Welcome Winter

Winter is considered a dead time.  Winter, a time when everything has died and the landscape is drab and dreary.  I never get that feeling about winter.  Winter is bright and beautiful.  The stark white snow blanketing the ground gives me a feeling of security.  The icicles hanging from every roof line amaze me with their glistening, gravity-defying adventure.

Living in New England most of my life, winter is something I look forward to.  Winter is indecisive and unpredictable.  One moment the sky can be bluer than a tropical ocean and the next it appears angry and dominant, ready to swallow the world.  The fickle finger of nature is an incredible sight to behold.  Instead of worrying about the ice and snow on the roads and the uncertainty of your timely arrival to work, take a moment to look around.  Breath it in.  It is deafeningly silent when it snows.  The trees bow down to Mother Nature’s fluffy tears.  The world as we know it stops.  Once the shock has worn off, the excitement begins.  The inner child excitement of a snow day is everywhere.  Children run as fast as they can through the snow, throwing it at each other, bounding to the pond to shovel off a spot to skate on.  Who cares if you are an adult?  Try it – throw a snowball, fall back and make a snow angel, put on a pair of skates.

How can you not love it? Here’s hoping for a white Christmas.

Where’s My Christmas Spirit?

I have to admit, wholeheartedly, I am jealous of those of you with little ones. For the last few years, the month of December has felt like every other just colder than the one before and a bit more expensive. There is no excitement in the air, no Elf that we need to move all over the house in strange (but funny) positions, and no gifts that I need to wait in line for hours to get.

So, where’s my Christmas Spirit? I think it’s waiting patiently in the shadows, for a few years. Lingering all around us as we shuffle through the holidays. The spirit will emerge again when we are dubbed grandparents.

The magic that those little people create fill the whole house with something unmatched. Enjoy every moment. Love it, embrace it, smile about it. You, the people with little ones, are the lucky ones this month. Right now you’re probably not feeling so lucky as you race from store to store trying to fit it all in. You’re not feeling so lucky as you’re chasing away the sniffles and coughs to make sure everyone is healthy for the trip to Grandma’s. You’re definitely not feeling lucky because you are getting even less sleep than before because you have to move the Elf after everyone is sound asleep and, most likely, they are up even later than ever. Trust me, you are lucky and you’ll realize it in about 10 or 15 years.


Ok, we can’t just hang out with friends, go out to eat, go for drinks, and travel because our house is empty, we have to do something in our spare time to focus on our health. The point of this game of life is to live long and stay healthy enough to reap the benefits of this empty nest and enjoy grandchildren. No, no, not yet, but one day!

While the kids were growing up, I never had time to focus on a healthy, active me. Sure, I could steal away a few minutes here and there but never enough time to realize what I liked to do to stay active. So many people spent their free time in the gym but I knew that wasn’t for me. I had to do something. I got the fitness tracker, started tracking my steps and soon realized I lived a pretty sedentary life. There wasn’t a lot of steps between my office, the ladies room, and the kitchen.

Now I had the time. Nobody waiting on me to cook dinner, nobody needing me to get them on or off the bus, it was my turn. First it was a nice long walk then it was – I’ll trying jogging for a few minutes. Next thing I knew I was thinking about my first 5k.

All by myself. Didn’t tell a soul I was doing it (not even my husband). I showed up, signed up, and ran. Headphones in, lost in my thoughts, slowing and walking whenever I needed to.

I did it, I finished in 36 minutes. Not a world speed record but I actually finished – first step to last sprint…3.107 miles. Here I stand a couple of years later having completed 6 of them so far – I love it. It’s my time. Whether it’s a quick mile before work or a walk/run 5 miles around my town, I’ve got my headphones in, wind in my face and my head full of positive thoughts – I have found a big piece of me.

Value Every Moment

Getting everything ready for Christmas, I pulled down the box of ornaments ready to hang many of the same ones for the 24th or so time – the tiny painted handprints, the bead wreaths with a kindergarten picture tucked in the middle, the snowflakes cut by safety scissors with preschool hands.

Each and every one of these precious memories bring a tear to my eye. Partly a sad tear but also a proud tear. Sad because there aren’t any new handmade ornaments getting hung in the tree, those days have passed, but proud that almost 25 years later, my boys still love the traditions. They still make the time to help us trim the tree, now taking over the duty of stringing the lights. They look forward to seeing a candle in every window as they pull up to the house, and this year, we were fortunate enough to bring back an old tradition of heading north to choose and cut our own tree.

My heart is full – my empty nest was crowded for a fun-filled 24 hour journey to find the perfect tree. Lots of laughs, lots of connecting, and new adult memories that I will cherish just as much as those handmade ornaments.

Unanswered Prayers

I just returned home from my first ever Garth Brooks concert and it will not be my last. He was amazing! From the moment I got up to dance to getting lost in my thoughts during his slow songs, it was a wonderful journey. Even though I have loved his music for more years than I can count, I am at a point in my life when the words mean so much more than they ever have.

As the song Unanswered Prayers filled the arena, I thought about the, now meaningless, things I had prayed would come true as a young, naive girl – marrying that boy I thought was a 10 who really turned out to be more like a 0, becoming a cheerleader (who was I kidding?), being the popular girl, the list goes on and on.

I remember being pregnant with my second child, praying it would be a girl. We would have the perfect family – a big brother, a little sister, a dog, and a house in the suburbs. Well, that prayer went unanswered as the doctor announced our 8 pound baby boy. But, come to find out, I did have my prayers answered just in a different way.

I wanted a perfect family and that’s what I got. It’s perfect for me and someone far above me knew that. I thought it meant having a boy and a girl but instead I have 2 hard working, committed kids who love their mother unconditionally even though I am a bit controlling and over the top sometimes. The experiences of being a “Boy Mom” has shaped this woman, who grew up surrounded only by sisters, into a person that embraces life, always looks for the positive, is willing to take a chance, and loves a good adventure.

My greatest gift really was an unanswered prayer.

Empty is a Strong Word

“Empty Nest” is a phrase most have heard but definitely not something everyone has had the pleasure (and often displeasure) of living and feeling.

The definition is simple – you’ve raised your kids and done the best you could. You’ve given them wings and they’ve flown away leaving the house feeling pretty empty. To have that empty nest feeling, the kids don’t need to be completely packed up and gone. The feeling starts to comes on when they begin driving and they take that first adult step to independence. Those days and late nights where they don’t rely on you for their every move. The table gets set for less people and every tv choice becomes your own.

Full disclosure, at my house, we really aren’t quite “empty”. We are more like a timeshare right now – one who uses his bedroom more like a hotel, dropping in some time between 10 and midnight and heading off to work at 5:30 am; the other spends his time in the basement using it like an apartment when he isn’t working one of his three jobs or at the gym.

This gradual transition has helped me to look forward to the true empty nest; the one where it’s just the two of you. You become more and more used to the idea, focusing on all you’ve accomplished bringing your babies to this point in their lives.

See…we’ve been molding and shaping our kid’s wings but we also needed the time to develop our wings.

Sorry Garth, I Disagree

I’m not “much too young to feel this damn old“, quite the contrary – I might be too old to feel this damn young!

In just four short days, I am taking a 24 hour road trip – 500 miles roundtrip to be exact – to see my favorite country music singer of all time – Garth Brooks.  Some may say “Are you crazy? Why go all that way?  He’ll come back here one day.”  To them I say “If something sounds like the right thing to do, you do it.”

I have dreamed of seeing Garth perform since belting out “Friends in Low Places” in a bar I wasn’t supposed to be in because I was underage.  I have thought about it every time I play his music.  It was never the right time…kids too little, no extra money for concert tickets, no one to go with me…the list goes on and on.  I will admit, I wasn’t much of a concert-goer in my early days but now, one of the many exciting things about empty nesting is that if something strikes you, you go for it.  There’s no one waiting for me to pick them up, no one waiting for me to tuck them in, no one needs my undivided attention except for me.  The weekends are mine, vacation days are mine, sick days are mine. It’s my time to do the things that I want to do.

In this journey of self-discovery, I have felt younger every day. I have re-discovered or discovered what I love and what makes me happy. Each and every experience in my journey has breathed a new life into me; a refreshing breath.

As lonely as an empty nest can be sometimes, there are so many things to fill your time…all you need to do is look, explore, and take a chance.  Be ready to just get up and go; what do you have to lose?

It All Started with a Beer

It’s quiet.  Really quiet.  The house is clean, the weekend chores have been done, there is nothing left to do…now what?  We were searching for something to do; anything to do. When there’s no soccer practice to race off to, no homework to fight about, no big dinner to cook, you become a little bored; a little “empty”.

“Let’s go grab a beer.”

Seems simple right? Pop in to a little bar and grab a drink. No way, that’s boring. Where’s the adventure in that?

Mooselick Brewing - New Hampshire

It seems that there is a new brewery popping up in every city and every town. Your mission is to find one. Which one is closest to your house? Which one is closest to your in-laws (because everyone needs a drink before family gatherings)? Which one is a little out of the way but worth the adventure?

Every city or town we visit, whenever we have time to spare, we search for breweries in the area (google maps rocks for this!). Do I love every one I’ve ever tried? Nope, not even close but, what I have loved is the experience. Talking to the brewers, chatting with other visitors, reading the stories about how each and every one of them came up with their name.

There are almost always games to play, tours to go on, music playing, and snacks that pair perfect with whatever you’re drinking.

Plus, the added bonus when you have no little ones around…there’s always a baby at the brewery.  Always…every time.  But, it makes sense.  It’s not all about the beer.  It’s about getting out, socializing, supporting a small business owner, and talking to people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. It’s a welcoming place where parents even feel comfortable bringing their kids.

Do you need to be a beer lover to have fun and seek out these places? No, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Cheers!

Music Is What Feelings Sound Like

The leftovers are put away, family and friends are gathering their things to head home, the dishes are drying and as you reflect on the day, it’s obvious you’re thankful for the people in your life but I have to say, I’m most thankful for music.

Music sets my mood, enhances my mood and sometimes even changes my mood. Songs from my playlist, songs on the radio, background music in a store; the words, the tempo, the melody, make me think of specific people. Those people are the most important people in my life, the people who have shaped me in some way. Music makes me think of these people in their own special ways.

Anything from the 70’s – Barry Manilow, Kenny Rogers, Jim Croce, the list goes on and on – reminds me of my Mom. The music always blared as she cleaned the house, cooked, dusted, did laundry…it didn’t matter what the chore was, there was always a playlist to accompany it before playlists even existed.

Eighties hairbands immediately make me think of my best friends and the carefree days of dreaming about the future, always looking out for one another, doing our makeup, and giggling until it was almost dawn.

Country music brings me back to a time in my life when I wasn’t sure which direction I was going. I can still picture the faces of the people that I met along the way and those that influenced my direction when I was so far from home.

Songs from concerts I’ve been to make me smile and reminisce about who I was with and the time we had. Always wishing for that one more song.

Every time I hear anything from the Kidzbop CDs that were stacked in my car, I immediately picture the two most adorable little boys singing along in the backseat.

As I grow older and become more in touch with who I am, music plays an important part in my life. Each and every significant person in my life has their own soundtrack. What’s yours?

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