Since the dawn of time people have gathered for births, weddings, coming of age ceremonies, and deaths – to eat, drink, dance, mourn and celebrate. In our culture, retirement from a 9 to 5 job is a milestone that is both a major goodbye and a new beginning.

I retired from my job as an editor at Kaiser Permanente early in August. It was the end of more than 30 years of work in corporate communications, so celebrate we did!

I held my job in Regional Health Education exactly as long as it took the New Horizons spacecraft to reach Pluto – 9 years and 6 months. As the end of my corporate career approached, I really felt I had been on a journey to the outer reaches of the galaxy.

Working at 1950 Franklin Street, a gray concrete megalith of a building in downtown Oakland, had its perks. One of them ended up being an awesome conference room which my colleagues completely transformed. With Caren 8_4_15

Friends and family gathered to mark my transition from corporate editor to full-time writer and all around bon vivant. We had a slide show and trivia quiz, lots of yummy food, speeches, and in honor of my love of Zydeco dancing, a dance with my awesome partner, Mohammed Ghaleb.

Dancing with Mo 8_4_15 Dancing with Mo2 8_4_15

Retirement is both a leave-taking and a life reset. I wore a little black dress to honor the mourning, and a lot of turquoise to underline the celebration of new beginnings. And I felt both a touch of sadness and tremendous joy and fulfillment.

My talk 8_4_15

As my beloved Maya would have said, “That’s the way life lives, Mom.”

Lucia and Francesca, my granddaughters busied themselves exploring every nook and cranny and keeping their mother Meghan busy. My son-in-law Todd Coleman captured the event for posterity, and dear friend Nancy Richardson generously shared her many photos, some of which are posted here. Meg and Lucia 8_4_15 Meg and Frankie 8_4_15 Frankie with iphone 8_4_15

After the party ended, a small group of dear friends gathered at Lake Chalet Bar and Grill on Lake Merritt for dinner. It was the perfect ending to a day I’ll never forget.


At Lake Chalet 8_4_15For the last few weeks I’ve been exploring “being in the tumble” as one recently retired friend so aptly put it. I’m giddy with new freedom, delirious with possibilities, and disoriented as can be. Mostly I’m thankful to be who I am, where I am, living the life I’m living. Maya was right! That is the way life lives.