Spring into Summer
Spring: We never thought it would get here, and now it’s almost over. The weather in Philadelphia in recent weeks has taught us a lesson about living in the moment. It’s not too hot yet, so we’re happy. In fact, as long as there’s no snow, we’re happy—for now. Check back with us when it hits 100 degrees. All I know is my thoughts are now very far from those snow piles we discussed in the last issue. Who doesn’t just *love* this season?

Speaking of spring, one empty nester got a taste of it the first week of March while all her neighbors were still shoveling snow from their driveways. Read about her adventures in “The Thistle Midwinters East Regatta: Early Spring Sailing Nirvana.” Spring is the season of new beginnings. Well, what do you do if your college-age child falls head over heels in love with a student from another country? Empty Nest Associate Editor Ellen Newman gives some advice for accepting a child’s intercontinental dating, in “Long-Distance Relationships: Are They Really So Terrible?” You wouldn’t think that a Catholic priest could be an empty nester. Well, if you helped 300 kids 365 days a year, then suddenly changed jobs, wouldn’t you miss them? Franciscan Father Placid Stroik tells his story in “Our Memories Fill Us: Retirement from a Life Helping Kids.” I guarantee you won't come away from that one dry-eyed.

As the dreaded “bathing suit season” approaches, we’re all trying to shed those winter pounds. One empty nester found a unique (and successful) way to tackle the challenge. See the BODY essay, “Spring Cleaning: The I-Hate-Fad-Diets Diet,” to learn more. Other ways to celebrate spring include living our lives to the fullest. In Senior InSights, regular columnist Jewel Littenberg gives kudos to Jane Pauley on her new book, Your Life Calling, and then dishes on her own cure: founding a philosophy discussion group. Finally, spring celebrates new life, and this issue offers two related essays on that prized empty-nesting situation: becoming a grandparent. (New empty nesters: You may not want to hear it, but you won’t believe how close you may be to that reality.) Dr. Dan Gottlieb, in Chapter 1 of Letters to Sam, tells how his life (and his daughter’s) changed when his grandson was born. Likewise, another empty nester marvels at finding out that she will soon be a grandparent in “On Becoming a Grandparent: A Bit of News that Changes Your Life.”

The Publication
The format of Empty Nest makes the editorial our home page (you’re there!), where the articles are discussed in context of the issue, and links take you directly to the text. As always, though, you can reach the Features, Departments, and Editorial via the sidebar menu, at left. Finally, you can do a keyword search of Empty Nest. Just type a topic or author’s name into the search box at the bottom of the sidebar, and you’ll bring up a page with links to relevant articles in the current issue and in the Empty Nest archives.

Note that links to two new blogs appear in the left column of our homepage: Carpe Diem, my own blog, which I revived recently, and Senior InSights, a new blog by Jewel Littenberg. Enjoy!

You can show your support for Empty Nest by clicking the “Donate” button on the sidebar and making a monetary contribution. Think of it as you would shareware. If you read an issue and like what you see, please consider contributing through the secure PayPal website to support our work. Our goals for the future are simple: to recover expenses and to pay our writers, and we look forward to the day when we can do both.

Feel free to e-mail us at editor@emptynestmag.com with any additional comments or suggestions, or with proposals for contributed articles.

My Spring into Summer
It’s been an eventful spring, to say the least. You’ll need to read my pieces in this issue for the details—no plot spoilers here! Yes, we did travel to St. Pete to sail in a regatta in March (pulling our 17-ft Thistle out of the driveway between snow banks), and it was magnificent (see the article ”Thistle Midwinters…” herein). But even more excitement came our way this spring . . .

One thrill for us this spring was learning that our younger daughter, Sarah, would be traveling to India for her job, to train colleagues there. We enjoyed hearing about her adventures and "visiting" with her via Oovoo. And, of course, we were glad when she was back home again.

As you may recall, I left my publishing job late last summer and have been realigning my career as an instructor at the local community college. Closing in on the anniversary of that decision, I can say that it was one of the best I’ve ever made. This spring I taught Technical Communications, happy to get that assignment at the last minute. I thoroughly enjoyed the class—my students’ cooperation, enthusiasm, and hard work in no small way contributed to the overall success of the class. I have ideas about how to revise my approach to this class in the future, and I am very much looking forward to teaching it again.

This fall, I am slated to teach “English 101”—the required freshman composition class—three sections of it! Not having been assigned to teach any classes this summer, I’m catching up with work around the house (closets, basement, attic, and yard) and will soon be preparing to teach English 101. My other academic interests this summer include reviewing course texts for Creative Writing and Poetry. It will be good to have time to delve into some of the other classes taught at the school. (If I don’t let my new position as membership secretary of the Nockamixon Sail Club take up all of my time!)

In addition to teaching, I’ve been taking classes—this spring it was Teaching Excellence—to better prepare myself to teach at the community college level. Because of the challenges a community college presents (students’ skills vary widely), having the “tools” to teach students in a way that they can best learn is paramount. To build on that experience, this summer I’m taking e-Learning 101: how to teach online classes. More and more classes are offered online, so it’s a skill I will be happy to acquire, and there’s no better time than the present. Finally, to expand my teaching horizons, I’ll be working on my teaching portfolio.

The local community where I teach runs a bookclub for its faculty and staff. So, I've had the opportunity to read two excellent books while participating in the program. The first, Mindset, by Carol Dweck, illuminates how our "mindset" affects our ability to succeed—and may hold us back. The second, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," by Steven R. Covey, isn't new (it was published 25 years ago), but the topic is timeless. I still marvel about how instrumental these two books have been in helping me rethink my approach toward the new career I've been exploring (education) and how they have changed my approach to priorities and time management. I strongly recommend both books!

Of course, we’ve been enjoying the Great Outdoors, even more so since we can do it now in shorts and a tank top. We’ve sailed on several weekends, taken our bikes onto the nearby Perkiomen Trail (part of the national Rails-to-Trails network), and have already been kayaking. Nephew Richie and his wife Olga spurred us on over Memorial Day weekend: How many outdoor activities can we cram into two days? Sailing? Check. Hiking? Check. Kayaking and canoeing? Check. Barbecuing? Check. We were thrilled that the weather cooperated. And, it was great to spend some quality time with Olga and Richie!

This spring, Amie and Todd were back east for a visit. (Todd began that week by running the Boston Marathon.) And, we all went up to NYC to hear Sarah’s choir, the New York City Master Chorale, perform a Renaissance repertoire. Just beautiful! It was fun have Gary’s mom join us for the rare Bonner family get-together.

This summer, I will be developing this magazine and my business. We aim to become *the* go-to periodical for empty nesters, with full social media. I’ll also be expanding my own web presence to feature my many years in the textbook publishing industry, in addition to my writing and teaching. If you need a publishing professional to handle your project, get in touch with me (rcbonner14@gmail.com). Life is good!

As always, we thank our dedicated contributors for their stories and their enthusiasm. I owe them and my fellow editors kudos for the quality of this publication. Finally, the Empty Nest team thanks our loyal readers, who ensure its success.

For more about Empty Nest magazine, visit About Us.


Robin C. Bonner
Editor, Empty Nest

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