Author: Lucetta Zaytoun

Lucetta Zaytoun, raised six children and lived to tell about! Then, after an unexpected turn of events in her life she had the freedom to create a completely new one. So, Lucetta put everything she owned in a storage locker, sold her car, shut down her phone, and traveled by herself around the world for a year, in developing countries. She is now a professional life coach, speaker, writer, Founder of Your Life In Bold, llc. and Co-Founder of It’s Faked Up!®

Empty Nest: What’s In Your Next Season?

season

Empty Nest: What’s In Your Next Season?

Part Seven of a Seven Series

Let’s just dive straight into the question we’ve been avoiding during this leaving process… Now what?

The kids are moving on with their lives, stumbling and bumbling along making their own way. And truth be told, so must we. We start over in a brand new world and we have to make our way as well. We wrestle with our irrational thoughts and emotions as they take us on a giant roller coaster…

I’m happy for them, they’re growing up. I’m sad for me because I miss them.

I’m happy I don’t have to cook dinner. I’m sad because my house is so quiet.

I’m delighted I can finally do my own thing. I’ve got nothing to do.

I’m glad they’re not calling my name every minute. I’m useless.

I’ve been waiting for this. I want to turn back time.

I’m happy that every day is not scheduled to the max. I don’t know what to do.

It’s exciting. It’s heartbreaking.

I love this. I hate it.

Allow yourself some time to grieve and process the loss. Give yourself plenty of mercy and grace. It’s a big change. Time for transition is needed. Just check yourself that you are not wallowing and getting stuck for too long. At some point, stand up and proclaim,

“I have decided I am ready to move forward!”

And while you are standing there, full of resolve, ponder these questions;

What is the one thing I love to do more than anything else?

Where in my life do I have the most impact?

What relationships do I want to foster?

Where am I a leader in my life?

When was the last time I tried something new?

What was my favorite thing to do in my youth and how can I have some of that now?

What are my top values?

What is the one thing I’ve been wanting to learn?

What’s the boldest, scariest, yet most exciting thing I could do right now?

What will be my legacy?

Who am I at this moment in time and who do I want to become?

I encourage you to actually take the time to write out these answers for yourself in a judgement free zone. It’s one thing to read them and say, yea I should think about that. And quite another to put the time into really exploring what these questions bring forth.

After you’ve finished answering these, look back over them, and decide to take action in one area. Commit to starting something today or at least this week. Don’t worry if you don’t have things all planned out. Just take a step. One step will inform the next and the next and so on. The more you dive in, the more energy you’ll get around it, and more opportunities will start showing up. It’s like magic.

And this is how you start your new season. Step by step is how it goes, and before you know it, you are fulfilled in your new life, and making a difference once again.

If you don’t know how to get started or want help with direction and plans for your next season, consider joning us at It’s Faked Up!® for a Jangle, on land or sea. You don’t have to do this alone!

Part One – What The Heck Do I Do Now?

Part Two – Identity Crisis

Part Three – Decision Making Anew; Weird right?

Part Four – Time To Stop Being The Fixer

Part Five – Being Ok With Not Being Needed

Part Six – Become a Frienarent (Friend Parent)

Part Seven – What’s In Your Next Season?

Author’s Bio – Lucetta Zaytoun, raised six children and lived to tell about it! Then, after an unexpected turn of events in her life she had the freedom to create a completely new one. So, Lucetta put everything she owned in a storage locker, sold her car, shut down her phone, and traveled by herself around the world for a year, in developing countries. She is now a professional life coach, speaker, writer, Founder of Your Life In Bold,llc., Co-Founder, It’s Faked Up!®

Empty Nest: Become a Frienarent (Friend Parent)

frienarent

Empty Nest: Become a Frienarent (Friend Parent)

Part Six in a Seven Series

As we send our grown children off to college or into the world, one of two things happens:

1. Either you continue to ride your adult children, doling out advice, exerting control, and parenting just as before, delaying their emotional maturation while becoming a Parenemy.

2. OR you can become their Frienarent, which is a trusted friend whom they come to for advice, love, care, direction, and support. 

Option one: Parenemy (Parent Enemy) – When you parent and treat your adult child as you always have, it can cause conflict, rebellion, ignoring, avoiding, and separation. We must ourselves be willing to bend, change and grow the way we interact with them. Our kids are desperate for independence, (even when they tell us they want to live at home). When we dictate to them in the old way, we are not holding them as mature and capable, which is exactly what we want them to be. By exerting control, we are ultimately pushing them away and eroding their self-esteem. They could begin to feel incompetent or believe their newfound perspective has no merit. They could become resentful and angry. And if we think we’re freaking out about the whole separation thing, imagine what’s happening inside of them.

We love them so much and want to protect them from any adversity, such that our anxiety, shows up as ‘still parenting’.  And yet, life will take its toll on them anyway, no matter how much adult parenting we do. Even if we clamp down and hover, they will still make decisions they’ll have to learn from, still get themselves into awkward situations, and still mangle things that could have been easy. So how much better for us to be standing by when a situation arises, to be their person for advice, comfort and a shoulder.

A friend’s daughter went away to college. If she wanted to leave campus, to go home with her roommate or such, she had to call home and get permission. If her dad said no, she could not go. I asked my friend his thoughts behind this type of intense continued parenting of a legal adult, old enough to live on her own.

He said, “What if something happens to her, and besides, as long as we pay the bill we are in control.”  After graduation, his daughter broke for independence all right, she no longer speaks to him.

Our best chance at influencing them now is by maintaining a real relationship, because technically they are not required to have any relationship with us at all. (Unless you are holding money or tuition over their head, which is not a good idea, and a topic for another day. And don’t even get me started on requiring them to call you every Sunday.)  If we are operating in the same manner of parenting as when they were a child, we will likely begin to notice they become more distant and less available. When real trouble does arise we will not be the one they turn to in the beginning, possibly heading things off, we will be the one they turn to only as a last resort when disaster has fully set in.

Option Two:  Frienarent  (Friend Parent)– In this scenario you become their adult friend. You allow for their own decisions, mistakes, and triumphs, and just like we do with our own friends, support them and help when they need it, and not before.

The goal is to foster a mature and mutual respect. This is accomplished by listening, not getting upset before you’ve heard the whole story, by not judging, jumping to conclusions or making all kinds of assumptions.  We need to sit on our hands, clamp down our teeth, and listen fully. Understand that your child’s world will be expanded and they may surprise you with a new thought, behavior, or way of being. Don’t harp on the old stories of the past and how they’ve always operated before, rather allow for, and look for the new. Highlight any small growth you experience in them.  They are hungry for praise and acknowledgement of any sort as they navigate this big scary world.

Speaking of hungry, invite them over or to go out for food. They will most likely accept because it involves food, free food, or a home cooked meal. (which they will have a new appreciation for)  This gives you time together to hear what is happening with their life in a non-threatening, level-playing-field way. Come to the meal with no agenda other than to catch up and grow your new relationship.

And here is a truth that I know is the nature of every human being: When we want advice we go to the oldest person that we know who will truly listen to us. For some young people the only person who truly listens to them is a peer, so they get inexperienced peer advice. Be their person. Be the one who listens without judgment, without head shaking, eye rolling or interrupting. Genuinely hear them. As their Frienarent they are more likely to bring you their concerns, and you will end up having more influence and impact than if you forced your continued parenting on them.

If you’ve done it right and accomplished a close adult relationship, you will hear so much about their life that it will likely turn into TMI – Too Much Information. You will hear much more about their personal life than you ever wanted to know. Ha! Rejoice.

Becoming a Freinarent also creates space and freedom for you as well.  You can live each day with less worry, because you’ll know that if they truly have a problem they will come to you, possibly even first. This frees you up to pursue your own dreams, desires and goals. So lets talk about that. Coming in the next Blog : Empty Nest: What’s in Your Next Season?

Part One – What The Heck Do I Do Now?

Part Two – Identity Crisis

Part Three – Decision Making Anew; Weird right?

Part Four – Time To Stop Being The Fixer

Part Five – Being Ok With Not Being Needed

Part Six – Become a Frienarent  (Friend Parent)

Part Seven – What’s In Your Next Season?

    Author’s Bio – Lucelucetta-smalltta Zaytoun, raised six children and lived to tell about! Then, after an unexpected turn of events in her life she had the freedom to create a completely new one. So, Lucetta put everything she owned in a storage locker, sold her car, shut down her phone, and traveled by herself around the world for a year, in developing countries. She is now a professional life coach, speaker, writer, Founder of Your Life In Bold,llc., Co-Founder, It’s Faked Up!®

Empty Nest: Being Ok With Not Being Needed

feelinfree

Empty Nest: Being Ok With Not Being Needed

(Part Five of Seven Parts)

Being needed gives us a tremendous feeling of value.  As parents, we love to swoop in and save the day (even when we’re not asked). That kind of external validation can become addictive and so captivating, such that when it’s not there anymore we are devastated and lost.  The mere thought of our children not needing us sends shock waves through our brain much like what happens when you hear the words, “you’re fired.”

A friend lamented to me one day, “I know this is a fantastic opportunity for me, but I can’t leave the country right now, it’s his first week away at college!!”

I delicately mentioned the focal point was, away at college.

“But what if he needs me what if something happens with his class schedule or he gets sick or worse he gets homesick or forgot something at home that he needs or the guys on his hall are mean or he can’t find his way to class or…!!!” 

Her hands flew up in the air in exasperation, as the run-on sentence built steam.

“Whoa, let’s dissect this for a minute.” I offered. I held up my fingers counting and answering her objections. 

“He’ll find his advisor for class schedule, there’s an infirmary on campus, you can’t bring him home if he’s homesick, if he forgot something then it’s his responsibility to make it right, deal with the consequences, or borrow it from someone else, you absolutely can not go beat up the kids on his hall, and other students will help him find his way.”

She breathed a huge sigh and her shoulders actually relaxed as she began to come to grips with the fact that she was not the center of his universe anymore.

The only way to combat the empty feeling ‘not being needed’ leaves in the pit of your stomach, is to begin to find your own self-fulfillment. No other human being can really fill our emotional needs (by nature of being human) and especially when they are off doing their own thing. It’s time for us to grow our validation internally.

Start by making a note of all the other things you are beyond being a parent.  It may mean going back to the recesses of your mind even before they were born. Say for example; I am an organizer, event planner, entertainer, dancer, speaker, volunteer. Then begin to dream into those things. Take on a cause you’re passionate about, write that book, run your first 5k, go back to school, get a new job, plan a weekend away with friends, take up swimming or a hobby, whatever floats your boat begin to do it now.

And we must stop with the excuses.  We can come up with a list a mile long of why we can’t do this or that so that we can secretly remain available and on call 24/7, because then we don’t have to go through the growing pains of reinventing ourselves.

We also use our children as a distraction.  As long as they need us, we don’t have time to pause and look at our own life.  We don’t have time to see that our own life is fairly empty and potentially devoid of real meaning beyond parenting. Every time we do slow down and examine, we get that sick churning feeling at the thought of being our age and starting something new, or that we really need to leave our spouse, quit our job, or go in a completely different direction. All of which equals lots of change.

But here is the coolest secret that most empty nesters don’t think about:  It’s so much fun on the other side! Definitely worth the journey, and you will begin to experience a new high; that of personal accomplishment. It’s equally as addictive and extremely fulfilling.

Benefits of ‘NOT Being Needed’

– More mental and physical energy reserved for you to discover who you are now.
– Open space in your life to try new things purely for the enjoyment.
– More available opportunities for spontaneity.
– You become more interesting to your friends and your grown kids because you have your own things to talk about.
– Your children now have reasons to be proud of you, support and encourage you. (and brag to their friends)
– And let’s not forget, you finally have a chance to check things off your bucket list.

How to successfully ‘Not Be Needed’ 

– Divert your attention by diving into something new. It’s hard to start from scratch since we’re older, but it is so rewarding when we get past the awkwardness.
– Decide to be ok with being uncomfortable as you start anew and recreate yourself. Be willing to mess up, fail, look silly, and try again. Laugh your way through it.
– Be nice to yourself and stop with the negative self talk like, ‘why didn’t I start this long before now, or surely I can’t do that, or that will be too scary, etc.’  Instead say, ‘Yay, I finally I have a chance to try this thing I’ve always wanted to do.’
– Have a Truth Talk session with yourself where you get brutally honest and really go deep into the things you have denied yourself.
– Draw on the courage and strength it took to raise a child, it’s still inside you.
– Find your own fulfillment by pouring yourself into your own self discovery. Get clear about what you want to experience in your life now that there is so much more added to who you are.
– Begin to create your own new identity with the fullness of all that you have lived through over the last eighteen plus years. You’ve never tried these new things with the experience you now have under your belt. i.e.: you are a badass now.

So let’s not be clingy and needy. It’s unbecoming and doesn’t honor the magnitude of what we’ve just accomplished. We can build our own life, go after our own dreams, and validate ourselves by proactively creating a life we love.

And it’s not that you’ll never be needed again, it’s that you are needed in a different way. Remember teaching them to ride a bike and in that bittersweet moment when they actually ride off, you are simultaneously proud and sad because they are no longer a baby. She didn’t need you to teach her about bikes anymore, but soon needed you to help her find the right dress for the middle school dance.

Well now, what they need from you, when they need it, and how you deliver it will change just as it did then.  In the next post we’ll discuss how to have the most influence in their lives and be the most effective partner for them today.  How to become a Frienarent (friend parent) rather than a Parenemy (parent enemy) they avoid spending time with.

Part One – What The Heck Do I Do Now?

Part Two – Identity Crisis

Part Three – Decision Making Anew; Weird right?

Part Four – Time To Stop Being The Fixer

Part Five – Being Ok With Not Being Needed

Part Six – How to become a Frienarent  (Friend Parent)

Part Seven – What’s In Your Next Season?

Author’s Bio – Lucelucetta-smalltta Zaytoun, raised six children and lived to tell about! Then, after an unexpected turn of events in her life she had the freedom to create a completely new one. So, Lucetta put everything she owned in a storage locker, sold her car, shut down her phone, and traveled by herself around the world for a year, in developing countries. She is now a professional life coach, speaker, writer, Founder of Your Life In Bold,llc., Co-Founder, It’s Faked Up!®

 

Empty Nest: Time To Stop Being The Fixer

thefixer

Empty Nest: Time To Stop Being the Fixer

(Part Four of Seven)

We have all the answers, we know the best way, we have the right experience, and if you listen to us you will live on easy street.  Not so anymore.  For the eighteen years we raise a child this is our mantra, and now it is their life they are embarking on with their own stories, their own experiences and their own learning’s.  We no longer know what is best for them or how to fix it, because it is now wholly their life, and with any choices they make, they are responsible for impact of those decisions.  They must live with those consequences good or bad, easy or difficult.

One of my daughters announced that she was marrying a man many years her senior and every fiber of my being wanted to cry out, “No this is a mistake, it’s too much disparity and it will become way too difficult!”

But the truth is, I didn’t know that. I couldn’t say that with any certainty at all. Who am I to say it wasn’t the right thing for her? How do I know that they may not live 40 or 50 happy years together.? Only she can know what is best for her.  How am I to know what her life path is?

When our children were under our roof we fixed the boo boos for it was our responsibility. And now we must rip the band-aid off ourselves and let those days be in the past.  It will most likely be up to us as parents to make this happen too, because they love love love it when we fix things. They will hang onto these strings as long as we will let them,  but it doesn’t grow them (which is the crux of our job). From birth our duty was to raise them to grow up, create their own life, and become functioning, contributing members of society.

I remember the first time one of my children called home with a crisis and my response was, “Oh I’m so sorry that happened! What are you going to do?”

Horrified, my twenty something pleaded into the phone, “What do you mean what am I going to do? I called you to fix it!”

Tenderly I replied, “You can handle this. I know you can.  You are so capable that I know you can come up with a solution.”

Click.

The shock of the hang-up left me standing in the silence of  ‘What the hell, and oh my gosh did I do the right thing by not coming to the rescue?’ A wave of guilt washed over me, and the desire to call back and fix was so strong I had to throw on my shoes and go for a run without my phone, until it passed. The answer was ultimately yes it was the right thing, for the solution was far more brilliant and better suited than I would have come up with, the learning more extensive, and now fully melded into their bones.

When we fix, we don’t empower. When we hover or dictate, we actually do the opposite of what we intend. We want them to grow strong and mature, yet when we jump in and save the day, all we do is make them more reliant on us.   We so completely adore them, that it destroys us to watch them ‘needlessly’ suffer or be in pain. Yet, the way we truly love them now is by taking one emotional step back for their greater good, letting them find their own way, make their own mistakes and clean up their own mess. And this is the hardest, let them clean up their own mess.

I’m not saying in all of this that we abandon our grown children. On the contrary! Remember when we took them to the doctor as an infant? Remember how they shrieked and grasped for us in pain and terror, wondering why we were letting the doctor hurt them and give them a shot? We knew that was necessary for them to get well and grow. We loved them so much we knew the pain was ultimately for their good. This is the same sort of parenting only in a grown up package. We have to let them fall, flail, fail, and fly. It is time for us move into the role of ‘I’m standing by to lend an ear and be a support. Always.’

We must hold them naturally creative, resourceful and whole; completely capable of handling their life in whatever way that plays out. Our new role is that of companion, confident, ally, and champion. We need to let them know we are taking one step back, because just like in the doctor’s office, it is in their highest good. And that we will now begin to walk beside them rather than in front. It’s painful for both when we clip the fixit fairy’s wings, but now we won’t stunt either our growth or theirs as we all move into the next season.

If we are honest and go a level deeper into our hearts, underneath fixing for the sake of our children, we find that fixing is also for us. When we make things all better, we feel good, validated and accomplished. We also wrap our self-esteem in the successes of our children. If they appear to be floundering, we feel as though we have failed as parent. And how do we tell our friends that our child’s life is a disaster without feeling humiliated because we take responsibility? We feel it is our duty to do whatever is necessary to be certain they stay on the right path.  And yes, that was our job for many, many years, BUT NOT ANYMORE.

For years our identity has been wrapped up in being on call. Our whole job has been about being the hero. This is what we have done for so many years, we don’t know how to live without the rush we get from saving the day. What happens to us when we no longer have this status as we get ‘laid off’ from this parenting career? What props up our self-esteem, and gives us validation when we are not constantly being sought after to come to the rescue? In the next blog we will address “Being Ok With Not Being Needed.”

Part One – What The Heck Do I Do Now?

Part Two – Identity Crisis

Part Three – Decision Making Anew; Weird right?

Part Four – Time To Stop Being The Fixer

Part Five – Being Ok With Not Being Needed

Part Six – How to become a Frienarent  (Friend Parent)

Part Seven – What’s In Your Next Season?

Author’s Bio – Lucelucetta-smalltta Zaytoun, raised six children and lived to tell about! Then, after an unexpected turn of events in her life she had the freedom to create a completely new one. So, Lucetta put everything she owned in a storage locker, sold her car, shut down her phone, and traveled by herself around the world for a year, in developing countries. She is now a professional life coach, speaker, writer, Founder of Your Life In Bold,llc., Co-Founder, It’s Faked Up!®

 

Empty Nest: Decision Making Anew, Weird Right?

Empty Nest: Decision Making Anew, Weird Right?

(Part Three of Seven Parts)

It's Faked Up Making Decisions Empty NestRaising kids for eighteen plus years is one of the most rewarding things we could ever do as a human being. We gain so much from the experience; it toughens us up in ways we never thought imaginable, we learn to be flexible, think on our feet, do silly things, and it tests every one of our boundaries. As an Empty Nester (or soon to be one) things are not only changing in terms of the noise in the house, but deep within us as well.

One of the reasons this feels so uncomfortable, and we don’t know how to maneuver the transition is, we’ve lost our ability to decide. I know this sounds ridiculous to say to a grown person, but hear me out. Every decision we have made since our child was born has not been a decision for us.  It’s always been about ‘what is best for the child, what is best for the family, what is best for everyone given the situation.’ Since the first moment they breathed air, every single decision has been for them. We don’t even know how to choose something for ourselves anymore because we’ve lost the capacity to decipher what is in our best interest.

Our children are now leaving the nest to make their own decisions and we are perplexed. We have lived so long without meeting our own needs that we don’t know how to accommodate ourselves. Even after they’re gone we still consider them before committing to anything.

After her last child graduated, I asked a client to take a much needed day completely to herself. Do anything she wanted, have a self-care, pamper day where she was completely in the moment enjoying her life. She had no clue as to what to do or how to pull it off. 

“I suppose I could tell all my loved ones and ask them to leave me be that day, I could prep my children that I won’t be around, I could send out an email, get things ready for them ahead of time…” A litany of preparations laid out in order to be unavailable for one day.  

I filled the long silence, “You are an awesome mother, and because of that your kids are well equipped. What if you just decided to leave your phone at home and trust that the world is capable of surviving one day without you? What if you made this one decision purely for you and by you?” 

She squirmed, “It makes me nervous and anyway what would I do for a whole day? I can’t just waste time like that.”

“You’ve spent every day for the last twenty-three years taking care of everyone else, and never thought for one minute that was a waste of time, but the thought of taking care of yourself has no credibility or validity with you. What’s the chance this is about you deciding that it’s ok for you to do something in your own best interest? If you were to make the decision to do this, what would your dream day look like?”  

She grinned, still it took quite a while for her to dream up her day without feeling guilty. To her surprise, when she told her children, they were happy for her and proud of the decision she made to finally take care of herself.

As parents, we’ve done our job, and we’ve given it our all.  Now we must reorient our thinking and give ourselves permission to make choices that are going to move us forward in this new season. Even better, if we can do so without guilt, shame or regret.

After raising six kids, my marriage collapsed in a second due to infidelity and I didn’t even know who I was not as a mother or a spouse. I had to find myself again and learn how to make my own decisions. The first choice I made completely for myself (since I’d been 22 years old and had my first child) was to put everything in a storage locker and travel the world alone in search of myself.  Hearing my plans, most of my children freaked out,

“Africa! Noooo! What if we need you?!” 

I gathered up my resolve and courage not to cave in to these beautiful people that I so adored, “You have each other. If something happens, rely on each other. I like to think I raised you well enough to handle life’s situations, and I know each of you to be very resourceful.  I love you and I need to do this for me.”  

Things did happen to the kids while I was away; big and even tragic things. And they relied on each other, even being separated east coast to west coast. They actually got closer for the experience of it, and all the while, I found out who I am on this planet and discovered my new life purpose. 

Best decision ever.

Our society tells us it’s selfish to do things for ourselves, but how much more impact will we have if we know who we are now?  And what quicker way to get there than by making the most fruitful decision that benefits our well being and growth. How much more will we have to offer? 

On the flip side, how healthy will we be if we are clinging to the notion that we must be at beckon call for our grown children? And the truth is, we want to be at their beckon call because we want to do what we’ve always done; fix things for them. It makes us feel good when we make it all better, and we like to feel good. Now that they are grown though, this actually does not do them any favors. If we are helicopter parents hovering over them, we are undercutting their adulthood and their true experience of development and maturity. 

We must decide to let them stand on their own two feet, yet another tough step in the Empty Nest process. Up next in this blog series is, “Time to Stop Being the Fixer”.

 

Next in the Empty Nest Series:

Part Three – Decision Making Anew; Weird right?

Part Four – Time To Stop Being The Fixer

Part Five – Being Ok With Not Being Needed

Part Six – How to become a Frienarent  (Friend Parent)

Part Seven – What’s In Your Next Season?

Previous Series Entries:

Part One – What The Heck Do I Do Now?

Part Two – Identity Crisis

Empty Nest: Identity Crisis

Empty Nest It's Faked Up

Empty Nest: Identity Crisis

(Part Two of Seven Parts)

Raising our children requires so much of us, in such an all-consuming way, that it is easy for us to blur the boundary between where they begin and we end. Though well meaning, what comes with this is a subtle process that happens right before our very eyes. Of course we want the best for our child, always. We make all of our decisions by what is most beneficial for them, for that is precisely our job as parent. And yet, somehow in the smallest ways, parts of us are left behind on the trail to raising the child we adore…

“Darling I know travel is our thing, but it’s just not worth getting a toddler off her schedule.”

“I was a voracious reader, and um, the back of the cereal box can be very entertaining.”

“Honey I promise, when he’s three we’ll move him out of our bed.”

“Mom, you can’t wear that, it’s embarrassing! My friends will make fun.”

“I’m too exhausted to workout. Can you believe I actually used to teach Fit Class?”

“Dad, why did you say that at the parent teacher meeting!? Everyone is talking about you now!  I wish you could just stay quiet.”

“Remember when we used to go out dancing?”

“I’ll finish that degree dear, right after soccer, dance, swim, gymnastics, scouts, and carpool.”

“I know it’s our anniversary honey, but if we leave town now there will be a high school keg party at our house.”

“Oh dear God, I’m driving a mom van.”

We meld so completely into our role that as a parent there is a slow, invisible process that erodes our individuality just by nature of the job. Dreams, desires and goals are put on the back burner, so much so that we don’t even remember we used to want those things for ourselves.  They are buried so deep, when we are asked, “What do you want for your own life?”

Our answer is most often, “I don’t even know.”

Now is the perfect opportunity for you to reclaim yourself in the world. And because this process has been so gradual, over such a long period of time, the real you may not be immediately apparent. It may take some deliberate time examining your life from an observer’s view.  What life patterns have you boxed yourself into, simply because it made life easier then?

Ask yourself if you are doing this because it works for you or because it worked when you were raising children? Do I always do this, in this way, because that’s the way it is done? Or with a closer look do you find it was always done that way because it made life less hectic, avoided a battle, or prepared you for the next twelve things.  Begin to question every thing you do in your day, from how you wake up and prepare for your day, to how you communicate, eat, and move about the world in your daily and weekly tasks. Just observe. Does this really work for me? Does this way of doing things fit me now? Can I make the distinction of claiming this as my own?

Our lives have been so slammed with multi-tasking, answering questions, mentally working calendars as if it were a game of Tetris, using our powers of persuasion like the president of the debate club, and constantly assessing,

“If I react this way, will it scar them for life, teach them something, build or tear down their self-esteem? Will they remember it forever and need therapy over it for years, or by tomorrow will they forget it ever even happened?”

Whew, it’s exhausting. And what we’ve learned from that lifestyle is that we can never sit still, quiet, or just BE. We feel guilty or lacking if we are not going a thousand miles an hour, triple layering effectiveness on everything we are doing.

What if we did something simply because we wanted too? What if it would not move us ahead, couldn’t cross it off a list, wouldn’t help effectiveness, make us look good, or earn us a dime.  What if we could put aside our ‘must get it done’ for a moment and engage ourselves just for the pure joy?

Well, guess what. Now. We. Can.  And we should. I know what you’re saying…

“I wouldn’t even know how to do that.”

Go easy on yourself. You can start with small things.  Little changes that you claim in your routine, small moments just for fun, and lots of deep breathing will begin the process of re-claiming yourself and your own identity.

One of the reasons this feels so uncomfortable, and we don’t know how to start is because we’ve lost our ability to decide. I know this sounds ridiculous to say to a grown person, but hear me out. Since the moment they were born, every decision has been for them. We don’t know how to make a decision for ourselves. In part three of this series, we’ll take on: DECISION MAKING ANEW: WEIRD RIGHT?

 

Next in the Empty Nest Series:

Part  Three – Decision Making Anew: Weird right?

Part Four – Time To Stop Being The Fixer

Part Five – Being Ok With Not Being Needed

Part Six – How to become a Frienarent  (Friend Parent)

Part Seven – What’s In Your Next Season?

Previous Series Entries:

Part One – What The Heck Do I Do Now?

 

Empty Nest: What The Heck Do I Do Now?!

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Empty Nest : What The Heck Do I Do Now?

(Part One of Seven Parts)

You’ve just completed the most important task called on by any human being on this planet.  The shear completion of this task gives some assurance that the human race continues. You have spent the last 18 plus years of your life worrying over, studying, experimenting, parlaying, growing, retching, laughing, lamenting, and ultimately throwing your hands up in the air, trying to do your very best to complete this task in a way that means something. In a way that honors everyone involved, and begs the best of them from this day forward.

You have raised another child unto the planet.

How does one ever follow that with a career or a next season, that even begins to barely touch the magnitude, or fill us with the same gratification?  How does one go from a house full of loud, rowdy meaning and infinite fulfillment, to a room full of silence with no direction?  How can we live with the “come-down” from a calling such as this when in a flash, it suddenly ceases to exist? How do we survive going from beautiful chaos every moment, to empty stillness?

You have done a good job.  Given there are no manuals, you did the best you could with what you had at the moment, often making seemingly small snap decisions on the fly only to watch them grow into huge issues that come back to haunt you. Or are ultimately realized as life altering moments where the learning ran deep.  Stop and take a moment to breathe. Take a deep breath and then pat yourself on the back. You survived, they survived, and here you are sending them off into the world with all provisions needed to be a functioning member of society.

You find you’ve been so wrapped up in preparing them for their future that you’ve neglected to prepare yourself for yours. And the truth is, you just graduated too, from parent hood, as you know it.  From this day forward your role in their life and in your own, will be different.

And this brings into play the big scary word: change.

Having made it through raising and launching six children, I assure you that, although this change is not easy, it is beautiful on the other side. You will discover a new land of desires and dreams, buried so long you forgot their existence.  They will begin to surface as time goes by and you will treat them with the esteem of a dear old friend showing up after too many years apart. Other unexpected things will begin to surface. You will slowly become accustomed to being able to answer social engagements “yes” without considering a plethora of different schedules, maneuvers, emotions, or considerations. You might get half way through a magazine article, lay it down, and find two days later, without having to track it down; it is still in the same spot untouched.

Over the next six Blog Posts I will help you navigate this bittersweet time in your life, this letting go of what was then and claiming what is now. We will do this together you and I, for having just finished a stellar career of the highest calling, friend support is of the utmost importance.  In the next blog we’ll talk about one of the things that disappeared first, in such a subtle process that you may not realize the impact it has had on your life: your identity.

Who are you, not as a parent?

 

 

 

Next in the Empty Nest Series:

Part Two: Identity Crisis

Part Three – Decision Making Anew: Weird right?

Part Four – Time To Stop Being The Fixer

Part Five – Being Ok With Not Being Needed

Part Six – How to become a Frienarent (Friend Parent)

Part Seven – What’s In Your Next Season?

 

A Life of Quiet Desperation

Eye It's Faked UpIn the twilight moment between sleep and waking, when the slumber ends and reality breaks through, Olivia wakes with a pit in her stomach. Wanting to drift back into oblivion, her eyes fluttered as she forced herself to come to, taking stock of where she was and what the day held for her. A familiar wave of nausea made it all the way up to her throat.

“What is wrong with me?! I am so messed up. I have a job that pays me good money, a hot husband that loves me, a huge home, and great kids.  I have the life everyone wants! Why do I wake up every morning secretly sick to my stomach?  I need to get my head on straight, and appreciate what I have.”

And so begins another day of negative self talk, and going through the motions. Olivia’s life worked, according to everyone else, but it was her life she was waking up to everyday.  The “everyone else” who thought she lived a dream life, weren’t the ones living it for her.  They weren’t the ones who went to her job every day working for a company that bled the life out of her, keeping her in a constant state of anxiety. They weren’t the ones who knew the night before the wedding, that she was about to marry the wrong person. They had no idea that a beautiful house, and name brand everything meant nothing to her. All of this compounded such that at times she even carried the unspeakable, horrid thought she’d like to just run away from the overwhelming responsibility of the children.

And yet, if you see her in the park, at the symphony, or on the job, none of this is even remotely clear.

What has us stay in situations which are causing our soul to shrivel even to a last gasp?  Fear of judgement? Fear of the pain of transition? Fear of, how uncomfortable will I be? Can I live without this lifestyle, and these comforts? What will people think, and will I be able to live with myself?

Only when the pain of staying where we are becomes greater than the pain of the unknown, will we make a change.  And why must we wait until we are pushed into change by no choice of our own, possibly due to tragedy or catastrophe? The truth is, should Olivia be fired from her job she would freak out and panic, but then would adjust and work elsewhere because she is capable.  If her husband divorced her, she would grieve and hate it, but eventually move on. The loss of the ‘lifestyle’ would initially be painful, but then the realization would set in that many of those comforts aren’t really the things she wanted to be about anyway.

Another truth is, it may not really be working for those closest to her. By Olivia living in this constant state that is contrary to her values and passions, she is emitting an energy that is rattling the souls of others. And if those changes were actually to be made, those around her may breathe a sigh of knowing relief.

Living an inauthentic life can be a soul stealer, and permeates those around you.

What if we proactively got clear about what we wanted in our life, took some risks, and made some changes? It takes a moment of deep commitment.  A moment of waking up from our sleep walking, and realizing it doesn’t have to be this way.  We can be at choice. A moment of resolve and determination. Of waking up.

For Olivia it may be, “I will not live with this pit in my stomach ever again, not ever again, this can no longer stand.” Are there places in your life that can no longer stand?