Yesterday, Friday December 5, 2014 was my last day of work. I cut back to 1/2 time a couple of years ago but yesterday I completely cut the line. It’s exciting but a little scary too. I’ve been working and/or going to school since 1974 when I got my first real job. Even though we’ve planned carefully for this and know we will be okay, knowing there is no paycheck in two weeks definitely has me focused.
For the past 30 years I’ve worked on IT systems in educational environments: Beaverton School District, Portland Community College, Portland State University, San Mateo Community College (and others during a 3 year consulting stint), and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) for the past 15 years. I moved back and forth between technical and leadership positions in those places. I am so proud to say say I worked at OHSU; it was by far the largest institution I ever worked at. It serves three distinct but related missions of education, health care and research. There are hundreds of people in the IT department there supporting the missions and the core infrastructure. The people there are all so smart and creative and driven to build the best possible systems.
I’ve been blessed by having a number of supportive bosses over the years. (In the few cases where I didn’t care for the environment or management, I simply left as quickly as possible.) Jose Untalan at Tektronix allowed me to follow my budding passion for programming and created a position for me in his group. He was a model for how to manage a group by being firm but supportive. He was a retired CPO and he gave me a number of fun managerial maxims such as “If I can’t make them see the light, I can make them feel the heat.” Ray Grant gave me a chance at PCC when I wanted to learn how to program in an Oracle database environment. He too, supported my growth and has become a good friend. Marie Steelman and Bridget Barnes at OHSU brought me on board first as a consultant then as an employee to be the technical lead for academic applications. Marie was my director and always helped me keep my focus on what is good for the entire institution, not just my group or a single customer. She was a real rock for me.
For the past 15 years I worked with some awesome coworkers. As time progressed and I became a manager I slowly learned that I didn’t have to have all the answers or watch over every detail; my awesome staff and colleagues in other groups were completely capable of doing their jobs and just needed me to support them and run interference. I channeled my inner Jose, Ray, Bridget and Marie to do that. We had (and they still have) a highly functional, self-directed group that has fun while getting the work of OHSU done. Bernadette, whom I’ve worked with for 20 years is taking over management of theteam so I know they are in good hands. It’s hard to vent when you are a manager; you certainly can’t complain to your staff as it will just add to their stress. My fellow manager, and friend, Kara served as a wonderful sounding board when I wondered if I was crazy (she sometimes agreed that yes, I am crazy.
My view and feelings on retirement will change but my word of the day is “liberating”. Even though I loved my job and the people I worked with, I was still tuned in to events on weekends and my days off. I’d be thinking about projects and occasionally texting members of my staff when problems arose during off hours. I’d also have to plan my weekends to make sure I got all the important things done before the work week – and yes I still had to do that even when I worked shortened work weeks. Now I’m working on tuning to a different station. We went downtown today to visit some friends in from Boise. We had lunch and they were going to head out shopping. Normally, I’d be thinking how I have chores to do that have to be done by the end of the weekend. But today we could say “sure, let’s go!”. I have all the time I need to get things done and follow my passions. This really is lightening, liberating feeling.
So, while I miss my work mates and work place; I don’t miss working.