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#midlifeblogger

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🎊 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.

Glow-ups are all the rage on social media and certainly make an excellent visual. Search #GlowUp, and you’ll see a plethora of before and after images of people who seem to have conquered their weight loss challenges, and kudos to them. 

I am sure many of them DO feel as amazing on the inside as their outside suggests, but sadly numerous studies conclude, many do not.

So what does this have to do with marriage and empty-nesting? 

EVERYTHING! 

It’s hard to feel great about yourself when you’ve been busy doing everything for everyone in your life—EXCEPT YOU.

As our big kids leave the nest after the holidays, it can be especially hard if our identity has been primarily wrapped up in parenting. Almost overnight, the house becomes eerily quiet and a little bit lonely if we haven’t found other passions to pursue as well.

So, how does it affect our marriages? Well, most experts agree it is challenging to feel completely loved when we don’t feel loveable or at least when we don’t feel like ‘ourselves’ anymore. 

When was the last time you did something for yourself without making sure everyone else was taken care of first? For many of you, it has been way too long.

I love being a mom. I will always be “mom” to my three kids, now 18, 21, and 25, who I enjoy raising with my husband of almost 30 years. We’ve had quite a ride—it hasn’t always been ‘perfect’ but we figured it out, and had a lot of love and laughs along the way.

Even so, somewhere between playdates and PTA meetings, I lost what makes me—“me.” My life felt pretty complete with a wonderful husband (most of the time), great kids (some of the time), good friends (to laugh and cry with), a roof over my head, and two cars in the garage. Still, I felt like a little something was always missing—and honestly, I felt really guilty about it. 

Who was I to complain? Shouldn’t I just be grateful for all I have? What more did I need anyway?

I never stopped being ‘busy’ long enough to think about why I felt something was missing. I didn’t even mention it to my husband (except maybe with little passive-aggressive well-timed grunts here and there)—it was my guilty little secret. Like many GenXers, the thought of asking ourselves how “we are feeling” is like speaking a foreign language.

Friend, I am here to tell you firsthand, if there was any time in your life to learn a new language, metaphorically speaking—midlife is it. 

We have to change our internal dialog and start asking ourselves how we are feeling?
What do we think is missing in our life, or what might light us up again?

God willing, at fifty, we have thirty-five to fifty years left on this earth. If you haven’t asked yourself how you want to spend the remainder of your time yet, now is the time! 

As I began to get back in touch with who I was before I was a wife, a mom, a classroom volunteer, and an auction chair—I started feeling better about myself on the inside. 

It’s a work in progress, but I am more aware of my feelings and continue to ask, “Why am I feeling like this right now?” If this is not something you’ve already been asking yourself, you might try it. 

If you’ve also been wondering what else this season has to offer, here are some questions that might help direct you to discover your own ‘Part Two’:

1. What did you like to do in your teens, twenties, or pre-kids?

2. What would you like to do more if time and money were not an obstacle?

3. When do you feel best about yourself? Serving others or getting lost in an activity or hobby, or both?

4. What do others say you are good at? If you don’t know the answer to this one, ask a few good friends.

5. If you are not currently working outside the home, would you consider it, and what areas might interest you if there were no barriers to entry?

6. Is anything else holding you back from pursuing something new? Fear? Imposter Syndrom? 

7. What are one or two things you would like to add to your life this year that would have the most immediate and positive impact on your life?

A few years ago, I told a counselor I felt like, “I had lost the woman I set out to become in my twenties. I didn’t know who I was outside or being a wife and mother.” 

After asking me many of the questions above and I, not having a clue how to answer most of them, said, “Lisa, interesting people do interesting things. I want you to try something new—anything.” Mentally I repeated…’ interesting people do interesting things.’

What?! I was already doing lots of things. Dang it, I was busy—he kind of ticked me off!

But you know what? He was right. 

So, I started taking a few classes at my local community college, experimented with different types of exercise, joined a writing group, started snow-skiing again, and even signed up for a hip-hop class with friends. I found out I like to write, but you will not find me channeling J. Lo anytime soon.

If you truly don’t have an inkling about what you might like to do. Then, grab a friend and try ‘something.’ An evening with friends painting, creating, and sipping wine is a great place to start. 

Research confirms that learning something new forms new connections and neurons in our brain, giving us a rush of dopamine, aka “the feel-good hormone.” Who wouldn’t like more of that?

Since I’ve started exploring what lights me up and what motivates me to get out of bed each morning—my husband has noticed changes as well. He’s encouraged me to continue my journey and has become my biggest supporter. Feeling better about myself on the inside has also led to greater intimacy in our relationship, which we definitely want to continue to nurture.

We talk more often about what we both want more, or less of, in our relationship. We made a goal to put ‘fun’ back into our lives—spontaneous getaways, dinner with friends, visiting our kids, and finding new activities to enjoy together—some of which were unintentionally put aside in the busyness of life.

My only regret—is not having started my ‘Glow-Up’ sooner. The good news for all of us is that “it is never too late to start something new.” With love, lisa@evolvingnestwithlisa.com

Original Source of Quote Unknown

I saw a post by Simon Holland, writer and comic, this morning on social media that said:

“𝗜𝘁’𝘀 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴,”𝗺𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳 𝗮𝘀 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗲𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗳𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗲𝗺𝗽𝘀.”

And I immediately shared it with my husband and close friends as that is exactly, me. Here, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, we haven’t seen measurable rainfall since spring.

So the forecast alerting us to over an inch of rain this weekend, along with lower temperatures, is being met with enthusiastic hoorays from everyone.

Personally, my ‘Harvest Decor’ has been up since a few days before September (don’t judge), as it hallmarks the “cozy” time of year—and I just couldn’t wait.

But, when I really think about the symbolism of what “Autumn” represents, I’m definitely not the first to dive in and accept that this new season is upon us.

Over 20 years ago, Christian recording artist, Nichole Nordeman, wrote the song “Every Season,” in which she describes the physical, metaphorical, and spiritual purpose of each season of life.

It has become a sort of anthem for me, recognizing that God is with me, no matter where I’m at in life. The song begins with a vibrant description of summer—when life is full and abundant.

Sure, it may seem overcrowded with busyness at times, so there is not a lot of time for reflection—just going, going, going. Having gone through the struggles of many winters of life, “Summer” is where I long to set up camp to create and savor every memory I can make.

But now, I find this verse of the song resonating most:

“And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still, I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder wind
I will offer thanks for what has been and what’s to come
You are autumn.”

You see, I’m one of those people who does not like to embrace “change.” I love tradition, routine, and yes, I’ll admit it—control.

CHANGE messes with all of that.

So, for longer than I care to admit, I thought I could beat CHANGE at its own game by preparing for it. I would imagine what a life would look like when my son and daughter eventually launched from our nest. I would ponder the traditions and holidays and how that might be obliterated because of their absence. I would say farewell in my mind to the precious ongoing memories that we make together, as our family unit of four reduces to just two.

As you can imagine (and perhaps even relate to), this line of thinking wrecked me. And not only that, because I had tried to get such a head start in preparing for CHANGE, it was destructive to the moments I had in those final years where we were all together. Instead of embracing those moments, I was fretting over how those moments might be my last.

I remember the first time I watched a parade with my mom and saw those strange flaps next to the eyes of the beautiful Clydesdale draft horses. As she’s the expert in all things equine, I knew she’d have an answer. She explained they are called “Blinkers” and blind the horse from seeing anything to the rear and peripherally. They are used to prevent the horse from being distracted or spooked, especially on crowded city streets.

I’ve thought a lot about those little leather patches, as I believe that has been what God has gently been attempting to use on me, “blinders” to keep my focus on the present. He’s been nudging for this all along.

Still, perhaps the introduction of Covid, forest fires, and a further dividing climate in our country has forced me to accept this perspective or risk plummeting fully into a life of constant anxiety and worry. Instead of using my imaginary telescope to zoom in on what might be furthest on the horizon, God has instead said, “Focus right here, Steph, I don’t want you to miss what I do TODAY.”

He’s also encouraged me to find joy in all the memories and traditions of the past, but not mandate they be part of the blueprints of the future. As the Ultimate Architect, He may actually have something so much better.

Another quote I love is, “Autumn teaches us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

Again, I’ve loved this statement because fall brings out all the “feels” for me. I ooh and ahh at every notice of vibrance in the changing colors and eagerly anticipate the first frost and opportunity to wear a sweater. However, it has been uncomfortable to attempt to unpack that sentiment and apply it to my life.

Now, I am finally recognizing its truth. CHANGE can actually be beautiful.

In my own life, it dug up lost dreams and passions that had been set aside because my family came first. I was offered a position to take over a third-grade classroom, and it was like a part of my soul emerged from its dormant cocoon. It was scary, exhilarating, and so far beyond what I believed I was capable of doing or any plan I might have construed—it ended up feeling like I had been made for just that position.

Likewise, my husband’s career transformed, offering more travel and responsibilities that ideally fit his personality but weren’t what was best for our family for two decades.

Trust me, as I share all of this, I still fail to keep this perspective on a daily basis. I’m constantly batting and pulling down those “blinkers” to see what others are doing at this stage of life or dwell in the concerns I have for what lies in the future.

But more importantly, I am starting to see the beauty in my own “Autumn” of life and perhaps the brilliance that comes from ‘change’ too.

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.  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.

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