Carol’s Empty Nest, Summer 2009

As Ryan is about to embark on his first year of college and Allison is planning to return for her 3rd year, I’m sitting on the edge of my “empty nest”. It’s a phrase used by many and the assumption, at least I’ve always felt, was it was all about feeling “lost and empty” in the role of motherhood in terms of years of care taking and the routines we’ve created around their presence in the home.


However, the more I untangle it for myself, the crux of this next stage of life is really about rediscovering who I am. Now for some that may scare you… for others the thought is quite exciting! Back2Me is one our workshops to help accomplish what may feel like an overwhelming, maybe for some unwanted, set of steps in our next “season” of life. In fact, as I write the word “season”, it hits right on target at my emotions I am really feeling. And that is, the feeling that my life is moving onward, presenting me with loads of questions.

* What do I feel about my life thus far?
* Do I feel a sense of accomplishment?
* What’s next?
* What if I don’t know what’s next? Worse yet, fear there is no “next”?
* What does it feel like to know I’m in the last half of my life?
* How do I unleash what is still inside of me?
* Why can’t I reconnect to the passions I had before kids?
* How do I identify and connect to new passions?
* Who am I today?
* Do I like who I am today?
* What are the other major changes affecting my next steps I must consider?
* Do I need to get back into the work force?
* Do I want to try a new career and finally follow my heart/passion?
* What areas in my life have I neglected and now choose to tend to?

This new phase of my life is all about a shift in responsibilities. Now it’s time that I take responsibility for myself again… after all these years! No longer can I use the excuse that I can’t do this or that because of my responsibilities to the home life or to my kids.

Do I feel a bit in the dark about all of this?  Am I clear about what the next phase of my life is going to look like? Is it uncomfortable to feel lost? Yes, yes and yes.

But rather than feel in a panic, I’ve decided to process through with  grace. What does that mean? Well for starters, I won’t put a time limit on when I must know my next steps. It means I’ll allow myself enough stillness to sit a bit in the process of “letting go” to what was. I know journaling works for me so I’ll let myself ruminate and pour out every emotion I have, no matter what comes up. I’ll journal about what my past 20+ years have been all about, what it has meant to mother my children, look at my relationship with my husband, and where’s my motivation to discover a new-found passion or purpose.

And I have faith that once I give myself the gift of time and compassion to process through all of this, that a clarity of some sort will show itself and a spark will ignite as a result of sitting still long enough,  just as it always has for me.