What I Learned After the First Year of Empty Nest 

What I Learned After the First Year of Empty Nest 

Sometimes you still see them as a little baby bird, not ready to leave the nest!

Last August, we experienced our first dose of empty nest as we moved one of our girls   into a college dorm.  I wrote about it here.

This past weekend we repeated the same journey.  With a much less loaded minivan we helped move my stepdaughter into the dorm.  On this trip, Instead of a knot twisting in my stomach, I felt peace and excitement for her upcoming year. 

The unloading was much easier this year!
At the dorm we greeted the now familiar staff, smiled at the other parents and gave imaginary hugs to the moms of  newbie students trying to hold it together and not cry in front of their child. 

This year is different because we now know what to expect. A year’s worth of experiences under our belts helped us to arrive at this confident attitude. 

Some more words of encouragement for parents leaving their student!
So, what words can I offer to this year’s newbie parents after my first year experience of empty nest?

It’s okay to be sad.  Acknowledge your sadness.  Cry.  You and your student are going through a huge developmental milestone. It would be weird not  to feel anything.  Also, acknowledge if you begin to feel happiness or excitement for having more time to yourself!   That’s allowed!

Your child will return to you.  As long as dirty laundry exists, you will see your child again!  (Or at least their unwashed clothes!) You might even be surprised how a weekend visit disrupts your plans!  

Your child will now know more than you do.  Be prepared. It will no longer matter that you hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, much less a post doc degree in the school of life…your child has been participating in thought provoking discussions learning new fangled ideas and better ways to live.  Suddenly  you know nothing. That new sophisticated attitude is also a developmental milestone, but bless!  Jesus be near me.

Your child will need you but in different ways.  Even though they are independent, your student still needs your emotional, spiritual as well as financial support. Supporting your student is a little trickier as they want to be independent and not get grilled about classes, lectured or told what to do.  

I have learned to let my stepdaughter lead the conversation, listen with my heart as well as my ears and suggest advice only if I believe that’s what she’s needing…another voice, another perspective concerning the situation. Sometimes your best move is to step back and let your child make their own decision even if it’s one you wouldn’t choose for them. Growing Up 101.

Be your child’s  biggest advocate.   Advocate doesn’t mean cheerleader. Although we certainly cheer on our student, we take on a different role when we advocate for her.  An advocate supports the person as a whole, or as the profs say in college…globally.  Sometimes to be your child’s best advocate, you must tell them No.  Not the easiest conversation to have with your learning to adult child, but maybe the most necessary. That’s when the adult part of you kicks in overriding the best friend part of you. 

Your child is equipped to begin the task of college!  Don’t panic. What you’ve poured into your child since their birth won’t suddenly evaporate. There will be challenges and there will be triumphs but your student is ready!

Let your student soar!

Any seasoned college parents out there?  What advice would you share to first time college parents?  Comment below, I’d love to learn from you as well!

The One Thing I Learned This Summer

The One Thing I Learned This Summer

A lovely formal garden discovered on our summer travels
I’m joining Emily P. Freeman’s linkup sharing what I’ve learned this summer. 

Sometimes it’s okay to take a summer off!  I’m the queen of to-do lists.  Writing lists motivates me to get things done. Nothing’s more satisfying that to put a check mark by a completed task. 

But this summer, I took everything  off my to-do list. You might say I had a minimalist summer.  Instead of ramping up my daily agenda, I slowed down. While others (along with my internal voice) might judge this summer as unproductive, I experienced my best summer yet. 

Just like my Compaq laptop I had in grad school, I learned my brain needs defragmenting periodically for it to run faster and more efficiently.   Summer was the perfect time for me to pause and let my mind rest, reorganize information, refocus priorities and rid my brain of all the junk taking up space. 

I still did my normal summer thing. We travelled to the beach, hung out together, explored museums and historical locales in nearby cities and celebrated some amazing answers to prayers.

This painting really spoke to me!
Honestly, I thought I might never find any motivation again.  The floating, untethered laziness was uncomfortable at times. But then these words seized my soul as I read them late one night:

“A seed knows how to wait. A seed is alive while it waits. Every acorn on the ground is just as alive as the 300 year old tree that towers over it. Neither the seed nor the oak tree is growing; they are both waiting.” –Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Life is still inside me as I wait.  Resting and waiting does not kill the life in me but ignoring my need to rest and wait will. 

What have you learned this summer?  Share in the comments or link up to Emily’s post!

What I Learned in November

What I Learned in November

November began gloriously with an extra hour of sleep (thank you very much!) and perfect Fall days!

I know I sound like a broken record, but November blew by…whew, it sure did!

I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman sharing what I learned this November!

God’s beauty demands attention!

1.  Long walks with my husband renew me.  We live in the country and we regularly take long walks (over 4 miles) down country lanes.  We walk, even if it’s raining!  

2.  Travel and adventure are in my blood! Looking back over 2015, I’ve traveled every month except November!  We’ve traveled some amazing world cities as well as cities and towns closer to home.  

Even with the recent terrorist attacks, my love of travel has only gotten stronger!  Our world is amazing and I can’t wait to explore even more of it!

3. This quote. 

We’ve been taught to believe that actions speak louder than words, but I think words speak pretty loud all our lives.  We carry these words in our head.” -Marlo Thomas

The current conventional wisdom of “actions speak louder than words” seriously exhausts me.  I stumbled across this quote at the precise moment I needed it when I had hateful words roar in my head from months ago. 

God holds us accountable for the words we speak to others see Ephesians 4:29.  How many sermons have you heard from this passage of Ephesians?  Pastors usually focus on the first part of chapter 4…different parts of the body of Christ…when they preach on volunteering in the church. 

4.  Jewel’s book is worth the read.

 

Never Broken-Songs are Only Half the Story by Jewel
 

Don’t want to say too much about this book, but oh my stars….Jewel is definitely a survivor and has pushed her way through many tough situations.  

What did you learn this November?  I’d love to hear! Comment and we’ll keep the conversation going!


    What I Learned in August

    What I Learned in August

    Oh look, a Smurf cottage!

    August ended being a jammed packed month of travel, celebrating, launching and moving into a new chapter of my life. August surprised me in many big and small ways, even the muggy weather abated for a brief respite of gorgeous low humidity days.  

    Here’s to small beginnings and small endings!

    I began August with an amazing trip to Brussels!

    100 percent!
     

    I fell in love with Brussels, Belgium in August and I fell hard!  Amazing chocolates, frittes & waffles don’t hurt either!

    But my first love hasn’t budged and has only gotten stronger…

    Five years!

    We celebrated our Fifth Anniversary in Brussels.  Here’s what I’ve learned about marriage with my beloved for these five years…being single for all those years was worth it, every minute…because choosing wisely trumps choosing quickly, conveniently, desperately. Nothing is more powerful than two people who stand in agreement on core beliefs.  

    While we aren’t the same by any means, it still catches me off guard slightly how well I chose, when the tough times come and reveal his strength and wisdom.  

    I helped launch Emily P. Freeman’s new book Simply Tuesday!

      

    I learned it takes a lot of people to properly launch a book these days through social media!  Simply Tuesday is teaching me so much about embracing my smallness, letting go of outcomes, and knowing God is with me in the small, as well as the big moments of my life.  

    Another launch occurred…

    Made with much love!
     

    Empty Nest is a real thing and I chat about it here.  I loved hearing from others going through empty nest as well!  Let’s keep in touch!

    High School Cross Country is a Blood Sport

    High school girls at the start!
     
    After taking a break from cross country in grade and middle schools, we experienced our first high school meet this past Saturday.  Oh. My. Word.

    Gone are the days of cheering on your runner amongst the massive sea of other runners. 

    We were shocked to hear parents yelling at their daughters to push harder, not to let that runner pass her and to not fall behind if she wanted to finish strong. Parents.  

    And not only parents but I witnessed a grandmother yelling at her granddaughter berating her as she ran.

    At the finish line I witnessed way too many girls in tears not because they were in pain, but because their pain in the butt parents put way too much pressure on them. 

    PSA:  Parents, runners run against themselves. Their time. Yelling at them unmercifully as they race actually demotivates them. So for the love, stop it.  Now.  

    I know there’s college scholarship money in cross country; but seriously, you try running a race with a loved one yelling what you yelled to your child and see how well you perform!

    End of rant.

    What did you learn this August?!!


    What I Learned in July

    What I Learned in July

      

    Beary representing ‘Murica!
      
    July is the jewel of Summer and begins with fireworks and seemingly endless long sunlight days and languid lightening bug summer nights.  

    Unbelievably, July is now at an end, and for us, the end of summer break. The end of July has collapsed into muggy, humid and insufferable days here in Kentucky. #LordHaveMercy #sorryJuly

    So, I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman and friends sharing what I’ve learned this July.

    1.  4th of July fireworks  in a rainstorm still    sparks joy!

    Soggy viewing of Nashville’s fireworks!
     

    Although less than optimal conditions, we joined the crush of humanity down on Broadway and watched the 30 plus minutes of fireworks and, had a blast!  I’m learning to let go of outcomes, (thanks Emily P. Freeman via Simply Tuesday) and it’s freeing!

    2.  Empty Nest is a Real Thing!

    So many shades of gray in bath mats!

    Dorm shopping is not for the faint of heart (so many choices, so many price points) and we accomplished it in one week’s time. I’m so excited for this new chapter but totally unprepared for the rush of emotions that hit me in the middle of an aisle at Target where I had to hold back tears.   

    As a stepmom, I came in the middle of my stepdaughter’s childhood, but these last seven years have sped by and I realized how many of her major developmental milestones I’ve witnessed. 

    My only advice to parents trudging through 4th grade homework, arguing over teeth brushing and showers, and attending endless school assembly programs is enjoy it now.  This time passes too quickly.  Such a cliche but so much truth. 

    Embrace the drudgery and exhaustion because one day you might have a breakdown in Target’s storage section. 

    3. I’m late to the podcast party!

     

    A partial list of what’s up on my podcast app. Not shown are Hopeologie and The Influence Network!
       
    Many of you already know about podcasts, but for those who do not, podcasts are simply audio recordings of interviews/discussions on any topic/person.  Like how do ocean currents work?  Helen Hunt’s storytelling process, why reading aloud to your kids matters, etc.  They are free (!) and informative besides entertaining!

    Somehow I thought the only way one could listen to podcasts were via a desktop computer. But no, iTunes (and other podcast apps) allow one to download the podcast onto your iPhone where you can listen as you go! Yay!

    I listen to podcasts when I go for a walk, a long drive or household chores. I especially love finding interviews of favorite authors or bloggers and their insights. 

    4. Water is necessary for life. (My husband is a Rockstar)

    The beginning of the dig…

    We lost water pressure to our house and after checking with neighbors realized we had a leak somewhere on our property. Not so much fun considering our house sits way back from the road and smack dab in the middle of muggy July.  So, after a few miserable days without water we found the break in the line near an outside field faucet, and my  husband began digging.   

    That’s alot of digging!!

    The culprit…tree roots. And, after a quick trip to the plumber’s supply store, my rockstar husband fixed it for $9!  I’ve never been so happy to take a shower in my own house or flush a toilet!  

    5. Madeleine L’Engle is a Kindred Spirit.  

     

    So good and timely!
     

    I kept seeing this book pop up on Emily P. Freeman’s blog and social media and finally broke down and ordered it as the local library didn’t have a copy. 

    I’m so glad I bought my own because I’ve underlined and written on every page. This book came to me at the right time…a book for your soul, for the writer and for the follower of Jesus. I’m such a huge fan of her books but now I’m even more fascinated by her life and insights into writing and God. 

    6.  This Quote.  

    -Theodore Roosevelt

    I’ve seen this quote countless times but when I recently posted it to my social media, it took off and resonated with others as well.   Here’s what I posted with my hand lettering quote:

    How many times have you compared yourself against someone else?  You’re robbing yourself of joy, you know that, right?  We each have different talents and gifts and that’s a good thing!! Celebrate your ordinariness and smallness (remember nothing impresses God) and thank Him for what He has given you!

    The above insight is a synthesis of life events, Emily P. Freeman’s Simply Tuesday (releasing in 2 weeks!) and my sweet Mama!

    What did you learn in July?  Comment below!!

     

    What I Learned in June

    What I Learned in June

      

    I’m joining Emily P. Freeman’s monthly link up sharing what I learned this June!

    1. Lifetime Movies Rock!  Back in my college days, many, many years ago, one of my roommates would be glued to the TV  if she came across a Lifetime movie. It didn’t matter if she flipped it on halfway through, she was hooked.  A Deadly Adoption played by Will Ferrell and Kristin Wiig captures the Lifetime genre perfectly in all its awesomeness!  

    2. You can learn to draw Disney Characters! We just completed our final Walt Disney World trip (after a year long Magic Pass) and on our final trip discovered Hollywood Studios has an Animation Academy where the instructor teaches you to draw a Disney Character!  We loved this!! Even my husband enjoyed it and produced a great Misery from Inside Out

    I’d like to thank the Academy….
     


    3. Honesty gives others the freedom to be honest as well. -Shauna Niequist via Savor


    4.  I need the beach to connect with my Creator and to unplug and simply be.  

    What have you learned this June?  Join Emily’s link up!

    What I Learned in May

     

    Toss those caps high!

    Did you hear?  May is the new December. I’ve officially had more goings on with  end of school events, concerts, recitals,graduations and graduation open houses besides Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, etc. 

    May hustled through quickly this time, but oh so much have I learned.

    1. Graduations must be endured.   Although ecstatic and proud, I have gained a new found appreciation for my parents and what they endured. Yes, kids are smart, and yes cliches exist because there’s a ring of truth in them; but, please, for the love, limit graduation speakers to only one class valedictorian…OK, two even. But never again five.  Pretty please?!
    2. Google Photos App is Life. Do you get the nagging iPhone message that your phone hasn’t been backed up because there’s not enough storage on your iCloud?  Yeah, me too!  Google Photos solves alllllllll of that. It’s a free app and offers free unlimited photo storage.  No limits. Free.  Google was the first to offer free email (gmail). I still pity the fools who shell out money for their AOL accounts. Check it out. Too many cool features.  You have to experience it yourself!
    my new favorite jam. Besties.

    3,  Lip Sync Battle is the Bomb. I cried tears watching Spike TV’s new show, where celebrities go head to head and battle each other via lip syncing their song.   If you only watch one episode, make it Mike Tyson’s!

    Awww Mikey!!

    4. Living with discontent isn’t the bomb, but that’s where amazing growth happens.  I wrote about discontent here at the beginning of May and as it ended I have grown so much just by facing my discontent and its underlying source and realizing it will always be an undercurrent in my life. I’m so happy to report that now at the end of May I am so much more content!

    5.  This book explains a great deal of how horrible behaviors persist. And, the author’s solution to dealing with manipulative people is you.  I’m recommending this book to everyone, because everyone has at least one subversive manipulative person in their life. At least one. 

    a necessary tool in today’s culture.

    May brought in a mix of activities and emotions, but it ended with peace and contentment. 

    How did May go for you?  Share in the comments. I’d love to hear what you learned in May!

    What I learned in April

    I’m joining  Emily Freeman’s linkup of what we learned in April!

    1. No matter how long, snowy and bitterly cold Winter can be, Spring will come! Kentucky endured an unusually long and bitterly cold Winter…not as long as the East Coast/Boston peeps, but way too long for us. And, I’m so enjoying Springtime even moreso because of Winter’s bite!
    2. Jeff Goins can help you! Whether you wish to improve your writing skills or find your calling, Jeff Goins can help!  His The Art of Work is a new bestseller and will guide you through the process as well as his website!
    3. Shauna Niequist’s devotional, Savor, is thoughtful, soul searching and tasty!  Thoughtful in that with every day’s devotion, she leaves the reader with thought provoking questions to ponder. Soul searching because the daily devotional nudges you toward God.  Tasty because she also includes recipes!
    4. Via Shauna Niequist…6 Things I’m Called to Do:  I’m reading Savor each morning and with her recent devotion I wrote down my 6: 1. Be my husband’s wife and girlfriend; 2) be a stepmom; 3)write; 4)be creative; 5)keep close to God and close to Jesus’ footsteps; and 6) read more, develop a deep well.
    5. Also via Shauna Niequist…Things I Don’t Do: a more important list 1) Spend time with people who make me feel less than; 2) volunteer {right now}; 3) Don’t sweat the “perfect house”; 4) Try to be perfect!
    6. Lark App is My Free Therapist. This app is awesome because it tracks physical activities/health (after my FitBit drowned) but it’s so much more. It’s free therapy!  Check it out!!

    What I Learned in March

    I’m joining Emily P. Freeman at Chatting at the Sky to share what I learned this March!

    1. My life is beautiful and I am blessed, truly blessed!  Everyone should be able to make this statement who follows Jesus and yet we forget how beautiful our lives really are in Him.  Notice I didn’t  say my life is perfect or my life is stress free or my life is easy.  But what Jesus has been remedially teaching me over the course of this month is that His burden is easy and His yoke is light.  It finally hit me hard that the burden and yoke I’ve been carrying and identifying it as what Jesus wanted me to do never was His ever.  I had gotten it confused with what He requires of me and I truly believe many who serve in Jesus’ name are confused as well.

    2. Life is shorter than you think.  I’m in my mid 40s and many times I feel as I’m hitting my stride. But none of us are guaranteed another day other than this moment, this day. This truth came into sharp focus at a beautiful celebration of life of a young 13 year old girl I attended last week. She truly lived every day of her life to the fullest and loved Jesus and loved others well. She ran her race and what a breathtaking race!

     

    3. Kentucky basketball is the real deal.  I readily admit I bleed blue for UK basketball but this year’s team is amazing to watch in action. As UK player Aaron Harrison stated after that Notre Dame game,  “We just figure out ways to win.”  The team’s mental game is ironclad and a joy to watch!  Go Big Blue!!

    4.  I’m learning calligraphy!  And you can too!  Click here for Scarlet & Gold’s free calligraphy class they’re offering in April!!

    5. David Lee Roth is back with Van Halen and touring this year!  What?!!! Sorry folks, but Sammy Hagar could never take David Lee Roth’s rightful place as lead singer of Van Halen and now he’s back!  As an 80s teen this injustice has finally been righted and all is now well in the hair banging rock world!!

    6. The Church is Everywhere and It’s Not a Building.  There are alive churches everywhere and simultaneously the Church is everywhere, every day through her people who show love, kindness, mercy, peace, patience and self-control.

    What have you learned this month?  Please share in the comments below!

    What I Learned in February

    What I Learned in February

    For being the shortest month of the year, I sure did learn a great deal in February! 

    1.  Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Caroll has given me encouragement.   After the unanimous uproar over calling that crazy passing play that was intercepted at the goal line instead of a running play and costing the Seahawks a back to back Super Bowl win,  Coach Pete Carroll stood firm in his decision.  Admitting it was the worst result possible result of calling that play, he took ownership of it, even in the scorching backlash.  Seeing how Carroll has dealt with unimaginable scrutiny encourages me that if Carroll can live to coach another day, so can I.  

    2.  If Gathering 2015.  I attended the If Gathering through an If: Local venue and it was spiritually transforming.  Strong, godly women leading other women to a deeper knowledge of God and a call to action.  So many Spirited-filled speakers; but, one speaker and one phrase pierced my heart and life.  When Christine Caine uttered “Dismount that dead horse!” I knew God was speaking directly to me. 

    3.  God is with me in the big and little events in my life. 

    4.  After over a foot of snow last week, and plenty of snow still hanging around, our local weather forecasters can correctly predict snow at times!!

    5.  Tall flat whites are a thing and I heart them

    6.  In search of free wi-fi this week, I discovered that the senior citizen coffee gang hangs out at McDonalds in my town.  And, I’m lovin’ it because they are seriously happy and enjoying life in that moment and space!  

    7.  The series finale of Parks and Recreation was supremely perfect. So sad to see it go, but I sure do wish I really could purchase Tom’s best selling book, Failure:  An American Success Story, because it literally hits the nail on the head of the current trend that experiencing failure is profitable!  Which, it can be, but doesn’t always happen!

    8.  This Follow Lenten devotional guide is drawing me closer to God through these 40 days. 

    So many wonderful lessons in February!  I’m so looking forward to March with glimpses of Spring and the  event of March madness!  Go UK Wildcats!!