Posted in empty nest, Life, photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: roadies

Just call us roadies. No, we don’t travel with bands from coast to coast setting up their gear.

But we do travel…mostly via our automobile. So maybe you should just call us road trippers instead. For some reason, Papa and I love road trips, and if you’ve been a steady reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you will have already realized that.

Papa enjoys driving which might be a side effect from all those days he spent “on the road” as a sales representative for a national company. I grew up with a father who also relished being behind a car’s steering wheel and traveling near and far, so road trips were a normal part of life for me.

Sure, Papa and I have traveled by airline but honestly, we would rather drive. Excursions on boats and trains – we do take those as well, but they are relegated to just a few hours or a day trip.

Driving our own vehicle gives us a sense of freedom. We are on our own timetable, not tied to frustrations like cancelled flights, delays, or layovers.

We can leave when we want, travel as many or as few hours as we decide and stop whenever and wherever we notice a noteworthy spot to check out.  Maybe it’s a bit of a control thing, but traveling this way delights us.  

So, gas up the car, set up some destinations, and we are happy and excited to be jaunting off on a road trip. Cue the Willie Nelson song, “On the road again goin’ places that I’ve never been; seein’ things that I may never see again, and I can’t wait to get on the road again.” (Lyrics written by Willie Nelson)

When we venture out on our journeys, we don’t stay in one place for very long. Our idea of a fun vacation, unless we’re spending a week at the beach with family, is to travel each day by vehicle on those blue highways to see as many sights as we possibly can.

Being able to stop randomly at whatever piques our curiosity, floats our boat, or presents itself as a great photo opportunity makes our trips fun and remarkable.

Because of the you know what, we were itching to get back on the road again. Blessed that we live in a rural area, we could travel easily around our neck of the woods on day trips during that time.  But this past June, we were more than ready to take a vacation ‘somewhere else.’

As states nearby started relaxing restrictions, Papa and I began seeking in earnest a journey we could take away from this ol’ empty nest of ours. When a week free from childcare for one of our grandchildren presented itself, you know what that meant! Freedom to travel somewhere for more than a day!

The open road beckoned to us. We flipped open our Rand McNally atlas of the United States (yes, we still use such a thing!), initiated several internet searches, and pondered over what direction to take. And then it dawned on us – a trip close enough that wouldn’t take us days of travel to arrive but someplace we’ve haven’t visited yet.

Next week on my Tuesday Tour post, I’ll divulge where we traveled, but here’s a little hint: it involved some of these two empty nester’s favorite sightseeing spots.

“Making memories one road trip at a time.” ~ Unknown

©2021 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in empty nest, Life, travel

Words for Wednesday: the journey

An unknown sage once said, “Life is a journey, travel it well.”

In the early years of our marriage, Papa and Mama were just young’uns in our 20’s, fresh out of college and embarking on careers. Papa was a military man and Mama wrote and edited daily newspaper articles when we lived on the plains of southwestern Oklahoma, half a country away from our natal families.

After a Colorado vacation in the fall of 1979, our long getaway trips for a few years included journeys back east to visit our families. And since Papa’s family lived a good 200 miles away from Mama’s family in our home state, a portion of our vacation time was spent on the road driving.

Those trips were filled with days of visiting relatives, friends, and just enjoying time with our parents. Going back ‘home’ became a good respite for us, away from military life and the day in and day out job stresses.

In between those long 23-hour journeys back to our home state though, we also jaunted off on nearby excursions to “see what we could see” since we were a childless couple for almost five years.

Weekend trips to Dallas, Texas for sightseeing, shopping, and fun. Jaunts to view western artwork at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City or to dine in popular and unique restaurants with friends in the city. Exploring Tulsa to experience what was then toted as the “oil capital of the world.”  Enjoying a change of scenery in the Ouachita Mountains in the southeastern part of the state. 

We attempted to expand our horizons beyond the seemingly endless prairie that appeared on all sides of us. A caveat of my job as an entertainment and arts reporter/assistant editor was the many opportunities to attend musical concerts, theater productions, and art exhibitions.  

Looking back on those times over four decades ago, just the two of us led a busy lifestyle. Times have changed; obviously, we have aged; but now it’s just the two of us once again since all our offspring flew out of the home nest several years ago.

We embarked on quite a journey to arrive at this stage of life. A journey that steered us far from the comfort of our hometowns and the bosom of our families to locales we never dreamed we would land. But that journey prepared us well for standing on our own two (well, four) feet without a safety net of family to rely upon. Just the two of us.

Life’s journey carried the two of us way beyond the boundaries of our beginnings.

For Papa, a stint in a foreign country on the other side of the world occurred while Mama kept the home fires burning and delivered our first child. After a total of five years living in the plains, our boundaries expanded to another eight adapting to civilian life in the Midwest only to once again broaden our horizon with a major change relocating to the Pacific Northwest for several years.

Finally, after all those journey highs and lows from one side of America to the other, we followed the path ‘back’ to our home state 20-some years ago. And now we journey from here – our country home.

Our travels now transport us to places we choose to visit for sightseeing, new experiences, and scenic spots to photograph.

Recently as we stopped at a traffic signal in a nearby town, I noticed a cling on the back of a vehicle (pictured at the beginning of this post) in front of us and snapped a photo of it with my cell phone.

The message – May God bless you on your journey – caused me to contemplate life’s pathways and especially the route Papa and I have explored from our wedding day until now 40+ years later.

We all understand that life truly is a journey. There are twists and turns along the way. There are mountain top highs and deep valley lows.

At times, there is ecstatic happiness while at other times, extreme sorrow. There are periods of health and moments of illness. Cycles of success greet us, yet failures and disappointments afflict us also.  

For some, the journey of life is a long, difficult road seemingly full of curses they must endure yet others seem to sail through life with sunshine on their shoulders, easy peasy.

“In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom and find the blessing in every curse.” ~ Anthon St. Maarten

Papa and I have had our share of both encouraging and disheartening pathways, but in all circumstances – whether they be beneficial and joyous or difficult downfalls – we feel blessed by God, our Father and Creator.

Why? Because we can always find something for which to be thankful. We are grateful. We cherish each day of life’s journey and acknowledge in prayerful thanksgiving the Giver of that pilgrimage.

My hope is that you too find reasons for gratitude in your life. May you be blessed by God’s boundless grace and love on your own journey as well.

“Life is a journey, not a home; a road, not a city of habitation; and the enjoyments and blessings we have are but little inns on the roadside of life, where we may be refreshed for a moment, that we may with new strength press on to the end – to the rest that remaineth for the people of God.” ~ Horatius Bonar

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2021

Posted in Christmas Eve, empty nest, Home

In Your Silent Night

Christmas Eve. Silent Night.

The words to the age-old Christmas carol come so easily to mind.

Silent night, holy night. All is calm. All is bright.

It IS a silent night here in Mama’s Empty Nest. Only Papa and I are here.

No grandchildren under the age of 5 run to and fro, happily shouting and playing and not wanting to settle down to sleep because of the excitement of Santa Claus’ arrival.

None of our offspring here playing games, raiding the fridge and snacks in the pantry.

Oldest daughter and son-in-love are in their home down south heeding travel restrictions.

Nurse middle daughter works her shift at her busy hospital. Oldest grandchild is spending the holiday with her father’s family.

Son and daughter-in-love with our two other grandchildren are nestled down in their own home many miles from us in the state next door.

All is calm in Mama’s Empty Nest. All is bright as Christmas lights shine brilliantly outside our country home and our Christmas tree dazzles in the darkened living room.

It’s just another silent night. Or is it? Not for us. It’s a night to remember and reflect on another silent night over 2000 years ago. A night when a Savior was born into this world.

If your night seems too silent this Christmas Eve, watch and listen to this video. May you find joy somewhere in your silent night.

“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent., For this is still the time God chooses.” ~ Taylor Caldwell

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2020

Posted in empty nest, travel

Vacationing in October

Time changes things.

When our home was full of children, Papa and I only took our family vacations during the summer months when school was not in session. Both of us were raised to believe that the only reason you missed a day of school was because you were ill.

So we just didn’t think it was the best idea to take our three out of their classrooms for a week of vacation because they would miss so much and then have a lot of catching up to do.

Occasionally, we would take a trip during their spring break, but the majority of our family excursions for fun, relaxation, and sightseeing happened during the summer season. That continued during our children’s college years as well.

But things changed as time progressed and our offspring graduated from college, moved out of our family home, and set off into the world launching their careers and own ways of life.  As our nest emptied out, one by one, Papa and I realized we were free to do as we pleased.

And if we wanted to travel any time of the year, we certainly could do so. After our last fledgling flew out of the nest, Papa and I decided to take a trip down south in the fall. Our first non-summer trip as empty nesters.   

We traveled through several states, stopping along the way when some site piqued our interest as we made our way to Alabama to visit our oldest daughter who was living and working there at the time.

At every stop we made, we marveled at the lack of crowds. Families with school-aged children were non-existent at the points of interest we visited since school was in session. We found that we could take our time absorbing the sights and not feel rushed because tourists were not abundant at each place we stopped. 

What a new and great experience it was and we truly enjoyed our trip and the time we had together – just the two of us – like those days in our married life before children came along.

We had discovered a great perk to entering into that empty nest phase of life.

Since then, we’ve ventured on several trips during the ‘off-season’ of vacation time. We realized how pleasant it is to travel in the less busy seasons of fall, winter, or late spring before schools let out for the summer.  

And now that I am retired and Papa is semi-retired, we can pick up and take off on a journey whenever we darn well please.

Staying true to our discovery, we recently returned from an October vacation and it was glorious. Of course, since autumn is my very favorite time of year, I basked in the cooler weather and amazing fall foliage we encountered on our trip to Michigan, especially the Upper Peninsula.

And I checked one more state off my bucket list of visiting all 50 states in this great country of mine. (Ten more to go.)

I plan to share my thoughts, photos, and experiences from our trip in the next several posts.

Won’t you pack your virtual suitcase and come along for the trip?

“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” ~ Francis Bacon

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in empty nest, family, Life

Here we go again

 

action activity balls day
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

It was a bit of a déjà vu or, at the very least, that feeling of coming around full circle.

On a sunny but cool Saturday morning this past weekend, Papa and I were settled in our folding camp-style chairs on the sidelines cheering a youngster on the soccer field just like we’ve done countless times before in the past.

But this time, Mama and Papa were gray-haired and years older. This time, we weren’t cheering our own youngsters running up and down the length of the playing field.  This time we were encouraging our four-year-old granddaughter during her very first ever soccer game.

Incredulously, our Little One began her first soccer season this spring, learning the sport that her own mommy loved and played continuously through her school years and into college.

Incredulously, our Little One looked so big with her hair pulled back in a ponytail and clad in her YMCA soccer shirt, shorts, shin guards, knee-high socks, and cleats, carrying her water bottle.  Where did the time go???

Wasn’t it just yesterday, she was a newborn baby and those feet now sporting soccer cleats were tiny little barefoot ones? Wasn’t it just yesterday she was learning to say “ba, ba, ball” instead of kicking around a bright pink soccer ball of her own?

And wasn’t it just yesterday this Mama was the one hauling her own children to sports practices, games, and meets? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was a “soccer Mom”?  And a baseball Mom, a cross country Mom, a track Mom, a volleyball Mom, and a basketball Mom?

And now I’m a “soccer Nana”.  You blink and no longer are you parents of young athletes playing their favorite sports. Now you are doting grandparents reliving those days gone by as you watch the grands growing up.

Now in these empty nest years as grandparents, we’re smiling, cheering, clapping, and laughing while trying to capture moments with our cell phone cameras at the antics of four and five year olds as they attempt to maneuver the ball into the net. 

We have always jokingly called soccer at this level “bunch ball” as the players bunch around the ball trying to kick it. And bunch they did even if our Little One was a little hesitant to immerse herself into the fray.

She did make her mommy, Nana and PaPa proud as she managed to kick the ball (in the right direction too!) and jump back up without crying when she got knocked down.

As this empty nest Nana recalls sweet memories from years past of all of those activities of our own children when they were young, I’ll be eagerly making new ones with the grandchildren.

So for the next few weeks if you need me on a Saturday morning, you can find me on the sidelines of the soccer field. Here we go again!

“As I grew older I thought the best part of my life was over…then I was handed my first grandchild and realized the best part of my life had just begun.” ~ unknown

(Note: Neither my grandchild nor her teammates are depicted in the photo above. In order to protect their identities, I chose not to publish a photo of them, but use a stock photo from the WordPress free photo library instead.)

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in empty nest, Faith, Life

When push comes to shove

One evening a week, my empty nest is full.  Full of ladies with Bibles and notebooks in their hands. Full of cups of hot tea and something yummy to enjoy.

And my heart is full. Full of good words of encouragement straight from God’s Word to share. Full of joy at using one of the gifts the Lord has blessed me with – teaching.

For the last couple of years, God has been nudging me to step back into the ring, not as a prize fighter but as an encourager. A teacher. One who shares what she’s learned with others in hopes that blessings will be poured upon the learner.

I’ve always been a teacher. I trained for it in college and earned a degree in English Education. I briefly taught in public school and relished my role in recent years as a substitute teacher in a private school. I’ve taught young children, teenagers, and adults in church settings more times than I can even remember.

For well over a decade, I taught relationship and character-molding programs to students 6th through 12th grade in my role as an education director for a non-profit organization.

And years ago when this nest first became empty, I used my gift of teaching in leading Bible studies for women.

So, I have the experience. I have the background. I have the ability. I just kept telling myself I didn’t have the time. 

Then one Sunday morning during his message, our pastor said this, “If God’s calling you to do something and you say you can’t, it’s because you won’t.”

Oh my! Bulls-eye. That comment aimed like a swift arrow hit me right between the eyes but more importantly right into my heart. In this case, God’s push became a shove.

After worship service, I told Pastor how God spoke to me through that morning message and that I needed to start a Bible study for ladies in my home. Pastor grinned and told me to go for it.

As if I needed confirmation, the next day a friend from my church, who had been a part of Bible studies I led years ago, phoned me to talk about an upcoming event. As our conversation continued, she asked me if I ever thought about leading Bible studies again in my home.

I laughed. Out loud. She was puzzled as to why I was laughing until I told her I was in the process of beginning that very thing.

I decided to hold the study in my home because I wanted those who attended to feel physically comfortable. I wanted us to gather in a welcoming room on comfy seats in my spacious home instead of a church building classroom with metal chairs or a sanctuary filled with wooden pews.

And my desire was to make the gathering personal. A chance for women to meet, share experiences, and delve into God’s Word to learn something we all hope to attain – contentment in this world where we may feel so dissatisfied a good bit of the time.

The Apostle Paul learned to be content in the midst of extremely difficult life circumstances.  He wrote in Philippians 4:11-13: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”  

God’s Holy Word is full of lessons for life and it’s not enough to just read the Bible. We must study it and apply it to our lives.

That’s my hope in leading this Bible study.  That we aren’t just hearers of the Word, but doers. And that will make my heart, in this empty nest, content.

“Contentment is just the realization that God has already provided for me today all that I need for my present peace and happiness.”  ~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Christmas, empty nest, Uncategorized

Empty nest Christmas Eve

blogIMG_2138 (3)

It’s true that Mama’s Empty Nest will be empty this Christmas. My loved ones are flung far and wide.

Oldest daughter and son-in-law embarked on yet another adventurous excursion in another part of the world over the holidays.

Middle daughter must take care of the ill and infirm during her hospital shift as a nurse while Little One visits her other grandparents in another state.

Son, daughter-in-law, and Second Little One are celebrating with DIL’s family this year in yet another state.

So it’s just Papa and me keeping the home fires burning and the Christmas lights on.

But I refuse to be sad because this is a holiday to celebrate my Savior’s birth. Hence the poem I’ve written below.  (With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, the author of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the empty nest 

Not a creature was stirring, there wasn’t one guest. 

Two lonely stockings hung by the chimney with care,

With no hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled elsewhere all snug in their beds;

While visions of their own Christmases danced in their heads;

And Papa in his pjs, and Mama not stressed, 

Had just settled in the bedroom for a good night’s rest.

When out on the lawn there wasn’t a sound,

But I decided to see just what was around.

Away to the window I walked so slowly,

And opened the blinds to look out and see.

The moon shined brightly like any other night,

But there was absolutely nothing, nowhere in sight.

No extra cars in the driveway, no human tracks in the snow,

There was only a deer darting through the yard below.

It wasn’t a reindeer but the usual kind,

And Christmases past began running through my mind,

When the house was full of laughter and fun

And all our children were home, yes every single one.

More rapid than eagles the memories came,

And I smiled as I remembered and called them by name.

That Christmas time spent with our first little child,

How excited she became and was no longer mild.

Then the second one arrived and doubled the fun

When two stockings hung by the chimney instead of one.

Our Christmas holiday became even more merry

With another bundle of joy in our arms we did carry.

As the years flew by in the snow bank of my mind

I thought how our family has been blessed oh so kind.

Three children God gave us to make our lives full

How I cherished each one of them every single Yule.

As I recalled special moments from all of those years

My eyes started filling with melancholy tears.

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!

There’s no reason for sadness, no reason to bawl.

The blessings are many this cold Christmas night,

And I must keep them all clearly in my sight.

A husband who always stays by my side,

Whose love and support does constantly abide.

Three wonderful children who’ve grown up so well,

Their love and concern for me makes my heart swell.

And spouses for them that make our family complete;

The time spent with them all is truly a treat.

Included in the circle two sweet granddaughters dear

Who call me their Nana and make my heart cheer.

To add to the blessings in quite an array,

Is a new little life that will join us in May.

A family so loving, good friends far and near,

My home, good food, there’s no need to be drear.

Plentiful blessings abound in my life,

On this eve before Christmas, there’s no need for strife.

For the most wonderful gift has been given to me,

And it didn’t come from Santa nor was placed ‘neath the tree.

A gift full of indescribable love so divine

It came from a good Father, a gift to call mine.

For tomorrow we celebrate Christmas, it’s true,

And the reason we do so I must keep in my view.

My house may be empty of loved ones this year,

But my heart is overflowing with joy so sincere.

The reason for the season, it’s Jesus, my King,

And because of His love for me, it makes my heart sing.

On this night so holy, one to revere,

A Savior was born; at midnight it’s clear,

Christmas Day will arrive here in our empty nest,

But sadness will not prevail, instead I am blessed.

I will celebrate my Savior, let joy fill my heart,

Even though most of my loved ones and I are apart.

So I’ve put an end to my empty nest woe,

Christmas memories come and Christmas memories go.

But what is important is the joy we can find

When we look to a Savior and leave sadness behind.

The message is simple, no matter what your day brings,

Giving thanks for the Savior is what makes your joy ring.

On this quiet Christmas Eve, these thoughts my insight,

Merry CHRISTmas to all and to all a good night!

On Christmas Eve, I will not wallow in my empty nest. Instead I will sing Joy to the World, Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and the First Noel

And I will give thanks to God the Father for His precious gift to us, His Son Jesus. Emmanuel. God With Us.

“You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father’s face and tell him you have received his Christmas gift.” -John R. Rice

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Posted in empty nest, Life, photography, thankfulness

Sound of silence

blogIMG_4396 (2)The sound of silence.

The folk rock duo Simon and Garfunkel released a song of the same name in the early 1960’s. The words to the seemingly haunting music are still embedded in my brain like the vision Paul Simon wrote about in the lyrics:

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.  ~ Lyrics by Paul Simon

All those years ago when I was a young girl and even into young adulthood (before children), the sound of silence bothered me. I didn’t like it.

If it was completely quiet, I needed to have noise. Music from the radio or the stereo floating through the air in melodic harmony or sometimes crashing loudly in the form of rock songs filled the silent surroundings.

Or turning the television on just for some background noise did the trick. It didn’t matter what made noise, just so there was some.  I just seemed to need some sound to break the eeriness of complete silence.  That need probably stemmed from a little fear that niggled in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to be totally alone.

When I found myself in a solitary mode, I filled silence with conversations either on the phone or in person with a friend, neighbor, or family. Anything to eliminate silence.

But then along came children – one, two, three – and our home was saturated with noise. Crying, sibling squabbles, boisterous play, and a houseful of neighborhood children adding to the mix eliminated silence.

Our kids’ teenage years brought even more noise – loud music and video games ruled the air. Chatty teenagers lounged in our family room, wrestled with one another, played round after round of Dance, Dance Revolution. Our house was one noisy place!

By the time the empty nest loomed in my future, I was more than willing to accept the sound of silence. But oh, that empty nest was sooooooo quiet. As the lack of noise became reality, I found myself wandering through an empty house in complete silence. For a while, it unnerved me. It saddened me. It made me feel as if that old loneliness called  solitude enveloped me once more.

But I adjusted. I learned to accept the new version of my life. One with the sound of silence. I found I enjoyed time alone. Quiet time to think. Tranquil time to read unhindered. Peaceful time to pursue aspects of life that fulfilled me, like writing in this blog, reading my Bible, capturing photographs.

And in my serenity, I also found that the sound of silence provided me with something that had been missing in a major way in my life. Time to be quiet and listen for the Lord’s voice, His direction, His guidance, His inspiration.  Time to be alone without the noisy interference of the world and to relish the sound of silence.

On this eighth day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m thankful for the sound of silence and for finally learning to accept it with an open heart, mind, and ears to listen.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in empty nest, Life, retirement

The state I’m in

blogIMG_7547I’m in a New York state of mind.

That was my first thought when I read that this week’s Word Press photo challenge theme was ‘state of mind.’ Of course song lyrics to that old Billy Joel song would dance through my brain, it’s how my quirky mind works.

But really. State of mind. Hmmm.

The ancient Greek Plutarch once said, “In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker.”

Truth, right? Our words (and this week even our photos) do declare our character and disposition or nature. I’ve often said that rude and vulgar language shows your true character just as kind and gracious language does.

So do I want to share my state of mind for this challenge in a picture and words as well? Often I’m not sure I want to share publicly the various places my mind goes.

An online dictionary defines state of mind as the “state of a person’s cognitive processes.” Well, my cognitive processes are all over the map.

In one fail swoop, my attitude can change from gracious to sassy.  My perspective can be swayed by circumstances.  My disposition varies from day to day.  My mood often even depends on the view outside my windows – sunny equals good mood; overcast and dreary mirrors my mood.

And no, I’m not bi-polar. I’m just one of those people whose state of mind fluctuates – a lot. That’s the thing, my perspective changes frequently because I generally can see both sides of the coin.  I see your point, but I see his as well.  I sympathize with you, but I see where she’s coming from too.

My state of mind is my way of looking at things.  If I was truly in a “New York state of mind,” I think I’d be continuously moving and busy just like that hustling, bustling famous city. 

But that’s not the case.  It used to be. Back when mama’s empty nest was a full house.  My mindset then stayed in continuous motion.

I recall this vividly because recently I peeked inside some old yearly planners I had stashed away in a closet.  Every day marked some kind of activity, event, or item to remember. 

And most of those daily notations revolved around my growing children: piano, dance, swimming, or gymnastic lessons; soccer, volleyball, track, cross country, basketball, or baseball practices; appointments for doctors, dentists, or haircuts; school events like book fairs, musical concerts, PTA meetings, school carnivals and fundraisers, classroom volunteer days.

Then there was the social aspect of my children’s lives: birthday parties, sleep-overs, play dates.  Scout meetings, day camps, youth group meetings. They were all duly noted in my day timer planners.

In addition to my children’s schedules, my own also proved very full.  Church events, volunteer opportunities, dinner parties, lunches with friends, baby-sitting friends’ children, writing newsletters for church and parent-teacher organizations, church socials, the list continued on and on.

And you know what? It made me tired just reading it all and I honestly wondered how I managed to accomplish everything each and every day with three active children and a traveling salesman husband to boot.

As I’m approaching retirement age – 62 on my next birthday –my way of looking at things, my perspective, yes, my state of mind has changed considerably.

I like this non-New York state of mind I’m in.  Granted with grandbaby in my life, it isn’t always tranquil and quiet here in the empty nest.  Actually, it’s not really empty any more with daughter and grandbaby here. 

But this state of mind is one I can handle in this season of life.  I choose an outlook that’s bright; my approach is to be thankful and content; and my mindset is to stay focused on my faith and trust in my God.

“My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.” ~ Brennan Manning

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in empty nest

Embracing Joy

blogIMG_2372It’s time to haul off the holly.  Drag it down.  Pack it up.  Store it away for another year.

The season of joy is over….or is it?  We finish celebrating the Christmas season and ring in the New Year with revelry or just a quiet, contemplative evening at home.  And then when New Year’s Day arrives, we clean it all up.  We tear down the Christmas fa-la-la and return our homes to ‘normal.’  Often they look bleak and stark without the festive finery sprucing (pardon my pun) everything up.

After it’s all gathered and stored away, my house looks stripped bare.  And I have to admit, sometimes my heart and soul seem bare as well.  It’s the big after Christmas let-down and I’ve often suffered from this malaise.  After a month-long season of making merry, the long stretch of winter weather looms ahead and can appear anything but full of good cheer. 

Especially when you live in an empty nest.  You awaken each morning in darkness and nightfall descends by late afternoon.   You settle back into the same old routine of living in a silent house with just the two of you and one extremely sleepy cat. 

You vacuum up the cookie crumbs.  Corral all of those stray plates and glasses into the dishwasher.  Scour the bathrooms until they’re sparkling again.  Set the washer and dryer to a frenzy cycle laundering all the sheets and towels. 

Gone are the overflowing suitcases.  Gone are all the shoes tossed willy-nilly by the door.  Gone are the purses, gloves, car keys, and overabundance of electronics that were strewn throughout the house. Gone are the three out-of-state licensed cars in the driveway. 

And you might think joy flew right out that opened door when the last ones hauled all of their belongings and themselves through it as they departed. 

But you know what?  Joy only expires if you want it to.  Joy lingers when you embrace it.  I find it no coincidence that this week’s photo challenge is ‘joy’ right when I want to write about that very emotion.  Right when I want to seize it, hold it dear to my heart, and never let go of it.

Joy shouts through my house at remembrances of times spent together as a family.  Joy rings with laughter as it recalls stories told and games played and meals enjoyed around the table and gifts exchanged. 

Joy remembers the sight of three grown adults with spouses sprawled around the family room watching old video tapes of the Christmas television specials they loved as children.  Joy resonates when it’s captured on loved ones’ faces through photographs.  Joy explodes in the heart when a simple text message is received:  “Just got home.  Thanks for the awesome Christmas.  Love you!!”

The sights and sounds of Christmas may be put away for another year but joy remains.

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.” ~ Richard Wagner, German composer

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