The finish line is in sight.
Twenty-four more sleeps until retirement.
It seems like only yesterday I expressed my intention to retire.
Alas, that was in July. And now: poof! It’s November 26. We’ve less than a month to go before Christmas. And I’ve less than four weeks to go before I work my last day in Corrections.
This last week especially, I’ve been a little bit nostalgic, trying to balance the little (and not so little) things that have annoyed me about my work with the truly positive experiences I’ve enjoyed.
Of course, as it generally does, the good has far outweighed the bad. But I sure did manage to let “the bad” consume a lot of my thoughts and energy over the years! And for what? To enhance the crow’s feet around my eyes and the wrinkles on my forehead? To encourage the proliferation of the grey strands of hair that now frame my face? To further challenge and goad my anxiety? To tie up hours and hours (and hours) of precious time that I’ll never get back? Hmm.. hardly seems worth it now. And yet, hey, it happened. I let it. In fact, I clung to it. Sometimes it was almost comforting to feel anger or stress rather than feel nothing.
So yes, for all of the negative, the single most common denominator to all of it has been my perception of situations and my subsequent reactions to them.
Nonetheless, my feelings are my own and I acknowledge them. What’s more, now that some time has passed, much of the initial sting of some of those “growth opportunities” has subsided. I now recognize that, at the time, I needed to feel the feelings, think the thoughts, and demonstrate the behaviours. Whether or not I had any other option but to experience and react in that way is debatable. Somehow, regardless, I got through it.
And never mind the work stuff - while I was building a “career”, life happened too! I raised a family - and let me tell you, I had no shortage of villagers helping me out every step along the way. Because I had a good job with good benefits and good friends, I could deal with the stuff that life and work dealt me. Dare I say it, especially in retrospect, I think we even thrived.
I’ve worked with offenders, I’ve worked in multi-disciplinary teams, and I’ve worked with several levels of management. I’ve worked in different positions, each of them complemented by my previous experience, expanding my repertoire and building my tool kit - from front line correctional officer to advisor in labour relations. Each job in between has brought its own set of opportunities and challenges, but I’ve learned a lot and I’ve met some wonderful people. I’ve also learned that, on occasion, there is a fine line between the keepers and the kept.
Now, looking back at close to 27 years, I’m grateful for all of it, lumps and all. I won’t say it’s made me who I am, but experiences shape a person - their thoughts, feelings, behaviours.
It is the human condition.
We all make choices. But our circumstances and environments influence the choices we make.
There are ALWAYS dynamics at play, moving parts, changing priorities, unseen portions of the iceberg beneath the surface.
So I will choose to be thankful. Even though some days I really had to do some serious mental gymnastics to reach that conclusion.
Reflection and hindsight: these are the gifts of growth.
To borrow from the vernacular of my chosen profession (or did it choose me?), I am closing in on my Warrant Expiry. In my case, though, it’s the date of my choosing. I’ve made the decision: I’ve done my time… with mere baby steps to go before I cross the finish line.
About the Creator
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.