After three years of dealing with the sickness and deaths of our mothers, 2018 was a year of transition. As I attempted to learn how to live our new normal—life without our mothers—I was faced with another type of loss, not one that elicited deep sorrow, but one toward which we had always been moving since my body opened up and deposited our babies into the world.
In 2018, both of our adult children moved away from home—and not just across town in a minor show of independence—to different states and hundreds of miles away to make lives of their own. The path I had been traveling—my Nest Makeover—had reached the grand epic conclusion. My book that had been hanging without direction now had a final chapter. I couldn’t be happier for my children, but I again stood at a crossroads and wondered where I was going, who I was and what was next.
This intensified with two other milestones in 2018: my 50th birthday and our 30th wedding anniversary.
This past year was supposed to be the year we finally took a honeymoon. We couldn’t afford to take one when we got married, so each milestone celebration brought hopes of finally getting that special vacation. Years ago, I decided we would take our honeymoon in 2018, not only because that marked our 30th year, but also because of my milestone birthday. My grandiose plan was to take a multi-week trip to Europe and visit England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy and any other smaller country that we could slip in and out of to say that we had been there. I like to dream big.
Very early in the year, I realized that wasn’t going to happen and—instead of feeling sorry for myself—decided we could spend the entire year celebrating our anniversary.
So, what did we do?
We found a new hobby—kayaking—and spent time on lakes and rivers pushing our bodies and calming our minds.
We went to concerts—Styx, Joan Jett, Tesla, Rod Stewart, Cyndi Lauper, Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, Carrie Newcomer, Graham Nash, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Cari Ray Trio, Five for Fighting—and I also saw Harry Styles with my niece.
We laughed at comedians Margaret Cho and Judah Friedlander at the Limestone Comedy Festival, one of our favorite events each year. We watched local stage performances, including “Fun Home,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “SPUN: A Brother/Sister Rock Musical.”
We ran in three 5Ks—Pink Power, The Arc’s I CAN and Race for Literacy—and Rodney ran his first mini-marathon—the Indy Mini.
We went to work parties and events together. We took in three Cincinnati Reds games. We celebrated each other’s personal victories, which included me speaking and signing books at Barnes and Noble in Indianapolis and Rodney co-leasing a photography studio. We worked together on an Ordinary Hoosiers project about Shane Waters and the Out of the Shadows podcast. We even expanded our horizons by attending “Sole: A Tribute to Sneakerhead Culture.”
This past year was one for travel. I went to New Orleans and Philadelphia with work, and Rodney won a trip to Shutterfest in St. Louis. We flew together to Denver—to visit our younger son and his fiancé—and hiked through the Rocky Mountains. We drove several times to Niles, Michigan, to see our older son. We traveled in a caravan to southeastern Kentucky to document my 95-year-old grandpa’s final journey home to visit family and gravesites. And then there’s the family reunion in Kentucky, which is always a grand time.
While we shared more happy, relaxing, fun moments that I can list here, we also struggled with big decisions, huge changes, and our progression into The Nest Makeover. Our children moved away from home in March and August, and, in October, we moved from a big house to a townhouse apartment.
Perhaps our greatest struggles were internal—the sorrow and grief hanging on after our mothers’ deaths, our declining health from a mold infestation, and our creative selves trudging through a barren, dry desert.
But the tide was turning.
As the clock counted down to 2019, I pondered how I would face the new year and I decided habits, happiness and life do not change with the turning of a calendar page. Positive change doesn’t happen unless I make it happen. If I wanted to manifest healthier habits and feed my creativity, I was the only one who could do so.
I decided that this year isn’t just about how I feel or what I can accomplish, but what I can help facilitate for the people I love. It’s about learning to love myself, letting go of past hurts, moving forward with each day I am privileged enough to live, being mindful of living in the moment, trusting my intuition and speaking up—oh, and finishing what I start, especially that.