Eight years of living in my own empty nest, along with talking to other empty nest moms, has shown me we commonly fall into one of two ditches when the kids go off to college. Either we don’t feel like doing anything. Or we find ourselves on a hamster wheel of busyness. Whether you’re fighting to find motivation or struggling to get it all done, these 10 ways to savor life will help you get back on the road to a balanced life you enjoy.Moms commonly fall into one of two ditches when the kids go off to college. #emptynest Click To Tweet
But first: Don’t try to do all of these today. Instead, choose one and make it your focal point for a week or two. Consider how you want to make the most of your new choice. Take adequate time to let it change the way you think. Journal discoveries you make about yourself in the process. Then come back and choose another tip. All of these small pieces are part of learning to intentionally savor life.
And second: Adapt these suggestions to fit your interests, personality, and schedule. But don’t use your differences as an excuse not to do them. Although you may tend to think or act in a specific way, stretching yourself may open up new lines of interest or bring new friendships. You may realize you’re not scared of doing certain things after all. You may discover you’re not who you’ve labeled yourself to be all these years.
So, let’s dive in!
10 Ways to Savor Life…
1. Get up early.
What? Yep. Get up early. I know this goes against the grain of common thought on how to relax and enjoy life. Sleeping in seems the obvious choice. But learning to savor the early morning hours can change the way you see your day and surroundings.
Grab a mug of hot tea, find a quiet, cozy corner, and let the day wake up around you. Enjoy the details you missed in the normal rush or routine of getting kids off to school. Light a candle or put on music. Read or write or just sit still. Allow yourself to soak in your first thoughts before they evaporate. The rest of your day will carry the glow of these first, unrushed moments if you recognize and embrace their beauty.
Other early morning ideas:
- Go for a walk.
- Pray and meditate on scripture.
- Take a drive to your favorite lookout to watch the sunrise.
- Enjoy an early breakfast date with your spouse or friends.
2. Don’t rush.
This may mean prepping a few items before bed so your morning routine is more relaxed. Or setting aside a day or two each week for leisurely lunches alone. Instead of checking social media with every free minute, unwittingly causing your day to pile up on itself, take time to breathe. To notice details. To move slowly. Give yourself margin to take in unexpected encounters.
This summer Matt and I had an extra hour between checking out of our hotel and when the shuttle bus left so we explored the beautiful old chateau where we had stayed. Floor after floor, hallway after hallway, we discovered magnificent ballrooms and paintings, rugs and stained glass. This private, unplanned, unhurried tour turned out to be a highlight of my trip.Give yourself margin to take in unexpected encounters. #emptynest Click To Tweet
3. Say hello.
Our lives are surrounded by people. Even if you work from home or rarely go out, a trip to the grocery store or Post Office crosses your path with several dozen people.
- Take time to look these neighbors in the eye.
- Notice details of their clothing and demeanor.
- Make note of their individuality while recognizing some are most likely experiencing the same challenges you are right now.
- And for a split second, smile and say hello. It doesn’t cost anything but your time and self-occupation, but will leave you both much richer in kindness.
4. Close your eyes.
Usually, your eyes are the first to enter a scene. But for a moment, close your eyes. Don’t pick out the visual details. Instead let gentle aromas meet your sense of smell. Beyond the most obvious noises, are there more subtle sounds back two or three layers deep?
And your sense of touch… Did you notice the breeze on your cheeks, the spongy grass beneath your feet, or the soft hand nestled deep in yours? Allow your taste buds center stage as you distinguish individual flavors and textures in your food or drinks. Elements that would have been rushed over or left unnoticed become treasured boosts in your day when you expand the way you see.
5. Sing a song.
Scientific research has shown large portions of the brain are activated by music. Additionally, your brain is hard-wired to connect music with long-term memory. We’ve all experienced when a song comes on and transports us back in time.
So, in this moment, hum a melody. Sing a favorite tune or make up your own. Let the notes run free in your mind as you repeat it a few times. Now look around and take in the details. Allow yourself to make a new memory right in the middle of today. Next time you hear that song you’ll get to revisit this place.Allow yourself to make a new memory right in the middle of today. #empowerednester Click To Tweet
Who doesn’t love to smile? And yet we rarely do so on purpose. Instead we wait until someone or something comes along to prompt us. Research shows, however, that a lifestyle of laughter and smiling causes one to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life. Smiling not only changes your focus from anxiety to thanksgiving, it actually stimulates the brain to release gratification hormones while blocking stress. Truly a profound gift from our Creator in a world overrun by worry.
Take a tangible step today to bring more joy into your life. Pursue laughter. Engage others with the single goal of bringing a smile to both of your faces. Take time to appreciate what you love about your life. Pull out old photos. Call a friend. Create art. Finish a chore. Serve someone.
I’ve never been particularly athletic, but I started walking daily out of necessity 20 years ago. It soon turned into a treasured lifestyle. I walked early in the mornings to breathe in the sunrise and fresh air. I walked in the afternoons to calm a busy mind and hear the Holy Spirit. I walked to relieve pressure and gain perspective. I walked the kids to school and to get groceries. And in the process my mind and body responded to this gentle, consistent exercise.
- Grab a friend or go solo.
- Explore a walking trail or climb a hill.
- Park a few blocks from the office or store and slow your pace before starting your workday or errands.
The location isn’t so important as taking time to savor the details of the experience.
I’m often shocked by how many people I see wearing earbuds while walking or sitting. Even driving or reading. Some of us live in quiet, country environments. Some in busy cities. Either way, we miss a million sounds a day if we filter them out in favor of mental isolation.
Although I love music and enjoy audiobooks, nothing replaces the immediate. Pull out those buds and lift your head. Listen to the breeze in the leaves. Savor the sounds of life and growth and busyness around you. Listen, really listen, when others speak to you. What are they saying beneath their words? What are they insinuating by their tone? What do their eyes say without words?
And listen with your spirit. What is Your Creator whispering about your future? Your past? Your today? It’s more than worth your time to listen.Learn to listen with your spirit. #emptynest #empowerednester Click To Tweet
Have you ever made your way through the grocery store with the specific mission of not being seen? I think we all have! Whether it’s a bad hair day or a bad mood, we all have moments when we’d rather not talk. But some of my best conversations have happened in spite of my determination. When someone caught me and struck up a conversation before I could duck around the corner.
Engaging with life around you is what keeps you alive. It keeps you learning and interested and growing. I know we all need our own space to rest, but isolation (even in a crowd) will become addictive if you’re not careful. Every moment offers opportunities to engage, to connect, to smile or speak or help or encourage. And when you mix in the leading of the Holy Spirit, it all goes to another WOW! level. When you get that nudge, don’t push it off. Step up and connect. Joy comes from living purposefully.Joy comes from living purposefully. #empowerednester Click To Tweet
10. Believe the best.
I’ve written and re-written this paragraph several times now and I’m down to this thought: We all have a choice of how we address the life in front of us.
- You can hide out.
- You can put up your fists.
- You can give up and lay down.
- Or you can find a greater, more accurate perspective.
Believing the best doesn’t mean you don’t face the facts. But in the midst of these facts you choose to ask the Holy Spirit for His perspective. You choose to believe the truth of God’s word and character and history with you. You choose to believe God’s goodness, wisdom, and power can change any circumstance and any heart. And in this choosing, your faith empowers you to move forward with joy and expectation of good.
Today, with the people you meet, the goal you’ve set, the prayer you’re praying… Don’t rush. Listen with your spirit. Sing a song. Engage. Believe the best. And you’ll find what you’re looking for.