Author

Lisa Speers

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Photo by Riley from Oregon

This is a story of resilience.

Of coming together as a couple and intentionally showing up as your best selves when faced with a very difficult decision that is completely out of your control.

Congratulations, and many thanks to Alex and Veronica Reinhart for sharing their story. ๐Ÿ’ Be sure to click the link or video below to watch their story.

Did you have a crazy wedding story to share? Do share…

Arizona Skies

๐™„ ๐™˜๐™–๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š “๐™…๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ช๐™–๐™ง๐™ฎ ๐™‚๐™ช๐™ฃ๐™ .”

I had been riding high from the holidays with everyone home and the excitement of following our big kids around the country as we watched my daughter’s college team win game after gameโ€”until they didn’t. They made it all the way to the National Championship, but it was another team’s day to win it all.

Fiesta Bowl 2022

Georgia deserves a big congratulations, but this isn’t about football.

This is about feeling stuck with no apparent good reason why. When you’re muddling in the muck, but you can’t quite put your finger on the cause. When you don’t even recall how it started.

When you’re feeling unmotivated and lethargic, and you know you “should” snap out of it, but you can’t see a way out.

๐™ƒ๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง ๐™›๐™š๐™ก๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฎ?

When it’s dark and it’s cold outsideโ€”day after day after day.

So you try to do all-the-things: (๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ถ๐˜ด ๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ.)
โ–ช๏ธKeep a daily journal of everything we are grateful for
โ–ช๏ธStick to a routine
โ–ช๏ธGet outside in the sunshine…(if we can find it.)
โ–ช๏ธEat healthier
โ–ช๏ธExercise for at least 20 minutes a day
๐˜ผ๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก, ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ. ๐˜ผ๐™ฃ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š?

A few days ago, I created a post that read, “A beautiful day begins with a beautiful mindset,” but I couldn’t post itโ€”I didn’t have it in me. Adding to the toxic positivity already splashed across social media felt fraudulent.

๐˜ฝ๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™™๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™„ ๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™™ ๐™ž๐™ฉโ€”๐™ฉ๐™๐™š “๐™—๐™š๐™–๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™›๐™ช๐™ก ๐™ข๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™๐™จ๐™š๐™ฉ” ๐™ฆ๐™ช๐™ค๐™ฉ๐™š. ๐™„๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ข๐™š.

Last night I told myself I was done feeling this way. I was going to wake up with a more positive outlook, and poof…the fog lifted.

๐™’๐™š๐™ก๐™ก, ๐™ฃ๐™ค, ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™š๐™ญ๐™–๐™˜๐™ฉ๐™ก๐™ฎ…

I do feel better today, and I have been thinking about why. The obvious is that two days ago, I traded the dark, rainy days of the Pacific Northwest for the sunshine of the Sonoran desert in Arizona. But after much consideration this morning, I think there is a more compelling reason.

๐™„ ๐™จ๐™๐™–๐™ง๐™š๐™™. ๐™„ ๐™Ÿ๐™ช๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™ก๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™ž๐™ฉ ๐™›๐™ก๐™ค๐™ฌโ€”๐™จ๐™๐™–๐™ง๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™š๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฎ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™–๐™จ ๐™š๐™–๐™˜๐™ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ค๐™ช๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ ๐™˜๐™–๐™ข๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ข๐™ฎ ๐™ข๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™.

As a recovering “avoider” and a lifelong “stuffer,” โ€”sometimes it’s still hard to share with anyone, let alone my husband when I am not feeling so great, especially after he planned this little getaway to the sun for us.

๐™„ ๐™™๐™ž๐™™ ๐™จ๐™๐™–๐™ง๐™š๐™™ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™๐™š ๐™ก๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™š๐™™.

And somewhere in the “I don’t know why I am feeling this way conversation,” I was able to unlock the floodgates.

Saguaro Cacti

My angst spilled into the dry river bed, which hugged our hiking trail as we wound through the saguaro cacti and the prickly pears. I left it in the dust, both literally and figuratively.

๐™„ ๐™›๐™š๐™ก๐™ฉ ๐™๐™š๐™–๐™ง๐™™.
๐™„ ๐™›๐™š๐™ก๐™ฉ ๐™จ๐™š๐™š๐™ฃ.
๐™„ ๐™›๐™š๐™ก๐™ฉ ๐™ซ๐™–๐™ก๐™ž๐™™๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š๐™™.

And today, as I sipped coffee as the sun rose over the Sonoran foothills, I felt more at ease. I realize all my challenges can’t be washed away in a day, but I sure felt lighter as I watched the sun spread its vitamin D across the valley.

If you’re feeling this way, I encourage you to reach out and ‘๐™ฅ๐™๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™– ๐™›๐™ง๐™ž๐™š๐™ฃ๐™™.’ Sometimes just knowing we aren’t alone makes all the difference.

Lisa Speers pondering her intentions for next year…

โ„‚๐•’๐•Ÿ ๐•จ๐•– ๐•“๐•– ๐••๐• ๐•Ÿ๐•– ๐•จ๐•š๐•ฅ๐•™ โ„•๐•–๐•จ ๐•๐•–๐•’๐•ฃโ€™๐•ค โ„๐•–๐•ค๐• ๐•๐•ฆ๐•ฅ๐•š๐• ๐•Ÿ๐•ค ๐•’๐•๐•ฃ๐•–๐•’๐••๐•ช?

How many years have I set New Yearโ€™s Resolutions only to start berating myself a few weeks later for my lack of follow-through?

Sadly, too many years to count.

So a couple of years ago, I decided there had to be a better way. I started channeling โ€œmy inner-Dr. Philโ€ and asking myself, โ€œ๐™ƒ๐™ค๐™ฌโ€™๐™จ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™ฎ๐™–?โ€

Well, year after year, New Yearโ€™s Resolutions have not worked for meโ€”zero, nada, end of story.

Apparently, Iโ€™m not alone.

According to one study, only 9% of those who set New Yearโ€™s Resolutions successfully keep them for a full year.

With those odds, itโ€™s crazy that millions of us keep making themโ€”let alone consider the fact that the majority quit within the first month.

๐—ฆ๐—ผ. ๐—ช๐—ต๐˜†. ๐——๐—ผ. ๐—ช๐—ฒ. ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐˜. ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—บ?

Hope, ๐™„ ๐™œ๐™ช๐™š๐™จ๐™จ??

Thank goodness there is always hope, as it is a promise of better times ahead. Unfortunately, hope alone wonโ€™t get us where we want to go.

So what does work?

Well, of course, itโ€™s different for everyone, but here are 10 intentions that have been working for me, so I plan to carry them into next year.

Optimistic about the year to come

1) Graceโ€”Giving myself grace with the understanding that we are all on a journey, and at 50-something, some things are going to take time to unravel.

2) Presenceโ€”Making a daily intention to remain connected and to be present with my spouse, away-from-home kids, and the most important people in my life.

3) Authenticityโ€”To stop playing small. We are all unique and have something special to offer this world. It is a gift from our creator to find out what it is and how it might serve others.

3) Permissionโ€”Continuing to give myself permission to focus on my physical, mental and spiritual well-being. If youโ€™re like me and you havenโ€™t been doing thisโ€”itโ€™s time to put yourself on the list.

4) Consistencyโ€”this was my word for 2022. I put it as a weekly reminder on my calendar, encouraging me to keep going with what was serving me and let go of what was not. It has served me well; I plan to keep it for 2023.

5) Failure is not a 4-letter wordโ€”I have always learned more from what hasnโ€™t worked for me than what has. So, now I welcome these sometimes painful lessons because theyโ€™re like a compass pointing me toward a better, more well-suited path.

6) Lifelong learningโ€”Embracing the idea that itโ€™s okay not to know how to do somethingโ€ฆYET.

7) Listening to myselfโ€”Honoring my needs and giving myself permission to rest, go on an adventure, and simply be more in tune with what I need in the moment.

9) Awarenessโ€”Being keenly aware of the positive and negative messages I tell myself. Can we be done with negative self-talk once and for all? It has never served anyone. If this speaks to you, I pray you will leave behind all the negative messages youโ€™ve been telling yourself.

10) Remember to have funโ€”Let’s do more things that bring joy to our lives and find reasons to laugh until our faces hurt. ๐˜ฝ๐™š๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ง๐™š: Joy is infectious and spreads easilyโ€”no mask required!

๐Ÿฅณ ๐™’๐™ž๐™จ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™– ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ฌ ๐™ฎ๐™š๐™–๐™ง ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ช๐™ง๐™œ๐™š๐™จ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™™๐™ค ๐™ข๐™ค๐™ง๐™š ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฌ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™๐™–๐™ซ๐™š ๐™—๐™š๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ฅ๐™ช๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ค๐™›๐™› ๐™›๐™ค๐™ง ๐™– ๐™ข๐™ž๐™ก๐™ก๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ ๐™™๐™ž๐™›๐™›๐™š๐™ง๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™จ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™š๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง๐™–๐™œ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ก๐™š๐™ฉ ๐™œ๐™ค ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ค๐™จ๐™š ๐™ฅ๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™จ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™ก๐™ž๐™›๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™–๐™ง๐™š ๐™ฃ๐™ค ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™œ๐™š๐™ง ๐™จ๐™š๐™ง๐™ซ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช.

-๐™’๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™ข๐™ช๐™˜๐™ ๐™–๐™™๐™ข๐™ž๐™ง๐™–๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ, ๐Ÿ’—๐™‡๐™ž๐™จ๐™– ๐™Ž๐™ฅ๐™š๐™š๐™ง๐™จ

*๐™’๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™–๐™™๐™™ ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ก๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฉ? ๐™‹๐™ก๐™š๐™–๐™จ๐™š ๐™จ๐™๐™–๐™ง๐™šโ€”๐™„ ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ก๐™™ ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™ค ๐™ ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฌ.

As we approach the end of the school year, I can understand how bittersweet it must be to realize that your middle schooler will be graduating from high school in only five short years.

As a parent myself, I know how fast time flies, and it can be overwhelming to think about all the changes that will happen in the coming years.

This is also a time when you and your partner may start to feel the strain of everyday life affecting your relationship. It’s so common, so widespread, that it’s known as the Slow Fade.

Unfortunately, every year around graduation season, you will hear whispers of divorce. It’s a heartbreaking secret that is hidden in plain sight.

As parents, we are often so focused on taking care of our kids that we forget to take care of our relationships. It is so much easier to avoid issues and pretend everything is okay than to face them head-on. But I urge you not to wait until your kids leave the house to address any challenges that may be affecting your marriage.

I understand that some of you have tried everything, and it may feel like there’s no hope for your marriage. It’s heartbreaking to hear from readers that despite an investment in time, resources, and emotional energy, the results were not what they had hoped for.

However, there is another group of parents out there, those like my husband and me, who never think it will be โ€œusโ€ getting divorced. We get so busy with carpools, work, and maintaining a household that we can forget to make time for each other.

Is to you that I hope this message serves as a wake-up call.

These “we waited till the kids are out of the house divorces” pain me beyond measure because I know if my husband and I had not sought help fifteen or so years ago for our own marriage, it could have just as easily been us. In fact, we acknowledge that it could still be us, so we continue to make each other a priority.

If any of this resonates with you, I encourage you to find ways to reconnect with your partner today. It’s never too late to change the trajectory of your marriage. You may not know how, and you may not even be sure if your spouse will be on board, but you do have the added benefit of time and the awareness that these tough conversations can’t wait any longer.

I understand that it’s challenging to work on your marriage, especially when you’re also busy taking care of your kids. However, I want you to know that it’s possible. There are many examples of couples who have done the hard work, and their marriages are stronger today because of it.

We often think we should have all the relationship stuff figured out by now, but the truth is, most of us didn’t grow up witnessing empathic and effective communication. So it’s okay to give yourself and your partner some grace while you seek help.

If you and your spouse haven’t been on a date in a while, or your intimacy has started to wane, donโ€™t wait any longer to have a conversation. Sometimes all it takes is for one of you to say, “I’ve really missed you,” to start an amazing conversation.

My sincere hope for you is to enjoy more friendship, love, and intimacy with your most important person. You and your partner deserve to have a happy and fulfilling relationship, and it’s never too late to start working on it.

There is never a perfect time to have a difficult conversation, but here are some things to consider that have worked for my husband and me over the years. We learned all of these suggestions through counseling with a licensed marriage therapist, as well as reading and listening to relationships books and podcasts by leading experts:

1. Timing, Tone & Intention are everything: 

  • Find a time when emotions are not running high, and neither of you is stressed out.
  • Use the tone you would be most open to when receiving this type of information. Your tone will significantly affect how well your message is received.
  • Check your intentions. If your desire is to find ways for you both to improve your relationship, then you are off to a great start.

2. Work together with a licensed marriage/relationship counselor. 

  • If your partner doesnโ€™t want to go, you go first. The therapist should be able to help you understand why you each react the way you do and help resolve conflicts. 
  • I realize it is hard to find one; keep trying. I know itโ€™s expensive, but getting divorced is a lot more. Idea: If you are buying a gourmet coffee drink a dayโ€”STOPโ€”and most likely, you can divert that expense toward counseling.
  • Ideally, you would each have an individual counselor to work with as well.
  • If the first counselor isn’t a good fit, try another. It can take a while to find a good matchโ€”weโ€™ve had at least five over the years. *Remember, we are all individuals, and none of us absorb information or grow at the same rateโ€”have lots of patience.

3. Three books to consider:

  • How We Loveโ€”Book & Workbookโ€” by Milan & Kay Yerkovich. If you are tired of arguing with your spouse over the same old issues, this one is for you. https://howwelove.com/
  • The Seven Principles of Making a Marriage Work by John Gottman, Ph.D., is very comprehensive. I highly recommend going through this as a couple or with a group. https://www.gottman.com/
  • The 80/80 Marriage by Nate and Kaley Klempโ€”This book offers a new, refreshing way to embrace your relationship. It is the “lightest” read of the three. https://www.8080marriage.com/   

4. Three Podcasts to consider:

These recommendations come from my personal experience from my 30-year marriage to my best friend and are intended for educational purposes only. Please do not hesitate to reach out at lisa@evolvingnestwithlisa.com if you have any questions about how my husband and I approached a particular challenge.

๐ŸŽŠ Starting off the year with an introductionโ€”I have sprinkled this page with bits and pieces about my marriageโ›ช, family, and myself this last year, but I have never made a bona fide introduction as the creator behind The Evolving Nest. 

Thank you so much for following along! I’m Lisa.โœ‹ I grew up in the days when no one locked their doors and our parents had no idea where we were all day.โ€œJust be home by dinner,โ€ my mom would say. I went to middle, high school, and college all in the โ€˜80sโ€”graduating from the University of Oregon in 1990. (If you’re a GenโŒer yourself, this alone tells you a lot about me.) 

I am 53 and met my best friend and husband of almost 30 years in college.๐Ÿ’˜ We have three grown kidsโ€”25๐Ÿ‘ฆ, 21๐Ÿ‘ฆ, and 18๐Ÿ‘งโ€”two are in college, and one is working hard. Our oldest has autism๐Ÿงฉ; he’s super independent and has the best disposition in the universe. 

Aside from my familyโ€”I love sugar-free vanilla lattesโ˜•, travel adventures๐ŸŒด, lying on the couch with my hubby binge-watching the latest, Jesus, coffee with friends/Girls Weekends, visiting our kids at college, listening to books ๐Ÿ“˜ while I walk, and connecting with other creators online. My guilty pleasures are eating nacho cheese sauce๐Ÿง€ and sneaking mini-Reeses cups.

I started The Evolving Nest when our youngest was a junior in high school. (๐Ÿ’กIf you are nearing empty-nesting, and are thinking about a new venture, I highly recommend beginning something before your youngest leaves the nest.) Yes, it can be scary to try something new. I still find it hard to put myself out there at times, but rewards have been innumerable.๐Ÿ†

The Evolving Nest is all about discovering YOU ๐Ÿ’Ÿ. For many of us, it’s more about REDISCOVERING ourselves AGAIN. It certainly was for me, with some nuances that surprised me along the way. 

Our lives are made up of many chapters ๐Ÿ“•, and at midlife, we still have exciting adventures to write about. The Evolving Nest is just a catchy way to ask, “What’s next?”

What is your Part Twoโ“   

This page initially started as a blog to share marriage stories from a variety of perspectives but it has grown and changed over time. (Just like us.๐Ÿ˜‰) I still plan to share stories but also much more about making the most of the years ahead, adventures in empty-nesting, and so much more.

Iโ€™ll share tips from my own thirty years of marriage, as well as advice from experts on moving toward your passion, having fun empty-nesting, and keeping the passion alive and well in your marriage.

I hope this page inspires๐Ÿ’ซ you to better understand yourself, your partner ๐Ÿฅฐ, and what energizes๐Ÿ’ฅ you to get out of bed each morning. 

Thank you again for joining me on this journey, lisa@evolvingnestwithlisa.com

* I’d love to hear your thoughts about marriage, midlife, and empty-nesting. Please don’t hesitate to reach out, and if you’re a writer or aspiring to be one, I’d love to consider sharing your story on The Evolving Nestโ€”Empty Nesting & More.

“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, The Evolving Nestโ€”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.’

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

My parents, Richard and Susan Reinhart, on their wedding dayโ€”1962

Who could have known you would play a pivotal role in an almost 60-year love affair that’s produced 6 children, 6 sons or daughters-in-law, and 13 grandchildren. Goodness, if you hadn’t been at the party that night, I wouldn’t even be here to tell this storyโ€ฆ

It was the spring of 1961. Think Mad Men. Dark, single-breasted suit jackets with narrow notch lapels. Crisp white dress shirts, dark ties, and matching slim pants, complete with wingtip dress shoes.ย 

It was the launch of a new season for Jantzen Sportswear. An iconic clothing and swimwear company and Jantzen spared no expense. As all the salespeople were men, who else would they invite to a new clothing launch at the then renowned Heer’s department store in Springfield, Missouri? None other than the lovely, Miss Missouri.

Fresh out of the Air Force, my dad was eager to start his career as a newly minted Jantzen sales repโ€”he also was keen on ‘meeting special someone’ who would eventually share his life. Walking into the pre-launch party that evening, my dad had every intention of meeting Miss Missouri.ย 

The icon Jantzen “Diving Girl”

He spotted her across the room and nonchalantly worked his way in her direction. Looking very Sophia Loren meets Annette Funicello…dark hair, captivatingly-sexy brown eyes, and a figure any woman of the day would envyโ€“my dad made his approach. Minutes into their small talk, he realized this “gorgeous woman” was one of Jantzen’s few female marketing representatives at the time. At that moment, he no longer cared if Miss Missouri was even in attendance. 

Little did he know he would travel all the way from Furstenfeldbruck Air Force base in Germany to Missouri via Oregon only to meet a beautiful woman who had grown up down the street from him in Portland.

There was just one little problem…she had an engagement ring on her finger.

As dad has often recounted, “She wasn’t married yet.”ย 

So he asked my mother for dinner the next evening…and she accepted. (Which was a little scandalous if I do say so myself.) They both recall having “such a lovely time.” When my dad took her back to the hotel, he made sure to walk her all-the-way-to-her-door. Ironically, in the ultimate plot twist, Jantzen had set my mom up to room with no other thanโ€”drum roll pleaseโ€”Miss Missouri.

My dad shrugs dismissively whenever I bring up what it was like to finally meet Miss Missouri? “Well, she wasn’t as good-looking as your mother, that’s for sure.”

Not wanting the date to end and knowing my mother was a devout Catholic, this dapper protestant asked my mom to Mass the next morning…and then to lunch. “I wanted to spend more time with her, and I knew she would want to go to church on Sunday. So, I asked if I could escort her to Mass,” my dad explained with a wink of his eye.

The next day, my mom flew back to Portland, Oregon, with a lot on her mind. For starters, what to do about a fiance. “Such a nice man,” my mom recalls whenever the story surfaces.

A week or so later, my dad flew back to Portland and asked my mom out to dinnerโ€”on one conditionโ€”she not wear her engagement ring. 

In a daring move, my mom took her engagement ring to the jewelry store to be cleaned, and when the jeweler said, “it would only take a few minutes,” my mom replied, “No worries, I’ll pick it up in the morning.” 

Needless to say, my mom called off her engagement a few days later, and this week my parents celebrated their 59th wedding anniversaryโ€”and the rest is history.

-Dear Miss Missouri, thank you. I’m sure you are a beautiful woman, and I hope you have lived a happy life, but still, I’m grateful it wasn’t you who caught my dad’s eye across a crowded room in the spring of ’61. 

Happy 59th wedding anniversary!

With love, your daughter, Lisa (Reinhart) Speers

A few short weeks ago, our daughter was graduating from high school. This morning, we flew her halfway across the country to begin her freshman year in college. Her older brother came out of his room to say goodbye, singing, “Leavin’ on a jet plane, don’t know when you’ll be back again…” We laughed. It cut the tension we were all feeling.

I woke early. My husband said I snored so he ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ญ๐˜บ kicked me all night. I’m surprised I slept so deeply. Ughโ€”I’ll have to start using my automated snore pillow again. 

Welcome to midlife!

As I hurried around the house before everyone got up, trying to clean up for ‘who knows why’ while we’re gone, all I could think about is how messy my closets are.

How did they get so unorganized? Why didn’t I organize them when we were in lockdown? I had all that time, and I didn’t get anything cleaned or organized. ๐˜•๐˜ฐ ๐˜”๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ ๐˜’๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ-๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ.

I know what I am doingโ€”I am avoiding “it.” ๐˜ ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ ๐˜ข ๐˜ฑ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด.

I’m avoiding thinking about the giant void my daughter leaves behind. The one filled with infectious laughter and the funny, contorted faces she makes when she springs to life ๐™ฌ๐™–๐™ฎ ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™ค ๐™ก๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š ๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ.

And the other void where she enters a room at full strideโ€”in mid-sentenceโ€”spilling the latest tea. She hates it when I need her to back it up a little, rewind. “Mom, I already told you about so and so…” ๐ผ ๐‘˜๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ค, ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘™๐‘™ ๐‘š๐‘’ ๐‘Ž๐‘”๐‘Ž๐‘–๐‘›, ๐ผ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘˜ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘š๐‘ฆ๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘“.

Noise and commotion also have a way of filling up spaces. My daughter’s girlfriends came over last night to wish her well and keep her company while she packed. I could hear them laughing and stomping up and down the stairs as they helped her load everything into the car for our early morning departure.

Then she yelled, “We’re headed to Taco Bell.” Laughter, chatter, and patter of feet shuffled out the doorโ€”then silence. ๐˜‹๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ.

This is how it will be, quieter, for a while anyway.

Her two brothers are still at home. They will easily fill some of the spaces she has left behind. Their friends will come over, and jokes and laughter will fill the airโ€”the TV will inevitably drone on.

The boys each have their own unique way of filling the spaces in our home. It will be comforting to have them home for at least a few more weeks.

But there are some spaces only a daughter, our only daughter, can fill. The space where she’ll let me hold her when she’s sad and hug her until she pulls away with a snarky, “Okay, now, Mom.” As if I didn’t know I was holding her just past ‘comfortable’ on her hug-o-meter.

It’s a good thing she picked Texas. Texas is a big state with lots of open spaceโ€”she’s going to need all of it. I can’t wait to hear about all the people she meets, the subjects she studies, and the places she goes.

Facetime, family-group texting, and eagerly awaited phone calls will bridge some of the space between us.

She’ll come home for the holidays. Her laughter will again fill the house. From experience with her older brother coming home from college, I know that some spaces will be forever changed. Still, new and exciting dimensions will continue to be added.

There is no holding her back, even if I wanted toโ€”which I don’t. The world is a big place, and I’m excited to watch how she chooses to fill up her own unique spaces in her life.

With much love to our daughter, Mom XOXO

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