She sets up a room in her home as her painting space. She hasn’t painted since college.
She sets up `date day` on the weekends with her spouse, as well as regular dates with women friends during the month.
She volunteers for several local organizations and takes a class to potentially restart her career.
She works part time at the Alzheimer`s home where her mom stayed. And she`s started a bell ringing and chorus group there.
She creates time to support younger family relatives who need a little extra support, a wise role model, and has lots of fun herself with the youngest ones.
She starts her own business ` or recharges the one she`d started years ago but just did not have time for. Now, it can be a priority and it feeds her soul, the work she does.
Each woman was becoming – or anticipating becoming – an empty nester. A phase when we embrace who our adult children are becoming and let them go to wherever they might head. We may support them in major life decisions (when asked), such as relationships or home hunting, but they`re off on their own.
And you hold your breath, as when they started school or college, hoping that you’ve taught them those life skills and values in the best ways you knew how.
We return to the `luxury` of focusing on ourselves and our own relationships. All of my examples above are true ones, from clients, friends and family ` all women ` who are taking a positive and mentally healthy approach to this challenging phase. They are excited curious, wise, and look forward to new adventures, even the ones they don`t know anything about yet!
For this second act of our lives, we have time to focus differently. We can revisit hobbies, work and volunteerism of the past. We can go back to school. We can float and simply explore for a time, giving ourselves a restful, reflective transition time before beginning our next major effort in life.
We bring with us what we loved from the last chapter of our lives ` the things, the people, but also our beliefs, perspectives and wisdom. We begin creating our next chapter, whether we let it happen organically or we set goals.
We let go `& without really knowing what is next. But as a new favorite quote reminds us (thanks to a client):
`You have to go through here before you get there.`
A few questions to spark your own reflection:
- What`s on the other side of this empty nest phase you`re beginning?
- What do you know about what you want once this transition time begins to fade?
- What have you done, enjoyed or felt passionate about in your past, at any time?
- What do you value? What do you stand for? How are you living to your values?
- What do you believe you can do `& or can`t do? And how is that serving you at this phase of your life?
Heartfelt congratulations to this year`s parents, grandparents and extended family who raised our younger generations. Thanks for your hard work, your teaching and passing on of your values.
It`s time for you now.