Empty Nesters, Are You Prepared?
I\’m not an optimist, because I don\’t believe everything will turn out well. I\’m not a pessimist, because I don\’t believe everything will turn out badly. But I do keep hope in my heart because it is the antidote to cynicism, apathy and hopelessness. Vaclav Havel
Winter season asks us to prepare our homes, closets, and cars in order to travel the chill.
On the inner preparation, how are you coping with the chills of the unknown?
Parents share with me their bottom line fear about their children entering the world and fear of what\’s next for them, “I don\’t know if I prepared them to be on their own? I don\’t know if I have the strength to find new parts of me and start over.”
My answer is that it is time to trust. The inner preparation for unknowns is trust. Trust that you can handle the phone call, the challenges of mistakes, the losses, and the effort to discover. Trust is not a light word. It is easy to say you trust when life is going smoothly, but when called forth to honestly need trust, that is when you need to pull yourself into being your own coach. Speak with yourself in a compassionate way, “I have been through changes and challenges before and I can do this today. I am not alone. I can ask for help. I can live without the immediate gratification of answers.”
We wait too long to speak out about what we need. Preparation includes the ability to be vulnerable. People aren\’t always available to be there for you. Journaling and acting as if someone is sitting right there with you, can release the anxiety. Put on music to let the feelings flow out of you and then get up and move to another place in your home. Just the movement to the living room or front yard, shifts the energy.
Trust does mean you have more to lose than to gain. If you tell someone something in confidentiality and they use it against you, trust is broken. Risk was taken. Forgiveness may arise later which means they need to earn your friendship back in an action way. Trust is not about sitting and waiting, it is about making choices, knowing you can honestly handle the choices, and then stepping up to do some action in a direction that eases your discomfort.
Going through changes includes feelings and thoughts that need sorting and expressing. Then, moving on into some action that anchors you into trusting, which can be prayer, meditation, cooking, sewing, the gym, photography, and reading. You will discover some action that has eased your pain in the past. Look back at times you were in a cycle of unknown, what worked to get you through? For me, it is exercise and having some form of beauty around which is usually a plant or flower and for sure my pen and paper. I have to self comfort by saying, “I don\’t have a solution right now, but I am heading towards clarity.”
When seeking an answer, the feelings of confusion mean, for now, that the answer is a no to whatever the question is. Let it be and revisit the question you want answered.
I was frustrated yesterday in not knowing what to do about a class. Sometimes I grab rice cakes to crunch my tension, but my new habit was grabbing an umbrella and coat, and not listening to the chatter in my head that says it is too cold out there.
Ok, as young as these words sound, I always acknowledge myself, “Good for you, Natalie, you got up and out the door in the cold, rather than eating a bag of rice cakes.”
Be compassionate with yourself and stay curious about life.