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As I listened to the click of my iPhone camera, it hit me: Without my struggle with empty nest syndrome, I wouldn’t be living and loving my life in New York City now, two years later.

My moment of realization happened a few days ago, when my husband and I were driving through our old neighborhood in Atlanta.

I have lived in 14 houses on three continents, but our house in Atlanta?the one we sold when we moved to New York?was the house of my dreams. I asked my husband to stop the car so I could take a picture. Looking at it made me a little teary.

It was hard for me to believe: Did we really sell this house, get rid of most of our belongings, and embark on a new beginning in New York two years ago? I reminded myself that our vision had become a reality. We ARE living our dream!

A few years ago, when our kids left, I thought I was well prepared. After all, in my professional life, I help women create turning points in their lives and transform challenges into opportunities. Doing the same for myself should have been easy. But the deep sense of sadness and grief I experienced caught me by surprise. I knew all about empty nest syndrome. I could easily talk to other women about the symptoms, the causes, and even the treatment. So why couldn’t I listen to my own advice?

To be honest, my husband dealt with becoming an empty nester much better than I did. He was fully ready for a new adventure. In fact, making the decision to leave Atlanta for New York was simple. Since we had moved so many times, I always told our children that home is wherever we are. I never taught them to stay attached to houses or objects but, rather, to focus on enjoying life no matter where we were on the globe.

Looking back, moving from a five-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment was not the real difficulty for me. I enjoyed starting fresh, owning fewer things, decorating our Brooklyn apartment, and even changing our lifestyle so that we walk a lot, use public transportation rather than drive, and entertain only a few people at a time instead of big groups.

My biggest challenge with the move?the most surprising?was losing part of my identify as a mother. (Yes, I know I’m still my children’s mother and I am proud to watch them grow, but?it’s different!) At the same time, I felt the loss of leaving behind my community and friends in Atlanta.

As women, we need our sisters, communities, friendships, and, when we are moms, our motherhood as well.
These relationships feed our soul.

I didn’t imagine it would take so much time to get to know people and to establish a new community in New York. During the first year, I felt disconnected, like I had lost parts of myself. I became impatient.

But things got better in the second year. I have developed meaningful relationships and started to feel a deeper sense of connectedness and belonging.

Did I know two years ago how much I would love my life here? Did I know that my empty nest crisis would turn into a positive change? No, I did not. But since I believe that we can make a choice to create our lives exactly the way we want to, I trusted the decision my husband and I made without having any evidence to show that it was the right one to make!

When you accept responsibility for creating the life you want, you can make any dream a reality.

Empty nest syndrome was not the first challenge I chose to turn into an opportunity. I have experienced several major life events that seemed devastating at first and instead became turning points for me that led to positive change. .

Moving to New York was an adventure we undertook in order to create change, excitement, new beginnings, and vitality in our lives. And the amount of walking and stair-climbing we do now is far more than any physical activity we ever did when we were younger!

I would love to hear from you:
What challenging life event were you able to turn into an opportunity?

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