So, in 2019, I find myself with extra time—not a lot of time, just extra time. It’s what some call “empty nest syndrome”, but I don’t have an empty nest exactly. It’s that weird area when I’m not needed as much as what Roseanne Barr termed “domestic goddess”, but I’m not free to do whatever I choose. Well, I suppose technically I could do anything, but I imagine that will lead to a plethora of problems. Quite frankly, I don’t have that kind of money for an attorney. Therefore, I’m better off just staying in my lane and ignoring that less traveled path of adventure.
I’m no longer on a strict timeline where I awake early in the morning and immediately start playing commander and shouting orders to get everyone where they need to be in the allotted time before hauling myself off to the nine-to-five. Likewise, I’m no longer rushed to be somewhere the minute I clock out and damned to leaving with my feet blazing. I can actually obey the speed limit now. After years of having nearly every second of my day dictated by someone else’s schedule, I have arrived at having me-time, and I love it. There’s only one problem. Who am I?
It’s so cliché that I don’t know the answers. How many stereotypic characters on television and books reach a certain point in their lives where they are so involved in their families that they have lost all sense of self. They are portrayed as drab, boring, and frustrated. And here is where I believe 80% of chic lit/women’s fiction bloom. There are countless tales of these types of women resurging into the world of horrid dating and oppressive bosses barely out of diapers.
The answer seems simple—pick up where I left off before I took on the role of adulthood. That’s the second problem. Most of those things that I did years ago no longer interest me. For example, I used to paint. I was never very good at it, but it occupied my time. Now, it seems more of a nuance—brushes to clean, clearing a space to paint, cost of art supplies, etc. I used to enjoy cross-stitching, but try finding a local craft store these days. The local Wal-Mart used to carry limited supplies but have discontinued. The closest craft store is 30 miles away. Yes, there is always online ordering, but I often like substituting the suggested colors with the prettier one I find. Buying online makes matching colors more challenging.
Another hobby I had was shopping. Honestly, it was more window browsing. I would look at furniture or antiques and imagine decorating my own home. Or I would create mental wish lists of my wardrobe. That was fun because everything was guaranteed to fit. But these days, the malls look more like mausoleums. Once bustling stores stocked with the latest trends now are empty spaces or shell of the former. In December, I visited a mall I hadn’t visited in several years due to moving from the area. I remember that mall opening and bragging about its sixty stores with more stores to come. Now, maybe twenty stores remain. The music is gone, making it ghostly quiet. The food court is non-existent. The high-polished floors have been covered by dark grey and purple carpet. To distract from the number of vacant stores, the fronts have all been covered with boarding the color of ashes. Basically, it has been transformed into one long hallway from one anchor store to another. The stores that remain have much of the same merchandise and limited stock.
Some hobbies I once had do not exist anymore. For example, I had a ritual of curling up on Saturday afternoon and reading my favorite magazines. And when I say read, I mean read. I would read cover to cover, although, not necessarily in order. I’d usually start with the cover articles followed by the advice columns, move onto the silly quizzes, and finish with the horoscopes. I had about six magazine subscriptions and a few others I would pick up while in the grocery store or bookstore. Most of those magazines are out of print. Others I grew out of. A few are online, but that’s not the same as the old kill a couple of tree ones. I’ve looked around for other magazines but none has stuck my fancy thus far.
A huge part of my free time was spent hanging out with friends. Let me say, there’s nothing quite like childhood friends. But with time, things change. Friends that I used to be closed to have moved or moved on. Others are still busy with their families and/or careers. (I could pause here and discuss career, but that’s a different topic entirely.) Sadly, many I keep up through social media only. It’s only fair that I accept part of the blame, too. There have been instances where I have not done my all to maintain friendships. Life gets busy, and I didn’t always make time. I forgot to return phone calls or drop an ecard for birthdays. There were other instances where I felt I was investing more in maintain the friendship than others and stop trying.
When I moved (several times), I didn’t always bond with neighbors. One neighborhood that I resided was very nice. However, it had a high turnover rate. One reason for that was because a large company leased apartments for their employees. But these employees usually were assigned to stay for six months (a year max). Due to the high costs, most purchased homes in other areas. With my work schedule, I was rarely home when my neighbors were stirring. That being said, I became very close to several of my coworkers. However, these weren’t people I hung out with outside of work. On rare occasions, we might have gone out to dinner.
Other activities, I’m not going to try—like roller-skating. In the day, old girl used to be the bomb on skates. Now, I’m sure, I’d bomb flat onto my butt. The same goes for biking. I would go swimming at the natatorium, but their business hours conflict with my work hours. I’ve never been an outdoorsy, woodsy person. My idea of roughing it is a hotel that doesn’t leave a mint on the pillow.
I could go on, but I think I made my point. My former life is just that … former. There’s no need for me looking back and trying to recapture it. Besides, I’m not sure that I want to be that person anyway. I’ve grown and matured, and hopefully, evolved into a wiser person. Therefore, I need to develop new hobbies. I considered the new diamond painting I’ve been seeing all over the internet, but I don’t have the surface space. Those small beads would be all over creation.
After much contemplating, I decided to blend several old passions into one: cosmetics.
Here’s my logic. I enjoyed painting. Applying makeup is painting a different canvas with a different median. When I was younger, I used to wear makeup regularly. Currently, my makeup routine consists of lipstick/lip gloss. I enjoy shopping and trying on new looks. Cosmetics will provide this for me. I like watching television. Welcome to YouTube Beauty. Yes, I’m hitting up beauty channels for tutorials and makeup suggestions. Like some apparel may not fit, some makeup may not work well with my complexion or skin. This will allow me to discover what I like and don’t like. There are tons of cosmetic brands and choices. Applying makeup is not likely to result in any serious injuries unless I have the misfortune of getting a chemical burn. It’s a solitary activity but one that I can also do with another person. It’s an activity that I can do regardless of the weather, and heaven knows, the weather has been very bipolar lately. It does not require any really strange equipment (and if it does, I’m not purchasing it). And in the end, if all goes well and I hold my mouth just right, I may look pretty.
Okay, now that I’ve discovered my new hobby, what’s next? Being an adult, it would seem I would know what to do. I don’t. Well, I didn’t. Thanks to MUA bloggers and vloggers I now have something of a clue. First on my agenda was to stockpile my makeup bag, which I won’t lie, was pathetic. There is a makeup company that created a line of products that was my go-to makeup for those rare, special occasions that I needed to do a full face. Approximately two years ago, the company discontinued the line. For months, I scoured the town for remaining stock until I realized it was a lost cause. So, off makeup shopping I went.
After viewing several beauty influencers, I decided to follow most of their beauty regiment and some of their product suggestions. Here is what I have decided I need to stock in my bag:
Moisturizer Brow pencil Lipstick/Lip gloss
Face Primer Eyebrow comb/spoolie brush Lip pencil
Eye Base/Eye Primer Eyeshadow Palette Bronzer
Concealer Liquid Eyeliner Blush
Color Corrector Mascara Highlighter
Setting Powder Eyeliner pencil Blending sponge
Foundation Eyelashes/Eyelash glue Finishing Spray
I do have a few specific items that are on my list to purchase including Laura Mercier setting powder, Tarte Shape Tape, and Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow.
These are items are on my list because they have frequently been given positive endorsements by beauty reviewers. Frankly, I’m curious to know what the hype is all about.
So, what was my point in sharing all of this? Well, in the days old, they would say, “The moral of the story is…”
1. Find something that makes you happy. It may be small and meaningless to others, but that won’t matter if it brings a smile to your face and fills your time.
2. Revisit the past but don’t try to relive it. Memories are there for reflection but looking in the rearview mirror may cause you to crash ungracefully into what’s in front of you. Don’t miss out. The best is yet to come.
3. If old hobbies no longer fit your personality, don’t try forcing them.
4. Look at what was enjoyable in your past and transform it into something new.
5. Be a little selfish now and then. Accept that you are a person and not just a daughter, mother, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, coworker, extraterrestrial, or whatever. You are more than a singular role.
6. If you don’t know who you are, it’s okay. You have time to learn.
7. Making mistakes is okay. Sometimes, it takes trial and error.
8. You’re not alone. Plenty of people have identity issues occasionally.
9. Your life is not a television show. Likely, finding all the answers will take longer than a half hour. There is no studio audience waiting to laugh on cue. Well, maybe, but let’s not complicate things.
10. If you may find picking up where you left off easy. You may still enjoy your old hobbies, even if they seem a little impractical or immature. That does not mean you can’t enjoy them. You’re an adult now and are allowed to do whatever you want as long as it isn’t criminal. You don’t have to ask or be granted permission.
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Copies of all my books and stories are available in paper, eBook, and audio on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. The links are listed in my Writing Projects page (http://bit.ly/2iDYRxU) along with descriptions of each of my novels or stories.
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Finally, if you or anyone you know are interested in joining a college Greek life organization, check out my special series posted each Monday for everything you wanted (and didn’t want) to know about college fraternities and sororities.
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