January Essentials

The holidays are officially over, and now, we are all in one of my favorite months: January! It is not because I enjoy sledding, skiing, snowboarding or ice skating. In fact, I dislike going out in the wintertime, particularly if the salt trucks have had to be out on the road before me. I love January because   I know that because I have to stay inside, I have the chance to be super productive.  Whatever was disappointing or lacking (trips, house projects, events) about the previous year can be re-evaluated and researched in January and planned for  in the coming year. For me,  the word of the month is de-cluttering.  I found out last year that as I have less to maintain, the more ready my mind is to take in new ideas, new hobbies or new, endless possibilities. It can provide a fresh, blank slate, mentally, emotionally,  and spiritually.  I cleaned out a closet or two last fall and it gave me a wonderful feeling of control.  The things I have are actually the things I am using. It has reduced my need to buy more, just because I cannot find it.

It also helps to not have to so much to wade through when I need to find an important piece of information,  for  upcoming taxes or us college parents, the FAFSA. The older I get,  the more I realize that it would be such a relief for me to know that my family knows exactly where  to find the files they might need: account numbers, contact information, insurance, financial statements, car titles, mortgage papers, wills and power of attorneys, just to name a few. Here is the complete list: https://www.everplans.com/articles/checklist-documents-to-organize-and-share. In the meantime, it is pure joy  for ME to find that file right away! #productivity #organization

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The Emptying Nest

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

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What are  your thoughts on your empty nest experience?

Just the beginning

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/

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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.

 Today is a  great day to begin a blog!

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Somewhere in the middle of life

Building your Writing Skills

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Want to Improve Your Reading and Writing Skills This Summer?

Come to the Reading and Writing Clinic!

Offered for Grades 6-8 through Community Education at the Community College of Allegheny County North Campus

 8701 Perry Highway, Pittsburgh, PA 15237

July 9 to July 13 (Monday through Friday), 9am to Noon

Improve your:

  • Reading comprehension and retention skills
  • Study skills
  • Vocabulary skills             
  • Writing Skills
  • Editing Skills

Cost $135

Contact CCAC Community Education for more information and enrollment.

Summer: A Great Time for Writing

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/

Here’s to great writing ahead!

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What is January for, anyway? Part two

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.
  • Clean out and throw out, a drawer at a time. Dave Ramsey has a good list of how long to keep important documents:https://www.daveramsey.com/blog/organizing-your-important-documents

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!pexels-photo.jpg