My Emptying Nest – Embracing and Coping with Transition

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My Emptying Nest – Embracing and Coping with Transition

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It is that time of year again for parents – back to school time!  I have been busy getting my youngest daughter ready for her transition into high school and preparing to move my oldest daughter into her first apartment for her junior year in college!! What in the world –  it was just yesterday that I was a ball of tears sending my girls to school for their first day of kindergarten!

 

Lots of major transitions going on my way and during this time of year. We all face different transitions during our lives both minor and major.  I have learned to take transitions that are happening in my life more seriously.  When my freshmen daughter hopped out of the car two years ago and we pulled away from her dorm as a party of 3 and started our drive home I felt like my heart was breaking into a million pieces.  I felt waves of grief and sadness her freshman year that were often paralyzing and startling.  I felt crazy for feeling this way and alone at times.  Life was moving forward but I was stuck in how things used to be when we were one big happy family under one roof.

 

I knew it would be hard but nothing prepared me for this new level of parenting and releasing my daughter into the world.  I tried to carry on as if things were okay.  That’s what society tells us to do just keep it moving – this is a part of life, be happy! I was happy and proud but struggling at the same time.  You raise a child for 18+ years in your home caring for them, protecting them and then in the blink of an eye they have left your nest and you have a brand new normal. Your duties as a mom/parent are different.  The things that you worry about and how you support them when they are away are different and MUCH harder.  Your heart breaks to uncover a new level of loving, supporting and surrendering as a parent and individual.  The breaking pieces turn you inward and help lead you back to rediscovering and redefining who you are not just as a mom – but the process still sucks.

 

Through my experiences and healing I realize that embracing and carefully processing the changes that are taking place in our lives is very important to our wellbeing.  Taking time for self-care, healing and getting the support through family, friends or resources is vital.  A big shout out to my hubby who helped me cope during this transition and my many sleepless nights full of worry and anxiety.  Whew – no wonder God gave us partners!

 

As women especially, we power through things and have no time to slow down to pause and properly cope with challenges and milestones that we face.  We look up one day and realize that we thought we were handling things just fine when we really are not.  That happened to me about six months after we pulled away from that curb.  I looked up and realized I was not okay, needed help and that I had experienced a major change in my life that could not be ignored. I needed to feel and deal with the separation anxiety and depression that I was experiencing.

 

I want to use my experiences to help others.  We have support and gatherings when we enter motherhood but nothing in place when we experience this new milestone in the motherhood journey. I am ready to change this starting in my community.  I am planning some gatherings and a weekend retreat in October for moms going through transitions of a partial or full empty nest.  I want to provide a safe space to gather, celebrate, explore and be nurtured.

 

I have gone through it and still pick up the breaking pieces of my heart every fall.  We will start packing up my daughter this week for a third time and I already know that I will be a basket case, lol!  I look forward to sharing my wisdom, experiences, support, resources and love to moms and women as they go through these beautiful and life changing rites of passage.

 

Please email me at empowerherinc@yahoo.com or leave a comment to be added to my mailing list to get more details about upcoming events and resources.  I’m excited to use my experiences to help others!

 

Cheers to a new school year and the many transitions that we all experience on our journey.

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By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

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Find Your Voice – You are Your Best Advocate!

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Find Your Voice – You are Your Best Advocate!

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I have struggled with confidence for many years.  It’s weird because as young girl I was so creative and free spirited. You would often find me creating something, putting together plays, projects and dance routines for my family.  My cousins would say I was rather bossy and always making them participate in my adventures!  My voice was LOUD – then middle school and my teens hit and somehow my voice and confidence was gone.   I quietly entered womanhood and motherhood and my voice got even more quieter when it came to myself. Now when it comes to my daughters, hubby family, friends and causes that I am passionate about I am the loudest one in the room.   However, when it came to me it is a totally different story.

Self-advocacy is learning to speak up on your own behalf.   You are the only one that knows how you feel and what you need so you are the best person to speak up…duh! That sounds wonderful on paper and to most people but what happens when it is lost or disappears because you learned somewhere on your journey that your voice, opinions and needs did not matter? I think often as mothers and women this gets lost when we are caring for others so much.   We often feel that people are mind readers and know what we need.  Perfect example when I had my meltdown at work a month ago (check out my previous blog post to read more about my eye-opening experience) and my manager asked how I got to that point.  We assume that people know what we need but in truth it is up to us to say something and to keep saying it if necessary.

I recently had to speak up in a situation at work that was not working well for me. Most of the time I am a “go with the flow” and “take a lot of crap and strap on a smile” type of gal but lately this has not been working!  I am finding myself in more and more situations where just pushing through and not speaking up is just not happening.  So, I spoke up and addressed the issues I was having and that things were not working well for me.  I was shocked that I remained calm, was direct and firm. My managers honestly did not know what was going on and were disappointed that I did not speak up earlier before it got bad. They are working on solutions to readjust things to make it better not only for myself but also for my team.

I am learning that life can be so much easier if we speak up – duh so simple, right? I am on a new path of self-love and discovery that is changing how I feel about my needs daily.  We can often get lost in the shuffle.  We look up one day and realize that life is going great for everyone else but ourselves!  I found these terrific tips to help anyone that might be struggling with this topic to help guide you through the process of self-advocacy. These steps may take time so be patient with yourself along the way!

5 steps to self-advocacy:

1.     Take responsibility and believe in yourself. You have the right to speak up for yourself and only you know what is best for you, therefore it is your responsibility to create change in your life.

2.     Be organized. Know your rights, know what you want to speak-up about and gather any information that is required to do so.

3.     Develop a plan. Plan how you are going to speak-up, then practice to yourself, a family member or a close friend.

4.     Take action. Speak-up for yourself, using open communication while remaining respectful to others.

5.     Seek support if needed. It is important to ask for help when you feel you need it.

 

Feel free to leave a comment on other tips that you use to be your best self-advocate!  We can all use them. Cheers to finding your voice, using it in EVERY area of your life and pushing back!

By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

“Halfway There!”

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Whew -can you believe it is July?? The halfway point of the year! It caught me by surprise – especially when I realized that my youngest daughter will be starting high school in less than three weeks..eeeckkkk! Talk about time flying she was just a toddler yesterday!  I wanted to take this week’s blog post to remind everyone that it is the perfect time for a halftime break.  I invite you to take a moment to step back, evaluate your year so far and take action to get back on track if needed. Or if you are like me and have a lot going on, step off that ‘track’ and rip a few things off your plate before we get into the busy season of the fall!

 

Since time is flying so quickly I wanted to suggest a few quick tips to be more mindful and to be fully in the moment.

 

Don’t Wish It was Friday on Monday

 

It is so easy to wake up on Monday morning wondering where the weekend went and then start longing for it to be Friday.  I am so guilty of this and just decided that instead of waiting for Friday I am going to enjoy the 24 hours that I am blessed with every day.  Why should we suffer through and spend our days longing for the weekend when we have this moment to be happy and thrive?

Take a 5 minute “Do Nothing Break” Everyday

 

Sit in silence, become aware of your thoughts and focus on your breathing for just 5 minutes a day. It sounds so simple but our mind is constantly going a million miles a minute.  It helps to just take a moment to sit in silence to take in the sounds and energy that is flowing in the moment.  Take several if needed – I know I do!

 

Schedule Breaks and Leave Room

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If your schedule is like mine – jam packed with back to back meetings, appointments, etc. it is important to plan breaks in between your laundry list of to do items.   If you have a meeting or appointment scheduled leave a thirty minute or hour break in between to regroup. When you get home from work take a moment to relax and write down three things you are grateful that happened that day.  I am notorious for hitting the door when I get home and going 90 miles an hour into mommy mode after a long day at work.  We just need to take several chills pills (need to bring that phrase back) on a daily basis!

 

Make Undivided Attention a Daily Practice

 

We have become multi-tasking monsters doing a million things at once. Especially with cell phones it is so easy to handle multiple tasks and conversations at a time.  If you are having a conversation with someone focus on the conversation, being fully present and not distracted.  When you are taking care of a task be in that moment and focus on what you are doing.  In Georgia they implemented a hands-free law while driving as of July 1st.  You cannot hold your phone to talk or text while driving or you will be ticketed. It is crazy how much restraint I had to have on the first few days to not grab my phone and scroll while at a red light.  Now I just focus on the music in the car or just my surroundings more.  It is hard to believe that idle time has become something that we try to avoid.

 

 

Overall take a long deep breath in and savor EVERY wonderful and crazy aspect of your life daily. It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year and now it’s July.  Now more than ever we need to be more mindful and enjoy our lives as it is a gift! I heard something the other day that said that God is not in the past or the future only in the present moment. I’m learning to spend more time there for sure – it is the best place to be!

 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot – Deepak Chopra and Oprah have a wonderful FREE 21-day mediation starting on July 23rd. It is a great way to develop a meditation and mindfulness practice. They will be exploring the energy of attraction and manifesting your best life. These are so good and only come around a few times a year! Sign up soon by visiting: https://chopra.com/.

Be sure to leave a comment letting us know your favorite ways to chill and slow things down!

 

Cheers to the halfway point of 2018 and making EVERY moment count!

By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

“My Mental Breakdown”

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Last Friday around 1:13 in the afternoon I experienced a mental breakdown. Is that okay to share or talk about these days??  If not, this is a break from all regularly scheduled programs that are being broadcasted on the picture perfect social media channel.  I interrupt this program with a dose of reality.

 

After a week full of 9 – 10 hour days covering for a colleague’s work load on top of my own – my brain could take no more.  I had received three calls from frustrated suppliers and managers that morning.  During the last call I could feel my voice starting to crack as I tried to listen to this manager’s frustration.  Nothing to do with me, just her frustration with the process.  I hit my red ‘end call’ button on my phone and started to shake, then the tears started to flow.   Luckily, I was working from home. The dam that was holding all the stress and anxiety of trying to handle too many things together finally broke.  I mean I was seriously sobbing uncontrollably the kind of cry that comes from a deep place within.  My laptop continued to chime with incoming emails, reminders, skype messages pinging me everyone wanting something. All I could do was cry –  I could not take in one more thing.

 

Thankfully my husband returned home early and found me.  He didn’t know what was wrong and I could barely get any words out.  He told me that I needed to message my manager to tell him I needed a break as I was in full meltdown. He had watched me come home from work that week each night like a zombie.  How do you message your manager telling him that you are having a mental meltdown?   It’s not like in a sports game where you can yell to the referee that you need a timeout – this is life.  You can’t use the words “mental breakdown” in a skype or email message at work.  Well this girl had to break that ‘rule’ on a beautiful Friday afternoon as I simply could not pull myself together.

 

My manager responded after a few seconds and asked why I did not ask for help earlier in the week and wondered how things got to that point.  I told him that I thought I was handling things okay, but evidently, I wasn’t.  More embarrassment as I continued to try to explain how I got to this point – where tears were spilling onto my hands and splashing my laptop as I typed. He made me step away from work for a few hours to regroup.

 

I was in shock that I got to the point of breaking down. As a mom, I’m used to mentally juggling a million different things, throw work and life on top of that and this is just another day in my world.  Nope not that day – my brain and spirit said otherwise.  The whistle had been blown I was officially down and in time out.  I feel slightly embarrassed and vulnerable post meltdown at work especially with my managers.  I guess my meltdown did result in a conversation led by my managers the following week making sure that the team knew that although things are super busy we need to know that we can ask for help.  There is even discussion of a monthly mental health day.  I guess my tears are making a difference, lol!

 

It has me thinking, why is this the norm? Trying to keep everything buttoned up, perfect and okay.  We give our best selves to our work all day and come home with nothing to give but irritability and exhaustion to the people that matter the most.  Our society rewards and encourages this work horse, lean in, slaying it mentally. I especially do not think this is good for women and moms. We must take more things off our plate, speak up and ask for help.  The norm should not be to run a million miles an hour and juggling a billion things.  If you do have a lot going on you need to have more downtime and self-care.  It needs to be okay to ask for a time out at work.  Where do we find that courage to say we are not okay and make this a priority?  Our western culture rewards the hustle and places more value on material possessions, success and power while eastern cultures embrace going with the natural flow of life, shorter work days, time with family, slowing down and taking care of yourself spiritually, mentally and physically.

 

Last week’s meltdown was a scary wakeup call that I was NOT expecting. I feel differently and want to change my approach to my mental health.  I also hope to create social change in our culture and how we work especially as women in a society that was created by men with traditional 9-6 values.  Our bodies were not meant to slay it Monday – Friday for 8-10 hrs.  Especially as women we go through monthly cycles that sometime require us to rest more or need more downtime.  We are taught as woman to ignore our bodies and to be like men, umm yeah no we are different we birth babies for crying out loud! Our work systems were not designed with this in mind.   It is time for more conversations around this topic and change.  I’ll start here with sharing my meltdown moment instead of the highlight reels of my life that we all choose to share daily.

 

I hope my emergency broadcast will help someone.  If you are in a meltdown moment, find someone to talk to, if you have EAP (Employee Assistance Program) at work use it. If you are in extreme crisis and no one to talk to call 1-800-273-8255 or even message me if needed.  I’m here to help and support!

 

Feel free to leave a comment about any recent meltdowns that you have experienced or practices that you have in place to protect your mental health and wellness!

 

Cheers to breakdowns that lead to getting the help that we need!

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By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

“Leaping, Falling, Tail Tucking & Getting Back on the Horse!”

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Six years ago, I walked away from my six-figure job to pursue my dreams to empower women and girls.  I found this picture and I blogged about that moment when I walked into my boss’s office and boldly said “I quit!”. You can check out my original blog post here: http://empowerherinc.blogspot.com/2012/08/ps-i-quit-step-closer-to-my-dream.html.  That person that took that leap seems so foreign to me now. I’m in tears just thinking about that moment and even sharing my thoughts in this week’s blog post.

 

I quit my job to have more flexibility for my family and to walk in my passion and gifts. I took on some contract work to supplement my income and set off to change the world.  I had no plan just – a 501 (C) 3 and a dream. My oldest daughter was entering high school and I knew that I wanted to be home when more.  I was very successful at work but my job was very demanding and offered little flexibility. Prior to my quitting I had helped to run a community based organization for girls for 5years.  I created great programs and events for girls in our community and was ready to branch out to help women and create more events that would spark social change on a full-time-basis.

 

I launched my organization and hosted several events.  It started out great – then life happened.  A close family member got sick and passed away, we experienced unexpected financial issues and many other challenges.  A year later I tucked my tail between my legs and returned to my 9-5, so ashamed that I was back where I started.  I was back to being overworked, stressed and embarrassed that my plan did not work.  I tried to keep things going with my dreams on the side but I got busy being a mom and wife.  Empower Her, Inc. had a “Closed” sign on its virtual door.  I have tons of dust covered boxes in my attic right now full of my Empower Her, Inc dreams, visions, etc.

 

Fast forward to June 12th, 2018.  My friend sent me a screenshot of plans I made in 2013 for a leadership camp for girls. She read me the details of my proposal for this program and the requirements that I was requesting for a space to host the camp.  I could not believe that it had been 5 years. The details were so specific.  At the time I knew that I would get that space, register tons of girls and provide a camp that would also help my girls! The camp was a big part of my plans but it never got off the ground due to not finding a space and the resources.  I had forgotten about that dream and about my plans.  It’s funny how God brings things to your attention at the right time.  Especially as my 14-year-old is settling into her summer routine and is too old for camps but needs some type of enrichment.

 

The same thoughts of wanting to put together amazing programs for girls and women has crept back into my spirit as well as fear. The thought of putting something together again and relaunching has me shaking in my boots. Just to even write again on this blog started out as a struggle. I enjoy blogging as a guest on this blog because it is under the safe covering of someone else’s dream. I have my own blog that I started over six years ago that I have not touched instead I am sharing my thoughts here where it is safe. It’s like I have “Leaping for Your Dreams PTSD”, lol.

 

God has been telling me over the last few months that it is time to share my journey and gifts with the world again. I want to stay hidden and quiet but He is pushing me to move forward. So,I am leaning into Him more, praying, planning and strategizing to launch some new programs/events in the fall.  I am at the end of this week’s Power Hour Blog post and I realize I did not have much to share – just my journey, where I am today and where I want to be.  I guess that is okay too.  I would ask for prayers and support as I get the strength to get back on the horse again.  For those of you that have scrapped up knees from your recent leaps I am here to provide band aids, to be scared with you and to be your biggest cheerleader when you are ready to leap again.

 

Feel free to share your recent leaps, falls or tail tucked between your legs moments in the comments section.

 

Cheers to leaping, falling and getting back up again!

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By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

Happy National Creativity Day – Nourish Your Creative Spirit!

banner for Kara Power Hour2May 30th is the official day to celebrate the creative spirits in your world! It’s National Creativity Day! Raising my virtual glass and throwing some confetti in honor of the musicians, hairstylist, authors, actors/actresses, artist, DJ’s, filmmakers, photographers, carpenters, designers, chefs, caterers, bloggers, engineers, stylist and tons of other creatives in the world. When you really think about it everything besides nature started with a creative thought. What a cool day to stop and take time to toast the power of the imagination!

I have always loved creating things since I was a little girl. I would write, paint, re-arrange my room almost weekly, try to make things, one time at 6 years I even tried to make shoes out of cardboard!  It has carried over into my grown-up life! I LOVE everything about creating events for women and girls and gathering beautiful details and extraordinary content to make my experiences special. I love hosting family and friends in my home – and making everyday gatherings something wonderful and memorable. Why be boring!

Sometimes in life we can bury our creativity with the day to day hum drum of life. So It is important to always make time to be creative and tap into your God given talents that you were born to bring to the world.

Here are 5 great tips to help nourish your creative spirit!

  1. Work when you are inspired and excited! I know there are certain ebbs and flows in my creativity and I am learning that when the spirit is flowing within it’s time to capture new ideas, design new things and take the steps to execute a plan. As a woman I have noticed my natural rhythms and at certain times of the month my energy levels are down, creativity is out the window and I need take time to rest and recharge.  I am learning to not push myself during this time and mother myself if needed.  Then a few weeks later I am the energizer bunny ready to roll!  There are even certain times of year or seasons when I am more inspired. Take note of these times and work with your flow to make the most of your creativity.
  2. Get out of your comfort zone and try something different! Set aside time to write down at least 10 things that you would like to try this summer and get out there and try them!  I am normally a person that does not like to try new things. I always order the same food at restaurants but lately I have been trying new dishes and trying to cook new things.  I am normally a person that always wears black or dark colors but now starting to branch out and wear different patterns and more bold colors. Making little changes in the everyday experiences helps to feed our creative spirits.
  3. Find creativity in the everyday moments in life!  Try and find ways to infuse your creative spirit into the boring task of life.  Find innovative ways to do the laundry, cook, clean, and work to make things more fun and interesting. Changing your mindset about everyday tasks can do wonders!
  4. Find and connect with other creative people on a regular basis!  I was blessed to be a part of Kustom Kreations recent Portfolio and Perspectives event last month where event stylist came together to do styled shoots. The creative energy in that space was palpable and on fire!  I loved seeing all the beautiful details and how they came together. Surround yourself with creative people especially when you are feeling not so inspired! Check out upcoming events on Eventbrite that interest you and get out and connect!
  5. Create space and take care of your creative gifts! I am learning to spend more time in mediation/prayer to get still, quiet and connect with God. He ultimately put every talent and gift in us when we were created. He knows best how to nurture, cultivate and grow our gifts.  Getting the right rest and having time to dream and be still allows things to flow more smoothly. When I am busy or tired I have no space, energy or desire to do anything but the basics. It’s important to take care of ourselves and be replenished! Also, schedule time to disconnect from social media and the busyness of life to find quiet spaces especially in nature to flow in YOUR gifts not someone else’s that you see online.

 

Cheers to your creative spirit – may you unleash more of your greatness into the world today and every day! Feel free to leave a comment and tell us what your creative gifts are or some of the new creative things that you would like to explore this summer!

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By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

 

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

 

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/