It is 9:30 on a beautiful, sunny morning and my daughter has just left for her internship, and in a few days, she will be starting her senior year of college. Our son is outside mowing the grass for us, one more time, before we take him back to campus for his junior year at university. The summer has flown by, full of nice memories, and I realize that tonight will be last night the four of us will be together at this time, at this place. Next spring when the school year ends, my children will be going off in different directions. For my daughter, it will be her graduation, the beginning of her career and a new location. For our son, a great research opportunity beckons. Summers will be quite different and our home will be quiet. All the years of activities and living together will be over in an instant. I am not sure how life changes so slowly, yet so quickly and suddenly, it is the next chapter.
I am very proud of the wonderful adults our children have grown into. I treasure how much time we actually have had and I am so excited for what life has in store for them. I am just wondering how their parents will survive.
For one thing, my husband and I are too young to retire, so we will continue to work, as we dust off the list of things we wanted to accomplish, before we had children. There are new regions of our marriage and life we want to explore and things we want to learn. For the first time, without the responsibilities of children and aging parents, the possibilities are endless. Also, for the first time, we can start to simplify life and pare down to the essentials. I like author Ruth Berkowitz’s idea in the Washington Post article, “Parents, prepare your empty-nest bucket list” (August 22, 2018) of our “spreading our wings”, as our children do, as they leave the nest. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2018/08/22/parents-prepare-your-empty-nest-bucket-lists/?utm_term=.a32491857213
What are your thoughts on your empty nest experience?
Blogs are written for all kinds of reasons and to covey all sorts of information: marriage, parenting, food, technology, politics, etc. For those of us who have blessed to reach middle age, we have found that this time is a mixed bag of issues. We may be going to the next chapter in our relationships. Our marriages have reached milestones, or we have realized that things are not as good as they used to be. We are parents, but not parenting our children as much as we once were. Our once robust parents are now frail, and the gentle care we gave our children is now turned toward them. There are sudden job changes, or the love we once had for our chosen profession may have now waned. One of the most important responsibilities now is taking care of our own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. There are so many things to think about and just when we thought we had lived long to have things figured out, new variables rearrange the circumstances. It is also a time of great, new possibilities. Our chances of living well longer has increased. In this article, ” What age is considered “old” nowadays?”, aspects of longevity, the cultural expectations and economic ramifications are discussed: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-age-is-considered-old-nowadays/
These new life experiences can come in a variety of ways, hence the name of the blog, “57”. The blog is meant to be a resource and encouragement to to its readers. Some of the issues we will discuss are healthcare, our changing insurance, re-careering, hobbies, family relationships, (including helping our adult children “adult”), hobbies, travel, finances, lifestyle changes, retirement,downsizing, care giving, and arranging business and getting the most for your money as your income changes.
As a fellow traveler, I am navigating this journey, too. Come, let’s walk together.
I have leaked out on a recent Instagram post that I am starting a new blog called “57”. Look for an announcement of the first installment. I am very excited about this new project because it entails a lot of topics of the middle life that I want to share with my future readers. We will have a virtual discussion, of sorts, as we soldier through our lives together.
In the meantime, I have two events going on this summer that I want my Pittsburgh family to know about. I am teaching two summer writing camps, one for middle schoolers, and one for high schoolers. The middle school camp is basically to help future high schoolers improve their writing skills, as this is something they will need for the rest of their lives. The high school camp is for teenagers who have found that writing is their passion, and want to level up. We will be hosting some exceptional authors for this camp!
Even though most schools have mostly adjourned for the summer, it is always good to continue good mental activity during the summer, such as reading and writing, to 1) have a feeling of accomplishment, and 2)avoid the ” brain drain” that sometimes happens in the summertime. In that spirit, here’s the information. Contact the Community College of Allegheny County to sign up!!
For the rest of you, summer is the perfect season to recalibrate and get away,( yes, get away!) from technology,grab a good book and write in your journal. The more relaxed pace lends itself to unwinding our brain and thinking about things in a whole new way. There are lots of good writing books in the library, as well as online prompts to get you started, such as Writer’s Digest prompts: http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts and thinkwritten’s 365 Creative Writing Prompts: https://thinkwritten.com/365-creative-writing-prompts/
As my last blog post was my first blog post, I am on that steep learning curve to success! I did want to add to my more general list of items(that I mentioned last time) that you can accomplish during the wonderful 31 days of January. Being from the Deep South and living in the snowy North, I appreciate, but am not really a fan of frigid, icy, snowy weather. Other smaller, bite-sized jobs are:
Clean out your kitchen cabinets, refrigerator and freezer. You might be surprised to see what ingredients you have on hand.
Clean out your closets (if you didn’t do it in December, for the tax deductions). Plan your new look for the new year! I found several items in my closet that I wore when Reagan was President.
Research and plan any upcoming household jobs, like painting, redecorating, or gardening
Make sure important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, graduations) are on the calendar, whether on paper or digitally.
Plan your social events for the year, such as cookouts, parties, dates with your SO, sports events, and concerts. Looking at the calendar and planning ahead not only is for your attitude, but also for your budget. Buy season tickets.
Plan your doctor appointments for you and your furry friends. Ditto on the budget.
Plan your maintenance activities for the year. For us, this includes car inspections, heating and air conditioning check-ups, and spraying for bugs.
Review all business dealings: insurance, wills, budgets, and upcoming expenses. Even if you don’t have all your tax forms yet, you can start listing your deductions and gathering your receipts.
Finally, read inspiring, motivational things to put you in the right mindset for the coming year. It’s easy to get drained by the holidays and the cold weather, but just as the seeds are hiding under the snow, make this a time to prepare for future fruitfulness!
Hope everyone’s holidays were happy and that you all are ready to start a fresh new year! Even though January is usually a terrible month for the weather, I have grown to love it because it is good month to stay in, plan for the year and learn new things! I have not always been a fan of Martha Stewart, however, for several years running in her syndicated column, she gave a great list of things we should put on our yearly calendar in January, so that the year would not fly by without some productive and pleasurable activities. Not just for hibernation, January offers time to:
organize documents for tax time
plan garden and house projects,
start on a bit of spring cleaning
I mean, really, who wants to stay inside and clean when the sun finally does come out? Real Simple’s website offers a great list for January, as well:https://www.realsimple.com/checklist/january-to-do-checklist . Another reason for good advanced planning is so that to be prepared for life events. While working on taxes,
assess the budget and cost cutting strategies
visit your local retirement planner to see if you are on track.
As I pondered what to discuss on my blog over the past several weeks, I had several experiences that gave me food for thought. I realized that it could be helpful for my readers to discuss life events before they happen, so that they do not catch you uninformed. My father and mother were excellent planners, so even though we have had to work out details, their business preparation has made life less stressful for our family. During Christmas, my husband and I went back home to visit my best friend, whose husband had brain cancer and unfortunately, died last week. This turn of events happened very quickly, and although my friend had time to process what happened, it definitely was a huge life change. It is never pleasant to discuss the particulars of your illness and funeral, but it certainly makes things easier for your family to know what you want, before it is too late. There are many options available, but we will discuss that later.
So, here’s to everyone’s having a good, prepared year.