June 12 marks my ten year retirement anniversary as a Speech Language Pathologist after 22 years of practice. Those years were a continuous source of pleasure and learning. I had the privilage to work with hundreds of amazing survivors of stroke and traumatic head injury and their families. But, after 22 years, it was time to transition to retirement.
In preparation to retire, I incorporated Feng Shui to set my first intention: the right time to leave. To support that intention, I selected a date: June 12, 2007. The numbers add up to the significant Feng Shui number nine, representing power and completion.
As the time grew closer, my eager anticipation of leaving was mixed with a huge sense of gratitude. I was acutely aware of how many wonderful people I had met along the way, both patients and staff from whom I learned so much. I had always felt badly when a therapist or staff member left and I did not get the chance to say goodbye and wish him or her well. Often there was an assumption that the person was on vacation, only to learn a month later that they were gone for good. I did not want that to happen. I like closure and warm goodbyes. So, my second intention: a graceful departure and closure. To that end, I made a point to seek out everyone I had worked with or had any interaction with – staff, physicians, mail delivery, schedulers, cleaning crew and volunteers – to let them know I was retiring and thank them for the opportunity to work with them. I also wrote Thank You notes and brought treats.
Intention number three: stop buying any clothing or accessories related to work. So I created a little ceremony. For weeks leading up to the June 12 deadline, I would come home from work and place the clothes I had worn that day in a farewell pile to be donated to Goodwill. Each article of clothing was blessed and folded neatly as it was “released.” Needless to say, my closet became very bare. During that time, I rewarded myself by purchasing a fabulous pair of red heels. No mistaking those for work shoes!
And then, the day arrived! On June 12, 2007, my husband drove me to work, planning to pick me up afterward for a celebratory dinner. I brought to work a piece of red cloth. In Feng Shui, there is a lovely ceremony called the Red Carpet Adjustment. A length of red fabric is placed across a doorway so that half of it is in the room and half on the other side of the threshold. Walking over it represents a personal journey from one place to the next. A transition, if you will. I was leaving the familiar and crossing the threshold to the unknown. Our past serves as a bridge to our future and walking the red carpet represented that bridge, leading me to a new stage of life. On my final day of work, I walked the red carpet, expressing words of gratitude while visualizing a smooth journey.
As June 12, 2017 approaches and I realize ten years have passed since I retired, I wonder how that could be? While the time has gone unbelievably quickly, I am grateful the journey has been exciting, revealing and instructive. I’m setting the intention that the next ten years will be more of the same!