I always thought we would go to the extreme land of Las Vegas, see a glitzy show, play 21, toast her with a mixed
drink, watch the people and the night lights as we walked from casino to casino, but she is studying
“Hi, mom, I am on the train with my friends and we are off for the weekend. It will be great. So
how pregnant are you feeling? “We both laughed since she will arrive in two days, 7:26 a.m. 7 lbs, 6 oz 19 inches.
“Oh, I am still stuffing my mouth with those cherry tomatoes and figuring out what moo moo I can wear tonight to the
play. I sure miss my jeans. Could use more sleep, but over all I just love being pregnant with you kicking on the left side
of my full belly” We laughed. “I don’t know if you will be able to call me mom or if I can call you, but I will try. I know
we always thought I could go to Vegas when I am 21. We will sometime. I miss you. Oh, I am staying in a hostel.
Gotta go, I borrowed my friend’s cell phone. I am excited, Bye, mom. Love you.”
I hung up and felt a
little sentimental about not being with her to celebrate this milestone of 21, but I also had so much work that the work
pulled me back to my head. Feelings will catch me when I least expect it.
Xerox copies of important documents to keep at home and to put in
different places while you are traveling abroad
Emergency numbers of the study abroad program and for your
child to have with them
Travel with the coins needed for that country , so you can get what you need as soon
as you land, like a bus, cab, snack.
Find out the charges to use ATM when in another
Perscriptions and medicine like Pepto Bismol, plan ahead
Wipes and Kleenex
what you need to bring for the housing. Some want you to bring your own towels
Bring a host gift that has
something to do with your home town.
Planner or small
Tuck love notes in your child’s suitcases
Your program will send you a
pamphlet and informationCheck the weather and pack lightly
Find out what you can buy there and the cost
so you can pack lighter…example sometimes jeans are really expensive in foreign countries
enough about the checklist.
What I have learned from the 12 kids going to different countries is: I WISH I
HAD KNOWN WHAT TO ASK WHEN I WAS A FRESHMAN about the requirements and choices to study abroad. Do I
need to speak Italian or French to go to qualify for those programs? What about my grade point average? How much
money to save for study abroad?
GOOD NEWSYour kids feel more confident, more independent,
and open to differences with other life styles and cultures and they have so much fun, compassion, and
My daughter has only been gone a couple of weeks and I love the IM messages that say,
“Mom, you would love this place. I think about you when I am walking around town and in the gardens and museums.
The flea markets are so you, mom
. Get over here…I love you.”
“Mom, I really love you and
appreciate all you have done for me to get me here. I know I left a mess at home before I left and you got stuck with
too much clean up and things to mail. I get it and am sorry. ““Mom, I just love you and learn so much from
“Mom, the staff is so nice.”
“Mom, we are going away this weekend and I am excited.
“Mom, I am almost 21 and that just doesn’t mean anything to these local people, but my new friends from
other colleges in America get it, so we are planning a party and a day exploring somewhere by train.
“b.r.b.” How often do we see that online and then they don’t come back and they sign off. Thank
goodness for away messages.
I am ready to pack my bags and surprise her for her 21st birthday
which we made so many plans and jokes about before study abroad was an option. Oh well, that‘s not going to
happen. I am off to the post office with a birthday package. Take care, Natalie PS…She likes vintage things so I found
21 vintage birthday post cards, but don’t tell her. SHHHH…the other gifts are just for her to know
“I’m here, mom. I’m safe. I’m happy. I love you.” That is my first email from my daughter who five days ago, went
abroad for part of her junior college year.
I am not a worrier and like all of us, I just smile when I get an
email and I ignite when I get a phone call from her. I love hearing her voice and her words about how she is living her
life no matter where she is.
I still can’t believe she is there. I feel like everything happened so fast from
Thanksgiving to New Years.
We unpacked her seven shipped boxes from college and then packed her
up for very cold weather and months of living abroad. I will not see her until the end of May. This is still not real to
All of us were exhausted from the holidays and then the details for studying abroad. She was only
home for 2 weeks with her east coast college friends and her west coast life friends visiting, as well as the family,
and then flying again, but this time, not to a place I can easily get to.
Each new experience, each flight
she takes, I feel mixed with tears and smiles. I see and feel she is growing up and acting more and more independent.
I am the mom who remembers the “little one” and yet there she stands , back pack, suitcases, passport, coat and
gloves, hair pulled back in a ponytail, eyes open like a window to a fresh new day. The hugs feel the same. The
love remains and off she goes.
Yes, I look back and wave one more time and simultaneously catch her
waves and big smiles coming right into me, the mom.
My tears drop and I walk out those automatic
sliding airport doors. I just can’t believe she is already on a study abroad trip. When did she get to be so mature and
when did I get to be so much older.
This month is my birthday and hers. When she moves on up, as I
say, I too, realize I am moving on up in the years of my life. I don’t feel old or even “aging”, I just feel sentimental for all
the love days she and I have had and for all the dreams that are coming true for both of us.
May all of
you stand by your child and still feel so in love and in awe of her as I do of mine!
All of us have a story to tell ourselves.. Sometimes we see the dark side, the negative side of our perceptions and
other times we see the light and positive expressions.
I believe both sides need writing release
The blank page might be numbing, but just begin with any thing. a word, a doodle, a
You can let it flow, spontaneously. You don’t have to write what you think you SHOULD be writing
about. There are no rules or judges here. This is writing time for you.
Anais Nin once wrote that
when she re-read her diaries she wondered why she didn’t write what really was bothering her at that time. She
wondered why she didn’t go beyond the surface. Why wasn’t it ok to write about sexuality?
people who journal will advise you to dive a little deeper or you might lose interest. Go for the truer self that wants to
say…what didn’t I really like about my friend Beth? What do I really wish I had told her and was just not ready to say?
What does that teach me about me and my values and needs…..my shadow side?
intimidated about writing because they remember their school days and have negative messages in their head about
writing. This is not school.
You may contradict yourself and that is ok. All voices inside you get a
chance to be heard. Life has contradictions and adversity. We are always learning about ourselves and gaining
People journaling might have an intention that this journaling is for a niece or a grandchild.
Usually you are writing for you! Choosing you is knowing who you are now and tomorrow.
and don’t put your pen or keyboard fingers down for 15 minutes.
Begin with what is present in you.
What is happening now, feeling now, thinking now?
You could start with:
The people I
care about are….
I am dreaming of …..
I am terrified of…..
In my life right
now I notice….
I am sad that I…..
My fun activities are to …..
really knew me, they would say…..
If I had unlimited support systems, I could let
Journaling is fun, freeing and a creative expression. It is a tool to have time with
just you and a way to unfold yourself in a safe way. Go for it!
Just begin and let yourself
Have fun with journaling today.Share with us anytime you want to pass it on.
am happy to help you begin journaling. Email and questions or comments you have. We are building a community
Take care, Natalie
Empty Nest Support is a welcoming harbor and a place to build a larger community for each other. I believe we write
because we are all wanting to make a connection, know who we are, and unfold what we are needing, feeling and
Sometimes we connect with “spiritual forces” whether it be muses, or inspirations. What we
name it doesn’t matter. What matters is we are longing to feel less alone, to feel helpful, alive, and adding meaning to
We all have parts of ourselves that are “the dark side” When that part of ourselves emerges,
sometimes, because she has been unheard in the past, she comes out in a way that I call, “off balance.” Getting to
know those parts of ourselves is part of healing and forgiving.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing can
bring you peace, but yourself.” This is true for me and it is true that I need others. We are all aching for a moment to
be held, to feel safe, and to know we are not alone.
May we continue to connect, to forgive, and to
reach in ways that helps us to know who we are now.
Much love to you all,
I believe this year is going to be full of opportunities to: believe you can, to risk, to say I am sorry and I need you to…. I
am so strong now, I traveled to… I need to cry again. I can give you… I am bored. I helped them… I trusted. I danced. I
sang. I found that part of me. I give you permission to… I negotiated… I read a classic. I let myself flow!
am committed to be present with myself and then to you.
I easily say ouch to others I can be held and
rocked in the safety of another human.
I don’t need the rush of rushing to feel alive. I walk feeling my
feet and seeing ahead as my eyes gently take in and look away.
I wake with thank goodness I don’t
have to……today. I am so grateful that you help me…..
I need to take in compliments, period! I need to
fill myself with those moments of receiving another appreciating me and not get so wigged out!
bigger self really trusts so when I wonder how something will unfold I will remind myself to let it go and know I don’t
have to go in order. Vision and gifts come to me even when I am not reaching.
My body speaks to me
and I listen. I just need to rest more when she speaks about sitting down.
I need to make more time to
de-clutter, closet at a time, but not with the idea that it all has to get done today. My wheel of life is balanced with
me time and giving to others. I get to change my mind. I review my written pie wheel that shows me my creativity,
money, health, relationships, spirituality, risking, intellect, hope, courage, trust, wild side, forgiveness and mystery. I
look and see where attention is needed on the wheel.
I have wishes and truth is I am better from day to
day learning what I need and want. I shout it out! I focus and let myself leap for it. I love that newness. When I get
discouraged, I let myself fall and the good news is, I let myself come back up again, because I can. I know there will
be sad, lonely, confusing, doubter days and I am not reaching for joy and peace realistically day after day.
I reach for coping skills and trust that I can handle the good, bad, and ugly. I believe in fun and joy and
peace, mostly I am lucky that I can feel those experiences..
I also know, things will challenge me, people
will frustrate and disappoint me, and images of me in a mirror will be distorted.
I know I care for me and
others will be there if I ask.
I know I feel lost at times and silly happy at others.
I like to
learn. I like to be smilingly surprised. I like someone else to lead me at times.
What do you like? What
does your closest friend like? What should is on your daily list and which ones can you wave goodbye to? How do
you comfort yourself?
What didn’t work out for you and are you still going for that or crying and
begging for that wanting to leave you?
What is still so painful you just need to empty,
What do you think aging means? Do you expect your body to ache, your energy to lessen?
What picture would you put in your bathroom of beauty and health?
What couldn’t you
live without? I hope I never have to live without music, a best friend, and the courage to survive losses. I need beauty
around me and I need to seek it out!
What is missing that you wish you had just read about in this
window of a life? What do you want to talk about today?