Happiness Is Where You Find It
I’m sitting on a flight from LA to Nashville (which will be followed by one from Nashville to Philadelphia), the first long leg of a trip I call The Ordeal. This is the act of getting from our home outside Philadelphia to our daughter Amie’s, in the desert north of Los Angeles. Door to door, if things go right, and depending on whether or not we have a direct flight, it takes about 11 hours. To quote singer John Denver, “It’s a long time to hang in the sky,” and around airports (and in cars). When Amie moved to Southern California almost 4 years ago, I knew our getting together wouldn’t be easy. But enduring The Ordeal always brings happiness on both ends, so it’s worth it. I see either Amie in the Southwest or my husband Gary (if I’m traveling alone) and/or my younger daughter, Sarah, in the Northeast. After all, what defines our happiness but our time spent with loved ones?

During The Ordeal, I do what I can to minimize the pain. I take an aisle seat for at least part of the trip so I can plan my stretches (these old joints and muscles don’t fare well on these ventures). I even order a glass of chardonnay if the spirit moves me. I use the time away from email to get ahead―or catch up―on work projects or to do some writing I haven’t been able to get to, such as this editorial. Life (and happiness) is what you make it, and I choose to see the cup as half full. I have no choice: The alternative is too depressing. I pepper the activities of my confinement with my favorite pastimes: pleasure reading (novels or other people’s magazines—I have Oprah’s with me today), Sudoku, general relaxation (think: sleep). As much as I like my café mocha, I try to avoid caffeine and catch up on some rest. I ask for a pillow. I dress in layers, so I’m warm and cool, as needed.

We need to connect with friends and loved ones. To do so, though, we struggle to carve out the time (and the funds). When a child moves far away, phone calls and emails—which are regular and plentiful—do not suffice indefinitely. I find that as her mother, to be happy, I need to see Amie every few months. She last came home at the end of November, so we were coming up on 3 months, which is just about all I can comfortably tolerate. (God forbid she decides to join the Peace Corps and move to Africa or Southeast Asia for a year or more!)

A Sense of Place
I also needed to have a picture in my mind of where Amie is, where she spends her time. Since I was last out to LA, she and her husband, Todd, bought a house, and it bothered me that when she talked about it, I had no real sense of what it was like. I would envision the locale, as I have seen the area, but the image would be fuzzy. I’m now on the return flight of my trip, so I have what I came for: Amie’s hugs, the scent of her hair, the warmth of the California sun (we were lucky that we had unusually warm weather this weekend), and the mental image of her new home—its layout, the look of the sunlight streaming through its windows, where she sleeps and eats. Did I mention her kittens? The movie files she sends just don’t do justice to their antics.

Such trips offer unexpected bonuses, as well. My few days with planned activities other than work reminded me of the need to get away from it all, to refresh myself in order to bring to the table new ideas, a fresh outlook. Amie and I took a few long walks around her development—sandwiched between the San Gabriel Mountains and the Tehachapi Mountains, the location affords amazing vistas—and enjoyed the sunshine, which was intense even for February. With Todd, we joined a distant cousin of mine and her husband, and spent an idyllic afternoon wandering through Huntington Gardens, in Pasadena, followed by a Latin-Asian fusion dinner in town.

Amie and I brainstormed window treatments for her new home. After several trips to local housewares retailers, we settled on hardware, draperies, and valances for a number of the windows. Todd and Amie treated me to a lovely night out at their “special dinner” spot—Le Chene, an authentic French restaurant in the mountains north of Santa Clarita. We spent some time perusing our favorite shops in Valencia (Pottery Barn, J.Jill). I took more away from the trip than I had planned. It was a lovely, joyful experience, and I am refreshed, ready to face the coming week (month?) of emails, deadlines, and more.

A Sense of Time
Not only that, but I’m planning to spend next weekend with my younger daughter, Sarah, in New York City. We’ll do dinner, a show, tea, and a walk in Central Park, and we’ll crash at her place. It’s relaxing just thinking about it. For me, that’s a perfect couple of weeks—quality time with each of my daughters.

I’m hoping that your journey through the spring issue of Empty Nest will do the same for you: refresh you and connect you with others with whom you have so much in common. Meet Californian Carol Holst, who has made an empty-nesting career of “keeping it simple.” Bonnie Boehme and Marian Bellus share the outlook of the single-parent empty nester. Explore rock climbing as an activity for couples. Getting ready to launch your child into adulthood? Read about my own experiences. Dr. Burton Ginsberg talks about his practice, empty nesters he treats, and how to handle middle age. And there’s more!

Second Year: New Beginnings
We at Empty Nest just finished our inaugural year. Because of a heavy fall schedule (read: my daughter’s wedding), the fall issue became the fall/winter issue, so in 2007 our new quarterly published three issues. Publication dates were pretty irregular as we launched this new magazine. In 2008, however, we are planning fairly regular pub dates for all four seasonal issues: (on or around) March 15, June 15, September 15, and December 15 (or as close as we can get, being that we’re moonlighting to get this out to you). We are working toward nationwide authorship and readership, as well. So, pass this link along to empty nesters you know—especially if they live in the Midwest, the South, the West Coast, or even abroad! If you are not already on our emailing list, let me know at [editor@emptynestmag.com,] and I’ll make sure you receive issues as soon as they are published.

Special thanks to our writers, and especially to Associate Editor Bonnie Boehme, who copyedits each and every article and acts as a sounding board for many editorial decisions. And, finally, my thanks go to my husband, Gary, who lends his support by doing most of the html coding, troubleshooting technical problems, and generally putting up with me while I’m in the throes of getting an issue posted.

Enjoy the issue. And remember, enjoy life—each and every day of it!

Robin C. Bonner
Empty Nest

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