Tag Archives: empty nests

Over and Next

At age 93, when asked what his best thinking was about life, TV legend Norman Lear replied, “It can be summed up in two words: Over and Next. If there were a hammock hung between those two words, that would be living in the moment.”

His words were a gift to me. I write and speak often about embracing the season we are in and not trying to rush too quickly to the next season. I’ve compared us to Hobby Lobby the way we start decorating for Fourth of July before Easter even thought about arriving, especially in our real life seasons.

Norman Lear gave me a new concept to think about though. It is equally important, when a season of life is done, to let it be Over. This applies to Empty Nests, Career Changes, Some Relationships, Closet Cleaning and a few hundred other things.

Piece of clothing, too small jeans you have served me well and now your time with me is Over. Season of rearing children in the home: Over. I can miss it. I can want it back. I can look fondly at what was with nostalgia and maybe regret but mostly I need to say, “This is over.” Only then, can I see what is Next.

The prophet Isaiah, tells the people on behalf of God, Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? Isaiah 16:18-20 The Message 

I’ve let go of a few relationships along the way, either by choice or by circumstances: Over. I have new people in my life to treasure: Next.  I used to be 20, now I’m not: Over. I’m wiser, have laugh lines and cry lines and a wealth of treasured memories: Next.

Much of Next, we cannot and probably should not know. That’s why that part about the hammock hung in the middle of Over and Next is so delicious. Living in the moment. Noticing. Being present.

This morning, as I walked, I noticed creation’s new green color mixed with purple, pink and yellow. I noticed everything fresh from last night’s rain. The air smelled clean. I saw the longest earthworm I’ve ever seen. I saw a daffodil growing alone in the brown crunchy leaves of winter. The caption was clearly, “Over and Next.”

I wonder what it is for you? What needs to be pronounced Over? What might be Next? And how about that hammock in the middle?

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor, walker and embracer of seasons.  

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Transitions

Yesterday in Texas the temperature was pushing 80 degrees.  It was a humid 80 too.  We turned our air conditioning back on.  Today, there is a strong north wind and it is currently in the mid-30s.  The problem with this whole weather thing is the lack of transition.  It is tough to go from shorts and flip-flops to sweatshirts and gloves with no transitional weather in between.

I feel the same kind of abruptness with Thanksgiving to Christmas.  We barely finished our Thanksgiving meal and drove home from out of town; only to discover all our neighbors out hanging Christmas lights and installing their holiday yard displays.  (I can’t even speak about the Christmas-decorations-before-Thanksgiving people). So we rolled into the driveway, hopelessly behind in the changing of the seasons.

Life seems filled with both subtle and abrupt transitions.  When our kids were little, the transitions came so fast: milk to solid food, crawling to walking, diapers to potty trained, preschool to elementary. But truthfully, they’ve never stopped transitioning.  Our daughter married with a home and career of her own; our middle son about to graduate from college this month, then home for a transitional few months before he’s out in the real world; our high school son transitioning from football season to off season sports; driving now, oh my!

I see people all around me adjusting to transitions of health, job issues, marital status, empty nests that get full again for a season…even from life to death.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said it this way, “Nothing is secure but life, the transition, the energizing spirit.”

It’s true.  Life seems to be mostly a series of transitions.  Some I handle better than others; some I face grumbling and bitter; some I welcome with open arms; some I fervently argue with, to no avail.  So today, as I adjust to 30 degree weather and the Christmas season upon me, I pray for God’s soothing spirit to ease today’s transitions.