A few weeks ago, I had a birthday and began my 50th year on this earth.  In turning 49, I began a year that promises to bring a lot of changes and transistions.  This time next year, my youngest will have left for college and my season of full time, day to day parenting will come to a close.  This huge milestone for our family will come a week or two after my 50th birthday.  My life as I have known it for almost 20 years is going to change significantly, so I am trying to be thoughtful and intentional about listening over the next year.  Listening to myself, listening to the wisdom of those who know me best and most of all, listening to God as I contemplate what comes next for me.

My baby girl is a senior in high school!  I remember when they were little and I calculated what year they would graduate; the Class of 2012 and the Class of 2014 seemed light years away.  Now, here we are on the precipice of 2014 and it feels like both a lifetime and only a moment have passed.  My journey as a parent has been one of great joy and I have never regreted the decision to retire from full-time employment while my girls were growing up.  However, now that I have been out of the work force for nearly 18 years, I realize that the world has changed somewhat since I last drew a paycheck.  Re-entering that world as a 50 year old woman presents challenges, both daunting and exciting.  It occurs to me that there may be value in beginning to ask questions and explore options while I am journeying through this last year at home.

What questions need to be asked as I wrap up my first half century and contemplate the next season of my journey?  What do I do that brings me joy? About what am I passionate?  In what ways has God uniquely gifted me?  What do I have to contribute vocationally that would help meet the financial needs of our family at this stage of our lives?  And here is the big one: how do I communicate the skills and expertise that I have developed in these 18 years that I have been away from paid employment?  I am not the same person that I was when I quit working to stay home with my kids.  Besides my responsibilites on the home front, I have been actively involved with volunteer work in the community and served in a number of leadership positions, but how does that translate into skills that I might have to offer a potential employer?

As I said when I began this blog back in 2005, I do some of my best listening when I write it down.  As we have gotten back to our school year routine this week, I have been starting my days with my journal and today I decided to find my way back here to see what I might find.  What I love about blogging is the opportunity to initiate a conversation.  Back when I was blogging regularly, I loved to get comments about the questions and thoughts that my musings may have inspired in those who took time to stop by and read my words.  I am hopeful that others of you who are at this stage of life will share with me your journey: how have you handled a looming empty nest?  How are you making the  transition back into the workforce after a time away?