Tag Archives: empty nest

The Not So Empty Nest

16 Sep

It’s the fall, a time when many families face the prospect of empty nests as their young adults depart for college jobs.  Ah, the empty nest…a syndrome that simultaneously fills us with dread and delight.  The prospect of our children leaving home potentially evokes a multitude of anxieties.  (Often this anticipatory anxiety is for naught when our children ricochet back to their rooms when life out of the nest, with it’s pesky responsibilities, thwarts their efforts at independence).  And it seems that is happening a lot lately given the current economic conditions. 

 An article in the New York Times The US Census Bureau reported a 1.2 million increase in adult children moving back into the nest.  Shared households now account for almost 20% of all American households.  The Baby Boomer generation (of which I am a part) is truly the “tweener” generation.  We are sandwiched between parenting our children and tending to aging parents.  (Thirty-one percent of Boomers are helping support older and younger family members).  

I almost fell off my chair laughing when I read a piece from The Crowded Nest Syndrome: Surviving the Return of Adult Children, which takes a critical view of the trend.  Kathleen Shaputis is comically critical of what she has labeled, “CNS”, otherwise known as Crowded Nest Syndrome.  Shaputis says, “Forget Atkins and Weight Watchers”, the Crowded Nest Syndrome Diet will enable one to lose their appetite in no time.  The author opines, “You know you’re living in a crowded nest when…

-Your other car is a U-Haul

-You’re on a first name basis with employees at CostCo

-You go to your car on Monday morning and the gas tank is empty.

-Every time you return from a fast food restaurant, you bring back a job application.

 Tough economic times make demands on our time and pocket books.  Humor in the face of these transitions can serve as an an excellent coping strategy. 

What’s In your “Empty” Nest Now That You Have Retired?

21 Mar

One of my “resolutions” after having retired from the public school system after 35 years as a School Psychologist, was to begin writing about my “retirement” experiences.  Here it is 4 months later and the pen has yet to hit the paper, or should I say keystroke to document?  I am running out of excuses and my fall-back, “I just don’t have the time” is honestly no longer applicable.  I have been spurred into action, however, after conducting a journaling workshop with my friend, Liz, at the UCC annual women’s conference this past weekend.  The workshop, “What’s in Your Empty Nest?” was intended to provide participants with a creative journaling exercise to help explore the dreams and aspirations we may have put on hold due to work and family responsibilities as well as how to create a fun and interesting life after our “nests” are empty. The group was primarily women of the baby boomer generation who have also become known as the “sandwich” generation as they are caught between still caring for school or college aged children while also taking on responsibility for the caretaking of aging parents. Many women in this category also continue to either juggle a career or are venturing into retirement.

One woman spoke of having “retired” from an agency job after many years only to begin a private professional practice out of a lifetime need to feel productive. This helped her achieve some degree of financial success, although she now found that she had little time to have fun and enjoy activities such as gardening, which brought her greater personal and spiritual satisfaction. She is now attempting to strike a better balance between staying busy and productive with really living out her dreams.  Sometimes this retirement thing requires more reflection and energy than it might appear on the surface.  As a friend of mine recently said, “I thought retirement consisted of walking on the beach and spending more time with your family”, but that’s not the way it always works out.

Another woman recently retired from a busy law practice.  Her husband is several years older and they had planned to spend a large amount of time traveling after she retired while they were both healthy and vital enough to do so.  Simultaneously, the woman’s father died and her mother moved in to fill what had once been the couple’s empty nest. The woman is now finding that achieving her dream is more elusive as she takes on caretaking for her mother.

As women in similar circumstances we may find that our dreams have become rerouted or need to be revised due to changing circumstances or as our nests empty and fill up again.  But, in any case, we need to protect ourselves from abandoning our dreams altogether and to help each other around obstacles and to keep them in sight.

New Year’s Resolution #5- Lady Boomers- Evaluate Your Empty Nest

10 Jan

This is post five of Be Brave. Lose the Beige’s 12 days of New Year’s Resolutions. This resolution is directed at Lady Boomers and their empty nests.

Ah, the empty nest, a syndrome that simultaneously fills us with dread and delight. The prospect of our children leaving home potentially evokes a multitude of anxieties. (Often this anticipatory anxiety is for naught when our children ricochet back to their rooms when life out of the nest, with it’s pesky responsibilities, thwarts their efforts at independence).

“What’s in Your Empty Nest?” is a question we should ask ourselves as we rebuild our nests and make room for our own dreams. Of course there will still be some “room” (although perhaps a shared one alongside your guitar, art supplies and exercise equipment) for the kids to come home on the weekends. I am here to testify, it is possible to create a fun, interesting life after the nest empties, fills back up, and empties out again. So, Lady Boomers, what’s in or out of your empty nest? Here are a few possibilities: 

 (1) yappy foo foo dog; (2) golf bag complete with driver (with enormous club head), putter, irons, ball retriever, pink balls, great outfit, lessons with cute golf pro; (3) Eiffel Tower or other fantastic destinations; (4) extra branches in case baby birds ricochet back to their rooms, (5) tickets to a Broadway show (ON Broadway); (6) cap, gown and one more diploma to add to your CV; (7) membership to local YMCA; (8) lots of gift cards to restaurants.

Have a blast!

Resolution #5- What’s In Your Empty Nest?

12 Dec

This is post five of Be Brave. Lose the Beige’s 12 days of New Year’s Resolutions. This resolution is directed at Lady Boomers and their empty nests.

Ah, the empty nest, a syndrome that simultaneously fills us with dread and delight. The prospect of our children leaving home potentially evokes a multitude of anxieties. (Often this anticipatory anxiety is for naught when our children ricochet back to their rooms when life out of the nest, with it’s pesky responsibilities, thwarts their efforts at independence). 
“What’s in Your Empty Nest?” is a question we should ask ourselves as we rebuild our nests and make room for our own dreams. Of course there will still be some “room” (although perhaps a shared one alongside your guitar, art supplies and exercise equipment) for the kids to come home on the weekends. I am here to testify, it is possible to create a fun, interesting life after the nest empties, fills back up, and empties out again. So, Lady Boomers, what’s in or out of your empty nest? Here are a few possibilities: 
 
 (1) yappy foo foo dog; (2) golf bag complete with driver (with enormous club head), putter, irons, ball retriever, pink balls, great outfit, lessons with cute golf pro; (3) Eiffel Tower or other fantastic destinations; (4) extra branches in case baby birds ricochet back to their rooms, (5) tickets to a Broadway show (ON Broadway); (6) cap, gown and one more diploma to add to your CV; (7) membership to local YMCA; (8) lots of gift cards to restaurants.

Have a blast!

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Boomers, Be Brave…Lose that Beige!

25 Sep

I have written and illustrated a journal entitled, “Be Brave. Lose the Beige“. The journal incorporates many of my blog posts from this site, and is designed to encourage Lady Boomers to discover their own colorful spirits and define what ideally living means to them. Through the use of whimsical and sometimes tongue-in-cheek – art images, readers are guided through an exploration of their interior selves, their goals and priorities. I’m hoping this will be a safe place for empty nesters to re-discover themselves as they rebuild their nests and make room for their own dreams, which may have been postponed for the past 25 years.

Evocative questions ask Lady Boomers, “As we age into our 50s, 60s and 70s, how can we creatively spend these years?”

Be Brave, Lose the beige is not just about color (although I’m crazy about colors…all colors, the more the better) it’s really a life choice. BBLB gently pokes fun at societal rules and norms. It says yes when the world around us says no. Is running from meeting to meeting, checking off the to-do lists really what it’s all about. I don’t think so. Discovering the playful side of life. Spreading joy. Being colorful … clever … creative. Now, that’s living.

Let me know if you would like a PDF version of my Be Brave, Lose the Beige by posting a comment below. Happy Journaling…

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Labradoodle Love

27 Jul

My 27 year old son, his girlfriend and their labradoodle have been living with my husband and me this summer. They are currently enrolled in Ph.D. programs but don’t have classes or teaching assistant positions during the summer months.

Life has virtually stood still for me over the past couple of months. I have been so absorbed, focused, and fulfilled by the presence of these two people I adore. They are delightful adults and fun playmates. We celebrated Memorial Day weekend and the 4th of July with them at our beach place under a summer sky sparkling with color and sound from fireworks displays. Dining out is a favorite activity. Who knew we raised our kids to be such delightful dinner companions? My prospective daughter-in-law has worked with me in my summer arts enrichment program for at-risk middle school aged students. As a marriage and family therapist, she has been a wonderful addition to our project and it has been so fun sharing this experience with her. And… my husband and I have fallen in love with their labradoodle, Rusty.

This little threesome is about to embark on their journey back to Phoenix for the fall semester. It feels like I’m facing Empty Nest round 2 as my flock vacates my nest to pursue their own lives and dreams. I confess I’m a little afraid of the all too quite house and facing empty rooms formerly filled with wagging tales and smiling faces. So…in order to make the transition more palatable, we bought a labradoodle puppy this weekend. Prior to a week ago, I had not given a moment’s thought to buying a high priced pedigreed pooch. We already have a slightly crazy Bichon Frise. Why would I need a second dog? Rusty (the grown up labradoodle Zen dog), was our inspiration.

After spending a weekend of removing shoes, computer cords and newspapers from needle sharp cannine teeth and non-stop talk about puppy pooping, I’m hopelessly in love with our Jozy. She is proving to be an excellent recipient of my over stimulated maternal instincts which will need a place to be housed once my kids leave. I confess to an ulterior motive or two in buying Jozy during Katie and David’s tenure in our home. Who can resist a puppy? Especially a junior version of Rusty. And, sure enough, they couldn’t. Jozie pranced her paws right into their hearts. They loved her so much they considered buying her sister litter-mate. But maybe this means they might come visit more often. Maybe they will entertain the idea of moving back here some day. Aah, a Mom’s wishful thinking. Oh well, if the puppy helps sweeten the deal, so be it.

Lending a Hand, Generation to Generation

10 Jun

I’m honored and delighted an article I wrote entitled “Lending a Hand Generation to Generation” has been accepted for publication by Boomer Café, an online magazine for and about the Baby Boomer generation. To see the article go to: http://tinyurl.com/376b97p

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