The word conjures up different images: An old man on the front porch, a guy in slippers and a bathrobe with a pipe, cruise ships and tropical islands, etc. For me, it will be varied. I have a back deck instead of a front porch and I smoke cigars, not a pipe. I have 7 acres, a tractor, a swimming pool and a passion for landscaping. I have a 9-year-old who still wants to spend time around his dad and a wife that’s been waiting over 10 years for me to “come home.” I’m looking forward to racquetball with the other old guys in the morning, then a shower and nap—that’s a half-day right there!
Am I going to miss going to work? Yes and no. The behavioral health field can take a toll. It requires better boundaries than I have had, especially in the early days, as an interventionist, starting my own business. I used to take my cell phone to bed with me. I remember literal 18-hour days followed by 4:00AM beginnings to the next. There was also one 22-day period without a day off. It hasn’t been that way for a while now, largely due to my great staff: Rob Rodriguez, Rachel Schutt, Amy Diamond Stephan and Rick Dauer—thank you for making the last several years better and allowing me the confidence to walk away, knowing the mission will continue.
There was a retirement party and much planning personally and professionally, but the moment that will live on in my mind as marking me “retired” was last Tuesday—my last official day at work. I had only one appointment scheduled, with a husband and wife that have been involved with FRrē for well over a year. It was a hand-off of sorts to my associate Rick. They left after some tears, then Rick left…and that left me alone. In the office that held so many events and memories, now with an empty desk, an empty closet and lights to turn out, I said, out loud, “You’ve been a good office.” I locked my door and heard that familiar click for the last time. I realized I was the last one in the building and locked up and turned out all the lights for the last time…the emotion washed over me.
I have great memories of my time in this field and of times in other fields before. Just like the last time I retired or when I moved on from a career, the relationships I’d developed meant the most to me. I want to recognize a few of them here. First, and foremost, the clients—who allowed me into their lives and who had the confidence and trust in the process and in me personally. I am honored and eternally grateful. I was able to serve people from Hawaii and Alaska, California and Nevada, Texas to Florida, New York and New Jersey, one from Switzerland, and countless individuals and families from the Midwest. Some of you I will never forget.
There are providers I have referred to that stand out for different reasons. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the root of my own recovery, who served many hundreds of clients on my behalf over the years. The Retreat in Wayzata, MN, who has stayed true to a mission that has become complicated over the past decade in a quickly evolving field. Marketers who have proven that it’s possible to be primarily invested in helping people in a field where marketing and clinical can become crosswise of each other. In particular, hats off to Jenna Pastore and Eric Button, the nicest and friendliest people in the field, in that order! I have met and worked with clinicians with integrity and skills at a level that is hard to describe. Abe Antine at Next Chapter (now All Points North Lodge) represents the future of the field and Bill Murnighan at The Meadows set the bar for me in what to expect from a therapist working with one of my clients. Providers such as The Meadows in Wickenburg, AZ, Burning Tree in Kauffman, TX, Creative Care in Malibu, CA and countless others make real change for clients a reality. Onsite Workshops in TN provides the intensive environment where insight and functional change happens for individuals in a very short period of time. Special recognition needs to go to Project Turnabout for ensuring that available resources (or lack thereof) was not a barrier to receiving quality treatment.
I have already mentioned my staff—they are the best. It took years to find and settle in to a team with this level of quality and dedication. They will continue the mission without me. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog describing that mission.