A while back I had the fortunate blessing to meet an Empty Nest Kindred Spirit on LinkedIn. Her response to a question I had asked on a group page let me know I needed to know a little bit more about her! She’s the epitome of the empty nest mindset I like which is to learn and grow after the kids fly the coop.
Today, I would like to introduce you to Rebecca Lacey. She is the creative mind behind Wonderland Odyssey. Wonderland Odyssey is a ‘leadership fable.’ It’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ meets Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ While it hasn’t been published yet, she still would like for you to stop by and read excerpts and say hi.
Here’s how our interview went and I hope you enjoy!
Empty Nest Then and Now Basics
Was discovering your new “you” as an Empty Nest mom a hard road? Did you take any, classes, read books, or anything that you felt helped you along? Share as much detail here as possible. I’m hoping here to really inspire mom’s to search if needed to redesign themselves. OR, maybe you knew ALL ALONG what you would do, so please share that confidence as well!
It was a bumpy road that I have fought against for a very long time. You see, when I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. I used to write stories to entertain myself when I was still in elementary school. Then somewhere along the line, I lost my way. I went to college and perused a career that was more predictable. I got an MBA and went to work for one of the biggest corporations in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed life in Corporate America.
Then I made a detour and my husband and I started our company, and that too has been great. I have met people and gone places that I couldn’t have imagined (worked in India and Indonesia, for example). However, there was still that nagging little voice that was always annoying the hell out of me. I ignored it to the best of my ability for years, but it was persistent. Finally, it got its way when several forces converged that put me back on track to being a writer (but I still have my company in case you need any training or coaching!).
The first was having a live-in muse. How can you fight your dreams if you have a spouse who removes all the obstacles and is your biggest cheerleader? (Thank you Larry!)
Second, I was asked to write the foreword for a book. I did it, and my writing is in a published work that no one I know has or will ever read. But it felt so good to write it and see it on Amazon, and be able to hold a copy of that book in my hand even if my contribution to it was just a few pages. My nagging little voice said, “See. Told you so!”
Next, I was introduced to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is when masochistic writers from around the world surrender their lives for the month of November in the quest to write a novel. I accepted the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. When I started, I didn’t think I had that many words in me. However, by the end of the month I was at 70,000 and still writing. Thus, “Reinventing Holly” was born. I finished the book, but have recently decided that I’m a better writer now than I was then, so I’m rewriting it. Note: This was a relatively easy process for me because of my muse who generously removed all obstacles from my being successful (dishes, laundry, cooking… I’m a blessed woman, let me tell you!).
Last, through a strange sequence of events, I started collaborating on “Wonderland Odyssey: Turning Leadership on its Hat” with a friend who I met on LinkedIn. Interestingly, she and I have never met in person. However, our little bundle of joy is complete and we are now in the process of looking for an agent to represent us (know anyone who might be interested?).
Of course all of this is a learning process for me. I’m involved with writer’s groups on LinkedIn where I continue to learn from many talented people. I have entered several contests and submitted short stories. I haven’t won any contests, and am still waiting on the verdict about my stories. (Gee, I wish I could tell you that I was an overnight success, but such is not the case). I participate in monthly writing challenges that are open for anyone in the group to read. It can be a bit daunting to be a newbie having established writers reading my stuff, but I’ve had lovely feedback from many gracious people. That is a great encouragement to keep going. Of course the feedback and encouragement that I have received from my husband and daughter is golden.
I spend at least part of everyday working on my writing and reading about the craft or learning more about the business end. Will I ever make any money doing this? Who knows? I hope so, but even if I don’t it is still something that is so liberating, and it has made me more creative in business, etc. I am most assuredly a happier person. Oh, and that nagging little voice is still there, but we get along much better now that I’m listening to it.
Have any of your personal values changed now that you are living confidently in your new Empty Nest Mom role?
Perhaps so. With a lot of encouragement from my husband, I am investing in me more than I ever had before. This is important! It is a significant part of who I am, and it was a part of me that I denied for far too long in deference to ‘more important things.’
Tell us about what you are doing now in your empty nest. Work? Business? Travel? What are you doing in your empty nest years?
All of the above! I am president of an international training/consulting/coaching company (yeah!). I love our clients and they continue to teach me so much. We are looking at expanding through affiliates into new international markets. We are small but we have had some amazing opportunities.
My husband and I volunteer quite a bit. It’s fun, we meet wonderful people and are making a difference.
A year ago our garage burned down. It was a 4-car garage and half of it was just storage. When we rebuilt, we didn’t have nearly so much stuff to store. Therefore, I took half of it to use as a studio where I pretend to be able to paint. I’m looking forward to learning how to do some woodworking, too. My dogs really think that it is their giant doghouse complete with fireplace, a/c, and a comfy futon.
Mostly, however, I’m busy letting out all those stories that have been dammed up for years. I figure that I’ll have to live to at least 130 to get them all down on paper. That means that I’m not even middle aged yet!
I’ve met many people in their “empty nest” years who are looking to slow down. I’m looking at a successful third career.
What advice do you have for empty nest moms that are feeling a little lost and/or confused during this transition?
Remove all barriers. This is the time to really invest in you. I hear many women say things such as, ‘I don’t have time to…,’ or ‘I don’t have the money to…’ Start with tiny baby steps and see where they take you. Dare to dream!!!
All those sound so cliché, but they are true. There’s no time like the present to step out in faith. When I coach people I ask them to imagine their perfect day and what makes them feel really good about themselves. This is a good place to begin thinking about ones next adventure.
If you want to continue to make a difference in your kids’ lives, follow your dreams. We all want our children to do that, but so many of us don’t follow our own advice then wonder why our kids don’t either. I’m happy to report that my daughter is also embarking on a new dream. I like to think that I inspired her in some small way.
Also, I’ve planned how I’m going to celebrate when one of my books or stories is published. You should plan how you are going to celebrate your accomplishments.
Any other final comments for empty nest moms?
Don’t wait to win the lottery. If you are doing something that you really love, you won’t need it anyway.
Kim Steadman is the COOP (Chief Online Operating Person) for The Re-Feathered Nest. A place of encouragement for moms entering the Empty Nest Zone who find they need to RePurpose and ReDesign their lives now that the kids have flown the coop. Kim can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheRefeatheredNest and on Google+ at +Kim.