A year now since Retirement.

Tree of Life, Buddha and Time.

This blog is a long one. I doubt you will reach the end. You may though because you find yourself in similar retirement considerations. What it has brought to your life holistically. Writing this elongated blog? Cathartic in it’s reflective writing it takes on a personal journal entry like quality. A year again down the line after writing this? Who knows regarding reflecting again on it’s current content.

The Tree of Life? An internet search into it’s cultural meaning, philosophy and spiritual symbolism speaks of why it’s imagery is simply perfect to link to the subject of this blog.

This week it is one year since retiring from the role of Staff Nurse.  I wondered if it would have been a  ‘sort of’ retired. To be tempted to go back and do odd shifts on the ward. I never intended to at all. Once a decision is made, there can never be half measures. Draw a line under certain decisions. Dip back into the interests that exist in life that hold something special in your heart. There is pure love for them being part of your life. Revisiting is no hardship. 

And currently in retirement? Well…. up to ‘yet’, I carry on with life’s ‘be true to yourself’ belief and the hope of happiness resulting in contentment in my heart that the professional nurse role has gone forever. A much sought out decision and a hard won ‘inspire yourself to drop the role’ belief. But I have a 66 years lived life so far.  Therefore having only a few decades left (hopefully) in this life to realise true contentment in my contributions. Becoming 66 this September there is realisation that there is no span of ‘another from born to current age’ left to live of life’s experiences. I have ‘less’ than ‘more’ years walking this beautiful planet. 

Gosh! Double the length of life? At 132 years old? I’d be a living phenomenon. 

Back to reality. In actuality, I began July 2nd 2021 as the last day of Staff Nurse work. As said, I officially retired a year this week. Important to begin straight away, back then, was to think out decisions and avoid deliberating any future reality of nervously looking over my future shoulder. Looking also at how others perceived the move/decision and for those so many ‘others’ reactions’. Self questioning. Was it a bad decision in reality? Have I done the right thing?’ I was forever, in the role of Staff Nurse, imagining a less stressful life. But linked was always forward thinking about possible failures in just giving up and ultimately letting myself and others down.  The resulting failure bringing a  huge guilt trip on myself. Thinking long term, possibly forever, of a working life in worrisome repetitiveness.  

‘Did I actually do the right timing to retire?’ ‘Could I have contributed more to the role?’

This thinking? It was coupled with a heartfelt ‘Have I simply left my colleagues to just get on with it’. Nurses are leaving the role in rapidly increasing numbers nowadays.

Now? I feel calmer after living a full year since shifting from the ward. That seeking other dynamics and contributing to an improved environment of Nature’s well being within a gentler Buddhist ‘Mindful’ existence outweighs the failure of fighting the odds stacked against the role of being a hoped for complete and dedicated Staff Nurse. 

My thoughts on my feelings to how successful I was in the profession of Nurse status? It always was, and in many ways still is, present in my thoughts and reflections. However….it was always controlled by a narrow thinking NHS hierarchy. My ambitions over the period from 2009 to 2021 were, as a wished for professional success. In reality it was a result seen as complete failure. I contributed and have feedback of making a huge difference to both patients and the Multidisciplinary Team system.  

However, my personal hoped for’s were for always believing that success and recognition was around the corner. Not ambition based. But to have a recognised voice in a role that could really dynamically change the working situations nurses find themselves in. 10 out of 10 for that being a complete and utter let down and failure. I’m ashamed to say…..for the first time in my whole life, I allowed others in so called superiority dictate my outcomes. I allowed others to completely control my ambitions. A shift filled with a decent nurse on the ward was blinkered and selfish insular thinking on the part of management. Agency nurses became more prominent in our working daily shift patterns. The core team was getting more and more reduced in numbers. Agency nurse not available? We ended up working skeleton staffing and that was dangerous! Which resulted in ultimate fear and system failure. Never again!

The above? Sounds like a bad egg or poor reflective attitude response? Sour thinking! Well…..actually? Not really. I now realise that I could never do all that again. It is difficult to become a leader with an ability for true long lasting change. Especially when chaos is the norm. Also, a personality of ’it will all be fine!’ is non existent in my character. Patients deserve Gold Standards. The NHS is now simply struggling and under record pressure. The guilt of leaving it all behind has been hard when reflecting on the decisions I made. I could have easily worked in the role for another 5 years.

However. Because of a life fully lived and the beauty of current retirement times allowing a fullness of new experiences. You are able to grace your life with gentle reflection. Life is for learning. And life’s lessons learned make you go ahead stronger in both past knowledge and, as said, true reflection.

That is why that in the future realisation of the VeeDub podcasts there will be reflections and some answers. I intend to see the Podcasts culminate as reality. The results to be hopefully successful. Important in that conversational outpourings provide people with self awareness that they are, indeed, strong . People chatting and reflecting on how the Covid years changed their lives. Giving opportunity for people to reflect and realise the possibilities and realisations of the positivities that existed amongst those days of hardships and negativities. These continuing days even.

I shall never again grace NHS Staff Nurse status. Don’t want to…simply put. If I truly made changes to peoples’ well being, then ‘Thank You’ to whoever gave me that opportunity in the spiritual organisation of life’s weird way of planning. Actually? It was a lecturer in the College where I was teaching. We were sitting having coffee and he said, out of the blue, ‘Ever thought of becoming a Nurse?’  He was teaching an ‘Access to Nursing’ course and drumming up business! ‘Ooh!’ I replied. ’That sounds interesting’. A simple coffee break profoundly changes your life it would seem.

Go back? I am still officially registered as a nurse. However, it is not worth the fight within an organisational set up that would still limit ambitions and dreams. Also considered over months and months after retiring? Maybe a freelance Staff Nurse using complementary therapy knowledge in the form of Aromatherapy.  Another hard won learning challenge. Could it make a professional difference! I studied ‘Pain in Chronic Conditions’ and especially ‘Symptom Control using Complementary Therapies’. All this part time for 3 years by undertaking a Masters degree. Maybe it could make a difference. But yet again. I say to myself a resounding….’No!’ Aromatherapy as a simple hobby. Perfect! 

This philosophy of new found lifestyle status is borne from a year of applications to improving our own home and garden status. It has provided, not only it’s own successful periods, but full self contentment. Periods of feeling that, all in all, life is back to being beautiful again. 

So….I am now involved in those ‘pretend’ official roles of a keen Blog Writer, a Do it Yourself-er (DIY-er) and a wannabe self sufficient gardener in the making….akin to ‘Tom Good’ from The Good Life. Alongside. Adopting new hobbies and interests, reading books other than Health Matters more, writing more self penned songs, picking up the guitar more, journalling more and getting some new vegetarian recipes under the belt by cooking from experiencing the experimental side to it all……..more. Retirement is simply ’More!’.

Maybe this life’s taught me that there is natural balance in well being through self seeking change for all of us.  In order that ‘ambitions to live a shining life’ are realised, we have to make leaps of faith sometimes and truly seek to self change. I am at the start of my wake up call to being happy and content again. After this strange reflection? I can still truly understand guilt versus contentment. A ‘wake up and smell the roses’ existence which may assist future good health. Yes indeed. I’m more mellow. Less stressed. More approachable. Nicer to be in the company of. Let some of life’s experiences simply fade to shadow form. Let other experiences, past, present and future, simply bloom. But always recognise that the shadows had to exist in your lifetime. That’s the way the fight for new beliefs and growth happen.

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