Advice for an Empty Nest / by Anne Kreamer

Dear Anne,

I’m in my late 50s and my youngest kid is going off to college. I love my husband but I’m having a hard time conceptualizing what this empty nest is going to feel like. I love my work and I don’t want to work more, but I feel like I need something that’s going to fire me up and I don’t think a boyfriend is what I’m looking for……



Dear Barbara:

You’re a hoot! And I know just what you’re feeling. I had very similar anxiety when my youngest went to college four years ago – what would I do with all of that empty mental and physical capacity? I don’t know if this will be helpful to you, but I realized that I needed to try and change my routine, to break the mind set of thinking about the afternoon-getting-home-from-school rhythm or the time-to-get-the-homework done schedule. I decided to tap back into a love of mine from earlier days – drawing and painting. I, too, have a job I love that occupies my days (and many of my nights), but I wanted to explore a creative aspect of my personality that had lain fallow while I was working organizational jobs and raising kids. I found an evening oil-painting class that met on a weekly basis -- and it was perfect. The other artists in the class were women roughly my age. While I’d lost some of the fluency of the work I’d done in high school and college, I still had a deep connection with the process of painting. The mixing of the colors, the smell, the process. It was meditative and immersive. And the class definitely helped me get out of my head. But most wonderfully, by reconnecting to an essential part of myself I had long undernourished, I began to feel fulfilled in a fresh new way. I don’t know if you have something similar – a love of gardening, cooking, dance, bicycling, rowing, whatever -- but if you do, dive in. Take a class. You’ll re-energize yourself and along the way connect with new people in fun ways. Please let me know how it goes.

Good luck, Anne

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