Tag Archives: empty-nest

The First Four Dozen


Several years ago I was asked to speak at a women’s retreat. As I prepared, I realized that my life stages could be broken into twelves. Each of my four dozen years have been marked by a major life event.
My dad was in the Navy for the first twelve years of my life. He came home from six months at sea and couldn’t tell my twin sisters apart. Looking at my mom, he said, “a father should know his own children.”

The next twelve years were spent growing up in Goshen County, Wyoming. Another dozen years began the day of my wedding and ended the day our divorce was final.

This year marks the end of the fourth dozen years. I’ve spent the past twelve years as a single mom. I have now been divorced as long as I was married, and my youngest child has graduated high school and moved out of the house.

So here I stand. I’m on the threshold of a new era and feel simultaneously empowered and paralyzed.

Earlier this year I told a friend I was a little bit jealous of the 18-22 year olds that have frequented my home over the past several years while hanging out with my kids. They are young, attractive, ready to jump into their futures. Their whole lives are in front of them with endless possibilities. They have the excitement of falling in love, having their first child, buying their first home, and so many other milestones to look forward to. They can be and do anything they want. They are the authors of their own unwritten stories.

“But you are in a much better place,” my friend said. “You’re at the time in your life when you can choose to do ANYTHING, and you have the benefit of wisdom, education, and financial security. These kids envy YOU.”

My friend challenged me to read the book “Halftime” by Bob Buford, and to begin journaling and praying and asking God to show me what He has for me in the second half of my life. I’m feeling the restlessness that often accompanies a shake up in the status quo, but I don’t yet know what’s on the other side of this threshold.

My cousin told me I need to get in touch with my heart. His theory is that I’ve spent so much of the past twelve years being smart and doing what I HAD to do that I’ve lost touch with what I WANT to do. Now I’m able to do whatever my heart desires, and in order to do that, I need to feel rather than think what is important to me.

I told my son this. He said, “He’s right. You think too much. You want to get in touch with your heart? I’ll show you how to get in touch with your heart.”

He forced his toddler into my arms and said, “Riley, go play with your grandma. That’s how you get in touch with your heart,” he said with a pointed look.

Yep, the boy fights dirty. I have no idea where he gets that.

So I play with my granddaughter, I read books, I pray, I dream, and I try to get in touch with my heart. We’ll see what it comes up with…

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what you do to get in touch with your heart. Please take a minute to share in the comments.


An Imperfect Start

An Imperfect Start

I’m a perfectionist. Sometimes this is a good thing. When I’m cleaning house or completing a project at work, it’s good to have an eye for detail and do my best.

Sometimes it’s a bad thing. When I’m so concerned about doing something perfectly that I don’t even try to do it, that’s a paralyzingly bad thing.

Take this blog for example. I’ve been wanting to do this for several years. I used to write a regular column for the Chester County Independent and loved that creative outlet. I’ve missed it. So I thought, why not do something similar with a blog? But I put it off because I didn’t have the perfect title, or the perfect layout, or the perfect organization, or the perfect whatever the hell I thought needed to be perfect.

So I finally thought of a blog name. It was available and I was excited. I bought the domain and found an online class on how to use Photoshop Elements to create a beautiful blog and signed up. Then I got busy. And maybe a little scared. Scared that I wouldn’t have time to devote to a regular blog, that no one would read it anyway, that I wouldn’t be able to make it as visually appealing as some of the other blogs I’ve seen, that it wouldn’t be as cool or clever as my friend’s blog, that it wouldn’t be perfect.

My kids aren’t hung up on perfection or even the perception of or the drive for perfection. They just do what they want, when they want, and how they want. They try new things, they fail, they succeed, they have adventures! They are who they are and they accept that.

As a new empty-nester, I’ve been redefining what’s important and just how perfect everything really needs to be. I’ve started working out and eating better. I’ve completely dejunked and deep cleaned my house and turned my daughter’s bedroom into a comfortable guest room.

Now I’m waiting in an airport to leave for the trip of a lifetime. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland and I’m wanting to get back into writing. So what could be better than going to an immersive writing retreat in Ireland? I’m not sure, so I’m doing it!

I’ve had a long layover, so I thought I’d finally get started on this blog. Guess what! I waited too long for perfection and the perfect blog title I’d come up with has been taken. Someone who doesn’t even use capitalization or punctuation is using the title I thought would perfectly define what I was writing about and the message I hoped to share with my readers. Every variation I could think of has been used. Every synonym and alliteration is already in the blogosphere. I spent three hours plugging in ideas and seeing the red box stating this title has already been used.

Then I thought about talking to my 19-year old daughter about taking a spontaneous, solo trip to a foreign country. Leaning over and smoothing her waist-length hair into a ponytail, she flipped her head back up, twisted her hair into a bun and pinned it to the top of her head.

“You just do you, Mama,” she said as she looked me in the eye. “You’re perfect enough.”