Even Custer’s Mom Empty-Nested


I just got back from a fabulous 4-day road trip with my husband and 18-year-old son.

Did you realize this year is the 100th anniversary of our National Parks? One of our impromptu stops was a new park to add to our experiences: The Little Bighorn Battlefield. I highly recommend it. We particularly appreciated the self-guided driving trail, and being able to actually stand where Custer last did. I could feel the events happening around us, as if we were immersed in a live shadow of the life story. Powerful.

Custer’s Last Viewpoint

It makes me want to check out the History Channel for more info.  Does anyone know of a really engaging documentary on The Battle of Little Bighorn that I should check out?  Let me know in the comments, if you would. Thanks!

Ever since the kids were small we’ve taken a ton of driving trips and had a great time, for sure.  But this time, on the edge of empty-nesting, two things were seriously different that I did not see coming:

  1. Traveling with adult kids is really, really cool
  2. Immersing yourself in stops along the way is so worth the time and expense


Adult kids (isn’t that an oxymoron?!?) are fun to travel with. There is a whole new level of standing-down as a Mom that I got to experience. Like car snacks no longer being needed as a distraction or event. And not having to be constantly on alert and parentally vigilant about things like falling off of cliffs or yelling in restaurants.


Stopping early in the day and spending time where you’re at is so much more interesting than doing a drive-by and pausing only to sleep. It’s well worth it, and I will remember this when we tally the trip receipts…. My Bozeman experience went so much further than a hotel on the interstate with an amazing breakfast: I got to be in the audience of the outstanding planetarium presentation by that hugely amazing young woman. We enjoyed an incredible meal on the secluded back deck of a local restaurant, and it turns out that the owner and my son were in the bathroom at the same time.  (We now joke that they got to hang out together.) And randomly walking into the historic Ellen Theater  downtown led to a wonderful visit with the manager!


Oh, and when the tire blew? No biggie. I had both my guys taking care of me.  And, we got to enjoy a whole new set of lines from A Christmas Story: “Time me!”  However, no one had to say, “Do you know what your son (or, son-in-law!) just said?!?”

I have always loved our road trips. But as the kids become adults? It’s even more amazing. We all relaxed and enjoyed ourselves and each other more, and in a deeper way. As you are empty nesting, you can finally manage less and allow more, throughout your vacation–and other–processes.

And congratulate yourself! This is now the case because you made your Mama stand throughout all those youngster years! Way to go, then. And way to stand together, now.

Oh, fudge.

What Hummus, Planking, and Willy Wonka Have In Common


“What’s that?” I am repeatedly asked on a recent evening, as various family members walked by the kitchen counter and peeked through the glass-lidded pot.

“Chickpeas. Garbanzo beans,” I reply, looking up from the couch. I’d never noticed before how universal a confusion response is: one sharp backwards head movement, the snap of a corner mouth tug, a flash of eyebrows meeting. I wonder how often my own face flies into autopilot.

“They’re soaking. Overnight.” The confusion is now gone, replaced by an open smile of questioning.  “So that I can cook them tomorrow.  I’m making hummus.”  

And then I witness another universal facial response.  I’ll call it the “Huh. Cool!” Reaction. You likely recognize it: small head nods, mouth corners pulled back in a slight smile, eyebrows up. A nonverbal light bulb turning on. And my family members are not even big fans of hummus.

But they are big fans of me.  And being in the company of someone exploring their creativity is a happy contagion.

This time of year we emerge from our mental hibernation, stretch ourselves, and add movement into our days. It’s a time of expansion, action, and joy.

My husband is preparing to upgrade an existing wall with knotty pine tongue-and-groove boards. YouTube videos play regularly on his tablet, planks are stacked and staged on the office floor, and stain choices are being finalized. He is enthusiastic each day, and we get to share in the excitement.

My son is in the high school Spring Play and has rehearsal daily. In Willy Wonka–The Musical, he has successfully landed a role with neither singing nor dancing, and is thrilled. Plus, “Phineas Trout” is just fun to say. He comes home uplifted every day, and we get to share in the elevation.

It’s fun to see those you love follow what lights them up. Even if their topic isn’t your own personal gig.

And, it inspires you to act on your own creative hits!

Here’s a gift of a reminder to each of us, from Abraham, to follow our joy and expansion. Recognize and appreciate it moving through those you love, as well.

Follow what lights you up!

The purpose of your life experience is the joyful expansion that comes from the new ideas that are born within you. The expansion part of that is inevitable. The joyous part is about how well you are keeping up with the expansion.


Reminder To Self


It wasn’t until near the end of this spring phone call that I realized he was breaking.

A college student learns a lot about navigating life, with many “firsts” piled on at once.

But you know what? After hanging up, I realized that all of us flow through these seasons no matter our age. And the same encouragement still applies.

So wherever you are, however your life is unfolding, your angels (or God, or FP, or Higher Self, or cosmos, or universal consciousness, or however you choose to describe your partnership within your spiritual belief system) want you to know this:

  • I’m so proud of you.
  • You are navigating this roller coaster of Life incredibly well.
  • Wake up every day and say Yes to it. Even when it’s hard. Be very proud of yourself for that.
  • It’s okay to have bad days. And to call home with them.
  • Keep your eyes and your heart open.
  • You are giving it your best; it’s okay if it doesn’t turn out perfectly.
  • It already is okay.
  • You already are enough.
  • I love you.
  • You’ve so totally got this.
  • We can always talk again tomorrow, if you like.


Sunrise of hope
Sunrise photo courtesy of Maui Bike and Zip Adventures

Just A Little Off the Top

Image courtesy of YouTube’s Hair 101 With April


I sat under the drape as her words and hands kept a clipping beat. She spoke of her adult daughter’s unusual and recent hour-long phone call to her father. The young woman had been offered a new job in her field, and was excited that it held nothing but positives: increased pay, decreased commute, improved benefits, lessened workload, and being a part of a very respected company. Maternal pride was mirrored in her words: “It’s a no-brainer!”

“So, then,” I asked. “Why is your daughter still undecided? How was the visit with her father?”

“Well, you see, her husband is also looking for a new job, but hasn’t found one yet. He’s been looking for quite a while now, but it’s not going well for him.”

Wait. Let me get this straight. Because I recognize this one now.

We pause from saying Yes to opportunity, because those close to us might feel jealous? Snip.

We step back in order to match our strides,  because this is what the partnership requires? Snip, snip.

We keep ourselves small, because someone important to us is threatened by our potential and greatness?  Snip. Snip. Snip.

I know why she called her father.

Thanks, Dad.

Life's enjoyment
Life’s Enjoyment



Sweet Lucille’s Traveling Beer Can Vase

Recently we celebrated my Grandmother’s 98th birthday–on Friday the 13th!  I gave her a silk white rose to brighten her room, and used a very special “vase” I had been saving just for her….

Mom with Grandma Lucille's gift
Mom with Grandma Lucille’s gift

When I was about 6 or 7 years old, Grandma and Grandpa had come to stay with us for the weekend at our home in northern Minnesota.  Mom, Dad, my brother, and I were all showing Grandma and Grandpa the homestead, walking around and chatting. I was proudly showcasing to Grandma a particular part of the outside, an area of the woods off of the yard that Dad had christened “Gina’s Park.”

Grandma sipped on her beer as she appreciated my park, and when she finished it, promptly tossed her empty can off to the side in the trees and strolled back into the house with the group.  Appalled, I went back and fished out the trash she had left in my sacred ground.

Privately sharing my indignation with Mom, she encouraged me to let Grandma know how I felt. Too shy to directly confront the criminal, I wrote a note and taped it to the offending can, which I then presented to Grandma. As it was read aloud, the entire family got a tremendous and supportive laugh! There was lots of hugging, and Grandma graciously apologized. She good-naturedly took the can home with her, declaring that she’d give it back to me when I was a grownup.

"Grandma, you litterbug! You threw this can in Gina's Park!"
“Grandma, you litterbug! You threw this can in Gina’s Park!”

She did!  Grandma saved that can for twenty years, and presented it back to me as a housewarming gift when I was finished with college, gainfully employed, and successfully living on my own.  It was a wonderful gesture, much loved and appreciated.  I saved that can…

…for another twenty years! And now, I am sharing the love by passing it back to Sweet Lucille.  May it bring her joy, no matter what form, to add to her continued pluckiness and humor.

Generations of love
Wrapped in Generations of Love