Good Habits

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!

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

declutter your house

5 Easy Ways To Declutter Your House Now & Still Enjoy The Holidays

Believe it or not, you can add “declutter your house” to your December to-do list and not feel overwhelmed!

Are you thinking, “Surely you jest…I’ve got a ton of things to do before family and friends descend upon me!” 

Well, stay with me: I’m thinking of areas where you can weed out excess stuff and still be ready to toast the holidays with your loved ones!

I know…it’s traditional to begin a new habit on January 1st. It’s a logical starting point for those who make New Year’s resolutions. December is often a final hurrah for eating the cookies, sipping the eggnog or laying on the couch for a Netflix binge. 

Then, when the holidays are behind us, our attention is not pulled in quite so many directions. We can focus on where we want to head next.

But if you incorporate making some small uncluttering decisions while you’re preparing to celebrate, wouldn’t it be awesome to make headway now?

After all, you’re already handling many of your possessions as you prepare your home for the holiday get togethers. 

Where to start decluttering your house can start in those very spaces you’re cleaning and clearing as you prep for your guests.

Read on about five places where you can declutter your house before the end of the year!

declutter your house
laura james | pexels

1. Declutter Your Holiday Decor

Holiday decorating both inside and outside the home is part of many a family tradition. 

When I was growing up, we amassed and displayed a fair number of Christmas ornaments, Santa Claus collectibles and outdoor lights. Some of them were even passed along to us adult children as our parents scaled back. 

If you also regularly transform your home at this time of year, how about setting out fewer items? You, too, could let your grown kids pick and choose their favorites.

Or consider donating some so others who are less financially stable can also create a festive atmosphere in their homes, too. As you’re hauling out and unwrapping your decorations, review which ones are your favorites to keep and which ones can now be shared.

Crating extra space between your favorites will also feature them front and center. Everything you look at will make your heart swell.

And then think about how streamlined next year’s holiday decorating will be when you have less to set up and then store again!

tips to declutter your house
anna tis | pexels

2. Declutter Your Everyday Decor

We generally need to swap out our knickknacks when we display holiday trinkets and decor. 

Instead of simply boxing up all your things temporarily, think about sorting and releasing some of your customary items now. It’s an ideal time to clear out what no longer thrills you, especially if you’re planning to make a move into a smaller space next year. 

Oftentimes, we don’t see clearly what is in our home because we are so familiar with our things. Once it’s time to move it or pack it, only then do we start to look at our stuff with a critical eye.

As you handle each item, is it something that you truly love? Do you use it now? Is it in working condition? Might it be something to pass on to somebody else? 

 Not sure? Then defer the decision for now but at least give the process a chance.

Don’t agonize over the decisions—if your gut instinct is to let it go, do it and move on!

declutter your linen closet
elisabeth smithard | pexels

3. Declutter Your Linen Closet

Who doesn’t set out their nicest kitchen and bathroom towels at this time of year? 

They may or may not be in holiday hues but we display the ones that are in the best condition. While you’re doing this, take some time to straighten out the linen closet or shelves.

We often have many more everyday towels, washcloths and bed sheets than we truly need. Our tastes change as our decor changes. And eventually, all towels become faded, frayed or even stained.

If you do laundry on a weekly basis, why not just keep two or three sets for those in the household and perhaps another set or two for overnight guests? All the rest would be welcome donations at any charitable organization. Animal shelters in particular would appreciate your slightly frayed hand-me-downs!

Enjoy the sight of a tidy linen closet with matching pristine towels in the shades you prefer now! 

declutter the kitchen
andrea piacquadio

4. Declutter A Kitchen Cabinet (Or Two)

For all the bakers and chefs out there, the holidays are a prime time to churn out seasonal savories and goodies.

Baking cookies with my mom is one of my favorite Christmas memories! We had sweet treats by the dozen stored in the unheated breezeway between our house and garage. Someone always had an excuse to go to the garage as a pretext to sneak a few cookies!

These days, my cookie baking marathon is no more. I’ve saved a couple of the treasured cookbooks. And I whip up a couple choice treats. However, I’ve let go of the cookie press, the tin cutouts…even my kitchen-aid (gasp!) but I have other appliances that I reach for now.

Truth is, it’s just my husband and I now and we don’t need all the sugary temptation around us. Oh, I’m not averse to making a few goodies. But the extras go home with my adult son! 

If you, too, are cooking differently, why not weed out cookware and recipe books that are no longer used? Someone else likely wants a new tradition of making Belgian waffles on Christmas Day. 

Me? I’m content with an easy overnight pop-in-the-oven breakfast casserole.  You? Perhaps you’d rather make reservations….go for it!

Declutter your kitchen gadgets in a nod to how you cook now!  

decluttering conversation
askar abayev | pexels

5. The "Declutter Your House" Convo With Family

Our families gather from near and far when the holidays arrive!

Most would agree that seeing our loved ones gathered in real life is the highlight of the season. Sure, there can be some mini-dramas here and there…all part of the deal!

It’s not often that everyone convenes, due to hectic schedules and scattered home bases. So while you’re all together, initiate the conversation about what things of yours they have always admired. 

Parents often assume their kids have the same regard for family heirlooms or mementos but it’s not true. Tastes vary and so does the capacity to incorporate large furniture or collectibles into a new household.

Here’s a short of what they likely don’t want: Top 10 Objects Kids Don’t Want!

Or check out this iconic article from The New York Times: Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff & Children Who Don’t Want It.

Instead of making assumptions about who wants what, just ask! It will help your distribution process when you start paring down in earnest. 

And if more than one of your kids wants dibs on an item, now’s the time to know. 

There are a few ways to resolve this, whether drawing straws, or making concessions on one item in return for another. It doesn’t have to be finalized now. But it’s good intel for future reference.

Above all, don’t take it personally when they feel differently about your stuff.

We each have the right to decide what enters our own homes. And no one welcomes guilt at the door, don’t you agree?

The rap with Mary V

The Wrap: How To Declutter Your House In December

  • Prune your things as you go about your holiday prep routine. You can toss, donate or gift several things in as little as 15 minutes!
  • Initiate a conversation with your adult children to learn what they would like to incorporate into their own homes. You may be surprised with the answers!
  • Your small but powerful head start to declutter your house now can reinforce your New Year’s momentum!
  • Above all, enjoy the one-on-one time with your loved ones!

Your Turn!

  • Do you normally go all out with the holiday decor?

  • Is holiday baking your thing?

  • Do you prefer hosting or making the party rounds?

  • What tradition are you ready to pass on to your kids?

Share your thoughts below …and thanks for stopping by!

charitable donations

Charitable Donations Make The Holidays Merry For All!

It’s hard to ignore the emphasis on material presents at this time of year, don’t you think? It’s one of the traditional ways we show our love to family and friends. Maybe you’d like to cut back on retail excess and focus on the holiday fellowship, instead. But what about the gift of charitable contributions for those we don’t even know?

There are so very many who are less fortunate financially than ourselves. Whether our charitable donations are for soldiers stationed overseas or for domestic abuse families in our own community, there are (sadly) endless opportunities for lifting others up during the holiday season.

Check out these 5 suggestions for sharing the blessings you have. In fact, a few of these ideas will have the added benefit of clearing out what you no longer need or use in your home, too—double score!

charitable donations
image by kaboom.com | pexels

1. Books

Do you have books that you no longer read?

Anything that doesn’t interest you anymore? Or maybe a favorite that could positively influence someone else? As the author of The Book Thief wrote, “Words are life”. 

Many of us struggle with letting go of our books because they seem to define who we are. Yet understand that while they reflect certain interests of ours, we don’t need them sitting idle on our shelves to validate our worth to those who already know us … or to ourselves!

If you’re ready to share some of your collection, consider making charitable donations to your local venues such as:

  • youth centers
  • senior centers
  • hospitals 
  • nursing homes
  • shelters & crisis centers

Donating your time may also be an option. Here’s an opportunity to pack and ship books for our troops abroad: Operation Paperback.

Help foster the imagination and inspire others with the written word!

charitable donations
image by pavel danilyuk | pexels

2. Clothing

While prepping for the next holiday mixer, pull out a few (or several) garments for the charitable donations box.

Our tastes change over time, not to mention our body shape (sorry)!

Rather than hang on to clothes we may (never) wear “someday”, think about donating those items to make room for the ones that you reach for time after time because they truly fit and flatter.

It’s quite eye-opening when we consider that 20% of our wardrobe is worn 80% of the time. How about reversing that percentage: retain what you love and release what you don’t. It will shed clarity on your actual clothing options!

In fact, it’s not uncommon to hang on to corporate attire long after the dress code has relaxed or you yourself have exited the job. 

Donating to an organization focused on those entering the workforce with little funds for new duds would be an awesome gesture! One such charity committed to helping disadvantaged female professionals is Dress For Success.

If you can spare some time, there is also a strong need for volunteers to counsel those building a new business. Share your corporate wisdom with others through Score, a network of volunteer mentors for new small business owners.

Help others climb the corporate ladder and achieve financial security!

charitable donations
image by emily hopper | pexels

3. Towels and Linens

At some point, it’s time to refresh our towels, linens and blankets.  

They wear out over time. They fade or fray. And when our color palette changes, our old towels and bedding get shoved to the back of the closet or drawer. 

Yet those are ideal items for donating to your local animal shelter or rescue group! Grab a bag and pull out the ones you no longer use or care about.

There are countless local animal rescues you can help out. Simply google using the search terms, “animal rescue near me” to uncover your options for charitable donations. 

Or give financially to your local Humane Society and help those who can’t speak for themselves. Any of the stray animal causes would also welcome your time or financial donations, as well.

Help keep the four-legged orphans warm and dry!

charitable donations
image by suzy hazelwood | pexels

4. Toys

Got a spare teddy bear (or two)? 

OK, if you’re over 50 like me, the toys have long vacated the premises! Oh, they may make an appearance from time to time, when our grandchildren visit, but they already belong to those young owners.

Unfortunately, many children lose whatever prized possessions they have when they experience a house fire or when they abruptly flee a domestic abuse situation.

Both local police and fire departments are ideal drop-off sites for donating new stuffed animals. Once again, Google to the rescue! Search using the words, “toy donation drop off sites near me”.

Or here’s another one: Stuffed Animals For Emergencies. And one more noteworthy group to make kids’ holidays brighter is Toys for Tots.

Help children feel secure with your charitable donations when their future feels uncertain.

charitable donations
image by laura james | pexels

5. Pantry Items

Whether you’re clearing space in your pantry or grocery shopping for the holiday meals, consider setting aside some extra food supplies for those who have less.

Hunger affects people of all ages, from the very young to the elderly. An event such as unemployment or a health crisis can quickly lead to food insecurity.

And know that food pantries are especially strained during the holidays so your donations are greatly welcomed. You can search for your local food bank to donate either food or money (or both) here at Feeding America.

Again, if time is an available resource, donating your service in a soup kitchen may be your gift of choice. It’s a real sign of stewardship when we humble ourselves and personally tend to those in need. 

A nationwide resource that provides your local options for charitable donations of both time and money is at Homeless Shelter Directory.

Help nourish those with empty fridges!

The rap with Mary V

The Wrap on Charitable Donations

The drive-through lanes can be long this month at national organizations such as Goodwill. December 31st is the last opportunity for making tax deductible 2021 charitable donations. If you yourself have waited patiently in that giving queue, thank you! 

  • Remember those who are without and consider donating what resources you can
  • Sharing the blessings we have is how a community bonds and thrives

Do you have a tradition of giving back? What charitable donation experience is particularly meaningful for you and why?

Share your thoughts below … and thanks for stopping by!

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!

Decluttering Clothes to Create Clarity in Your Closet

Curating a wardrobe that reflects your current taste and lifestyle requires decluttering clothes which no longer warrant a place in your closet. When you’re over 50, there’s likely been a change with how you spend your time. Which means what you’re wearing has also pivoted, too.

So if you find yourself pawing through blouses, slacks and shoes to assemble your day’s outfit, this series is for you! Imagine the serenity of readily seeing only what you need, use, and love in your closet!

I’m timing this series with the annual Spring ritual of swapping out Winter clothing for warmer weather (or the opposite, if you live below the equator). Unless you are blessed with a roomy walk-in closet, many store their off-season clothing in another closet or room. So pause before packing away things you didn’t wear yet again. It’s is the perfect time to curate a wardrobe that fits, flatters, and feels good now!

First things first, before decluttering your clothes!

 

Begin with why, create a plan, and then get going

Grab a notebook or create a Word doc which captures what you personally want to achieve. Maybe your top goal is to downsize your wardrobe. Or perhaps it’s to add in clothing that truly aligns with your daily routine. You may have a few things on your list.

Whatever it is, this will be your personal reminder to refer back to, when your motivation slows down or hesitation sets in.

-Decide when you will devote a block of time to focus on your closet. If you can do a daily session, great! Is it 30 minutes a day? Will it be an hour, 4 times a week? Or will you be a weekend warrior, armed with strong coffee?

Just land on what fits in your schedule and suits your energy level …  and commit to it. 

And now, on to my 5 rules for decluttering clothes that need to go!

This post kicks off a series about decluttering clothes to discover your new midlife style!

how to declutter clothes
image by snack toronto from pexels

Rule #1: Release Costly Items Never (if ever) worn

How often do we cling to things that we regret buying? Oh, they may be perfectly beautiful yet they don’t fit quite right, they aren’t truly your style after all or they were an impulse buy. You know exactly which items these are in your closet! But then your second thought is remembering how much you spent … and so they stay. 

Go ahead and set them aside for now. If you’re up for recouping some of those dollars, label the box, “Sell”. But if you don’t have the time or inclination, label the box, “Donate”. I will share the best current options for both in an upcoming blog post!

Be willing to let these items go. The money has been spent so it’s not actually costing you anything to release this stuff. But they are costing you in terms of occupying valuable space in your closet.

Focus instead on the fact that you’re finding a better home where they will get the use and love they deserve. And now you’ve made room for what truly reflects you. What do you think about that? 

how to be ruthless when decluttering clothes
image by keith lobo from pexels

Rule #2: Release "it" colors or styles that aren't you

Are you smiling now? Good! I’m simply making the point that while we want to look current, sometimes the so-called “must have” looks are simply not our friends.

Who dreams up these “rules” anyway? What if we created our own rules? Think about it this way: there’s a reason we reach for certain styles or colors time after time. Certainly, it’s possible we get ourselves into a rut. Maybe we’re playing it safe. Or we might truly benefit from a little styling advice! Don’t worry: I’ve got blog posts coming up addressing all of this!

Meanwhile, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Go ahead and weed out what you don’t like or wear. Why hang on to idle clothing? You can sort into the two categories mentioned earlier: “Sell” and “Donate”.

There, doesn’t that feel good to release what doesn’t truly flatter or make your heart flutter? I thought so!

how to downsize your wardrobe

Rule #3: Reduce your stockpile of special occasion items

Here we are delving into identifying what reflects the cadence of our current lifestyle. It’s not uncommon that our roles change after 50. And so it follows that our clothing choices should, too.

While the definition of a special occasion will vary from one person to the next, think about the situations calling for an outfit other than your everyday wear. How often does that happen? Ensure that the quantity of said items jives with the frequency of such situations.

Also, pay attention to the color, fabric and design of your special occasion clothing. If black is not your best hue, then perhaps your “little black dress” needs to be blue! Or red. You know what your personal power color is.

And if the material feels confining, stiff, or itchy and it’s always a relief to take it off, that should go, too! The goal is for you to define what creates confidence and comfort every time you put it on. Those are the timeless items  to keep. Release the rest. 

Additionally, corporate (business) attire may not fit under the  “special occasion” label, but don’t overlook releasing this or any other type of clothing if you don’t mingle in a certain arena any more. Most of us don’t have sufficient warehouse room for all the “some day”, “you never know”, or “just in case” clothing!

how do you declutter too many clothes
image by maria orlova from pexels

Rule #4: Release multiple sizes from the fluctuating scale

This is a touchy subject but bear with me, please. Who hasn’t experienced a change in their shape and weight, as the years go by? Despite our best efforts, there will be a natural shift despite exercise and dietary adjustments.

We can still look fabulous! But clinging to sizes that are unrealistic or require deprivation than we are unwilling to endure? Let those go! Life is too short to berate yourself on the basis of size.

However, only you can decide what to keep, based on your personal goals and determination. Is it de-motivating to see sizes too small in your closet? My suggestion is to remove those items and store them in a box labeled with the size and the current date.

If they still don’t fit by a future date, i.e., the next season, re-evaluate your situation. And if it no longer matters to you, don’t even open the box … just let it go! Make room for what truly fits now.

5 rules for decluttering clothes
image by skylar kang from pexels

Rule #5: Reduce the sentimental volume

 

The 70’s called to get your groove back on! Whatever makes your heart swell, keep it. How wonderful to have your heart smile when you open your closet door and see a reminder of a happy memory.

The key is to limit these items to a discreet number. If you have too many items for viewing only, this will pose a practical problem. How will you have closet capacity for what you actually wear?

Whatever the size of your closet, an artistically arranged set up with a few sentimental items will allow for a pop of joy every time you open the door.

Can you have a dedicated shelf for these things? Would a wall display or a free standing rack in your bedroom be the way to go? Sort for what is most meaningful.

Does each thing have equal value? Likely not, so quickly release anything you feel iffy or “meh” about. Don’t ruminate too long … or decluttering your clothes will grind to a halt!

The Wrap with Mary V
image by content pixie from pexels

The Wrap: This post was about decluttering clothes in order to curate a midlife style that fits, flatters and feels good!

When we’re entering a new season … weather-wise or decade-wise … it’s an ideal time to re-evaluate our wardrobe. 

It’s extremely tricky to recommend styling ideas since we all have such individual taste! And my bottom line is always going to be, “If you love it, then wear it!” Seriously. Don’t be concerned with what anyone else thinks.

Oh, we will be judged. It’s what we do (c’mon, admit it!) and so does everyone else. But do you anyway! 

Your turn!

So I’m curious:

  • Does your clothing reflect your personal lifestyle and taste? Or does it mirror what the “fashion police” decrees?
  • Is your closet chockfull of items from a former role or era? Will you realistically reach for these things again?
  • What truly holds you back from letting certain things go? How do you do it anyway?

Share your thoughts below … and thanks for stopping by!  

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