Okay, so the kids are growing up and moving out – or they may already be gone and living the life you prepared them for (hopefully with as few bumps along the way as possible). Do I suffer the “empty nesters” syndrome, or take a step back and look at all the possibilities and opportunities waiting for me to grab with both hands and enjoy a few adventures of my own? I prefer the latter OF COURSE!
That Empty Nest Can Allow Room for Lovin' Life Again
I sat down one morning after my last child had graduated high school and left for boot camp and cried my last tears for the life I no longer knew what to do with. I had been raising kids since I was 18 and now I found myself alone in the house waiting on my husband to come home so that I had purpose again. I've always been a bit of a survivor and considered myself a strong person. After all, I had made it through a long line of horrific relationships, struggles as a single mom and limited funds to support my little family. I finally found a man that I could trust and let into my life without the fear of having to start over again when things didn't work out. The struggle through illnesses and medically induced physical issues nearly cost me my life.
We have to refuse to give in to the darkness or loneliness that we feel closing in. It's time to get up and take some steps to find passion and purpose for something that will leave room for pulling the joy back into life. I wanted to love my life again, even if I am over 50.
We are no longer worried about busy schedules of getting kids to and from school and activities. We have half the cooking, half the cleaning, half the expense and none of the exhaustion that comes with raising kids. It is my belief we are infused with the strength we need to get through it and then we are left wondering how we got it all done and lived to tell the story.
This is the time for a shift in our daily priorities. Now there's time for me and my husband, MY friends, MY interests, MY dreams … time for me to find myself lovin' life again.
What Do I Do To Find Joy?
When I was young, before I had responsibilities and obligations, I wanted to be in the medical field helping people overcome obstacles and bringing healing to people in pain. Baby #1 came along before I got the training and education I needed to make that happen, but everything happens for a reason and I may have botched Plan A, but there's always Plan B. After a few more kids, relationships and moving around as a military wife I had the opportunity to study massage therapy. I loved the healing I received and was able to bring to others with massage therapy. Then, because I was so driven to help everyone and didn't take care of my own body, I developed a shoulder injury and was no longer able to perform massages. On to Plan C, or maybe even D … who can keep track at this point? I went back into administrative work and then the business I worked with hit a snag. Plan E? I took what I knew and started working from home offering online administrative services to business owners and organizations. Still, the desire to reach out to others who were experiencing the same types of things I suffered through was haunting me.
There had to be a way …
Choosing a Dream – In Order to Love Life
So … I had friends who would call from time to time asking questions about pains, issues, dreams and desires. We discussed the changes in life and problems they were struggling with. I love research and learning, so I found myself sharing information I found and bringing information to them to sift through and see if there's anything they might find helpful. I found that turning 50 “ish” can be a life-altering time for us. We have aging parents, kids with kids (called grandbabies) we struggle with, fear of retirement and all the issues that come with that. We have new aches and pains and stress and often physical and emotional issues pop up that can blindside us. Aging can be scary and we face a lot of challenges.
I began dreaming again and started to understand MY joy would come from the ability to reach out to other adults over 50 that might be looking for a way through the darkness. Finding and choosing a dream, any dream, gives us a reason to get out of bed each morning and gives us a reason to love life again. Aging is a good thing. It brings with it experience, passion, wisdom, and knowledge. We have value. Can you cook? Share recipes and techniques with someone who can't. Can you sew? Help someone freshen up an outdated look. Can you clean? Help someone who is frazzled and overwhelmed to organize their day or even spaces in their home. Can you drive? Take someone who can't drive to an appointment or pick up the kids from school for an exhausted mom. Can you read? Read to someone who is alone or can't see to read their favorite books. Helping others takes our mind off of ourselves and allows us to focus outward.
Taking Care of Me – So I Can Care for Others
Don't forget to take care of yourself. You must be healthy and happy to be of any help to others. Take time for a bubble bath to rinse off the worries of the day. Find healthy foods you enjoy and share it with someone you love. Get a massage to ease tension and stress. Take a walk and appreciate the beauty of the world around us. Get a good night's sleep – sleep is healing and our bodies need sleep to maintain healthy functioning. I can't care for others if I'm not taking care of me.
If Mama Ain't Happy – No Joy Zone
There is truth to the sayings, “If Mama ain't happy, then nobody's happy!” or “Happy wife … happy life.” A woman is the heart of the home. The man is the protector and provider of the home. Mama is the joy monitor and she must have joy in her life to provide joy in the home. It's impossible to fake it for long. Joy is a decision, just like loving someone or holding a grudge is a decision. Anger can be eased with calm words and a warm smile. Anger is fueled by heated words and a glare.
Choose to Find Joy – Even After 50
Finding joy in life at any age is a choice, even after 50. It's not up to anyone else. It's no one else's responsibility. It's all up to me and it's all up to you. Find something that brings you joy and chose to be happy. Do the things that you dreamed of doing and follow the path that leads to happiness. There's so much more to life than we have even begun to experience.
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