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Posts Tagged ‘empty nest’

kanuga

Last week I was in the midst of preparing my eleven-year-old daughter to travel three states away to attend camp with her entire sixth grade class. With my son in college and my daughter going away for the first time (other than sleepovers with friends), I wondered how I would pass the hours until her return.  I haven’t had that many free nights to myself since before her birth!  I challenged myself to not waste those nights, but to actually do something with my time.

Fast forward one week, and my daughter is back – safe, sound, and sleeping in this morning since she just got back around midnight last night.  She had so much fun on the trip, and arrived home full of stories and very happy to see her mama and her cats!

As for me, I had a slow start on my “empty nest adventures”. Work deadlines forced me to spend my first night at the office until way past quitting time.  By the time I got home, I was wiped out and turned into a couch potato watching old episodes of Criminal Minds.  But all was not lost.  On Day 2, I accepted a challenge my sister had thrown at me a few weeks ago.  I started the “Couch to 5K” challenge!  Shocking, I know, because exercise is very foreign to me. But I committed to doing it, and I have to say it’s actually been fun.

There are many programs available that offer to take slugs like me and get us off said couch and participating 5K walk/runs within a matter of weeks.  The one we are using is an app for our phones, and is so easy to do!  I enjoyed the first couple of nights so much, I have already roped a couple of co-workers into starting the workout program too.

As often happens, the thought of doing something can be worse than actually doing it.  It was hard for me to imagine I could ever actually run a 5K, so I had a “what’s the use?” attitude and kept putting off joining my sister in this program.  But after hearing her talk about her progress for several weeks, I was finally ready to say “I can do this!”.  I have a long way to go before I can actually pin a number to my t-shirt and cross a finish line. But I’m having fun taking it one day at a time.

race bib

What is something you have been putting off?  I challenge you to just jump in with both feet and go for it!  Good luck, and remember to have fun.

finish line

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mountainsNext week will find me in unfamiliar territory.  Am I taking on a new hobby? Planning a trip to a first time destination? Signing up for ballroom dancing?  Nope…none of those.  I am going to have one week without any children at home.  My oldest is in college, of course, as you already know.  But my youngest will be going on a class trip to camp several states away, in a little corner of paradise in the mountains.  She is excited, yet nervous at the same time.  She’s never been away from home for that many days at one time. And she will not be allowed to take her iPhone (a terrifying thought for her!).  But mostly she is excited.

Her mom (that would be me!), on the other hand, hates the thought of her being that far out of reach for so long.  She and I are nearly inseparable, and I’ll miss her so much.  And yet….it has occurred to me that for the first time in eleven years I will have a week’s worth of evenings all to myself.  I’m just now beginning to consider how to fill up my time.  The mind boggles at the possibilities!

It goes without saying that I’ll spend part of that time working on my next manuscript.  And I will probably hang out with Kate Patrick, my closest sidekick, at least a couple of nights.  I’ll have a chance to read new books that have been on my wish list.  And I’m sure I’ll spend a lot of time thinking, “I wonder what she’s doing right now.”  But I am challenging myself to do something out of the box, something unexpected.  I have no idea yet what that will be, but I’m open to suggestions.

She will be full of stories to tell when she gets back home.  Hopefully I’ll have a few to share with her, too!

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My family, on my father’s side, has always been extremely close.  Dad was one of only two children, and the bond between that family of four was incredibly tight.  Because of this, my siblings and I were able to make some of our most cherished childhood memories.  Even though my family moved around alot, from Florida to South Carolina, to Georgia and back to SC, then back to GA and then to Alabama, it was a given that we would always make time to reconnect at my grandparents’ house.  Every Christmas was spent around Granny’s tree, with all of us in attendance – aunt, uncle, cousins, grandmother (my granddad had already passed away before my birth), my immediate family, and even one or two great-aunts. 

Just as we always knew where we’d spend Christmas, every summer my sisters and I could count on spending at least a sizeable chunk of time on those beautiful, white-sandy Florida beaches.  We were allowed to spend a few weeks with Granny each year after school was dismissed, and at least part of it was without our own parents being there.  Mom and/or Dad would drive us there, stay a few days and then leave.  Then they’d come back to pick us up a few weeks later.  The list of things to look forward to was very long:  Granny’s homemade fried chicken and veggies right out of the garden;  the huge watermelon patch next to the house with such an abundant crop that we’d split the melon, eat the heart of it, and then pitch the rest; picking blackberries so Granny could make homemade blackberry jam;  getting paid to go to our aunt’s insurance office to file records for her, and then getting a donut mid-morning at the bakery just around the corner; going to bed at night and having Lallie scratch our backs until we fell asleep (but our great-aunt was very smart…she always asked us to scratch her back FIRST so she could ensure she got a turn!);  swimming out in the Gulf to, not the first sandbar, but all the way beyond it to the second one (that’s where the biggest shells were)!  The list is endless.  THere were only a few things I did NOT look forward to:  shelling butterbeans (and the inevitable sore thumbs the next day!);   those infernal military helicopters that would fly overhead and I was convinced if they saw me in the yard they’d kill me (it’s a long and wierd story, and thankfully I grew out of it…suffice it to say I was very young and it was during the latter years of the Vietnam war…I didn’t understand that it was all happening on the other side of the globe); Granny’s lack of central air conditioning (but she did have a lot of oscillating fans and two window units, although she didn’t like to turn those on); and….well, what do you know – I can only think of three things.

The point is, it was the stuff that makes a childhood magical.  (more…)

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