New year, new experiences: Trading empty-nest malaise for volunteering, art, travel and more


2014 will be the year of new experiences for me.

After becoming an empty nester four years ago and no longer ferrying my 2 sons to after-school activities, I found myself becoming a homebody on my days off from work, rarely leaving the house if my husband works on those days.

And then, I started not really wanting to leave the house even when he was home with me.

I don’t suffer from any form of agoraphobia — it feels more like mild mental malaise.

So I’m determined to try new things this year.

In fact, my goal is to go somewhere/try something new every week.

That way, when people ask me what I’ve been up to, I can tell them something about me, rather than only being able to talk about my sons’ or grandkids’ latest exploits.

I’ve signed up to become a literacy tutor, and hope to take the training class in January so I can get started.

I’ve also asked my husband, who used to paint, to pick up that hobby again, only this time with me, so we have a shared hobby.

I may try to kick-start that by signing us up for one of those one-day classes where people all go and learn to paint their own version of the same thing.

And I want to get back into photography (forcing myself to go out to get interesting shots), and possibly incorporate prints of some of my photos into multimedia paintings.

Plus, we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next summer, so I hope to plan a cool trip.

I’m thinking either a cabin in the Smokey Mountains, an island cottage in South Carolina or a jaunt to Rhode Island.

Smoky Mountains

What about you? What have you done to overcome empty-nest malaise, and how did it work out for you?

Also, what’s the coolest trip in the U.S. you’ve taken recently?