creating a new nest in mid-life

Peggy’s Story: Re-Creating Your Nest

This is the stage in life where my mantra is simplicity not overload.
I found that when the children married my needs and priorities began
to shift. We were eating out more with friends, spontaneously taking
off on weekends. We decided to put less money into the house and its
maintenance and more into our hedonic pleasures. We wanted to pick
up and go more easily and clean up less when we were around.

Living a simpler life. It sounded good. We tried to imagine what
it would be like if we rented or bought a smaller place, got rid of
the myriad of articles we planned to read later on, gave away some
of the treasures we thought the kids or grandkids might someday want.
What would it be like to empty all those drawers filled with confusion
and start from scratch?

We turned our fantasy into reality. We sold our home in the suburbs
and moved into a condominium. For me the change was a process,
filled with a wide range of both positive and negative emotions.
And the adjustment took time. In fact, 2 years later I still feel
that I’m adapting.

I mourned the loss of so many things, both material and otherwise.
The end of a significant chapter in my life when the house was full
of family and activity, growing children and all their antics.
The idea that what I consider valuable pieces of history may be
relegated to the attic or sold for some ridiculous price on e-bay.
The possibility that my pre-menopausal body will be reincarnated
and I’ll be able to fit into some of those clothes again.

I sometimes miss the big gatherings for holidays and special
occasions. And when we do have people over, I often regret having
gotten rid of that platter because I sure could use it now.
What else do I miss? Some of the hard discs of my past life,
memories triggered by stuff, physical proximity to old friends.

Yet, I see this as a fresh start, sort of an ongoing vacation.
Lots of new people to meet, areas to explore, adventures to
create. We ride bikes and walk for miles. We are close to
restaurants, cultural events and other stimulating activities.
And did I mention that the grandkids are pretty easy to reach?

With less space and fewer rooms I found I needed a personal
space. Like when the children were teenagers and put “keep out”
signs on their closed bedroom doors. Remember that nesting
instinct? Now I’ve created a grownup nest. A space – to think,
to work, to reflect, to be quiet.

I feel content, surrounded by what is most meaningful to me.
I still have my award for perfect attendance in the 3rd grade,
the photo albums and heirlooms that trace our family history,
most of my treasured books and all the precious memories I carry
around in my head.


Stepping Stones: Feathering a Grown-Up Nest

Peggy has embarked on quite an adventure!

Moving is one of life’s major transitions. If this is in your
future, here are some ideas to help you begin. Please remember
that any process is on-going, takes time and involves
flexibility. Creating a journal will provide an opportunity
to dialogue with yourself as you brainstorm and plan.

(1) Know yourself – Examine who you are now and who you want
to become.

· Look to your past as you create your future. Are your
old dreams still meaningful to you?
· What is important to you now?
· Are you still committed to the same set of values?
· What “contracts” have you made with yourself or your
significant other? Which of these do you want to modify?
· What do you want to learn more about? Are there classes
you want to take? New areas you would like to explore?
· Where do you want to go? Do you want a major location
change or a change in housing? Are you planning to
downsize or try a new type of residence?
· What do you want to do? Do you want to work, play,
volunteer, or continue to explore options?
· What kind of life style do you want?
· When? Do you have a timetable?

(2) It is never too early – or too late – to begin gathering

· Find resources in the communities you might be contemplating.
· Speak to as many people as possible who have already
explored this ground.
· Speak to community members who might be in a position to
help you.
· Surf the net.

(3) Once you have created the dream, let your priorities
determine what is realistic.

· Is it financially possible?
· Are there any work considerations?
· Are you alone in making the decision?
· Are there others in your household whose needs you
will consider?
· How will proximity of family and friends affect your

(4) Understand that emotional reactions at times of transition
are both common and normal. Allow yourself to accept and
express your feelings as they emerge.

· You may vacillate between enthusiasm about your new
surroundings and sadness about what you have left behind.
· You might feel excitement about exploring new opportunities
even as you fear the unknown.
· Although you may regret what you have given away, you may
also feel relieved about less clutter.
· It is important to maintain open communication with your
significant other since the relationship may have its
ups and downs.
· Your individual experiences may lead to conflict or greater
closeness with your significant other.

As you begin feathering your own grown-up nest, be mindful of
what you need. Have confidence in yourself and trust that you
will maintain in your life what is truly meaningful. You will
discover you can benefit from your own experiences, traditions,
values and talents. While drawing from the past, you will create
a present for yourself that is rich and rewarding.

We wish you the best as you embark on your adventure.


Recommended Resources

· As you think about moving and downsizing use yourself
as a resource and continue your research in ways
that work for you.

· If you are comfortable being spontaneous, jump in and
make a change that seems right for you. You can
always revise and refine later.

· Consult with others to assist you in the actual downsizing
process. One book which might be useful is “Making
Peace with the Things in Your Life: Why Your Papers,
Books, Clothes, and Other Possessions Keep
Overwhelming You and What to Do About It,” by
Cindy Glovinsky.

Ms. Glovinsky, who is a licensed psychotherapist and
personal organizer, might help you understand the
psychological reasons behind your clutter and how to
begin freeing yourself from your “things.”


Our Invitation to You

Do you have your own transition story? We invite you to
share it with our readers for the benefit of women who
themselves may be dealing with similar changes. The skills you
used may be Stepping Stones for others. If you are interested,
please e-mail us.

(c) Her Mentor Center, 2004