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#midlife

Browsing

“You’re posting all these stories about empty-nesting, and I haven’t even gone back to school yetโ€”you aren’t really empty-nesters,” joked my twenty-one-year-old son.

As if I wasn’t already suffering from imposter syndrome as a want-to-be-blogger. Now, I was being called out by my own kidโ€”for my ‘๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ต.’

“Well, your sister is fifteen-hundred miles away, doesn’t that count for something?” I tossed back. (I can’t believe I am actually having to justify whether or not I can call myself an ’empty-nester.’)

“Not really,” he shook his head, not giving an inch, “and then there will always be Johnโ€ฆ”

“Yes, that may be true,” I agreed. John is our twenty-four-year-old son who has autism and still lives with us. He does not want to move out, and we love having him here, so it’s a win-win.

However, at times I do feel like we have a renter upstairs. John has a busy life with work and daily activities, so when he’s home, he likes to retreat to the peace and quiet of his ‘apartment’โ€”“No Visitors Allowed.”

So maybe by some standard, we at least qualify as ‘quasi empty-nesters’?

All joking aside, this is a new season for us, with our youngest having just left for collegeโ€”I know it is a new chapter in many of your lives as well. For most of us, there have been years of these little bursts of energy swirling through our lives, our homes, and most importantly, our hearts. So after the whirlwind of laughter, late-night snacking, football, soccer and basketball games, tennis matches, and band practice subside, there is most definitely…a void.

Of course, they’ll be back for the holidaysโ€”thank goodness. For turkey and stuffing smothered in grandma’s special gravy, their favorite apple pie, and opening gifts on Christmas morning. Sure it’s a magical time, but it’s still not the same as when they lived under our roofs full-time…(insert ‘a sigh’ here.)

Fortunately, in an effort to help me prepare for this new chapter in my life, my mother gifted me with a golden piece of advice a few years ago. She told me to “find something you would like to try, or you would love to do and get started BEFORE your youngest leaves for college.”

And, so I did that just that when I launched this blog, I Do Part Twoโ€”Empty Nesting & More, about two years ago. Maybe for you, it’s not about writing or blogging or podcasting, but I hope you will see this time in your life as a chance to try something you’ve always wanted to do. Now, is a great time to rediscover interests you may have set aside while you were raising kids.

Ask yourselfโ€“

What did you use to like to do?

What do people ask you to get involved in or compliment you on?

What kinds of books, podcasts, and activities do you gravitate towards?

What lights you up?

What leaves you drained?

“Listen to the whispers,” a friend tells me, because everything you do or decide not to do, is leaving you clues.

I truly believe if we stay open to the possibilities, this season in our lives can be a time of amazing growth, new connections, and beautiful opportunities. The world is waiting-you are never too old, and it’s never too lateโ€”to discover who you were truly meant to be.

P.S. Just for the record, my son is back on campus. Maybe now, we can officially call ourselves ‘quasi empty-nesters.’

A few weeks ago, we took our youngest child to college. I confess I started counting down the weeks to that moment even as the summer days appeared endless.

This transitional season brought with it plenty of questions and grief for me. While I knew my sonโ€™s new place of residence was where God wanted him, I wasnโ€™t ready to let him go. It meant recognizing the end of a parenting season, a change in our relationship, and a noticeable absence in our home. However, I clung to my long-held faith that he is Godโ€™s child first. Releasing him for Godโ€™s purposes is part of parenting.

So on move-in day, we drove those three and a half hours to a city with which our family is not familiar. It is nowhere near either my husbandโ€™s or my hometown. No relatives live there. It is a small town and agricultural and we are used to the city and suburbia. Three and a half hours felt like a way longer trip into foreign territory.

After moving him into his huge dorm in the middle of unfamiliar land and saying our goodbyes, we made the trek back home. Understandably, the sobbing commenced as I made a beeline for the car. The ride home felt just as long as the ride there.

As the flood of both emotions and tears continued, I wondered. Why did this trip feel so long when my own hometown is about the same distance? My oldest son goes to school there but it does not feel so far. How does releasing your child in an unfamiliar place equally far away feel so different?

I think of all the parents around the world releasing their kids at various times for Godโ€™s purposes. Some of those places are way farther than three and a half hours. I remember the mothers in scripture who did so not knowing how deep in their souls that separation would later feel. Their narratives have been lifted up by me as inspirational. But now I sit with them. I feel their conflicting emotions more than I could have expected.

Leaving our kids in a foreign place feels counter instinctual.

Our whole lives we sought to straddle the line of protection and empowerment. Of course, we know that it will all come to fruition at that moment far down on the horizon. And then we realize it has arrived. All that we believe about God, provision, protection, and purposes looms in front of us.

Those goodbye hugs symbolize all that we have known all along. There is a time to hold tightly and a time to let go. Releasing from the embrace, I watch him walk towards his home. And my husband and I go towards ours. In all of it, I know that itโ€™s where we are all supposed to be.

*Photo courtesy of Canva

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Two birds in nest

Shortly after saying a tearful goodbye to our daughter on a campus far away, her older brother decided to join my husband and me for a few days of golf, paddle boarding, and relaxing at our cabin in the mountains.

As parents, these are the moments we breathe into with gratitudeโ€”when time blesses our hearts.

Soon he will be headed off to school as well, but thankfully at a college less than an hour away. He is close enough to golf 9-holes with us in an afternoon, then grab a bite together, and still make it back to campus in time to hang with his friends for the evening.

As our adult children spread their wings, many parents, like us, are finding unique ways to stay connected with their kids.

Our oldest son, who has autism, has chosen to continue to live with us, and we feel truly blessed. We’ve turned the upstairs into “his apartment.” When we are all home, he comes downstairs to tells us “he loves us,” and heads back up to his sanctuary. Fortunately, he’s very independent and loves his daily routine of work and activities, which keeps him fulfilled and engaged.

I saved the best of our ‘๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ต๐˜บ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต’ for lastโ€”my husband.

We. Are. Still. Here. Together.

We built this nest, and we are looking at this next phase as an exciting opportunityโ€”rather than an empty one. We have been intentional about what we would like the next few years to look like, and are excited to experience this new chapter as it unfolds.

We are looking forward to more spontaneous outings, dinner with friends, and a renewed intimacy. We also know, just as we become accustomed to living with two fewer bodies in the house, the holidays will be upon us, and we’ll all be together again.

And isn’t that what is really important? It doesn’t matter if we are all ‘home’ in the same nest or not. We are a family because of our love for each other and because we choose to stay connected no matter where we all live. And that is the kind of nest that will never be empty.

“๐™ˆ๐™ฎ ๐™๐™ช๐™จ๐™—๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™–๐™ก๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฎ๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™ข๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™–๐™ฎ, ๐™—๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™„’๐™ข ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง๐™ง๐™ž๐™—๐™ก๐™š, ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™„ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™  ๐™ž๐™ฉ’๐™จ ๐™š๐™ญ๐™๐™–๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ.” DM’d a reader after I posted a picture about having fun golfing with my husband and some good friends one evening.

Having successfully avoided playing golf for the first 40-some years of my life, asking if, “I really enjoy golf?” Does beg the question.

And the answer is, “Yesโ€”kinda.”

The real reason I golf is because my family golfs. My husband LOVES to golf. Many of my friends play golf. It’s all about connections and a chance to laugh and play together.

Father son golfing
Father and son golfing

My husband told me years ago one of the things he “would like more than anything is if I would learn to play golf well enough to enjoy it with him.” ๐™ƒ๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™„ ๐™จ๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™ฃ๐™ค ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ?

Well, I did actuallyโ€”when the kids were little. The thought of getting a sitter for 4-hours (to play golf) was not on my radar. Even when my husband surprised me with clubs one Christmas years ago, he could not get me out of the course except on a rare occasion.

Today, things are different. The kids are older; they can all fend for themselves, and I want to find ways to spend time with my husbandโ€”so I golf. If my husband and kids are going to golf for a few hours and they have asked me to join themโ€”and I choose not toโ€”that’s my loss.

My twenty-something son golfs and our daughter, when she’s home from school, is willing to drive around in the cart with me. It’s a win-win. I get to spend all afternoon with my husband and adult kids, and then we typically enjoy dinner afterward. What a blessing!

The reality is I am not that great of a golfer, but I am learning, and I get a little less frustrated playing the game today than I did have a year or so ago.

Do you know what I do when I’ve swung my club way too many times trying to get that little ball down the course? I pick it up and throw it. It’s called keeping up with the ‘Pace of Play’ so I am not frustrating everyone around me by playing too slow. Whatever works…

I hope by sharing this with you, it will encourage you to try something new. Consider an activity with your spouse, kids, or friends, even if you are worried you might not like it or you won’t be any good. For me, it’s more about creating memories with those I love than whether ‘I really like playing golf or not.’

“I’ve learned…that it’s not what I have in my life, but who I do life with that counts.”-Unknown

Debbie Prather, Author, and her son

A mother’s love letter to her son and daughter-in-law on their wedding dayโ€”

โ€œI love you, mom.โ€

โ€œHmmm?โ€

(A little louder) โ€œI love you, mom.โ€

โ€œI love you too, honey, so very much.โ€

Iโ€™d been deep in thought, listening to the song we were slowly dancing to.

I knew this mother/son moment of ours was supposed to be the time to say all the things, but this boy and I had already said all the things, so the lyrics to the melody played in our ears:

Hold the door say please say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb but…

๐˜ผ๐™ก๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฎ๐™จ ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™๐™ช๐™ข๐™—๐™ก๐™š ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™

When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but…

๐˜ผ๐™ก๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฎ๐™จ ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™๐™ช๐™ข๐™—๐™ก๐™š ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™

As we moved from side to side, I felt in a dream and took in everything my senses could hold: the supportive, joyful faces looking on; the army of twinkling lights decorated throughout, reflected in the antique mirrors on the opposite wall; the warmth of his strong arms as we held each other.

๐™ƒ๐™ช๐™ข๐™—๐™ก๐™š ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™†๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™โ€“

๐—ง๐˜„๐—ผ ๐˜€๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ, ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ป, ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ท๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ฎ๐˜€ ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐˜๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ ๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฏ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ.

I recall Spring Break of 2017. We traveled down to warmer weather and spent time with Brett, who, at the time, was living and working in Orlando.

He had recently been out with Abby, another student he knew in college when they were part of the same circle.

She had visited Florida, also, and messaged him, just two friends reconnecting, and they went out to eat together before she headed back to the midwest.

When he and I sat on the beach in St. Petersburg about a week afterward, I asked him to tell me all about their time.

He lit up, told me a bit, and then said, โ€œI donโ€™t know, I just have a really good feeling.โ€ Because of his words, I did too.

When we met Abby that summer, I immediately saw the qualities that Brett had used to describe her: kind, thoughtful, playful, smart, beautiful.

Brett fell for her fast, and so did we.

Brett’s gut instinct was right.

Our daughter-in-law, Abby, gives us all good feelings because sheโ€™s funny, sincere, creative, empathetic, hard-working, faith-filled, and full of love.

She has a special tenderness for dogs of every type, and she gives the best hugs! Unfortunately, she and I have experienced similar past heartache.

Like myself, Abby lost a parent to cancer at the time of her high school graduation.

We talked often about those profound losses in the early days of getting to know one another.

Abbyโ€™s grief was close to the surface, as itโ€™d been six years since her mom passed away at the time we met.

With over three decades out from losing my dad, I could express to her that the pain lessened a little more each year, although, never completely.

I suspect Abby was an old soul even before her mom went to heaven, but that event, and her awareness that life is fragile and precious, make her even more so today.

Sheโ€™s the perfect match for Brett: the match weโ€™ve prayed for since he was little.

As hard as it is watching our children grow up and leave the nest, thereโ€™s nothing better than seeing them start their own family, by marrying the one God had planned for them since the beginning of time.

The night of the wedding, when Brett and I were finishing our dance, the end verses struck me.

Donโ€™t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where youโ€™re going donโ€™t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line.

๐˜ผ๐™ก๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฎ๐™จ ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™๐™ช๐™ข๐™—๐™ก๐™š ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™

For many long years, to get where I was going, was to plead with God to give Craig and I strength and wisdom to raise our kids up right.

Now that they’re all but grown, I don’t take one second of it for granted.

I think of the generations that have gone ahead of us: their words of encouragement, their silent and spoken prayers, their admonitions and stories, their smiles and reassurances; extended from those who walked before and then alongside, getting us to this place.

Craig and I plan to assist, pray for, tell stories and jokes, and be there – please God be willing – in any way our children want or need in the years to come.

With a heart of gratitude, I thank the Lord for the blessing theyโ€™ve been to us, and for every single treasured, unique member that makes the love in our family vast and abundant.

๐—œ๐˜’๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜„, ๐—–๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ด’๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ, ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜…๐˜ ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ฒ, ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ป ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ธ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฝ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜…๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ.

It’s a privilege, an honor, and an undeniable gift.

So are the riches of having humble and kind young adults that make me drop to my knees in gratitude . . . I’m a wealthy woman indeed.

Proverbs 22: 4 The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.

Micah 6: 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

All credit for Humble and Kind goes to Tim McGraw for his vocal talents and the writer of the song: Lori McKenna for her beautiful words.

Wild Horses by Pixels

“Are we going to see the wild horses?” my not-yet-college-bound, have-to-be-dragged-everywhere, youngest asked. “You promised.”

We were on a college visit trip with her older brother.  5 colleges in 5 days.

The drive to see these mythical creatures on an exotic island was about an hour out of the way and I was exhausted from tours about professors/safety/dorms and hotel rooms with weird smells/bad breakfasts/non-working hot tubs.

But my memory of the picture on the cover of the book, Misty of Chincoteague, a beautiful wild horse, and her foal, drew me in and convinced me to keep said promise.

As we pulled into the park and made our way to the restrooms before embarking on our glorious, out-of-the-way adventure, signs warned not to feed the horses as they may bite and to ensure our safety by staying 40-feet away. This was exciting!

Bladders empty, we were ready!  We couldn’t wait to see these wild creatures, prancing in the sand dunes and uttering high-pitched neighs.

What happened next was stranger than strange.

We rounded the corner and there was a horse, in the middle of the parking lot.  Not prancing. Not neighing. Standing. Still. So still, we thought it might be a taxidermist’s latest “stuffing” project.

We got out. Walked around it. It did NOT move. Just stood there. We did see it take a breath, so we surmised it was alive and didn’t belong at the local Cabela’s.

The “wild horse ” in the parking lot

We had so hoped to happen upon a wild, prancing, neighing horse, enjoying the sands of Virginia beaches and its ability to roam FREE.

But what we found was more like a TAMED mule ready to plow the fields under the guise of some master who needed to get things done.

As we ventured on the park pathways, we saw a few more horse/mules milling around, and I can assure you that we were not scared, or excited, not even one little bit.

We got back in our cars and my mom thoughts took off into those mom places only they can go.

Are these horses like my kids?

Longing for adventure, FREEDOM, and curiosity to discover, hope, and dream?

But standing around, TAMED, bored, and controlled because of how me, as a mom, and society, as a whole, has directed them?

Don’t bite.
Stand still.
Be quiet.

Don’t stand up for yourself (your true self). Fit in.
Do what everyone else is doing. Stay in the box.
Control yourself at all costs.ย  Never color outside of the lines.

College visits.
What everyone else did.
What we were supposed to do.

Over the next days, I kept coming back and back to my thoughts and these horse-mules and my kids.

I did not want them to be mules.  I wanted them to be horses.  WILD ONES.  Not TAMED into submission to some arbitrary set of rules that who knows who made up.

I wanted them to be FREE.  To discover, hope and dream.

I talked and talked and talked to them about it.  And then talked some more.

Guess what happened?

My college-bound son said, “NOPE.”
He decided to take a gap year.
He enjoyed the end of his senior year without the pressure of choosing.
He never went to any of those 5 we had visited on that trip.
He discovered a school that made his heart happy.
FREEDOM.

My baby watched him intently.
She spent an extra year with him, the two of them becoming the best of friends.
When it was her turn, she chose an out-of-the-box school where she could get her Bachelor’s degree in two years. Two long, hard years.
She moved to California at 19 to pursue her dreams, graduation behind her.
She wants to win an Emmy.
FREEDOM.

Guess what else happened?

I began to wonder the same thing about me.

Do I have the FREEDOM to discover, hope, and dream?

As a middle-aged, regular, mom who has always played by the rules?

Who didn’t bite, stood still, and was quiet?

The answer:  YES.  YES, I DO.

I might stand up for myself.
What if I forge my own way?
Maybe I will even draw my own lines to color inside.
We’ll see how it all plays out.
It’s going to be good.
FREEDOM.

Photo by Arthur Brognoli from Pexels

Marriage is not easy, my friends. And we hear this a lot. Weโ€™re told that marriage takes work. But do we really hear that message? We may know that marriage isnโ€™t a fairytale, but are we really prepared for the effort required to make marriage successful and fulfilling for the long haul?

Our 30th wedding anniversary is today and Iโ€™ve been reflecting on our marriage and marriage in general. Somewhere along the way, I went from being a Wife in the Moment to being a Mom in the Moment, and while in theory, I should have found a way to be both perfectly, in practice that wasnโ€™t so easy.

Even if we think we know what to expect from marriage going into it, there are just some things we canโ€™t be fully prepared for. We may be used to working through the obvious issues, but itโ€™s hard to be prepared for the way having children can impact our relationship. Yes, becoming parents enhances our relationship in so many ways – but it will also most likely add some strain to it.

In the early years, we moms face constant demands on our time, endure exhaustion from sleep deprivation and feeling needed all the time. This often leaves us feeling touched-out and craving time to just crash on the couch. We may feel like we donโ€™t have much left of us for our husbands, and not only does this cause our husbands to feel distanced, it often leaves us feeling guilty.

Before I became a mom, I was really good at being a Wife in the Moment.

Back when we were a couple, and before we became a family, everything was about us. Plenty of couple time, time spent with friends, time to exercise together, time for trips together. We invested so much beautiful time in each other. Of course, Iโ€™m well aware of the guidance that reminds us that a happy family is dependent upon a happy marriage. And that the marriage relationship should always be paramount. Iโ€™m just going to be honest here, and I think many moms will relateโ€ฆ.sometimes this is easier in theory than in practice.

Even after we became parents, the change wasnโ€™t immediate. It happened gradually. We slowly lost some of โ€œusโ€ along the way. Little things added up, and less time devoted to each other exacerbated other issues that would have otherwise been tended to and worked out. Spoiler: we have found our way again and worked out these issues. Where there is love, there is hope. It sounds obvious, but the first step forward in hope is to be mindful of investing consistent time in the โ€œusโ€ relationship. Date nights are great, but simple time together is recharging, too. It can vary by the week, as long as there is a conscious connection. A walk, coffee, or iced tea on the patio and eating dinner separately from the kids are all easy ways to create a connection.

Sydnei and her love of 30+ years

While time is an essential building block of a strong relationship, another important factor in strengthening our love and relationship is good communication. Being tuned in to how we are feeling and then being completely open and sensitive in how we share that. Sometimes thereโ€™s accumulated resentment over past disagreements or negative patterns that make it harder for us to communicate from a place of love. When this happens, there is no shame in seeking help. I can attest to the healing power of coupleโ€™s therapy. Having a neutral person listen and guide us back to healthy communication, and facilitate us sharing and working through our feelings and needs, was less complicated than it sounds. And it was transformative for our relationship. As couples, we should never stop working on our relationship. Life will throw us curveballs, but itโ€™s up to us how we choose to deal with them.

Love changes over time. We may know that with our minds, but feeling it with our hearts is a whole different thing. What begins as butterflies and dreamy love transforms into deeper, through-the-ugly, intentional love. We took vows on our wedding day and we must choose to keep those vows. We must consciously choose to love each other each and every dayโ€ฆand strive to be both a ‘Wife in the Moment’ and a ‘Mom in the Moment.’

As I get older, a clarity sets in.

My priorities come into sharper focus. My passions re-ignite.

I become more accepting and gracious. I am not interested in complaining.

I find peace in protecting my boundaries.

I love more freely. I forgive myself. I put down the masks.

I listen not just to people’s words but to their hearts.

I find more of myself the more I let go. I find more of myself when I don’t try so hard. I find more of myself when give myself permission to do the things that bring me joy.

These are the gifts that growing older have given me.

Photo credit Anna Shvets via Pexels

๐—›๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜† ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜‚๐˜€ ๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ธ๐˜€ ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ฐ? The ‘Perfect Mom’ mask, the ‘Successful Business Person’ mask, or the ‘I Got It All Together’ masks…Almost everyone wears some sort of mask.

One woman shares her storyโ€”

Itโ€™s Time To Take Off The Mask by Faith in the Mess – Melissa Neeb, Writer

I wear a cloth mask everywhere now. It doesn’t really bother me.

What did bother me was the metaphorical one I wore for years. I wore a smile but it was a lie.

No one knew the pain I was in. It was difficult to even admit it to myself. I stuffed it down. Locked it up tight in my heart.

It was my box of darkness. Only mine.

So in the world, I pretended. I faked it. I told everyone I was fine. I was ok. I was good.

Those masks, layers of them, kept my secrets and tears hidden.  I hated who I had become but I didn’t know who to be anymore.

I came to the end of myself, the edge of the proverbial cliff. Dangling. Desperate. Alone.

Then I walked into a room and sat down with a bunch of strangers who could see the face behind the mask because they recognized the pain. They had worn it themselves. They had put it down and left it behind.

So slowly, my masks came off. One by one. Ever so carefully.

I didn’t have to be afraid of my reflection anymore. I could change. Grow. Transform into something I never imagined.

I could learn to love myself again.

And so, my smile turned real.

I was accepted. I was welcome here.

And so my masks stayed off.

And I never want to wear them again.

Is now the perfect time? What is holding you back?

For years, fear held me back from starting a blog, writing, or pursuing any projects I thought they might appearโ€” “frivolous.”

Who am I to start a blog?

There are so many accomplished writers out thereโ€” I’ll never be good enough.

How will I ever overcome all the technological hurdles of building and maintaining a website?

Well, something happened when I turned ’50’โ€”I let down my guard. I stopped trying to be perfect. I realized I didn’t want to look myself in the mirror on my 60th birthday, having still not launched the blog I had wanted to start in my early 40’s. The time is now!

What about you? Do you have a passion you’ve been wanting to pursue? I will tell you a secret…there will never be a perfect time to start, but it’s never too late and you are never too old.

Join me in my conversation with Amy Schmidt, the host of Fearlessly Facing Fifty about how I finally got the courage to pursue my passion.

Click on the link below: “EP 72: Making deeper connections with I Do Part Two…

Amy launched her business and brand six months before turning 50. Her mission is to encourage women over forty to push fear aside and find that hidden treasure of confidence that may have been pushed aside for a while and not let this time of life allow them to lose their identity. You can also find her on socials:  Fearlessly Facing Fifty on Facebook, and Instagram: Amy.K.Schmidt and https://fearlesslyfacingfifty.com/

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