My youngest child graduated from high school five years ago. In many ways, I never thought this was going to happen. I raised him myself from the time he was young, always obsessively concerned that I am a good, supportive parent, while creating opportunities and opening doors along the way. Thinking of this as my daily reality, I never looked beyond. I thought it was forever. Not in a bad way - I just didn't plan beyond. One week after graduation, he headed to California for an 10 week internship. I was proud and excited for him.
He was excited and nervous as I dropped him at the airport after our usual weekend brunch. He said almost nothing the whole morning. I chatted about ordinary things acting a if this was not a big deal. I knew, and he knew, it was. We enter a new phase of our lives together.
I arrived back home to my dogs and inexorable quiet. I felt what many parents feel when the bird flies from the nest. Happiness, sadness, many mixed emotions of what's next for me.
Fast forward five years... He in the next month is on his way to another country to earn his PhD. This time has been a whirlwind of change and transitions. He changed majors countless times -- we joke about it. He did this and at the same time was able to graduate with the degrees he wanted in five years, both a bachelor's and a master's. He is on his way to his life. He journeyed and discovered who he wants to be. All along this road, I supported, encouraged, listened and yes, gave advice probably more than needed.
What did I do with the five years? I sold my long term home, moved twice, changed careers, and a few other things. I learned to know myself in a different way. This is how I "solo."
My point is to plan for the life you want before it just hits you that the time is now. It takes a few tries at various things to know:
How do I want my life to look now?
Who do I want to be?
Where do I want to be?
Who is important to me?
Do I want to learn something new?
You can do anything if you put your mind to it. Your life is a tapestry that you weave over time. Now it's time to add a few new pieces. What will they be?