Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

An empty nest ... finally.

I know this blog is supposed to be focused on my "next 20 years."  But my thoughts have been focused on the last 20 years a lot as late.  And those years have been filled with changes that staggers my mind as I review it.

Now I am facing the newest change - an empty nest - the literal description of one's life when all the kids have left home for good.  I have eagerly looked forward to this time and now that it is here I feel a bit numb to the prospect.

For me ... my empty nest describes more than just the kids growing up and moving out.  In the last 20 years the scope of life that kept my nest full was broad.  Most of it has pealed away.

The late 90's were filled with my husband's grandmother, and then his mother, during the last years of their lives.  My husband and I were laid off from jobs during this time ... both at the same time and both from long time employers.  My two adult kids both left and returned home more than once during those years.  They are now flying through life with their "adult wings."  My daughter recently purchased her own property ... a kind of adult passage.  My son married officially stepping out of our "nest" to build his own.  I lost a level of intimacy and trust with a close person or two - a sad reality, and I may never return to that blissful naive state again.  My husband was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition that cannot be cured and will lead to blindness - changing both our lives in ways we never could have anticipated.  My mom lived with me for 5 years and the heart break of moving her out of my home and into Assisted Living pretty much ate up the last of my personal care giving reserves.  And this month my son and daughter-in-law who had temporarily lived with me for 10 months, moved into their new home - taking my grand-dogs with them.  There are still a few "remnants" left in my role as "nest maintainer" ... I am still overseer of mom's care as she slowly drifts out of this life in assisted living.  But the "nest" I tended so carefully is pretty vacant now.

There is one glaring reality.  I did not really prepare for this state of empty nest.

The last few days I found myself cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.  Cleaning has always been a coping mechanism when I am upset, or unsure or just numb.  I am not upset - as all of these changes are the way of life.  But I feel numb ...  open and empty.  I worry about when the house is clean.  Then what!

So I need to focus more on me.  I have been pretty good at looking the other way - but my being says now it is time to focus on you.  I have talked about that in the past - but the hours of the day were always filled with the needs and desires of all those things that filled my nest.

Yesterday I went for a walk.  It was one of those "first day" of a walking routine that I hoped to build.  I have a long, long history of "first days.".  But lately I have noticed my legs have various aches, my knees are giving me problems and my energy levels are pretty low.

I have seen this before.  I have seen it in mom!  Fear sent me out the door on that walk - and now that my nest is pretty empty, fear is as good a motivator as anything.

I have also signed up for a strength training class starting in November.  I believe a Yoga class will also become part of my routine.  And these knees may need a professional evaluation because I don't want them to become an "excuse" for not moving.  I have seen that as well - in mom!

Fear!  Whatever works!

Finally, blogging as been a struggle lately.  That is actually a good sign.  My blog kept me sane during some pretty tough and unhappy years, but now it feels like just another thing on my "To Do" list.  The need is just not there to write and vent and chatter on.  I considered stopping the blog - thought about it many times over the last 2 months - but I could never "do the deed" and say goodbye.  Guess I was not ready to end this ... after so many other endings.

So here I am blathering on to you! Guess blogging will be part of my empty nest after all.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I'll be back again - just not sure when.  My blog will join so many other blogs that I follow where posts crop up now and again, but never goes away!

Cheers!


18 comments:

  1. I am glad you are keeping on blogging, and also doing some exercising. I am a big fan of exercise in a warm water indoor pool, since 1999. Lots of people with knee problems find that beneficial, maybe that would work for you. You are facing a BIG change with a truly empty nest, and now you can move forward and find what you LIKE to do. And remember "the God of angel armies is always at your side."

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    1. Thanks, Terra. My preferred method of exercise is walking so I hope I don't get limited in that. My exercise classes are held at the senior center so I am sure I won't be the only one with knee problems. :-) My mom used to go to a swim exercise - for years. It is not off the table ... I will see how things progress.

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  2. Yet another stage in life. Our nest is empty as well although we've found that just when we think we have things rearranged to suit ourselves someone wants to come back home. It takes a while to find things to fill in the vacant spots left but have no fear...life abhors a vacuum.

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    1. Oh I am sure the open spaces will fill up. In fact my nature is to always step forward for others giving up my personal time without a second thought. I am not so good at stepping forward for myself - that will be a new habit for me and a struggle.

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  3. Our fifties have been filled with nothing but change and more change, stress and more stress....I know firsthand that it takes awhile to come down from all that, sometimes quite awhile. Give yourself time and space girlfriend, you will manage this transition fine! Let's get together when I get home.

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    1. Drop me an email and we can meet for coffee.

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  4. I was so happy to find you had a post in my Feedly reader today! We enjoyed our empty nest for such a short time and then the two grand kids came to live with us. Now the empty nest is just a fond memory. I totally understand the care giving years. I am in the middle of it. Hospice comes once a week but I do all of the care giving and it is draining. I will look forward to that next stage of my life when I have an empty nest. As soon as the last one leaves, I am moving into a very tiny one bedroom house.......no room for any returnees. Ha! Ha!

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    1. Oh Paula, your comment about my post in your reader made me smile. Thank you. And I LOVED the "very tiny one bedroom house" comment. YES, that sounds grand. And my husband and I seriously considered a move as our 3 level town house is just too darn big for us now that the kids have moved out. But the house is paid for and anything else would cost us more so we have decided to stay put at least for the next 5-10 years. At least that is our plan now.

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  5. I'm always happy to see an update from you. I've struggled so much with the blog upkeep in the past couple of years. It seems lately though, that I have a lot to say, but cannot say it on such a public forum as a blog so have started a personal journal on my computer. It helps me get some of my feelings out. I still struggle with the blogging though. I don't want to quit. I have some ideas, just don't always have the time or ambition. Hope to see you when you feel like blogging again from time to time.
    ~Laura

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    1. Laura, I can totally relate to the struggle to keep up the blog. It was only this morning while I was walking and mulling about all these thoughts that I decided to put out this post. My life is pretty quiet now and the "need" to sort things out in my blog has really reduced. I really wanted to quit but I just couldn't do it. So it must be something I still need to do once in awhile. :-)

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  6. Well, now you should be able to have fun and do whatever YOU want to do. : )
    I've tried the giving up blogging thing as you know. Didn't even make it a week. It has become part of my life!! And I do enjoy it.

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    1. I am so glad you decided to stay at it. :)

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  7. Very reflective . . . I have shared some of your feelings . . . I am happy you are continuing on because selfishly I am benefitting from your wisdom. I identified especially with losing a level of intimacy with a friend or two . . . happening to me . . . some loss there for me . . . yet . . . new found inner strength and assurance.

    I am amazed by your life and living resume'.

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    1. Thanks Lynne. The saying "that which does not kill you makes you stronger" is trite but oh so true. It has been for me.

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  8. I was happy to read your blog post. It felt like I was catching up with an old friend. I think that you should live your life day to day and do what feels right. When in doubt, just follow your heart. I look forward to your next post whenever it comes :-)

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    1. You are so right ... day to day ... do what feels right. I have a hard time doing what feels right. I seem to be driven by "what is expected" and crazy standards I set for myself. I can't help but wonder where that nutty behavior comes from. LOL

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