Empty Nesting is for the Birds

The day my baby girl left for college, the last of my three children to fly the nest, I found myself in a heap on the bedroom floor.  I did all the right things saying goodbye like not bawling incessantly, not clinging to her clothing and pulling on her to stay just one more minute, and while I did get tears in my eyes when I saw her own mailbox; I let her go with some ambiance of grace.  Coming home, however, was a different story.

The house was empty.  Like, empty, empty.  The pitter pat of little feet had long subsided and the busy noise that lived here had taken it’s exit.  It was eerily quiet.  I paced.  I paced for a little while and then stopping short on the hallway of memories I keep on the wall in my living room I realized … those days were gone.  It was over.   My parenting, as it were, was no more.

Down to the floor I went.  I grieved, I cried, I bawled, I wretched.  Lying there, memories flooded through my thoughts and I saw vivid images of my children growing up.  At each memory I felt sicker and sadder.  While everyone had told me, yes everyone, “It’ll be great!  What a relief!,” about empty nesting, this was so far from the truth I was screaming my shock.  No, I was a grieving mama and I simply had to sit with it.  No one told me how empty I would feel.

I thought, “I was just getting it right,” then they up and leave.  I thought, “They’ll never need me again,” or, “Did I do it well enough?”  All my chances, in that moment, were gone.  What was done was done.  Yes, I was in a very dark, scary place!

I went to the internet to read up on other empty nesters and all I got were thin definitions of the term I was living in and several lists of things to do to “get by.”   Create lists of things you’ve always wanted to do, start a hobby, call on friends, volunteer, etc., etc.  But these are all just busy things to avoid the real issue that I knew I was going to have to face.

It had to be about me now.  That’s the example I could set for my children.   That life goes on, is still wonderful, and that under no certain terms do you ever give up.  I knew, in those first days of empty nesting, that I had to go through the stages of grieving successfully and then come up with a plan.  Not a “stay busy to avoid thinking about it” plan, but a real one.  Something with meaning and purpose.

With my husband deployed I couldn’t focus my energies on him, though I do have a dear friend whose empty nesting resulted in the healing of her marriage and that is exactly the kind of thing I knew empty nesting was supposed to be.  A time of healing, changing, growing, and getting back in the game.

I could write, I thought.  But, about what?  I pulled out my laptop, dusted it off, and went through almost two pots of coffee just staring at the blank screen. Okay, that’s not going to work.  I tried reaching out to friends.  Some of them, in their busy lives, were too busy.  I was even actually told I was high maintenance by one friend.  That made me sad.   I didn’t want to be high maintenance, but I did want healthy friendships, so I paid attention to the friendships that filled me with purpose and inspiration and decided not to feel bad about the others.  Still, something was lacking.

My Kiddo's

My three fly the nester’s

I volunteered, thinking that if I could get involved with a cause I was passionate about, that would fuel me to continue to become a better person.  But, I was told they were “Cutting back,” and even though I had some ideas, it just wasn’t the right timing.  Back to the drawing board.

The thing about empty nesting is that it’s not that your children will never need you, want to spend time with you, or not come around on breaks and holidays.   They will, and mine do.  It’s just, well, different.  They’re adults now.  They don’t need to be mommy’d.  It’s time for the relationship to change, and while it eventually will turn into something astronomically beautiful … the in between of figuring out what that looks and feels like is hard.

For instance, when I text my son and he doesn’t respond I can’t get upset.  He’s busy.  It’s not a personal thing.  If he comes over for dinner and leaves right after, at least I fed him and I know he ate that day.  If my daughter calls me because her stipend didn’t go through at college and she’s in a panic it’s not my job to fix it, it’s my job to encourage her to fix it.   When my children, when being the key word, come around or call or text … it’s my responsibility to be the mom they need NOW.  Not the mom I was.  The kind of mom who listens.  The kind of mom who validates.  The kind of mom who doesn’t stick her nose in their business.  The one who shares her thoughts, not necessarily her opinions.

And as we morph into those kinds of mama’s we absolutely have to look at ourselves as women.  For this is the time that we, as women, show our children who we are.  Creepy, scary, difficult; but this is when they’ll get to know us on a brand new level.  I want to show up for that, don’t you?  I’ve just got to find that woman before they notice I may have lost her along the way.

So, I write.  Starting with this, on this new day, I am determining myself a woman of value who has the opportunity to get to know herself all over again.  What I do, where I go, with whom I do it with is totally and completely up to me – it’s time to rebuild.

So I started rebuilding by having my daughter and my grandchildren move home.  What?!  Okay, so I didn’t navigate that as successfully as I’d have liked too.  Ugh, don’t judge.  It was a timing thing, with my husband being deployed and her rent having gone sky high, it worked out to have her come home for a year.   I have my beautiful, amazing grandchildren to dote on, love, spoil, and pay attention too.

So, while I’m still working on me – yes, I’m writing right now! – I’m enjoying life’s little rewards that come at times in our lives when we absolutely need them the most.  Now, my next story is going to be, “How to live with your daughter and her children when they move back home after being gone for years.”   HA!

To all my empty nester friends … you’re not alone.  Let’s do lunch.

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From Fear to Fearless: This is YOUR year!

devil

When Amy was alive she always told me, “Be fearlessly you!”  She was a woman who lived by her words and yet for all the years she told me this, I never grasped it.  I lived constantly in my own self doubt.  The shadows of all my mistakes and shortcomings over-rode any light I thought I might possibly have buried deep down somewhere.  No matter what I tried to do, whether in career or relationships, it seemed like I was a vacuum sucking people dry because I hungered so much for validation.  I never stood independent of how I thought others thought of me.  So how could I change that?  What could I do differently this year?

What could I do so that when I looked into my children’s faces I didn’t see all my regret that I could have done it better before they left home?  What could I possibly change to see my husband take  a sigh of relief that he no longer carried all my pain or purpose?  My friendships, how could I operate in love in such a way that did not demand reciprocity?  How could I possibly be independently fearless and stand in my truth that while I’m far from perfect, I’m a beautiful being with something to offer?

I think we all struggle with this at one time or other in our lives.  We look around at those closest to us, those we’ve lost through filters through the years, and those we hope to become closer to in the future and we wonder … do I have what it takes?  Am I good enough?   Do I have value?

Fear.  Fear of being wanted, loved, and liked.  Fear of loss, fear of gain.  Fear of failure and success.  We become stagnant in our doubts, almost sometimes to the point of being frozen in it.  We stop going out, we are isolated with work and friends.  We shy away from socialization.   Then the voices really start up, man, they can be harsh.  See?  I told you, no one cares.  See?  I told you, no one notices you.

How do we overcome that kind of fear?  I went to my bedside one day and knelt, shaking, on my bedroom floor and I prayed, “Lord, my precious Father, you did not have this in mind when you created me, did you? With Amy gone now, I feel lost to courage and bravery.  I feel lost to me.  Help me to see myself as someone who can love as you love. Change my heart.  Mature me.  Please, give me opportunities to shower my world with faith and friendship and love and laughter and not do so with a selfish heart.  Train me up to stand in the gap for those I love, rather than whine about being the gap myself.  Let me be the light.”

After I was done praying I heard the word, “Act.”  Then, from Scripture, “Do not be afraid.”  In my mind I could hear the trumpets of Jericho.  Bring the wall down.  The wall of insecurity, fear, and doubt.  Shake it to its core so it has no hold over you.

I heard Amy, “Be Fearlessly You!”

I’m determined that this will be a year of letting go of fear and falling fearlessly in love with my life, my family, friends, and the path I am so blessed to be able to be on.

I pray, for all who read this and can relate, that you have the courage to stand on your knees, be humble to God, and become an action person verses a reactive person!  This is going to be a great year.

 

 

 

Retail New Year Confessions

 

She seemed to be somewhere around 75 or so, her white tipped grey hair thinned over a paled, wrinkled face that told stories I’m not sure I am worthy of hearing.  Her back was bent slightly and her knuckles clung to the cart, white as she wobbled forward. I watched her for quite some time over near the necklaces and earrings.  Then, feeling I should check on her, I meandered over and asked, “Is there anything I can help you with?”  She didn’t smile at me but more kind of oomphed and huffed, “No one can help me,” she gruffly spoke under her breath.  I reached out, put my hand on her cart, “I can.”  She stopped, looked up at me and laughed.  Not a small laugh, but a big, hearty laugh like when you survive the big roller coaster and realize you loved that feeling of almost puking your guts out.  Then she handed me the necklace and said, “I don’t even need this.  I just get out to prove to them I still can.”  I told her the necklace was cheap anyway.  We laughed for a long time.

He was upset that no one was in jewelry to help him when he hollered at me from across the way.  I ran over quickly, helped him pick out a watch.  It was between the silver diamond watch or the gold plated watch and I asked him, “Is this for your wife?  Which color does she wear more often?”  He lowered his head, “I’m not sure she even knows anymore.”  I held the silver one close in my hand and moved it towards him, “I like silver.  I think it reflects the light well.”  His eyes misted up.  He reached into his front pocket and slowly pulled out an old handkerchief, gently wiping his nose and dabbing his eyes before returning it, “She used to be filled with light.  Before I had to put her in that God awful home.”  I took the watch, put it into the box, and smiled, “Then silver it is.”  He thanked me.  As he walked away I saw my own husband, possibly many years from our own blessed time now and wondered … would someone comfort him too?

The woman had been seen putting a shirt up her shirt, after trying to rip off the security tag.  Managers were called to monitor the customer, to carefully and without being too obvious, watch from a distance until security could be called.  She went from one department to the next and I could hear her cursing other employee’s for “stalking me because I’m black,” and I anticipated her coming into cosmetics.  She went to the men’s cologne counter.  I stepped gently towards her, “M’am, is there anything I can help you with today?”  She reared back, knocking several bottles over, “No you can’t f&*(ing help me you sorry stupid white girl, what do you think, I’m stupid?  What do you think, I’m an idiot?  Can’t even come into a white girl store without being accused of stealing.  F&ck you and the horse your shi&t rode in on.”  She began to come at me.  I put my hand up and said, “I am not doing anything but asking you if you’d like some help with cologne.  I do not deserve this.”  She walked to the make up counter and knocked over several bottles of make up, throwing my brushes, “Bullsh*t, b(tc&, you are accusing me like everyone else.”  I wondered, was I?  I didn’t see it, only heard about it.  Now, this enraged woman was coming at me and throwing my stuff everywhere.  Was it my fault?  Did I do something wrong?  Wow.  This sh*t is really real.  The security guard was called and she made her way out of the store, security blocks beeping like crazy as she exited, screaming profanities and giving everyone the bird.  And I thought to myself …. “I wish we could just all be kind.”  One of the employees made a comment afterwards about that customer having “gone bi-polar” and I whispered, “I’m bi-polar.”  And then, that was the end of all of that.

My best friend died this year.  Her favorite color was purple and her favorite family symbol was the tree of life.  A customer came up to purchase a lot of items and I admit I was upset because none of it was anything I could get commission on.  She piled my counter high and then handed me five jewelry boxes that I had to, one by one, open and price.  I opened the third one and lost my mind.  Crying – not the kind where you slowly get the sniffles and your eyes barely tear over and drip slightly like in the movies but the kind of gutteral cry that comes up and out from a place in your soul you didn’t even know existed.  The tears fell hard and the snot followed fast.  I felt bad for my customer who was leaning over the counter, “Are you okay?  Do I need to call someone?”  I finally got myself gathered and though I debated telling her why I was crying, I felt her.  I felt her hard, fast, and gently all at once.  She said, “Hi Corky.  I’m here.”  I told the woman.  I told the woman why her purple stoned bracelet with a tree of life symbol in silver shook my world.  She smiled, “Well, we have to get you one!  C’mon!”  She led me to the place in the store where they were but sadly, it had been the last one.  Back at my register, she whispered, “Take it.”  I didn’t want to put her out but she said, “If I take it and wear it I’ll only feel guilty.  Please, take it.”  I did.  Later than evening driving home with the bracelet I heard Amy again, my Angel.  She whispered, “Will you please give that to my mom for Christmas for me?”  So I did.  Thank you customer.

Retail New Year.  It’s not always good but when it’s good its great and when it’s bad it’s a reminder of how much better we can truly make our world if we care enough.  Be that next customer.  Be that next person that someone goes home and tells their family about. Or their blog.

Happy New Year Retailers!

 

 

 

2016 I hate you. I love you.

You took my best friend.  This a year I will never want back, except maybe the parts when we laughed as she garnered the strength to get up and out of her bed and pretended to me, well, to most of us, that yes, she was fine.  Just a little heartburn,she’d whisper in between smiles.  The cancer never took her spirit.  I remember telling my boss at the time when I needed to be back to work, “I can get another job, I can’t get another best friend.”  Needless to say I have a new job.  I still don’t have another best friend, not like Ames.  Not ever.  Irreplaceable.  She is with me, I know this to be true.  I still rely on her.  As always.  But F U 2016..  Not fair.

And thank you 2016 for my husband.  The deployment two years ago and the one we face that lies ahead this year … can all go to h. e. double l. hockey sticks.  This year though, this year I watched him drink his bailey’s and coffee while he opened up his nascar driving experience and shook his head, “NO WAY!” He exclaimed.  Oh, that smile.  That smile I love even more since the first of the 22 years I’ve been seeing it.  Next year he won’t be here.  Thank you 2016 for him this year.

I hate you. I love you.  You gave me the worst and the best.  You gave me a reality that I often detested but a truth that I couldn’t avoid.  You taught me to stand strong, to be courageous, to fight for what I believe in, and to be forgiving and accepting of other’s in their fight as well.  I have learned much, cried often, laughed hard, grieved more grief than I ever thought possible, and heard the whispers of a beautiful fighter angel.  I hold my husband and my children close and pray prayers of gratitude because I am blessed.  And I don’t deserve it.

As my father said to me after my bestie went on to Heaven ….

“It is what it is and will be what you make of it.”

Dear 2017 …. Here I come.  And I’ve got an Angel at my back so watch out. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Weeks into my Arbonne Cleanse …

I’d post pictures but I look the same.  I’d like to report that I’ve lost weight, feel great, and am loving this cleanse.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  Like my brother Evan told me on the phone the other day, “Court, you’re crazy if you think something’s going to work in two weeks, duh!”, I suppose I should digress.

Frankly put, Arbonne is NOT easy.  I know,  I know … nothing good ever is.  I thought I’d jump on ship and do my shakes, take my greens, eat right, meal plan, etc., etc., and the weight would just fall off.  No.  It’s not.  I’m miserable.  I’ve eaten Paleo chili five times in the last twelve days and tonight I had shredded chicken with cabbage on a lettuce wrap. Ugh.  Not fun.  Not tasty.

Loosing weight is not fun.  It’s not easy.  And, I suppose ….. finding out which diet and how and why and when is the key.

So, I’ve been thinking.  Maybe loosing weight isn’t as much a quick fix plan but a life long decision to change eating habits.  Ugh.  I swear I’d kill for a Domino’s Pizza girlfriend.

Two weeks to go.   We shall see what happens.  All I know is that no salt, no carbs, no sugar, and no …. well …. pretty  much ANYTHING … is NOT FUN FOR ME!  BONUS?  I can have red wine.  Thank you Lord for wine. Please don’t turn my wine to water. Note to self:  drink more water.  Probably a lot more water.  Ugh again.

Girl … if you’re dieting with me ….. high five that $(T%#$.   This is NOT for the WEAK!

 

 

Preparing for Day 1 Arbonne Cleanse!

For about 39 years I never worried about my weight.  In fact, unless I was pregnant or nursing, I didn’t even have to watch what I ate. (what a $(@&* …. I know.)  I was a comfortable size 6 at about 5 foot 6 inches.  I always felt sorry for overweight people.  I felt sorry for women who were losing their hair.  I would be comforting and say, “No, you’re fabulous!” But inside I was feeling, “Please God, don’t let that happen to me.”  Truth.  Ugly, but true.

I didn’t want to get “old” – not that at 41 I am but let me just say ladies …. at 40 the tides become to come in and they just aren’t soft and subtle.

So here I sat, a 41 year old who suddenly weighed 234 pounds YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT.  I went from a nice steady 140 to 234 pounds …..and had lost some height and stood at 5 foot 5 inches. I’d lost so much hair that from any direction you can see how white my ugly scalp is.  I was miserable.  What happened to me?  Life I suppose.  My medications for anxiety and depression had some to do with it (Weight gain side effects are for the birds, and my husbands 4th tour overseas with the military didn’t help).  But then, I quit smoking on top of everything.  I was a smoker, yes.  For 28 years.  Two packs a day.  Until Pneumonia nearly killed me about 8 months ago.  So instead, I ate.  Ugh.

Skinny girl in a fat body.  I mean, for those of you that have known me through the years thank you, thank you, thank you for not mentioning WTH has happened to me!  I sware to you ….. just last week I was walking by a mirror in a department store and I thought, “Oh, gosh, that poor girl.”  Holy crap.  That girl was me.  ME.  The girl who can’t get up the stairs without stopping to take a break.  My ankles feel like they’re breaking, I eat fifteen tums a day, and my bowels?  Oh TMI.

So …. when my co-worker started feeling healthy and losing weight on a cleanse of course I wanted to hear about it.  Then, I learned it was an MLM.  The Arbonne Cleanse. Ugh.  Not my first rodeo here folks.  Been there, done that.  However, she was so excited about her own success I couldn’t help get excited with her.  I don’t have to sell it, just use it, right?

My husband was leaving for two months for Leadership training with the military and I knew, if I was going to make a move on my health and weight …. now was the time!  How fun to surprise him!  Hmmmm …. how to really stabefore-fronty motivated?  My son!  I have a 21 year old son in the military also who happens to be living at home right now (no pressure from me to move in whilst dad is gone. lol), and I wanted to see if we could do the cleanse together.  Mama and son.  He was in.  Not just in.  He was helping me afford it.  *insert tears.

We met Heather on a Thursday night in her new home, she was literally just moving in.  She was friendly, open, warm and inviting.  She also had a military background.  She explained the product, let us try some stuff, and then stepped back.

I told her and my co-worker we would think about it.  But, we were in.

Hence the food prepping tonight and the preparations to start this 30 day journey.  Here, you’ll find my “Before” picture.

 

before side.jpg

Here were my top 3 requests:

1.)  It’s gotta be easy.

2.)  It’s gotta be easy.

3.)  It’s gotta be easy.

Then, I learned I have to give up coffee AND martini’s.  Holy smokes.   So, tonight, I’m getting ready to dig in tomorrow.  My meal prep’s are all done for the next few days and I’m about to embark on a new journey for 30 days to change my eating habits and begin to develop a healthy lifestyle.  Please, don’t ask questions tonight ……. I’ve got a full martini and I’m enjoying the living heck out of it!  🙂  Love you all and I’ll keep you posted!

If you’ve done the Arbonne http://www.arbonne.com/pws/homeoffice/tabs/home.aspxcleanse, let me hear about it!

 

 

&*#! U Depression. I’m here to stay.

For some of us it’s situational and for others it’s a chemical imbalance.  For some it’s triggered by screaming people in our faces, reminding us of childhood abuse and for others it’s the long hot shower turned cold because we can’t fathom how we’re going to finish the day.  For some, bi-polar disorder, PTSD, Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Mania ….. showing up to work hoping you can make it until noon so you can drive around the block and sit at  the corner and cry it out or hell, not even making it out of bed on a Tuesday.  Tuesday’s are hard.

Truth.   Depression you DO NOT OWN ME.  I will refuse to allow you to take me down.  I will get help.  I will see my therapist.  I will take my medication.  I will eat right.  I will exercise.  I will tell the people I love the most when I am hurting instead of isolating.  I will REFUSE, do you hear me now, I will REFUSE TO TAKE THIS LYING DOWN.

I will write a book about you.  How you tried to kill me.   And I will save others because if I am here for good …. SO ARE THEY.

Believe.  Hard.  For whatever reason.  Depression ?  @*(# ….. WE ARE HERE TO STAY!

http://www.courtneyfrey.org

Redemption.  Coming Soon to Amazon.  Follow me at @courtneyfrey on Facebook for details on Friday’s launch!