It’s been a rough three months.

My daughter started college in a city nearly 2,000 miles away and just like that! We have an empty nest. A few weeks after that, I had to submit to something I’ve been trying to avoid for years: a total hysterectomy. I’ve been feeling like a woman torn apart, both figuratively and literally.

I started blogging eleven years ago. It was both a creative outlet and therapy, and for a long time I credited it with keeping me sane. But this year, I have had difficulty finding the words for how I’ve been feeling — not to mention how hard it’s been to make the time while trying to earn the money we need to pay for the child’s college expenses. That said, I have missed it.

Earlier this year, as the empty nest loomed larger, I wondered if I should give up the SoCal Mom identity I’ve used since 2003, when my little girl really was a little girl. Because of my domain name and my Twitter handle, I receive an unbelievable amount of pitches for things like diaper bags and toddler toys. But parenthood goes beyond your children’s baby years. My daughter may be a young adult now – but raising her these last eighteen years has irrevocably changed me. Even when she is 50 and I am 90, I will always be her mother.

So I’m keeping SoCal Mom. It’s the name I used to stake my little Internet claim and I’m not ready to give it up, even if I need to shift gears a bit. For a while, I tried to focus my writing here on travel pieces and local attractions. One of the ways my husband and I have been adjusting to life without our daughter is by returning to a bit of the lifestyle we led before she was born: Every weekend, we try to get out and about and explore this fabulous region we live in. We joined the Huntington Museum and are determined to get our money’s worth by visiting the place once a month. We take our cameras and photograph the transformation of Downtown Los Angeles (and often get there via the Red Line, which adds to the adventure). The two of us have always enjoyed taking little road trips, so when we hear of something happening that sounds fun to see, we get out and see it.

And we still travel occasionally. Moving our daughter to Chicago gave us an opportunity to explore that great city. I have posts to write about all of that, and I think SoCal Mom is a good place to do it. So that is what my focus will be here.

But I still need a place to work out my thoughts and feelings.

Over the summer, my sister and I made yet another attempt to write a blog together. It’s called Two Drinks Away, and we conceived it to be a conversation between sisters. We haven’t done as much with it as we would like: Linda is dealing with some of the same life changes as me (empty nest and a newish full time job), which is one of the reasons we think we’ll actually get some good conversations going there. But finding the time — and the energy — is going to take some work. And my participation has not been helped with the recovery from my surgery, which has taken a lot out of me. Anyway, I wrote about my fears about my surgery over there and will continue to post about the journey from stay-at-home San Fernando Valley mom to…

…I don’t know. Fabulous, fascinating mature woman? I hope.

Let the journey begin!