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?

Date Night…What’s That?

Raise your hand if you needed to make sure you set a “date night” when the kids were little. A night to make sure you talked to one another about something other than schedules, grades, and tub times.  A night – once a week, once a month, or for some…once a year – when you would hire a sitter, put on clothes from the back of the closet, and sip on something that wasn’t coffee or a half drunk juice box left on the coffee table.  A night when you would go out and talk and make sure you actually still liked each other and, hopefully, you found out you still had things in common (other than those little creatures at home). I know, I know, a lot of you are still in this phase! Sorry to bring up a sore subject but, DON’T FORGET DATE NIGHT. Remember, you still need to know and like each other when this leg of the journey is over.

Once the page has turned and there is no one to worry about, every night can be date night. I’m glad we still like each other. I’m glad we still have things in common but, more importantly, I’m glad we know how to “do” date night. We never really lost touch with “us”.

Funny thing about date night though, no matter how old they are, there’s always at least one conversation that revolves around the kids and…I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Take the road less traveled

Everybody has their errands to run, the places they need to get to, and the people they need to see but, sometimes you need to make the trip about the journey not the destination. Don’t have a plan!

Googlemaps or Waze help everyone to “get there quick”.  Have you tried using the setting that allows you to avoid highways or avoid tolls? Have you ever taken a wrong turn on your way to some where you always go just to see what’s down that road you’ve never explored? Do it! Do it, but be sure to stop along the way; you’ll be amazed at what you find.

Directions to the Lowe’s far outside of our area were plugged in. The item we were looking for was completely sold out everywhere near us so we were off to get what we needed AND to explore. We joked about what was the worst that would happen? We’d find nothing new, nothing exciting, and make it to Lowe’s 20 minutes later – no harm, no foul.

About 15 minutes from our destination, I spotted a brightly colored balloon arch set up on the edge of the beach. There were small crowds of people gathering so, we pulled in, trying to figure out what was going on.

We had stumbled on to something called the Turkey Plunge.  Every year for the last 13 years, the local Salvation Army has coordinated this event, raising more than $150,000 in that time.  It was about 34 degrees outside but there were smiles all around.  People of all ages – in bathing suits, in costumes, in running clothes; people were outwardly happy – chatting, laughing and dancing to the music playing in the background.  That small town feel was everywhere; the sense of community was so present.  I felt like I was a part of their world even though my home was miles and miles away.   

I am a firm believer in the fact that you are brought to places for a reason.  That the events of your life are set up for you from the moment you are born.  For years, I have thought about ways I could give back to my community; what could I do that makes a difference?  I have found it.  My challenge is now on to coordinate an event like this on the shores of one of our local ponds; to raise money for my community; and to bring that small town feel feel back to the place I love.

Take the road less traveled – the journey is eye-opening.

What? You have free time?

As a young Mom in her 20’s, I would tell you that I never had free time.  Time to reflect on what I liked to do, what I loved to be a part of, and what made me smile.  In hindsight, now that I have time to get lost in my thoughts, my like, love and smile all came out of raising my kids.  Everything about being a mother – from the mundane to the rip-your-hair out – was who I was and what I was all about. I loved being on the soccer field every weekend even when it was 40 degrees, I smiled from ear to ear while eating McDonald’s french fries at the Playplace, I liked working on school projects even though I always seemed to be racing to Walmart at closing time for one more piece of posterboard.  It was who I was and I embraced it.

Now, as a 40+ year old, professional woman, there was plenty of free time and I’m not one to sit still.  I had to figure out what to do with all this “extra” time.  I started asking myself – What do you like? What do you love? What makes you smile? I already knew that I loved to travel but what else? I love being outside no matter what the weather as you’ll find out in my other adventures.  I always smile when I’m with friends; they make me feel complete.  I like entertaining. Put those all together and our Brewhouse was born. A place right in our own backyard to enjoy time with our friends, a good drink, and a place that feels far away.

The root of my like, my love, and my smile will always be my boys but, there’s so much more. So much more that makes me who I am and the discovery of that person is half the fun.

 

The Adventure Begins

Image result for dice
Follow where the dice lead

“Roll the dice.”

“What?”

“Roll the dice.  It’ll determine which way we head then, how many miles.”

“What? That’s crazy!”

“Come on…even number we go North; odd number we go South.”

“Fine.” One die spills on to the coffee table – 4.

“North it is.  Want to roll another?  Even we go West; odd we go East.”

I was intrigued and, to be honest, a little excited.  Second die rolled onto the table – 2.

“Northwest it is! Now, 2 more.  If we get less than fifty, we’ll add a 1 to beginning; more than fifty, it is what it is.”

Another 2…a final 1.  The adventure began – 121 miles northwest.  Just get in the car and go, maintaining NW as often as you could.

This was the day that our Roll the Dice Adventures began.

What I learned through this first exercise in self-discovery was that #1, I love to travel, it doesn’t matter where.  There is something exciting, interesting, and breath-taking at every turn – just look for it!

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Mount Kearsarge – New Hampshire

 

Who knew that this beautiful view was just a 2 hour drive from home?

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