“Take the first step, no more, no less, and the next will be revealed.” – Ken Roberts
As the reality of an empty nest has finally taken root and set in, I realize it’s time to start creating the next chapter in my life. With both boys off building their lives and working toward their own purpose, I have finally accepted that my role in their lives has changed forever. Although, I do occasionally still serve as mentor or adviser, even that is a huge change from the role of stay-at-home mom that I held for the past 20 years. I am hesitant to admit that now that the dust has settled, I am enjoying my new found freedom. I am excited to explore the possibilities of this new chapter. For the first time in many years, my decisions, schedule, and choices are all about me.
After the initial shock of an “empty nest” subsided, I entered what I call the liberation stage. My husband(Bob) and I were back to being focused on ‘Us’. We were excited about our future together and all the possibilities this new chapter held. After a few months, we realized that we had more time on our hands than we anticipated. I was also trying to decide if I would continue with my insurance practice or go work for someone. There were so many options yet we felt stuck in indecision. I can remember as a kid getting a quarter from my dad to go to the penny candy store (yes, we actually could buy a lot with a quarter back then). My brother and I were always so excited with this unexpected treat. Being raised at the time by a single dad meant that money was tight and that every penny counted. While standing in the store filled with so many yummy treats, we felt overwhelmed by all the choices. With that said, it took a considerable amount of time to decide and then purchase our treats. Choose unwisely, you were left disappointed and had to wait another week for a shot at candy paradise. Needless to say, this was a treasured childhood memory. It also calls to mind how so many choices can be challenging.
So here I stand with options to spare and no idea what I want to do. Not very “badass” huh? What I do know for sure is that I don’t want to live so carefully that I miss out on truly living my purpose. Although it is not clear what that is yet, I wish to explore the possibilities. Hopefully you do too. The heart of the Badass Nestie blog is to inspire others to live this stage of their lives with purpose and on purpose, so that when we reach the end of our lives we do so with great enthusiasm and few regrets.
Here are some tips to take the first steps (and then another) toward your next chapter as a Badass Nestie:
1. Give yourself a ‘Time Out’.
Everyone, not just toddlers, deserves a time out to collect themselves and reflect. First, and foremost, take a moment to reflect on what a great job you did raising your children. Whether or not things turned out the way you had hoped does not matter. Parenting is a tough job and perhaps the toughest you might ever have. It does not come with instructions and is a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of deal on most days. Before stepping into your next chapter, you need to take a breather and congratulate yourself on getting your offspring ready to enter the world. It is also a confirmation moment that you can really do ANYTHING! If you survived the countless sleepless nights, constant demands for your attention, endless first-day-of-school paperwork, doctors appointments, car pools, more sleepless nights once they can drive on their own, the transition from best friend to parent of a hormonal teenager (embarrassed by just about everything you do), and the many other countless challenges involved with raising children, then you deserve a moment to reflect on all you’ve accomplished. It is also a moment to realize that you are equipped to do anything you set your heart on in this next chapter in your life.
2. Make a List.
Make a list of all the things you’d do if money and time were not an option. Have fun with this. How would you describe your ideal job? What hobbies or activities would you like to try? Have you always wanted to write a novel? I call this my “shoulda’, woulda’, coulda'” list. What things do you hope to do or accomplish before your time is up here on earth. What would make you say: “I should have done this? If only I would have done ____?” Be bold. This list is about living without regrets. When I first made my list, I laughed at the idea that any of these could come to fruition. Seriously! Who was I to dream so big? Then I realized “Who was I not to dream big?!” The best way to start is by taking one small steps and then another toward something and feel great about the possibility of where those steps will take you. Feel free to revise your list often and keep adding ideas.
3. Try something New
One of my biggest challenges in this new phase in my life was figuring out what I wanted to do. So instead of doing anything, I put myself into idle. With the past 20 years being primarily focused on raising my boys, I had somehow lost sight of my own individual wants and needs. Which leads to my second challenge: taking the time to reconnect with my own passions and interests. I find myself talking myself out of a whole lot of things based on logical reasons why it wouldn’t work or why it isn’t practical. Seriously the opposite of badass! Then one day I decided that I was too concerned with making a big leap and not focused on the journey. That shift in mindset alone has helped me step out and start trying new things without concern of whether it leads to anything. Without the contrast and variety of experiences, it is difficult to know what you want. So far I have tried paragliding, white water rafting, rappelling, hiking, running, writing, driving cross-country, purchasing a manual car, gardening, and yoga. What I learned is that I love being outdoors and connecting with nature. I prefer exercising outdoors and hate the gym. Although I love trying new adventures, I am scared out of my mind of heights and lack the physical ability to do difficult physical tasks without assistance or lessons. There are many things I have yet to try and I am so excited to see where trying new things will lead me.
4. Get Real about Social Networking
I love Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter as a way to stay connected to friends and family. However, it is hardly a great substitute for sharing a laugh, a hug, or a story with them in person. After having to say goodbye to too many loved ones over the years, I realize that life is too short and precious not to spend time with the people you love. Make time to be with friends, family and people who get you. Make new friends too. It is important to get off the internet and spend face-to-face time with people. Not only has it been proven to reduce stress and make you happier overall, there is no better mirror and source of feedback on your journey than through the people who love you. We’re social beings and despite having social networks to do our social biddings for us, you know that sometimes sharing a cuppa with a friend while you hide away from the pitter-patter of the rain in a café with a nice ambience and good music can be a more rewarding experience than you ever thought it could be. And if there is one thing that people can offer you, which technology can’t, is emotional and moral support, and the motivation to continue striving. This connection and support will go a long way as you explore this next chapter in your life. So let’s get our noses out of our phones and digital devices and reconnect with people!!
So are you ready to get started? Or are you already on your way to being a Badass Nestie?
The point is to remember that you will never get there if you never get started. As for me, I am writing my story and whether or not it is a best seller or barely makes the top 100 list is beside the point. This is my journey and we only have one life to share with others. Make it one for the books!!
Love and laughter,