Clarity

Pro-Ageing

Pro-ageing Personified: Stylin’ A Joyful Life With Mimi K

“I feel like I’ve lived three lifetimes, jam-packed to the max!”—Mimi K

And at this rate, you can be sure she’s in the thick of crafting her fourth! Meet my friend, Mimi Krohne— a Pro-Ageing Ninja!

Mimi is the third in my Midlife Stories series, which features everyday Women Over 50 pursuing a life chapter that brings them joy.

These are unfiltered accounts of women living life on their own terms. They’re doing what they consider to be right for themselves— not what social media or anyone else tells them they should do. Isn’t that what we all want to achieve?

I have links below to the prior posts for this series if you’re just joining us now. But meanwhile, sit back and hear all about my friend, Mimi, who is the most delightful and effervescent pro-ageing 72 year old I know! 

(By the way, bonus points for identifying the band for each of the three songs disguised as section titles below….drop your answers in the post comments.)

pro-ageing

"Girls Just Want To Have Fun"

Mimi is part of an exclusive demographic group on IG: users 65 and over who are just 2.1% of all IG users! Millennials and Gen Zs comprise the majority of IG’s audience.  

So what prompted her to join 4 years ago? She’s a classic extrovert: when she doesn’t have something going on with someone else, she ain’t happy. The term, FOMO, came to mind while we chatted last week—and then she herself confessed that’s one of her driving forces! Having too much time on her hands makes her restless. Such a Doer, this one.

Yet when the pandemic reared up in 2020, Mimi reacted with an abundance of caution. She retired from a long and successful career as a hair stylist in the Orlando, FL area. Then she stepped back from her church’s social activities, as well. It wasn’t a planned change, yet it was time for a change. Time for different energy.

That’s when IG became her new community. As she sees it, it was truly her savior. 

IG reaches across the world and connects likeminded people who are compatible for me. It’s the new pen pal and that is golden!

Mimi’s joyous demeanor makes chatting with her effortless. Laughter is one of the love languages she speaks fluently. She also punctuates her posts and DMs with emojis. One can’t help but relax and smile in her presence, no matter what concerns might be swirling inside. She just radiates happy!

And while she believes herself to be wantonly niche-less on the ‘gram, (I’m an old hippie at heart) Mimi tends to feature the following topics:

  • fashion (former model married to a former photographer)
  • yoga and tai chi (focused on staying limber)
  • books (delves into a myriad of topics that make you think)
  • lipstick (bold red, please!)

But wait, there’s more!

over 70 and rocking it

"Born This Way"

Now you may be thinking Mimi rarely sits still. But it all depends if she’s nourishing her body or her mind. She’s a voracious life-long learner, taking advantage of free online courses. One day, it might be a Harvard class; another day, it’s a YouTube tutorial. Or the Gaia channel.

What doesn’t air in her living room is network TV. 15 years ago, a bet with one of her daughters continues to this day with banning that particular media. It’s all part of her pro-ageing strategy to carefully cultivate what gets the privilege of her focus in her 600 square foot condo.

Yes, you read that right! When Mimi and John got married in 2011, they realized how little space they truly utilized in their large townhouse. She promptly got rid of 98% of her stuff in one month— whoa! —and just like that, they moved into their present sweet abode.

While her friends thought she lost her mind, Mimi said, 

Best decision I ever made! More freedom, less stress! 

She’s definitely not one to brood or agonize over her next steps. If something makes sense, done and next! Which is another pro-ageing characteristic: Mimi is not afraid of change. In her mind, it’s how life works.

Downsizing allowed the two of them to pursue more of their shared and individual passions. In particular, they enjoy exploring the outdoors together, camera in hand. Her Instagram account is chockfull of their little adventures.

pro ageing

"Talkin' Bout My Gen-er-a-tion"

While I am enamored with Mimi’s joie de vivre, I can’t help but wonder if her free wheeling outlook makes her an outlier for her age group. She does not disagree.

Mimi was born at the tail end of the Silent Generation. Her parents endured World War II and the Great Depression so their household like so many others was very traditional. Children of this era were expected to be seen and not heard. To not put themselves first or front and center. 

In her mind, this led to pervasive pettiness and excessive competition. Work hard and be the best—but don’t flaunt it. Mimi wistfully remarks, 

You’d be glad for your friend’s success but you wouldn’t say much about it. Maybe you’d say something behind her back. There was no lifting up of each other like what you’re doing now.

So how did Mimi break rank from that repressive atmosphere? How did she embrace her self-described “inner troublemaker” and put herself out there on the ‘gram? And unapologetically pursue what makes her happy?

It all started with John and I working the typical photography/videography sessions, like weddings. He also did occasional shoots with me posing outdoors, by graffiti. People started saying we should do that on Instagram! I had to work through the emotions. Finally I thought, screw it! If I get to be 85, I can’t afford to base myself on what others think of me.

What’s her friends’ reaction to her social media presence?

I’m sure some think, ‘What the Hell’s she doing? Then down the road, ‘How did she do it?’

And now? What’s her aim on IG?

To give courage to my age group and forgiveness. 

Mimi explains that everyone was caught up in the post-war mindset. Not only was there no such thing as self-care (that’s selfish), but people really lived in a fear-based environment. No one was to rock the boat or break the rules.

I’m truly happy our Little Troublemaker broke out of the mold and freely showcases her dynamic pro-ageing activities—keep it coming, Mimi!

pro age

"Don't Fear The Reaper"

So I had to ask about death. I’m thinking about it a little more, now that I have fewer years ahead than behind. I wondered where Mimi’s mind was at, since she’s further down the road.

She describes the Warrior pose as a metaphor for her 70s: her right leg is bent with her right arm extended forward, reaching for her Future. She is looking backwards over her left arm extended to her Past. Her position is neutral. 

The 70s are a place to make peace with your past. This is the beginning of the ‘Big Wind Up’ as your age group is starting to check out. I suppose people my age don’t fear death but really hope for a dignified exit.

For both Mimi and John, it’s been a beautiful ride on this fabulous planet. And even though her daughters are in their mid 30s, independent and “off and running”, Mimi still feels the tug in her heart to be around as long as possible so she can take care of them and the grandkids. 

Yet interestingly, she has witnessed a sharp divide between how men and women her age approach their mortality. Remember, she was a successful hair stylist for many years.

When you’ve cut someone’s hair for 20 years, you get really personal. And the men tell me they can avoid thinking or dealing with stuff until about 65. Then all the ‘shoulda-coulda’s come to roost when they lay their heads on their pillows at night! Women process more emotionally on their own and with their friends.

And for this Pro-Ager? How is she feeling about “checking out”, as she puts it?

It’s not death that bothers me—but the process is the rub. I know there’s a transition of sorts between life and death, from what my mother and grandmother said they could see on their deathbed. No one else could see what they saw.

But for me, it’s feeling like a veil. A soft, light veil descending.

And then this reminds Mimi of one of her favorite poems. In turn, it confirms how engaged my friend is with living fully in each and every moment—which is my definition of the ultimate pro-ageing attitude.

The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don’t go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep! —Rumi

shift your stories

The Wrap on Pro Ageing with Mimi

Yes, I’m including this image: a shameless plug of Mimi endorsing my book —such a discriminately literate soul, hehe!

But back to Mimi, while she’s still in an introspective mood. What’s her pro-ageing take for living life fully over 50?

Our 50s are a call to action. Time to lay the ego crap down. Target dates for retirement loom.

Our 60s are a really great decade. We can get a lot done, get focused, and calm down. We want to have nutrition, alcohol, drugs and exercise in order by now or it gets worse.

Our 70s, the picture of approaching death becomes crystal clear. I am beginning to see the fruition of bad choices with so many of my friends. Sad.

Yet even those who have taken excellent care of themselves may have their ‘check engine lights’ come on. But so far, so good for me! I am very, very careful with what I digest with my eyes, ears and mouth.

Isn’t Mimi a “walkin’-on-sunshine” soul?!

Your turn!

  • What’s your take on Mimi’s pro-ageing attitude?
  • Who are the 3 bands for the song titles above?
  • Drop your thoughts below … and thanks for stopping by!
listen

Listen: Be Known As A Great Conversationalist By Saying Less

“The best way to understand people is to listen to them.”—Ralph Nichols

Shaking his head, David grimaced as they cruised past a pan handler at the traffic light near the end of the highway exit ramp. “What is with these people? Why doesn’t he just get a job? Everyone is hiring these days!”

Nina glanced over as she tensely replied, “I always give a few dollars. How do you know what their situation is?”

“I know our tax dollars fund lots of agencies who can help, Nina!” David retorted. “How do I know this guy isn’t just scamming us?”

“I really don’t like when you assume the worst about people!” With each word, Nina’s voice got higher and tighter. “Would it hurt us to give a little? We never really know their situation, do we?”

David rolls his eyes and wonders how Nina can be so naive.

Nina sighs and questions how David can be so unsympathetic.

Impasse alert!

I’m not gonna say who’s wrong … but what if our process is?

Have you ever had a conversation like this that just goes South? I know I’ve had more than I care to remember!

We don’t see each other’s point of view because we are deeply entrenched in our own. Even a compromise can feel dissatisfying for both. There’s a whole lot of eye rolling and sighing going on everywhere, don’t you think?

And other times, you’re not even focused on the same issue. There’s back and forth sparring as you each insist on what the “real” point is. You know, the old “it’s not me, it’s YOU that doesn’t get it” clash.

It’s so distressing because we all want to be heard and understood.

Yet we actually can converse peaceably, even when we don’t agree … because 

“It’s not about being right. It’s about getting it right.” — Elizabeth Spelke

3 Listening Tips

  1. Start with recognizing an impasse is forming

Certain things trigger each of us. And then we automatically revert to a defensive position. We don’t budge. We are consumed with the feelings that descend and the words we reflexively utter reflect this unexamined state of mind.

So when someone insists they are right … when their body braces and their voice rises … when they adamantly repeat their take on things— these are clues!

Stern body language and high emotion make for a toxic combination.

Time to back off.

Equally important: pay attention when these clues describe us!

Unless we’re in a dire situation requiring action, is it really worth escalating as we go round and round? Is anyone really listening to the other? Does anyone really relish that? What does that accomplish?

   2. Next, gather more context

Adopt an attitude of curiosity. Are we sure we grasp what the other person is saying? Where is it coming from? What has been their experience? What additional intel would help us better understand their position?

Ask them to tell us more. “That’s interesting. Why do you think/feel/say that?”

Then—let’s stop talking. Start listening.

An open mind is comfortable with inviting a different perspective into a conversation.

   3. Now, end with smile

This is the moment to let it go! If we didn’t come to an agreement, that’s fine. If there were mutual questions that enabled both of us to expound on our positions, ponder that.

Our final words? “Thanks for sharing.” or “I never thought/felt about it that way.”

And now? (brace yourself)

Let them have the last word (I know, I know, argh!). But consider this: it’s actually a power move on our part.

A well-time pause can speak volumes

Wow, what just happened here?

By paying attention to emotional and physical cues, we step back timely and focus on how they see things. When others are wrapped up in their own point of view, they are not poised to entertain ours—yet. Now politely give them the platform to provide their rationale thoughts (or irrational feelings). Whether we agree or not, let’s thank them for sharing. Let’s indicate they’ve given us something to ponder. And then? Let’s ponder it! That’s how we learn!

And now, imagine if David and Nina had followed this suggested 3-step process. Perhaps their conversation could have ended like this instead:

David winked at Nina and marveled at what a wonderful listener she was!

Nina smiled lovingly at David and thought, “What an idiot he is!” NO, scratch that! She thought, “David always shares ideas that I hadn’t considered before!”

Hey, I’m just being realistic that we may still agree to disagree! But why fan the flame of division? 

Sometimes things are better left unsaid, no?

After all, being more gentle with each other recognizes that

“We’re all rough drafts of the people we’re still becoming” —Bob Goff

listen

The Wrap on How to Listen

As Dr. Joyce Brothers says, “Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.”

Who doesn’t feel the world can be an incredibly noisy place? Particularly when it comes to social media, everyone is seeking attention. Hardly anyone seems to be listening … to be available to others. Maybe this is one of the reasons we find social media to be so exhausting.

And divisiveness only gets deeper when no one takes the time to listen to the other side. Yes, it can feel painful to hear a view that may be radically different from our own. But when we pay full attention, we can discern non-verbal clues about what seems to be important to someone else. It may very well be a shared value. But we won’t know unless we truly listen.

Multitasking is often the culprit when we aren’t fully present. Circle back here for a reminder to look up from your screen!

Or listen here for a powerful Tedx talk on listening!

What do you think? I'm listening!

Interior Design

Interior Design: Taking Center Stage In A Fab Midlife Pivot

“The best rooms have something to say about the people who live in them” —David Hicks

Meet my friend, Linda Holt, interior design consultant and smart phone photography instructor extraordinaire! Based in Boston, Linda is the second in a new series spotlighting Women Over 50 crafting a midlife chapter that brings them joy.

When your timeline opens up for something different, what will you choose? Social media relentlessly serves up unrealistic images of the “perfect” midlife chapter. Which creates anxiety, stress, and unrealistic pressure for what we “should” do—and guilt when we don’t. Who needs that?!

So the purpose of my series is to share Midlife Stories of real women pursuing a variety of personal interests. These are unfiltered accounts of women living life on their own terms, unapologetically and contentedly.  They’re doing what they consider perfect for them…not what someone else tells them. Isn’t that what we all want to achieve?

By the way, there’s a link at the end if you missed the kickoff post with Katherine, The 5 Kilo Traveller. But for now, settle in for a delightful introduction to Linda who forged her own path with what lights her up: helping people create a fabulous home space that supports their true lifestyle and individual taste. 

about linda holt
"Design is a journey of discovery" —Billy Baldwin

From Marine Biology to Interior Design

How Her Journey Started

Yes, you read that right! Even as a child, Linda loved rearranging her bedroom furniture. Growing up, she eagerly delved into anything to do with decorating a home. Then she’d head outside and use her Kodak Instamatic camera to capture vignettes of her beloved dogs. Interior design school was an ideal choice for her continuing education.

However, her dad had very traditional thoughts. Linda was told to pick one of three “practical” fields: science, business, or education. In his exact words which she remembers to this day, “We’re not sending you to college so you can learn how to pick out pillows for other people.”

Moreover, she had multiple colleges vying for her enrollment. Yet even there, he selected the one he felt offered the best chance for her to marry a rich husband (remember, this was 40+ years ago). Linda was good in science—hence, marine biology.

But 3 years into a lab job, it wasn’t what made her heart sing. She’d need a Master’s degree to advance into a more challenging and lucrative position. And then one day on the commute home, she looked up and saw an advertisement above the bus seat across from her: “You, too, can become a photographer!” Linda believed it was a sign … and so she did!

Shifting Into Photography

The photography school tuition was $11,000 which sounds reasonable in today’s dollars. But in an era when $6/hour was the minimum wage, it took working three years in various part-time positions to pay for full-time classes. 

Fortunately, her patience and determination paid off: Linda enjoyed a 25-year career as a professional photographer. She had her own studio in Boston, specializing in headshots and portfolios for actors and models. Yet even though she found photography rewarding, interior design remained her top passion.

“I spent my weekends wandering through flea markets or antique stores, making window treatments, trying out a new wall color, or painting a dated piece of furniture. My husband and two sons never knew what room was going to get torn apart next.”

It was the real possibility of undergoing spinal surgery due to the toll of lifting and toting heavy photography equipment that signaled the end of this career chapter and the start of the next: her beloved interior design!

interior design
"The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you really are" —Carl Jung

An Award Winning Interior Designer

Linda and I connected on IG in 2019, thanks our mutual love of all things home beautiful. Her photos relay a story that consistently draws your eyes in. And her videos and captions exude calm authority about industry trends. 

So when I interviewed her last week, I was floored to learn that she did not officially open Linda Holt Creative until 2011! When I asked her how she broke into a competitive business, she replied, 

“Baby steps! I joined a business networking group. I teamed up with a realtor from that group and provided home staging for his listings. This led to another realtor asking for my help. And then one of her clients wanted my design services for a new home. From there, my business grew, thanks to word of mouth referrals.”

Moreover, Linda never said no to any invitations to speak at webinars or to consult in small gatherings. So when she was asked to speak live at a Design Influencers Conference, she knew this would be her watershed moment.

How does one prepare to address 350 strangers when you have a “crippling, life-long phobia” for public speaking?

Practice, practice, practice! Linda not only memorized her speech. She also spent countless hours reviewing self-help YT videos and analyzing her own recorded dry runs. Nine months later, she delivered her speech and received a standing ovation! 

In fact, here’s what also happened:

“I can honestly say that talk propelled me to where I am today. I was nervous walking onto stage but I took three deep breaths and delivered my speech. Afterwards, someone came up and asked me to talk at another event. And then another invitation arrived. All of these opportunities snowballed and I can trace it back to this one event. It’s probably the proudest thing I mastered in my life!”

However, Linda has many other accomplishments to be proud of: she has earned a very long list of industry awards and client accolades. Houzz, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful … she’s been recognized by the best!

Yet Linda is not one to relentlessly broadcast her talents. (I actually had to go to her website to discover her industry gold stars!). Self-promotion makes her cringe but as an essential part of a business, she continues to speak about her customer-centric approach: 

“Not only do I save my clients from making costly mistakes, but I empower them to create the homes of their dreams, not mine.”
interior design
"Creativity takes courage" —Henri Matisse

A Slight Pivot In Her Journey

The latest shift with Linda Holt Creative occurred in 2019. While Linda thoroughly enjoyed helping her clients create a home that suits their lifestyle, she became weary of things going wrong in the process that were not her fault. There are many players involved, i.e., furniture manufacturers, installers, construction crew, etc. Yet her deep commitment to her clients’ satisfaction sometimes led to Linda bearing the fallout when other project facets outside her control went South. 

Then she had the idea to refine her business model from full service into a consulting service. It really makes sense when you think about all the inspirational resources homeowners can now access, such as HGTV, Pinterest, and Houzz.

Most people already have a design vision. They are capable of hiring trades and buying products. But what they can really use is someone with the interior design expertise and sourcing connections to bring it all to life. So enter in the ability for the homeowner to obtain professional guidance and recommended resources. Then Linda exits and the homeowner carries on!

Whether virtual or in person, the consulting approach has really resonated with all her clientele. It also worked beautifully for Linda’s peace of mind, particularly when the pandemic hit: supply chain snags were not her problem!

The other shift was a dive into creating smartphone courses for fellow interior designers. After casually and regularly sharing tips for better images, she followed through on their clamor for formal instruction.

While her online courses are geared for her colleagues, you can always catch her “Two Tip Tuesday” live IG videos when you follow her. How impressive that she’s continuing to speak live, when once upon a time, she would’ve blushed if someone in the grocery store stopped her to ask a question!

Linda has clearly come into her own when she pivoted professionally into what sets her creativity on fire. And she did it with her customary hard work, laser focus, and quiet determination. 

"Don't shoot what it looks like, shoot what it feels like!" —David Allen Harvey

The Wrap on an Interior Design Journey

Linda’s own words really capture how she created her Midlife Chapter, when she was a Finalist in Design Hounds 2021 The Change Makers awards:

11 years ago I started my decorating business. For the first few years, I was still shooting headshots a couple days a week because I was too scared…to make a commitment to a totally different career. I lacked self-confidence, felt like a fraud and was embarrassed to tell my friends…I was so worried what everyone would say. It’s taken 10 years of coaching, mindset work, and many ‘life is short’ wakeup calls, but…all my internal struggles and consistent ‘stepping out of my comfort zone’ paid off. If you had told me 11 years ago this [award] would happen, I would have believed it as much as if you told me I would be living on Mars in 2021 or working as a brain surgeon! …To be in the company of the other winners is truly humbling.”

Here’s how to connect with my talented friend, Linda Holt:

I’m certain you’ll enjoy Linda’s warm, welcoming & lighthearted spirit! Be certain to stop and admire her deft interior designs displayed in her website portfolio.

Who knows, perhaps she can pull together your vision for your next renovation or home purchase. And don’t forget: she’s got the smart phone photography tips you can use when sharing your refreshed home space with family and friends!

—image montages were created on Canva, using photos from Linda Holt Creative

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Catch up on the Midlife Stories series which debuted with  Katherine, The 5 Kilo Traveller.

Do you dream of shifting into your own new adventure? Head here for 5 Ways To Harness Your Midlife Transition.

What’s happening in your Midlife Chapter? Share a little about your journey with a comment below…and thanks for stopping by!

Stay tuned for another Woman Over 50 feature next month!

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Ageing

Ageing In The City | A New Season But What’s Changed?

And Just Like That...

"Maybe you have to let go of who you were in order to become who you will be"— Carrie Bradshaw

Amid sobering current events unfolding around the world, humor me. Let’s take a break as I delve deep to uncover ageing revelations within a series that teeters between superficial and soulful.

Sex & The City made its HBO debut in 1998. It chronicled the dating adventures of four single career women taking on the privileged social scene of The Big Apple with steely determination.

Yet swirling beneath the cutting-edge fashion were relatable dreams, insecurities, and challenges that all women have as they search for love and acceptance. Above all, there was a constant spotlight on valuing the power and security of female friendships.

ageing
It was always Happy Hour somewhere, with Samantha!

I remember never missing an episode when the first season aired. I was also in my 30’s, but that was the only commonality. I lived in the Midwest suburbs, juggling a full-time career with chasing an active toddler. There was no late night clubbing in spiked Manolos and satin slip dresses. Nor did I regularly sip on Cosmos during Happy Hours, chattering about current boyfriends or new restaurant openings.

“I don’t believe in the Republican party or the Democratic party. I just believe in parties.” —Samantha Jones

Now, don’t misunderstand: I wasn’t unhappy with my life. But who doesn’t seek a little change of scenery every now and then? The S&TC sparkling repartee, the full social calendars, and the endless appearance of intriguing new men satisfied my yearning for a little escapism.

ageing
Charlotte, the Romantic, ISO the perfect man!

And for those who also tuned in eagerly, who didn’t ponder endlessly if they were more like Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, or Charlotte? In their own unique ways, each was independent and smart, yet tenderly vulnerable. Sometimes even comical.

“I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted! Where is he?” — Charlotte York

Yet consider this:

  • Each was in search of her Best Self, on her own terms
  • Each waffled between confidence and uncertainty
  • Each had a distinctive style
  • Each was on a journey to evolve

In a way, there was a little bit of each of us in each of them.

ageing
Old York or New York?

After an 18-year hiatus, the series resumed last year with And Just Like That. The series continues to dish up witty lines and feature beautiful people inhabiting penthouse pads or Brooklyn brownstones. It’s an affluent slice of life most of us don’t experience.

Now the ladies are navigating their 50’s and I was curious to learn what had changed with the ageing of the Fab Four?

  • What emotional baggage was shed?
  • What new paths were they forging?
  • What visible signs of aging would be present?
  • What frivolous footwear would middle-aged Carrie strut in?

While I don’t want to present spoiler alerts, I’ll confirm that the fashion show continues, along with the women’s nonchalant acceptance of their privileged status. But there are definitely some curve balls pitched for three of the four friends (Samantha is not part of the cast).

I was disappointed with the fatuous, slap-stick lines about ageing sprinkled liberally throughout. And the show’s heavy-handed inclusion of LGBTQ and POC characters felt contrived and calculated. Whatever was deemed essential for a PC cast or script—that was stuffed in there.

Regardless, this series was never about a deep dive into the challenges and issues unique to women. It was about skimming these topics in a superficial manner so we could focus on the eye candy and effortless banter. And they demonstrated how good friends keep us centered and moving forward.

Carrie nailed it with this statement:

“No matter who broke your heart, or how long it takes to heal, you’ll never go through it without your friends.” — Carrie Bradshaw

Who can argue with that?

The Wrap with Mary V

The Wrap on Ageing in The City

While ageing may not be realistically  (dare I say respectably) represented in the new series, it does deliver on plenty of frothy fashion, true to form.

I welcome the new cast lineup which is studded with diversity—yet it feels rather forced. Reminds me of how the last season of ER ended with a bang, literally: one after another of some of the most improbable hookups!

Female friendship continues as the enduring theme. Yet have you noticed that the ladies only gather when Carrie is present? Without her in the mix, you start to wonder exactly what the ladies have in common, other than her.

For a sneak peek (if you haven’t watched it yet) check out the trailer. 

A short read on my own midlife search for female friendship, is over here.

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Your turn!

  • Did you watch “And Just Like That…”? What did you think? Yay or Nay? 
  • What’s your take on how the series represented ageing?
  • Are you not a S&TC fan? Why is that?
  • How have your female friendships changed in midlife? Have they? Why do you think?

Drop your thoughts below … and thanks for stopping by!

A New Story

A Formula For Figuring Out What To Do Next

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are" —e.e. cummings

The countless number of current choices available for how to live our lives is nothing short of astonishing. Which can also make them overwhelming.

No wonder my head hurts when I’m yearning to embark on a new path! I find myself doing everything other than making a selection for what to do next….because the pressure to choose the “right” course of action is real (I’m deconstructing this concept in a bit, so hang tight).

It’s been a bit since I last posted here, for a few reasons: the effects of the pandemic, the distraction of a new writing platform, the cacophony of social media, and my customary response which is to hide pause 😉

But when a pause becomes an absence and then it morphs into persistent angst, it’s definitely time for taking some action, don’t you agree?

Today’s post is about how I’m going to use a process of reflection, trust, and action to shift into a new purpose this year.

what to do next

"What does not add to your happiness or life becomes a burden" —John Robbins

1. Reflect On What Energizes Me

Thought leaders and coaches talk about Discovering Our Why, Doing What We Love, or Uncovering Our Passion. All are variations of a theme, which is  identifying What Energizes Us so we can know what to do next.

Yet we have more than one purpose in life. This is evidenced by the various roles we’ve assumed over the years. Wife, Partner, Lover, Mother, Sister, Daughter, Employee, Employer, Neighbor— the list is long.

When one role ends or demands less of our time, we may not easily or immediately land on what our next role in a new life chapter should be.

But right there … the words “should be” … perhaps this is precisely why it feels challenging. Who is the Decider of  “should be”: Is it us? Society? Family or friends? 

What if we choose to be the sole author of our new chapter? In fact, what if we choose based on what “could be”? Doesn’t that feel better?

After all, the reality is that there are any number of possible paths. Some will be easier than others. Choosing one depends on what matters most to us. What we are willing to invest in terms of time and resources. What we are willing to forego in order to pursue a certain goal.

And what matters most to us can also change over time. Our priorities sometimes change as we ourselves evolve. 

For now, consider what gets you energized, just thinking about it. The things you don’t get tired of talking about or doing. The things you’ve put off or are curious about. Now can be the time to explore those paths.

Just remember, if it doesn’t feel right at any time, you can always pivot. But give it a chance so you’ll know if it makes sense for you.

what to do next

" May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears" —Nelson Mandela

2. Trust My Choices

Secondly, it’s not about choosing the “right” path as opposed to the “wrong” path. Instead, come up with a short list of possible next moves that are not impractical… that are fun, intriguing….that feel intuitively worth exploring. Who knows where they may lead!

If your choice begins to feel like a slog, then it’s simply time to reassess whether to continue or not. Maybe it’s just a temporary phase where the learning curve is initially steep. Or maybe it’s time to ponder whether to keep going.

Either way, just pick a path and see how it develops. Set a time limit to come back and re-evaluate whether to continue or not. When you look back on this chapter what would you rather say: “I gave this a shot but learned it wasn’t what I thought it would be” or “I wish I had given this a little more time to really know for sure”?

After all, regret is not something any of us want to include in our last life chapter, is it! 

what to do next

"The key to having power is to take it" —Boss Tweed

3. Take The Next Step

Once you’ve selected a path, it’s time to get in motion. Take the leap! 

If you’re like me, it’s easy to get caught up in your head, ruminating about this, that, and the other. You may spend (too much) time watching others doing their thing while you idle on the sidelines. When will you get going? 

A body in motion stays in motion; a body at rest stays at rest.” —Sir Isaac Newton

So, yes: time to begin! Take the first step and know that it doesn’t have to be a big one. And then take another. Followed by another. Just identifying and executing a series of small steps is how to get out of your way so you can get on your way.

And if that insidious companion called Perfectionism holds you back, here’s how to tell it to take a hike.

The Wrap on a Process for figuring out what's next

listen

A basic trifecta of reflection, trust and action can shift us into writing a new life chapter when it’s time for a change.

It requires allowing ourselves the time and space to listen to what makes our hearts happy. It rquires that we mute the outside voices and forces (and sometimes that inner voice critic) that tells us what we should do. How we choose to write our next chapter should be up to only us, amiright?

So pay attention to what lights you up, pick a path and get going. Prepare for some twists and turns along the way. Plan to pivot here and there. But this is your life to live, no one else’s. And know that I’m cheering you on, all the way!

…..

I can’t be the only one feeling restless and untethered these days. It’s been a long haul the past two years. But now I’m formulating a plan to start moving ahead with my writing again. I know what energizes me, I’m focusing on only my own writing and no one else’s and I’m taking the little steps. Boom!

So tell me:

  • If you’ve been in the same boat, what are you doing to shake things up?
  • If you’re smooth sailing ahead, how did you set yourself free?

Any insights you care to share in the comments below are always welcome.

…and thanks for stopping by! ♥

new midlife friends

Midlife Adventures With Making New Friends

This is a 6-minute article I recently published on a platform called Medium. It’s an amazing space for writers to write. The audience is comprised of said writers and also non-writers who love to read. Enjoy!

.   .   .

.   .   .

.   .   .

What I learned

When I reflect on my last five decades, I’m not really a hermit. I’ve had a lot of female acquaintances but usually just one Bestie to do things with when I actually leave the home.

Now I know this is not unusual. But when social media shows women constantly hanging in squads, doing things with girlfriends they’ve known for years? Or easily bonding with women they meet in everyday situations? I sometimes feel like quite the outlier.

  • Three of them are Pretty Good: we easily pick up wherever we left off, the last time we chatted. They are invite-to-the-house worthy.
  • The last three are Solid Situationals: we don’t often talk, but when we do, it’s genuine.
New Midlife Friends

Your Turn!

What’s your female friendship situation at the midlife marker?

  • Have you also relocated and needed to start over like me?
  • Have your strongest friendships remained intact?
  • Have you stayed in the same location but also had a shift with who you hang with? What caused that?

Drop a comment below. I’d love to hear! 

And thanks for stopping by!

Intentional Living

Intentional Living 2022: Teeny Tiny Actions To Shift Closer To My Big Goals

A new month in a new year signals a return to intentional living— you know, picking up those goals you jotted down last year that didn’t quite stick!

And if you’re like me, New Year’s resolutions can sometimes feel heavy. I mean, we’ve been doing this for a number of years by now. And we’re still at it with some of them! 

But who doesn’t feel there’s always room for improvement in one or more major areas of their life? So we start in January (or December, for the truly organized), dreaming about how things could be (or dare I say, should be, which is even more daunting).

But how many of those ambitious line items continue to be worked as the year unfolds?

Well, after years of pledging to be perfect (and shocker: falling far short), I’ve recognized a flaw with the inordinate emphasis on big.

So instead, I’m choosing an intentional living approach: executing on little actions that can bring my larger goals within reach. And along the way, I’ll be relishing this focus that makes each ordinary day meaningful.

Think about it this way: There are many ways to get from where I am to where I want to be. Some of those ways are direct paths, or habits to do more of. Others are detours, or habits to do less of.

I’m going to focus on incorporating the little habits in my daily life that will keep me on track and offloading the ones that derail my journey!

……………………………………………………………

Today, I’m sharing a few examples of “more and less” little habits that will comprise my 2022 Year of Intentional Living. Because working the small steps feels more sustainable than fixating on the big ones. Feel free to claim any that resonate for you!

living with intention

What I'll Do More Of This Year

The last few months of 2021 had me on a bit of a pause. (Over here if you missed the last post). It was a time where I was sorting out my own living intentions by shifting inward. And by doing so, I observed success with occasional tiny habits that lifted me up and felt empowering. Clearly, it was time to do more of those things!

This is still a work in progress, so I reserve the right to tweak as I go along.

But so far, I’ve drafted a short list of little actions for major categories (work, relationships, mental/physical/spiritual health). They are tiny habits which can yield big benefits when done daily.

Such as:

  • morning journal (brain dump) to release swirling thoughts and to center myself
  • physical activity to get my endorphins flowing
  • mantras to turn around worry (“I’m right on schedule”), hesitation (“do it anyway”) or negativity (“think this, not that”). The last two are courtesy of the brilliant Mel Robbins! 

Being sensitive is both a blessing and a curse for me. It’s challenging how easily my mood can turn on a dime, just by what someone says or does. It’s a reflex.

But what if at the moment when that happens, I train myself to pause? Use one of my mantras? The bottom line is, my reactions are simply old habits that can be adjusted…one day at a time.

And the good news is, each of these micro actions take less than 20 minutes and some are barely 10 seconds! With practice, they become second nature.

The more I do them, the better I feel.

And the better I feel, the better my day goes … boom!

What I'll Do Less Of This Year

On the flip side, I’m restricting what brings me down, feels like a slog, or gets me stuck. Identifying and limiting what I must allow less of …even if the world (or sometimes myself) keeps nudging me to do them.

Who knows better than I what makes sense for my own well being? Each of us is wonderfully unique. It follows that  “one-size-fits-all” / “do what everyone else does” approaches are not always best.

So what’s on my “doing less of” list? 

  • endless audible notifications
  • all-day work marathons
  • backseat driving

There’s a lot to parse here! Let me just say that incessant interruptions really derail my focus and my mood. I’ve long prided myself with my multi-tasking skills—but at what price?

Deep thinking or being fully present in a conversation means something’s gotta give with the electronic pings. The same with stealing time every few minutes to glance at my phone or to scroll a little.

And life balance is essential. My corporate days are over. While writing brings me fulfillment, it’s a blessing that my personal life does not need to constantly come second. Time to break that twitch!

So along the lines of the Pomodoro Technique, I’m not entirely giving up getting several things done….I’m just going to ensure I go deep enough with my main objectives before I reward myself with a little social catch-up!

Lastly, yeah: backseat driving refers to my instinct to control things and direct people. It’s such an ingrained habit that I find it quite humbling to realize how often I do this. Whether I’m right or not, it’s not always appreciated (yikes!). Nor is it always effective. (Time to refer above for the proper mantra!).

Some habits may likely be something I’ll need to work on forever, never quite mastering. But always refining. Like that backseat driving.

intentional living

The Wrap On Intentional Living By Way of Little Habits

Intentional Living allows us to live our best lives.

When we pause to pay attention to what our souls yearn for, we can discover our deeply personal big goals. Then we can create little habits that move us in that direction—one tiny step at a time!

This approach feels so incredibly liberating, powerful, yet doable! Which sounds like a recipe for a sustainable approach to achieving what matters most to us.

The bar is always moving higher on our big goals. But then again, so should we—don’t you think?

………………………………………………………….

For another take on why it’s hard to accomplish big goals, check out this post over here. (spoiler alert: perfectionism is a notorious non-starter!)

Did you uncover a useful idea here? Have some little habits of your own you’re incorporating this year? 

Share your takeaway in the comments below—I welcome your thoughts!

…And thanks for stopping by!

Other Posts You May Enjoy

new year, new me

New Year, New Me: Shifting In A New Direction!

Happy (almost) New Year!

I’ve always relished a fresh start and a new calendar year is just that. Not to say that we can’t recalibrate at any point in time. We can and we should, especially when our souls are feeling confined.

But when there’s an official new beginning right around the corner? It’s thrilling to know we can turn the page. What’s happened has happened— but what will happen next? It’s an opportunity for us to choose!

With this is mind, I’m turning the page with Shift Your Stories. It’s time for a change! After all, a wise woman once said, “Change happens. Life is change. When we stand still, we don’t grow.”Mary V, PopUpPurge™.  So yeah, if I’m going to talk the talk, I should also walk the walk, amiright?

Today, I’m sharing 3 reasons why I’m pivoting with a new purpose.

New Year

1. A New Path In The New Year Feels Right

My heart was yearning for me to make a shift.

One where I share about things other than physical decluttering. Rest assured, that will still be in the mix. I know firsthand that space clearing allows for a calmer mindset and a clearer outlook. And the science is clear about the toll household clutter takes on our mental health (one psychologist talks about that over here). 

But the bigger picture for me has always been about finding Clarity….especially Midlife Clarity, at a time when I have even more freedom to choose my next step. Which opens the door to all kinds of revelations I want to share … like refining our wardrobe, examining our outlook, releasing limiting beliefs, detaching from toxic individuals, uncovering a new purpose or direction or lifestyle … just to name a few! 

In fact, not only are my topics expanding; my website design is starting to reflect the change I’m embracing, too. Hop over to see the site updates made so far over here and let me know what you think!

Additional resources are in the works, as well. I’ll be featuring other Over 50 Women and their newfound midlife purposes. You’ll receive links to their videos and podcasts which provide inspired information for a strong, happy Second Half.

What’s more, part of my joy with writing comes from pairing my words with images that convey the spirit of what I’m thinking or feeling. 

Selecting and playing with photo layouts…enhancing and colorizing them…this makes me happy. So no more stock photos here. Which makes my site so much more Me!

While I am not for everyone, I need to be Genuinely Me. Not an imitation or facade of Someone Else. Just like you need to be Authentically You.

It’s too tiring to be otherwise, don’t you think?

2. I got burned out in 2021...Anyone else?

It hit me this summer.

You see, over the last 5 years, I went from running a downsizing & moving business to providing in-home decluttering services. Then when I blogged and posted on social media about the emotional overlay that clutter imposes, women assumed I was a life coach. So I thought, why not? I pursued getting certified and started online coaching.

After that, because my words were having real impact, I segued into strictly writing during 2020. I published a book: PopUpPurge™ Release Midlife Clutter & Reclaim Inner Clarity. Which led to a dizzying round of promotional activities on social media and in real life. 

By July, I was anxious and burned out. Turns out, putting the brakes on everything was the key to uncovering what I should truly focus on now.

3. I Decluttered The 24-7 Updates

I turned the dial down—way down!

Intel from social media, TV networks, radio, online magazines and newsletters comes in fast and furious. It can choke us if we don’t regulate the volume and frequency.

In our search for clarity and truth, we end up getting overwhelmed and stressed. We spend more time chasing information and less time processing it. The reality? It’s impossible to take it all in!

And I can easily get derailed with too much “noise”. A smart balance between time on and off “the grid” is important for everyone. But it’s beyond essential for me to reflect and reset away from people-y situations, both in real life and virtually!

So I realized I needed to reduce the incoming traffic immediately.

First, I paused my social media presence

The longer I was silent and then just MIA for a while, the more relief I felt. It freed up hours spent composing, posting, scrolling, liking and commenting … which I was shocked to realize in hindsight!

Yes, I made some genuine virtual connections with incredible women. I even met up with a few Influencers in real life. Yet I also scrolled deeper into the rabbit hole as I eagerly lapped up all the airbrushed beauty, the creative reels and gorgeous photos. 

Now I did eventually miss seeing what’s out there. And as I figured out my renewed purpose, I knew I needed to set boundaries before I returned. 

So now I’m dipping a toe back in again, but only as a real person (not a business) who shares about what I see From My Window. I’m not going to write daily but I will show up regularly.

I will acknowledge all comments but have strict boundaries for when I engage. Otherwise, popping on whenever I have a few minutes during the day? Can’t and won’t! That’s how I ended up being on social media All Day Long.

My approach is not what SM will reward. I expect my follower/friend numbers will drop. But the ones that stay and the new ones who arrive? Those will be satisfying connections … true kindred souls. And that’s what makes my heart happy!

Second, I reduced my news sources

I became a news junkie and self-improvement maven without even realizing it.

But again, the sheer volume of resources is staggering. There’s a myriad of excellent material out there. We simply have to Make Choices.

Which, by the way, thank you for the privilege of your attention!

So yes, I pared down what is allowed in my in-box. I also have dedicated times for when I read or listen.

Because while I was out, I reveled in periods of serene silence as I went about my day. I didn’t always multitask with a podcast or news show while I drove, jogged or cleaned house. That felt good and it needs to always have a sacred slot in my day.

And I have renewed gratitude for all the blessings in my life: my home, my health, my family, my close friends and my little dogs. My days felt full though my activities were few.

It’s truly a gift to slow down every once in a while. And so is clearing space  for what matters most!

The Wrap: Heading Into A New Year

Reset…revamp…recalculate…whatever you choose to call it, a new year gives us the grace to be all that we want to be.

Or at least get closer with how to get there.

My shift feels so right that I can’t believe I didn’t take this road before! 

But you know how life is: We can’t see everything ahead of us. And as we make choices, there is always a twist, a turn or a even roadblock ahead.

To keep moving forward, we need to pause and pivot. Occasionally change course. 

Doesn’t mean the current path was wrong. It was just the path to get to the next path! 

We need the courage to trust our intuition and to take that turn when it beckons to us.

I hope you come with me! 

But First: Plan Now For A Peaceful Holiday Season

If you’re like most, the thought of the upcoming holidays fills you with equal parts of excitement and dread!

After more than a year of lockdown, restriction and confinement, who doesn’t relish the idea of family get-togethers, friends, parties, decorations and presents?

But let’s be honest: there’s a part of you that stresses out…so much to prepare, to buy, to decorate, to bake, to wrap…you name it! Do you find the hustle and bustle exhausting?

Would you prefer a lower key yet fully meaningful celebration?

Let’s take five and think about how we can plan for a peaceful holiday season without losing our composure.  Consider incorporating the following four practices into your holiday routine. 

After all, regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, it’s a sacred time to focus on what matters most….to you and what you truly value!

peaceful holiday season
image by lucie liz | pexels

1. Say "No" to Pinterest Perfectionism

It’s so easy to want everything to be just right. 

From the tree and the home decorations to the presents and the menu. It seems there’s an expectation for each and every facet to be perfect. Or else it falls short.

But why does it have to be one or the other?

There’s nothing wrong with having a realistic vision of your gatherings.

So what if the tree is a little crooked? Who cares if your hand towels don’t sport holiday motifs? 

If family and friend time is what matters more to you, then allow yourself to keep things casual. When you plan for the comfort of your guests instead of the fancy wow of your decor, you’ll be less tense. 

In fact, as you haul out your holiday decor, consider paring down your collection.

This would be an ideal time to approach your adult children about selecting which items they would love to receive for their own home. 

Just remember: if they say no, don’t take it personally. Their taste may be different. Or they may truly want to keep their own decor on the minimalist side, as well. Part of a peaceful holiday season means accepting others’ personal preferences, too!

When you retain only your favorites, your set up and take down routine will be much easier—less time consuming. And every item will be sure to bring joy when they’re displayed.

People may compliment a well coordinated theme. But the genuine fellowship is what they will remember with a smile, long after the party has ended.

Circle back to this post for more ways to cut yourself some slack: How Perfectionism Holds Us Back From Clutter Free Living

peaceful holiday season
image by negative space | pexels

2. Prepare for Retail Hype

Oh, my: We barely said goodbye to Halloween and now the Pre-Black Friday sales are in full swing! 

Not to mention it always starts well ahead of Thanksgiving. Even the radio stations and streaming music channels have started up with the 24-7 holiday music.  Poor Thanksgiving has become the red-headed stepchild of holidays.

It’s dizzying how persuasive the ads and promotions can be. Not only should we buy the perfect gifts for family and friends. We are supposed to treat ourselves, too. Half-off, BOGO, Close-out, Clearance….the various sales go on and on…and on!

No wonder January is a sobering month when the bills come due! It’s a financial month of reckoning, to be sure. Not exactly how we’d want to start a new year, right?

How about shunning the retail siren to over-buy?

Start by carving out dedicated time to create your shopping list. Decide who’s on it and what you’d like to gift them. 

One of my favorite suggestions (and not just for the hard-to-buy) is to give experiences instead of things. Perhaps a family outing of some sort?

It can range from a simple night at the movies or an Escape The Room night, all the way to a weekend cruise…you choose! 

Talk about making memories that will last a lifetime. If you plan this correctly, you may just succeed in avoiding the mall altogether!

And with the unending supply chain snafus, how about considering gift certificates for a massage, a facial or a pedicure?

Of course, there will always be the iconic present we received as a child… a beloved doll, a shiny bike or a pretty necklace. Yet if you think back over your adult years, what stands out more: the gifts or the memories? 

What if we plan for the holidays with a focus on “presence” rather than “presents”? Wouldn’t that take a load off our shoulders?

diffuse family drama
image by cottonbro | pexels

3. Diffuse Family Drama

Gathering with the clan over the years during the holidays can be really good. Or really awful. 

If you’ve experienced both or something in between, think about what the conversation was about.

Was the focus on what you were thankful for or what you appreciated in each other? That was likely the positive memory. But if the dialogue veered towards old wounds, unmet expectations or pointed criticisms…yeah, that was a downer.

So what if you prepare for this year’s get together with an upbeat attitude?

How about staying with the present fellowship rather than detouring to past offenses? How about gently redirecting the conversation towards neutral ground when it detours negatively?

When we look for the value that each family member brings to the table, our holiday celebration can be joyful and loving. Save the points of contention for another day, when the issue can be discussed rationally and fairly.

People don’t change just because we tell them to!

Instead, plan to enjoy the finer qualities of your family. Imagine how this can be a peaceful holiday season you look back on with love.

peaceful holiday season
image from pexels

4. Pause for Reflection

End of the year holidays provide a timely segue to plan for the New Year and all the hope it can bring.

Taking time to evaluate how this year unfolded for you has value. Sometimes the regret we have for how we handled (or didn’t handle) things can weigh on us. It makes it difficult to enjoy the holidays when we have nagging guilt or disappointment. Even if we skip this step, those unresolved feelings will continue to hover below the surface until we eventually address them.

But what if we plan for dedicated reflection time about our year without judgment? In other words, what if we are willing to acknowledge our weaknesses and not just applaud our accomplishments?  

There’s no reason to beat ourselves up for our shortcomings. Instead, we can be gentle with ourselves (and others) while appreciating where we are at now.

This prior post can kickstart your 2022 New Year’s planning: Declutter and Downsize: Lay the Groundwork for Really Remarkable Results in 2021!

Remember: We are human and we make mistakes. We don’t always take the best course of action or follow through with our goals.

But consider each and every year as a building block towards the next. 

In the end, our journey is always on-going. Embrace each twist and turn along the way!

The Wrap With Mary V

The Wrap

Take time to plan for a serene and heartfelt holiday season.

  • Don’t let retailers or unrealistic standards dictate how you choose to celebrate
  • Take control by deciding where you can avoid excess materialism 
  • Cut back on the drama by focusing on your family and friends, not the decorations and presents
  • Review your year without judgment and look forward to a fresh new year
  • Breathe! Enjoy a peaceful holiday season

Your turn!

  • Ready to wean yourself from excessive “retail therapy”? How will you minimize the spending hype?
  • What is one of your most memorable peaceful holiday season practices?
  • Do you have family members or friends who won’t understand or accept your wish for simplicity? How will you handle that?

Share your thoughts below ... and thanks for stopping by!

perfectionism

How Perfectionism Holds Us Back From Clutter Free Living

If you’re like me, you have a compulsion to do things well … I mean really, really well!

It’s a habit I’ve had since I can remember. I’ve heard this trait referred to as “being driven”. And sure, it’s served me well with being determined, taking action, and accomplishing what I set my sights on. 

But when “being driven” becomes perfectionism, it can actually stop us in our tracks. We can become paralyzed with taking the next step because we don’t want to make a mistake. Which is really a shame, since there’s often no reason we can’t circle back and edit our initial actions. Or build on those “lessons” and try again.

Never trying may mean never failing. But do we really want to stay stuck in a no-growth safety zone? Or would we actually prefer advancing towards our desired goals? And ultimately achieving them?

Today, let’s break down 3 ways how perfectionism holds us back from decluttering what we no longer need, use, or want in our lives …and consider some small tips on how to get it done anyway.

I generally speak about uncluttering the excess physical stuff in our homes. But ultimately, it’s really our habits formed by our mindset and our emotions which lead to the clutter in our lives.

When we identify and shift the feelings that don’t serve us well, we set ourselves free. Now we can write a new chapter about where we want to head next. Doesn’t that sound enticing? 

feeling stuck
image by ryan mcguire | pixabay

#1: We Don't Get Started

Think about it: the internal pressure to do something perfectly can become so intense, we postpone doing anything.

We talk about how we ought to clear out our overflowing wardrobe. We readily agree that our kitchen cabinets are overdue for a Fall pruning. We know it’s time to plow through our boxes of pictures and photo albums. But our effort stops there.

After all, we really want to nail the effort and do this right. Shouldn’t we first research the best way to declutter? (by the way, that’s over here) And then what to do with everything … Sell? Donate? Toss? What if the kids want some stuff? What if we toss the wrong things? Etc, etc, etc.

You see what’s happening here? We may not consciously think about it but we decide that if we don’t start, we don’t risk the chance of being mediocre with the task. It’s fear of failure—of appearing “less than” that results in the hard stop peril of perfectionism. 

Instead, take a deep breath. Inhale, hold for 3 beats, and then slowly exhale. Now, just begin small. Pick a room and then work on one counter, one drawer, or one closet. Keep it short. With 30 minute sessions, think of how that will add up with making noticeable progress.

And along the way, we can fine-tune our approach. We don’t need to have it all figured out right from the onset. But we do need to get started, right? For a perfectionist, the first step is usually the hardest one to take. So review this post, A Universal Definition of Clutter … and go! 

perfectionism
image by liza summer | pexels

#2: We Struggle With Making Decisions

When we do finally move ahead with clearing space, our things take on heightened meaning.

Pitching ordinary items like mismatched food storage containers or stained clothing is a no brainer. But uncover the stash of birthday cards from your kids, the ugly vase from dear Aunt Susan, or your Rolling Stones T-shirt … now what?

The tension rises in our chest or fills our gut. Our emotions are in a tizzy as we seesaw with indecisiveness over which sentimental items to release. Perfectionism strikes as we struggle to make the right choices. And then when we can’t choose, we stop once again. 

All The Feelings!

While I don’t advocate making decisions when emotions are running high, I do recommend returning to your decluttering session the next day. But right now, pause to assess what you’re feeling. Is it sadness? Worry? Fear? And think about why you’re feeling the emotion.

These underlying emotions warrant a little examination if your space clearing goals are to be achieved. When it comes to sentimental things, it’s common to associate the item with the person or event. So it follows that we are unable to let go of the unused or unnecessary thing. After all, it’s like throwing away our loved one or our past!

But remember: the item was given to or made for you with love. So it’s about the intention, not the actual thing. And no one can take away the memory of the enjoyable things you did like attending that amazing concert. Also, check out this post, How To Release Other People’s Stuff Without the Guilt.

Yet there is only so much room in the house. Focus on retaining a few of the items that best reflect the giver and that you love the most. Savor the memories that arise as you sift through the stuff. And then let go of the rest when you get back at it tomorrow.

perfectionism
image by ron lach | pexels

#3: We Feel the Weight of the Unfinished Task

When the decluttering gets difficult, we tell ourselves any number of stories about why we need to stop now.

Perhaps that we don’t have the time to finish. Or that we have room for all our stuff after all. Maybe even that we’ll get to it another time.

But deep down, we know it makes sense to release things that are hidden in drawers, cabinets, or closets. It’s time to let go of what we don’t use anymore. Time to release the excess throughout the house.

So once again, perfectionism gnaws at us. On the outside, it’s business as usual. But on the inside, we feel conflicted. This is exactly why we didn’t want to dive into such a challenging project!

Now What?

When we start to ruminate about getting this done perfectly, it’s time to pause again for perspective. We can sure be hard on ourselves, can’t we? So take another deep breath here. And adopt a different mantra: progress, not perfection.

In other words, don’t let the “all or nothing” outlook shelve your decluttering project indefinitely. Instead, embrace the notion that this is not a race, and no one is watching or judging you—really!

As perfectionists, we are our own worst critics. And it’s possible that we felt judged a long time ago, when we were very young. It may not even have been over something significant … doesn’t matter. The point is, we adopted the habit of perfectionism to protect ourselves. 

But now it’s time to shake that off because it’s exhausting, don’t you think? Start with little steps. Track your progress so that you can refer to it when you feel overwhelmed. Stick to a decluttering schedule that works best for you and then do it! And remind yourself that you are “right on schedule” when doubt and anxiety creep back in. This post, How To Start Decluttering When Overwhelmed, will also help get you unstuck.

Remember: this is your decluttering journey. You get to set the pace, no one else. And you can also choose to loop back and make new edits as you go. Because uncluttering is rarely a one and done, nor is it a simple linear path.

So take your time. Appreciate the things and savor the memories associated with your stuff. Then make your selections based on what matters most now … and what will get you to your next life chapter!

The Wrap With Mary V
Mary V | Kaitlyn Meyers Photography

The Wrap

Space clearing is not an overnight process so don’t let perfectionism keep you on the sidelines!

When you consider that your things accumulated over many years, you can cut yourself some slack with the timeline to pare back.

Remember to be kind to yourself. Lighten up. We are all perfectly imperfect.

Now start releasing things slowly but surely.

For more inspiration, check out the resources below!

Your Turn!

Where are you at in the decluttering process? Still thinking about it? Midway but running out of steam? Or chugging along? I’d love to hear your triumphs, tribulations and everything in between! Drop a comment below…and thanks for stopping by!

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