How Retired Are You? (and a baby lizard)

My nursing license is due for renewal. Should one leave past bridges open? Should you hang on to the possibility of working again?

I am having trouble getting past the feeling that I should maintain my license. I’ve been a nurse since 1979 and though there were a few years when I did other things, it was always my safety net. I could always find work anywhere with that nursing license. But now, this is the first renewal time when I have had another steady source of income thanks to that social security money that arrives every month. What would force me back to work now?

And, if the unimaginable did happen, could I go back to nursing? I don’t think so. It’s been four years and I still feel too fried to consider the possibility. I imagine putting on my scrubs, hoisting my supply bag over my shoulder, picking up my box of paperwork, checking the phone in my pocket, heading out to visit my various patients….. noooooo! Even my former friends and colleagues are often hanging on my their fingernails. It’s very hard to work in the deteriorating US health care system especially in home health where the nurses are responsible for the financial decisions as well as the medical ones.

Maybe you aren’t really retired until you close the door on that past working life. For some it seems to be a fast process – the last day, the farewell party, and that’s it, don’t look back. For me it was a gradual process. I took less cases to give me more time to prepare for the move. Finally I got tired of my phone ringing when I was covered in paint, so I stopped seeing patients entirely. Later, I gave away my scrubs and supplies. But, I still kept the license.

I applied for an inactive license but it will cost $65. Why should I pay it? If I remain inactive for two more years I can’t practice anyway without going back for remedial training. I think it’s time to put the whole nursing thing to rest once and for all. It is time to be really retired and not look back! It is obvious now that Panama is working out, and so is retirement.

On a totally unrelated note, as I was writing this I happened to glance at the dish of lizard eggs and saw that the 3rd one had hatched! I had the phone handy so I was able to get a couple photos.

716lizard

I put it down in a quiet place on the terrace so hopefully it can start it’s lizard life safely and find a bug or two to eat.

Yeah, I am retired πŸ™‚

Advertisements

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
This entry was posted in Panama. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to How Retired Are You? (and a baby lizard)

  1. Brenda Burke says:

    Way to go, Kris!

    Like

  2. Go for it, finally retire!

    Like

  3. Roger says:

    Kris,
    Did you heard that there is a company or college in David that is asking all expats with some grade of expertise in the field to do some social work by helping with their knowledge of their trades to train some Panamanians students and professionals. It wont be a full time job but I guess some people will enjoy to cooperate with the community with all the years of experience and expertise and share it with young professionals in Panama.

    Like

  4. oldsalt1942 says:

    I was a U.S, Coast Guard licensed 100-ton Master. You have to renew your license every five years. It’s generally a pretty simple process. You show up at a Coast Guard office and take an open-book examination on the Rules of the Road and you’re good for another 5 years.

    I was over in France running an American-flagged yacht when my third issue expired. They give you a one-year grace period if you’re out of the country though you’re not supposed to operate on the license. I let it slide, of course, and as the grace period was coming to an end I did what one had to do to renew the license via the mail. I went over to Marseilles and paid an ophthalmologist (not an optometrist, but an ophthalmologist as required and had the results notarized at the U.S. Consulate. I did all the things I was asked to do and sent everything away to New Orleans where my paperwork was located.

    About a month later I got an official letter saying I needed to take a drug test at a “Coast Guard approved testing facility.” I called the Coast Guard office and asked them where the closest on might be to Antibes, France. They said, “New York.”

    “Wait a minute. You’re telling me I have to fly all the way across the Atlantic Ocean from Nice, France, to New York City to piss in a bottle?”

    Bottom line, “Yes.”

    “Can’t I go to an American Air Force of Army base in Germany and do it there? They must do drug testing daily.”

    “No,” they replied, it has to be at a U.S. Coast Guard – approved facility.”

    “What the F*@k!!! Are you telling me the Coast Guard doesn’t approve of the United States Air Force of the United States Army? Are you guys NUTS???”

    Bottom line, I didn’t fly across the ocean. I didn’t piss in a bottle. And my licensed lapsed. But that’s okay, I’d had it up to HERE (picture me swiping my hand across my forehead) with ferrying drunks around, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ha, I’ve wondered similar things since I’m living here but not yet retired — as you well know, from all my complaining about it πŸ™‚ After doing this work for close to 30 years, I wonder what it’s going to be like to just walk away from it? Besides the elation, of course. It’s going to be interesting . . .

    Like

    • I think a lot of it is the need to make money, and having a hard time believing that you will never have to make money again. It will be interesting to see how it goes for you. If it’s hard maybe I can distract you with more bike rides πŸ˜€ I think there will be more celebrating than bike therapy though.

      Like

  6. Susan says:

    Wow! Crazy, illogical rules!!!

    Like

  7. susie says:

    Enjoy your retirement!!!

    Like

  8. Great question, Kris. I remember when I renewed my teaching license the second time. When I received it in the mail, the expiration date was 2012. I thought to myself…that is so far away. Well, 2012 came and left and I never gave it a second thought about renewing it. My professional teaching days are over and it feels so GOOD!!!
    On a more touching note, I remember when I was helping my mother move to a memory care center. We were sorting through papers and she told me her cosmetology license needed to be renewed. I found it stuffed in the back of a filing cabinet…expired for 10 years. Poor Mom. She identified as a beautician all her life, even when she couldn’t remember her children’s names, she always knew she was a beautician.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ME BE in Panama says:

      Timely post Kris. I’m on Inactive Nursing License Hold list in 1) Iowa, 2) Hawaii, and now 3) Ohio. After I put my Ohio license on my the inactive status By and I discussed what would have to happen to make me return. The reality was I wouldn’t be able to do anything remotely close to what I had done for 30+ years. That was when I began to embrace R E T I R E D. And. Loving. It!

      Liked by 1 person

      • From what I read about Florida licenses, you can only be inactive for four years. After that you need to go through retraining to get an active license. You also have to pay every two years. Is that the case with yours? It all seems too complicated and totally ridiculous when we have the option to be RETIRED! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

        • ME BE in Panama says:

          Hawaii charges $10 q2yrs for inactive status. Neither Iowa or Ohio require anything. But, as I mentioned before, your post made me reflect on the fact that I don’t need those licenses at this stage of my life. Gracias Amiga! Hasta Pronto!

          Like

    • What we do is often a big part of our identity. Maybe I am feeling a bit of that too but even retired, we still were teachers, or nurses, or whatever we did and that will always be a part of us.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Sunni Morris says:

    Well, Kris, I guess I’ll be in the minority here, but I’d say renew the license and then decide the next time it comes due. If you’re still of the same frame of mind and doing well there, you can let it go if you wish. I still need that security blanket I guess. Yes, I’m on SS now but they are saying they will cut the payments. That means yours could go down too. Don’t know if this will happen, but what if they do? And what if Joel gets sick and has to return to the US for treatment in the future? If something happened to him, would you return to Panama alone? I think all these questions have to be looked into before you make any decision, as good as it feels not to have to work and carry on your nurse duties anymore. Maybe I’m being too, realistic but I had to throw this out there. Working PT is doable for everyone if it comes down to it.

    I’m glad you got the shot of the baby lizard. How sweet. I hope he thrives and finds lots of bugs to eat.

    Like

    • In reality I’m not sure if maintaining an active license is enough if I haven’t worked in four years (after four years of inactivity you need retraining), besides not wanting to work, or pay for a license I’m not going to use. If they cut SS payments, we can cut expenses. We could get a cheaper house, sell one or both of the cars, etc. I think we have a lot more financial flexibility here that we would in the US. If Joel gets sick, he would go to VA in California and I could stay with my daughter there. If he died, I would definitely stay in Panama. I have more support and connections here than I ever had anywhere else, and I could still afford to live on just my SS.
      Thank you for bringing up some very valid points. All this discussion is helping me really think about all sides and feel right about my decision.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sunni Morris says:

        Good, Kris. I should have known you’ve already thought out all possibilities. I didn’t want to rain on your retirement parade, but wanted you to think about all outcomes before making a decision. It looks like you have, so congratulations.

        I find it quite helpful to have discussions like this about major issues and choices. It gives a person a lot to think about. Best wishes to you always.

        Like

        • Oh no, please rain anytime. An outside perspective can be really helpful.

          Someone responded to me on Facebook with something I’d never heard of. She had retired but maintained an active license, so the tax people came after her figuring with that license she must have been working, so she owed taxes. Sheesh! Who would have thought? She said she knew quite a few other people in other professions that had licenses with the same problems. She got it straightened out eventually, but what a pain. She was in California, my US place of residence on record. My license is in Florida but who knows if I could get caught up in something like that too.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sunni Morris says:

            Good grief! I’ve never heard of such a thing, but anything is possible. That’s an eye opener. It sure is something to think about. That’s where the internet and all this communication is really helpful. We would never hear about any of this otherwise. The world is too big and we don’t know many of the people in it personally.

            Like

  10. Tomas Beard says:

    Enjoy your retirement, sounds like you deserve it!

    Like

  11. Robert&Helen says:

    Kris, you are fully right. Enjoy it as life is relatively short. “Freedom” counts, even with less money. If the general situation in PanamΓ‘ would turn sour, we have a plan B. Montevideo.

    Like

    • We could downsize here in Panama if it came to that, and I want to explore other countries in the area as well. We have no intentions of leaving here but since you never know what’s in the future it’s good to have options.

      Like

  12. Laureen says:

    Yep, I’ve gone thru the same questions in my mind – do I keep my OR and WA massage licenses on inactive status, and my nat’l reflexology certificpcation up to date as well? I finally came up with a “nope” answer. If I want to practice in MX, I don’t need any of it. I can start my own practice here, but I’m more inclined to teach some folks so that my needs can be met. :o). I think I’ll call myself semiretired….. Congratulations on your official retirement Kris. You have chosen a beautiful place to write the next chapter in the book of life.

    Like

    • I’m sure you are plenty busy getting settled, and your husband told me that there is always someone needing your healing help so he doesn’t see you ever without something to do. But, hopefully you can slow down and live on your own terms, and work your way into retirement too.

      Like

  13. jim and nena says:

    April 1, 2009. April Fool’s Day seemed appropriate for a retirement date for me! I got a couple of calls about coming back part time or on contract as the company was having to use 4 people to do the work I had been doing myself. The money would be great but with pension and later SS payments coming in, and less expenses, we didn’t need the money. And I was totally enjoying setting my own schedule and getting home projects done without having to finish everything on a weekend.
    Don’t look back, Kris, look forward and enjoy the present. A foster mom to lizards is an important task! haha
    jim and nena

    Like

    • April 1 LOL Yes, very good day. 4 people to do your job?! Wow. I’ll bet they appreciated you even more after you weren’t there doing all that work.
      I figure, how much are you paying for that extra money in quality of life, or lack of. Sometimes the time and freedom is worth a lot more than the money. And yes, there are the lizards πŸ˜€

      Like

  14. Dilemmas are never pleasant things to be stuck between. Hard questions you’re asking of yourself Kris – but somewhere in all this I seem to see that you’ve already made your decision: go ahead and retire – from nursing that is. And continue to do all the things you enjoy – paint, grow things, ask questions of everything you encounter, keep watch over gecko eggs…
    Good luck, and Cheers!
    Wendy

    Like

  15. Good for you, Kris! It’s time to retire and enjoy life! I’m doing that in the next couple months as well. Life is too short for sure.
    I also agree about putting things in writing – it truly helps me as well. When I retire, I’ll have so much more time to do that too! LOL! πŸ™‚

    Like

    • A couple months? It’s coming very soon for you then! How exciting. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have, and maybe you will be able to do some writing and share your experiences also.

      Like

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kris, I retired at age 59 since my husband was taking retirement from his job. We did a lot of traveling, visiting places and friends and making wonderful memories. We scaled down to one car, eating at home more and couldn’t tell you the last movie we saw, the last dance we went to ,or the last dinner club we attended. And NO I have not missed those things as we did them while we could. Now Jim is unable to travel but we enjoy just being together, sharing news of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I know someday I’ll be alone but I never regretted leaving the work force to spend our times together. JAC

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read something somewhere that no one ever reached the end of their life wishing they had spent more time at the office. Yes it is the experiences and the people who share your life that give it meaning. I’m glad you were able to do a lot of good thing and continue to share good times with your husband and family.

      Like

  17. Anonymous says:

    HAPPY RETIREMENT ENJOY EACH AND EVERY DAY DOING WHATEVER YOU WANT . JAC

    Like

  18. Kris, I can really relate to this post as I had the same internal conversation with myself when I let my cosmetology license expire. For me, letting go of something I loved for nearly 30 years was bittersweet but embracing this life has not been hard at all! As You well know! πŸ˜‰ We are indeed blessed to have given ourselves permission to embrace each new day with so much freedom to be and do whatever makes us happy! Life is good! Hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh yes, you know exactly what I’m talking about. We are doing what we are supposed to be doing now, which is enjoying life!
      Someone responded to this link on Facebook with a scary story. She, and many others in California were chased down by the tax people who thought since they had active licenses (though they weren’t working), they should have taxable income. Yikes! One other reason it’s good you didn’t maintain your license.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. mollscorner says:

    i sure do love some lizards to gaze at Kris! thank for the post x

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.