Mental Health Day

When my kids were in school, every once in a while they would ask for a Mental Health Day. I would never allow it on a test day or other important day, but if I could see they were stressed/exhausted/overwhelmed every great once in a while they could talk me into saying yes.

Today I understood what they meant. It has been a long winter in NJ. (And I was born and raised in MN so I KNOW what a long winter is like.) It even snowed here on 3/31 and they are talking about the possibility of more next week. Really?!

Today was to be a glorious, sunny, almost 70 degree day. I’m lucky that I live about an hours drive from a beautiful ocean beach. I’m also lucky that one of my besties lives near there.


And so today, I gave myself a Mental Health Day. I met said bestie for brunch. We caught up on life and kids and stuff. We walked the beach. We stopped for tea. And we walked the beach again. It was so windy that we declared that we got credit for walking and for resistance training while walking into the wind! Beach, friend and exercise – is that not a great trifecta?!

We saw a sign that summer would soon be here – patio furniture set up at the restaurants just waiting for warm spring and summer nights.


It was a welcome sight after such a long winter.

Tell me friend, do you give yourself a Mental Health Day? If so, what do you do on them?

How Snow Days Are Different

Snow days are different now that I’m an empty nester. Here is what I discovered a few days ago during Juno – the blizzard that fizzled.

You don’t get a call on every device in your house at 5:30 in the morning, letting you know you can sleep in because it’s a snow day.

You don’t need the big grocery cart to do the storm preparedness supermarket run, you can get by with the cute mini cart.

You have to alter your traditional snow day baking habits because you (and/or your partner) don’t need a whole batch of cookies or a whole loaf of cake.


You have to shovel yourself or stay put.

You don’t relax until you’ve heard from each kid that they are sheltered in place for the night.

The junk food you picked up at the grocery store was for you and not your teenage son like you used to pretend.

You realize your day wasn’t all that different from yesterday, which wasn’t a snow day.


© Cari Blake

Solo Activities

Solo Activities

As an introvert, not only do I like time by myself I actually need it. Learning that about myself was very powerful. One thing I never did though was go to a movie alone. I’m not sure why. Sitting in a dark theater, who is looking to see if you are by yourself or with someone? Not like dining solo at a restaurant. And, now that I’m 50, do I even care if someone is judging me? Not so much.

So today I was having one of those days where nothing was going right and I couldn’t get out of my own way. Because I work from home I can be flexible. The idea popped into my head to go see the movie Wild.

I have not seen a movie in a theater in years. I’m not even sure why, it’s just not high on my priority list. I like to watch them at home. So thanks to Google and a small movie theater 20 minutes away that was still showing the film, off I went.


It was amazing. I loved the movie, just like I loved the book. The message was very personal to me on many levels, although my journey was a cross-country road trip after reading the book and not a Survivor-type hike!

What I also loved was the feeling of playing hooky – I left a big to do list at home and I sat in a dark theater, absorbed in a story for 2 hours. I got choked up during certain scenes, but didn’t cry. (Something I learned to control in my childhood when my sisters made fun of me for crying at EVERY episode of Little House on the Prairie! hmmm…maybe this is why I don’t see movies in theaters?)

But I’ll admit, I’ve been weepy ever since. Yes, it was the story that moved me. But it was also further proof of my new role of an empty nester. For most of my adult life I could not have snuck away from 2 – 5 to see a movie. There were kids to be carpooled, errands to be run, dinner to be made or at least picked up.

As I ease into my new role I’m sure I’ll be finding many other enjoyable solo activities. How about you? What do you enjoy doing solo? Have you read Wild or seen the movie? I’d love to hear from you.



It’s October 30th and I haven’t bought a real pumpkin yet. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but I am from Anoka, Minnesota, the Halloween Capital of the World. (I’m totally not kidding, you can check it out here.)

Growing up, Halloween was a week long event with a couple parades, a Pumpkin Bowl football game and so much more. So how is it that I, hailing from the place of Halloween, can’t muster up the desire to celebrate this year?

Here it is: being an empty nester isn’t the same when it comes to the holidays. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of point to decorating and being my usual “theme queen” when there is no one here to enjoy it.

Here’s what I got so far: some fake pumpkins from Michaels and some Martha Stewart pumpkin transfers – even the idea of a craft project isn’t getting me in the spirit.


I think I’m in this time warp of my own kids being too old for my shenanigans but not yet a grandparent (thankfully!) when I get to geek out again with all things Holiday.

How has your holiday celebration changed since becoming an empty nester? To the not-yet-empty-nesters, do you long for the day when you don’t have to carve pumpkins and come up with clever costumes?

I May Have Too Much Time On My Hands

It started innocently enough. I was not in love with my current planner. (Yes, I’m still a paper person.) I felt I wasn’t keeping track of things or getting enough done. (In hindsight, perhaps that was just my menopausal mind.) So I started watching You Tube videos on planners. This was my first experience getting sucked into You Tube videos. Oh my stars!

All the video watching led to me getting a new planner system, getting a version of a Midori Traveler’s notebook, starting a reading journal then an art journal and collecting even more crafty things than I already had for my Smashbooks.


Here is my washi tape – I didn’t even know it existed 6 months ago, and now look at this.


I’ve ordered things from across the country and from other countries. It’s been fun and it has kept me busy. And please know I have a great career, manage a home and take care of our diva dog. It’s not like I’m sitting on the couch eating bon bons everyday. But, when my last child left, the days seemed to go on forever. Not having ANY sort of kid commitments left a void for me.

So one day, watching more planner videos, I stumbled across Organized Like Jen and her Walking Pharmacy. Well, wouldn’t you know I had to make my own Walking Pharmacy?! So off to Target I went (like I need another reason to go there!) to get another Orla Kiely cosmetic bag (like I needed that, I already have a few for my planner and Smashbooking supplies).


See, I wasn’t kidding!


Now most of the things I put in my Walking Pharmacy were already scattered about in my purse, but I’ll admit to putting a few of her ideas in there – safety pin, clipped to the zipper handle! Brilliant!

When I look in my purse and see my colorful bag I feel a sense of accomplishment, a sense of preparedness, even a little more organized than I generally see myself. Yet still I wonder, do I have a little too much time on my hands? What do you think?

Walking Pharmacy

My very own Walking Pharmacy


Have you ever done something after seeing it on You Tube? I’d love to take a look at what you’re watching!

Blankies, Binkies and Bears! Oh my!

Did your kids have a favorite thing that they dragged around everywhere? Each of mine did.

For Kid 1 it was a stuffed pink bear named, aptly enough, Pink Bear. That bear become my second child long before I had a second child. That bear flew first class (bumped up, because the flight attendant thought my daughter was a cutie), was saved from the hotel laundry and was sent Fed Ex once when we we forgot it. Head counts before going anywhere included Grace and Pink Bear. By the time we managed to find a back up bear, the original one had faded so the new one was named Pink Pink Bear and was no replacement for the original.


(And, yes I do have better pictures of these two, but the picture searching was going to quickly reduce me to tears, so we’re going with this one!)

Kid 2 loved a handmade blanket – no! There is no way to have a back up on a handmade blanket! So we had just one blankie, or blank for short. Blank made its way across the country also and was even walked down the aisle of my very understanding cousin’s wedding when the photographer knocked the little flower girl over right before she was to perform her duties.


By Kid 3 we had caught on. His was a cute little blue blankie from a kids catalog that we bought multiples of, pronto! We had them floating around everywhere.  No Fed Ex, no digging through laundry or garbage. We got this!


A tear-free family picture, just by letting him hold the little blue blankie! Score!


A few months ago I walked into a bedroom and saw this.


Apparently the bear was no longer the center of her universe. It was relegated to a closet shelf with washed up bathing suits. It made me sad.

But, at least one kid still cherishes her blankie.


Back to No School

It’s the first day of school in my town. It’s also the first time in 19+ years I haven’t had a 1st day of school moment or photo op, unless this counts.


There will be no moment of “ah, finally I get some quiet time in this house” like I had in the past.

On the other hand, there will also be no Staples run this afternoon with the hundreds of other parents getting the last minute items teachers requested.

There will also be no homework for me tonight, filling out form after form and signing my name more times than when I got a mortgage.

Honestly, this is probably a good thing. I don’t seem to be staying on top of the chores and tasks around here. I couldn’t even keep my front porch plants alive this summer.


I’m ready to replace them with mums. They are a hardier breed and need much less attention from me. That sounds about right for this new stage of my life.

To all those celebrating your kids being back in school – enjoy the rush of back to school activities and the quiet your home offers for a few hours.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler