Playing Many Parts


The Key to Happiness

birthdaycakeI turned another year older yesterday.  It wasn’t a milestone of any kind, but after 35, turning another year older can be more and more depressing, if your perspective isn’t right.

I did wake up yesterday feeling a bit glum.  I didn’t have any plans for my big day, my own fault, but still sad.  I had to work all day at a job I don’t love.  And the worst part of all, family and friends were all busy and I was planning a quiet dinner and cake alone.  I do NOT recommend this approach to a birthday.  If you want to be happy, do not spend your birthday alone eating cake.  That is recipe for both weight gain and misery.

However, something kinda awesome happened after I showered and got my first cup of coffee yesterday that kept me from going down a dark hole of self pity and sadness.  I started thinking of all the things I am grateful for.  I literally started counting things I love about my life and was soon overwhelmed with peace and even happiness.  As I got in the car and headed off to work, I kept thinking about more things I was thankful for. And as I was getting happier and happier, nice little surprises started coming my way.  I got a beautiful card from my Mom, my daughter posted a generous note to my FB wall, many friends sent me well wishes, and I even got a surprise monetary kickback from my bank!

I started to wonder if maybe being thankful not only changes how we feel, but changes how others feel about us. Could it be that being thankful opens us to receive more?  Since I was so happy and open, others were able to be open with me. They were free to share thoughts and feelings and I could graciously receive them.  All I know for sure is that when I could have easily gone down a dark road yesterday, being thankful saved my day.  It seems to me that if you are counting your blessings, noting all the things you are thankful for, it is hard to be sad.  If you start to realize all the things you have (it helps to remember that most of the world lives on less than a dollar a day), it is hard to feel sorry for yourself.

So I challenge you empty nesters who are sad, depressed, and looking for ways to make it through another day to start counting you blessings every morning.  Count things like being able to shower.  Clean drinking water from your tap.  A place to live and sleep.  Your next meal or cup of coffee is a real blessing.  You are alive today.  You are probably reading this on a smart phone, computer or tablet.  Are you employed?  Have kids?  Have a significant other who makes you smile ever?  Do you enjoy your freedom?  Are you educated?  Try to come up with a list of at least 10 things you can be thankful for.  Then try 100.  How about 1,000?

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10 Ways to Earn a Little In Your Empty Nest

clocks-nickWhen you are an Empty Nester, one of the things that is so overwhelming, at least for me, is the amount of free hours I now have on nights and weekends.  I can bathe, feed and exercise myself quickly and then often have several hours of free time to fill.  I have passions, dreams, things I want to do and places I want to go, so how to create the extra money so I can do those things?  I have developed a small list of services mostly that I can provide quickly to my friends, neighbors and community.  Here are my go-to quick money makers that also make me happy and give me a sense of purpose.

1.  Dog walking and sitting.  Since I have to walk my dog daily, I can advertise on Craigslist or in the paper that I will do this for others for a small fee.

2.  Child sitting.  If you really like and miss having kids around, why not offer your time helping a mom with small children?  And ad in the paper advertising your free time and experience may get you more jobs than you can handle.

3.  Writing.  You can write an article about parenting, cooking, cleaning or whatever.  You could offer guest blog posts, contact you community paper, or submit articles to one of your favorite magazines.

4.  Cleaning Service.  Are you a great home cleaner or organizer?  Why not put out the feelers to see if there are people interested in your help in this area?  Again, Craigslist and your local newspaper are great resources.

5.  Musical Instrument Lessons.  My kids could always find people who wanted to learn to play whatever instrument they were mastering at any given time.  My son taught drum lessons to kids one summer and my daughter was always giving private flute lessons, do you play an instrument?  Piano lessons are harder and harder to find.

6.  Math/Tech/Science/English Lessons.  Put all those hours your spent helping your kids with their homework to good use now.  You probably have several good years of experience helping kids and teens learn everything from basic math to Algebra and even Reading.  Offer you skills to a school or youth center near your home.

7.  Sports tutoring.  Are you a former tennis champ?  Play basketball for 4 years on your high school team?  Did you play soccer or star on the volleyball team?  Lots of kids can’t afford expensive sports camp in the summer, but they may be able to pay for a few private lessons from someone who loves their sport.

8.  Baking or Cooking Classes.  Do you love to cook certain foods or bake cakes or pies?  You could offer classes online, at your library, or at a local craft store.  You of course could try Craigslist and your newspaper again, but try to think of audiences and places where people gather who may need your help.

9.  Housewife Training.  I know when I was a young mother and wife I had no idea how to organize my life in a way that made it easy to get all the house work, kid work, and spouse work done.  Could you offer articles, services or advice somewhere to young women who are just starting out?

10.  Financial Advice.  Are you a genius at finding, keeping and making money?  Could you write or talk about that?    Is there a local business or group who would love to have you come in and show others how to do that through chats or classes?

These are really simple ideas that you can work on and develop further.  The internet is full of sites that can help you gain a larger audience once you have chosen your niche and are ready to share.  Enjoy, have fun, and send out all that knowledge you developed over many years of hard work raising great kids!


10 Ways to Beat Empty-Nest Blues

Chicks are Cute

Chicks are Cute

My chicks are gone. . .and I have an empty nest.  I don’t mind too much most of the time, but there are days when I get sad and then confused by what my new role in life is.  On those days when nostalgia threatens to darken my mood, I have found a few ways to punch it in the nose and do an about face to get my mood back on the happy track.  Here are some of my tips for remembering how awesome life is no matter where my children are.

1.  Explore old hobbies.  I used to play tennis in high school and love it.  It also helped me keep fit, so I am picking up my racket once again and re-teaching myself to play.

2.  Learn new hobbies.  I always wanted to learn to play the piano.  I am going to do that now, a bit at a time.  I haven’t decided yet how I will do this, so if you have suggestions please let me know.

3.  Read.  I love to read, but often felt guilty when my kids were younger taking time away from them to read fiction.  I now find I have plenty of hours in the day for TV, so I am turning that trap off and reading all those books I meant to years ago.

4.  Take online classes.  I absolutely love online courses.  I can learn about everything from Math to French Cooking through online courses.  I have signed up for free classes and have paid for some too and have enjoyed both.  I took a class on Science Fiction from the University of Michigan and a class on web design from Udemy.

5.  Start an exercise routine.  Now is definitely the part of my life where I can carve out time to get fit before it is too late.  All those TV hours can at least be put to use even if I can’t totally give up my guiltiest pleasure.  I can do plenty of situps, pushups, planks and jumping jacks while catching up on the last season of The Good Wife.

6.  Work on eating healthier.  Since I am only cooking for two now, I am finding it much easier to try new recipes with strange ingredients like kale, brussels sprouts and edamame.

7.  Adopt a pet.  I never thought adopting a dog from the shelter could be so amazing.  There are so many reasons why this is a great idea, but the top two are I now have someone I can still mother, and I have a walking buddy who can’t wait to go outside and get some exercise with me!

8.  Make new friends of all ages.  I have found that spending time with friends from some of my community groups of different ages has kept me feeling younger.  It is awesome to hear the opinions of younger women and I love hearing how older women are redefining themselves as they age.

9.  Watch stand-up comedy.  Laughter is just good medicine.  If you don’t believe me, Google it.  I have also found that in addition to making me laugh and smile, comedy routines are a fun way to keep up with all that crazy stuff that is happening in the world.  Even if the spin is a bit odd sometimes.

10.  Write a book.  Every woman has enough material for a book by the time she has an empty nest.  Childhood and teen years are awkward, funny, crazy times for kids and their parents.  I bet you have plenty of stories to tell that will be very entertaining to others who have similar experiences. . .maybe you can even be that stand-up comic from #9!

That’s it for now, my kinda “tongue-in-cheek” list of things to try if you are having a hard time adjusting to life at home without your kids.  I would love to hear back from you with fun ways to remind yourself that you used to be an entirely different person before your life was turned upside down by kids!