Lately I feel like I’m trying to stand in two places at once.  More and more I’m getting asked, “How many days until you retire?” Or questions like, “Are you still here working?”

In hindsight, I’m not sure having such a loooooong lead time to retirement was such a great idea.  While my feet are firmly in my slippers in my home office and I’m glued to my screen on Zoom calls for hours, I’m finding it a little hard to mentally focus all day long.

I’m trying hard to “be present in the moment” but more and more I find my mind wandering and thinking about what it will be like for me in the spring. There are several regular meetings that I will no longer need to chair.  Then there are projects that I’m wrapping up and I’m not starting anything new. This is creating really delightful gaps in my schedule which used to look like “Tetris” blocks, one on top of each other.  https://tetris.com 

Often, in the recent past, I would have two and three meetings at the same time which was hard to balance and prioritize.  Now, I’m finding it harder to stay on task when there is unexpected space in the day. The regular coordination meetings I would usually have with other department directors or colleagues from other organizations are still occurring but now I’ve asked our deputy director to join me.

It has been fun to introduce him to other members of the community and ask for their support of the department and him, after I retire.  He and our leadership team will have a huge responsibility and I want to do everything I can to help them be successful.  With the volatility of financial markets and extreme pressure on the housing industry there are many people that depend on our department.  After I leave, they will still need to work together to be efficient with our resources, provide excellent customer service and keep permits moving through the challenging regulatory environment we have in Washington State.

As an action oriented person, when I have a set of tasks to complete, I seem to be more focused. But a large portion of my work is associated with Long Range Planning.  As each day gets closer to my departure, it is hard to remain attentive to conversations about planning in our region, 30 years in the future.  Paying attention while talking about growth targets, buildable lands, countywide planning policies and updating the comprehensive plan is getting more and more difficult because by 2050, (our planning horizon) I may not really care.  This is primarily because by that date, I’ll be 92 years old or possibly in my grave or better yet, heaven!

For now I need to stand in this place and finish my career, but sometimes when there is a break in my schedule, my mind goes to another place.  I can imagine physically standing in a place that is sunnier, warmer and drier with fun activities that I can enjoy with my husband, friends and family. Before I know it, I’ll be standing in that place, looking back.

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