October 3, 2016

Change the Scenery: Week Seven

Caudebec-en-Caux, France
photo by: Kim Urig 2016
For as much as I had to write in week five, I didn't post at all last week, primarily because we were on a vacation. Which leads me to what I recommend from a firsthand experience. Plan a trip. Get out of Dodge. See something new.

For the first time in however many years, you don't have to worry about who is going to watch the kids or what you would actually miss if you went away. Your children are going forward with their lives and it's your turn also. They aren't the only ones who are now independent.

If you are worried how in the world to juggle tuition payments as well as a trip, it doesn't have to be an exotic trip, but it needs to be a change of scenery. I found myself watching all the fall school activities my friends were posting about and swirling deeper and deeper into a sense of longing and loss.

Walking away from everything that had kept my life so busy a year ago and filling it with something so different than my regular grind was exactly what the empty nest ordered. In our case, we took a river cruise in France along the Seine River. This isn't meant to be a vacation showcase article, but rather a suggestion why getting away was such a mental health break.

My husband and I had been planning a big trip for our 25th wedding anniversary, which was last year. We delayed it a year because it was our daughter's senior year. While our trip was rather grand, the bigger takeaway is that the change of scenery was really what helped reset my emotional state.  We had limited internet access, we were in a different place, and were interacting with different people.

On our trip we met several other couples, many of them retirees, who upon finding out our last child had just gone to college were practically high-fiving us and saying "empty nest is best!" It certainly wasn't what we thought we'd hear, but truthfully, it helped us get some perspective. All last week, we socialized with new friends in different stages of life and remembered that this is only one of several more stages to explore as we age.

Here are some ideas for a trip regardless of what your budget may be:
  • Explore local hiking or biking trails. Getting the adrenaline pumping out in the fresh air is an incredible rush and you'll slow down and see things from a much different view than the typical mom taxi view. 
  • Plan a weekend at a bed and breakfast or look into weekend specials at state park lodges. Go somewhere that you won't get news from home unless you really work at it. 
  • Visit a friend you have been meaning to catch up with for ages but couldn't make time.
  • Go camping. Fall rates are very reasonable and the weather is still temperate. You can find nice cabins if you'd rather not completely rough it, but getting outdoors and unplugging from reminders is incredibly soothing.
  • If budget isn't a consideration, consider planning a trip to somewhere you've never gone. Don't go back to a family vacation destination, which will only make you nostalgic, but instead, visit a new place, plan a dream trip. Start planning it while your child is still home so when that one month itch is really getting to you, you already have the time away planned. 
Over the last week, my husband and I hiked and biked across the French countryside, we drifted along the Seine River, reverently explored the D-Day shores of Normandy, and made new friends. I returned, jet-lagged, but with a completely new outlook and energy.





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