life after the birds fly the coop

A Funny Thing Happened at the Polls Today…

When it comes to politics, I’ve been called a few things and taken a few “hits” for being a moderate liberal. “Bleeding heart”, “unenlightened”, among other references such as, “You’re STILL a Democrat?” (Still? After what?) I shrug it off to ignorance. 🙂

Speaking of ignorance, I must confess that when I went to vote today on Super Tuesday, I didn’t realize I was only voting for ONE thing (person). Hence, as I was registering at the table, which happens to be at the clubhouse in my suburban upper middle-class neighborhood (convenient for sure!), I checked the box marked “non-partisan” ballot. The nice elderly gentleman volunteering his time promptly corrected me. “Oh, you can’t choose non-partisan in Georgia.” He then pointed to the “Republican” box and said, “You probably meant THIS box. Most people do.” Ha!

Despite his best efforts, I checked the “Democrat” box, so I could vote along those lines…I’ll confess that I’ve voted Republican in the past and Independent once as well, so I don’t put myself in any political “boxes.” Hate that they make me do that. But as a good citizen of this country, I had to do that today.

A younger gentleman, also volunteering, then told me that there are actually two states in this country where you can select “Communist.” What?? I asked him which states, but he declined to tell me. The elderly gentleman then added, “They have to be up North.” Ha! (My daughter later fact-checked this for me, and it just isn’t true. Not since the Red Scare.)

Proudly raised in the Blue state of Minnesota, I shrugged off a tad bit of offensive and carried on down the line so I could cast my vote.

The question I was left with is: Do I look like a Republican? What does a Republican look like? What does a Democrat look like? What’s the assumption? Are we really that blind? Still?

I’m not sure how I’ll vote in November. The jury will be out on that after we endure months of lunacy. I will stay informed, with the help of my three very politically minded adult children (all 3 of which have different favorite candidates). It’s still a privilege and a pleasure to be able to vote in this great country of ours.

If you’ve had an interesting experience today, I’d love to hear it!

Minimalist February

It has been my intention for a couple of years now to live a more minimalist life. This has included a home down-size, a reduction of hours spent doing things that aren’t important to me, and a more conscious “living in the moment-content with what I have” lifestyle. It’s fair to say, I’ve veered off course a bit lately.

What’s brought me back in line is in large part due to my daughter, Lauren, and her friend Jane’s devotion to a “spend less February,” so I am encouraged to jump on their bandwagon. Now, realize they are post-graduates, so my budget is a tad different, so my numbers are adjusted. That said, though we try to live within our means, we are still indulgent in many ways.

For the past year after settling into our new home, I’ve tried to keep my counters clear and my walls barer than they’ve been in the past. However, in January, due to a “nesting instinct” that comes to me every January, I’ve been purchasing various items on Amazon (dangerous) and Joss and Main (more dangerous), filling up blank wall space, adding pillows to furniture, and re-cluttering my pristine kitchen counters. Not to mention feeding my clothing and shoe addiction. It’s time to SLOW DOWN!

So here’s my version of Spend-Less February:

I will NOT spend money on:

  • nails (I’ve never done much with my fingernails anyway, and I mostly wear socks in the winter, yet I’ve continued with my monthly pedicures)
  • alcohol (no purchasing of wine during the week. Wine drinking only allowed on weekends, which will help with my Lenten promises I intend to make and my weight loss goals.)
  • eating meals outside the home (except for 1 time per week for dinner with a $50 maximum – no lunches)
  • clothing, jewelry, accessories, shoes
  • hair care (outside of one haircut)
  • skin care (if you saw my bathroom, you’d see I have more than enough already)
  • home décor
  • movies at the theatre or On Demand (Netflix has many good options)

I WILL spend money in the following ways ONLY:

  • bills for January spending (dang)
  • dog care (Biff isn’t at fault here)
  • dinner with friends (2 commitments already on my calendar)
  • groceries (cap of $125/week) I know that sounds high for two people, but kids do come home and I enjoy good, healthy food. No impulse buying at the store (i.e., don’t shop hungry and stick to my list.)
  • yoga (because I will need something outside of shopping to make me feel good, and it’s good for me.)

Wish me the best of luck. I hope to feel cleansed, healthy, and sane at the end of the month. I’ll recap the results in March! And perhaps I’ll set a new goal!



All in a Year’s Time

Today marks one year since we closed on our new home, our new adventure in life together as empty nesters, a year of wonder and surprises.

We are enjoying our new digs…the peaceful cul-de-sac, the beautiful golf course views, the changing and creating that comes with turning a “house” into a “home.” And not least of all, one-story living!  With this change, a few things have been left behind: old neighbors, familiar faces on my daily walks, the hustle and bustle of our old lifestyle. Though I miss much of that, this past year has brought many wonderful blessings.

We’ve welcomed a soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Hillary Mangum, into our home. She has stolen the heart of our oldest son, Ben, and we look forward to a wedding in the future and many years of Hillary’s presence in our family.

We’ve anticipated our daughter Lauren’s upcoming graduation with a Master’s degree from the University of Georgia and anticipate her next venture to obtain a Ph.D. This venture will take her far away from home. Though I hate to see her leave, life has taught me that broadening horizons is yet another gift that our life on Earth provides. I can’t wait to see her feel that for herself.

We’ve observed our youngest son, James, grow and stretch himself with his studies at Georgia Tech, his developing passions, and have celebrated many weekends with him close to home with the love of his life, Tal.

I’ve watched my husband Brian blossom in his new career, traveling the globe, something he’s always wanted, and for the first time in a long time, feeling totally fulfilled with his work.

We’ve helped my parents transition into their next home, a significant move on their part as they downsize and create a better home for themselves as they age.

You could say I’m a bit in the “sandwich stage.” And I’m happy to say that where I am right now is exactly where I want and need to be. I want to and now have the ability to visit my them more often and be there for them in far away Northern Minnesota, a home they love and for good reasons don’t want to leave. And though I wish they were closer, it gives me a reason to go back to my first and favorite home more often.

Jobs come and go. Careers evolve and change. Kids grow and leave the nest to create their own nests. New opportunities present themselves and then sometimes dissolve. The future is broad and open, even in this stage of life. Every day brings something new, if we take the time to look for it, see it, welcome it, and embrace it.

Life is short, and yet it is long. Embracing the idea of life’s longevity and also its brevity is a gift from God. A gift that I give thanks for because it gives me eyes to see the beauty in every moment.

We never know what one day or one year will bring to us. Take a chance, step out, give, receive, and never fear the unknown.

My Ill-conceived Notions of a Benefit Ball

If you are a close, personal friend of mine, you will know that I was very apprehensive about being invited and attending a benefit ball last weekend. First of all, I didn’t see the “benefit” of spending a lot of money on a gown, a tux for my husband, or all the necessities that would accompany going to a fancy-schmancy ball at an upscale hotel in Atlanta. That’s just “not me.” I’d rather do something physical for the cause or contribute in a monetary fashion as befit our lifestyle. I proudly consider myself more of a “grassroots contributor.” I believed and still do, that getting our hands dirty is equally as important as giving of our pocketbooks.  But as the book of Proverbs says, “Pride goeth before the fall.”

I am here to tell you that my notions were a bit ill-conceived. My pride got in the way of my thinking. Once I found the perfect dress, with the help and opinions of my husband, children, and a trusted friend, and my husband found a well-fitting tuxedo that we hope he will wear again when one of our children gets married, (or better yet, my boys and their father are all the same size, so they can share), the “hard part” was done. What I learned was my thinking was clearly all wrong. It wasn’t about my dress, or my husband’s tux, or that my toenails were painted to match my dress. Nobody cared. (But hey, we did look pretty good. J And it was kind of fun to be a “grownup.”)

The next step was getting over the anxiety of hanging out with a large roomful of well-dressed, “successful” and affluent people. I don’t consider my family as any of that, except successful…(I do believe we are all that in our own ways.) What I learned was we people are all the basically the same, underneath our ball gowns, tuxes, and manicures.

There’s an unspoken language amongst women. I truly believe this. The eye contact I exchanged with many of the women at my table and whom I passed in the hallways of the gorgeous St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead, Atlanta, was one of “This is stressful. I’d rather be doing something else.” Or, “Woman, you look dynamite, and I know what that effort cost you.”  I could be wrong here, but I believe my instincts. By the end of the evening, our unspoken kinship was a little stronger, but in a more significant way.

I need to back up a little bit now and explain why we were invited to this event in the first place. The event was the “Believe Ball,” the second annual event to benefit the CURE for Childhood Cancer foundation. The hosts included Tom and Christine Glavine, (for baseball fans, you know who they are) and some other folks in the baseball community, as well as other influential people in Atlanta. Again, so what are we doing here?

My husband, Brian, for the past 8 years has been involved in a mission program started at Johns Creek Baptist Church, where we were members for about 6 years. The mission began as an opportunity to reach out and do something for the poorest county in the state of Texas, including the town of Presidio, TX. He and a few other members of the church, only one with a baseball background, traveled to Presidio at their own expense to host a baseball camp for local boys. Long story short, this trip has continued and expanded, including girls and activities outside of baseball. It has become one of the highlights for this small town in Texas and something my husband looks forward to attending every year. He takes a week off of work, travels at his own expense, but has benefited as much as these children have from participating in this event.

But again I ask, why were we invited to this ball? We don’t consider ourselves wealthy and influential Atlantans, just folks who try to help as well as we can.

Well, I learned that Tom Glavine and other people closely connected to CURE have become donors to the Presidio, TX, mission trip and are very eager to share their wealth with this mission. Turns out, we were there to support THEIR support. That’s how things work, and I should have known this. And this is where my attitude toward this ball changed.

It became clear to me as we entered the St. Regis and checked in that we had not only been invited, but were hosted by a certain individual of influence to sit at a front-row table. Was I humbled? Yes. Deeply. We were front and center to a host of celebrities, the emcee, the recipient of the evening’s award, and eye witnesses to children that were personally benefiting from CURE. Those children were benefiting from the financial sacrifices made by contributors to CURE for experimental treatments which led to their either cure or remission of their cancers. WOW. Without that sacrifice, I was left to wonder, where would they be now?

What we experienced throughout the evening through the speakers, the videos, and the personal witness of parents of childhood cancer victims was a room full of truly heartfelt givers who wanted to make a difference in the lives of families who struggle with having children diagnosed with cancer. And who doesn’t know someone in that unfortunate category? THAT was what this event was about. It was NOT about the gowns, the tuxes, the showing off of money. It was an atmosphere of caring and generosity beyond anything I’ve witnessed before.

Emotions make people do things they didn’t know they could do. We all know that. It can be bad, and it can be good. We all have that basic understanding. This was an instance where emotions got the best of all people in the room, whether they were “regular folks” like us, invited for whatever reason, or wealthy folks wanting to share their wealth for a cause close to their hearts.

By the end of the evening, after I’d noticed women with comfortable sandals underneath the hems of their ball gowns, men who didn’t wear shiny tux shoes but instead wore everyday black work shoes, I’d been brought down to a different reality, one of recognition that whether we are rich or poor, dressed up or down, we are basically all the same. We all want to do something for those less fortunate. Whether it be our time, our money, our support of those who can financially support our causes (which was our case), it is well worth our time and effort to get out of our “comfort zones” and experience a different side of life.

Next year, if we are blessed enough to get another invitation, we will gladly accept. It did my heart and my ego a lot of good to see generosity alive in our community. To see firsthand generosity and kindness, even outside of my own personal reality, was priceless…well beyond the cost of a dress.

A Case of the Mid-life “Umpies”

Last weekend my husband, Brian, and I were shopping for flowers and vegetable plants at Home Depot. He stopped in front of the lawn ornaments and was admiring a Buddha. He said, jokingly, “I want a chubby Buddha.” I replied, patting my ever-growing ‘Mommy pooch,’ “You already have one.”

From there, our conversation continued in the car on the way home, me lamenting how I feel grumpy because I feel frumpy. He then said, “What did UMPY do to attach itself to so many horrible adjectives?” We laughed, and then went through the alphabet reciting all the attractive adjectives that end in UMPY…bumpy, clumpy, dumpy, frumpy, grumpy, lumpy…slumpy, and so on. Kind of curious, isn’t it? Can you think of a good word that ends in UMPY?

Passing the mid-life mark on the timeline has been a challenge for me. And I’m sure I’m not alone. I’ve been lamenting to my mom and friends lately how nothing I seem to do has had an effective impact on my newfound “umps” – lumps, bumps, and bulges that slowly emerged over the last few years. I have been doing an ab challenge, a squat challenge, vigorous walking, biking, tennis…trying to eat healthy (mostly) and not drink too much wine (hard because I love wine.) Change is s-l-o-w, or worse, nonexistent.

The days of not having to think about these things are long gone, but let’s forge on.

Let’s focus on the good things, the things that are right and positive. My lumps aren’t cancerous. My bumps are signs of a good life and happy times with friends and family, eating, laughing, and enjoying life.

Everyone has days when they feel frumpy and grumpy. The choice is ours whether to wallow in it or to accept it and do something about it. Every morning when I get dressed, whether my pants are a little snugger than they used to be or my shirts seem to have shrunk over the winter, I lace up my shoes and head out for a walk, enjoying the sunshine, the sweat, and the beauty around me.

When I end my day feeling as though I’ve not done enough or done all the right things, either way I hope and pray that I’ll have another tomorrow to start it all over again. Not everyone gets that chance.

While I will still fight the “umpies” every day and probably never be satisfied with a “never-to-be-seen-in-a-bikini-again” body, there are bigger fish to fry and more important things to do with my life than stress over a couple extra pounds. In the meantime, I’ll think of adjectives that are more uplifting and attach those to my attitude. How about words that end in FUL? Grateful, thankful, and hopeful. Already I feel better.

Let go of the “umpies!”

It’s the little things, even in Italy

“Time doesn’t seem to pass here: it just is.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Rings

 My husband, Brian, and I recently returned from a trip to Italy, a trip I’ve dreamed of making for many years. I’d been to two small cities in Italy, Udine and Trieste, on a high school choir tour many, many years ago. I’d always dreamed, though, of spending some time in Tuscany. The appeal of the hills and vineyards, the old stone farmhouses dotting the countryside, the olive groves and the timelessness of the place was a draw for me. I longed to visit a place where time seemed to stand still. I can tell you now that I’ve been there that all of that is true.

When you make a visit to Tuscany, of course you must go to Florence. You cannot see the unfinished works of Michelanglo’s sculptures, or the intricate, details that boggle the mind of his finished work, “David,” without a trip to Florence. One is in awe, as we were, of the sculptures in abundance everywhere in Florence. It makes you wonder who has the patience, the vision, the skill to chip and hone such detail? As a person who possesses very little artistic ability, it is was even more appreciated.

And yes, the canals of Venice are worth a visit. The architecture and the imagination of building a city literally atop water is astounding.

Bologna, where we spent four days, was well worth the visit. Bologna has history and porticos and architecture as well, fabulous markets, and the best food in Italy, minus the touristy souvenir shops. I truly felt, as I walked the old part of the city around the Piazza Maggiore for three days solo, that this was a true picture of how Italians live in this ancient and beautiful city.

And then we go from Bologna and Venice to our home for the next six days…an old farmhouse in the hills of Tuscany near Castellina in Chianti, the place of my dreams. It literally was of my dreams. It was quiet, secluded, modern enough with the charm of ancient Italy. The views were spectacular and the romance abundant.

All of this beauty and wonder aside, what I will remember most about my time in Italy is the little things. The service in the trattorias and osterias. (Restaurants are too general.) Not once in 11 days was I served a drink out of a plastic cup. Not once was I given a paper napkin. Even in our villa, in which we had to supply our own food, condiments, paper products, we had a difficult time finding “garbage bags” in the small, local grocery store. We paid the equivalent of 9 cents for plastic grocery bags, which we used in our villa for our “garbage.” We felt a bit like losers constantly buying these plastic bags. But hey, all my reusable fabric bags were in the backseat of my Honda CRV back in Suwanee, GA. Another thing, we toted our daily “garbage” to one of the many public garbage disposal bins that dot the winding roads of Tuscany. It was something we just got used to. And I will most fondly remember our evenings, cooking in our quaint little kitchen, sharing a bottle of wine we bought from whatever region we’d been that day, and playing Travel Scrabble.

But then there’s coffee. We are addicted to coffee, both Brian and I. No matter where we were, at a hotel in Bologna or any small café, we were served coffee in a cermic cup. I say cup because I’m used to drinking my all-American ground coffee in a large mug. That’s how I like it. In Italy, if you can get “American coffee” at all, it’s still served in a small cup. The grocery stores stock one brand of what they literally label “American coffee.” It comes in an aluminum canister, of the Folgers variety. The villa owners know that Americans like their coffee this way, so they had a standard Mr. Coffee type brewer in the ready for us. Brian likes cappuccino and espresso; me, not so much. That is one thing I just never got used to. Believe it or not, even if you stop at a gas station and want a cup of coffee, people stand at a counter where a Barista prepares their “coffee,” they drink, and then they leave. There’s no drive-thru window or “to go” cups.

There is also a large expense for heat in Tuscany. And it wasn’t warm in March. We didn’t want to pay for heat. We turned off the heat in our villa as we traveled during the day, turned it on upon return for a few hours, and then turned it off again, relying on extra blankets and each other for warmth. I’ve never slept better.

When you ask for water in a trattoria, you receive a beautiful glass bottle of water and two small glasses to drink from. It’s delicious and clean. When you ask for wine, you either get a bottle or one glass; they don’t come around for “refills.” The wine is too good. Nobody would be able to drive.

The picture I had in my mind of the local villagers, old men wearing hats, chatting in Italian, which is always fun to listen to, still exists. Men still hang together and chew the fat on the street corners, maybe play a game of cards. Women walk along country roads, not in work-out gear and colorful Nike tennis shoes, but in worn-out brown leather and heavy coats. It’s truly timeless.

One day, I felt the need for some exercise. (too much bread and olive oil, pasta and chianti will do that to us Americans.) I ventured out of my hotel in Bologna in my bright fuschia Athleta warm-up jacket, neon green running shoes, and headed out onto the streets for a “power walk.” Never in my life have I felt more out of place! For one thing, most Italian women wear a size 6 shoe and don’t wear exercise shoes, and also, they are short. I felt like a giant American tourist twisting my arms and breathing heavily as I worked my way past the locals, strolling, chatting, and enjoying their cappuccinos (and their cigarettes, but that’s another story.)

I will remember the simplicity of Italy. I will remember the rugged way they still live, without plastic and Styrofoam, fast food and instant gratification. It’s a slower pace, a beautiful pace, and a lovely way to live.

Now back home in America, the land I love, the land of the beautiful and brave, I will carry a piece of history with me. I will carry a piece of tradition and culture, of elegance and class. I appreciate my washcloth (you don’t get those either), my disposable large grocery bags I can buy in bulk at Costco, but I will think twice about all the plastic we consume. I will consider linen before paper, walking before driving, and just simply enjoying my surroundings instead of racing to and fro. I will enjoy my American landscape, especially with the gorgeous spring changes that occur daily, and await my next trip to that beautiful country. And I will most sincerely appreciate my Cuisinart coffee maker and my programmable thermostat.

Ciao, ciao!

To myself on my 51st birthday

Dear Mary,

Happy Birthday to you! Congratulations on living another year on planet Earth! You just a few minutes ago had a phone conversation with your youngest son, James, who said, “So, are you having a big party or something?” Ha! “No,” you replied. “At 51, I’m just happy to be around for another year.” And then he said, “Yeah, after turning 21, I realize that all my next few birthdays are really no big deal.” (loosely paraphrased). But the honest truth is, you are happy to be “done with 50.” And then you kindly reminded him that 25 is a pretty big one, as are all the decade bdays, so don’t lose hope.

I remember, Mary, many childhood birthdays in the frozen tundra of Northern Minnesota, when, two weeks after Christmas, your birthday was not THAT big of a deal. I remember frozen pipes one year even, disrupting your birthday dinner. But I also fondly remember your mom making your requested dinner, which was either Sarmas (stuffed cabbage rolls) or the old 70’s favorite, Beef Stroganoff. Yum. (I could go for some of that right now.)

Mary, I like your tradition the last few years of spending your birthday largely with just YOU. After the roar of the holidays, it’s nice to have the house alone, the kids gone, husband at work, just to “be” and to remind yourself of just how damn lucky you are to be here…one more year.

I like these days together to reflect on your life: the challenges you’ve faced, the goals you’ve set and met, the ones you haven’t that you continue to strive for, and for the goodness of God and His grace in your life…for one more year.

Not to sound depressing! That’s not at all why I’m writing to you. Another day on Earth is a privilege only allotted to so many. Many lives are cut short for myriad reasons. You are a lucky one to have that “one more day.”

So today, dear Mary, celebrate who you are at 51. You have a good man who truly loves you and stands by you each and every day. You have 3 beautiful children who have grown into beautiful adults. You still have your parents, and two siblings you wouldn’t trade for anything. And your dog, Biff, he adores you. Your friends are there for you. Even old friends from the past think of you fondly. The ones who don’t, well, we don’t need to worry about them.

Having a January birthday is a blessing. You get to celebrate another brand new year in two different ways: a fresh start in another 365 day calendar, and another year to be yourself, accepting who you are, where you are, and most importantly, whose you are. You are a child of God, as are all the other people who cross your path, so give them grace and love them equally.

Mary, cherish today and every day. Even when you’re sick, sad, or lonely. Having feelings that aren’t “well” are just another sign that you are alive! And the happy times, they are there for you as well, even if you don’t recognize them. Give thanks for January 7, 1964. And be the best YOU you can be.



Embracing Age

They say that 50 is the new 40. Well, if you ask me, I say “what was 40?” At 50, I feel alive, important, improved, and energized.

Three weeks into a move and a total life transformation with a husband with a new job, out of the house, traveling extensively, I’ve learned that “I can do it!” I can handle things on my own: dealing with contractors, dealing with unfound items I thought I needed but really didn’t, and being alone, a lot. At 50 I can honestly say these are things that I wasn’t prepared for at 40.

I have learned that the smallest of setbacks, like people showing up unexpectedly, or not showing up when they are supposed to, not having all of the kitchen utensils you think you need to make food turn out OK work out. It’s all good.

I’ve learned that I can live with less as easily as I’ve ever lived with more…more contact with others, more demands on my schedule, more expectations, from others and myself….I’ve learned that saying “no” means I’m not letting someone down, but giving myself some power. And when I say “yes,” it truly means “yes.” And that feels SOOO good.

I have learned that I know what I like and what I need, and I can find both, without compromising relationships, integrity, or freedom. I can be kind and be nurtured, not always simultaneously, and that’s okay too.

I have learned that a dog can truly be your best friend. When I was distracted with kids, job, my life, and my extracurriculars, my dog was kind of a “loving nuisance.” I’ve learned that dogs are the most loyal, loving, and steady friends that a person can have. I regret the days when I looked at my pet(s) otherwise.

I’ve also learned that friends come in many shapes, sizes, ages, nationalities. They are my children, my neighbors, my cousins, sisters, brothers, parents, pastors, and more, and they are not delineated by any factors other than they are in my life and we care for each other.

I have learned that my body is a gift. It’s not a venue to express my fitness, my beauty, or my sense of self. It is who I am where I’m at. I can find exercise outside of expensive gyms in the raking of leaves, walking the dogs, and cleaning my house. If I have a “meno-pot,” nobody cares (but me…and I’m gaining progress on accepting that). It may go away. It may not. I don’t care. I appreciate fresh air, nature, the ability to move my limbs at will, and think my own thoughts. It’s a gift many don’t have.

I don’t know if 50 is the new 40 or 50 is the new 60. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is to embrace, accept, and love where you are. Right now. Today. And Tomorrow.

New Beginnings

You were happy before. You will be happy after.” ~anonymous

 On the eve of the eve of our moving out of our current home, I’m just now starting to piece together the feelings that have been buried under the last two months of cleaning, sorting, selling, buying, and planning a move.

Surrounded by boxes, walls bare of all photographs and memorabilia that make up the majority of my home decorating, our house is feeling more like just a house and less like a home, making it a little easier to part ways. Perhaps this was my husband’s grand plan all along, to put things away slowly, taking weeks instead of days to box up our life, so I’m not suddenly sad or unexpectedly emotional.

We first started this process mentally over a year ago, but physically four months ago. When the house first appeared on the market, it popped up magically all over the Internet by simply Googling the address. Since our three kids are now out of the house, they weren’t around for all the preparation, so I encouraged them to hop online and take a peek. My daughter, Lauren, was looking at the glossy photos of all the rooms in our house, neater than she’d ever seen them, and then sent me a text saying, “It’s weird to read about our house in terms of updated appliances, large bedrooms, and great storage space.” What she thought it should say is something more like, “A wonderful, warm, and cozy home for a loving family looking to build happy memories.”

 Well, as I look around at many of our happy memories trapped in cardboard boxes, it is not with regret that I say “Good-bye, East Smoketree.” For 12 years, this has been a place where our three kids toughed out the teenage years, studied hard, and had sleepovers. As a family we enjoyed game nights in our kitchen, fires in the firepit, and too many family dinners to count. Brian and I have hosted many a fun and sometimes rowdy dinner party, Valentine’s parties, New Year’s Eve, and many, many more. These kinda of memories aren’t stored in boxes anyway. They are rooted deep in our hearts and travel from place to place, making room for new memories along the way.

It’s on to something new, something different, something better for the next stage in our lives. We’ll wrestle with remodeling, redecorating, and reorienting ourselves to a new street, new neighbors, and new friends.

We’re not leaving behind a life, just a shell that housed our lives. And all will be good.

Next up: living with construction, a dog, and a traveling husband…

The Three C’s of Life

I read a quote today about the 3 C’s of life: Choices, Chances, and Changes. “You must make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.”

About a year ago, I made a choice to start blogging about my new life as an empty nester. I took a big chance in doing that, exposing my life and my thoughts to the outside world, but I also knew that this past year, and the coming one, and the next are going to be full of change for me, and it helps to share, to document, and to discuss.

The changes started a while ago, with launching kids and figuring out how to simplify my life. Some choices and some chances have now caught up with the realized and impending changes.

I wrote a blog last fall about the conundrum of choice, the difficulty surrounding making big, tough decisions. At that point, things were still rolling around in our heads, (mine and my husband’s). Over the past year, however, we have finally come to the conclusion that to live the rest of our lives the way WE want to, we need to move. Out of the big house. Away from the big mortgage. Onto new things. So we took a chance and put our house on the market about a month ago, with no defined place to go. Ummmm….scary? Yes. Risky? Yes. Comfortable? No!

I read another quote today that said “Patience is not about how long you can wait but on how you behave while waiting.” Let me tell you, I need a time out for bad behavior. I believe I also wrote a blog about patience, and I’m confessing right here that progress with that virtue has been s-l-o-w. My dad once said, “You should have a lot of patience because you haven’t used any yet.” Truer words have not been spoken.

We’re not the first people in the world to try to sell our house. And this isn’t our first rodeo either. In the past 28 years, my husband and I have moved seven times, but this one is by far the hardest. All the past moves were dictated by jobs, kids, and the needs of a growing family. This one is all about two people, Brian and me. What WE want, what WE need, how WE want to live. WHERE we want to live.

Answering those questions has not been easy. We’ve gone around and around about townhouse vs. house, neighborhood vs. urban. We’ve even tossed around rural. We think we now know what we want. And yet…there’s still that chance that we’ll decide wrong. We also know what we don’t want, and that is regret.

Now, though, we must wait it out. We must have faith as we go through the ups and downs of showing a house and not getting an offer, of keeping the house uber clean, and then saying, “wow, this IS a pretty nice house when it’s all cleaned up!” And the hope that the one house we really do want will be available and waiting for us…when we finally do get that offer.

So stay tuned…lots more change is on the way. More choices and more chances as well, no doubt. But as they say, if you’re not moving forward you are standing still. And I’m way too impatient for that…

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