Looking for new horizons

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“May you always find new roads to travel; new horizons to explore; new dreams to call your own.” ~ Unknown

New roads to travel.  New horizons to explore.  New dreams to call your own.  That sounds like a good strategy right now.

I’m still pondering this week’s photo challenge word – horizon – and how that word impacts my life. Right now my horizons are uncertain.  I compare my current state to being trapped in a small cabin with only one window and no door.  The window opens a crack and just when I think I’ve finally worked my way out of one life situation and am scrambling out of the opened window –  slam!  The window shuts and I’m back into a tight spot trying to figure my way out…again.

I’ve been slowing maneuvering my way through this empty nest syndrome trying to redefine life after all of our kids have grown up, married, and moved to distant places.  It’s just a given that when you are parents of still-at-home children, your life tends to revolve around them, caring for them, protecting them, providing for them, cheering on their successes, and drying their tears during their failures.

You successfully launch them into the world and then…find yourself in unfamiliar territory.  At least, that’s what I found. Two of us rattle around this big ol’ house.  Only two.  We bump into each other daily and find we must reconnect as a married couple, not as Mama and Papa.  We aren’t the same twosome we were when we started out in this business of married life together.  We aren’t the same duo we were when our family grew to include three babies.

Time and circumstances – even location – have changed.  They’ve changed us.  Where conversations previously centered on our children and their comings and goings, now the flavor of dialogue is different.  We talk politics and world happenings, we share issues of faith, we reminisce and tell stories about our youth, and sometimes we just discuss how we will spend the holidays because now there are three other families involved in such things.  And the list goes on.

We’ve managed to adjust to a slower pace of life.  No rushing off to sports practices and games or school concerts or musicals.   No frantic throw dinner on the table so we can get there on time moments.  No where in the world are those soccer cleats panic. Now we seldom rush anywhere.

We have time on our hands.  Oh, there’s always something that needs our attention like that leaky kitchen faucet or the closet organizer that keeps falling off the wall.  But there’s still time.  Sometimes we just sit.  He reads.  I work my crossword puzzles.  We settle into a routine of watching a few favorite television programs on certain evenings. Other times, we decide to jump in the car and go somewhere.  Anywhere.

So all of this reconnecting and figuring out how to live as just a couple again takes some getting used to.  And I definitely sense I’m coming out on the other side of the empty nest syndrome into acceptance and moving forward.

But just as I think I’ve mastered that, something else shoves me backward.  The open window into the horizon blows shut again.  This time I find myself without my part-time job.  Actually without any job at all.  For almost 13 years, my part-time work was my ministry.  It defined me outside of my position of mother and wife.  It provided a sense of accomplishment because what I did made a difference in the lives of teenagers.  And it provided an extra source of income as well.

Now that’s gone.  It’s done.  I find myself experiencing that same overwhelming sense of loss that I felt when my parents died and when I found myself in the empty nest.  The uncertainty that came with my husband’s job loss a few years ago has resurfaced as well.  That ‘what will I do now’ feeling engulfs me.  I wander through my house each day and mentally make a list of all the many projects I could start. Yet I don’t start them.

I scour internet job search sites every other day for a new job.  I find nothing. My window continues to stay closed.  The horizon dims and seems narrowed and beyond my reach.

But I persevere.  Because that’s what I do.  I’m not a giver-upper.  Or a giver-inner.  And I know what I need.  I need to be a re-definer.

I used to be a stay-at-home mother dedicated to raising my young children the best way I could while my traveling salesman husband provided for us.  Now I’m a mother of grown and married young adults who live far away.  I’m redefined.

I used to work for a non-profit organization and felt I made a difference in the world.  Now I am jobless and have a lot of time on my hands.  I’m redefined.

I’m not certain my redefinition comes from being in this middle stage of life but I suspect that is the case. I only know that I feel caught in a holding pattern.  I’m circling and circling but I don’t know where to land.  I do know the horizon’s out there somewhere.

I’ve got to place one foot in front of the other and begin a new journey.  At my age, it’s kinda scary.  But I’ve got a loving, supportive husband to walk beside me, a family to cheer me on, and faith to see me through.  I just need to turn in the direction of the right horizon for me and I need to learn how to dream again.

“Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see.” ~ William Newton Clarke

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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14 responses

  1. As I read your post today, I thought: with my marriage to Motor Man being a second one for both of us, we don’t have that base of raising children together. (It helps that we’ve known each other FOREVER, and in fact, knew each other before my ex-husband and I were married and before Marshall was born.)
    Perhaps you could volunteer your time at a cause you believe in until another job opportunity presents itself…?

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    • Dianna, I can tell just from your posts and pictures that you and Motor Man are so in tune and isn’t that what makes a great marriage? My husband and I feel like we’ve known each other forever (36 years of marriage + 3 years of dating = almost 40 years) and he truly is my best friend. Aren’t we blessed? Thanks for the good advice too about volunteering; I used to volunteer a lot when my children were growing up and now I sure do have the time to begin again.

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  2. As I read your post, I can feel your apprehension. But in the back of my mind, I see a new beginning and a new adventure. And it looks exciting.
    Just like Dianna, I would suggest volunteer work as well. What are your interests? If I had the time, I would volunteer at the local library, or my church, or a museum, or soup kitchen. In warmer weather, I would volunteer at a nearby nature preserve or garden. There are actually websites dedicated to volunteers.
    Obviously, I have thought about this often. I do not know if I will ever be able to do any volunteer work but I would love to.
    We all go through seasons of change and I know it is always a challenge. But that is what exactly what it is – a challenge. I pray that you are able to take that first step of this new challenge and I know you will be amazed at what God has in store for you.
    ~Mar

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    • Mar, thanks so much for your encouraging comment. You’re absolutely right, we all go through seasons of change — it seems my entire adult life has been that from changing from military life to civilian life, transplanting several times to other areas of the country, hubby’s job changes, health changes, losing both sets of parents, etc., etc. I’ve always been a volunteer so that’s nothing new for me but I appreciate your suggestions. 🙂 I’m thankful you stopped by my blog! I’m not sure what God has in store for me at this point. I’m praying and waiting to see where He will lead me.

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  3. Once again, we are traveling the same path. Our nest emptied long before yours but with each move we make and new assignment I find myself finding my place. At times it can feel forced and a time or two the fit was never there. But a smile hid most of it. I know you’re smiling and praying and open and that is usually just where God wants us. And that is so hard for me. Love the quote at the end about faith. You have it, girl. I know you do. Faith and a willing heart!

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  4. Hey, I discovered a photo prompt you might be interested in. Here’s the link to the bloghttp://www.mywordstudy.com/november-2013-photo-challenge. I don’t know that I’ll do it everyday but it’s an interesting option. I’ll probably do it more on Instagram.

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  5. From experience I speak and can tell you that things will come to you without your thinking much more. Our empty nest never remained that way as the quiet life became a wonderful solace. Pets arrived and lived and died and the nest was empty again. Grandchildren arrived and visited and took up conversation and planning and time and then grew up and the quiet life was welcomed in again. A son’s business needs crept in and he needed my writing skills so for years my waking thoughts were of how to help by thinking and writing 4 to 6 hours a day. Then my son no longer needed help -and the quiet life was welcomed back once more. Now I write for personal pleasure during the lulls in my life and I love the quiet time. I know the lulls will once again end with another challenge. Life and its challenges have filled the void I once thought was left when we were an empty nest.

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    • Thank you for the encouragement and your thoughts on how you coped with the empty nest, Dor. I’m pretty certain I’ve managed this stage of life
      fairly well but just when I’ve figured out how to cope with it and come out the other side, another void has smacked me upside the head. This new void is not having a job — even a part-time one.

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  6. Oooh, I can see what you mean about our post echoing similar feelings. My nest has been emptier a little longer than yours (18 years!), but I still miss our three, and nearly every trip we plan centers around visiting them. That’s the price we pay for having such loving families. Not all families are like that. We are so blessed. As for the loss of a job, yes, that can feel like a death when it wasn’t something you planned. Wish we could sit down and discuss it over a cup of tea.

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    • You’re right! We are blessed having such loving families, that’s for sure. I hear others talk about long-standing family estrangements and I just hope and pray that never happens to us. The empty nest thing doesn’t bother me as much anymore — after all, I’ve had several years to work on it since our youngest headed off to college in 2006! 😉 But this new void of not having my job has thrown me for another loop especially since it was something I loved doing. Such is life. I really DO wish we could sit down and share with each other over a cup of tea!

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  7. Oh my! I can relate so much to the life changes. Now, job-wise, I am going to email you a link later today.It’s the company I do contract work for. I don’t know if there are openings in your area—but go to the site and check your zip code and surrounding zip codes. I started with them in 2009—and I have a ton of business. it is tutoring—and NO you do not have to be a certified teacher (I, for one, am not).
    It is an odd adjustment—going from one stage of life to another. Remember Gail Sheedy’s book “Passages”? I think I may need to re-read it again!

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    • Kate, I’ll be looking for your email. Thank you so much for your encouragement! I am a teacher just not certified because we moved around so much and raising my family got in the way of finishing that, but I do have a degree in education and teaching is what I’m good at. Tutoring sounds right up my alley. 🙂

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