Empty Nest Success Evangelist specializing in coaching mothers entering the empty nest. ★ Master Motivator ★ Podcast Host ★ Together we'll channel your freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy! ~ Christine, Your Empty Nest Coach
I not only survived my very first retreat, but I had an amazing time, too! It exceeded my expectations, and I can’t wait to do it again. What crazy idea do you have that you should try? This one was mine, and I’m so thankful I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it.
In honor of my crazy idea, this episode is also an experiment for me, so if this is your first time listening, know that this is not my usual format. It is more of a narrative and an audio journey. Whether you are a first-time listener or not, thanks for giving this episode a try. I open with the sounds of nature that I heard as I laid in my tent during my very first GPS Reset Weekend Retreat.
I’m thankful to my first retreat attendee, who took a chance on my idea, signed up, and uncovered how brave she is.
00:00:00 [Background nature sounds] Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 42: My First Retreat: An Audio Experience. … Hello, my future empty nest friend. This episode is an experiment for me. If this is your first time listening, know that this is absolutely not my usual format, and more than likely will happen very rarely. It takes a lot more work. Whether you are a first time listener or not, thanks for giving this episode a try.
00:00:00 [Background nature sounds] Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 42: My First Retreat: An Audio Experience. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that has been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it is freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
00:00:40 Hello, my future empty nest friend. This episode is an experiment for me. If this is your first time listening, know that this is absolutely not my usual format, and more than likely will happen very rarely. It takes a lot more work. Whether you are a first time listener or not, thanks for giving this episode a try.
00:01:01 [Background nature sounds] These are the sounds of nature as I laid in my tent during my very first GPS Reset weekend retreat. The event exceeded my expectations. I am so incredibly thankful of my very first retreat attendee who took a chance on my crazy idea, signed up and uncovered how brave she is.
00:01:24 Okay, so I’m walking home and some of my friends asked if I would do some vlogging, so I will put this all together at the end, but I’m about to go on my very first retreat, and the night before I’m staying all by myself, camping. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this, so yeah, I’m a little nervous. But it’s an emotion. I’m going to work through it. I’m going to build my own freaking fire, and it might rain on me, and I will let you know how it goes.
00:01:53 Look at that sky. That’s the direction I’m heading, and the torrential downpour that I just drove through, could be an interesting evening.
00:02:02 Yes, I do all of the set up of my campsite the night prior to my attendees arriving. My site is kind of the home base, so I have a covering for the picnic table. My tent is huge, in case it rains all day, we can hang out inside there, with our chairs and still do our coaching. I do that the night prior. It also allows me time the morning before arrival that I can recharge myself, so I may serve them best.
00:02:31 Look what I did. I’m almost done. It said drape rainfly over the tent. Okay. Tent and me. It’s like, taller than me. I’m like, how am I going to do this solo? Slow and steady. Being present. I’m really proud of myself, and I did notice after getting this far, that all the poles I put in upside down. That was fun.
00:02:55 Wow, that took twice as long as the tent. But I did it, so now, if it rains, I can run from one to the other and cook.
00:03:04 In case you are wondering, I stay where there are modern restrooms. No pit toilets for me. I draw the line there. And, I look my best late at night in campground’s restroom. If you’re listening to this and not watching it, yes, I have a picture.
00:03:20 [Background nature noises] That’s like a creepy movie. I have my solar lamps in the tent. I am in the tent; I did a fire. It lasted more than 10 minutes.
00:03:29 [Background nature noises] It’s 6:30 in the morning. I made it through my first night all by myself, and if you watch the rest of this video, you’re watch my hair get worse and worse.
00:03:38 [Background nature noises] Hey, so it’s about 9:30. I just finished reading a book. It’s the Dalai Lama, and what’s it? “An Open Heart.”
00:03:48 I’m charging all of my solar items, including my phone right now. Well, using the solar panel to charge my phone, before I go on a walk. Just in case.
00:03:59 Well, I made it to the trail. I cleaned up the campsite a little bit. I have water. I have everything I need, and I will show you the falls, maybe a little bit of the trail, too.
00:04:19 [Background running water noises] As I walked along the trail, I stopped to listen to the water a few times. It’s so interesting, I’m trying to just focus on nothing, nature, without labeling it. That’s really tough. I only make it a couple minutes, if I’m lucky, and then I catch myself thinking about all these things. I just came upon a wedding in the woods. That was pretty cool, by the falls.
00:04:57 [Background running water noises] So, here I sit, and I think I made a little progress on my own. When I was on that spot, I should be no less peaceful than when I’m sitting here. Tough work. Really tough work. There was one moment where I slipped on a rock, and my foot fell into mud. The focus and energy and presence that I had at that moment, you know, it’s like it pulls you out of everything else you’re thinking about and all that you’re focused on is that moment, is moving your foot from one place to another. I had no anxiety for the first time in my life over it, so I’ve made progress, but that focus and determination is what we want in every moment of our lives. Whether it’s sitting at our desk, whether it’s sitting here in this beauty. You know, there’s beauty everywhere. Sitting at our desk, driving in the car, and those thoughts and the presence of being where you are in the moment, is what you take with you in every moment of your life. The environment has less to do with it than our thoughts, and I already know this, but I was thinking of the irony of I say that as I’m sitting here in nature. But sometimes we need these moments to reset us, to regroup us. Let me tell you, it’s really hard to walk through, to go through life and really stay present. Oh, my. But it’s worth it.
00:06:32 I felt led to keep my hands together, kind of like, thank you, praying position. It keeps me balanced and little more focused on my thoughts. There’s some bug on me. Excuse me. What I noticed, is when my thoughts trail into other things, like when my guest comes in a few hours, or my day job, my pace changes. It’s not as peaceful. It depends on the emotion brought up. I just found that interesting.
00:07:03 [Background rushing water noises] I made it to the bottom of the falls. Interestingly enough, the top of the falls is not well marked, so you easily could do this whole trail and miss it. So, my voice-over you might not be able to hear, is that sometimes the most beautiful parts, just like life, are off the trail.
00:07:23 Two hours and 45 minutes later, I’m back to my car. I really took my time. The purpose was not to be fast. It was for mental health, and it was good. It was worth it. It was what I needed. Off to get back to the campsite, and get ready for my guest.
00:07:43 Yes, I provide a covered picnic area for my retreat guests, as well as a two-burner camping stove. I brew a lot of hot water for coffee. I need coffee. I don’t pack elaborate meals for myself, and go for ease, lots of raw fruits and veggies. Kind of what I eat at home, too, to be honest. If you were to join me, I provide water and coffee for you. You bring whatever you want to eat and any coffee additions you like. One of my favorite moments before my guest arrived, was when I bought an axe. Isn’t this how horror movies start?
00:08:22 I bought an axe, chopped some wood, and I made that fire. It’s legit. It’s a real fire. I’m just going to move a little back here. Look at that.
00:08:34 [Background nature noises] Once my guests arrive, I am available for encouragement and assistance as they pitch their own tent at their site. We then have time to meet one another, and chat through dinner. We end the evening with group coaching and some introductory discussions about presence, around the fire.
00:08:51 [Background camping stove noises] Hi, so it’s Saturday morning. I got up early, prepped the stove, so water will be hot for coffee, and we’ve got about an hour, and then we’re going to go on a silent hike, or a place to just sit, and work on presence. So, good work.
00:09:11 [Background fire noises] My retreat guest built this. I’m super proud of her, and we just roasted marshmallows, had smores, and we are working on finding our future selves. Fantastic.
00:09:32 Christine: Yes! Oh, my God.
Retreat Guest: Did you get it?
Christine: I got so excited, I moved the…
Retreat Guest: Okay, now we need to get more. I want the bottom cotton balls to light.
Retreat Guest: Oh, got them.
Christine: All right. We’ll come back, show you how we did.
00:09:48 Christine: Oh, that’s video. Hey, say “Hi.”
Retreat Guest: Hi.
Christine: Here’s our fire.
Retreat Guest: I did that!
00:09:53 [Background nature noises] I’m going to bed early tonight. We earned it. We did a lot. It was great. So much work and came up with the idea that, if you are on this retreat, you will leave with three action items that you can implement over the next 30 days, and I will check in with you, 30 days or a little after, not necessarily that day, to see how you are doing, and see if you need to assess, address, change them up, or if I just congratulate the heck out of you, which is what I want for everyone.
00:10:32 [Background camping stove noises] Good morning, it’s Sunday morning. I cannot wait to drink my coffee, which is heating up right now. We had rain last night, and looks like everyone did okay. I’m waiting for check in shortly. It was a great day yesterday. This is super exciting. I’m so glad I did this. Whatever crazy idea you have in your head, you need to go do it, because this was one of mine, and I am so thankful I did it. I can’t wait to do it again.
00:11:06 We took a short hike to a lake, and worked a little bit more on presence. We also worked a little bit on staying on the not-so-well-marked trail. While my guest looks like a walking advertisement for REI, I’m kind of jealous, I am layered with whatever is in my closet to get me through the day. Both levels of hiking gear and camping preparation are perfectly acceptable for these GPS Reset weekends.
00:11:35 On this, my very first retreat, I had just listened to Brook Castillo’s podcast episode titled, “Giving It Up.” It hit me Sunday morning that we have the perfect opportunity to list things we are ready to give up in our life. Write them down, and burn the paper in the fire. So, we did that. Now, my guest’s ready-to-give-up list is not mine to share, but mine, for this trip were gossip, afterwork TV watching, doubting myself, and talking to fill quiet. Yeah, I gave myself one extra. Always the over-achiever. Go away, I’m done with you. Yours catch? Yup, yours caught. Okay. Done with them.
00:12:24 Hey, red cheeks an all. Oh, by the fire. My client just left. We had a fantastic first retreat. It worked out really well. She was kind enough to leave some words about her time here with me, and I am about to pack up my things, and I’ll let you listen to them. Here you go.
00:12:49 Christine: If you look at your goals for this trip, do you feel as if you’ve reached them?
Retreat Guest: So, one of them, I reached. It was to go home refreshed and reset, and I definitely feel that I’ve reached that goal. The other one was more far-reaching, but I definitely feel like I have a direction and some clear ways in which I can work every day on achieving that goal.
Christine: Did you get anything else out of this retreat?
Retreat Guest: I think I’m going home feeling a little bit more confident in my own self-reliance. Even though Christine was at the site next door, it was the first time I ever pitched a tent and slept in the woods by myself, and that felt great. It was the first time I ever started a fire, even attempted to start a fire from a spark, and I did it. The fire was great. It burned for hours.
Christine: My last question is, what message do you wish to give someone considering this retreat?
Retreat Guest: Just do it. Just sign up. Find the courage to sign up and then you will find courage through the weekend that you never knew you had.
Christine: Thanks for joining me and I hope to see you at one of my upcoming retreats. Bye!
00:13:52 [Background nature noises] The questions I have for you in this episode are: have you ever done anything like this? And, would you ever do anything like this? I invite you to fly on over to our Facebook group to share your answers to these questions with our amazing flock. Our name is Green Popsicle Sticks. Want to know why? Listen to episode number 17, or head to my website, youremptynestcoach.com/community for links to join our flock. I know the adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. We look forward to seeing you there.
00:14:30 [Background nature noises] Okay, we’re going to get back on track, and my next episode’s title is “Are You Living Your Life as a Victim?” If my episode has helped you in anyway, please share it with one other person you think it will help, too. You’ll be giving them a free gift. Thanks for your time and energy with that, and thanks so much for listening, my empty nest friend. Remember, you are amazing!
I enjoy scrolling through Instagram and making new connections on that platform. One account that always makes me smile is Midlife Highway, which is run by the ever so funny, Jo Davies.
Jo has supremely fresh and funny posts and is highly engaged on the platform. She shared a few photos and Insta stories about her walk on the Camino de Santiago this year. The stories piqued my interest, and a few thoughts arrived in my head: I would like to know more about this walk, and I would like to know more about Jo. I bet some of her other followers would like to know more, too. I’m going to invite her to be a guest on my podcast.
And she said, “Yes!”
Not only that, she took the interview call while she was on holiday/vacation, and stayed up late! She’s got the amazing thing figured out!
This conversation, along with my recent camping trip, simmered together to inspire me to create my GPS Reset Weekend: Unplugged and Charged Up retreats. A shout out to Jo for being a vital part of that recipe!
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed speaking with her.
Take a listen or read the full transcript below.
⇓⇓⇓ More goodies below, too! Scroll all the way down ⇓ so you don’t miss anything! ⇓⇓⇓
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Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 36: Walking Through the Empty Nest Transition With Jo Davies. …. My wonderful listener, if you are on Instagram and you aren’t already following Jo Davies on her Midlife Highway account, you need to change that. Let me read to you her current Instagram bio. …
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 36: Walking Through the Empty Nest Transition With Jo Davies. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that has been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it is freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
00:00:40 Hello, my future empty nest friend. Before I get started today, I have a request. My team and I are planning on taking some time off over the holiday season, and rather than going completely silent for that time, we thought we would share listener favorite episodes, or snippets. That means that we are looking for your submissions for one of two things, something you learned from the podcast that has helped you, or you’re favorite episode. For both of these, explain what they mean to you, and tell us what episode number it is from. You may email your recorded submission with your phone audio recorder or type it out. Send your submissions to podcast AT youremptynestcoach.com. We look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for your assistance.
00:01:52 My wonderful listener, if you are on Instagram and you aren’t already following Jo Davies on her Midlife Highway account, you need to change that. Let me read to you her current Instagram bio. Midlife Highway/Jo Davies, Great Britain, Living, learning and laughing, hoping to inspire positivity and happiness. Just being me, cake-lover, ever so slightly — slight bonkers.” I’m slightly bonkers. How can you not love her? One of my favorite periodic posts of Jo’s is titled, “Getting My Goat This Week,” where she shares real life in an amusing fashion and ends each post with, “As usual, if anything has got your goat this week, do share. It’s a great way of making everyone else laugh at your misfortune.”
00:02:41 Christine: Welcome to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, Jo.
Jo: Thank you very much. I’m delighted to be here. I think what you do is absolutely fantastic, Christine. I think more people should be doing it.
Christine: Right. We all should. We need to talk about all this stuff.
Jo: We do. We do.
Christine: I love finding more of us. Just keep talking. It’s so great, because it makes more people talk. It’s just awesome. I’m so thrilled to have you here today, Jo. You are one the Instagram accounts that continually entertains me, and I have found myself wanting to know more about your life. So, first of all, thanks for being open enough to join me today, and for sharing part of your life with us. I would love it if you would start by telling us a little bit about yourself, your family and where you currently are on the empty nest journey?
Jo: I’d be happy to. I am 50 for one more week. Next week, I will be 51.
Christine: Happy birthday!
Jo: I’m hanging on to being 50. Thank you. I have been married for 24 years, to John, who is a property developer in the Cotswolds, in Dag Gloucestershire, where I live, in the U.K. I have three children. I have a son who has just left university after four years, and I have another son who is in his second year at university, so he’s 20. My older son is 22, and my daughter is about to go to university, and she is 18. In terms of empty nesting, it was very interesting, because I was thinking about it, because my children all went to boarding school from quite a young age. So, the whole kind of empty nest thing, as your children leaving home, it doesn’t apply to me in quite the same way. For me, empty nesting is getting to that point in your life, where suddenly, your children just don’t need you in the same way.
00:04:24 Christine: Yes.
Jo: You’ll always be wanted and needed by them, but they’ve got their own lives, and suddenly it’s like, “Oh, hang on.” So, it’s not so much the physical thing of not having them at home, because they’ve never been, from a young age, as I said, since they were away at school. So, they’ve never been constantly at home. It’s more the sort of mental side of that massive role you’ve had for such a long time is suddenly diminished.
Jo: That’s really where I feel.
Christine: That’s really interesting. Now, did they go to boarding school all along, or did they start somewhere — I don’t know how that works, actually.
Jo: People might suddenly turn off, and start hating me.
Christine: No. Don’t you dare turn off.
Jo: All three of my children went to boarding school at eight years old.
00:05:12 Christine: Oh, great.
Jo: So did I, and so did my husband. My boys loved it. For them it was just like a big sleepover. They played sport all the time. I mean, I saw them every Wednesday afternoon. They came home a lot of weekends. It’s not like you send them off and you don’t see them again. My daughter was less happy, for the first year. It’s just what they did. It’s much more common here, obviously. I mean, not so much at eight now, but it’s much more common to send your children away to school in the U.K., than I think it is in the States. But they went from very young, and actually, I was a better parent for it. I’m a better parent on holidays than I would have been everyday.
00:05:58 Christine: I can understand a lot of that. It’s really interesting. I don’t know if you know, my daughter went to college four years early.
Christine: So, people can’t relate to me.
Jo: We’re weird.
Christine: Because at 14, she went to college. People would say why didn’t she go to boarding school. A lot of that was financial for us.
Jo: Yeah. Yeah.
Christine: So, I understand a lot of that, actually. It does make sense. She’s so independent, and always was.
Jo: That’s the thing.
00:06:24 Christine: But I think it just helps move it along, because she can’t just run to me every second.
Jo: Yeah. Exactly. I mean, it’s not for everybody. It’s really not, but it worked for us, and actually, our kids are great.
Christine: Awesome. That’s wonderful. What caught my eye online, were, in particular, among many things, was your walking pilgrimages.
Jo: Yeah. Yeah.
00:06:52 Christine: I know you recently had a walking trip, and it looks like you began with a six-week, 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain, back in 2016? Do I have that correct?
Jo: Yup. That’s right.
Christine: What inspired you to do that journey?
Jo: Well, it was interesting, because as I said, my children had always been away at school, and my son, age 18, finished school and went off to university. Even though he, as I said, had not been at home, I found it sort of deeply shocking. I thought where have 18 years gone? How have I suddenly got this grownup? I slightly fell back on well, what have I done? Everyone says, “Oh, you’ve produced this wonderful child, and you’ve done this beautiful job of being a mother.” I’m like, “Yeah, but what else?”
00:07:42 Christine: Right.
Jo: I mean, 18 years of my life have gone past, and if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, I’m not sure I’d have anything else to sort of say for myself. Again, that’s fine for some people, but it suddenly wasn’t for me. I decided that I would go off and do this walk. Someone had told me about it. I didn’t give a moment’s thought. All I thought was I was going to get really fit, and really brown.
Christine: I love it.
Jo: Super tan, and super fit, too, and I love a challenge. I literally didn’t give it much thought. I packed my rucksack. I started with a girlfriend, she did the first two weeks with me. It was life-changing. I mean, truly, extraordinary, and not because of the walking, which was great, but it was more the people and the fact that once my friend left, nobody knew me. I wasn’t anybody’s wife. I wasn’t anybody’s mother. They find out that you’re married and that you’ve got kids, but they’re not interested in that. All they’re interested in where you walked yesterday, who you met, where you’re staying, what you ate. They don’t care about where your kids went to school, it’s just not part of the experience. I suddenly just sort of felt completely free. I felt like the person I was before I got married, before I had kids. I was just like, I’m funny, and I’m bright, and I can sleep in the dormitory with 60 people I don’t know in bunk beds, next to some strange snoring man, who stinks to high heaven. But I can do this, and it was real identity, sort of, readjustment for me. It was just like, there is still that person. You lose that person in years of motherhood.
00:09:32 Christine: Yeah.
Jo: If you don’t work, and even if you work to a certain extent, you lose all of that. You just become this wife and mother. Like I said, Christine, there are lots of people for whom that’s the dream, and I admire them hugely. I’m envious in a way, but it was never enough. I gave up my career to bring up my children, and then, spent most of my time since, trying to fill that void. The walking for me was just a chance just to be me, and it was so liberating. I could bore on about it for months, because I can’t emphasize enough, how freeing it was. I became totally immersed in just the walking, and getting up every day, and only having to think about myself. I carried my own rucksack, so everything I needed was on my back, so it was nothing, a couple of pairs of trousers, a couple tops. Because everything you have, you have to carry. You don’t want to be carrying endless makeup and whatnot. I came back, and the adjustment was huge. Because I came back, and I’m like, I’m going to be this super human person. I’m going to do this, I’m going to get out there and slowly, you get sucked back in to the role you had. So, each year, just before I get completely immersed, I go off again, just to remind myself. Chatter, chatter, chatter.
Christine: Love it.
Jo: You can tell how much I love it. I don’t shut up.
00:11:16. Christine: It sounds so nice. So many questions.
Jo: It’s so good.
Christine: Why six weeks on your first one?
Jo: I didn’t really give it much thought. Of course, I could have never done six weeks on my second one, because my husband would have got wise to the fact. He actually found it quite challenging. I actually, to be honest, we were having dinner with some friends, and he had just walked to the North Pole, and I said, if you were going to do a challenge that wasn’t actually going to endanger my life, what would you do?
Jo: He said, “I think I’d walk the Pyrenees.” When I got home, I just Googled walk the Pyrenees, and because you start by walking over the Pyrenees on the Camino De Santiago, that’s what image came up on my Google search. You can do it in stages. You can do a week, and then, go back and do another week. My husband has done a week. My daughter is actually going off on the 4th of August to do the whole six weeks.
Christine: Oh, wow!
Jo: Yeah. That’s how long it takes roughly to do the whole thing. It never crossed my mind not to do the whole thing, and of course, I don’t think my husband sort of realized. He was really thrilled for me to do it, because he knew it was important. But I don’t think he realized how long six weeks was going to feel to him.
Jo: I mean six weeks felt like nothing to me, but six weeks felt like a very long time to him. But that’s how long that walk was going to take, and as I said, it never crossed my mind not to do the whole thing.
Jo: I’m not sure I’d be able to six weeks again.
Christine: Maybe your ten year anniversary of your first walk?
Christine: I’m plugging for that.
Jo: It’s interesting because actually I have a friend who’s just done it, and he only did a couple of weeks, two or three weeks, and then, his ankles and his knees and stuff gave in. I hope my daughter does the whole thing, but it is hard. It’s a long time. I think, as I said, for me it was so liberating, and I felt so sort of free, that I don’t want to give up that feeling, but of course, my daughter’s not going to get that feeling. It could be harder for her to find the thing that makes her keep walking.
Jo: You know, that’s what made me keep walking, and for her, she won’t necessarily have that, because life’s a breeze for them, isn’t it?
Christine: Yeah. Right.
Jo: They don’t have a care in the world.
Christine: They think they do.
Jo: Yeah. Of everything.
Christine: In their mind, they do.
Jo: Everything’s a nightmare and a disaster.
00:13:57 Christine: True.
Jo: I always walk with my friend who started the Camino with me, and actually, the reason we went to Portugal was because she never finished. She did two weeks, and then, she left. She didn’t do the second four weeks with me. The walk in to Santiago to Compostela is the sort of climax to the trip. The Portuguese one only being two weeks, she sort of got to finish a Camino without having to take such a long time.
Christine: That’s lovely. Her family’s good with her being away for two weeks?
Jo: Yeah. Actually, her children are grown up and her kids are away at school, too. Actually, two weeks is nothing really.
Christine: I guess this is not an expensive thing?
Jo: Gosh, it’s cheap. Do you know what? That is the thing. It is cheap. If you carry your pack, and if you’re prepared to stay at hostels, and some of the hostels are pretty basic. You are sleeping in a dormitory with 50 other people in bunk beds. It stinks. The snoring is indescribable, but you’re tired, and the showers and everything. You think my post about the loos was bad. Some of those showers are indescribable. Even that is just, you know, I can do this. I can sleep in these places. I can be uncomfortable and I’m good with that.
00:15:29 Christine: That’s fantastic. What’s the hardest thing when you would come back to adjust to? Is there one thing or not?
Jo: Yeah. I described it when I came back as I felt like a square peg, it’s classically, a square peg in a round hole, and everybody has a hammer. Everybody wants you to be back in your role as quickly as possible. Nothing has changed for them. My husband’s amazing, so I’m being a bit harsh, but mentally, he’s thinking, “Thank God, she can do the washing, she can do the cooking, she can do the shopping, she can organize my life.” They want you to do that the morning after you get back. They want it just straight back. It’s very difficult to adjust because everything feels so, what’s the word, spoiled. You feel so indulged. Just being able to turn on taps and have lovely hot clean water come out, and open my cupboard and think, “Oh, my God, what am I going to wear today?” When before, I’d just be like, “Oh, those old trousers again, and that old shirt again.”
00:16:40 Christine: Yeah.
Jo: It’s that adjustment to the richness of your life, in a way. It’s becomes a bit, grotesque is too harsh a word, but you become a bit judgmental because you’ve lived such a basic simple life, and you look at your life, and think this is unnecessary, and that’s unnecessary, get rid of my car.
Christine: I can see that.
Jo: That doesn’t last long. But that’s the hardest thing. The hardest thing is that you’ve had this massive change for a few weeks, and everybody else’s life is exactly the same, so they don’t see that, and they don’t experience it. Actually, my husband, I was so awful when I came back from my first one, that my husband went and did a week because he said, “I’m going to go and see what is making you feel so kind of –”
Christine: That’s really sweet, actually.
Jo: I know, Bless him. I know, but do you know what? There’s that classic thing we do, us women, part of me is like, “Oh, that’s so lovely,” and part of it’s, “Oh, that’s my thing. It’s mine.”
Christine: I know. I know.
Jo: He’s stolen my thing.
Christine: He only went for one week, though.
Jo: Yes. He didn’t do the whole thing.
Christine: He didn’t.
Jo: You know, it was important because, and he said, “I get it.” You know, he said, “I found I was the life and soul.” He said, “I’m really funny.” I went, “I know, but we don’t laugh like we used to because there’s too much life stuff going on.” It’s good to just get that back.
Christine: That’s really great. Oh, my goodness. You’d think you’d be in sensory overload, when you come back?
Jo: Totally. Yeah. Totally. I mean, Bless him, when I came back we have this amazing Chelsea Flower Show, which is a flower show in London. It’s one of the biggest in the world, and it’s absolutely amazing. We try to go every year. You have to get tickets, and he had booked tickets for that, and he booked for us to stay in a really nice hotel, and go out for dinner at our favorite restaurant, and I was just so overwhelmed by the whole thing, and I walked into this amazing hotel room, and all I could think was, “You could fit 50 people in here.” You could fit 20 bunks easy, and all of that just is very overwhelming. You really do have to adjust in a very strange way.
00:19:00 Christine: How great. It’s wonderful
Jo: Everyone should be able to go.
Christine: Really. I know. I’m like, “Okay, are you leading a group next?”
Jo: Yes. I would. Do you know? I would. Although, it’s weird because part of the thing that amazing is that I met and walked with six people, but the whole of my second walk, the four weeks I was on my own, same people, every day, 24 hours a day. You’re sharing, you’re washing each other’s socks, it’s one of the very accelerated relationships, and you become incredibly close to these people and incredibly reliant on these people. It’s really hard when you leave, because they become like your family. That’s another one of the really hard things when you come back, is that you want to speak to them all the time, because you know, you’ve shared this amazing experience with them. I met some really wonderful people. Who I still keep in touch with.
Christine: That’s great. I was going to say —
Jo: From all over, but they’re all Americans. They get everywhere.
Christine: Were you the entertainer?
Jo: Do you know, no, I wasn’t, because there were moments when you feel actually motherly, you can’t ever get rid of that. I’m like, “have you got sunscreen on?” You know? “Have you got enough water,” that slightly motherly thing. I didn’t have to be Jo Davies, wife, mother, I could just be anybody.
Christine: That’s wonderful.
Jo: Yeah. It was great.
Christine: Now that my listener wants to go. Actually, we have the Appalachian Trail in the east coast here, that’s really long.
Jo: Yes, you do.
Christine: It’s like months and months.
Jo: Yes, months and months, and that’s really hard core, isn’t it? Because that’s camping.
Christine: It is.
Jo: That’s really hard core. Yeah.
00:21:02 Christine: I forget what they call it. Actually, a friend of mine’s daughter is doing it, and she just made it to the halfway point.
Jo: I do think it doesn’t have to be, you know, some massive thing. I think it’s just time out.
Jo: It can be a week, but you just have to do something completely different, and actually, not with a group. Interestingly, I would never, much as my husband would like to go back and do the walk, and I would like to go back and do it again, I wouldn’t do it with him, because I would just be his wife the whole way. The point about it is to have this unique experience on your own. Actually, I’ll do other things with him, but this, this is different. To fully experience, if you’re going to do that walk, particularly, or any of those Caminos. One of the people I walked with on my own, went back and did it with his wife and brother and sister, and stuff, and he said it was good, but it’s different. You know? He went and just did a two weeks or something, but it’s just different. It’s a different experience, and it sort of stops me going back as well, because I had such a unique time, and met such amazing people. I think if I went back and did it again, I might be disappointed.
00:22:33 Christine: You’ll just meet different amazing people.
Jo: Yeah. Do you know what? I genuinely think I was lucky. I genuinely think I just met a really great group. Because the guy I was talking about, after he’d been there a week, he sent me a message saying, “What’s wrong with me? Why haven’t I made more friends?” I think I was lucky. But it was great. It was amazing, amazing.
Christine: So sweet. I love it. All right. We’ll move on, because I think I can talk for an hour.
Jo: Because otherwise, I won’t shut up.
00:23:07 Christine: I know, we’ll just talk forever. Okay. So, if you would so indulge me, and my listener, I would love to have you read one of my favorite posts of yours. It’s so real-life, and I think hearing it in your voice, would be completely amazing.
Jo: I will read it to you, but it’s just I do this, because there’s a little bit of me that thinks sometimes Instagram and all these social media things, it’s all a bit too lovely and glossy, and let’s face it, every single week, there is something. I was just saying today, every time I get in the car, and one of my husband or my children, you know the visor thing you bring down to stop the sun?
Jo: When they don’t put that up, every single time I get into their cars, and I bash my head on it, I literally want to punch them. When I get back on Instagram, that’s going to be number one. The sun visor being down and bumping my head.
Christine: I think that’s why I like your account so much, like your posts, because they’re just so honest, and we all can relate. It’s real.
Jo: The thing that’s a bit tricky about it, is that I don’t have a niche. You know? I think that’s why my followers grow so slowly, is because I’m not posting endless pictures of fashion, and people go, “I like her style,” and then, everybody follows. I don’t have a sort of specific thing. I’m just, “Oo, this is annoying today,” or, “This is great today.” My life is amazing, but it’s not glossy. It’s just real. I think sometimes you need to see that. It’s not just our children who look at social media and go, “Oh, I’m too fat,” or, “I’m too ugly,” or, “My hair isn’t the right –” You know, there are grownups out there, adults out there, doing the same. You need the old dose of [inaudible] to balance it out.
00:25:04 Christine: You do. I think when we all present the perfection and that’s all we present, I mean, in life in general, we tend to think that it’s not supposed to have sucky moments. Thinking life’s supposed to be perfect causes more anxiety, than if you’re like, “Okay, this is a sucky thing for today, let me just get through it.
Jo: Yeah. I do think that’s true, and I’m a great believer in that every day ends and every day the sun will come up, and it’s just a new start. There is a chance you may have things hanging over from the day before, but you can address them differently, or go about it differently. It is just a chance to just start again, every day.
Christine: Yes. Yes.
Jo: With the same rubbish.
Jo: The same annoying rubbish.
Christine: Same or different sucky things.
Jo: Yeah. I’m very conscious of the fact that I talk very fast. When you come back to look at this, you’re going say, “Oh, this all hopeless. I can’t understand a word.”
00:26:05 Christine: No.
Jo: Hopefully not. Okay. This was after a few days of traveling for three days around the countryside, with my husband, and stopping at quite a lot of Motorway Service Stations, and it struck me that there was a recurring theme when using the public toilets, and here it is. You get in to find the door won’t latch. You would hang your bag on the door hook, if there was one, but there isn’t, so you drape it around your neck, definitely not on the floor. Then you assume the stance. The stance which is that awful squatting position for anyone who can’t imagine it. In this position, you’re aging toneless thigh muscles begin to shake. You’d love to sit down, but you certainly haven’t taken time to wipe the seat, or lay toilet paper on it, so you hold the stance. Take your mind off your trembling thighs, you reach for what you discover to be the empty toilet paper dispenser. You remember the tiny tissue that you blew your nose on yesterday, the one that’s still in your bag. That will have to do. You crumble it into the puffiest way possible. It’s still smaller than your thumbnail. Someone pushes your door open, because the latch doesn’t work. You reach forward to push the door shut, at which point your thighs decide you’ve had enough, topple backwards against the tank of the toilet, dropping your precious tissue in a puddle on the floor, and sit down on the wet seat. You bolt up knowing all too well that it’s too late. Your bare bottom has made contact with every imaginable germ and lifeform. The automatic sensor on the back of the toilet senses your back and flushes, (inaudible) stream of water, like a fire hose against the inside of the bowl that sprays a fine mist all over your bottom. At this point, you give up, pull your pants up over your wet bottom, open the door with your elbow, no more germs, try and wash your hands in the sink, where none of the dispensers work, unlike the one in the toilet. No water coming out of the taps, soapy hands. Leaving the bathroom, you invariably find your husband impatiently waiting outside going, “What took you so long?” in a very cheery voice. That’s actually the most annoying part.
Christine: I don’t know which is worse of all it. But it’s so true.
Jo: The worse for me, is that annoying thing when you lean back too far, and the sensor behind you goes flush. Yeah. All of it.
Christine: There was a period, when my daughter was little, was afraid of them, because they’re so loud.
Christine: They would go off and I guess she wouldn’t hit the part where it would look. If you put a sticky note over it, it won’t go off.
Jo: That is an idea.
Christine: I’ve stopped doing that, but I think I need to try it again, because it’s happening again.
Jo: Yeah. Let’s face it, if we can’t remember the tissue in our bag, we’re never going to remember a Post-it note just to cover the sensor.
Christine: This is true. I know. This was my younger mom days.
Jo: Yeah. When you had your bag full of that stuff.
Christine: Exactly. It’s great. Thank you for sharing that.
Jo: That’s all right.
00:29:13 Christine: Jo, what is one piece of advice you would like to give future empty nest women?
Jo: I think I have bored on about it now, but oddly enough, one of the things, actually, I can’t remember if I was going to do this one. Anyway, one of the most important things is to remember who you were before you became the wife and mother. I think it’s so important. I think it’s the big answer to the empty nest question. Because the empty nest question is who am I now, and I think you can answer that by who was I before, because that person is still there. That person, if you remember, could do anything. The world was your oyster before you became a wife, before you became a mother, for most people. I look at my 22-year-old son now, and he was looking for a job. It just doesn’t cross his mind he’s not going to get one. It doesn’t cross his mind he’s not going to find a great flat, and have just the best time. We were all like that, and that’s the person you need to remember that, instead of sort of thinking what am I going to do, help, what’s my purpose? If you remember who you were and how you felt, that should just give you that sort of confidence to just start again. Just reinvent yourself all over again. You’ve got a whole another half of your life, at least.
Christine: I know. We have so much. It’s so funny.
00:30:47 Christine: Fifty is not, like, come on, it’s like nothing.
Christine: Really. I talk to people who are early fifties, and they’re like, “Okay, my kid’s gone, I guess I’m done.” I’m like, “What?! No, you’re just starting!”
Jo: But I think if your only identity or the only part of you that you can identify with is the mother part, then that is how you feel, because if you no longer have that, what are you? That’s exactly how I felt. I just thought to myself, God, 18 years of my life have gone past, and what’s left? What’s left for me and what am I, and who am I now? As I said, I never expected the walk to do this, but it just said, “This is who you are.”
00:31:30 Christine: That’s awesome.
Jo: “This is what you’re capable of, and you are still capable of doing all of that,” and that’s what I would say to everyone. You don’t have to go off and do a walk to find it. Lots of people know exactly who they are, and go, them. But for those people who don’t, you’ve just got to find something that makes you remember who you were.
Christine: I love it. Great advice. Great advice.
Jo: I know. Most rare. I’d better write that down, actually.
Christine: It will be in the transcript, and I’ll do an Audiogram of it, so you’ll be all over the place.
Jo: Yes. I’ll have to write that down. I’ve never been so insightful.
Christine: That’s very good. I always say, our old me is there, it’s just like–
Jo: Yeah. That’s the trouble.
Christine: We’re so used to putting that on hold for everyone else, that it’s just like we’ve pushed it down for those 18 years.
Jo: Yeah. Exactly.
Christine: We have to make the effort, like a walk, or whatever it is for you, to try to find her.
Jo: Yeah. Because she’s in there.
Christine: She is, totally, and she is awesome. Is there anything else you’d like to share with my amazing future empty nest friend?
Jo: The only other thing, funny enough, I was thinking about was, because I think this is really important. My mother’s favorite expression was always, “If you can’t be with the ones you love, love the ones you’re with.” While that’s generally about people, it made me sort of think you could apply that to your life, because one of the things when I came back, I hated my life as role, but I felt so confined by my life, I thought there’s a whole world out there, that I want to go and explore, and there’s all these amazing people I want to meet, but it’s not practical. I can’t go and walk for six weeks every year, so I take my two weeks. You just scale it back. We can’t all live our best lives and have our every one of our dreams come true. We can just scale them back a bit, and just be happy with the ones we can make work, rather then permanently striving for the things we can’t. You can’t have everything that you want, be happy with what you’ve got.
00:34:01 Christine: Well said. Another gem!
Jo: I’m going to have to lie down. I’m exhausted. My brain’s so old. Actually, anyone who follows me on Instagram regularly, listens to this, they’ll go, “Oh, well, it’s not her. There’s no way that’s her.”
Christine: I have video to prove it.
Jo: Yes. Good point. Let me see.
Christine: I won’t delete it now. Okay. Before you go, I have four questions that I ask every guest of mine. The first is very important. Waffles or pancakes?
Christine: Yes? Any reason?
Jo: Definitely pancakes. I just don’t know. It’s too much, the waffly — and also, waffles are a bit dry.
Christine: They can be. Yes.
Jo: Yeah. They can be. Yes.
Christine: What do you put on your pancakes?
Jo: We’re a traditional lemon and sugar girl. Is that not traditional with you guys?
Christine: Lemon and sugar? Is that what you said?
Christine: No. You do call them pancakes, or are they called something else?
Jo: No, they’re called pancakes. But yours are just sort of small round fat ones, aren’t they?
Christine: They are. What are yours?
Jo: Ours are the size of a dinner plate and they’re much thinner.
Christine: Oh. Look what we’re learning today.
Jo: Did you know, we had a long discussion at lunch today, about prawns and shrimps, because somebody said, “Oh, those are prawns,” and when asked what’s the difference, because in America we say that’s a shrimp.
Jo: No. It is pancakes.
Christine: Got it. We’ll leave it there. What is one item you can’t live without and why?
Jo: It’s not really an item, but coffee. I know it’s not really an item, but actually, I have a really strong willpower. I have drunk nothing but juice for 28 days. I can give up things in a heartbeat. If anyone even suggests I give up coffee, I’m like, “Nah.” It’s just my thing.
Christine: Do you have that on your walks?
Jo: Oh, yeah, and I take sachets so that if I’m in danger of missing a coffee stop, I have some.
Jo: But you know what? I don’t even mind that it’s decaf. It’s a total habit thing.
Jo: Actually, I don’t drink, not that I have a problem, I have to just emphasize that. But I just gave up drinking about 13 years ago, just out of choice. I just thought it actually doesn’t suit me. It doesn’t make me feel good. I don’t smoke, so that’s my vice. My coffee.
Christine: That’s a good answer. I love coffee. A few weeks ago, I gave it up, that lasted two days and it was awful.
Jo: I just kind of think, I don’t drink a huge amount. I just think why give it up? I love it. I don’t want to give it up. I don’t want to.
Christine: It’s good stuff. All time favorite movie and any particular reason?
Jo: Can I have two? I’m very quick.
Jo: “True Romance” the Quentin Tarantino film. Have you ever seen it?
Christine: No, I have not.
Jo: Okay. Quentin Tarantino is not known for soft films, so that’s my word of warning. There’s some proper violence in that, but the cast is unbelievable, absolutely fantastic cast. One of the best cinematic scenes of all time has got to be the scene with Dennis Hopper and Christoper Walken. You’re now going to have to go and watch it, so you know what I mean.
Christine: I will. Yes.
Jo: The cast is just extraordinary. Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, half of the cast of “Sopranos”. And, “The Last of the Mohicans,” just because it’s beautiful and cinematic and wonderful, romantic and dramatic. I love it.
Christine: Excellent. Yeah. I’m getting good movie recommendations.
Jo: Yes. Have you not seen “Last of the Mohicans” either?
Christine: I think I have, but I’m one of those people where I’ll see movies, and I’ll be like, I think I liked that. Except for a very few, that I’ve watched over and over.
Christine: It’s interesting that I picked this question to ask everyone.
Jo: You’ve done it secretly, haven’t you? You’re going to get lots of recommendations for films. Yeah?
Christine: I think that’s it. I just had a plan, I just didn’t know it.
Jo: But do watch “True Romance.” Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s just awesome.
00:38:39 Christine: Sounds awesome. Great. You have an hour of alone time, no one will bother you, what is your go-to thing to do?
Jo: Read. Every time. Read, read, read. I love books. I don’t care what it is. I will plow my way through rubbish. I will plow my way through the classics. The films, books, it’s that whole escapism thing. Actually, I so involve myself in it that there’s some books which some people rave about and I’m like, if I don’t like the characters, or if I don’t feel anything for the characters, I’m not going to really care what happens to be. Reading. I just love it. Absolutely love it.
Christine: What are you currently reading?
Jo: I am currently reading a book called, “All the Light We Cannot See.” Do you know what? You’re going to ask me who the author is, and the awful thing is because it’s on my Kindle, I just don’t know. I just don’t remember.
00:39:50 Christine: That’s okay. I’ll look it up, and put it in the show notes. I have somebody who transcribes it for me. Thank you, Beth.
Jo: Yes. Perfect. If she thinks of something a bit more intellectual, put that in as well. The Bible. She’s reading the Bible. Complete Works of Shakespeare, actually.
Christine: I’ll have all my Amazon affiliate links below. That’s great.
Jo: But, yes, that’s good. I’m loving it.
Christine: Wonderful. My empty nest friend, don’t forget to follow Jo on Instagram at Midlife Highway, or visit her website, MidlifeHighway.com. I will have her contact information in this episodes full show notes, on my website, youremptynestcoach.com. Jo, thanks for opening up your life to us. Thanks for all you do to entertain all of us. I am thrilled you joined me today. Thanks for being here.
Jo: Thanks, Christine. It’s been a great pleasure.
Christine: It’s been so much fun. Awesome.
Jo: Thank you.
00:40:55 Christine: Please don’t hesitate to fly on over to our Facebook group. Our name is Green Popsicle Sticks. Want to know why? Listen to episode number 17, or head to my website, youremptynestcoach.com/community for links to join our flock. Why should you join our group? The adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. We look forward to seeing you there.
If you are ready to begin the journey to find future you, and use her as your GPS, definitely sign up for my free program, “The Empty Nest: A Guide to Uncovering My Future.” Episode number 13 covers the high-level concepts of that program, if you would like to check it out. To dive deep into the concepts, definitely take my free program, as I provide videos and worksheets to assist you on your journey.
The questions I have for you in this episode are: number one, Have you ever done a long walk, such as the ones Jo has completed? And, would you ever consider doing a walk like this? As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with thoughts that positively impact your life. You’ll find the show notes for this and every episode on my website.
Oh, my goodness, did you hear? I have an online program, “The Empty Nest: First Steps Toward Success.” I now offer GPS Reset Weekend Retreats, Unplugged and Charged Up, and I am available for speaking events. Seriously! What are you waiting for? Visit my website or see this episode’s full show notes.
My next episode is another guest episode, Jenn Musselman, who is going to be about as real as can be when it comes to sharing thoughts about her son heading off to college.
Don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast. It is free and you’ll be notified when I post a new episode every Friday. If my show has helped you in any way, please share it with one other person you think it will help, too. You’ll be giving them a free gift. Thanks for your time and energy with that, and thanks so much for listening, my empty nest friend. Remember, you are amazing!
I couldn’t agree more. I recently returned from a camping trip, and while preparing for it, I realized that I enjoy these trips tremendously because of the inability to use my cell phone.
It makes a few days feel like a week – I attribute that to the fact that I’m more present in my life when my phone has no service. Isn’t it crazy that by connecting ourselves in this way (online), that we disconnect ourselves from the life right in front of us?
I do a lot of coaching about living through your emotions and finding future you, but attempting to make significant changes in your life without being fully present is an uphill battle: a vertical rocky cliff type of battle.
Yes, I realize the irony as I post this in my blog that you more than likely will read on your phone, but I’m sharing it anyway.
Are you living life or are you so plugged in that you can’t see the life you have right in front of you?
Tough questions, I know.
I don’t believe it needs to be all or nothing, as I’m a lover of technology for sure, but when the technology stops us from living life, it might take a full reset to find your balance again.
The key is that you have to be willing to LIVE life, and that means processing through all of your emotions.
In planning for my recent camping trip, I became inspired to invite a small group of women with me on my next excursion!
You are preparing for the empty nest ahead as your child(ren) prepares, heads off to, and experiences college.
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As a courtesy, I will email you a link to the training. After all, sometimes we think we have 33-minutes, but life has other plans. I get it. 💚 Enjoy the adventure, and always remember that you are AMAZING!