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Turning my Surprising Empty Nest Crisis into an Opportunity

by | Create a Turning Point

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?

8 Comments

  1. Jessica

    Hi Michal,
    We are very happy having you in our life in NYC, it was meant to be!
    It is always hard to recreate ourself and our life everywhere but the point is to stay who we are and improve with the new challenges, embrasses them and recreate our lifes. Sometimes we look at others lives in the same city with same friends and their families and yes it is beautiful but somehow We are very happy having you in our life in NYC, it was meant to be! It is always hard to recreate ourself and our lives everywhere, but the point is to stay who we are improve with the new challenges embrasses them and recreate our lives. Empty nest, changing cities are new challenges, we decide to live a life in movement, it is the way we are. Sometimes we look at others living in the same city with same friends and their families and wonder if it is easier for them. Yet it is not the life we have chosen and both ways have to face the same challenges. All that I m thinking about is : Just for today … and thankfulness … and yet what is the next adventure… the next challenge … let s embrasse it and once more so happy your steps came to NYC…
    Jess

    Reply
    • Michal Spiegelman

      Jess – You are sweet as ALWAYS! I feel the love!
      I know that you have experience with moving countries and leaving your loved one behind.
      It is wonderful to see how you keep turning your challenges into opportunities!
      and you are right – we decided to live a life in movement. You and I and other people as well.
      So glad you are here in NY!

      Reply
  2. Brenda

    Love the article. Things find you for a reason and here was this email. I too have empty nest syndrome. We all live in different states. One daughter in Florida and the other one in Utah. But than I realize that both my daughters went for there goals and I am so proud of them both ( I tell them all the time). But now is a time for my husband and I to just do our thing. My goal is every vacation we go somewhere different there is so much out there to explore and learn. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Brenda

      Wow look at the time this posted. Magical.

      Reply
    • Michal Spiegelman

      You made few really good points, Brenda! First, the fact that we are proud of our kids does not make our empty nest less empty, but at least we enjoy watching them bloom and find their way!
      and also – you are 100% right: it is time for you and your husband to create a life of adventure! Go for it!

      Reply
  3. Susan

    Hello to all
    Just want to say the question was, “what challengeing life event were you able to turn into an opportunity?”
    I was diagnosed with pancreatic disease in 2014 and it’s been a daily challenge .
    As for the opportunity, I think I have yet to find out…
    I look forward to starting the healing workshop on the 13th?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Michal

      Susan- thanks so much for writing! I’m really looking forward to see you at the Reiki Class on August 13. Believe me: it’s going to be much more than a healing workshop. It’s going to get you started on a deep healing experience.

      Reply
      • Susan

        Thank you, Michal!
        I knew I found the right Master…
        So looking forward
        Wish I could wake up and it’s the 13th?????

        Reply

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