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May 31st is the deadline for renewing my license as a registered nurse, a license I’ve held for fifty years. For two years, I’ve been preparing myself that my golden anniversary would be a memorable time to let it expire. After all, I retired from working full-time twelve years ago and haven’t even volunteered to give flu shots in over five years.

I like my life in retirement. As a former teacher of nursing, I like not having to be at the hospital at 6:30 in the morning for clinical days or in the classroom by 8:00 on other days.

I like that my days are my own. I can read the Sunday Chicago Tribune without a thought of preparing for Monday. I can go to the symphony on a weeknight without thinking I will pay for it tomorrow. I can even stay in bed all day sipping dandelion tea with Moby Dick if I want.

So when my postcard reminder for renewal came in early March, my first impulse was to pitch it. Then my licensure would automatically expire. But I couldn’t.

At my age, Medicare eligible plus, I do not intend to practice nursing anymore. And the only reason I’ve been able to renew is that my state did not require mandatory continued education credits for renewal until this year. And, I’ve taken only writing courses since I retired.

I called my former chairperson, also retired. “I’m having an identity crisis.”

“Oh my,” she said. “What’s happening?” Her concern with a tinge of amusement came through.

Capturing a mid-nineties job in a final picture of the required lab coat and sleeve badge!

“I’d made up my mind to let my nursing license go this year, but now that I have the renewal notice in hand, I just can’t go through with it.” I told her of my rush of unanticipated angst.

“I know exactly what you mean. I’m going to face the same situation soon.” Her voice sobered, and I could feel the empathy in her voice.

A few days later, I had lunch with a nursing colleague. She, younger and still teaching, quipped, “You don’t have to let it go. You can go on inactive status. That way it’d be easier if you ever want to reinstate it.” H-m-m-m. Another possibility.

But the next morning, I thought, How silly is that? I never intend to practice nursing again. Picking up the post card from my desk, I pondered it, ready to pitch it in the wastebasket.

Instead, I went online, booted up the registration site, and clicked the box “inactive.”

Do you have similar feelings? What is it about us that needs to hold onto positions we had, the jobs that had us up at dawn and running all day? I would love to read your thoughts.

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