a little slow perhaps but loyal to my owner.  My wife had lunch yesterday with an old friend who came up from Santa Fe.  Laurie is a nationally known therapist who has written and spoken often about adult children of alcoholics.  When I first met Laurie, she introduced herself as a FIP, a formerly important person.  However, at 79, she still consults with groups and gives lectures.  I think much of her self esteem comes from still being a relevant mental health professional.

For me, I currently still think of myself as a small ‘f’ FIP.  It’s been five months since I closed down my office in the Edmonds area and walked out the door.  I miss the depth of the conversations I have had with my clients, miss writing complex evaluations that mattered to the individual and the community.  I miss feeling relevant.  I’ve taken on a project that seems relevant—changing the outcomes of mentally ill and chemically dependent residents of our county jail—but the community seems not to have the will or the means to make the necessary changes.  My project seems to be ending and I don’t really have an option that speaks deeply to me. I will be on two boards for the next three years, but this doesn’t provide the same depth that I may have had in my work.

I know that I am ‘built’ for service, but at this point I haven’t found anything that calls to me. I’m giving myself a year to figure this out.  Some of my older friends say that I’ll need up to a year and a half.  I hope they are right.

Terry Copeland, Ph.D.

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