You are a mother of a high school student, and you are freaking out about the empty nest ahead? Together we will channel your freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy! You will THRIVE as your child(ren) prepares, heads off to, and experiences college. ~ Christine, Your Empty Nest Coach
Anne (my guest) and I touched on this in my last episode – how to be the emotional adult in the room. College is a significant change – and when they go far enough away that they can’t stop by for dinner – it is a REALLY SIGNIFICANT change.
You can handle it. I know you can. Take some deep breaths, do some thought work and you’ve got this.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 15: Being Brave When Your Child Picks a Non-local School, or Going Far Away to College; How to be The Emotional Adult in The Room. … Today, we are going to chat about what to do when your child goes to college far away. I’m going to make the assumption, for this episode, that the decision has already been made, or it’s being made and finances do not impact the decision. This would also be relevant to your child moving away permanently.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 15: Being Brave When Your Child Picks a Non-local School, or Going Far Away to College; How to be The Emotional Adult in The Room. 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.
Hello, my empty nest friend! Before I dive in, this episode has a lot of references to my Empty Nest Prep Series episodes, so if you feel confused at any point, or need a refresher, you may want to go back and listen to those. They begin at episode number 3. Today, we are going to chat about what to do when your child goes to college far away. I’m going to make the assumption, for this episode, that the decision has already been made, or it’s being made and finances do not impact the decision. This would also be relevant to your child moving away permanently.
Guess what this situation means to your life, my empty nest friend? Do you know? Think about your answer? Got it? It means whatever you want it to mean. That answer that you had just a second ago, you decided to have that answer. You chose it. You can choose another answer. How do you feel with the thought that you were just having, about your child being far away? Were you feeling good? If not, you can change your thought. If your thought brings you to a feeling that you don’t want to have, let’s change it.
Grab a piece of paper, or just picture this in your head, if your driving. The circumstance that your child is moving away has absolutely no drama. It is a fact and it is neutral. At the top of the page, I want you to write, or picture, my child is moving away. You can even be specific, my child is moving 15 hours away. My child is moving 2,000 miles away, to Antartica. I’m not saying that’s together, but even if it was, Antarctica, that would be interesting? Wouldn’t it? Anyway, when this circumstance shows up on your doorstep, the doorbell rings in your mind that triggers a thought for you. What thought box, or thought, do you automatically run to? Take five minutes to write down all of the thoughts you are having about your child moving away. All of them. You know the drill by now, no drama, no editing. Write them all down. Look at them. Pick one of the thoughts. Focus on only that thought. How does it make you feel? If you don’t love it, do you want to keep that thought? How can you change your thought to create a feeling that you like?
Let’s say your thought is,”I’m going to miss them so much.” Do you want to have this thought? I had this thought originally. What I found is that thought, for me, created only sadness. When I made a slight variation to the thought, I felt better about the emotion created. I’m going to miss them so much, that thought comes off as 24/7 I will do absolutely nothing, nothing at all, other than miss them. Is that true? Not really, because I sleep, so there’s six hours. I don’t sleep much. I work and need to concentrate on things that distract me. I can turn my original thought into, “I will have moments where I miss them.” This a thought I can believe. I can use it for a bit, and then, I can work on moving forward with more pleasant thoughts such as, “While they’re learning to be independent, I will have moments where I miss them.” I will tell you, I’m almost a bit over one and a half years in with my daughter being out of state. There are tremendous benefits. Your child will learn, they have to, how to be more self-sufficient and independent. From things like food and toiletry items, prescriptions, and that awful first time being sick with no way for mom and dad to visit and help.
Here’s an example: my daughter went from hating to talk on the phone, to being able to handle a fraud charge on her credit card, with no interactions from us. Pretty much just a couple of texts, it happened, and then on follow-up, they’re sending me a new card. This independence and self-sufficiency forces them to mature faster. I can vouch for that. Their friendships that are formed are closer. As friends really need to rely on each other quite a bit when they can’t run home in 15 minutes. With no option to go home on weekends, they learn how to work through boredom, heartbreaks, medical issues, awful food choices and so much more. Your child has the experience of geographical diversity that comes with living in a new area. We all know someone, maybe it’s even you, who has never lived further than a hour from where they grew up. Some personalities thrive like that. But for others, as the years move forward, they only feel less confident to venture out of what they know and where they’re comfortable. This next one’s real. Coming home is special, for them and for you.
Speaking of you, with your child moving away, you have more time to do those hobbies you’ve been putting off. More time to get projects done, and spend time with your partner. More time to get to know you, to plan future you and to crush it. There are negatives, of course, but there are also negatives with staying local. You missed all of the things I just mentioned. The grass is always greener on the other side, if you choose thoughts that can make you feel that way. The goal for you is to allow your child to make the decision that is right for them, free of your feelings and thoughts about how much it will impact your life. No matter what they do, you are responsible for your feelings. They are not. Be the grown up, and be there to help them find the best answer for them, not the best answer for mom. While they are planning their future, you can get to work planning yours. Future you is waiting for you and I created a resource to help you find her. More on that in episode number 13. You’ll find that in my show notes.
The questions I have for you in this episode are: 1) Are you having to deal with this situation? 2) Have you dealt with this situation and do you have advice for others who are about to go through it?
Fly on over to our Empty Nest Flock at youremptynestcoach.com/community to share your answers with the entire flock. Why should you join our flock? 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. As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with the thoughts that impact your life in a positive way. My next episode’s title is: How I Lost Almost 50 Pounds, And I’m Still Losing! I am! So exciting!
I have some answered questions from a prior episode. This question comes from episode number 8: if you could give your past 19-year-old self advice, what would it be? One member shares, don’t let other people talk you out of something you really want to do. Great advice! So true. Michelle shares you will always be able to handle every situation in your life, so instead of stressing over it, embrace the challenge. You will be stronger in the end. Love that! Don’t forget to sign up for my free Thursday Thoughts About email. Sign up and every Thursday, you will receive a thought from me, and I also share Your Empty Nest Coach updates. If you have a question you would like me to answer on the podcast, you may submit it in my Empty Nest Flock or email me at email@example.com. Thank you so much for listening, my friend! Remember, you are amazing!
I have a super duper special announcement for you. I have a free ticket for you to Teachable’s The Women Who Create Summit. The speaker line up is AH-MAZING! The entire event is online, so there is no need to travel anywhere. Recordings are available for a limited time, so you don’t have to worry about attending each session live – you can catch up as your schedule permits.
Hello, my empty nest friend. I’m jumping in your feed, today, to make a quick announcement about an amazing opportunity I have for you.
What is something that all of your friends come to you to learn about, to walk them through? And have you ever considered teaching that topic online?
Whether you have or haven’t, I have a free ticket for you to the AH- MAZING Teachable’s The Women Who Create Summit.
Hello, my empty nest friend. I’m jumping in your feed, today, to make a quick announcement about an amazing opportunity I have for you.
What is something that all of your friends come to you to learn about, to walk them through? And have you ever considered teaching that topic online?
Whether you have or haven’t, I have a free ticket for you to the AH- MAZING Teachable’s Women Who Create Summit. This summit is online, so there is no need to travel anywhere – and there will be recordings – so if you miss a session, no worries – you’ll be able to watch shortly after that [and for a limited time]. Teachable only holds two summits a year, and this is expected to be its largest ever with over 75,000 attendees. It is NO JOKE.
And with over 20 speakers – And the names that will be there! Super exciting. I can’t wait to hear them speak.
Registration starts today. The summit is three days, online, and begins next week, Tuesday, March 26th.
Now, I know technology may not be your thing. It isn’t what it was twenty years ago, and as a former programmer/analyst, I’m happy to clarify questions that you may have to the best of my ability in a Facebook Group that I’m setting up JUST for anyone who uses my registration link. Now, to be transparent, I am an affiliate of teachable, which means if you choose to purchase, at the end of the Summit, I get a kickback.
That being said, I’m not here to sell you on Teachable, I’m here to help you figure out if it’s right for you. And that is what I’ll be discussing in my private Facebook Group – making sure you understand what it does, translating any tech speak that you may not understand and breaking it all down for you.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 14: What To Do Before Going to College: Now That the Decision Has Been Made, What Should We Do Next? … Hello, my empty nest friend! Super excited! This is my first episode with a guest for the entire episode. One full guest. My guest today is Anne Vaccaro Brady. Anne is the founder of Parents’ Guide to the College Puzzle, a blog that helps families navigate the college admission process and freshman year experience. … Anne is here to share with you her list of most important things that you need to keep on your radar once your child has officially decided what college they will be calling home for the upcoming years.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 14: What To Do Before Going to College: Now That the Decision Has Been Made, What Should We Do Next? 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.
Hello, my empty nest friend! Super excited! This is my first episode with a guest for the entire episode. One full guest. My guest today is Anne Vaccaro Brady. Anne is the founder of Parents’ Guide to the College Puzzle, a blog that helps families navigate the college admission process and freshman year experience. She is the mom of two college graduates and her goal is to alleviate much of the stress parents experience when their children apply to college.
Anne shared some fun facts about her with me. In her younger years, she was the advice columnist for the teenage magazine, Sassy. She is a writer and has authored three young adult contemporary novels. Her third one is currently on submission to agents. I’m sending her really good vibes on that. Anne also, currently works with high school seniors on their college applications and essays. Anne enjoys helping her clients shape their unique interests and talents into a compelling package to share with their perspective schools. Anne is here to share with you her list of most important things that you need to keep on your radar once your child has officially decided what college they will be calling home for the upcoming years.
If you’re driving, or are on the treadmill, don’t worry. I have created a list for you with all of Anne’s, and a few of my recommendations. You find this downloadable checklist in my show notes, on my website, youremptynestcoach.com/P14. That’s P for podcast, and episode number 14, P14. I’m going to turn this over to today’s expert, Anne.
Anne: Thank you, Christine. Let’s start with orientation. Number one: I call this a family affair, because at least one parent is usually required to attend. Most colleges schedule their sessions throughout late spring and summer. Because your student makes their class schedule during orientation, I suggest signing up for the earliest session that fits your family’s schedule. Remind your student, this is very important, to read their college emails, because that’s where they’ll find any requirements and details on orientation, like that all-important online placement test they must take before hand, which my son did not do, until he arrived.
Number two: Second-guessing. It’s perfectly normal for your teenager to wonder if they picked the right school, right after you sent the check with the deposit. Whether they chose to go away or commute, they may doubt their decision. A lot of it is fear of the unknown. College is portrayed as that first step into adulthood, and that’s scary. Be supportive. Remind your teen of the reasons why they chose this school, and that they’re ready for this, but this is not the time to share how much you’re going to miss them and add to their anxiety.
Christine: Isn’t that the truth? Oh, my goodness. We had that and my daughter, she didn’t have many college options because she went four years early, so there weren’t many options, and they decided to allow the college to be co-ed, and it wasn’t that way when she started the application process, so it turned into this huge “what am I doing.” It was a little earlier in the process, it wasn’t March or April, but it was December or January when we came up on this and we actually went and looked at local colleges for her, and then she was finally, “Yes, this is where I need to be.” We had that, totally.
Anne: Yes. It’s very normal. Sometimes they have it after orientation, once they’re there. That can happen also. We’ve had that one. They all get themselves back on track —
Christine: They do.
Anne: — and, remember why they wanted to go there.
Christine: Yes. Us moms need to keep our own emotions in check.
Christine: For sure, because it’s not a time to make them feel bad about leaving home.
Anne: No. You do not say, “you’re going to be so far away, what am I going to do without you?”
Anne: You keep that all to yourself.
Christine: That’s true.
Anne: Be the adult in the room.
Anne: Number three: You have to keep your senior focused. Final grades are reported to their college, so they really can’t slack off, and if they’re taking any AP and IB courses, those exams matter, because they can receive that college credit for all their hard work. They need to be focused.
Anne: Number four: Check that those AP and IB scores are sent to the college. This is important for making their class schedule at orientation. You don’t want to sign up for Calc A and B, if you already took it in high school and received a score that should get you credit at this college. They can confirm or request their scores were sent through the College Board, or their IB accounts online.
Christine: Yes. Do you have more on that?
Anne: No. Unless you want to add?
Christine: Yes. What I want to add is my daughter had dual enrollment credits, and what we found is that even though the credits were transferred and they came through admission, they didn’t automatically make it to the Registrar’s Office. We actually had to follow-up, do that extra step. We didn’t get it by September. Luckily, it didn’t affect her GenEd’s but it is something to be on top of, that not all colleges automatically do that. You would think they would, but they don’t.
Anne: That’s true. You might be able to check your student account before you go to orientation to see if they actually list anything there as well.
Anne: If you have a printout of your scores, or the dual enrollment papers, you might be able to bring those as well, to show your counselor or your advisor, who you’re working with at orientation.
Christine: Yes. Looking back, I think that’s what I would do. I would just send her with a copy of all of that.
Anne: Yes. It’s true. I think that is the way to go, to have it confirmed. Yes. They at least know who to follow-up with on the other end.
Anne: Number five is moving off the waitlist. If your senior was placed on a waitlist, they should write a letter to that college stating why this is their top choice school, and add any awards or achievements they’ve had since they originally applied. They should also place a deposit on their second choice school, because you want to be sure they have a college to attend in the fall. They won’t hear if they’ve been accepted off the waitlist until after May 1st, which is National Decision Day. If they have, then they need to inform the school where they placed a deposit and other schools where they’re on the waitlist that they will not be attending those schools.
Christine: This is good. I feel like there could be a whole episode on waitlists.
Anne: Yes. Number six is medical forms and other health matters. Colleges usually require your student has a physical and specific vaccinations before they come to campus, so schedule that physical and make sure the vaccinations are included. Sooner, rather than later. You want all this taken care of before your child goes to college in August, and remember to bring the forms from the college to that appointment, so that they get filled out in time.
Anne: At that visit, your child should talk with their doctor about staying healthy at college and if they’re on any prescriptions medications that they take regularly, whether they should stay on them, or go off and why. You and your teen should make a plan about if you have prescription refills, how they’re going to get those and maybe, if they need allergy shots, where they’re going to get those on campus, so that’s all taken care of in advance, and they’re not scrambling once they get there.
You might also want to consider getting a healthcare proxy, because if your student is over 18, they are considered an adult by the college and the medical community. You don’t have to be informed if they have a visit to the hospital, receive any medical treatment, any mental health services or having any medical issues. Having a healthcare proxy can help if you are called and they know that you have that information. Usually, your student can give them your information. They can say, “you can call my parents,” but some kids don’t want their parents to know, so be aware that could happen.
Number seven is finalize how to pay the college bill. Confirm where the money’s coming from. If you have a 529 plan, if you have savings, CDs, if grandma and grandpa are helping out, if your child has savings, any scholarships or loans, know what’s available and how you’re going to access it. If you or your student plans to take any federal or private loans, this is really important, only borrow as much as you need. I always advise people to use loans as a last ditch effort. You don’t want to put yourselves in debt if you don’t need to be. Your teen may receive scholarships or grants from their college. They have to go online to accept those. If they don’t press the little button that says they accept, they won’t receive them. That’s very important. They can find that on their account and their billing site. If your student is receiving any scholarships from local organizations, keep on that organization to get that money, because you want it to help pay the tuition bill. If it’s coming June or July, you really need to be on top of them if the money has not already been sent to the college, or if you have not received the check directly. Check the college’s website to learn how you actually pay the tuition bill. It’s going to be online. It’s either going to be withdraw from an account, a checking or savings account. It could be moved from a 529 account. It could be a credit card. There are other options. Colleges also have monthly plans, as well as semester plans, so become familiar with that now, so that it’s not a scramble in the end, come August.
Anne: That’s what I have, so back to you Christine.
Christine: That is great advice. There is something Anne said earlier, that I cannot stress enough, is to have your child check their email.
Christine: I know in this day and age, my daughter does not check her email.
Christine: It’s not a normal thing. Also, something I’ve noticed is that a lot of students have their primary email is their school, like their high school, and their high school will block the emails coming from a college.
Anne: That’s interesting.
Christine: I have seen that, so make sure that you are getting all your emails. If you feel like you should be getting something from a college and you’re not, you may want to give them a call and just see what email address they have and that it’s going through. That email is really important to check.
Anne: Yes. I heard some families actually set up a specific email for college emails that both the parent and the child can have access to.
Christine: That’s what we did.
Anne: That can be helpful as well.
Christine: It worked really well. Yes. It worked good, because parents are checking it.
Christine: I do know that.
Christine: I have three to add to Anne’s wonderful list. My first is make a communication plan, and this sounds really formal, but it’s not. It comes from the fact that I have a lot of friends with their children in college, that their child goes off to college and then, they don’t hear from them. They don’t get a text. They don’t get anything and they’re highly frustrated over the fact that they’re not getting these texts. What happens is, the parent has an idea of how their child should communicate with them, but that has not been communicated to the child.
Christine: Especially, if you’re paying for this college.
Christine: I think it’s fair for you to say, “hey, I need to know you’re alive, text me every week and just say something,” or I need more than, “hi, I’m good.” Give me a little more detail. Whatever that is for you, I think it’s really important to do ahead of time, and it will save everyone a headache at the end. Some families have group family texts, which is nice.
Anne: Yes. We didn’t.
Christine: Because the siblings who aren’t in school, you can all keep up. I love that idea.
Anne: You should also check their social media accounts, because that will tell you if they got up that day and made it to class on time, sometimes.
Christine: That is true.
Anne: Talk a little and just see if they like something or posted something, and that might give you an indication of how they’re doing that day.
Christine: That is great.
Anne: I also have friends who schedule, if they want to do phone calls, it was Sunday at 2:00, was their time. I had one who texted a lot and called a lot, and one who didn’t. That was an interesting approach.
Christine: It is. Yes. You work it out for the child, because they’re all different.
Anne: Yes. They’re all different.
Christine: Luckily, mine will FaceTime and we get all caught up on everything, but I know everyone’s child isn’t like that.
Anne: Right. Yes.
Christine: My next point, or thing to do, is get the school’s calendar on your schedule. Most schools you’ll be able to find this on their website, multiple years out, so you can find when the move-in day is, when the start of the semester and the end of the semester, the winter breaks, if there’s an extra May term. All those things, so you can start to plan things like your vacations. If they’re out-of-state you need to think about travel arrangements, as well as doctor appointments, because if they come home, you’re going to find your winter break is a lot of doctor appointments you’re filling in.
Anne: Yes. You can find that, it’s listed as the Academic Calendar. I think that’s what it’s called. You can search the website in the little search box, and also, keep in mind, because my kids did have to fly home from college, and we would do flights early, then after the freshman year, we learned that even though the holiday break is scheduled for the Wednesday before, or December 15th, or something, some professors will cancel class December 12th and 13th. We’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay to schedule it a little bit sooner if it fits our schedule or our price.
Christine: That is a good point.
Anne: Keep that in mind. You might schedule something, or your students plan on coming home, and they’ll go, “oh, I can actually be done two days early.”
Anne: It’s okay if they’re getting a ride with their friend, but if they’re flying, it’s a little more complicated.
Christine: That is. That is great advice. Yes. I’m usually picking mine up and I drive a long time, so I’m like, I’m sorry, you’re stuck there, until I can get there.
Christine: That is good. My last thing is to make a fun to-do list. Just think out five years from today, and what are things that you wish you would have done now, that you can do together? Whether it’s a hobby, whether it’s binge-watching a movie, whether it’s going to a museum you always said you would go to, but you never did. Plan things like that to do before they go, because everything changes a little when they go to college. It’s not bad, it’s just very different. It’s a good time to capture that. I’d also recommend doing date times for you and your partner, so go out with your daughter, and then, have your husband or partner take them out and do something solo. I think that’s a really good time to make memories.
Anne: My other piece to add to that is realize that just because your child’s in college, doesn’t mean family vacations end. So many parents say, “oh, my kid’s in college, they’re never going to want to go on vacation.” Kids will always want to go on a free trip, so don’t worry about it. They still come along, generally.
Christine: That is great. It is awesome. I love this list so much, Anne. I wish I had it when we were at this point. It would have helped me tremendously.
Anne: Me, too.
Christine: Yes. It’s good you do this. Thank you.
Anne: Yes. My pleasure.
Christine: Since Anne is my first full episode guest, she gets to be the first person to answer my questions that every guest will get going forward. Anne, waffles or pancakes?
Anne: Pancakes with blueberries.
Christine: Nice. What is one item you couldn’t live without and why?
Anne: My iPhone, because it carries everything, my music collection, my pictures, an easy way to communicate with my family. I can turn it off when I want to, and not communicate with people when I don’t want to. I feel like it holds your whole life. You have access to your news. The music thing is always important to me. It’s amazing I can carry that in one little container.
Christine: That’s awesome.
Anne: It’s my iPhone.
Christine: Excellent. Number four, you have an hour of alone time, no one will bother you, what is your go-to thing to do?
Anne: It’s a choice usually, between watch a show no one in my family is interested in, or read a book.
Christine: Nice. Wonderful. Thank you, again, Anne, for being here and for being my guinea pig. It’s been such a pleasure.
Anne: It’s been fun. Thanks so much for having me, Christine.
Christine: Anne with an E. Keep that, and both links are in my show notes, and don’t forget to download our checklist, youremptynestcoach.com/P14. The questions I have for you in this episode are:
1) Do you have a question about what is next in the college process, that you would like addressed in an upcoming episode?
2) Do you have a tip to share with us, before getting ready for college?
Fly on over to our Empty Nest Flock at youremptynestcoach.com/community to share your answers with the entire flock. You’ll find everything you need to connect with the flock there. Feel free to also answer the question on your phone’s voice memo app and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org for potential inclusion in an upcoming episode. I also have a new Facebook community, just for this podcast. It’s at emptynestpodcast is our groups name. It looks like this may be our flock’s home base moving forward, so come on over and join in.
Why should you join our flock? The adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. I look forward to seeing you there, and it is free. 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 impact your life in a positive way.
In my next episode, I am going to talk about being brave when your child picks a school that, to you, is just so far away. Let’s talk about being that emotional adult in the room.
Thank you so much for listening, my friend, and remember, you are amazing!
Today’s episode is something that has really, truly, I can’t stress this enough, changed my life. It’s been such a huge part of the changes I have made over the last eight months, that I decided to make it my free gift to you.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 13: Future You Has All the Power; I’m Telling You, She Does. … Hello, my empty nest friend! We are at lucky episode number 13, and it is lucky because I get to spend time with you today. Thanks for making time in your busy schedule to listen. You are the best! Today’s episode is something that has really, truly, I can’t stress this enough, changed my life. It’s been such a huge part of the changes I have made over the last eight months, that I decided to make it my free gift to you.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 13: Future You Has All the Power; I’m Telling You, She Does. 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.
Hello, my empty nest friend! We are at lucky episode number 13, and it is lucky because I get to spend time with you today. Thanks for making time in your busy schedule to listen. You are the best! Today’s episode is something that has really, truly, I can’t stress this enough, changed my life. It’s been such a huge part of the changes I have made over the last eight months, that I decided to make it my free gift to you.
What I am going to do in this episode is to walk you quickly through my entire free program, “The Empty Nest, a Guide to Uncovering My Future,” so you get an idea of what it is all about. I recommend that you take no less than seven days to get through my free program. This episode alone, may not be everything you need, but it may get you started on your dreaming, and then, when you’re ready to really dive in, take my free class.
I have seven steps to help you find future you. Step one is to dream. When I speak about dreams in this episode, I’m talking about those big, future goals, plans and ideas that totally inspire you. Remember those big dreams you had when you were like five through nine or ten years old? You didn’t care if your plans were realistic at all. You dreamed. You could have been a pirate on the moon fighting space aliens. But that’s what you wanted to do. You imagined, and you played it all out in your head. We are going to tap into that part of you. She’s still there. You’ve just been hiding her, really hiding her, for a long time.
The first thing you need to do is dream. I want you to dream big and I want you to not limit yourself. When you think to yourself things like, I’ve always wanted to be a hair stylist and then, automatically, your mind or your thoughts kick in to tell you why it isn’t a good idea. I want you to tell that part of your mind to just sshhh, for these exercises, and then, ask it for help. Give it a job.
Your mind loves to do two things. One, keep you safe doing what you’re doing. It likes routine and knowing you are safe. It also likes to solve problems. When you notice your mind, or your thoughts pushing back on you, as you start to dream, tell it not to worry, that you are just dreaming and ask for its help. Then, get to work dreaming. Not just any dream, I want you to dream big. I do not want you to have realistic dreams, something that really could happen anyway. I want you to have the “if I could wish for anything into existence tomorrow, what would it be” type of dreams. I’m also, not asking you to make a plan to make these dreams happen right now. I want you to dream about high-level big things that you would like to be able to say at the end of your life, that you have accomplished. Figure out what is really important you. Pick a time frame, five years out, 10 years out, 20 years out, and what are you doing in this dream of yours? That is step one. Ideally, spend a full day, multiple days or even a week or more on this. It might take you a few weeks just to tell your mind to sshhh when you are dreaming. It isn’t used to doing this. Is it? Don’t worry. It is worth the wait.
Step two is to write it down. I want you to schedule time for yourself to write down your dreams. Give yourself a minimum of 15 minutes, maybe 30. Heck, give yourself a half a day if you want. These are your big dreams. Get your favorite writing utensil, and a notebook, your favorite beverage and write down every dream that you came up with. No editing. Anything that pops in your head that seems outlandish, write that down too. This isn’t a contract. It’s simply an exercise. It should be fun and enjoyable. Don’t edit as you’re writing things down.
Congratulations! You are starting to find the real you again. She’s so worth getting to know. Remember, sshhh your mind on the “you can’t do thats” and “how will you do that” statements that pop into your head. We aren’t figuring out the how, we are dreaming about the what. You might think that this is kind of vision board time, but my friend, we are not even close. You have more work to do. Remember, too, that you can add things to this page at any time. Save it. We’ll come back to it in more than one step of this process.
We’re onto step number three, now that you’ve written everything down. You’ve gotten it all out of your head. Step number three is to pick one thing. Don’t overthink it. Look at your page and the first thing that jumps out at you, circle it. That’s all. Just circle it. Don’t change your mind. I want you to play it out through the remaining steps. Don’t change it. Got it? Awesome.
Step number four, this is really fun, to imagine in detail. This is where younger you, who liked to play make-believe, comes into play. I want you to spend a minimum of 24 hours throughout your day, imagining every detail of what your life would be like with what you chose in step three. I’m talking about what time do you wake up? Where do you live? What is your home like? Is it in the same location? What kind of foods do you eat? Who is your inner circle? What does your day look like? Do you work? How often do you work? Do you have a commute? Do you travel? Do you exercise? Get the idea? I want you to seriously imagine living into this choice.
As you go through your day, I want you to think about what would be different about your day if that choice was your reality and how does that make you feel? You may find there are things you love about your choice and you may find there are details that you really aren’t so thrilled about. When you really truly put your mind to work on this and imagine the details, you’ll learn more about yourself.
Once you feel that you have full understanding of what that choice means in your life, imagining every detail, now move onto step five and ask yourself how did I get there? Even if you already have a good feeling that you don’t love this choice, this is worth the extra step to gain clarity. The power in step four and five combined is unbelievable. Deeply imagining your possible future and then asking your mind how you got there, you’ll receive all the clarity you need. From who? Not from me, and not from your inspired family members or co-worker, but from you. You know the answer. It won’t be the same as anyone else’s.
You are listening to a podcast that is the realization of me doing this exact exercise. I said I want to help future empty nest women, but I couldn’t see any way that it would work. I work full-time and there are zero external factors that would say I can make this work. When I lived into this dream for a few days, seeing the details and finally asked my mind how I got there, I quite matter-of-factly received the direction, well of course, you woke up at 4:00 a.m. and worked on it before your day job. What?! That is a bit much. Trust me, anyone I share this with, tells me it’s too much for them too. It may be. That wasn’t their answer to their dream. It was my answer to my dream. I saw clearly how it would work, once I had the answer.
When you ask anyone other than yourself how to proceed, you are traveling down their path, not yours. Which might work, and might not, but who ultimately knows you better? Yup. Your brain loves to figure things out. Let it take this one for you. It doesn’t even need to make sense to you, the answer that you get. You don’t need to like it, but you’ll get some creative answers and this exercise is so much fun.
Now, we are at the most important question of all. Step number six, do I love it? Do I still want it? My answer initially to this was 4:00 a.m., nope, don’t want it. Then, I realized after living in my future, in my imagination, that I have my how, on how to reach my dream and I liked it. If I say no to this, five years from now, I’ll be exactly where I am today, with just some extra sleep. I ultimately want that dream and that goal more than I want some extra sleep.
There are some other things I’ve run this through with and seriously have realized that the details of that future life aren’t anything that I want, but I almost got to experience what it would be like. It’s almost like when you plan a vacation and you live in all of the details, and all of that fun and excitement of the upcoming vacation is something that you feel everyday, even though you’re not in the vacation already. It was fun, and it was worth the work. When I chose not to pursue those, it wasn’t giving up on a dream, it was me getting one step closer to knowing the real future me. Everyday I’m one step closer and I love it. You need to love your choice. This is step six. Do you? If not, no worries. Keep all the work you’ve done. Make notes on your reasons why and then jump back to step three. Pick another one and do the whole thing over again.
This step seven is kind of like a yes or no, go in two different paths. If you’re like me, you’ll find some of these choices that you said no to will pop up again, in your thoughts every once in a while. If you keep your notes, you may quickly address your why reasons that you had back then and see that those are the same and I really don’t want that, or maybe over time, they change. For the other path, if you find you love your choice, you can move to figuring out the how details, one step at a time. That would probably be another podcast episode, or maybe three.
Here’s the thing, once you get to know that version of future you, so tremendously well, it becomes about not letting her down, not letting you down. Everyone else doesn’t really matter. It’s highly motivating. If you’re intrigued by what I shared on this episode, and would like to dive in more, consider taking my free course, “The Empty Nest, a Guide to Uncovering My Future.” I walk through all of these steps in that program with videos and a workbook. You will find a link to this course on my website, youremptynestcoach.comand click The Future Freebie Course in the menu.
The questions I have for you in this episode are:
1) Do you have any idea who future you is?
2) What is the biggest dream you can think of for you, right now, and how does it make you feel?
Fly on over to our Empty Nest Flock at youremptynestcoach.com/community to share your answers with the entire flock. As of this recording, I have both a forum and a Facebook group available to see if one gathers more traction, and already am seeing that Facebook is becoming the clear winner. As of right now, you may pick your favorite to interact with the flock.
Why join our flock? The adjustment to you 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. I look forward to seeing you there. 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 impact your life in a positive way. My next episode’s title is What to do Before Going to College: Now That the Decision Has Been Made, What Should We Do Next? I have a guest joining me for the episode. This is a big step in my podcasting. I would love to read your feedback or review here in an upcoming episode.
Either provide a review on Apple Podcast, or tag me on social media. If you have a question you would like me to answer on the podcast, you may submit it in my Empty Nest Flock or email me at email@example.com. Include your question and how you would like me to refer to you, meaning should I use your name, a pseudonym like future me in Fredericksburg, or anonymous. Thank you so much for listening, my friend.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 12, The Power and Understanding That Life Isn’t Supposed To Be Perfect. … Today’s episode is definitely inspired by Byron Katie, and this quote of hers, “If you argue with reality, you will lose 100 percent of the time.” I will link to Byron Katie’s site in my show notes, which you will find on my website.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 12, The Power and Understanding That Life Isn’t Supposed To Be Perfect. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy with volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that’s been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it’s freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
Hello, my empty nest friend! Episode 12. How are you today? I hope you are feeling amazing, because you deserve to feel amazing. This is really fun. I don’t know if you can tell, but definitely from my first podcast episode, the sound quality is slowly getting better. I’m in my official podcast booth, which I think, hopefully, you will enjoy. It is an umbrella, with a sleeping bag over it, on top of my laptop, so I don’t have the sound waves reverberating all over the place. A little cramped in here, but I love it. I’m slowly improving.
Today’s episode is definitely inspired by Byron Katie, and this quote of hers, “If you argue with reality, you will lose 100 percent of the time.” I will link to Byron Katie’s site in my show notes, which you will find on my website. The gist of this whole thing and what really hit me, was what is happening, whatever it is, is totally supposed to happen. Why? Because it is happening. Arguing with the reality of the situation is absolutely pointless. Life is sucky 50 percent of the time. It is. It’s called life, not called the magical perfect world, where everything goes your way. Welcome to life. Congratulations! You are alive.
Why do we believe that life is supposed be perfect? That is a lie that serves none of us. If your automatic thought when something bad happens is well, this shouldn’t happen, and then you continue to spin out of control and not do much but complain about it. I want you to understand that in that specific moment, rather than dealing with a situation, you’re clearly choosing to argue with reality.
You are arguing with reality. What do you think that’s going to get you? Oh, Christine, but I’m just saying that, thinking that, because it’s comforting. Is it? Let’s look at an extreme example. Imagine that you just got into a car accident. There is an emergency situation to deal with. What is the best thought to go to once your brain understands what has happened? Cars crushed, I’m still alive, let me assess the situation and figure out what to do next, or this is awful, this shouldn’t have happened, why do these things always happen to me? I get it, this might seem like an extreme example, but when you see the importance in an extreme situation, and then realize that you are doing this all day, every day, in tiny moments of your life, how do you think that compounds, and what do you think it creates in your life?
Are you constantly arguing with the universe, with reality, that things shouldn’t be happening a certain way? Let’s say your child doesn’t get a scholarship they were hoping for. Do you spend three days complaining about it, calling the school to find out why, and fighting it? Or do you realize the competition must have been really intense, let’s see what other scholarships are available? Here’s another one, your child’s guidance counselor didn’t get a paper over in a timely fashion. Do you complain about it to everyone, or do you figure out how to solve it by making an appointment to confirm the counselor completes the task?
We see this in movies all of the time. Something tragic or unbelievable happens. There are a whole bunch of people freaking out about it, and one, typically, the protagonist, the hero of the story, quickly assesses the situation, figures out what to do and saves the day? What did they do? You could say they were trained for this, or they are a born leader. They were born that way. What is the real answer? It is that they spent no time arguing with the true circumstances of the situation and got right to work.
What if I tell you, you can be the hero in your own life? You can. If you’ve been listening to my podcasts since the beginning, you know there is power in observing your thoughts. This week, I want you to observe your thoughts and look out for how often your thoughts lead you to argue with reality in either complaints, or arguing, or saying that shouldn’t have happened.
Yes, the situation might be unfair, but if it happened, there really is no “shouldn’t have.” It already happened. Unless you can time travel, it’s a done deal. Arguing with a circumstance changes nothing except for how you feel and how you show up in life.
I remember the first time I really grasped this. It had to do with our cat, Lego. He has three legs. We rescued him from a shelter when he was two years old. He’s pretty chill most of the time, but he has issues. He is missing a leg. It’s really cute when he has itch on his left ear, his back-left stump tries to scratch it. It’s kind of sad and cute at the same time. He lost his leg when he was a kitten, so our best guess is he only remembers ever having three legs. The only thing he doesn’t do well is jump, and that’s not really a problem for us. Anyway, I digress. He has this habit of doing the butt scoot after he poops. Don’t worry, we’ve had him checked out by a vet. It seems to be a habit he’s developed at this point in time. Fighting the reality that we have a cat that does this, gets me nothing but frustration. We’re not going to get rid of him over something like this. He does it and now, when he comes out of the litter, I wait for him to do it, clean it up and it’s pretty much routine now. We come home after being out and look for the streak. It’s our reality. It’s so much easier to find it, clean it up, and move on, than to show up any other way. Let me tell you, when this first started happening, I did not show up pretty.
Another example from our life, as a family, is my husband, when he was diagnosed with colon cancer, he was 38 years old. He was the best example of someone who didn’t argue with reality. He simply did what he needed to do. He did the treatments, continued to work, and certain things became his new reality. Many of those new things aren’t pleasant, but he doesn’t spend time arguing with it. He figures out how to work around it and with it. I guess, he’s a bit of a hero around here, really. Let me give you one more that kind of does rear its ugly head in my life from time to time.
Before I had my daughter, I worked in tech. I spent 15 years out of the work force, full-time. While I stayed up-to-date on technologies, a 15-year gap is big on a resumé. My day job now, is an admin coordinator, and it took me months to find an employer willing to give me a chance. I also work in a place where if you’re an admin, you’re pretty much an admin there for years on end, which doesn’t fit my usual profile. While I’m not overly challenged in this role, it has its benefits. I can walk to work. I have a boss who’s flexible with my building of this business, and it is an income that we need as a family. There are days where I see areas that I can help so easily. There are days where I’d like to be challenged so much more. Just throw a huge project at me and let me run with it, and it gets to me.
It got to me last week. I was arguing with my reality big time. The funny part is, other than knowing I can do so much more, do I really want that responsibility anyway? Not really. I have this business I’m building, and I love it. I spent more than a few hours complaining one of the days last week. It’s not the version of me I am most proud of, but I’m human. Then, I took in my reality. I was out of the workforce for 15 years. I have a flexible job now, where I can help others. I get to coach all day long. I really do. It isn’t part of my job description, but I definitely got to work on my coaching there, and that is free training for me. I don’t get to do big tech projects, but I also don’t have to work those stressful hours any more. Why am I even fighting with reality, really? Seriously, it’s so not worth it. Better to come up with a plan to change it, or just be okay with it. Anyway, notice your “that shouldn’t have happened” statements. Observe them with fascination and then process through them. They have the power to stall your life completely. Who wants that? Not me. I choose moving forward and processing through things. Once I catch my “should have’s,” that is the key. Noticing them, and then, changing them.
The questions I have for you in this episode are:
1) Who are you in life? Are you the hero solving things, or the person crying hysterically about their circumstances?
2) How do you feel when you think about the fact that life really isn’t supposed to be perfect?
Fly on over to our Empty Nest Flock Forum at youremptynestcoach.com/community to share your answers with the entire flock. 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. 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 impact your life in a positive way.
My next episode’s title is Future You Has All the Power. Don’t forget to sign up for my free Thursday Thoughts About email. Sign up and every Thursday you will receive a thought from me, and I also share Your Empty Nest Coach updates.
It is listener feedback time. This one’s titled Life Coaching Based on Self-success, “It’s always impressive when the life coach has succeeded using the techniques herself, and Christine has big time. I’m eager for the next episode.” This is by reviewer 1946. Thank you, reviewer 1946, who may or may not be my father. That’s the best. Isn’t it?
I would love to read your feedback or review here in an upcoming episode. Either provide a review on Apple Podcast or tag me on social media. If you have a question you would like me to answer on the podcast, you may submit it in my Empty Nest Flock Forum or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your question and how you would like me to refer to you, meaning, should I use your name, a pseudonym, like empty heart in Erie, or anonymous.
Thank you so much for listening, my friend, and remember, you are amazing!