Five Things Nobody Tells You About Designing Your Second Half
Welcome to the first episode of Design Your Second Half. I'm your host, Nancy DelSanto. This podcast came out of my own experiences so it's deeply personal but when I share my story people want to know more. They're curious if what I've learned can help them with their journey and the lifestyle decisions they're trying to make. As soon as people find themselves facing an empty nest, they start thinking about what's next for them. These questions start in our 40's.

To me, the second half of life starts with the drastic change of becoming an empty nester and just continues from there. You're faced with changes at work. Will you or your spouse retire or shortened your work hours? Financially, what does this mean for your second half?

And just when you get used to having an empty nest, some of our kids come back home. As much as we love them, that's hard to navigate. Eventually, they marry and we become grandparents. That's when we have to find new ways to connect with our kids and their families.

As we age, we all have health and wellness issues that we must confront. And as everyone knows, loss is an inevitable part of our second half of life. It's sad but there's no way around it.

If we want to design our second half with intention, we want to reconnect with joy, fulfillment, and connection. It's an opportunity to rediscover the dreams we had that got lost in the frenetic pace of our lives. It's an opportunity to give voice to that part of each of us that got lost along the way.

Let me back up and say that I'm no stranger to helping people live in a more contented way. Throughout my career as an interior designer, I've helped people figure out how to live in a home that supports them. I've worked with young families who were moving into their "big forever home." Suddenly, they had all kinds of rooms they didn't know what to do with. I helped them understand how they might put the spaces to use in ways that would work for them and the occasions of their lives. I was a couple of steps ahead of these clients in terms of my own family and I was able to share what I had learned and what worked for us. This was especially useful when they needed a new kitchen or bathroom updates. They were putting a lot of money into these projects and they wanted to get it right so they asked me to help them.

Most of my clients have become clients for life. After one project is finished, something else comes along that needs my help. They buy a vacation home or move. I help them with the big transitions in their lives. Some of my clients were intentionally designing their second half of life by moving to a one story home or to a smaller space in town. I watched a few people move to a place they thought they'd love but when they got there, they weren't happy. They ended up moving back to where they started. That's when I discovered that the people who were happiest with their moves took baby steps and the ones least happy seemed to take giant leaps instead of baby steps. So when our lives became disrupted, we took baby steps. This is one of the things I highly recommend.

Our lives changed in 2011 when my husband took a job in Newport Beach, California. We were living in Los Angeles and the commute was horrendous. Our son was doing well in high school and so we faced a dilemma. Should we uproot him or not? After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to keep our family home so that my son could finish high school and I could continue working with clients in that area. We found a tiny crash pad where my husband could stay a few nights during the week. In the summer, our entire family including our 50 lb. dog would spend time at the beach crammed into a very one bedroom, one bathroom place. It was pure comedy but we found out that our family liked living at the beach. We liked the beach so much we purchased a condo with enough space for a few more people to gather. I started taking on clients at the beach. We planned to keep our old family home in addition to this condo.

The beach became our new normal. The baby steps gave us a chance to adjust and make changes if we didn't like something. This was a wonderful time of exploring new places and things to do. We got to try out a very different lifestyle from what we knew in the suburbs. I can't emphasize it enough ~ if you take baby steps while designing your second half, you won't feel backed into a corner.

That's when I began to realize that our old family home wasn't really supporting us. We were supporting it. The maintenance was non-stop and it was falling on me to schedule and coordinate everything because I was there and my husband wasn't. It was more work than I really wanted. When our son graduated and moved off to college, I started spending more and more time at the beach. It was lonely to be in our family home. We had taken all these baby steps adjusting to a lifestyle at the beach. I had grown to like the salty air, the cool breezes, and the sand between my toes. My family liked it. Our friends were very happy to visit us at the beach.

I decided to go into an open house at the beach. To my surprise, I loved that house. It was small but I could imagine myself living there. Metaphorically, my life in our family home was like a big, well-worn tote bag. It was chronically overstuffed and really heavy to carry. My life now living in a small home at the beach is like carrying a small clutch handbag. It is so much lighter. We have so much more freedom. We can just lock the door and travel. But to live in a small home at the beach, we had to get very clear on what's essential to us.

The funny thing is that living at the beach was an early dream of mine that got lost in the frenetic pace of my life. In high school, I schemed to attend one of the coastal universities in California but the degree I wanted dashed that dream. After college, I schemed to live by the water and I actually did for two years but then I was promoted to an inland office. When we wee first married, we looked at some homes in beach cities but the drive would have been killer so it just never came together. Finally, I had the chance to live at the beach, something I had been dreaming of for years and I almost said no to it because it meant moving from our family home.

Letting go is so hard but designing your second half is a process of letting go of things that don't serve you anymore. Change is inevitable. We can decide to make intentional changes that work well in this moment of our lives or we can let change happen to us while we kick and scream. Either way, things will change.
"You can't be authentic and true to who you are if you're focused on what everyone else is doing." ~Nancy on Design Your Second Half, the podcast
When I began navigating this new stage of my life, I came to realize I had all of these hidden beliefs. They were under the surface and I didn't talk about them to even my closest friends. These beliefs were slowing me down and tripping me up. It took me some time to understand what was going on inside myself. I needed to get out of my own way. I was my own worst enemy. My hidden beliefs were threatening my ability to move into this next stage of my life. This is one of the things that everyone needs to confront if they're going to design a second half that fills them with joy, fulfillment, and connection.

When I was on the cusp of becoming an empty nester, I started having intense fears. My life up until then was largely focused on mothering my children. I felt a crisis of confidence in who I was and what I would do next. The voices in my head were overwhelming. I learned that getting out of my head space and into a more intuitive place within my body ~ some call it their gut ~ helped me to gain clarity about what I wanted for my next steps. There all all kinds of ways to do this but at the time, I wondered why no one in my circle was talking about this stuff. We would all benefit from a frank discussion about our fear and anxiety over changes in our family dynamic.

Even before this, I noticed that I became anxious and just felt bad when I spent too much time on social media. For me, it invited feelings of comparison and I never felt like I measured up. When I started changing my lifestyle, I had to be very careful not to compare myself and my new lifestyle to my friends. What makes our friends happy may not really make us happy. I had to be willing to let go of comparisons.

You can't be authentic and true to who you are if you're focused on what everyone else is doing. You are unique. Your dreams are only yours. They're buried deep down inside your heart because your life got busy with kids, work, spouses, homes, parents, and everything else. These dreams are waiting for expression. They're one of the things that make you uniquely you. So stop worrying about everyone else on social media and give voice to what's in your heart.

My friends weren't talking about this stuff ~ the hidden beliefs, the social comparisons, the drastic shift in life when you become an empty nester. But when I started talking about it, they wanted to join the conversation. So there you have it. Design Your Second Half ~ The Podcast is a conversation about gaining clarity about how to live the second half of your life with more intention, with more joy, fulfillment, and connection.

I want a vibrant glow that comes from the inside and shines outward. I want a lifestyle that's filled with connection to others where I'm serving to help people enrich their very existence. I want to discuss how your home should support your health, your wellness, your lifestyle. My goal is to start this conversation with you and other experts so that together we can mastermind this thing I'm calling our second half.I hope you're interested in joining me on this adventure.

Today we talked about 5 things nobody tells you about designing your second half. 

1. Take baby steps and you can adjust along the way.

2. Rediscover your forgotten dreams.  Life got busy and you didn't have time to pursue them but rediscovering them will add energy to your life.

3. Confront your hidden beliefs that are getting in your way. They probably aren't true and they're slowing you down.  

4.  Getting out of the voices in your head and into an intuitive place within your body.  Get your body moving. Take a walk in nature.

5. Be willing to let go of things that don't serve you well like social comparisons.
In the next podcast, I'll interview Katresha, co-owner of The Pearl Laguna, a wellness retreat center. She's a leader in the field of health and wellness and she's going to tell us how to find our outer glow. Be sure to subscribe now in the podcast app of your choice so you don't miss an upcoming episode.  
Wishing you a lifestyle you love,

 ~ Nancy
To be inspired by past podcast posts, click here.