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GRAB YOURSELF A BREW #3 EMPTY NESTER

It’s been a funny old week. 

For the last 19 years, it has essentially been myself and my son taking on the world and all the challenges that have come with it. We have worked hard together (him at school, me at my career), talked each day about our ups and down and successes and over the last few weeks (thanks to lockdown) we have decorated the entire house together. 

In April when the government closed the schools he adjusted well, probably better than I would have at his age, there was little closure on his high school years - no exams or no farewell party.

Having got his head around the changes, he set his sights on his A level results and the next chapter of his life...University. 

I, on the other hand, whilst clearly acknowledging he would soon be packing his bags and starting his life in a new country (Wales) buried my head in the tactics and did what I’m sure every mum in my position can probably relate to - I put it to the back of my mind and soldiered on.  

As we all know, burying your head doesn’t work, reality soon comes to bite you on the arse. So last Friday, the day of reckoning arrived - armed with a car full of food, computer equipment, clothes and bedding we hit the road - Swansea bound. 

OMG what I would do to be a student again! He is sharing a flat with 4 other lads on campus surrounded by shops, bars, the gym and their accommodation is right on the beach - it nostalgically reminded me of my own experience - oh what I would do to relive those days again - where do I sign up?! 

It’s hard when you are 19 to truly know what you want to do with the rest of your life. You may be a young adult with the rest of your life ahead of you, with the excitement and enthusiasm to experience as much as someone is willing to throw at you, but really, knowing what you want to do as a job for the next 50 years of your life?…. Well that certainly isn’t one of them.

So, as my son embarks on his new, exciting adventure, I, myself and our 10 year old Welsh Terrier, Percy find ourselves as….. I don’t think I can bring myself to say it….. Empty Nesters!! 

I mean when and how did that even happen? In the blink of an eye my baby is all grown up and off to Uni -  my purpose and compass that drove my every decision and move disappeared, just like that leaving me looking around and ummmm errrrr... what about me? Where do I now fit into this redefined equation? Having been so focussed on my key priority and driver for the last 19 years What do I now have to look forward to? - Cooking for one?! :-0

I love a challenge, I always have done, always will and this new chapter of my life is one of them - if not probably my biggest to date. There is currently an odd feeling in the house, one could say a void  though, it's not completely empty as I have Percy to keep me company, but it's an odd feeling and something I’ve not experienced before, some might say I’m feeling a little lost. 

For many years I have talked about moving further South when Harrison went off to University, to live closer to my parents and always dreamed of living by the sea. 

So whilst I was burying my head I distracted myself (and taunted myself) by looking at beautiful houses on the Devonshire coast, totally out my price range but falling in love with them all the same. 

As I reflect on my life to date I feel so blessed to have had the privileges that I have had. I have had an abundance of super rich life experiences in many parts of the world, worked with some amazing mentors and 360 degree talents, raised an incredibly, smart, kind young man and could not be more excited for him and his new adventures ahead. I’m proud of myself for working so hard through challenging times to give him the very best start that I possibly could, I’m so SO grateful for my true friends and current business colleagues for their love and support and I’m really looking forward to a fresh start in a new part of the country, spending more quality time and making more memories with my parents. I’ve never been richer in meaningful gifts. So I might be described as an ‘empty nester’ however in many ways I’ve never been fuller! 

So I say…. BRING. IT. ON. As someone who has always liked to be one step ahead and never more exhilarated than when running at 100 miles an hour, multi-tasking numerous projects conjuring up solutions to the impossible (I’m a pro juggler!) to be sitting in the unknown always filled me with fear, but whilst 2020 has been a year unlike no other on multiple levels, it’s also given me the gift of learning to be OK with that, to REALLY trust the process and to be open to running with the wind a little. I’ve never been one to shy away from challenges and life experiences, one could say I thrive on them but what I am learning is that by embracing the unknown, and sitting with the uncomfortable brings a new kind of exhilaration - Why be fixed and focused on one direction when your whole life could be thrown in the air never knowing what paths and opportunities will land, let alone if they will land in some vague order which will set the course for everything else and this is something I’ve learnt to embrace.

Right now my ‘juggling balls’ are all in the air - my house is on the market, my son is settling into university life in Wales, while myself and Percy try to find our ‘new’ way left with the void. I am trying to secure work in an economic climate that I've never experienced in my lifetime to date where vacancies are limited and the candidates are vast while setting up and establishing a new regional subsidiary business, and then there is Devon, what do I do when I get to Devon? Not to mention walking the dog, cleaning the house (constantly in preparation for house viewings) remembering to put the bins out, ordering the shopping…..the list is endless. But nobody said life would be easy, right?! 

In for a penny, in for a pound I think the expression is, or perhaps jump in with both feet might be a better way to explain my current situation. Right now there is nothing more important to me than allowing myself to be truly human and vulnerable, accept my daily rollercoaster of emotions, nurturing my greatly valued connections whilst adapting, learning and growing everyday, treating others no less than I’d like to be treated myself and embracing each day as it comes.

And when the balls are ready to drop in whatever order they wish to - I’m ready (albeit a tad nervous), ready to embrace every step. Until then, what I do know is that one chapter as I knew it has ended and a new chapter is about to begin. 

To those that know me well ‘trusting the process’ has always been my mantra - as Steve Jobs infamously said “You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever'.

When you look back on life you can join the dots to see exactly why things had to happen to take you to where you are - not always clear at the time but in hindsight, I know everything will make complete sense.

Elle Sheppard

UK Regional Director

Personalised Video Lab


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