Last year I wasn't as smart or as old. This year, on the occasion of my birthday, I'm making notes. I want to remember what I've learned.
- Sleep is overrated. We make way more time for it than we do for living our dreams. As someone said, you can sleep in the grave.
- Sex is not love. It just seems like it at the time.
- Love is not sex. It just seemed like it at the time.
- We don't own our children. We shape them and introduce them to the world -- then we set them free.
- Shit really does happen. Sometimes for days or weeks or years in a row. You have to believe it will come to an end, or it never does.
- Cars are not toys, regardless of how fun they seem.
- Mothers are imperfect. Commit this to memory if you want a better relationship with your own.
- Some days are better spent staying home and watching movies. The real world will still be waiting the next day, and a break from it can be a good thing.
- Cooking Brussels sprouts will make your house smell. When you cook them, a neighbor you haven't seen in a long time will ring your doorbell.
- Men are instinctive but not when it comes to knowing what a woman needs.You have to spell it out and not enough women do.
- The way a man treats his mother is a sneak peek at how he might treat a woman. This is not science. It is, however, long-term observation.
- The way a man treats his daughter directly affects her self-esteem. This is not science. It is, however, long-term (and personal) observation.
- You have to keep reinventing yourself. The world is constantly changing, unless we do too, we become obsolete.
- Make lists. They show intent. And somehow, magically, things get done.
- Show up. It shows intent. And somehow, magically, things happen.
- Don't be afraid. It's wasted energy that you could expend doing something, which keeps you from being afraid.
- Believe in yourself. Nobody else will if you won't.
- Rethink endings. When you think you've reached one, make it a middle instead.
- If you have kids and see them off to college, be proud. Then remember # 18.
Join me next Monday for another installment of the Pre-Empt Chronicles, as I transition from full house to empty nest.
In the same way that volunteering at your child's school makes you part of a community and helps you make friends with fellow parents, volunteering at your local library, homeless shelter, or with a civic group will immerse you in a new community that includes neighbors and empty nesters.
Did you know that Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't start writing books until her children were grown and with kids of their own? Take advantage of your empty nest and get involved in something that you have wanted to do and previously did not have enough time to do. Take a class, play a sport, or find a hobby.
If you've only ever done poorly paid part-time jobs while the children were at home (or if raising kids for 18 years was enough full time work in itself!), now you've got the chance to have a fresh start. Or you may have an ambition to run your own business -- the 'encore career' movement is rife with fresh faced entrepreneurs over 50. Now is the time to discover what passions live within you and pursue them to the bank!
Now that you're not responsible for getting a kid to school at 8 a.m. five days a week, explore the idea of exploring. Rejoice in the freedom you haven't had in years and see the world. Feel like seeing the pyramids? Versailles? Living in Costa Rica for a year week? Step to it amigo!
If an empty nest means anything, it's privacy. Rejoice in your long-deserved break from acting like a parent and act like an adult. Whether you're married or single, take the opportunity to reignite the sputtering spark in your relationship or get out there and carve out for yourself a love life worth living. It's true what they say, sex IS better after 50.
Follow Melissa T. Shultz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MelissaTShultz