Katie Couric, the Empty Nest and Me

Three years ago when I started blogging about the empty nest I had no idea what I was doing.

I had given up on finding a job after a year of searching, and wanted to start writing – something I’d always loved to do. I never imagined the people, opportunities, and experiences my blog would bring into my life. Fast forward three years to a phone call from my friend Lisa Heffernan, who writes at Grown and Flown:

The Katie Couric Show contacted me about a show on empty nesting, and I suggested they call you too.”

One thing you should know about Lisa, her blogging partner Mary Dell and me – we met online. These two women would never have come into my life had it not been for blogging and social media, and I consider them both to be close and important friends. We have spent time together in real life and it’s always such a pleasure. And so, the fact that Lisa so generously suggested that they call me is the ultimate example of how blogging has brought amazing things to me.

From an “unemployed” stay-at-home-mom and empty-nester to The Katie Couric Show in 3 years – and all because one day, I decided to start a blog.

Getting ready to be on The Katie Couric Show was a whirlwind of activity, starting Thursday morning when the producer called me, to Monday morning when they flew me to New York. I spent the weekend making my blog look as good as possible, shopping for the perfect thing to wear (which, of course, wound up being in my closet all along), and generally freaking out. I read the book by the psychotherapist who was on the show with us, and I thought – a lot! – about what I would say.

I was told I would be sitting in the audience in the front row and answering questions from there, but the afternoon before the show I got a call telling me that there had been a change and now I was going to be on the panel instead.

The day of the show I was nervous. I wanted to be sure to make intelligent comments and not stumble over my words. I still wasn’t clear on how the show was going to go – when I’d be on, what I’d be asked. When I arrived at the studio I was ushered to the Green Room, and there were Lisa, Mary Dell, and their blog photographer Theresa Kilman, another friend of mine. Lisa and I had our hair and makeup done, were led backstage, and then it started!

The amazing thing was that once I was on the set with Katie Couric – who is as nice as you would think she’d be and made the whole experience easy and smooth – I wasn’t nervous at all. Sitting there and talking about a topic I know so much about – empty nesting and reinventing yourself – was surprisingly comfortable for me. Who’d of thought?

When Katie said my husband is “really cute,” well  – that was the best.


Three years ago I was an empty-nester searching for my next great passion after raising my children.

I knew there was something…something…out there, but I didn’t know what it was. I gave blogging a try and it was the best decision I could have made. Social media and online connections have made all the difference in my life, and I can’t emphasize enough how many opportunities there are to find a new direction as an empty-nester by looking to online communities, be it through Facebook, Google+, Pinterest or Twitter.

There’s so much out there to learn and understand, and it’s exciting – almost as exciting as being on The Katie Couric Show.

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  • This has been a remarkable journey for us all, made only more remarkable by our friendship with you. Sharon, you are the single most generous person I have met and there are hundreds of other bloggers out there who have been the beneficiaries of your kindness. Mary Dell and I are both so fortunate that you came into our lives. The show was great fun, but doing it with you was the highlight!

  • I’m so glad I played a small part in your story. Your shoes looked great. It was so much fun watching. And you did such an amazing job. So many of us have a similar story. I wonder what we would all be doing without blogging.

  • Well done!

    It’s funny how the internet can connect people who live so far apart. I don’t think you and I met in person until we’d been working together six months!

  • You did such a great job Sharon! You have helped so many of us find the support we craved. I know you are busy morning, noon and night but you always take the time for each of us and just want to tell you how much you are loved and appreciated!

    • Sharon Greenthal

      Thank you Rena – I enjoy what I do each day so much, and it’s so rewarding to get to know so many wonderful women.

  • You did great, Sharon. What an experience. I love when you talked about the quiet in your “life” as we are experiencing the same thing. Andrew’s been gone a long time, but life seems to get quieter when your husband retires. I don’t even have my part-time nursing gig anymore, so lots of adjustment.

    So thanks and by the way you rocked those heels. Beth

  • Sharon, I only “met” you less than a year ago, but I feel as if I know you. I’m so happy for you and Lisa that you had the opportunity to be on the Katie Couric show. Thanks for sharing the story, including the backstory about the anticipation! From what to wear to what to say… and yes, I noticed the shoes when watching you. Very elegant! Congrats again. You gals were terrific!

  • Hi Sharon! What a great “back-story” this is on where you came from. I didn’t know all the details and you’ve shown how awesome blogging (and reinventing ourselves) can be. Congratulations for such a clear example of how this is within the reach of so many of us. Plus, having watched your segment of the show, it is obvious why you looked so comfortable and relaxed–because you were! Great show and thanks for sharing it with us all. ~Kathy

  • Sharon, you’ve been the lynchpin for us, as well–you gave us a hand up when we first started our blog almost 2 years ago, and have continued to be so kind and supportive. It means so much to both of us to have found such great friends online. As you say, who’d have thought?

  • anita

    Good job Sharon!! I just wish that our generation had something like this to latch onto…I loved your segment of the show and thought you did a wonderful job…..just being yourself and speaking from what you know best….thanx for sharing!

  • Wow! You rocked it!!! Congrats!! And I, um, might have cried a little during Lisa’s video.

  • Sharon, I am so happy for you – what a wonderful adventure! I saw the video and you did so well… what a great representative of midlife bloggers. Fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

  • Helene Cohen Bludman

    Sharon, it is so thrilling to know your story — how blogging opened up new opportunities — but we bloggers have you to thank for our opportunities. You and Anne have been amazingly welcoming and supportive. My life has changed in wonderful ways because of you. Thank you!!

  • Sharon, you really knocked this one out of the ballpark and I am so proud of you as my friend and so much more than that. You were so marvelous, and I am glad you are a part of my life.

  • Sharon – I was watching that day and was so motivated. I started blogging a few years ago and am not looking forward to my youngest leaving in 2 years. It is good to know that some wonderful opportunities can come from this blogging. Thanks!

  • Congratulations, Sharon. You looked and sounded great and will be inspiring more women to reinvent themselves. So glad to be a part of the Midlife Blvd.

  • Sharon: Both you and Lisa were amazing on Katie! I have only recently met you (online of course) and you have already supported me in so many ways! I am so grateful! You have confirmed that we all need to seek our dreams, to go for it, to seek adventure! I can’t wait to meet you in person and all of the ladies of Midlife Blvd. Congratulations on a job well done! Woo Hoo!

  • Jules Ruckstuhl

    Only negative is it’s a shame all the women thought they need to wear heels. They are so bad for you and cause all kinds of problems later. Why is that one way women can’t be free to take care of themselves?

  • Sharon, first off, I totally get the shoe thing! LOL.
    I was so happy and excited to watch the clip from the Katie show, and I was impressed by how comfortable you looked. I’ve said it before, you are an inspiration on so many levels…to come so far so fast is a testimony to your skills. And generosity. Your kindness is being repaid and I am happy to see this. Thank you for being so supportive. I appreciate both you and Anne very much.

  • Robert

    Don’t let what Katie said, that your husband is cute go to his head!
    We don’t need to feed his ego anymore than it has been!

  • I really enjoyed watching these clips. I think it’s important that you’re sending the message that life after the kids leave is different by not over. It’s too much pressure on your kids and on yourself to making raising children the be all and end all of purposeful living. And this is coming from a stay at home mom. I want to enjoy these years but I want to have things to look forward to in the next stage, too!

  • Loved this behind the scenes coverage of how it all began to bam you were suddenly thrust from sitting in the audience to being on stage. I watched it live and you looked cool, calm, and very much at ease.

  • I am so happy I was able to see the clip of your segment. You looked so relaxed and natural! Thanks for giving us midlife bloggers a boost and a voice!

  • Enjoyed the clip you posted. My kids have been gone for quite some time now but what I remember most about that first empty-nest year was a point you made on the show: The house is incredibly quiet. You come home from work, turn the key in the door and the walls are stone silent. No chatter, no music, no vibe of life. It’s an adjustment.

  • What a great post to read for my introduction to your blog!! I’ve signed up to be your latest e-mail follower. Visiting today from Marcia’s blog!

  • Sharon you came across calm, intelligent and friendly. Just really a great job on Katie and on MLB.

  • You were so wonderful, so poised and so gorgeous—I LOVED watching you and Lisa on the show–you represented the midlife empty nesters perfectly. I couldn’t be happier for you and I’m so proud!!!

  • All I can say is well done! The blogging world has been a gift for so many of us and your efforts have made so much of it possible. Thank you.

    Barbara Torris

  • You looked great! And for my immature moment I have to say I am totally envious! Fortunately I also have a cute husband. But no Katie Couric!

  • Sharon,

    You are a rock star!!!


  • You did a fabulous job!! The heels would have put me over the edge since I never wear them, but now that I think about it, you never see women in flats on talk shows. Glad to know Katie is genuine. I’ve always liked her.

  • What a great story Sharon and fun opportunity for you. I’m sorry I missed the show. My son graduated this year and my daughter is right behind him in 3 years. I started my blog as a way to rekindle my passion for writing and hopefully lead to other opportunities because I know the day will soon be here when I’m an empty nester too.

  • This is such an uplifting story – and such an inspiration for every blogger to read!

  • Sharon – I loved watching all of you on Katie’s show. It’s fun to read “behind the scenes” – you didn’t seem nervous at all! I started blogging for the same reason you did – I was floundering with the kids getting older, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do next. It’s only been two months for me, but I have found so many supportive, wonderful people already! I know it’s going to be a great journey. You inspire me!

  • Blogging has changed my life as well!

  • You and Lise were so poised, articulate, and fabulous on the Katie Show! I’m so proud of both of you and can’t wait to see where you’ll be next. Blogging has changed my world for the better too. Who knew it would hold so many gifts?!

  • As I said to you when it all broke, you’re now qualified to be intimidating, and yet you’re nice as pie. You and I have never talked IRL since we’ve been e-friends chatting back and forth. But when I was freaking out over my own “big gig” the person I reached out to for advice was you (“let her be online let her be online…”)Thanks for that first email two years ago, and for being the total picture of class, humor and intelligence we’ve come to know and love.

  • Sharon, what a great recap of your experience. You and Lisa did an amazing job on the Katie show. How exciting and inspiring – blogging does open so many new doors. So glad to be a part of this awesome group of midlife women.

  • Life has been beyond crazy & stressful for me so I missed the whole thing or I would have recorded it – so exciting!!!

  • You did an awesome job. And it was pretty cool to see someone I “know” (but have never actually met) on a national show!

  • You both did a spectacular job! You sound just as I thought you would — articulate, confident and wise. Brava!

  • I have 3 sons ranging in age from 32-23. I was so unhappy being an empty-nester as I had spent so many years nurturing them and feeding them. In Oct. of 2012 I gathered my negative energy and published a cookbook “From Baseball Mitts to Oven Mitts-A Mothers of Sons Cookbook” to teach the guys out of the nest how to navigate the kitchen. This journey that I have embarked on to promote my book, has led to the realization that there are many sons out there that never had a desire, time or interest to learn how to cook. I also feel communication that dwindles at this time of their life with their moms, can be revitalized by sharing recipes and experiences in the kitchen. My goal is to create a community of moms with older sons to share their joys and sorrows! I would love to hear from you!

  • Lisa Kenawell

    Dear Sharon,
    I feel like I could write a book about our shared experiences! I have been on this empty nest journey myself, with my youngest of three graduating from college three years ago. I so wish we could chat over coffee! It has been a real emotional roller coaster ride, with many other life events bringing their own emotions into the empty nest as well…my daughter’s wedding, my older son’s engagement, and my precious mom’s sudden death. It seems we all have to learn to regularly say goodbye to something on our life’s journey, don’t we? I was also a stay at home mom, Sharon. One night a couple of weeks ago, when I couldn’t sleep, I googled “empty nest stay at home mom” and found your blog. All of a sudden, I din’t feel so alone! Thank you for your encouragement, through your blog, at this time in my journey. I have come to clearly understand what my passions are over the last few quiet and reflective empty nest years, which turned into me recently completing a one year graduate level program to be a parent coach through the PCI, the Parent Coaching Institute. I love what I have learned and how my newly acquired “set of tools” can greatly assist parents who are looking for support in raising their children during the more confusing times of family life. I have been really intimidated, though, by social media and all that I don’t know about it. I think it has hampered the expression of my passion because I don’t know what to do all this social technology, or even if I should get into it at all. (Hint, I am your age and didn’t even know what a blog was until a few months ago! I didn’t realize that I had been reading blogs for years!) I think I might like to start a blog myself because I love to write and could do so in support parents still in the throngs of raising children. (I am proud that…with the help of my son…I have just designed a website, though!) You mentioned a community of 700 mid-life bloggers that connect on Facebook. I would love to check that out! Can you help me with that? I appreciate this opportunity to connect with you and actually respond to a blog! This just might be fun! PS… I really enjoyed the show! You were talking to/about me!

  • Great post. You’re an inspiration to all of us!

  • congrats to you, and thx for the inspiration!

  • What a fun experience it must have been, Sharon! Isn’t it amazing how blogging has changed so many lives, and for the better? We all found our tribes and have gone in amazing directions. Life is good!

  • So happy for you! I love reading your blog. Keep up the amazing work and inspiration!

  • So perfect Sharo. I just wrote about The Joys of Blogging also. Oh, the people that you will meet and the places that you wll go!You’re one of the special people that I hve met and looking forward to going to your conference in Vegas!

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