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Lisa Speers

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Arizona Skies

𝙄 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡 ğ™žğ™© 𝙩𝙝𝙚 “𝙅𝙖𝙣𝙪𝙖𝙧𝙮 𝙂𝙪𝙣𝙠.”

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 game—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.

𝙃𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙛𝙚𝙡𝙩 ğ™©ğ™ğ™žğ™¨ 𝙬𝙖𝙮?

When it’s dark and it’s cold outside—day after day after day.

So you try to do all-the-things: (𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘶𝘴 𝘧𝘦𝘦𝘭 𝘣𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳.)
▪️Keep a daily journal of everything we are grateful for
▪️Stick to a routine
▪️Get outside in the sunshine…(if we can find it.)
▪️Eat healthier
▪️Exercise for at least 20 minutes a day
𝘼𝙣𝙙 ğ™¨ğ™©ğ™žğ™¡ğ™¡, ğ™£ğ™¤ğ™©ğ™ğ™žğ™£ğ™œ. 𝘼𝙣𝙮𝙤𝙣𝙚?

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

𝘽𝙪𝙩 𝙩𝙤𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙄 𝙥𝙤𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙙 ğ™žğ™©â€”ğ™©ğ™ğ™š “ğ™—ğ™šğ™–ğ™ªğ™©ğ™žğ™›ğ™ªğ™¡ ğ™¢ğ™žğ™£ğ™™ğ™¨ğ™šğ™©” 𝙦𝙪𝙤𝙩𝙚. 𝙄𝙩 𝙬𝙖𝙨 ğ™©ğ™žğ™¢ğ™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.

𝙒𝙚𝙡𝙡, 𝙣𝙤, 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙚𝙭𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙡𝙮…

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.

𝙄 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙙. 𝙄 𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙡𝙚𝙩 ğ™žğ™© ğ™›ğ™¡ğ™¤ğ™¬â€”ğ™¨ğ™ğ™–ğ™§ğ™žğ™£ğ™œ ğ™šğ™«ğ™šğ™§ğ™®ğ™©ğ™ğ™žğ™£ğ™œ 𝙖𝙨 𝙚𝙖𝙘𝙝 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙘𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙢𝙮 ğ™¢ğ™žğ™£ğ™™.

As a recovering “avoider” and a lifelong “stuffer,” —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.

𝙄 ğ™™ğ™žğ™™ 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙝𝙚 ğ™¡ğ™žğ™¨ğ™©ğ™šğ™£ğ™šğ™™.

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.

𝙄 𝙛𝙚𝙡𝙩 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙙.
𝙄 𝙛𝙚𝙡𝙩 𝙨𝙚𝙚𝙣.
𝙄 𝙛𝙚𝙡𝙩 ğ™«ğ™–ğ™¡ğ™žğ™™ğ™–ğ™©ğ™šğ™™.

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 ‘𝙥𝙝𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙖 ğ™›ğ™§ğ™žğ™šğ™£ğ™™.’ Sometimes just knowing we aren’t alone makes all the difference.

Lisa Speers pondering her intentions for next year…

ℂ𝕒𝕟 𝕨𝕖 𝕓𝕖 𝕕𝕠𝕟𝕖 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 ℕ𝕖𝕨 𝕐𝕖𝕒𝕣’𝕤 ℝ𝕖𝕤𝕠𝕝𝕦𝕥𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕤 𝕒𝕝𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕪?

How many years have I set New Year’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 “my inner-Dr. Phil” and asking myself, “𝙃𝙤𝙬’𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 ğ™¬ğ™¤ğ™§ğ™ ğ™žğ™£ğ™œ 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙮𝙖?”

Well, year after year, New Year’s Resolutions have not worked for me—zero, nada, end of story.

Apparently, I’m not alone.

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

With those odds, it’s crazy that millions of us keep making them—let alone consider the fact that the majority quit within the first month.

𝗦𝗼. 𝗪𝗵𝘆. 𝗗𝗼. 𝗪𝗲. 𝗦𝗲𝘁. 𝗧𝗵𝗲𝗺?

Hope, 𝙄 𝙜𝙪𝙚𝙨𝙨??

Thank goodness there is always hope, as it is a promise of better times ahead. Unfortunately, hope alone won’t get us where we want to go.

So what does work?

Well, of course, it’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) Grace—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) Presence—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) Authenticity—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) Permission—Continuing to give myself permission to focus on my physical, mental and spiritual well-being. If you’re like me and you haven’t been doing this—it’s time to put yourself on the list.

4) Consistency—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 word—I have always learned more from what hasn’t worked for me than what has. So, now I welcome these sometimes painful lessons because they’re like a compass pointing me toward a better, more well-suited path.

6) Lifelong learning—Embracing the idea that it’s okay not to know how to do something…YET.

7) Listening to myself—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) Awareness—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 you’ve been telling yourself.

10) Remember to have fun—Let’s do more things that bring joy to our lives and find reasons to laugh until our faces hurt. 𝘽𝙚𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙚: Joy is infectious and spreads easily—no mask required!

🥳 ğ™’ğ™žğ™¨ğ™ğ™žğ™£ğ™œ 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙖 𝙣𝙚𝙬 𝙮𝙚𝙖𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙪𝙧𝙜𝙚𝙨 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙩𝙤 𝙙𝙤 𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙚 𝙤𝙛 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 ğ™¥ğ™ªğ™©ğ™©ğ™žğ™£ğ™œ 𝙤𝙛𝙛 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙖 ğ™¢ğ™žğ™¡ğ™¡ğ™žğ™¤ğ™£ ğ™™ğ™žğ™›ğ™›ğ™šğ™§ğ™šğ™£ğ™© 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙤𝙣𝙨 𝙖𝙣𝙙 ğ™šğ™£ğ™˜ğ™¤ğ™ªğ™§ğ™–ğ™œğ™žğ™£ğ™œ 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙩𝙤 𝙡𝙚𝙩 𝙜𝙤 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙨𝙚 𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 ğ™¡ğ™žğ™›ğ™š 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙣𝙤 𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙜𝙚𝙧 ğ™¨ğ™šğ™§ğ™«ğ™žğ™£ğ™œ 𝙮𝙤𝙪.

-ğ™’ğ™žğ™©ğ™ 𝙢𝙪𝙘𝙝 ğ™–ğ™™ğ™¢ğ™žğ™§ğ™–ğ™©ğ™žğ™¤ğ™£, ğŸ’—ğ™‡ğ™žğ™¨ğ™– ğ™Žğ™¥ğ™šğ™šğ™§ğ™¨

*𝙒𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙖𝙙𝙙 𝙩𝙤 ğ™©ğ™ğ™žğ™¨ ğ™¡ğ™žğ™¨ğ™©? 𝙋𝙡𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙚 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙚—𝙄 𝙬𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬.

Dear 7th Grade Moms & Dads,

With school starting up again, I want to let you in on a little secret…

I know, I know… middle school parents typically don’t get a lot of attention. You are certainly not newbies, and at least one of your offspring is not yet on their way to high school either. 

So, why you?

I am writing to you because it’s time to let you in on a phenomenon that will begin happening six short years from now. 

How do I know? Because without fail, it happens every year. 

No one wants to talk about it, but I guarantee that one day, you will hear the whispers. 

It sneaks up on unsuspecting parents, sometimes seemingly without warning.

You see, sadly, six years from now, soon after these hormone-crazed 7th graders graduate high school, you will begin to hear that “so and so” is getting divorced.

You would never guess by all the happy, smiling family pictures blanketing social media at graduation each spring. It is like a secret—hidden in plain sight.

So why am I letting parents of 7th graders in on this sad reality? 

Because multiple studies have found that “couples typically allow problems and resentment to build up for 6 years before seeking help and beginning to work on resolving their differences and improving their relationship.”

Some of you have told me how “you tried everything.” Especially when addiction, abuse, and adultery wreaked havoc on your family for years. 

You and your kids invested valuable resources and all your emotional energy into helping your spouse with their addictions to no avail. I feel for the families that did not get the results they worked and prayed so hard for. 

But there’s another group of you out there…the ones like me who never think it will be “us” getting divorced. The ones who are so busy living parallel lives as wonderful parents but are not so great at being lovers. It is to you that I hope this message serves as a wake-up call.

These “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 twenty years ago for our own marriage, it could have easily been us. 

If any of this resonates with you, I encourage you to find ways to reconnect with your spouse now. Do not wait until the kids are out of the house to “deal with this.” I can assure you that it’s not easy to face challenges as a couple, but it will definitely not get any easier if you wait. 

Get the help you know you need before it’s you telling a friend, “I am just done,” as one woman recently wrote to me. “I was tired of being lonely in a loveless marriage.” 

The Gottman Institute, a renowned relationship think tank, notes that “timing is an essential element in whether marriage counseling works. Unfortunately, most couples wait too long before reaching out for help.” 

Today, you and your spouse have six years before your 7th grader graduates from high school. There is still plenty of time to change the trajectory of your marriage. You may not know how—you may not even be sure your spouse will be on board—but you do have the added benefit of time and, possibly even more important, “awareness” on your side as well. 

If your youngest is in high school or even a senior, I assure you there is example after example of couples who have done the hard work, and their marriages are stronger today because of it. It is only too late if one of you decides it is.

Why do we think we should have all this relationship stuff figured out? 

How many of us witnessed empathic and effective communication between couples growing up? Most likely, not many.

Some of you may have had the added blessing of being raised by parents who seemed to really like each other. Regardless, the chance that they openly discussed their issues and modeled how they successfully resolved them would have been extraordinary. This is not intended to blame, but it does begin to explain each generation’s lack of problem-solving abilities.

So if any of this resonates with you, where do you start?

Based on experience, I recommend starting with a “well-timed conversation.” In the case of my own marriage, I give 100% credit to my husband for bringing up the initial discussion almost twenty years ago. Although we both now agree his tone was a bit off—we can even laugh about it—but his message was painfully clear. Something needed to change, and we could no longer figure it out on our own.

There is never a perfect time to have a difficult conversation, but here are some things to consider:

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 doesn’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 it’s expensive but getting divorced is much, much more. If you are buying a coffee drink a day—STOP—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 match—we’ve had at least five over the years. *Remember, we are all individuals, and none of us absorb information or grow at the same rate—have lots of patience.

3. Three books to consider:

  • How We Love—Book & Workbook— 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 Klemp—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:

  • Search podcasts with “Esther Perel”: She is a Belgian-born licensed therapist with a wealth of knowledge on preserving relationships
  • Small Things Often: The Gottman Institute offers relationship tips in 5-minutes or less. Also, search podcasts with “John Gottman.”
  • Tied for 3rd Place: Sexy Marriage Radio, The Naked Marriage, One Extraordinary Marriage, and The Stronger Marriage Podcast.

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 on how my husband and I approached a particular challenge.

My sincere hope for you is to enjoy more friendship, love, and intimacy with your most important person. Love, Lisa

ğŸŽŠ Starting off the year with an introduction—I have sprinkled this page with bits and pieces about my marriage⛪, 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.✋ I grew up in the days when no one locked their doors and our parents had no idea where we were all day.“Just be home by dinner,” my mom would say. I went to middle, high school, and college all in the ‘80s—graduating from the University of Oregon in 1990. (If you’re a Gen❌er 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.💘 We have three grown kids—25👦, 21👦, and 18👧—two are in college, and one is working hard. Our oldest has autism🧩; he’s super independent and has the best disposition in the universe. 

Aside from my family—I love sugar-free vanilla lattes☕, travel adventures🌴, 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 📘 while I walk, and connecting with other creators online. My guilty pleasures are eating nacho cheese sauce🧀 and sneaking mini-Reeses cups.

I started The Evolving Nest when our youngest was a junior in high school. (💡If 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.🏆

The Evolving Nest is all about discovering YOU 💟. 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 📕, 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 Two❓   

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.😉) 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.

I’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 inspires💫 you to better understand yourself, your partner 🥰, and what energizes💥 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 Nest—Empty Nesting & More.

“You’re posting all these stories about empty-nesting, and I haven’t even gone back to school yet—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 kid—for my ‘𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗲𝗺𝗽𝘁𝘆 𝗲𝗻𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵.’

“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 John…”

“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’—“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 college—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 holidays—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 Nest—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 yourself–

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 late—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 gratitude—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 ‘𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘵𝘺 𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘵’ for last—my husband.

We. Are. Still. Here. Together.

We built this nest, and we are looking at this next phase as an exciting opportunity—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.

“𝙈𝙮 𝙝𝙪𝙨𝙗𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙡𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙮, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙄’𝙢 ğ™©ğ™šğ™§ğ™§ğ™žğ™—ğ™¡ğ™š, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙄 ğ™©ğ™ğ™žğ™£ğ™  ğ™žğ™©’𝙨 ğ™šğ™­ğ™ğ™–ğ™ªğ™¨ğ™©ğ™žğ™£ğ™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, “Yes—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.” 𝙃𝙤𝙬 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙄 𝙨𝙖𝙮 𝙣𝙤 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩?

Well, I did actually—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 husband—so I golf. If my husband and kids are going to golf for a few hours and they have asked me to join them—and I choose not to—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 day—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 story…

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. 

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 rep—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. 

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 envy–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.” 

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 than—drum roll please—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 dinner—on one condition—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 anniversary—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 𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘺 kicked me all night. I’m surprised I slept so deeply. Ugh—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. 𝘕𝘰 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘦 𝘒𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘰-𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦.

I know what I am doing—I am avoiding “it.” 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘢 𝘱𝘳𝘰 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴.

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 𝙬𝙖𝙮 𝙩𝙤𝙤 𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙖𝙩 ğ™£ğ™žğ™œğ™ğ™©.

And the other void where she enters a room at full stride—in mid-sentence—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…” 𝐼 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤, 𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑙 𝑚𝑒 ğ‘Žğ‘”ğ‘Žğ‘–ğ‘›, 𝐼 ğ‘¡â„Žğ‘–ğ‘›ğ‘˜ 𝑡𝑜 𝑚𝑦𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓.

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 door—then silence. 𝘋𝘦𝘢𝘧𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦.

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 air—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 space—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 to—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

Lisa Reinhart-Speers at 50-something…

I am turning 50-something…

I am grateful.

I am energized.

And I am optimistic.

I’ve been slowly unraveling lately—letting go. 

Letting go of the illusion of perfection.

When did I adopt this mindset—this burden—and why have I been carrying it around for so long? I’m not sure, but it has become too heavy to lug around any longer.

I feel lighter now. 

I was always striving for what I can now see it was an unattainable goal. For years, I’ve been waking up every morning thinking about all the things I didn’t check off my to-do list from the day before, how many carbs I ate and didn’t get in enough steps. I’ve allowed that pesky, small voice to whisper in a hundred different ways, “You are not enough.”

I am done.

I’m letting go of all this negative self-talk. Finally, realizing that I can do great things, just not all at the same time.

I’ll get done what I can today; the rest can wait till tomorrow. I am exercising for me—not to count steps and then feel crappy because I didn’t walk 10,000 steps. I’m flipping the switch. I want to walk those steps to stay healthy, feel better, and keep up with my active family.

I’m grabbing hold of my life. 

I’m waking up grateful to be alive, healthy, and excited to be here—in the now.

Of course, I still need my caffeine-fix to get going, and some mornings my joints ache. I still have tough days that suck the life out of me, but I am also starting to listen to a kinder voice that has grown loud enough not to ignore. 

It’s gently urging me—You got this! While graciously reminding me that time is precious.

Time has a beautiful way of showing us all what really matters. 

I have known this all along, we all know it, but it’s hard to wrap our minds around. We always feel we’ll have more time. Some of us will, but sadly, some of us will not.

So, I’m pursuing my passions and discovering new outlets for my creativity. I look forward to traveling and exploring places I’ve never been—I am excited for the world to open up again.

I am also grabbing hold of my 30-year marriage. I love my husband more passionately and with more depth than I ever thought possible. I didn’t know I could love him more today than twenty-plus years ago. 

We’re focusing on creating more intimacy in areas of our relationship that might have been a bit neglected while we were raising our kids. We are also more mindful of how we communicate our wants, needs, and desires with each other. 

We’re envisioning what the next phase of life might look like as our youngest heads off to college. We are asking ourselves, “how do we want to ‘fill our nest’? Especially since our nest might look slightly different as our oldest son, who has autism, will continue to live with us for a while longer. We know that sometimes it may be just my husband and me, but there will be three of us more often than not.

We are also considering with whom we want to spend our precious time. This is an important question. Of course, we hope our two adult children will continue to come home to visit, and they are always welcome to stay awhile. We miss not always being together.

We enjoy spending time with family and friends who support one another and lift each other up. This makes life interesting—deep conversations around topics that matter. We don’t always get to see our friends and family who are scattered across the country, but that only makes getting together so much sweeter.

Turning fifty-something has been surprisingly good for me. I’m enjoying this unraveling of sorts—this letting go—while still holding on tight to what’s really important to me.

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