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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Note to Self:
Always write your post on the day you think of it as the next day you may not be feeling it.

Luckily, the mind of an empty nester is similar to the boomerang; when trained well, will travel in a curved manner and land very close to the place where the original thought began. I am back to this feeling of unexplained euphoria and mixed-up day dreams that sometimes border on the ridiculous and yet keep me gloriously occupied.

The other day, (yes, two days ago) I attended a business meeting that lasted about an hour or so. Learned a few things, took a few notes and generally felt like it was a really worthwhile meeting. I shake hands with the attendees and say my goodbyes, get in my car and drive away, and then it happens. For no apparent reason, my heart is racing and every song that comes up on the radio is smoothing and sexy. There is a tingling in my toes (could it be my Jimmy Choo's begging to come off?). I am feeling so happy and loving life. You couldn't take the smile off my face if you tried. I am so sexually-charged I cannot believe it. I feel the need to rush home to relieve this pressure that's building up (yeah, I thought of that, too; but when I got home, my puppy needed to go out to 'get busy' and then he jumped in the I followed him and the coolness of the water cooled me down).

We all have triggers that can alter our moods and the emotions that follow. I am thinking that the triggers that usually set my temperament are are mixed-up now that the kids have all left the nest. I am no longer the responsible parent who's working, making meals, doing laundry, keeping everyone focused and building up their self-esteem. No one is saying, "Mom, you're not really going to wear that out to breakfast, are you?" No one is challenging me, "we just started the movie at Billy's house and I really want to see the end, so can I extend my curfew by 25 minutes?" The regular routines of everyday family life have gone away, leaving us to create new and improved routines. That's easier said then done.

Routines are so good to establish when you have little children. They seem to be more relaxed when you are the good parent and stick to the prescribed schedule. I have not followed this common sense advise since my daughter left for college, and the mood swings and thoughts in my head and all over the place. I do like the spontaneity of my life now, but giving myself a little direction might be good, too. Of course, I am not going to wrap this topic up in one post.

Step One: I recognize that my lack of routine and my new, empty nest life schedule is wrecking havoc with my moods and emotions.

Action Item: Hold on and enjoy the ride!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Treat Yourself Tuesday

No excuses, ladies. It's Tuesday and I hope you are going to treat yourself in some fashion before the day is up. Whether you are an empty nest Mom or Dad, a parent with little tikes surrounding your every move or an active single, you deserve this little treat.

This may sound a little lame, (but sometimes fitting in even the smallest of treats is difficult), I am going to the place I workout from 3-5 pm. If I am brave, I'll take in a class. I'll need to stay in the back row for sure as I am really out of shape compared to most of the people at The Village. Sometimes I get a kick out of being in the back row of a spinning class. I can see sweat flying and people forcing themselves to do the best they can, pedaling to some loud, heart-pumping music. Little butts going up and down together. And the instructors are all crazy. They are type A, excitable human-beings that live and die by exercise. They actually inspire me.

If I am really good, after working out, I will order one of their fantastic fruit smoothies. I am thinking strawberry-banana. Yummy!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Winning Contest Brings Unexplained Joy

Yesterday was such a fun day for me. In case you did not read it in all the major newspapers or watch CNN this morning, you may have missed that I won the Oy Vey contest that Mary Anne sponsored on her blog, The Stiletto Mom. I should step back to explain.

Last week I attended a training session for a traditional networking group I recently joined and let's just say, it did not go 'as planned'. I came home from that disaster and I read that The Stiletto Mom is hosting a contest for stories about people who have had a bad week or had something horrible happen to them. I thought maybe the incident at the session coupled with my new found 'poundage' could make an interesting post, so I entered.

Monday morning I checked on her blog to see who won the contest. Mary Anne wrote that the winner would be announced soon, so I went on to my business of writing and learning about blogging. Then, 2 hours later, another blogging friend emailed and said, "Hey, just on The Stiletto Mom blog and saw you just won a major award". This made me laugh because her wording reminded me of 'The Christmas Story' when the Father won the sexy leg lamp and was boasting to the neighbors about winning a major award. The really funny thing about it is I felt the same as that Father felt in the movie! I was so excited and wanted to tell everyone I know. Of course, I called my sister first. CNN reporters would have to wait!

Why did winning this contest bring such happiness and joy for me? I am not entirely sure. Perhaps, it is because I admire Mary Anne's blog so much and appreciate her storytelling abilities that to be recognized by her (and her contest judges)was a thrill. Maybe I enjoy competition and have some internal need to be recognized. As an empty nest Mom who sits alone all day at a computer with her puppy at her side, the contest made me really feel like I was a part of this magnificent blogging world. To tell you the truth, the happy spirited feeling is still with me, and for that, I want to thank Mary Anne and whoever thought of contests in the first place. You have brought a little joy into this nutty 50 year old woman's life.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Is the Empty Nest Experience Real?

Except for other women and men who are either experiencing the empty nest syndrome or are preparing for this phenomenon in the next couple of years, no one cares a hoot about the fact that you going through one of the most amazing experiences that life has to offer. Warning to all upcoming Parents preparing for their kids to leave the nest: there will be very little sympathy or recognition that this is a weird time for you. The world, in general, expects us to suck it up and pretend that our whole worlds have not changed traumatically.

I am trying to decide whether this reaction (or rather the lack thereof) from our loved ones is due to the fact that they see our needs and feelings as unimportant or irrelevant or that they have taken their cues from the general society position that finds this empty-nester transformation rather boring and pitiful. I want to believe that this complete dismissal of our experience is due to the over exposure that the empty nest syndrome has had in the past decade. Well, whatever you believe, it is real and important to the person going through it.

Similar to other major life changes, like losing your job, or going through a divorce, we all will handle the situation differently. No two people will feel the same way but they are all in fact, experiencing something. There is also no scientific research that supports the notion that one particular group (such as career Moms, stay-at-home Dads, etc) will have more difficulty with this major life change. Many times, one parent has felt little difference once the kids have left the nest while the other is experiencing major trauma.

Was I expecting big hugs from my husband each time I break into tears over a picture I see like the one below? Maybe. That would be nice.

Did I think people would ask me how I am feeling now that both Jonathan and Laura are thousands of miles away and Andy had his first day at work, at an event or a party I am attending? Maybe. It might be comforting to express some of the thoughts I have in my head and fun to tell them all the wonderful stories they have shared with me over the phone.

So far, if I want to vent or express my feelings, I mostly do it online with my new "Internet friends" or other Moms who are experiencing the empty nest themselves. And I thank every single one of you for listening, commenting and sharing your stories with me! It is a beautiful, awful, unbelievable time that deserves to be recognized and appreciated.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Treat Yourself Tuesday

I have decided to declare Tuesday the day that All Parents must 'Treat Themselves' to something-anything that they wish. Go ahead, do it. It will be okay and we can enjoy the activity chosen, too.
I have this little system I have been using for about 7 years now and it is really dandy except that it left one person out of the system...ME! Treat Yourself Tuesday will now allow me to also take care of myself as well. Here is how my system works, each day I wake up and try to do one nice thing for all the people around me and for the causes I find important. When I was working 50 hours a week, I would list everyone and important group in an Excel spreadsheet, have a column for what the good deed would be and a third column to check off whether the good deed was achieved. I have gotten somewhat lazier in my old age and do not use a spreadsheet anymore, but the end results are probably very similar. The system is very efficient and makes you get things today that you might put off for another day. I have a mind that wonders off course more frequently now, so the system keeps me on track, too.
For example, yesterday, Monday, September 8th looked like this:
Andy: Invite Kim and Andy for dinner; pack up his remaining items for his new apartment.
Jonathan: Call him and find out if his fall fraternity dues are due, then send check.
Laura: Mail the exercise clothes and socks she forgot to pack for college.
Finish letter he has requested for donations we gave last year, for our taxes backup.
Take Wrigley for long walk in the morning and practice our "homework" given by the trainer.
Charity and Volunteer Work:
Make contact for Christine with the framer to donate for this year's school auction.
Of course, it goes without saying that I do not always complete my list, but I do feel good about the ones that I did accomplish.
So, today is Tuesday and I have my family and friend to-do list complete, but I also have a line especially for me. (I am thinking I will get my nails done). The lady I go to is fun and upbeat and we try to figure out men and children and what to make for dinner after work while she makes my hands look and feel so much better.
Now, you make sure you do something special for yourself today and let me know what you did, through your comments. Go crazy.
Thanks to my daughter for use of her picture from her collection found at:

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Friday, September 5, 2008

One Month Until My Birthday, But Who's Counting?

I actually cannot wait until my birthday and I am no longer 50 years old! It was not that great of a birthday or year for that matter. A lot of it had to do with our economic situation and the fact that I couldn't buy any (or many) new shoes! Anyway, I cannot complain; I have a fantastic husband, 3 terrific kids and family plus good health. Still, at this age, we celebrate our birthdays differently as we get older. I have noticed the big trend is to throw lavish surprise parties for "the big ones", ie, 50,60, 90. Maybe that's why I like 51 so much; I've got nine years before someone might give me a big to-do, which seems so self-indulgent. I would rather just eat a fantastic meal and end with some extravagant dessert that I do not know how to make.

Anyway, my computer guy (shouldn't everyone have their very own computer guy?!) was over fixing all the things I didn't like about the way my computer was set up and he shared with me the story of his wife's 57th birthday celebration. This is a picture of the two mini-cheesecakes they ordered after her night out. Having those two big number candles sitting on top and the topping sliding off the sides pretty much sums it up for me!