by Tina Bradley
'Empty nest syndrome' is what it’s called… Perhaps you’ve experienced it. Or, maybe, it’s looming on the horizon…
In the fall of 2008, my youngest son excitedly packed up and departed for college. Several months prior to that day, a good deal of time was spent bracing myself for what I referred to as 'the end of an era'. In retrospect, it was exactly that. What I hadn’t anticipated, however, is the fact that an empty nest could have it’s own silver lining…
Certainly, there was a sense of loss. And, yes, there was an ever-present, 'What now?' upon my mind. I have a doting, wonderful husband (whom I love dearly), and a professional career in public administration (that I value highly and have worked hard to attain). There was, nonetheless, the feeling that my nest was sadly empty. That is, until I learned how to feather it for myself…
What came out of my empty nest syndrome was a sense to uncover, rediscover and grow. It was intuitively driven, and, thankfully, I responded to the call. After a roughly 20-year hiatus, I began journaling again. This practice enabled me to get in touch with my emotions, to dream, set goals and determine greater purpose (beyond what I already had) within my life.
My newly feathered nest yielded an ever-growing list of treasures. It gave me a desire to embrace creativity wherever possible. From that, came art journaling, home decorating pursuits, a love of expressing myself through style, a re-introduction to my joy for drawing and painting, and the wisdom that life could indeed be art.
My nesting efforts led me to seek peace. As a result I discovered yoga (and my passion for it), meditation, affirmations, mindfulness and the power of carving out time daily for gratitude.
Within my bountiful nest, came the realization that I deserved to be nurtured. Pedicures, manicures, massages, 'me dates', all became regularly calendared events --rather than the occasional splurge. It became important that I adjusted my own figurative oxygen mask—before trying to assist others with their masks. The word 'No' became one I not only learned; I used it whenever I wished (and, without guilt). The practice of napping is one I readily reclaimed—whenever I needed to do so. No longer was it reserved for sick days or children, only.
Along the way, a newfound sense of 'can do' sprang forth. I began blogging. At first, I wrote a lifestyle blog—extolling the wonders of the newfound joys I had recently uncovered. About a year later (in my 50’s), I began fashion blogging, modeling my beloved wardrobe stylings for all to see. It has been a fabulous experience. I’ve happily connected with talented people from all over the world. When I first began fashion blogging, I did so to share my love of fashion and its connection to creativity. Unexpectedly, companies began contacting me—asking me to select courtesy items to model and/or review on my blog. What a great experience that has been!
Answering the call of my own intuitive knowledge is what began my 'nest feathering' in the first place. So, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the value gained in the realization that this little voice deep within deserves the highest form of respect. This is, without a doubt, another treasure unearthed with the nest.
I once read that mother eagles make their nests uncomfortable when it’s time for the nearly grown hatchlings to leave. Several years ago, my life became somewhat uncomfortable via empty nest syndrome. Truly, there’s no doubt it was the universe’s call to me to grow, change and learn the gift of redefinition. My nest is now one that’s continuously being re-feathered. It’s quite comfortable that way, and, as a result, I’m not leaving it any time soon!
Tina Bradley is an author, blogger, and artist on a quest to live more mindfully, gracefully, creatively, joyously + authentically. Tina lives with her cherished life partner of 36+ years, Mark, and their adopted shelter pet (a tabby cat named Tabitha). She and Mark have two grown sons (that bring them a never-ending sense of pride), Andrew and Patrick, and a beautiful toddler grandson, Oliver.
Read Tina's book here