My friend invited me to come join she and her six friends for a brunch at her house and lead a discussion about UNCERTAINTY.
I began with a story about a woman I know. She wanted me to share this story, not her real name. Nicole has two children and lives solo. Actually, her husband is in the same house she lives in but in separate bedrooms. She has lived in separate bedrooms for two years. Most of their interaction is data based about work, schedules, finances, and health in the family. They attend “events” together but not always.
Nicole does not have her head in the sand. She knows this is not an ideal way to partner. She also knows this is what she can HANDLE for now. She has gotten advice from lawyers, therapists, family members, friends, colleagues all wondering what is she waiting for when she knows this is a dead end partnering?
WAITING. There is always an orchestra of voices within giving advice of what to do. “Just pull the band aid off and get it over with. It will never be the right time. Oh, but there is so much that the two of you had that was great. Find that again. You aren’t getting any younger and soon you will have slim pickings. You are just stuck in fear choices rather than love choices. Did you meditate on it or ask for a night dream? You made a commitment. You need to keep it.”
Uncertainty can birth new parts of you to help you through the not knowing yet, like living with DISCOMFORT, being extra KIND to yourself rather than the critic or PUSHER buzzing in your ears, and LOYALTY to self, meaning make time to PAUSE and check in with you: How are you? (I’m scared and lonely). How else are you (I’m so mad at him and can’t stop thinking about that and then I am mad at me.) Those are examples of how to check in with yourself. Also ask yourself, WHAT do I NEED TODAY? “I need to take a drive with good music playing and then get out of the car for a walk in the city. Stimulation around me that is uplifting. “What else might you need today, “to brave up and ask my partner what he is thinking about our future.”
I hope I stay curious about why someone is doing or not doing what they are doing and not jump to fixing or advising. When asked what to do by a friend, I hope I take the time to BE with them, listen, bring some questions to the discussion, and ask if they want me to offer some thoughts that I have right now. Yes, to engage with them and participate in their pondering. When you love someone, you just want to MAKE IT ALL BETTER and better might be not having an answer, saying that, and sitting with each other in that energy of not knowing yet.
Take good care,
Can You Relate To This Story?
“If I tell them that I feel anxious, I am afraid they won’t include me. It just seems easier to be in the cult of wellness that is talking about cycling, juicing with added turmeric, organic food, meditation, getting into nature. Right now I am going through BIG CHANGES and I want to talk about how anxious I am. I want to talk about how I don’t like change. I get irritable and feel angry.”
Articles and books talk about, “SEVEN TIPS TO PEACE,” Tips, this is my life, not a how to make a flowerpot. I am deep in the dirt about the uncertainty of where my life is headed.
Honestly, I don’t want tips or tools. I think if I had to name what I want, it is comfort from another. Focus on ME. Well, that was hard to say out loud. FOCUS ON ME. Sounds selfish. Listen and then maybe say something like,” Wow, that must feel horrible today. I too would be so disappointed, anxious, if I were living that right now.”
I think I would feel less embarrassed and more able to speak up about my anxiety if others talked about being anxious at times. Story time about anxious experiences. I can’t be the only one who walks around feeling uncomfortable about entering a room, making a phone call, shopping, going to a wedding. Yes. I not only am so uncomfortable with these changes I am living, but just ordinary social life can spin me at times.
My friend shared, “Maybe we all lack the practice of forgiveness. Maybe we could add stories of how we had to forgive ourselves to the topic list of true stories we share with each other.
Take good care,
One of my friends is a painter, the other a writer and one a geek, as she says. When we were at dinner, we talked about the chaos of the world, the frustration of people talking on their cell phones in restaurants, and hurt feelings.
I also shared about my thinking about the life of a scientist. They are trying to discover something they have never known, what a thrill that must be and for sure a frustration. They seem to live a different mindset about risking and not having things work out. At times, I for sure am too attached to getting what I am reaching towards, but better than I use to be at, “well, just keep going, let that go.”
Each of us has had to walk away from friendships that were self-centered or negative. Oh man, that was painful. I have worked at putting my voice in the room and being “straight forward, throwing the arrow,” as I call it, This is a conversation I once had, “I feel used. You call me when you have problems and then you have to go. I would like you to call and ask about my day and how I am doing. We have talked about this before. What’s your take on what this is all about?”
What makes it easy and what makes it challenging to ask for what you want? Well, if I am in a good place that day, I go for it. If my doubter has grabbed me, maybe I don’t speak up. If I remind myself I won’t die from taking this risk, then I laugh and go for it. When I say, this is hard to say, as an intro, so please listen and let’s pause at times, then I step up. Oh, just pull the Band-Aid off and go for it. You don’t have to plan and be so kind. Guess who says that?
“My time is too valuable to spend with people who are takers and non-listeners almost all of the time.” They say they get it and yet they do the same same over and over when we get together. Well, my time matters and still I have a long history with that friend and walking away is so sad.
I wonder, does the GIVER actually get to feel more in CONTROL, which is their comfort zone? There are two sides, the plus of the GIVER and the blind spot of the GIVER. Ah, the birth of the SCIENTIST. There it is… We shall see.
Can you relate to this story?
“We’re here, parking the car,” said the ringing text on my phone. Door opens and in walks my kids, dog, grocery bags, and presents for Mom. Honestly, I just want that hand-written love letter about what a great mom I am. Oh, I see the card. Yippee. Who doesn’t want that love letter? Come on. You know you re- read long after this day ends.
They are cooking brunch. They know my favorites: lox, red onion, olive bread, goat cheese, apricot jam, guacamole, cucumbers, pumpkin muffins, and a hot coffee latte. Easy. Delicious. We sit on the patio in jeans. I am so happy.
The house is quiet now. They are back to their lives. I am still re-inventing mine, again. Checking emails. Going for a late walk and wondering, now what?
People in the big city seem to live on a routine. Have you noticed that? It isn’t easy fitting in friendship time or making new friends, let alone traffic and parking. I am not giving up. There is a tribe for me. One or two meaningful friends will do.
Anyhow. I know I need to meander wider and deeper about my passions. I want to get lost in them and then look up at my phone and say, I can’t believe how fast this day has gone. So fun!
Time to be more playful. When I throw myself into things I love to do, I am so happy. I will re- visit my WHAT’S FUN FOR ME and then begin.
Wishing you ease in finding your passions and then doing them.
Whether empty nest, divorce, new career, re-locating, illness, loss, grand parenting, friendship, etc., there were common questions asked in my groups, one on one and by my friends. I wonder if you can relate?
1. I have done all I can do to make this work and it isn’t. I feel frustrated, sad, and defeated. I thought if we had open, listening, asking, responding, discussions that we could work this out. Why doesn’t talking about it and negotiating our differences lead to a happy solution? Why? Could it be you are asking for something where the skills aren’t there in that person and the person is telling you that they don’t want to work at making those new skills happen?
2. I am always the one who reaches out to get together. We have fun. Then I don’t hear from that person. What the heck is that about? Maybe another question is, “what would happen if you asked that person why you haven’t heard from them?” Vulnerable I know.
3. I can’t believe how sad I am about my son leaving for college. Really, this is a reason to be sad? We have been preparing for this for years. What’s up with me? When you love someone and they aren’t going to be around as often, of course you are sad. Who wouldn’t be?
You may be dropping into the deeper grieving that the role you loved as parent is changing and you don’t know what the new role will be? They lead more now and you might be feeling a little more in the background of their new journey. What are you feeling and thinking about at this stage of your life? What are you longing for and what had to go dormant that now wants to surface?
4. I am anxious, depressed. It is not only the chaos and changes in our country, it is in my life. I don’t enjoy my relationship anymore and my job is boring. Too many changes at one time? One of the changes you are feeling is that you don’t have answers today. You are sitting in the unknown and that is uncomfortable for sure.
Our mind always wants answers. The unknown offers new perceptions, asking for help, patience, and trial and error. Daily practices, like being in nature, prayer, candles, music, asking for guidance from something or someone larger than you, recording your night dreams, are a few ways to receive when answers aren’t available, yet. Up your curiosity and compassion by saying something like.” I am not going to be forgotten and within me is a safe harbor, let me go there, sit, take deep breaths, put my shoulders down, and BE. You are loved.
This year and it is not over, I attended to DOING WHAT I DIDN’T KNOW I MIGHT BE GOOD AT. I know the parts of me that shine, rise up, fall in: leadership, listening, pausing, spiritual practices, communicating, problem solving together, cooking, photography, care-taking, writing, changing, weeping, silliness, and being still.
What I didn’t know was that I could accept what is for a longer stretch of time, rather than spinning in my active mind because life wasn’t as I wanted it to be that day. I am better at keeping false verses realistic expectations in check. I could enjoy the moment fuller and not have it lead to something else which discounts my joy.
I traveled more back-to-back schedules out of town and felt fantastic. I think drinking more water, carrying more protein in my purse, going for quick walks, and increasing my meditation, as well as, saying out loud to the energies that I know want to help, “walk with me, keep me aware and grounded.” As some of you know, I have an inner library of things I can try to ease pain, fear, and doubts.
You also know from our sharing stories together what spins me, what comforts me, what brings me to my knees, and how I LOVE CHANGE.
Take good care and share some of the questions you have these days. You are welcome to email me, email@example.com
PS. As you noticed, I didn’t go paddle boarding. I didn’t write a book with brilliant lifesaver thoughts and helpers. I didn’t learn to code, yet.
My GIFT from making the choice to MOTHER ANOTHER is, it took me out of my rapid MIND and into my wiser HEART. That is ongoing for me. My daughter is my teacher of what love IS and ISN’T. Love is complex, a mystery, and worth it.
Mothering sits me in the unknown and invites me to shift gears. It calls me to dig for parts of me I haven’t met yet that have been waiting and waiting to be heard. Other times, it’s a fun, easy day, or gratefully, an ordinary day.
I have sacrificed, chosen, and deeply cared for another, which of course I thought I could do, and yet, do you really know that until you are with that person day after day, year after year?
Many mothers have shared with me their happiness, regrets, and tears of parenting. Thank goodness we have each other, even when we live cities and countries apart. We need the village. We need to share our stories and ask for help. We need to ask questions and hear suggestions. We need to talk about what we are good at, what hasn’t arrived in our lives that we thought would by now, what we lost.
What might we be open to adding and what painfully do we need to hug goodbye. Deep MEANINGFUL questions about our precious lives. I know some struggle with, WHERE IS THAT TRIBE OF PEOPLE? I HAVE BEEN LONGING TO BE WITH THEM.
I want to acknowledge that some of our mothers are gone now, and some mothers weren’t very good at mothering. We feared we wouldn’t be either, maybe by not being available or being the “helicopter mom.” We weep about that loss. We weep about PARTNERING that doesn’t happen as you thought it would. We weep about NOT GETTING the kind of child you wanted. I am beyond grateful for the COURAGE and time women sit together, call together, be together to dive deeper into conversations that add meaning to their life and ours. We feel the belonging.
PS – How many of you have had to remind your kids SUNDAY IS MOTHER’S DAY AND YOU WANT A HAND WRITTEN LOVE NOTE?
Natalie was interviewed for the UC Observer article “Empty nests, broken hearts” – How today’s ultra-engaged parents suffer when their children take flight by Anne Bokma.
Here’s an excerpt:
“It can crash a lot of people. I see symptoms in parents like deep depression, immobilization and not eating,” says Natalie Caine, a Los Angeles life coach who offers specialized counselling for empty nesters. “People get angry when empty nesters feel sad, and they’ll say things like ‘Why don’t you just go volunteer?’ But their grief is real.”
I had the joy of returning to THE GOLDEN DOOR RESORT and SPA to present “Navigating the Unknown, Life in Transition,” for a week. I know some of you were sitting at dinner during this interview and others couldn’t attend.
I was interviewed by Kathy Van Ness, COO/General Manager of the Golden Door as part of their Speaker Series. (Click the link below to view the interview)
Change is possible, especially when we make time for ourselves to be nurtured and to gather new insights. I have sweet memories of laughter and heart-felt sharing, as I joined with you at The Door. You were open to diving deep during our sessions to discover parts of you that had gone dormant or were never seen. Those parts fed you new possibilities. You brought more curiosity to me from the questions you bravely asked.
Thank you for taking your time to connect with me for NAVIGATING THE UNKNOWN, LIFE IN TRANSITION.
My wish list, as you might remember, is to have A PAJAMA PARTY together any time of year. What is on your wish list?
Happy Holiday Season. Click here for the interview.
Take good care,
Natalie was recently interviewed for an article on Next Avenue. You can read the entire article here.
Below is an excerpt:
But Natalie Caine, an expert in empty nesting and other life transitions, tells me this phase is more complex than simply missing the family dynamic. Like the children who have just exited, we adults are entering a new developmental phase that hits everyone a bit differently, and it’s important to make space for vulnerability. No “shoulds” here.
Caine says when our kids leave, new emotions and thoughts emerge that catch us unaware. The most obvious is the wake-up call that you don’t have forever anymore. While our kids are adjusting to new beginnings, we are at the front end of the long letting go.
Natalie was interviewed for an article at the MetLife blog. You can read it in its entirety at blog.metlife.com.
Below is an excerpt:
“I didn’t think I would have my phone velcroed to me in hopes of hearing from her even though I love my career and have friends, family and a marriage. I found that dealing with an empty nest is about grieving what will not return and allowing yourself to weep as needed,” says Natalie Caine, an empty-nester who also founded Empty Nest Support Services to help others through the transition.
Natalie was recently interviewed for an article at the Chicago Tribune. You can read the article in its entirety at ChicagoTribune.com.
Below is an excerpt:
“One of the biggest challenges is unrealistic expectations,” said Natalie Caine, who offers empty nest counseling in Los Angeles.
She remembers taking her only daughter to college in New York, giving her a goodbye hug, and then, on her way back to Los Angeles, it hit her.
“I just sobbed and sobbed,” she said. She realized, “Oh my God, this is really happening. We’re really this far apart. I won’t be seeing her tonight or tomorrow morning.”
Natalie Caine, M.A. firstname.lastname@example.org | 10061 Riverside Dr., Suite 1002 Toluca Lake, CA 91602 | 800-446-3310