Welcome Back!
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s been over a year since we last published Empty Nest. I must confess, after last issue, I (finally) gave in and let my day job take over my life (see Summer 2012, “When Is a Job Too Much of a Job”?). Well, let’s just say that I’m over that. The good news is, we’re back, with more great content. It’s fall: The air is crisp, the leaves colorful, and empty-nesting tales abound. As always, our talented contributors make it happen! And our loyal readers—thanks to you for staying in touch . . .

We have some great stories in this issue: For a new project, professional photographer and videographer Gail Mooney sought to find people around the world who “made a difference.” She planned to capture their images and their stories, and to publish the results in a film that would be an inspiration to others. She got more than she bargained for when her daughter, Erin, a new college graduate, volunteered to go along. Associate Editor Ellen Newman had a lot on her plate in the days leading up to Thanksgiving last year, the least of which was cooking the turkey and trimmings. Read about her adventures in filling seats at her family’s holiday table, which took an international turn. Considering going ziplining this fall? You’ll want to read this issue’s firsthand account before you take the plunge. In our final feature, one empty nester takes advantage of an opportunity to spend two weeks in Italy (Part 1: Rome, and Part 2: Tuscany) and learns a lot about herself in the process.

In HOME, new contributor Thalia Poulos, an Organized Beautifully® expert, teaches us how to simplify our lives—by decluttering our newly emptied nests. Then, we learn that “being productive” can come in many different forms, and some of them (those we choose during our empty-nesting years?) may surprise us. Dr. Dan Gottlieb contemplates the issue in a chapter from his book Letters to Sam, republished here in GENERATIONS. Next, we expect our “best friends” to be tried and true to the end, but sometimes things just don't pan out. Welcome to new contributor Andrea Freedman, who shares her mid-life experiences with friendship in PERSPECTIVE. Finally, returning contributor Jewel Littenberg kicks off her regular column SENIOR INSIGHTS with a two-way conversation exploring the benefits of volunteering—how it can help empty nesters “live their best life.” Jewel's new column parallels her new blog by the same name (see link at left).

The Publication
The format of Empty Nest makes the editorial our home page (you’re there!), where the articles are discussed in context of the issue, and links take you directly to the text. As always, though, you can also reach the Features, Departments, and Editorial via the sidebar menu at left. Finally, you can do a keyword search of Empty Nest. Just type a topic or author’s name into the search box at the bottom of the sidebar at left, and you’ll bring up a page with links to relevant articles in the current issue and in the Empty Nest archives.

Note that links to two new blogs appear in the left column of our homepage: Carpe Diem, my own blog, which I revived recently, and Senior InSights, a new blog by Jewel Littenberg. Enjoy!

You can show your support for Empty Nest by clicking the “Donate” button on the sidebar and making a monetary contribution. Think of it as you would shareware. If you read an issue and like what you see, please consider contributing through the secure PayPal website to support our work. Our goals for the future are simple: to recover expenses and to pay our writers, and we look forward to the day when we can do both.

Feel free to e-mail us at editor@emptynestmag.com with any additional comments or suggestions, or with proposals for contributed articles.

Since Last Issue
Changing Tack: Career

When last we talked, it was September 2012. Yes, a whole year ago. It’s hard to believe! Fall 2012: I was working overtime to launch a new development department for my employer. In October, in the middle of all of that, by a strange twist of fate, I was able to spend two weeks in Italy on a trip organized by a good friend. It was just one of the proverbial life-changing experiences I had last year (see "Italy: Why I Went . . ."—Part 1 and Part 2—in this issue). Of course, the high points of the trip unfolded despite the fact that each night in my hotel room, buried in email, I kept tabs on things at work.

Upon my return, of course, I still had much catching up to do work-wise and on the home front. The holidays loomed over me and, with family coming home, they soon overtook my agenda. Regardless, I was involved in work sales calls during Christmas week and spent New Year’s weekend working as well, writing guidelines and developing pricing for a major client. January kicked off the new reality: work, work, work. Things got more and more complicated as our major client reorganized and I delved into many more months of overtime. In August, after witnessing many red flags and not liking what I was seeing, I took a hard look at what was going on, carefully considering my options. (Kids through school? Check! Tuition bills paid? Check! Weddings? One down, one to go. Money saved? Check!)

In the end, I decided to “tack,” to use a common sailing term: [Changing course,] I left my publishing job and have set my sails in a different direction—that of teaching college English, writing, editing, and publishing Empty Nest. Consequently, I’m expanding my horizons in many directions, meeting new people, doing things I believe in, and loving every minute of it. In fact, these past few months have been the best of my life—I’ve never been happier. And, I didn’t even mind summer turning to fall this year. It’s all lovely! I feel like I’m seeing things for the first time, and perhaps I am. I didn’t realize how stressed out I was until I got off the merry go ‘round. I recommend this approach to anyone who finds him/herself in the same boat—If you don't like what's going on, make some changes. Things will work out.

Michael Bublé captures my mood exactly in his song “Feelin’ Good." Here are a few excerpts:

“Birds flyin’ high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by; you know how I feel
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life.
For me . . . and I’m feelin’ good . . .”

The best lines are:

“Sleep in peace when day is done, that’s what I mean . . .
And this old world is a new world and a bold world . . . for me”


“Oh, freedom is mine, and I know how I feel
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life.
For me . . .”

Yes, I am writing about my experiences—in fact, I’m capturing the essence of my publishing career in a memoir.

Changing Tack: Sailing
Speaking of sailing, my other big news is that my husband, Gary, and I have become “Thistle” sailors—another life-changing experience. We purchased an old Thistle (one-design 17-ft dinghy) at the end of summer 2012, almost on a whim, planning to just sail it on “light air” days in races on Lake Nockamixon (PA), where we belong to a sail club. Well, the Thistle fleet there is a wild bunch, yet they are very experienced (a couple of members are national Thistle Class Association past presidents). And, the group is inter-generational; we enjoy the “kids” as much as the older members. They’re simply a great group of people—friendly and always ready to lend a hand. They sail hard and play hard.

The group travels to regattas up and down the East Coast: Saratoga (NY), Westport (CT), Sayeville (Long Island, NY), Nyack (NY, on the Hudson River), Lake Hopatcong (NJ), Ocean Gate (NJ, on the Barnegat Bay), Annapolis (MD, on the Chesapeake Bay), and on the Delaware River (near Edgewater Park, NJ). Regattas are held almost year round: in spring, summer, and fall, to the end of October. (I still can’t believe I was sailing on the Delaware in white caps and gusts up to 30 mph on October 26th—wearing long johns and rain gear, mind you. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, right?) Mid-winter competitions are held in St. Petersburg (FL)—our personal goal this year—and San Diego (CA). Nationals were held last summer in Sandusky (OH), on Lake Erie. Next year, Lake Superior (WI) will be the setting for Thistle Nationals. We’re thinking about going!

After sailing our (19-ft) Lightning on Lake Nockamixon for the last 20 years (in addition to doing an occasional charter on the Chesapeake), this has been quite an experience. We’ve worked hard just to keep up at these regattas, and we’re learning the ropes, so to speak. We placed near the bottom most of the time, but in many races just showing up bumped us up a notch. For example, in Annapolis during Severan Sailing Association’s “Oyster Roast Regatta” over Columbus Day weekend, the winds were terrifying (gusts to 25), and on Day 2, half the boats dropped out. So, we got out there and, in the end, placed 18 of 30 just by showing up.

We have had to avoid capsized boats in many races, although we managed to stay afloat ourselves. (We did capsize in September, on Lake Hopatcong; I was glad to get that over with—it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it'd be.) There’s no room for fear on a boat—you do your job, and sail as safely and efficiently as you can. I’ve learned many lessons there, and I can’t tell you how exhilarating it is. Further, the camaraderie among sailors after the racing just can’t be beat. In fact, at our sail club’s annual year-end banquet a couple of weeks ago, we were thrilled and honored to win the club’s “Thistle Fleet #176 High Achievement Award” for our enthusiasm, not for the number of races won. A fitting end to a great season!

Now I’m back to publishing Empty Nest—a big joy for me. In addition, I’m writing a memoir/novel, reviving my own blog, entering national writing contests, and writing for local papers. I've also been able to spend some quality time with my grown children, which has been the icing on the cake. I am living my own life to the fullest, and I encourage you to do the same. And, as always, enjoy the issue! Once again, we thank our dedicated contributors, to whom we owe the quality of this publication; Associate Editor Ellen Newman, who copyedited the articles; and our loyal readers, who are our reason to publish. If we can help anyone deal with their empty-nesting angst a little better, we consider our efforts successful. You are not alone!

For more about Empty Nest magazine, visit About Us.


Robin C. Bonner
Editor, Empty Nest

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