A Freebird Sunset

Dear Friends,

I am approaching the sunset of my life; I just experienced my last day at the job I’ve had for almost 30 years.  I could easily emote about all the ups and downs that I have experienced over my decision, and I have endeavored to stay present with my feelings. My work in Alanon has been a tremendous support during these times as meetings helped me get in touch with the deepest roots of my being and my most intimate feelings.  I follow those roots like a cave explorer rappelling down a rope to each and every dark encrusted crevice until I arrive at the core of my being where layers and layers of diamond-like crystals blaze with startling brilliance.  I turn to that brilliant crystal-like light within to guide me through all the doubts, uncertainties, and unknown future.  The light within helps me to explore what is bothering me, nagging at me; what do I need to feel and to let go of, if necessary?

My 12 step work has changed my life – it’s made me more comfortable in my own skin, and more trusting as well, and it’s made me a happier and I hope, a better human being!  I shared recently with a trusted colleague that I feel like I am finally getting my act together (in my sixth decade, but better late than never). 12 step work has helped me trust implicitly that no matter what, a Higher Power has my back.  The road may be paved with boulders and impediments because that is life, but I don’t have to let it deter me from forging on.  Boulders are just temporary impediments – I can approach them with caution and then figure out how to clamber over them.

I have also kept my eyes and ears out for signs.  These signs included a dream where a significant player at my workplace was going in another direction than I.  I followed a different road… I was in a car headed straight; the other person turned off the road.  Boy if that dream wasn’t a loud and clear message. The other person wasn’t thinking of retiring – far from it, but I needed to stay on course and head straight towards retirement and the decision that I had made.

Even after that dream, I almost retracted my intention to retire, and was ready to approach the boss and announce a changing of the mind.  Before that could happen, I woke up in the middle of the night with my hands radiating with pain.  Repetitive stress injury had been an unfortunate by-product of my occupation, but this new pain in the hands was reaching a significant level of discomfort, one I had not experienced previously. I had never woken up in the middle of the night with pain radiating throughout my hands and fingers.  It seemed to come out of the blue.  After I woke up and got on the road, I found myself in gridlock traffic.  I honestly was going to go to my boss that morning and say “I take it all back. I want to stay another year.”   As I sat in atrocious traffic, I said to myself, “What are you doing? Seriously, what are you doing?  You are stuck in this god-forsaken traffic and your hands are hurting. Think about it!”

I did think about it and I never approached my boss.  Yet, I still wavered. I had good days and bay days and I questioned often if I were doing the right thing.

Another sign was a potential traffic accident as I recently exited my parking garage.  I looked both ways before turning left in the two-way alley and although a line of cars blocked my view, I thought I was safe to go so I edged out.  Unbeknownst to me, a car had come racing from the other direction and all I remember is slamming on my brakes and closing my eyes. I don’t know how I knew that car was coming or if I had seen a glimpse of it, but it was as if my beloved angel of a Dad in heaven had given me some help and aided me in slamming on my brakes just in time.  My heart was beating out of my chest as the man exited his vehicle and signaled that there was no damage.  I bet there was an inch between our vehicles.

I mentioned my Dad because he is my guardian angel from heaven and he always cautioned,  “When the light turns green, pause, don’t go out right away into the intersection, watch for cars.”  It saved him from some accidents and my son shared how that wise approach to driving had saved him too from an accident or two.  My son intoned,  “Take that as another sign that it’s time to leave the big city.”

But the biggest sign so far was the display of  a most radiant sunset on the night before my last day at work.  It was a gift! I’ve been praying non-stop for inspiration and guidance as to how to approach and handle this new life coming up.  I know there are billions who would love to be in my shoes, retired with time for golf or other hobbies, or just to kick back and simply be.  Yet for me, I went to a job every day that I loved 99.99% of the time; I worked with people who were like family, and I had generous, understanding bosses.  Sounds like too good of a gig to give up, right?  Someone asked, “So why are you retiring then?”  I answered, “Good question.  I’m doing it for family. More time with family and for a new grand baby arriving soon.”  And I like the idea of going out on top, while I am still relatively young and in good health.  I’m going out on my own terms.

I might have easily stretched out my career even longer, but I also have the luxury of getting on my civil service retiree husband’s health care and that is huge.  I probably would not be able to retire early if it weren’t for that fact.  So once again, I count my blessings.  I make it a point of trying to wake up with a smile filled with gratitude for my blessings (hey, I woke up to see another day) and I try to make it a point of going to sleep at night, inwardly reciting the long list of daily blessings that I received, so I can drift off to dreamland with a smile crossing my lips so grateful to the Creator/Creatrix in heaven.

So, back to the blessing of a radiant sunset.  The freebird sunset as I call it.  Thirty minutes before sunset on a Thursday afternoon, I took a walk along the coast. As I turned a corner, this glorious sunset greeted me and it stopped me in my tracks.  I don’t always carry my phone with me on walks (more often I don’t), but fortunately on this lovely late afternoon, it was in my pocket and I snapped some photos.  I also happened to be listening to music and had ear plugs in my ears (something I rarely do!)  and as I approached the glorious view spread out in front of my eyes, the song “Freebird” by Lynard Skynard was playing in my ears.  One of my favorite songs of all time.  I had to laugh to myself. Here I had been praying long and hard for guidance and for help, sometimes riddled with doubts and anxiety over the choice I had made.  And here was my prayer answered, right before me in stunning Technicolor.  I was an actor in my own movie, with stunning cinematography on the screen, meaningful musical score in the background – here was my prayer answered.  Higher Power whispered rather strongly so I could not miss it:  “I am giving this to you. This is your sign that all is well, you are riding off into the sunset of your life, and I’m giving you a glorious scene to speed you on. I’m also going to give you this significant mega epic tune as a backdrop.  You are about to be a freebird.  Fly with wings spread, be happy, you’ve earned it.”

I want to cry but I am holding back tears.  A colleague asked on my last day how I was doing.  I answered, “I am not talking about it.”   She quipped, “De-nial is not just a river in Egypt.”  I said “I am using that!”  Sometimes denial cushions us from hard falls and deep or painful emotions we are not yet ready to face.  It can serve us until it doesn’t :-).  Another colleague quipped that denial can be a blanket we hold close, and no one has a right to tear it away from us and we have no right to tear that blanket from others.  I love it.  Denial works until it doesn’t and if I choose a smidgen of denial during a major life transition, hey why not?!?

I will never forget that sunset and the message I got and I will hold onto that.  I let some tears flow but for the most part I am trying to hold it together and be strong.  My Dad would like that. One of his favorite sayings was:  “We must be strong.”  He was a brilliant, sensitive man but he knew that sometimes one had to buck up like a “German feudal lord” (his choice of words) and damn the torpedoes.  His strength steered our family, charted our courses and was the cup out of which we received and drank our daily inspiration.  I have often imagined asking him, “Dad, should I retire or not? What do you think?”  He was a fount of wisdom, strength, hope and experience.  What would he have counseled me?  Sometimes I think I know the answer, and other times I don’t.  I am on this path by myself now without his earthly presence; I have only the essence of his grand spirit to filter down from heaven if I am so lucky to receive some droplets of his angelic beneficence.  So here I go, for better or for worst.  Stay tuned!  And still reverberating in my ears…. the music accompanying a Freebird Sunset:

“If I leave here tomorrow

would you still remember me

for I must be travelin’ on now

there’s too many places I got to see

Bye bye baby, it’s been sweet love

but this bird you cannot change

Won’t you fly high free bird”

5:00 pm sunset, Pacific Coast highway, December 28, 2017 —

sunset

 

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “A Freebird Sunset

    • Dear Deb,
      I like your sentiment. Others have said similar things, such as I get to re-invent myself, but in a way that is on my own terms! Yes, live for the moment and not get too ahead of myself – that’s when angst can seep in. Thanks for your thoughts – much appreciated.
      Love,
      S.G.

      Like

  1. Beautiful! Brought tears to my eyes.
    Love that song. I saw Leonard skynard at winterland. I’ll never forget the moment while standing at the front just inches from the long haired sweat dripping band members rocking out, my best friend, Jan said to me, “can you imagine your mom here right now?” ;-). We both chuckled… and continued rocking out! Possibly to that very most wonderful song, Freebird.

    Congratulations Susie Q, on your well deserved retirement and for receiving the confirmation you needed in the most lovely and loving ways!

    A new amazing chapter awaits you…..!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear MJ Rose,
      What a great memory you have shared and it is a great addendum to my story. I think I remember this story you relate, as I remember you going to Winterland with Jan. Those were the days; well, lots of good days ahead and more memory making. Thanks for your comment; it’s deeply appreciated, and I appreciate you. Happy New Year dear MJ Rose ❤

      Love,
      S.G.

      Like

    • Dearest Veronica,
      Oh that is so sweet. We are SO proud of you, too; you have worked so hard and you are embarking on a most satisfying career and I am ending one. Yes, the sky is the limit (are you hinting I should go parachuting, ha ha… well maybe!) and it will be what I make it. I hope to be able to share lots of satisfying moments and adventures with my readers.

      Love
      S.G.

      Like

    • Hi Dina,

      Your sweet note and encouragement mean so much to me. I can’t go at it alone – I need fellowship, support, good wishes and blessings. You give that and so much more and believe you me, I feel it and welcome it!

      Love,
      S.G.

      Like

  2. Congratulations on your retirement! I also retired with ambivalent feeling because I enjoyed my career . But I wanted to move on to the next phase of my life. Now, six months later, I can say i’m settling in and to my surprise don’t miss work!
    It is a big adjustment so give yourself time. Besides, if you don’t enjoy retirement you can always go back to work!
    All my best for 2018!!!
    ❤️
    M

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Myrna,

      You courageously embraced the unknown and your positive feedback lights the way for me and as a result, I have much hope and anticipation. It is scary I must admit. But who wants easy-peasy all the way, I don’t. I like to be tested.

      Can’t wait to see you in 2018.

      Love,
      S.G.

      Like

  3. Congratulations on your retirement and thank you for sharing the decision making process with all its challenges and blessings. Your
    passion for life in every season is inspiring
    and I am sure you will embrace retirement
    with the same zeal that you embraced your
    career , because that is who you are. Enjoy! Many wonderful adventures ahead!
    Love,
    Gail

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dearest Gail,

      My first week of retirement has been filled with family, love, recovery, good friends, synchronicities, self care and time for me to organize my own life. I was so busy organizing orhers’ lives in my career that I never knew or took the time to really focus on organizing my own life. So I got to make lists for myself in my first week and although I reverted to absent mindedness (like locking my keys in the car – oh my, here we go again with wayward car keys), I avoided disaster and continue to learn from my mistakes and missteps. I hope to continue to share experience, strength and hope, and I sincerely appreciate your loving and supportive comment.

      So far so good!! Onwards and upwards!

      Love
      S. G.

      Like

  4. Susan,

    What an inspiration your writing has given to me! You are blessed in so many ways but your gift of the written word has been an “awe” moment for me. I need to visit with you about retirement and about other important things. When your life settles into a steady pace, call me.

    Love you to the moon and back, Susan.

    Donna

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dearest Donna,

    I am so honored and appreciative of your kind words! This is what inspires me and keeps me going – the thought and hope that I may be of help to others. Your encouraging words during my moments of doubt about my choice buoyed my spirits and gave me a glimmer of hope that all would be well. Guess what, all IS well, and I can’t believe my good fortune. I have been retired something like 10 days and i feel amazingly free, like a free bird as that little voice promised me on my walk at the beach. Who would have thought – I expected withdrawals and regrets, and all i’m finding is clarity and relief!

    Love you to the moon too,

    S.G.

    Like

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