Lifestyle

personal health

Better Personal Health Journeys with Carolyn’s Community

Feeling our best matters, especially as we enter our 50s and beyond. Who doesn’t want to continue living a vital life? Which is why managing our personal health is super essential.

Yet how long was your last convo with your primary physician? If it was over 30 minutes, you’re lucky—the average PCP exam in the USA is less than 20 minutes!

Did you leave with a new diagnosis or health alert, armed only with general instructions? Or a new Rx (or two) for managing your medical status quo? Again, you’re not alone! Were you satisfied? Fully informed?

This is not intended as a condemnation of the medical community. Medicine has morphed into big business. Doctors and nurses are equally frustrated with the charting and coding activities that monopolize and divert from patient time. And the growing emphasis on monetizing a fractured health care system has led to abbreviated appointments and a lack of adequate patient education. 

So now enter my friend, Carolyn: She and thousands of other certified health coaches are filling the growing gap between the medical community and the patients they serve.

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ALERT:  Carolyn and I are not doctors or mental healthcare professionals of any kind. All medical statements by either Carolyn or myself in this post are for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care providers.

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Personal Health

Carolyn is the fourth in my monthly Midlife Stories series, which introduces Everyday Women Over 50 pursuing a life chapter that brings fulfillment and joy.

These are unfiltered accounts of women living life on their own terms. They’re doing what they are curious or passionate about— not what social media or anyone else tells them they should be doing! 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, Carolyn, a savvy health coach and emerging personal health community builder!

How Personal Health Issues Led To Health Coaching

Carolyn’s mom actually played a pivotal role in her quest for nutritional well being. Growing up, there was no hint of processed food in the house. While Carolyn laughingly labels her mom as “a health nut ahead of her time”, there was good reason: a history of heart attacks for the 50-year old males  on her dad’s side!

While she looked longingly at the Ding Dong cakes or other sugary treats in her classmates’ lunch boxes, she had to make do with a small bag of raisins (yeah, that got tossed!). Then Carolyn broke free of the restricted food environment when she attended summer camp. She was in (temporary) nirvana, filling up on Wonder bread and margarine.

But when her folks showed up for Parents Day, they had to bring her new clothes, one size larger—whoops! Yet that didn’t alter her subsequent resolve to follow a more relaxed eating regimen once she left the nest.

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More Personal Health Issues Cropping Up

Fast forward to life in the Boston suburbs with her husband and growing family. After an initial career in marketing and advertising, Carolyn chose to be a stay-at-home Mom. The complexity of juggling the busy schedules of four active young girls in combination with an outside career was too daunting, especially since her husband traveled abroad extensively for his own career. However, she nails what being a SAHM really means: 

“Unpaid, equally stressed and busy, in order to spend more time with my own kids!”

In other words, she wore many hats for many years, volunteering on numerous school committees and community boards, plus chauffeuring to  and organizing various extracurricular activities and field trips. It was during this time that Carolyn developed IBS symptoms, which she is convinced were stress-induced. Lifestyle and diet are also classic major contributors.

And then her children started to exhibit allergies and ADHD. In fact, nationally, there were more and more reports about the rise of allergies, asthma and a new diagnosis of autism.

The more she read, the more she became convinced that she had gone overboard with allowing junk and processed food in her pantry. Mom was right! (side note: Carolyn’s dad is now in his 80s—more proof about the impact of good nutrition.) So yes, it was time for a change!

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Searching for Personal Health Resources

Happily, Carolyn was able to get her IBS symptoms under control. Thanks to her newfound passion for eating right, she had already done extensive research on ways to mitigate IBS symptoms on her own.

Next, she consulted with a well-known physician, who concurred with her conclusion. He handed her a stack of prescriptions and a $5.00 refill coupon. 

 Yet rather than immediately relying on drugs, Carolyn wanted to start with incorporating some small yet powerful everyday dietary and meditation habits first.

But when she shared her desire with the doctor to postpone the drug regimen, his immediate response was, “If you don’t take these, then we’re not working together!” 

Time to get a second opinion— and so she did! Fortunately, the next physician was amenable to a “wait and see” stance. Carolyn was prepared to take the prescriptions if her lifestyle changes were insufficient. As it turns out, her IBS side effects were effectively wrangled, woohoo!

This experience was evidence of a belief that Carolyn fully embraces: we can exert a certain amount of control over our own personal health by mindfully tweaking our lifestyle choices. 

“Genetics loads the gun; environment pulls the trigger” —Francis Collins, M.D., Director of NIH

And so yes, because of this experience…a lack of medical resources (time, attention and information) for her as an individual patient…she shifted into a new life chapter. Health Coach Carolyn was born!

body acceptance

Carolyn's Coaching Philosophy

Once she earned her first Health Coach certification in 2010, Carolyn was on her way to creating her own unique method for helping others with their personal health journeys.

She attended numerous lectures and logged in hours (and hours) of research. Her Masters in Psychology combined with additional intensive courses on functional medicine has resulted in a very positive, client-centric approach.

As she puts it,

“I don’t tell people what to do. I listen. I look for their strengths in order to learn how those can be applied to their health concerns. I’m by their side, encouraging them with making small steps.”

In other words, she has no preconceived remedy or path for new clients. For Carolyn, it starts with being a companion. And that’s what she does in personalized, one-on-one sessions. Some of her clients are referred from a local physician, who readily acknowledges the gap she fills.

Then, as a way to spread the word about the unique role that health coaches play, she launched a podcast in 2020. Carolyn was completely new to the whole podcasting platform, but she dug in anyway!

Wellness While Walking Podcast

Each episode focuses on sharing 30 minutes of encouragement and education while her listeners are exercising (walking). What a brilliant concept! And she has the perfectly modulated voice to deliver a quality listening experience (my unbiased opinion, hehe!) She also includes a variety of guests.

Shameless plug: Be sure to check out episode 94, Swedish Death Clearing With Mary V.

While her daughters mostly thought of her as “Mom”, they did take notice of her coaching commitment. Carolyn overheard one them saying to a friend, “You can try new things, even if they are hard at first. My mom started a podcast at 57!”

Her topics cover a broad array, from organizing your home (lowers stress), mindset, and meal prep, to breaking the twitch with alcohol, productivity, and purpose.

When you think about a lifestyle approach for better personal health, there are all kinds of things we can do to feel and be better. And it all starts with taking small steps.

personal health steps

Her Vision For A Personal Health Community

Like the rest of us, the recent pandemic stay-home period was a wake up call for Carolyn, the Health Coach. When “meh” was sarcastically voted the word of the year in 2021, it epitomized our spirit, languishing in separation from others. With that, she knew creating a community for helping improve personal health was an essential undertaking.

So this is exactly her latest wellness endeavor, which is currently a work-in-process. I don’t want to give away too many details ahead of the launch but it will be another ingenious mashup of online group meet-ups and one-on-one coaching sessions. 

Designed with a lifestyle-driven concept, her community will welcome all age groups because issue like getting rid of household toxins, reducing inflammation, or getting better quality sleep are universal topics.

Carolyn is convinced that  strength and support can and should be found in community. The rampant fragmentation we are all witnessing in the world today makes her wince.

In her own way, as a compassionate health coach, Carolyn strives to bring people together for better wellness. I, for one, have faith in her…and I think when you meet her, you will, too!

midlife stories

The Wrap on Personal Health with Carolyn

Together, we are better!

This truly summarizes Carolyn health coaching philosophy. And little steps go a long way for improving our personal health and well being. 

As a self-described “card-carrying realistic optimist”, who better to have by your side, cheering you on!

And you’ll never be alone, when you’re part of Carolyn’s Community. As she envisions it, 

“I will be the maestro of this orchestra. Each member has their own instrument to play. Together, we will create beautiful music!”

In her “spare” time, Carolyn loves word games, dance class, funny talking IG dogs, and time with her family.

Where to find Carolyn?

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Where to meet the other Women Over 50 featured in this series:

♥ Got thoughts about what you read here? Drop a line below … And thanks for stopping by!

(Note: images of Carolyn and her IG posts were created by her & stylized by this author)

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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travel light

Travel Light: The 5 Kilo Traveller On How To Pack Less & Roam More

Your Packing Light Guide

Meet my Kiwi friend, Katherine, The 5 Kilo Traveller and fabulous resource for all things “travel light” and “pack light”! Hailing from Hamilton, New Zealand, she is the first in a new series spotlighting women over 50 rocking a new focus in their midlife chapter.

If you’re like me, it’s inspiring to hear about women our age seeking fun, trying something new, or sharing different perspectives on living our best lives.

And why not? We’ve earned the privilege to pursue new adventures. With careers changing or winding down and the kids out of the house, we now have the time to shift our attention to where we want to head next.

So grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and get to know Katherine and her philosophy that when we travel light, we travel best.

the 5 kilo traveller

"Not all those who wander are lost" — J.R.R. Tolkien

The 5 Kilo Traveller Back Story

Like many women over 50, Katherine’s worn a few different hats: wife, mom, employee, volunteer, fundraiser, etc. Her main career has been in nursing, a noble profession caring for others’ physical needs. Oftentimes, there are emotional or mental needs that present, as well. So yes, hospital workers definitely need an outlet to refresh and renew their own spirits.

A few years ago, her daughter left home for university, which was a stark reminder that her son was not far behind, either. It was time to contemplate her imminent empty nest. How did she envision spending newly available time and energy on just herself for a change?

∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ 

The First Midlife Solo Adventure

It was a planned ladies trip in 2017 that led to the birth of The 5 Kilo Traveller. When a friend bailed on Katherine right before booking, she was momentarily disappointed. But then her next thought was, “What if I did this anyway—by myself?” And so she did!

At the end of a glorious four week tour in Croatia and Italy, Katherine, looked back with awe. “It’s not that I lacked confidence before I left. It takes confidence to venture out as a solo woman. There were things I had to figure out on my own.”

In fact, her confidence amped up as her trip progressed. And she also realized that she was never really alone because of how many people she connected with along the way. It was reassuring and delightful to encounter other like-minded women in search of adventures, too.

Yet experiencing unmetered time to simply be was truly glorious! Katherine knew she needed and wanted more of that. “Filling every minute of every day—it’s exhausting! Being busy and having so much stuff seems to be societal values. Is it a competition?”

It felt like a lifetime since 20-year old Katherine had travelled alone across Europe. So it was exhilarating to do what she wanted, when she wanted, once again. As she put it, “I was over being told what to do!” 

But to ensure she could do things by herself…no husband to carry her luggage and no friend to guard her bag during a bathroom break…a massive amount of planning and a minimal amount of belongings were key. And so somewhere between creating her trusty spreadsheets and lightening her load, The 5 Kilo Traveller was born! Oh, and for my fellow Americans, 5 kilos is roughly 12 pounds.

solo travel

"I love spontaneity as long as it's carefully planned." — The 5 Kilo Traveller

Core Philosophy: Travel Light & Travel Solo

The joy simply radiates in Katherine’s face as she chats about how liberating her travel light approach really is. Yet she  is completely respectful of anyone’s preference to travel with more. 

“I’m not here to tell anyone what to do. But if you want to travel light, here’s how.”

Traveling light was initially about the weight of her bag, but overall lightness became an integral part of her everyday life, as well. She focuses on clearing clutter from her mind, her wardrobe, her relationships…ahhh, a gal after my own heart!

But strictly from a traveling perspective, she firmly believes going solo empowers the traveler. When you are able to carry everything you need on your back, you remove restrictions. No waiting in baggage claim (or having the airlines lose your luggage!), no hauling wheeled suitcases up flights of stairs or down uneven, cobblestone streets.

Solo traveling accommodates a mindset reset. One can revel in unscheduled time to think, to reflect, and to breathe. Take a nap, go for a hike, linger at a sidewalk cafe…you alone get to choose what will restore your balance! 

Katherine views her website and social media accounts as a creative outlet, not a moneymaking endeavor. She’s simply passionate about the power of packing and traveling light and so she loves inspiring others to do the same. Receiving feedback that another woman discovered the pleasure of traveling solo because of Katherine’s example is her greatest reward. Sounds like she’s found her happy place!

packing light tips

"Carry the lessons, not the luggage." — Saïd Amin

Katherine's Top Packing Tips

While her website and social media accounts are packed with a plethora of traveling light ideas, her favorite tips are as follows:

  • Don’t pack “just in case” stuff. I carried a swimsuit all around Europe and it never once came out of my bag. I only swim in the hottest weather and it was Spring. Always check the weather forecast! 
  • Pack merino /wool clothing that doesn’t need daily washing. I didn’t learn this until after my trip. I washed everything after one wear, not realizing that I could air my merino t-shirts every night and wear them for several days in a row with no smell!
  • Wear comfortable shoes that you’ve broken in at home. On my first trip, I packed black sneakers. I foolishly bought them just before leaving. I could only wear them when I didn’t have far to walk. Big mistake as they were also heavy and bulky in my bag.
Personal Health

Writing A New Midlife Chapter!

The Wrap On How To Travel Light

Why travel light? Why go solo? Katherine’s own words brings it all together:

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“Your dream may not be to travel light or to travel solo. But I know that many women around their 50’s (make that any age to be honest!!) get to that point of thinking, “What’s next?”

I’m not here to tell you what is next, but that there is a NEXT…. a next stage, a next plan, a next dream. We just need to get off our chuffs and grab it by the scruff of the neck!

Listen to your heart. Do something for you. 

Kick that fear out of the park! And GROW YOUR WINGS!” 

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Nothing thrills Katherine more than inspiring other women to follow in her footsteps. You can connect with her here:

Website: the5kilotraveller

Instagram: @the5kilotraveller

Facebook: the5kilotraveller

Do you dream of shifting into your own new adventure? Head here for how to get started. Already on your way? Share what’s happening with a comment below …and thanks for stopping by!

new midlife friends

Midlife Adventures With Making New Friends

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

.   .   .

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Other detours and dead-ends were encountered while searching for new friends. Midlife stories for another day.

What I learned

When I reflect on my last five decades, I know 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.

  • Two more 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!

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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

tiny houses

Tiny Houses: A Peek Into The Appeal Of These Sweet Little Homes

Tiny houses are so adorable!

Who doesn’t get the appeal of a life-sized dollhouse? However, there’s more to these compact homes than meets the eye. 

Little houses are the beginning of a revolution in the housing industry.

Consider this: the average square footage of a U.S. home in the 1950s was 983 square feet. Within 60 years, it then almost tripled to 2657 square feet! 

But now, we are seeing this number decline. In fact, the median size of a new single-family home sold in 2020 was 2,333 square feet. 

So why the reversal with growing demand for a smaller real estate footprint?

Curious to know more?

Take a micro break from your holiday hustle: join me with pondering the delightful freedom that comes with tiny house living…at any age.

tiny home nation
danielle rice | unsplash

I'm sharing 3 compelling reasons why a tiny house may fit into your future!

(Oh, and be sure to scroll all the way down to see some fabulous tiny houses…which one is your favorite? Let’s chat in the comments!)

1. The Economics of Tiny Houses

Personal finances are always a major factor in any homebuyer’s decision-making process. 

The buyers of tiny homes vary widely. They are not restricted to Gen X or Gen Z (20-30 year olds)—logical first-time homeowners. Millennials are also in the mix. Many of them delayed buying their first home and they are rapidly approaching 40 years old now! 

When Millennials graduated, they faced the double whammy of a fierce job market and steep housing costs. The economic uncertainty kept them on the sidelines. Renting seemed to be a more prudent choice. And it allowed them to be nimble should a job opportunity require relocation.

  But the same challenges face Baby Boomers, too—often retirees on a fixed or reduced income. Tiny houses can be the solution for both ends of the age spectrum. 

The smaller dimensions allow for high end finishes at an affordable price tag. Certainly, the cost of a tiny house can range anywhere from $25,000 to $180,000+. 

Yet imagine the ability to buy your own four walls for a price tag under $75,000 in a major metropolitan area?  ‘Nuf said!  

2. The Environmental Impact of Tiny Houses

Going green is no longer a trend…it’s a way of life!

 And clearly, reducing our footprint on Mother Earth pays big dividends in preserving our world. Global warming is demanding that we do things differently now. 

Moreover, the savings realized with tiny houses are significant:

  • Solid construction waste is decreased
  • Necessary building materials are condensed
  • Energy costs to maintain the house is reduced

In other words, it’s a win-win for the environment and the homeowner! Just look at this infographic which compares traditional versus tiny house construction. Kinda says it all, doesn’t it!

3. The Lifestyle Possibilities of Tiny Houses

Minimalism, or living with less, is no longer a fad but a way of life. 

When you’ve lived a full life, you will have accumulated lots of stuff over the years. We feel the weight of our belongings every time we can’t find that bill or pair of shoes or book, because we have too much. We don’t even remember what we have when it’s hidden at the back of the closet, in a box or in storage. 

When you live in a tiny house, there’s no room for too much! It demands that you release stuff from a past chapter if it’s just taking up space. It requires that you let go of things that no longer play a role in your daily routine. Instead, you keep only what matters: what you need, what you use, and what you love right now.

Tiny houses can also be a practical option for a second home/vacation home. Imagine the thrill of living in your happy place, whether near the water, on a mountain, or within a vibrant city….at a reduced cost. Less to maintain means more time to relax and pursue your hobbies and interests.

Though your space is small, your life feels large. You have the financial, mental, and emotional freedom to do more. To live large in your current life chapter.

Who wouldn’t welcome that kind of space in their life?

A Gallery of Tiny Houses!

 Here is just a sampling of the infinite number of possible configurations. Which of these tiny houses tugs at your heartstrings?

The last one is technically a travel trailer that I spied near where I live. But seems to me, when you’re camping, wherever you lay your head at night is home, don’t you think?

And check out the videos in the Resource section, too. Hear about Tiny House Living from those who are currently enjoying this lifestyle!

container home
#1 by jed owen | unsplash
california tiny houses
#2 by bob osias | unsplash
tiny home floor plans
#3 by andrea davis | unsplash
tiny house kits
#4 by jed owen | unsplash
tiny houses
#5 by nick karvounis | unsplash
tiny house living
#6 by toh tiny overland house | unsplash

The Wrap

The rap with Mary V

Could a tiny home make sense for you? Tell us what you think.

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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