So a friend on Facebook is becoming an empty nester. She asked for (and received) some terrific advice, yet several of the comments--oh my! They bummed me out.
Some women still were mentally reeling around the ol' empty nest even years later. Yikes!
Hey, I'm not without empathy. I still say releasing Naomi was, emotionally, the hardest thing I've ever done. Ever. Done. Go living one way for 20 years, then lose that? Oh, it can feel like a death.
And in a way, it was a death to what I'd known, loved and poured my creative energy and decades of a cozy type of nurturing into.
But yet all seeds of potential green productive plants must 'die,' first. Seeds only cowering in darkness beneath the soil, not opening with their potential to warmth and water, eventually mold into nothingness.
And who wants that?
But oh, after the death, the grieving? If we choose to embrace this new life, we can awaken to a surprising one with freedom to:
Learn to fly, figuratively or in actuality.
Travel where we'd complained for decades we couldn't and/or learn every detail about those faraway places. Or visit (finally) all those local places of interest we've procrastinated seeing.
Study subjects which fascinate us: Art/history/architecture/zoology/psychology/writing/decorating/nutrition/ landscaping/ fashion/communication/nature/ calligraphy, etc., maybe becoming adept enough to classroom-teach others.
Become friends with that neighbor who's always interested us from our windows. Perhaps start a neighborhood book club, morning coffee group, kindness-gift-outings or form yearly block parties.
Learn how to organize, declutter our homes, making our new life more comfortable, efficient. We can clean what we've meant to clean for years. ツ
Regularly visit that coffee shop, craft store, hobby club, etc., creating new friendships with like-minded souls.
Become that expert baker, chef, counselor, seamstress, pianist, teacher, singer, author, scrapbooker, movie critic, volunteer, etc. we'd toyed with becoming for years.
Start a whole new career, one sparking from our gifts this time, the ones we actually enjoy doing. Return to college and also, create a fun wardrobe we'll look terrific in and enjoy wearing in this new life.
Read all those books or magazines we'd longed to and/or study 'prepping' in myriad ways, preparing for anything with which this crazy world may, in the future, try 'slime-ing us'.
Take Overcoming Sorry Habits courses steering us away from that which traps us within our own heads. Perhaps meet, in-person, that favorite author/teacher/musician/You-Tuber who has helped us in myriad ways.
Oh! And now we can start that collection of books or bells or unicorns or cast iron decor or vintage phones or ? that we've always meant to.
Or if we can't shake our love for caring for children? We can become caretakers for other families, creating remarkable days tiny ones will recall into adulthood.
Seriously, in hundreds of ways we can stretch, grow, but what to realize? We must step out to find out. Blaming, making excuses or waiting for rescuers won't lead us to our customized second-half of Life.
No, we must reach. Up or out or in or down--whatever--we must seek until we find, not waiting for someone else do it all for us. How can another person create our personalized, meant-to-live second half of our God-designed life?
And yes, it takes courage-- and God.
Yet both, always, are there, standing, waiting, for the reachers. Both long to lead us to bright places we'd thought didn't exist this side of Heaven.
Our greatest limitation? Our fear-framed, excuse-finding imagination.
Always looking backward cannot take us future-forward to places God meant to lead us.
So cute, right?
Your list should give some ideas to those who are floundering! Comprehensive indeed! I had to tell myself no on a few intriguing ones as the last thing I need are more hobbies and interests. As it is, I'm trying to narrow down my own list. The trouble is, one thing leads to another and my curiosity leads me another subject. Know what I mean? I bet you do.
The first year when our fourth child moved away for college was rough, I remember. And I still try to hold my tears back until he and his family pull out of the driveway when they're home on visits, go inside and start a load of towels washing and look for left behind toys and it gets better. And now with our only daughter and son-in-law just having moved across the country to Montana that's another sense of separation as she used to only live two states away. So there are tears sometime but never ever boredom!
Oh boy! You are much more empathetic than I am. I have a friend who cries every day to whoever will listen, literally, because her daughter moved into an apartment two blocks away from their house! Two blocks away! I have a child in Japan, one across the country and another one on the other side of Montana, over 400 miles away. None of my children are close enough to see on a regular basis. Thank heavens for electronics and FaceTime! I have a very hard time being sympathetic when she calls me almost daily, crying because she doesn’t get to see her daughter several times a day. It’s not that I don’t feel bad for her, because I do know it’s a huge change, but she sees her almost every day. I haven’t seen my youngest son for over three years! I have had to learn to fill my time in with other interests and hobbies. And putting others before yourself fills a lot of your time. You have given some wonderful ideas Debra. Please pray for me to have patience and react the way God would want me to with my friend.
There's a season for every phase of life. We always have choices. I remember when our son enlisted in the Air Force at age 19. He had tried college, but really wanted to go into the USAF. He served for 20 years, then retired. During those 20 years, we celebrated just 3 Christmases together. No one said life would be easy, and I think it's normal for us to grieve being separated from our kids, but there comes a time when we must face the facts and focus on living our life to its fullest. Most of us are very blessed to have many options with which to fill our days. As usual, it all boils down to our perspective, but we have the power to decide what we focus on. Debra, thank you for all the great suggestions you've given us!
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