Archive of ‘Ultimate Blog Challenge’ category

Book Signings

I’ve pictured myself attending my own book signing. I imagine sitting behind the table with a few hundred copies of y book in front of me and my favorite fountain pen at the ready, to sign the title pages of all the books sold. There’s a line of people waiting for their turn to say hello and let me know how my book resonated with them. At the end of the night, I feel satisfied knowing that I have produced something that will outlast me and help people for generations to come.

But, since I haven’t finished my memoir yet (only 25K-30K words to go!), I attend author events. I love listening to writers talk about their book and their creative process. Each person has their own story to tell, and I always come away learning something new.

A few weeks ago, I participated in a workshop centered around the book “The Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Sadly, Mrs. Lindbergh couldn’t make it. She passed away more than two decades ago, but her book stands the test of time. A colleague gave me the book as a gift, and it took me years to truly appreciate its collection of essays about how to be a woman. Even though she wrote the book more than 50 years ago, her wisdom resonates as much today as it was first published. This book is one of the few I read repeatedly and has a permanent place on my nightstand.

Tonight, I’m adding another book to my nightstand – Rough Draft by MSNBC host Katy Tur. I’ve watched and enjoyed her show for many years. Her coverage of the Trump administration was must-see-tv, and her memoir about that experience is supposed to be excellent. Her new memoir is more personal, and I received a signed copy at her book talk tonight.

Being in a room of like-minded and politically aligned people is also nice. As much as I enjoyed the author portion of the program, the Q&A afterward made me realize I’m not the only person disturbed and saddened by the state of our democracy.

But I digress… author events are a terrific way to spend an evening with friends. I’m grateful to have people in my life who enjoy them as much as I do. And now, I need to start looking for the next one to attend.

Do you attend book signings? What do you like about them?

From Camp to College

One of the best things I ever did for my kids was to send them to overnight camp. For a few years, they spent four weeks away from home amongst friends enjoying the outdoors, developing their connection to Judaism, and navigating daily life without us being there to intervene.

Having never been to an overnight camp as a child, I didn’t know what to expect for my kids. Friends who had that experience in their youth remember it fondly and strongly encouraged me to send them. I remember wondering how I could entrust my children’s lives to complete strangers who were paid to look out for them. But, as I learned more about the camp from other parents and the people working there, I realized it was a special place.

The first year I sent Jenna to camp, I marveled at her self-sufficiency when she came home. She made her bed and brushed her teeth without being asked, which was a miracle in itself. The following summer, she returned and built upon her good habits while pushing herself to try new things. Four weeks later, we picked her up, and she told us she was becoming a vegetarian because she didn’t want animals to suffer so that she could eat. I thought it was a passing phase, but she kept it up for the next three years. The summer after that, Andrew joined her at camp. In addition to their good habits and adventures, they came home with a stronger sibling bond than before (as seen in the photo above from several summers ago).

Those four weeks also allowed me and my husband to spend quality time together. We went to outdoor concerts, saw a few shows, ate at fancier and less kid-friendly restaurants, and one year even escaped to Punta Cana for a week. We reminded ourselves how much we still enjoy each other’s company sans the children.

Over the last two weeks, we had another practice run of the empty nester life. With one kid living away this summer and the other at Philmont Scouting Ranch in New Mexico, we were alone again, but together. And, I’m happy to say we made the most of it!

As I think back to those summers when we dropped off our kids at camp, I realize they were a precursor for what will happen in a few short weeks. We were practicing to become empty nesters. The only difference is that this time they will be away for a lot longer. But, they will be back often with laundry in tow and stories to tell. It will be a different dynamic for our family, but I’m thankful those summer camp experiences prepared us for the next chapter.

Finding the Fun Again

I have a new goal: not to fall asleep on the couch by 8 pm on weekends. You see, we are about to become empty nesters as our youngest starts Drexel University in the fall. Our idea of fun has centered around our children for the last 21 years. We’ve been to the fireworks, the zoo, the museums, the beach, the theater, and the aquarium. We’ve taken them swimming, boating, hiking, rock-climbing, sledding, ice skating, go-karting, sightseeing, and more. We’ve taken them everywhere, from the Jersey Shore to the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Canyon. We even went on a Caribbean cruise (pre-pandemic, of course).

It has been fun — so much fun. Some of the most fun I’ve had has been with our kids. They are fun people, but they are seeking out their version of fun without us, as it should be. And now, my husband and I will be on our own again. And I do not want to spend the next 15 years watching tv and falling asleep on the sofa.

So, I’m on the hunt for some fun.

Recently, two couples asked us for dinner and said they wanted to hang out with us more. We have been friends for years but rarely socialize outside our children’s extra-curricular activities or school functions. Now that our kids don’t need us to chaperone or drive them anywhere, we are all looking to expand our friendship circles and try new things. I love this idea. Hanging out with friends is definitely my idea of a good time.

This past weekend was a flurry of activity. Friday night, we saw Top Gun: Maverick at the movie theater. The next day, we took the dog on a car ride to visit my parents. We couldn’t bring grandchildren with us because neither of them was home. I didn’t know we were allowed to come over without at least one grandchild in tow. We watched the Phillies game and brought in Italian food for dinner. On Sunday, we ran errands and did some housework and food shopping before heading out with friends to Longwood Gardens for the evening. And on Monday, we invited my inlaws over for dinner and conversation, which closed out the weekend nicely.

I want more weekends like this. The trick is to plan ahead and put things on the calendar. But also leave room for spontaneity. The possibilities are endless. I want to try new restaurants and listen to live music. Longtime followers of my blog know that exploring and supporting indie bookstores is my idea of a good time. I want to be with people — more so now that I’m working from home and don’t get out much during the week.

I also hope to dedicate some time to my hobbies. I am a writer by trade and hope to be an author someday. I am working on a memoir and looking forward to attending a writer’s conference next month. It will be so nice to learn from and be inspired by other writers who love to read and share their stories.

My husband and I also love to travel. Before the pandemic, we had hoped to go to Italy to celebrate our 50th birthdays. Instead, we are staying on this side of the pond for another year before we travel overseas. When our son recently learned of these plans, he told us he would LOVE to go to Italy. I had to break it to him gently.

I said, “That’s nice, sweetie. I’m sure you’ll get there someday. How about you go to college instead? This is our time.”

This is a new stage of our lives and of course, there is no manual. What have other empty nesters done to find the fun again? Tell me in the comments.

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