Sunday, August 13, 2017

Letting Go - Becoming an Empty-Nester

We spend a minimum of eighteen years as parents, feathering our nests, taking care of the children, and running a hundred miles a minute, all to ensure that our children are well taken care of and their every need is met – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

As summer comes to a close, many parents are posting pictures of the iconic moment in their lives - the moment they become empty-nesters. The proud, smiling faces in the pictures hide the heart-wrenching actualization that this chapter of life is also coming to a close.

There is no sound in the world more surreal than the final closing of the door. We find ourselves in an empty house or apartment that seems so much bigger than it once was. The only sounds being those we make ourselves.

The vast emptiness of the home expands into the abstract of life. The questions start to form in the depths of the night.

  •          What do I do now?
  •          How will I fill my day?
  •          What is important?
  •          Do I still have a purpose?
  •          What is my purpose?

Our lives don’t end when our children leave home. You would think we would know that as our parents survived our own departures. Yet, we struggle. It would be more concerning if a person didn’t struggle with the change.

The truth is that becoming an empty-nester requires that we allow ourselves the time to grieve the loss of our parenting role in their lives. Once they become adults, we have to let them live, grow, and master adulthood – without our interference. As much as the Mommy and Daddy in us wants to be there to hold the safety net, and smooth the rocky road for them, our children will experience failure, no matter how much we don’t want them to. We have to take on the role of the advisor or mentor, anything less is a disservice to their overall well-being and ability to handle life as it is.

Looking forward into all the possibilities can be energizing and exciting. The future is a canvas waiting to be painted, a story yet to be written, an experience yet to be had. The attitude in which we approach the future is the key to the unveiling of ourselves.

I have been an empty-nester for six years. It’s been an exhilarating time in my life.  At first, I wasn’t sure of my path or direction. I assure you, no matter what stage of empty-nesting you are in, that it will get easier with time. You will find an entirely new and different relationship with your child(ren). It will be the time when you find that your adult child is now one of your oldest, closest, and dearest friends.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Downscaling is a Necessity for Women 45-54

Change is an event in everyone’s life that happens by circumstance or choice; and sometimes both. For those of us living in the afternoon of our lives, we seem to have a heightened sensitivity to change. We are a bit more cautious in our decision making. We quickly sense when change is about to occur, whether we want it to or not.

However, in the first quarter of 2016, most women 45-54 did not expect to see this:

After a hopeful spike in full-time employment in the last two quarters of 2015, full-time employment of women (45-54 - excluding self-employed), began to plummet, plateau, and then dive again. As we see in the first two quarters of 2017, full-time employment for women in this age group is seeing an uptick, albeit a small one. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 8-5-17.)

Women are becoming more cautious in our choices as to what we will buy, what is important enough to spend money on, and why we are making purchases at all. This is significant to consumer based companies, because the single-woman rate in the 45-54 year old age bracket is still hovering around 50% (approx. 21.4 million).

Due to the fluctuations in the job market for women in this age group, our buying power has been significantly reduced.

In the 45-54 year old age bracket here are some things to consider:
  1. Many are the mothers of children under 18, or college aged;
  2. Many are driving cars that are 7-10 years old;
  3. Many are opting for the apartment life vs. home ownership;
  4. Many make approximately 90% of the home purchases; and
  5. Many are notorious comparison shoppers.

We are hunkering down, shedding debt like so many pounds at the home gym, and pinching pennies wherever we are able. We are downscaling: buying store labels over premium, frequenting stores like Wal-Mart and K-Mart and even shopping on Amazon to get the best and most for our dollars.

Women who are 45-54 can see the writing on the wall. It’s clear as day to us, and instead of becoming fearful of what is to come in the future, we are preparing. The minimalist lifestyle isn’t all about less stress; it’s about survival in an uncertain future.