A Giggle A Day

We laugh a lot in my family. It’s amazing the things we can turn into something funny. And once one family member laughs at something, we repeat the joke, phrase or saying over and over again. Things we laugh about will become the theme of vacations or new nicknames for family members. It’s one of the many things I love about my family. They say that “laughter is the best medicine,” and I know it must be true. A giggle a day keeps the doldrums away!

Goodnight John-Boy
Goodnight John-Boy

Silliness is a House Rule

 

Some might say we are silly because we laugh at everything. But instead, I think we are the blessed ones. Finding humor in everyday life situations surely adds minutes to our time here on earth. As empty nesters it is even more important to keep the folly flowing.

hear no evil
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil…. Have no fun!

When we get tickled about something I can feel my mind and my body begin to relax. It is exhilarating to laugh long and hard. My heart rate increases and I have to take a deep breath to calm myself. Stress and anxiety are forgotten for a few minutes and my sense of well-being is strong and secure.

family fun
There’s nothing sweeter than family laughter.

Laughter Builds Relationship

 

I’ve noticed too that the people I laugh with are people I have very strong relationship with. We love each other deeply and truly look forward to the next time we will be together. We also HATE saying goodbye.

photo bomber
Photo Bomber

Funny People Change our Mood.

 

Whether I’m in a mood because of traffic or feeling sad because I miss my children; hearing a joke or the voice of one of my silly sisters, can completely redirect my thoughts. If I’m in one room and hear laughter in the other, I make a beeline into that room to see what’s so funny. That’s the one type of anxiety that I think is good for us. Being anxious to laugh can’t be bad for our health!

Hiding Easter Eggs
Hiding Easter Eggs

I’m also a strong advocate for getting a pet once the nest empties and it’s for this reason. They make you laugh. There is nothing cuter than a kitten sitting on your laptop while you’re trying to write a blog post! Or a puppy that sees her reflection in her water bowl and backs up while barking ferociously at the bowl.

pets and laughter
Enough typing! Play with me!

So, a giggle a day… is just good for the soul.

raindrops keep falling
Luau fun. Grandkids put all the umbrellas in mom’s hair.
Making Faces
The resemblance is striking!
a giggle a day
A giggle a day….

Who makes you laugh?

Never Worry Alone

Let me know how you’re doing, Mama!

I have you on my mind this week…

It’s funny that as our kids go off to college, their whole life is in front of them and honestly, ours is mostly behind us. It may be depressing to think about, but it’s true. They may have a few ideas of what they want to do with their life, or they may have no idea at all. As empty nesters, we are experiencing the same thing. What do we want to do with the rest of our life? Will we have too much time on our hands? Will our life suddenly feel more empty than full?

As you kiss that cheek, and buckle your seatbelt for the long ride home from College Town, USA, you just might empty a box of tissue. But, chin up! The next few years can be the time of your life! Here is a plan that I’ve gleaned from Dr. Ned Hallowell, on a MarieTV episode. He addresses smart people who underperform and why. His strategy works just as beautifully for empty nesters facing uncertain paths ahead.

Have Clear and Defined Goals

By attempting to put first things first, we’re able to see what is important and work toward worthwhile goals. Hallowell suggest 3 goals within 4 time periods. For me personally, every goal includes the 3 P’s.

  • 3 Daily Goals 

  1. People – First things first: My LORD is my people, too! Prayer is a must. After HIM, then husband, children, friends and family, and new acquaintances are top of the list each morning. A text, phone call, email, or cup of coffee keeps us in touch. We can’t talk to everyone every day, but we can try to reach out as often as possible. (Pets are people, too, so tender loving care of animals goes within this category! If you don’t have a pet, consider getting one!)
  2. Priorities – Education, business, helpfulness, encouragement, time
  3. Projects/Ideas – writing, photography, household, decorating, thrifting, flipping (Somewhere along the way I read that it’s an excellent practice to write down 10 ideas every day that you want to try, implement or research) I’ve been writing mine for 2 years and have so many, I know I’ll never do them all. It’s the act of listing them that is so powerful. And as I complete the ones I try, it is a great sense of accomplishment. We can NEVER have too many ideas.

By keeping people at the top of our list, we stay connected after retirement. Setting our priorities with things that enhance our life is a great recipe for happiness. Projects keep life interesting and hopefully organized.

  • 3 Monthly Goals

  1. People: Organize greeting cards, care packages and gifts for the month.  Care packages with special notes for our college kids are appreciated more than we know; even if they don’t say thank-you right away.
  2. Priorities: Encourage others, learn something, create/improve something
  3. Projects: Errands, chores, improvements
  • 3 Yearly Goals

  1. People: personal visits if our people live out of town
  2. Priorities: Try at least one new hobby, see a new place, volunteer
  3. Projects: Make distinct improvements to business/home/health/education (Write out your personal project goals.)

Welcome Friends

  • 3 Lifetime Goals

  1. People: All my people know that both God and I love them
  2. Priorities: Share my faith, appreciate God’s creation
  3. Projects: Accomplish things worth talking about, but not in a braggard way

Sorrento, Italy

Even with all of these goals written down, as nurturing women, we still tend to worry if we’re getting it right. Here is where Dr. Hallowell struck a chord with me.

“Never Worry Alone”

  • Pray daily.
  • Make a list of people who can encourage and educate you.
  • Stay in contact with your immediate friends and family; especially those in the empty nest. Stephen Covey said that “iron sharpens iron”, so learn from those who challenge you. However….
  • Distance yourself from those who cause you to worry more. (According to a former pastor, it is good to separate from people who are stumbling blocks! Don’t hang out with them and try not to be one 😉 )

Be Still and Know that I am God.

“Get The Facts”

  • Apply truth to all worries. Seek the truth. As a friend once said to me, “frisk every worry as it enters your mind.” If it’s a legitimate concern, allow it to enter. If not, no admittance!
  • Research and pray.
  • Write down your concerns and address them one by one.

“Make a Plan”

  • Discuss your worries with wise people.
  • Research and inform yourself.
  • Address what is in your power and turn the rest over to HIM.

So, Mama. Never worry alone! Let me know how it’s going.

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Donna, a fellow member of Gulf Coast Bloggers, writes about our true emotions, so when I ran across the quote, “Don’t believe everything you think,” I asked her to write a guest post about it. She immediately said yes because “this is such an important topic,” she replied Thank you, Donna, for sharing your thoughts with us.

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Distorted Thinking

 

It only seems natural to believe what you think.

After all these are your thoughts. If you dig a bit deeper you recognize that your thinking is not always accurate and maybe you can’t believe your thoughts.

How your brain works.

Understanding the brain can help us make sense of this quote. There is so much information in the world and we need a way to make sense of it. As a natural function, our brain deletes, generalizes, and distorts information to keep us from becoming overwhelmed. Most of the time this is helpful, but occasionally it can create problems.

Our thinking can become distorted when we jump to conclusions or take things out of context.

Distortion can also be a problem when we focus too much on problems and ignore the positive side of life.

The empty nest phase.

Since Kim writes for women who are in the empty nest phase of life, I will focus on some common issues for her readers. During life transitions, you can become overly focused on unhappy emotions. When your last child leaves home, you may feel sad, worried, or lost.

Your thinking can be come distorted during this phase of life. When you feel sad, you think sad thoughts which leads to more sad feelings and so on. You can find yourself in a downward spiralIt is easy to get caught up in negative thinking. Luckily for us, we can break this downward spiral with a few easy techniques.

Don't Believe Everything You Think

Three super easy techniques 

Anyone can do these techniques. All you need is pen and paper. I recommend writing by hand.

  1. Write it down

Write down your thoughts and feelings. Here are some examples: “I’m not hearing from my daughter enough” or “I worry my son will make bad choices” or “I don’t know how to fill the void in my life”.  When you see your thoughts on paper you can engage in critical thinking. Studies have shown that by writing or journaling every day, we can clarify our thoughts, reduce our stress, and even improve our health.

Pen and Paper

 

  1. Use coping thoughts

If writing is not enough, you can write a powerful coping phrase for any resistant thoughts. Some examples might be: “I’ve been through other changes and I came out stronger” or “My daughter is a responsible young adult” or “I now have more time for my husband” or “I have time to pursue new interests”.

  1. Write a gratitude journal

 Each day list three things you are grateful for. This technique has been around for a while. It may be simple, but it works. If you want to list more than three things, even better.

Does this mean you will no longer feel sad or worried? Not at all. These are normal emotions. You are looking for balance in your life.

No, you can’t always believe your thoughts, but with a few simple techniques you can make sure your thoughts more accurately reflect your life. Times of transition can become opportunities for new experiences. The choice is up to you.

 

 

 

 

Donna Weber, M.A., LPC is an emotional change consultant. Her goal is to help you release emotional wounds, reclaim your true self, and start living the life you dream about. To find more information and self-help techniques, visit her web site: www.ReclaimYourTrueEmotions.com

 

Photos are credited to Flickr: Creative Commons. Linked to each photographer’s URL.

7 Ways to Introduce Yourself to Your Neighbors

In a recent post, Getting to Know Your Neighbors, I promised you a follow-up post on how to get know your neighbors. Today I am keeping that promise. Below you will find 7 ways to introduce yourself to your neighbors.

Introduce Yourself

Whether you’ve lived in your neighborhood a few weeks or several years, there just might be people living near you that could add great value to your life. As empty-nesters, this is a prime time in our lives to expand our social circles and get involved with our community. Here are seven suggestions on how to get to know your neighbors.

  1. Find a book that has been published about your town and give it as a gift to a new neighbor. Here in Fairhope, we have a great history book that makes a great gift to locals and visitors. The Spirit of Fairhope can be purchased at Page and Palette, our local bookstore. Spirit of Fairhope
  2. The old fashioned, “take a cake” still works and will warm the hearts and tummies of your new friends. Homemade is always the best, but not always practical. The thought will still be appreciated if you pick something up from your local baker.Take a Cake
  3. If you live in a big neighborhood and have trouble keeping up with who is new, contact a local realtor and ask for a list of recent sales. There are lots of real estate websites that offer this information as well. Consider reaching out to someone once a month. At the end of the year, you’ll have 12 new friends.
  4. Property Owners Associations are a great contact for new residents. Contact any of the officers and ask for the social chair. You may find lots of different groups you may like to join, like book clubs, bridge clubs, bunko groups, garden clubs or wine tasting events. Wine Tasting
  5. Host a coffee in your home for the people who live on your street. coffee
  6. If you are looking for an exercise buddy, check with a local gym, athletic sales shop or a neighborhood newsletter for people who don’t like to workout alone.Working Out Together
  7. Volunteer. I’ve discovered lots of local charities that I had no idea existed through contact with my neighbors. In Baldwin County alone, there are over 200 non-profits working to better the lives within our community. There is nothing more rewarding than spending a few hours helping someone in need and the rewards are doubled when you volunteer with a friend.Prodisee Pantry

S.E.L.F. Volunteers working together at Prodisee Pantry

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we live in an electronically social society and it is so easy to just reach out by email or on Facebook, but not near as rewarding at the end of the day. Go ahead. Introduce yourself to a neighbor. You’ll be so glad you did.

Out of Balance

I’m writing from the heart today, so if you want pictures, I apologize. There are no cameras within my soul, except for what my fingers can tap into this post. I am taking a hard look at where I am in this empty nest stage of life. While searching for a better blogging strategy, I stumbled on Just a Girl and Her Blog and her post about changing her morning routine. That post stirred something up! You know. That feeling deep in your gut that reminds you of areas that need tweaking. It was almost like hearing a sermon that resonates within you that makes you fall on your knees.

I realized that one of the reasons I seem so dissatisfied with my own routine is because my life has been out of balance for some time now. This is a conversation that my friend Connie and I used to have all the time, so I wondered as I read that post, if she’d ever found her own balance. Then I ran into her while shopping on Black Friday. Isn’t it funny how things like that happen? We stood in the mall, catching up as best as we could in 20 minutes, promising to get in touch.

I came home and re-read the post and decided to implement some of Just a Girl’s changes into my own morning routine. I’ve made the excuse (for the last 4 years) since my daughter started college, that I don’t get as much done every day because I’m just not a morning person. Never have been and never will be, so I sort of just gave in to what I’ve referred to as a “personality trait”. I’ve been telling myself that I work better in the afternoon and night, so I stay up late at night and sleep late in the morning. I mean, Mr. Cozi is gone by 5 am and there are no kids in the house, so why get up early? Two thoughts came to mind from her post… Routines are good because they keep you engaged.

Your routines keep you engaged with relationships, and your own health. So, beginning with my most important relationship, I decided to choose a devotional from my library and start reading again every morning. This used to be a treasured time before my nest emptied. It’s as if my nurturing was no longer needed, so I didn’t need my Nurturer either. WRONG!!! Another one of those aha moments happened when I read this paragraph in Lois Mowday Rabey’s book, Women of a Generous Spirit:

Claudette gave me hope. She had suffered a similar loss, yet the optimism she showed withstood scrutiny. It was no sugarcoated religious cliché that she pulled out of some spiritual name-it-and-claim-it box. She told me the truth. The fullness of her life was entwined with threads of grief. Claudette’s life showed me that peace and pain can coexist.

Her friend Claudette had suffered the loss of her spouse, yet she was still able to be a friend when she was needed. And where did this ability come from? Her relationship with her Father. My nest may currently be entwined with threads of grief over no longer having my kids close to me, but my life can be full. Peace and pain can coexist. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not grieving over the success of their lives. There is a great sense of peace that they have found their niche and are living happy lives. It’s the balance of routine, the nurturing and great satisfaction of being needed that I miss.

If you wrestle with wanting the peace to overshadow the pain, like I do, then stay tuned over the next few days. Women of a Generous Spirit has a list of questions at the end of each chapter that addresses how we can become women of a generous spirit. I will be answering those questions here – from my heart – without any sugarcoated clichés. It is my prayer that this will lead to a more balanced life.

As my friend Marcia says so beautifully, “if for just one”… Tomorrow’s post will begin with how we who struggle with peace vs. pain, might return to being women with a generous spirit. Women who change direction and turn back to their Nurturer; women who realize that a few twigs of grief do not make up the whole nest and that peace and purpose can coexist with grief, all while leading to a more nourishing life.  If you are that “just one” who wants a more balanced life, let’s explore and begin the journey together. Women with a generous spirit glean that same satisfaction of being needed by their children by meeting the nurturing needs of those outside the nest.

Balancing Life in an Empty Nest

See you in the morning, after I’ve completed my new morning routine.

Sharing with:

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Rainbow Row of Fairhope

While on a walk along Mobile Bay recently, I stumbled upon this beautiful site.

Rainbow Row of Baldwin County

These lovely ladies meet here once a week. They bring their water, chairs and smiles to enjoy the fresh air beneath a Fairhope shade tree. Most of them describe themselves as retired RVers who love the scenery of Mobile Bay. In the winter they venture down to the beaches of Gulf Shores and create another rainbow row.  Another great idea to file away for empty nesters!

Rainbow Row of Baldwin County

All neighbors from a community called Rainbow Plantation, they brighten the already scenic views of Fairhope. I have named their little tour group Rainbow Row of Fairhope. What a fun group of retirees! I look forward to my walks now. A cool respite in an otherwise hot, sweaty and dutiful fitness routine. They are truly a rainbow on a cloudy day.