What was, what's new, what's now

Mommy makeover: what was, what’s new, what’s now

betty ming liu Inspiration 23 Comments

Last fall was so crazy that I just stopped blogging. All I did was work. Which left me exhausted. Then, I reflected on my life by looking at three categories: what was, what’s new, what’s now. And then, I saw the hole in my heart, the truth: I was an empty-nesting mom in transition.

Oh, it’s hard to stop being a mommy! For more than two decades, I was raising my precious princess, my only child. But last year, I had to let her go and focus on me. These goals led to great things but also had me too busy. I turned into a human doing instead of staying a human being.

Since November, I’ve been reflecting and reorganizing. Where have I been? Where am I going? I had to look at what was, what’s new, what’s now. And what I discovered surprised me about the empty-nesting experience. Now, I have a chance to really feel and do whatever I want with my life!

No self-censorship. No personal judgment. No people pleasing.

No more college tuition bills, haha.

What was, what's new, what's nowWhat was

When I finally sat down to think about what-was, I saw myself as the daughter of immigrant parents, trying so hard to be good and do good. I was the divorced, single mom who worked a bunch of teaching gigs, always trying to prove myself.

For the past four years, it’s been a very college-y lifestyle. My daughter was away at university. Meanwhile, I was part-time Prof. Betty at three different campuses: NYU (journalism), The New School (creative writing) and Westchester Community College (communication skills).

When I came home from classes, I’d hang out with the two cats, blog, paint, do things with friends, see my shrink. My daughter would visit us on holidays. I was so used to this routine that I barely noticed how much things changed in 2017.

What’s new

Last year brought many reasons to celebrate.

First, The Princess graduated from college in May and found a fantastic job.

I “graduated” too, from a training program, and became a certified life coach.

By the end of the summer, my grown-up daughter moved far away.

I was home, learning to keep my opinions to myself and mind my own business as the mother of an adult daughter.

I was also revving up my new side hustle. Clients wanted coaching on everything from writing skills, career choices and family matters to  relationships, addiction and weight loss.

It was busy. But who was I? What was the point of my life, beyond working with clients and college students?

What’s now

The answers came as I dived into retail therapy. That might sound shallow but it was actually a meditation. What do I deserve to have? Did I want to make lifestyle changes? How do I define “fun”? Here’s what I came up with:

  • I gave my daughter our 13-year-old car and leased myself a cute, 2017 Honda Civic hatchback.
  • It was time to replace the ancient 2007 Apple desktop and old iPhone with the latest models.
  • I let my hairdresser try out a short haircut with caramel highlights. I bought new makeup, too.
  • For more support, I joined a book group, an artist’s group and went back to Weight Watchers.  
  • Ready for even more love, I adopted a rescue pit bull and shopped like mad for doggie gear.

Each of these decisions triggered deep emotions about who I am. Now, each day brings new feelings, choices and actions.

What was, what’s new, what’s now…for you?

As an empty-nesting mom, the big challenge is to nurture myself. Rediscover who I am. If there’s one word to describe the process, it’s “float.”

That’s the word for me. It comes out of assessing what was (mommy me), what’s new (me, just me), what’s now (embracing more of me). I’m floating around, exploring, keeping things easy, getting more sleep.

What about you? Do you have a key word that describes your intentions for yourself? Any sense of what was, what’s new, what’s now? What’s happening with your story?

Comments 23

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  1. You were missed, Betty. I think my concept for the coming year is to do things more deeply. Not to flit to many things, but to place full focus on some tasks that I want to complete. You inspire me!

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  2. Wow! Lot’s going on! I’ve missed your blogs! And have fun with your rescue pittie! Please post pics. (I used to volunteer at an animal shelter in Jersey City with A LOT of pitties. They can be the sweetest dogs.)



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      Charlotte, I think my next post will be about the dog. The new love of my life. Those poor pit bulls — they’ve been maligned by the media and don’t deserve to be sitting in shelters. I’ll post pics soon. xo

  3. Phew! I thought you’d given up on us Betty! Great to see you back in 2018! You’ve been a great source of inspiration for me>I too have made some important changes in my life and loving every minute!

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  4. Yes, you were missed. Good to hear from you. Tina and I with two in college are newly-empty nesters too. So we likewise are figuring out what to do with our time. Is teaching a couple of classes, and serving on a school board enough? Keep us posted as we figure out what to do.

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      Roland, I’m tickled to see you on the blog. Thanks for commenting! As for your question, hmmm. Well, if you’re asking it, maybe you’re willing to open yourself up to more experiences? Something new? Right now, I’m looking for openings that are less structured. I want to play and have fun — experience the joy of just living. Unlike earlier stages of my life, right now I have a certain amount of financial stability and self-awareness. I want to do things that were never possible before — but not sure what that means yet.

  5. Betty: Welcome back! Just reading about everything you are involved with has tired me out. I have to take a nap now. My own life has been geared toward doing less. I managed to keep the college in check to only assign me one course this semester so I only work 2 days a week and am wondering how much longer I want to do even that much. My present goal is to spend more time reading and writing – and making more of an effort to keep the house in order. The boys were all here for Thanksgiving and Christmas and that was grand but exhausting. We decided Thanksgiving next year will be at one of their homes instead of here. Time to spread the work load and expand the tradition. It’s all a natural part of getting old and I’m fine with it. Billy is aceing his MA program, BTW – stellar grades and comments from his professors – but we expect no less, right?

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      As always, Toby, nice to hear from you, too. And I’m with you — more reading and writing would be great. My house also needs more attention. By the way, kudos to you for hosting the holidays — and even more props to you for knowing when to say “no”! That’s the real art of living, isn’t it? Glad to hear Billy’s doing great. And good luck with the spring semester.

  6. Loved the reassessment (done via “nut graf”) and the new haircut!! Lots to be learned from your new approach. First step trying not to be a “human doing”!!!!!

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  7. AWESOME!!! You adopted a Pitty baby!

    The past year has been full of transitions here, too. I, too, am coming into Me-ness more fully, though with different catalysts for my transition. I am even responding to the prod to start my own blog at long last. Writing is indeed a salvation and a salve.

    Thank you for sharing You with us. Cool beans!

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  8. Hi Betty! I love reading this, from Mexico City, as I, too, embraced a whole new life. You are amazing at reinventing yourself in healthy ways. For me, I could not ‘float’ anymore in the small town we raised our kids, and instead embraced a rather ferocious challenge, living and working in another country. I think I was afraid of settling down, retiring, growing old, if you will, and I vehemently rejected that and needed to ‘prove’ something about myself. I must be a sucker for punishment, ha! I sure got the challenge I craved in Mexico–tackling language, schlepping around a big stinky city, exhausting myself, yes, but also finding moments if incredible exhilaration. Just life, humanity, and I am embracing it, happy still to be alive, grateful for the rush of emotion that change and challenge bring. The downside, of course, is distance from the family and friends, and it has taken its toll. So, there is my take. My dear, I shall be back to the states at some point– love you so. And want to see your new doggie!

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      And Amy, I love reading about your adventure in Mexico City — wow! I totally understand your feelings about withering away in small-town America. Plus, life here is expensive. You’re living out one of my dreams. I always wanted to learn Spanish in an immersion setting. I’m excited for you and your journey!xo

  9. Congratulations! Thanks for your life coaching. I have enjoyed the experience as well as the insights you helped me to make. Glad I could be part of your hours long distance. It really is a natural calling for you. Kung Hee Fat Choy!

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