Facing the “IN-BETWEEN” Years

As the month of August unfolded the reality that my Son heads back to college to start his Sophomore year in 25 days hit me hard. I had that same pit in my stomach as I experienced all of last summer as his Freshman year crept closer with each passing day. 

It’s just me and my Son at home, so facing a truly empty nest for the first time in 18 1/2 years was beyond a challenge for me to say the least.

I had my ups and downs over the course of his Freshman year, but by the time he came home for the Summer I felt I had conquered a lot of those feelings.

To feel that sadness in my gut popping up again confirmed that I still have work to do, which I’m quite sure will be the topic of future posts.

My struggles leading up to my Son’s departure for college and during his Freshman year were well documented in multiple posts in “Waking the Walker – a Mother’s quest to survive her Son’s zombie years, aka his teens” and even on this site, so I won’t rehash them here.

If you haven’t already read them, I’ve included links below.

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/loosening-the-tether/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/season-of-transition/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/home-for-dinner/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/08/31/but-really-what-are-you-feeling/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/09/30/adjusting-to-my-new-norm/

https://wakingthewalker.wordpress.com/2018/12/30/every-new-beginning-comes-from-some-other-beginnings-end-seneca/

https://wakingthewoman.com/2019/04/28/confused-self-image/

I mention these struggles because it sets up my state of mind this month.

AND

How my thoughts meandered from facing my empty nest again, to where I am in my life, to what comes next, to my age, and the thought that my age, late fifties, has got to be some of the weirdest and toughest times to navigate, next to adolescence and teens of course.

I’m no longer middle-aged, but not quite yet considered a senior citizen, even if AARP is available at 55. Although, some days I do feel like I’m prehistoric, especially at the end of a long workday or week.

With my Son in college, my parenting demands are extremely diminished. As a matter of fact, while my Son is away at college they’re practically non-existent. Which is quite an adjustment after single parenting from day one.

AND

I’m not old enough to retire, but most certainly wish I could. 

BASICALLY

I’m somewhere “IN-BETWEEN” raising kids and retiring, and not quite sure where I fit in. It’s kind of a time of limbo.

A limbo that will take some adjusting too.

WHY?

My Son does still need me, at times, so my parenting duties are on again off again. This creates a push and pull scenario with me.

Just when I get in the rhythm of flying solo, my Son is home on break and it’s back to full-time Mom duty.

Particularly in the kitchen. Having to seriously plan dinners for a week after a long break takes some adjusting to.

Then there are the fantasies about retirement that sometimes make the workday seem longer.

Knowing I have a little over 8 years till I can officially retire and get full Social Security can challenge my psyche. It’s like the notion of retirement is taunting me. Closer than it was five years ago, but longer than I wish it was.

The thing with retirement though, it may be too early to start a countdown, but it’s never too early to start planning. This certainly helps push me through every workweek. Realizing there is light at the end of tunnel, even though faint, lightens the load.

I have friends who have retired, as have the majority of my siblings, yet the bulk of my co-workers are just starting families, raising young children or just starting the high school journey. To them the thought of college, empty nesting and retirement hasn’t even crossed their minds.

Not that I don’t have co-workers in a similar place as me. It’s just that we’re out-numbered by the young-ins.

Being somewhere between these worlds is kind of strange at times, and really does make me think about my age.

Something I never really did before. I guess because I was too busy raising my Son and helping with my Mom in her later life to even consider it.

BUT, with my Son turning twenty in December, it finally hit me.

I’m knocking at the door of 60. 

Not that 60 is old, my Mom was 94 when she passed, and up until 90 she was doing pretty good. She was very youthful in her thought process, and I feel all her children inherited that.

Age is just a number; it’s your state of mind that impacts how old you actually feel. 

That’s probably why I never gave my age a second thought, until now.

Facing the “IN-BETWEEN” years makes my mind wander to the past, thinking about all the life I’ve already lived.

AND

Wonder about the future and the prospect of retirement and how to make it a reality.

I certainly have a real desire to slow down and take a little more time for me, but because I still have the sometime demands of parenting and the full-time demands of work, it’s hard

Then I look around my house at all the unfinished projects (that accumulated during my Son’s high school marching band days) that I thought I would tackle once my Son was away at school and get mad at myself because I barely tackled anything during his Freshman.

Not because I’m lazy, but because I’m tired during the week, having a thyroid disorder and doing overtime certainly doesn’t help.

Weekends then turn into to playing catch-up

BUT

As I discovered during my Son’s Freshman year, sometimes weekends turn into driving an hour one way to the college because of an issue with my Son. Whether it is moving him to a new dorm because of a rude roommate, or his computer is on the fritz, there goes any free time that could have been for projects at home.

Those “IN-BETWEEN” years rearing their ugly head.

I’m beginning to think though that maybe the “IN-BETWEEN” years are really more like a stepping-stone to retirement.

A time to not only plan financially, but mentally and emotional work on the adjustments needed to go from working full-time, to no-time, or should I say My Time.

Oh how glorious the sound of My Time is, but I know some people have a hard time adjusting when the daily routine of marching off to their job ends.

So it’s crucial to prepare for that change, and this “IN-BETWEEN” time is ideal.

And, I also have to start preparing for the day post college graduation when my Son heads off on his new career venture. This could be even harder than him leaving for college.

So, I guess, instead of being challenged by this “IN-BETWEEN” time, I need to embrace it.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Images originally posted in “Waking the Walker” – purchased from 123rf.com

60 – 123rf.com – copyright – miceking

Finding Peace in Every Day

With my annual exodus to the beach to recharge my soul now behind me, I’m working hard at carrying the calm that comes from the sea air and surf with me as I face each day in the real world.

As I told a co-worker “I’m trying hard to hang onto my vacation shine.”

This is something I tell myself I’m going to do every year, but a month or two into the real world post vacation I’m working my way back into the “when is my next day off mind-set.”

I don’t mean the weekend; I mean an actual vacation day, a day with no real schedule, a day to play.

Like a day off is the cure all for the every day stresses we all endure. Granted it helps, but there has to be a way to find peace throughout every day, not just on a vacation day. Especially when they’re so few and far between.

Rumor has it, the key to finding this peace is to pause, breath deep and center your thoughts on something tranquil. This may be true, but the real trick is to prevent getting to this point

As I drove to work one morning since my beach trip, at a point in my travels where I crest a hill and the morning sun shines across the hills of the valley, my thoughts meandered to the calm I felt as I took in the beauty of nature. It was the same calm that happens when I’m free from schedules, deadlines and to do lists.

I may have been driving to work, but my mind and body were calm and free from the typical morning watch the clock en route to work mode.

It was at this point that I realized the key to carrying the calm the beach gives me is to find that calm from nature throughout every day, not just when I’m intentionally taking a break to do so, like a week at the beach or a walk or bike ride on the trail near my house.

I need to consciously pause daily to observe this beauty and soak in the calm.

Observing nature around me when I’m driving is the norm for me, but while in the office it’s a different story. Like most, my office is in a suburban area and I’m stuck in a cubicle. So observing nature takes more of an effort. Not that there aren’t windows in the building, but I have to leave my cubicle to access them which is certainly doable, but standing at the front door staring out may concern my Boss.

It’s a matter of being attentive to the smallest thing, even if just in passing.

A small bird building a nest above the front door, the wind lightly rustling the leaves on the branches of the tree in front of the building or the shadows the sun casts on the sidewalk as it dances through the leaves of the tree.

Allowing my attention to drift from my work to the beauty outside the window is essential to me fulfilling my desire to “hang onto my vacation shine.”

This might seem a bit spacey, but taking just 30 seconds to pause and focus on something other than the task at hand will allow me to clear the clutter of the day from my brain and allow my mind and body to calm itself.

At home I sometimes do this randomly, especially at sunrise and sunset. I’m a real sky watcher and the drama and colors that can explode at those times can stop me in my tracks, and often do.

SO, I do have this built into my make-up, it’s just a matter of consciously taking a moment during the busy work day to look out the window, soak up natures beauty and recharge, even if I’m not feeling stressed.

The idea of being pro-active when it comes to nipping stress in the bud before it strikes is nothing new. There are plenty of books, magazines and blogs with “how to” info, BUT, what works for one, may not work for another, so the trick is finding what calms you, and then figuring out a way to seek this during the flurry of every day.

For me that thing is obviously nature. It has a soothing effect on me. Using it as “therapy” during the workday is something I never thought of before, at least consciously.

Beyond the anti-stress benefits, I also find being in-tune with nature to be very beneficial to my spiritual growth which just so happens to also tie directly into my road of self-rediscovery.

Whether we want to admit it or not, all journeys of self-discovery or rediscovery involve some level of spiritual awakening or reawakening. After all, we are all spiritual beings having a human experience and our spirit is here to experience all the lessons this life has to offer.

So I see this “30 seconds of nature to stay calm epiphany” as a stepping-stone in my sojourn to rediscover myself. A stepping stone that can turn into a leap if I can truly live by my words.

The pressures of every day will be the real barometer of my success. I’ll keep you posted.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Photos from my personal collection

Trust the Universe

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s you can’t force things into being. Sometimes you just have to be, and let things fall into place as they were meant to be.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s you can’t force things into being. Sometimes you just have to be, and let things fall into place as they were meant to be.

You also have to learn to “trust” that everything is as it’s suppose to be and the universe will let you know when it’s time to make a move. As my Mother would say “God’s time is not our time. Be patient.”

I have learned however this is easier said than done. It’s human nature to want to find an answer or resolve a dilemma as quickly as possible. It is not that simple to “just be.”

There have been periods in my life when I truly lived this though. Sort of working at something I wanted to change, or resolve, but allowing things to flow, not forcing anything. And no freaking out when things seemed to stall.

I have also had times when my frustration with my situation had my mind constantly spinning on ways to force change or find a resolve. All this did was bring on more frustration and anguish. And, even polarization. I was so consumed by finding an answer just achieving day-to-day tasks was daunting.

To be honest, just going with the flow can be very challenging, especially when you want change or an answer so bad you can taste it. 

When I look back over the roads I’ve traveled thus far, I realize the times when I did just go with the flow, my life was more pleasant and actually more productive. Being fluid and flexible, even bending when necessary is what brought results.

At this time though, I find myself somewhere in between these two. 

Continue reading “Trust the Universe”

Clearing Old Energy

This June marks forty years since my high school graduation. In all honesty had a few of my classmates not decided to arrange a forty year class reunion I probably would not have given it another thought

Let’s face it, what with all the hormonal changes going on in a teenagers body, and the fact that teens are becoming more self-aware, high school has to rank high in the “most challenging times” of a person’s life. Even for the popular, over-achieving set.

I know for me it most certainly was.

As a transfer from a small, private Catholic school the transition to public school in ninth grade was not very easy. I was quite comfortable with my tight-knit small group, but once I got into the large machine that was public school all my insecurities resurfaced.

Being new we all stood out, which is most definitely something you don’t want when dealing with a lack of self-confidence and being self-conscious of everything about yourself.

I felt like a square peck in a round hole. If not for my Catholic school buddies and a few new friends I made, I’m not sure I would have made it through not just ninth grade, but all of high school.

As my confidence grew and I got more involved in clubs and got to know more people each year got a little better. Not that there weren’t those who still triggered my insecurities. The key was to avoid them to the best of my abilities.

By the time graduation day arrived I was completely indoctrinated into public school. BUT, that didn’t mean I wasn’t thrilled to be done with all of it and moving on to a new adventure in college.

It was at this point, all of our lives went in different paths, and the clearing of the old began. We just didn’t realize it.

Over forty years life levels the playing field. 

In that time a lot of life can be lived – college, careers, career changes, job loss, – marriage, kids, divorce – putting kids through college, kids getting married, grandchildren – caring for parents, loss of parents or other loved ones – retirement dreaming, or even retired already, if you’re lucky.

We are not who we were, we are who we are, forty years post graduation.

Life most certainly helps to mold and shape an individual and by the time you’re in your fifties what happened in your teen’s pales in comparison to the real world.

In other words, you’ve “GROWN UP.”

I know for myself becoming a Mom, and loosing my Son’s father three years later more than impacted who I am today.

The insecure, self-conscious teenager doesn’t exist any more. 

Not that I don’t have days when I’m feeling less than stellar and experience self-doubt, but I don’t have time to linger on that, the demands of the real world see to that.

Especially during my Son’s child rearing years. His needs preceded any feelings of inadequacy I may have experienced.

So, with all this in mind I was more than excited to see old classmates. I knew for me it would be the perfect time to clear out the old, sometimes negative energy surrounding high school memories and usher in new, positive energy for the future.

As I walked into the reunion, it was evident that we were all in this same place. The air was filled with positive energy and a spirit of grand camaraderie. It was non-stop chatter and bouncing around trying to talk with everyone that was there.

Over the following week I pondered the nights events. We may have been brought together initially in high school, but now we were all united by our own journeys since high school.

It made me realize how important it is to look back in order to move forward. If we don’t own the good and the bad that we’ve experienced in our lives sojourn, we can never be whole

BUT, once you’ve done so, let go of the negative, so there’s more room for the positive to grow.

So as I work my way through my present stage of re-discovery, I can honestly say I crossed a major threshold by facing the challenges of my high school days without flinching. Not sure I could have done that twenty or twenty-five years ago.

In addition, I’m grateful for those experiences. Without them I would not be who I am today.

AND, I’m grateful for all those classmates who had my back. You know who you are. Much love now and always!

Having the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and actually make new friends of classmates I didn’t really know that well is a beautiful thing.

Or as the commercial says “Priceless.”

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2019. All rights reserved.