Day 4 – Starting Over After the Nest Empties

31 Days of Starting OverWhile I am not an “official” empty-nester, due to the fact that my daughter lives at home while finishing college, I think I’ve experienced it enough to write on the topic.

In 2003, we moved from Gulfport, MS to Birmingham (which is home) and at the same time, my son Aaron, moved back to Mississippi to attend and graduate from Mississippi State University.

Mississippi State Graduation Ceremony
Mississippi State Graduation Ceremony

Once a child leaves home, it is like a chamber of your heart has been removed and your world has been turned cattywampus on its axis. Of course, I still had my daughter at home, but we weren’t a party of four anymore.  I cried for a year after he left.  In restaurants, I now had to ask for a table for three, at dinner at our own table – his chair was empty.  In the car, his seat was empty.  When I wanted to run upstairs and tell him something funny, his bed was empty.  In the driveway, his space was empty.  So, even though my nest is not officially empty, there were so many places that were.

Table for Three.
One Empty Chair.

In addition to his leaving in 2003, we moved again in 2010, and my daughter began her 2-year campus housing stay. Not to mention, the blessing she was offered with a Disney Internship for 5 months in Orlando, FL.  At this point, I only had two chambers operating and those two seemed to be on life support. Now two chairs, two seats, two beds, and two parking spaces were like black holes in the universe.  Was I depressed?  You darn tootin’, I was depressed and I’m not ashamed to share it with you.  It was like being fired from the best job you ever had.

Amy working at Disney
Amy working at Disney

My sweet husband knew this was going to be hard. So being the planner that he is, he started planning things for us as we drove home from Aaron’s freshman year move-in day and then again when we moved Amy into her Orlando housing.  I’m sharing these with you in hopes that they will help set your axis aright again when your nest empties.

  • Plan a trip for you and your spouse – even if it’s just a weekend. Get outta town.
  • Reconnect with your spouse through photo albums of newlywed days, wedding album, and long talks about your dating days. The goal is to remind you of the good times you had before you had chillren.
  • Plan care packages for your college student.
  • Set goals with your student of how often you will talk on the phone – not texting or emailing… hearing their voice, before they get too big for their britches.
  • Remind each other often that college/living away from home is a good thing!
  • Get involved in your community, church, charity near to your heart or learn an old fashioned card game, like Bridge or Canasta.
  • Invite people into your home.
  • Take up a new hobby like photography, painting, cooking, blogging, crafting, woodworking, gardening etc.
  • Reconnect with old friends and make new ones.
  • Find things of interest from your cities’ calendar of events.
  • Enroll in a class at a local community college or if funds permit, go back to school.  Education is always valuable.
  • If you’ve been a stay-at-home mom, get a job.

Experience is the very best teacher and staying busy is the best medicine. I can happily report that I am operating with all four chambers again.  I’ve realized that I have a life separate from my chillren and it is my sweet, loving husband who will fill all those empty places now.  Perhaps that is how it was all along, but you just don’t think about that the day they leave.

Table for Two.
Table for Two?  Yes, please.

Day 3 – Starting Over After Being Found

31 Days of Starting OverToday, on October 3, 2013, the first thing I want to share with you is a post from a fellow blogger here in the state of Alabama.  It is such a sweet testimony from The Lettered Cottage.

Now, I’ll describe for you my feelings of being in the lost and found. At the age of 14 there was a lot going on in my life. I was an adolescent so everything that happened to me seemed worse than it was – no matter how bad it was.  My pediatrician prescribed “nerve pills,” to help me learn to deal with life’s problems and calm my nervous stomach. All the pills did was dull the pain and help me sleep.

Photo Credit: Clark Atlanta University
Photo Credit: Clark Atlanta University

Now, my family had gone to church every Sunday for as long as I can remember, but at 15 a friend invited us to a different church than the one we grew up in. It scared me.

I knew this place was different when I walked in the door. People were standing up and singing, raising their hands as if they were cheering for a football team and the preacher was different.  While he had on a suit, stood behind a podium and held the Bible in his hands, he was was not like other preachers. He started teaching me the WORD.

He didn’t seem to be yelling at me, he seemed to love me and care about me.  He has long since passed away, but I will never forget him.  His name was Dan Ronsisvalle and if you are interested, you can hear his last sermon, here.

Pastor Dan Ronsisvalle
Pastor Dan Ronsisvalle
Cathedral of the Cross
Cathedral of the Cross 2010

My life was different from the day I heard his first sermon. I no longer needed the pills, but I was still in the lost and found.  In my thirties, things began to change.  Believe me or not; I was sitting in a Wendy’s during a Mother’s-Day-Out eating a burger, thinking about my list of errands, when in my heart, I heard the words, “I never knew you.” This scared me more than Brother Ronsisvalle’s church.  The words I heard were part of Matthew 7: 21-23.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Well, in true Kim-fashion, I began to argue with the Lord.  “You do too know me.  You saved me in a pasture during a rap-session with the youth group in 1975! Don’t you remember, Lord?”  Again, “I never knew you.”  At that point, I surrendered and said to Him, “well if that’s true, then by-golly You will know me.”  I called our church that afternoon and asked if there were any Bible studies being offered.  It was after that call that I began to KNOW HIM.  It makes a big difference, you know. I registered for a Precept Ministries course on the book of Philippians, called “How to Have Joy No Matter What.”

Precept courses teach you the Bible in its original languages.  We learned the Old Testament by studying key words in Hebrew and the New Testament by key words in Greek. I was found in one word.  It was/is a strange word to be found by, but it is because of the fact that He really did know me that I was found in my truest state of being by the great I AM. Philippians 1: 9-10 includes a prayer by the apostle Paul,

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ..

Because of my earlier statements, it would be reasonable to think the word was knowledge, discern or blameless.  But, I was found with the word “pure”.  In the Greek, the word means “unmixed.”   I had become mixed up.  I was truly lost without the pure knowledge of HIM.  People have all sorts of ideas of who HE is, but if they are like I was, they really have NO idea.  I began to pray that HE would teach me and reveal HIMSELF to me so that I would KNOW HIM.  I have to confess here that it has been the biggest and best adventure of my life.  HE has been nothing like I thought. HE is better and HE is worse.  HE is Love and HE is Judge, but all in a loving way… a way that non-believers will never understand.

It may sound trite or even cliche` to talk about being lost vs. being found, but, since starting over with HIM in my 30’s, I’m no longer scared.  I don’t fear death.  I don’t fear HIS judgment and I am immune to man’s, except of course, where our laws are concerned. Why? Because in the purest sense of the word, I am unmixed, because I am found.  HE knows my name.

 

 

To Face the Unknown

In 1978, I graduated from high school, the very first Walkman was introduced to the world by Sony and Harper & Row published the book titled, Celebration of Discipline, by Richard J. Foster.  If I had a brain in my head, I would have put all this together years ago.  But, I confess I missed it.

I had the rest of my life ahead of me in 1978.  My choices were.. go to work, go to school, sit at home for 12 seconds and then have my dad  (former police chief) go over my rights repeatedly during those 12 seconds.

  1. I had the right to remain silent  – if I wanted all that I didn’t say held against me.
  2. Every day that I sat at home without a job or enrolled in class would be held against me.
  3. I had the right to listen to his counsel.
  4. If I thought for one second that I couldn’t afford to listen to his counsel, a job of his choosing would be provided for me.
  5. If I didn’t understand these rights, I would not like how they were repeated.

So, what did I do?  I did it all.  I got a job, enrolled in a junior college, listened to his counsel, and bought a walkman.  The walkman was for my silent moments.  But, what did I not put together?

Sony Walkman
Sony Walkman

Years later, likely around 1991-92, I was introduced to the book, Celebration of Discipline A brief synopsis of the table of contents includes “Inward Disciplines, Outward Disciplines and Corporate Disciplines.”  In the very first chapter, “the door to liberation was opened.”  The first paragraph hooked me.

Superficiality is the curse of our age.  The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem.  The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.

In the next paragraph, the author challenged me personally, although he didn’t have any idea who was holding his book in her hands.  He says that the classical disciplines “urge us to be the answer to a hollow world.”

What a hollow world mine would have been had I attempted to ignore my dad’s counsel.  The thing that I didn’t get was when you have your whole world in front of you and it seems a bit scary to face the unknown, all you need is the love and support of your parents, a little discipline and a walkman.

Daddy, a great teacher of discipline.
Daddy, a great teacher of discipline.

The experiences we have while working toward our goals can be just as fulfilling as when we actually meet the goal.  A perfect quote by Thomas Merton in the book, is what I’m leaving you with.

We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!”

I’m so grateful that at 53, as I face the unknown, I can be a beginner the rest of my life, while being an answer to a hollow world.

 

Just One More Bite

Isabella's
Isabella’s

Scott Dumas has done it again.  There are so many good restaurants in Fairhope, but one of the best is bound to be the Italian steakhouse, Isabella’s.  The grand opening was Wednesday, September 11, 2013 and Scott says it went very well.  Jay and I can’t wait to try it out because one of our favorite places for lunch or dinner is Pinzone’s, where Scott is also chef.

Chef, Isabella's and Pinzone's in Fairhope, AL - Scott Dumas
Scott Dumas, Chef at Pinzone’s and the new Isabella’s.

Scott and his business partner and co-chef, Mike Pinzone opened Pinzone’s  to bring authentic Italian food to downtown Fairhope and now they are continuing that tradition with an Italian Steakhouse.

Great cuts.
Great cuts.

The interior of the restaurant has a gorgeous, Mediterranean feel and the decor is warm, natural, and somewhat rustic.  The whole of the area makes you feel like you’re in a small village in Italy.

A vaulted wood ceiling, iron chandeliers and sconces carry you away to the Mediterranean.
A vaulted wood ceiling, iron chandeliers and sconces carry you away to the Mediterranean.

Another thing we love about our dining experiences at Pinzone’s is the personal touch that is felt with every meal.  Scott always comes out and speaks to us and the servers are always fun and attentive.  Laughter is a common ingredient.  My tour of the new restaurant was no exception.

A little fire.
A little fire.
A little salt.
A little salt.
A little lunch.  Shrimp with kelp noodles and few seasonings.
A little lunch. Shrimp with kelp noodles and a few delicious seasonings.

The menu is just as impressive.  When I asked Scott how he determined what to add to the menu, he said his goal was to have diners leave with the same feeling they have when they’ve just seen a fantastic movie or finished a wonderful book.  It occurred to me then, that he has achieved that goal with one pair of diners.  Jay and I often talk about how delicious his Sausage and Polenta al Gorgonzola was or my Eggplant Sicilia.  We always laugh at some quip from our waiter or Scott, himself and it is truly a fun place to spend an hour or two.  I expect the same experience at Isabella’s.

I’m sure we’ll soon be discussing Sir Walter’s Oyster Asparagus Champagne Soup or the Lamb Prime Rib.  I can’t wait to try the Filet Isabella, a garlic stuffed filet with wine reduction.

Scott, Jay and I wish you the very best.  Here’s to you.  May all your diners wish that there was just one more bite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Living Tribute

New use for an old planter.
New use for an old planter. Guest Bath #1

On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the “Spirit of Creativity.”

 

New uses for old things.  I love re-creating things.  Some of you may remember this from the Rave Redux blog, but here it is in it’s new home.  My tropical guest bath has a new-old planter filled with towels.  My sweet mother-in-love suggested this.

 

My purchase to help victims of sex trafficking.
My purchase to help victims of sex trafficking.

And…Remember my pots?  I borrowed an idea from a fellow blogger, Rhoda with Southern Hospitality, and purchased some clearance plants from Wal-Mart.  Here is the result.

Pots to rescue victims of sex trafficking.
Pots to rescue victims of sex trafficking. Guest Bath #2
Living Rescue
Living Rescue

It is neat to think that I purchased these pots from a thrift store that benefits victims of sex trafficking in Atlanta.  I then rescued some trash-bound plants and now this is a living tribute in my guest bath to those who have been neglected, abused and would have been forgotten if not for a few women who wanted to make a difference.  If you are ever in Atlanta, visit the Wellspring Treasures thrift store in Virginia Highlands.  These pots were $3 each, but are already worth so much more to me.

Hanging Pot Rack
Hanging Pot Rack

Last, but not least, you may recall my confusion as to what to do with this.  I purchased it to hang a canopy over my daughter’s bed, but she changed her mind.  Now I’ve decided what to do with it.  I’m going to paint it, and hang it above my bistro table with hanging lanterns from the S hooks.

Possible Lanterns to add to Pot Rack
Possible Lanterns to add to Pot Rack from Pottery Barn

I’ll post a feature soon about how we make this work.  If you have ideas, please share them.

Bistro Table
Bistro Table, Before….

As always, comments are welcome, compliments are loved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 11th

This was published one year ago. What are your thoughts on the state of patriotism in our country today – 13 years later on September 11th?

I remember saying to 007 shortly after 9/11 that as Americans, we all suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder and would likely soon forget what this day meant.  In particular, I thought those who did not live in New York City, Pennsylvania or DC, would forget quicker.

Brooklyn Park on September 11th

This photo by Thomas Hoepker was published in 2006, five years after the horrific event.  I’m sure the people in this photo wish it would go away, as it has been a topic of controversy since it’s publication.  Regardless of the emotions that this picture may or may not have captured from a park in Brooklyn; can this photo represent the disorder I mentioned?  Or are the people here merely in shock and taking advantage of a front row seat out of harms way?

Remember the Burning Buildings

My purpose in posting this today is just to stoke the embers of our hearts and cause us to remember those burning buildings, the Pentagon, a field in Pennsylvania and the attack on Benghazi – to name a few.  Americans continue to die at the hands of terrorists.   Why do we not remain outraged?  Are we that forgetful?  Or are we truly self-absorbed as some have said?

I don’t want to believe that as Americans, all that matters is that we receive the next paycheck, have a yearly vacation, and a house on main street, USA. I know that patriotism runs deep in some.

Fairhope, AL Pier with Old Glory flying high.
Fairhope, AL Pier

I am thankful that I live the American Dream every day of my life.  My uncle and my dad served in order for me to live this way. People abandon their lives in other countries, risk their lives and yes even break our laws in order to come here.  What have we sacrificed?  We get bored when the national news focuses too long on one subject. Does the soul of our country no longer matter?  Are we now more dedicated to our football teams than we are to our country? Or is our dedication just represented in different ways than it was a generation ago?

I do not pretend to have the answers to these questions, but they are on my mind on this beautiful September day. A day not too different from 2001.

I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A. ~ Lee Greenwood