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Entering my Autumn Years

On the First Day of Winter

By Shelley CarrollPublished 9 months ago Updated 9 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - October 2023
Entering my Autumn Years
Photo by Andre Benz on Unsplash

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. ~ John Lennon

Well, here it is. After close to 27 full years in the Public Service, I’m on the cusp of retirement. In fact, 74 days from the time of this writing, I will work my last day as a public servant. And then, on the First Day of Winter, 27 years to the day since I worked my very first shift as a correctional officer, I will become a pensioner.

Am I 65? Jeez no, not for another 15 years.

Did I win the lottery? Again, no.

Have I been fortunate in my financial investments? If you sense a trend here, you’ll know that the answer is once again no (and a big fat one at that).

So what the hell, Shell?

And yes, that’s a good question.

Years ago, I attended the retirement party for a correctional officer at the local watering hole in the small town that housed the federal prison where I was assigned at the time. In his farewell speech, in words I’ve held in my brain ever since, he very astutely shared: “If you don’t decide when you retire, your doctor will.

And all these years later, the words still resonate.

So the good news is that’s after much discussion with my partner, my parents, and my children and after taking a good hard look at my finances, my health, and my dreams for the future, I’m pulling the plug on my “career”. I’m in the driver’s seat - granted, I’ve got a few passengers along for the ride who are supportive of my decision. And for that, I am most grateful.

But here it is: the decision in the end has been mine to make. And I own it wholeheartedly.

A good friend and former colleague, recently retired himself, warned me that “once you make the decision, you’ll find that things bother you less”. And for the first week after I made the announcement and tendered my letter of departure to my manager, he was right. Everything in the workplace that would otherwise have irritated me or caused me to question authority was simply running off of me like water off a duck’s back. Yet it didn’t take too long before I realized that rather than getting easier, things at work shifted again and seemed to be getting harder. And if not the work itself, then my anxiety around it seemed to double down. Instead of less, things have begun to bother me more. And I think it’s because I’m not in control. Not that I ever was - but I’m definitely not now. Wheels are turning. The place and its people will go on without me. And while that’s what I want, it’s still a weird feeling.

To borrow a slang term from corrections, I’m “short-timing”.

When an offender serving a lengthy sentence reaches the end of his or her incarceration, you can see a little shift in attitude. Sure, there is the sense of optimism at getting released, but there is also an apprehension about what is to come next. The world may well be a different place than it was when the sentence began. Change is scary. And an overwhelming concern that manifests itself in the form of impatience and short-temperedness tends to present itself.

I guess that’s where I’m at.

I won’t miss “the work” - well, perhaps I will a little bit. It’s been incredibly interesting, complex and multifaceted. Some of it has been so unpredictable. But it has always put food on the table and a roof over my family’s head. For that I am both humbled and thankful.

But the people… oh my soul. I didn’t intend to make friends in this outfit, but spending 37.5 hours a week with folks, you tend to get a little bit familiar. And when nobody else “gets” what kind of day you may have logged, you can count on your coworkers to provide a shoulder to lean on. But you also get interwoven in the fabric of each other’s lives.

I’ve had my own friendships form and fade and rekindle and evolve.

I’ve had babies and then watched those babies grow and struggle and graduate and move on. And while this was happening with my own family, I had a front row seat to the very same happenings in the lives of my coworkers and they to mine. Some even became grandparents.

We’ve been married and divorced and found love again.

We’ve seen each other’s parents or significant others through illness or sadly, worse.

Without meaning to, we’ve became a part of each other’s story. We’ve become a big chunk of each other’s lives.

Through it all, we’ve had each other’s backs - even though there were times where we may have been at each other’s throats.

So after 27 years, it’s going to be hard to say goodbye. But I’ll be flibberty-gibbeted if there haven’t been some tears at the thought of it - both of relief and of grief.

I know it’s time. Thankfully, I didn’t need my doctor to tell me so (although I’m pretty sure she’d agree).

So on the First Day of Winter, I’ll become a retiree.

But I won’t be resting on my laurels.

I’ll still be working in some capacity, using some of the skills I’ve acquired over the years but in a very different way - and on my own terms and on my own schedule.

I’ll be volunteering.

I’ll be running.

I’ll be playing with grandchildren - maybe not my own, but I’ll gladly play with yours if you need me until my own come along.

I’ll be writing. Because there will always be a need for me to put things to paper in an effort to make sense of things.

And I’ll be making plans.

Bring it on.


About the Creator

Shelley Carroll

Ms. Carroll is a 50-something year-old retired public servant and mother of three adult children. She and her partner Hal live in Amherst NS with a sweet, anxiety-ridden rescue dog. Shelley loves reading, running and red wine.


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Comments (13)

  • Antoinette L Brey8 months ago

    Retirement , it is hard at first but it gets easier

  • Destiny Diamond9 months ago

    I love this

  • Babs Iverson9 months ago

    Wonderful written!!! Loving your heartfelt story!!! Congratulations on Top Story too!!!

  • Moni Akter9 months ago


  • Kelsey Clarey9 months ago

    Congrats on both your top story and your upcoming retirement!

  • Hannah Moore9 months ago

    I love this, I love the thoughtfulness and intent of this for you, I kind of want update newsletters.

  • Test9 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story,

  • Kendall Defoe 9 months ago

    Best of luck to you...and you will do well in whatever season you face!

  • Donna Renee9 months ago

    Congrats!! I hope that the next season is beautiful for you! I giggled at "So what the hell, Shell" haha

  • L.C. Schäfer9 months ago

    Autumn is a spectacular season, and it sounds like you are fully prepared to enjoy yours!

  • YAY for you!

  • Rachel Deeming9 months ago

    Excellent choice, I think. Good luck with retirement and the planning for life thereafter. Really enjoyed reading this! Congrats on TS.

  • StoryholicFinds9 months ago

    Love it ❤️

Shelley CarrollWritten by Shelley Carroll

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