Dear Dr. Norquist:
My life feels dry. I do not know how to make it different. I’ve spent most of my life raising my kids, driving them here and there, and going to many baseball games to cheer them on. As of September, they are both in college, and my life is feeling rather empty. My husband and I get along fine – it’s just that there’s a lot of quiet now and not half as much to do. I guess I’m not sure how to bring some life back into my days. Got any suggestions?
Dr. Norquist responds:
It takes a while to adjust to such a major change. It sounds like the very structure of your life, and the main source for your heart’s nourishment has vanished with the loss of daily contact with your kids. This has left you feeling empty – like your life is “dry”. Really what you are expressing, I believe, is how life feels when our hearts are not being nourished through the giving and receiving of love. It is your heart that is dry. What you need is a new way to pour your heart into your daily life.
Spend some time reviewing your life for those things that have mattered to you; insights, experiences, loving comments, deep emotional touchings, and exciting ideas. Ask yourself how you can bring more of these experiences into your life.
It is easy to pass through life spending our time on things of lesser value. Seek out and create those things that are most memorable, most helpful, and that bring you the greatest upliftment. These are the things that nourish your heart. Often this nourishment is born not so much of particular activities per se, as it is in the way you approach the activity, relationship or event. It takes courage to express your feelings to another in an openhearted manner.
It takes courage to go for what has always interested you and to share who you really are with others. It takes courage and intention to reach out to others and to create a good time, or to involve yourself in a new experience or learning situation. This is the opportunity you have before you now. You need to find new ways to grow, new ways of enriching your life, and new sources for your hearts’ nourishment.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2016 Chaitanya Counseling Services