Mindset

Ageing

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

And Just Like That...

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

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

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

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

ageing
It was always Happy Hour somewhere, with Samantha!

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

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

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

ageing
Charlotte, the Romantic, ISO the perfect man!

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

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

Yet consider this:

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

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

ageing
Old York or New York?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carrie nailed it with this statement:

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

Who can argue with that?

The Wrap with Mary V

The Wrap on Ageing in The City

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

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

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

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

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

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Your turn!

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

Drop your thoughts below … and thanks for stopping by!

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

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.
Midlife Stories

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:

=========================================

“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!” 

=========================================

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!

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

A New Story

A Formula For Figuring Out What To Do Next

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

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

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

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

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

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

what to do next

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

1. Reflect On What Energizes Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

what to do next

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

2. Trust My Choices

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

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

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

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

what to do next

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

3. Take The Next Step

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

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

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

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

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

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

listen

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

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

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

…..

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

So tell me:

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

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

…and thanks for stopping by! ♥

A Formula For Figuring Out What To Do Next Read More »

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!

shift with mary v

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

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

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 Thanksgiving and now the holday sales are in full swing! 

Even the radio stations and streaming music channels have started up with the 24-7 holiday music. 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: Consider The Following Questions

  • 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?

... and thanks for stopping by!

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

In Case You Missed It 👇🏼

But First: Plan Now For A Peaceful Holiday Season Read More »

how to declutter your mind

How To Declutter Your Mind And Dial Back Anxiety

Knowing how to declutter your mind when you feel stuck in life is an invaluable skill.

Who hasn’t felt uneasy, troubled, rejected, or generally just awash with angst at some point? It’s not uncommon to feel this way when one chapter of life is winding down (or has already ended) and the next one is yet to be determined. Or when things haven’t “gone our way”. Or even when we feel “on hold”, for example, during a worldwide pandemic! Now what?

Without a defined method to conquer our negative emotions and keep moving, they can overwhelm us and become our new story. We become paralyzed. Or passive, waiting and reacting to what happens next. 

Yet wouldn’t you rather be in charge? Actively pivoting into your next life chapter that you design?

Today, I’m sharing a “get unstuck” approach that helps push anxiety and it’s dubious counterparts out of the driver’s seat.

Learning how to declutter your mind is essential because your mood directly impacts your perspective.

You see, when we don’t have clarity, it’s difficult to have a vision for what we can do. And when we don’t know where we want to go next, it’s hard to move ahead with positivity, curiosity and confidence. 

So if you’d like to replace mental chaos with calm, come join me—let’s figure this out together, shall we?

This post shares 8 tips for how to declutter your mind so you can replace anxiety with serenity

feeling stuck
tirachard kumtano | pexels

1. Release Morning Thoughts

Ever notice how your mind starts churning once you’re out of bed? The crowded overlay of feelings when you wake up immediately dictates how your day’s mood is set (unless you’re stellar at burying and denying those feelings–which is not recommended). Sometimes, your mood is sublime. Other times, it’s a slog.

This is why taking 15 minutes or so to write down whatever is on your mind is the key to clearing out the morning mental clutter. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, introduced the term, “morning pages”. (There’s a video link below with Julia herself explaining the concept). It’s a brilliant way to do a brain dump first thing in the morning.

This is for your eyes only so be honest and go ahead: spill out whatever is on your mind. The point is to remove all random, heavy, or troubling thoughts and feelings. Just like phoning a friend, think about the relief when you give voice to what’s weighing on you.

Certainly, you can release some of the emotional clutter immediately by shining the light on it and seeing it for what it is … something to kick to the curb. Other parts you can decide to work through at another time, because they will take more time. Just not right now.

In this way, you clear your morning fog. Now you can step into a shiny new day, untarnished by what you may not have even realized will hold you back. Because our mood takes energy and who has any to spare on negativity?

If you prefer to capture your thoughts electronically like me (’cause I have atrocious penmanship!) check out what I use daily over here: 750 Words.

2. Choose a Daily Mantra

Not only do morning pages allow me to start my day in a more unruffled manner. They can also reveal a timely mantra, or reminder for how to keep negative feelings at bay.

When I realize that a particular concern is dominating my early morning thoughts, I can replace that negative whisper with a positive affirmation.

For example, when I’m feeling stressed about not getting everything done, a useful mantra for me is, “I’m right on schedule”.

Or, when I’m feeling cranky or out of sorts (for any number of reasons), “Lighten up!” does wonders for a reset. And I can thank my son who told me this when he was 10—wise words from a young boy!

Be open to “hearing” which mantras will sooth and reset your mind. Then repeat for maximum effect.

3. Pick Three Tasks

There can be a long list of things we need and want to do. The line items rarely fit within a standard day, right?

Now obviously, there are always non-negotiables like work, meals or showering. Those are a given.

But here I’m talking about identifying just 3 things that you will agree to complete. They don’t have to be massive. They are simply things that should be done at some point and you’ve selected them today.

At the end of the day, it will be satisfying to cross those off the list (I like to use a green marker but any color will do). Maybe it’s the laundry, decluttering the junk drawer (you know I had to work uncluttering in here somewhere!), or following up on an email or phone call. You choose. 

Whether big or small, accomplishments are another way for how to declutter your mind. They have a way of boosting your mood. And they get you out of your head.

how to declutter your life
shvets production | pexels

4. Be Fully Present

Now shift into your day. Release any thoughts or feelings that bring you down. Use your chosen mantra to focus on the here and now!

There is great beauty in the simple moments of the day. But it’s also easy to overlook them and take them for granted.

We get distracted with pesky worries. Or we divert attention to our screens. For more on the power of our attention, read this: A Clutter Free Home Starts With Reining In The Screen Time That Consumes Our Day.

Remember, your morning pages are your designated time to acknowledge what’s gnawing at you. Some of your concerns will dissipate, simply by looking at them and deciding they need to leave. Others will take more time to resolve. But that should occur in your future morning page sessions.

For now, give your mind a rest. You’ve cleared it so that you can engage fully in the present moments of today.

5. Get Physical

Studies confirm that physical activity has a profoundly positive impact on our mood. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or grueling. But as little as 30 minutes of movement definitely gets our endorphins flowing.

Now you may not feel the urge to move when your thoughts are weighing you down. But the best course of action is to not overthink this. Whatever your chosen activity is … walking, yoga, Pilates, or swimming … have a designated time for when you’ll do it. And then stop thinking and start doing.

After all, when we are mired in negative feelings, we are not the best judge of what will soothe us. We may think lounging on the couch and bingeing mindless shows or scrolling social media is all we have energy for … but yeah, not really. Save that for after you’ve done something physical. Use it as a reward, instead!

6. Watch and Listen for Signs

Now I’m a firm believer that there are clues in our everyday lives for how to declutter your mind and uncover your next course of action. We’re just not accustomed to noticing them.

This concept works in conjunction with #4, Being Fully Present. When we open ourselves up to the idea that we are not alone (even when it feels that way), we can embrace the idea that we do indeed have guides all around us.

You see, signs come in all shapes, sizes and forms. It could be something someone says. Or something you see out your window. Maybe something you read. Or a idea that comes to you while you’re driving. 

When we open ourselves up to receiving guidance, it comes. It may take time to recognize when it does, if we are not used to seeing it. Or if we are fixated on things unfolding in only one way.

But one of the most powerful signs we often receive first is to Simply Be. To let go of thrashing about for answers. Because the harder we push, the more elusive the signs become.

Guidance can’t be forced. So when things don’t turn out how we wanted or expected, the best thing we can do is Simply Be. To pause and leave the door open.  And then await patiently for what will arrive.

Believe me, patience is not my personal forte! But I’ve learned that my own timeline can have a slower cadence than I care for, at times. Yet therein I have found some of my most essential and life changing lessons. And the new directions that I headed in were even better than I envisioned.

decluttering your life
andrea piacquadio | pexels

7. Be Gentle With Yourself and Others

When we are hard on ourselves, it can often transfer to being hard on others, as well.

Perfectionism has a way of chiming in when anxiety strikes. We’re unhappy with feeling stuck and so we can be hypercritical of those in our circle.

Once again, your chosen mantra can shift your focus to the present moment. And then this is the time to pay attention to your breathing. Is it shallow? You might even find yourself holding your breath!

So pause. Take a deep breath through your nostrils and hold for 3 beats. Then breathe out through your mouth slowly. This practice helps ground you. And it helps you release the negative inner critic. 

Return to simply being in the present moment, open to possibilities that will appear. Because they will. 

8. Believe Something Good Is Coming

Above all, trust that you are on a good path. It may have taken an unexpected detour or led you to what appears to be a dead-end. 

But buying in to that belief only invites negativity. It blinds you to other possibilities. It holds you hostage and you’ll get stuck. 

However, when you adopt the habit of expecting something good will happen no matter the present turn of events, amazing things will happen.

Firstly, you can return sooner to a positive mood after the initial disappointment. When you feel optimistic, you’ll feel better.

Then when you treat a setback as temporary, it is easier to see signs or find solutions. Maybe even discover a new or better path!

Secondly, you develop resiliency. No one can foresee everything that might go sideways. And life can certainly excel with doling out the unexpected!

But knowing how to declutter your mind of disappointment and unmet expectations will allow you to bounce back quicker. It will make you stronger. It ensures you continue moving ahead, no matter what.

And thirdly, being receptive as opposed to being rigid when it comes to change is an invaluable trait to cultivate. After all, how we see things is just how things look from our own personal, limited perspective.

However, when we broaden our expectations to allow and entertain other possibilities and ideas, then we open up to being in the flow of life instead of resisting it.

Doesn’t that sound so much more effortless and exciting? I do … tell me what you think!

The Wrap With Mary V
mary v | kaitlin meyers photography

The Wrap: This Post provided an 8-Point Process for how to declutter your mind and step confidently into your future

  • Learn how to declutter your mind of negative feelings like disappointment, regret, fear, uncertainty or anxiety by identifying them and calling them out in your morning pages.
  • Embrace the “get unstuck” method described here to take control of how you react and deal with life’s twists and turns.
  • Expect good things to come your way so that you can see the signs around you and the possibilities ahead of you.

related topics & resources to explore

How To Declutter Your Mind And Dial Back Anxiety Read More »

A Clutter Free Home Starts With Reining In The Screen Time That Consumes Our Day

Clutter free living sounds so delightful, don’t you think?

But getting there from where you are right now — does it feel insurmountable and out of reach? You’re not alone!

Achieving a clutter free home after years of living a full life can feel quite daunting. Who has time to undertake such a gigantic project? Yet this is exactly why so many of us get stuck before we even start: we think we don’t have the time to spare.

However, you may be surprised that an extra hour (or even more!) can actually be lurking somewhere in your day. The key is taking an honest look at how you spend your time.

In particular, there are certain habits … like the time spent in front of a screen … which quickly take us down a rabbit hole. Before we know it, 30 or 60 minutes have elapsed. Trust me, we are all guilty of this!

Whether it’s our phone, tablet, computer, or TV, these screens are designed to hijack our focus. After all, we live in an attention seeking society. Grabbing our attention and redirecting it is basic marketing and it’s been around forever, in some shape or form. (Don’t miss the link for The Social Dilemma in The Wrap section below!)

However, today let’s mindfully review the screen time activities that consume our precious time. Then we can see the value of setting boundaries with these habits. Using the newly found minutes, we can make daily progress towards attaining a clutter free home starting today, not “some day”!

Clutter Free
anna shvets | pexels

Today's Post Calls Out 4 Screen Time Habits to tame so you can achieve a Clutter Free Home (and mind)!

clutter free meaning
anna shvets | pexels

Clutter Free Challenge: Social Media Scrolling

Firstly, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, or Clubhouse, each of these platforms is designed to capture and hold your attention.

It’s not unlike college life where there was always a party somewhere, or a group of friends just hanging out. Who wants to miss out on something fun?

And the concept of “followers” or “friends” who engage with and/or share your posts is a powerful boost for your self-esteem. Who doesn’t enjoy feeling popular, wise, funny, interesting, or attractive?

With social media, there’s always something to see, to hear, or to chime in on. Maybe you check in while you’re sipping your morning coffee. Or perhaps you pop on every time you’re waiting for something, or you catch up in between other things you’re doing. So you’re actually on it all day long, right?

Now don’t get me wrong: there’s definitely an upside to social media. You can stay in touch with geographically distant family and friends. You can make new friends all over the world and forge new career or hobby connections. And don’t forget the entertainment angle, either!

Yet sometimes before you know it, an hour (or two) has passed while you’ve been scrolling and chatting—yikes! Do you really know how much time you’re spending on social media? It might be an eye-opening discovery!

We’ll go deeper with how our time is used so hang tight for now.

making space clutter free
anna shvets | pexels

Clutter Free Challenge: Phone Notifications

Secondly, our phones have many clever ways to grab and retain our focus, too.

It could be an actual call, a text, an email, a voice message, or a social media post. Each of these announcements can be customized so we know what is happening, just by the sound of the update. Or we get visual notifications with persistent banners or popups.

And do you feel uneasy when you don’t know where your phone is? Or do you feel anxious when your battery life is at a minimum? There’s that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) creeping in again!

Also, ever notice how people waiting seem to have their heads down? We’re all looking at our phones instead of simply enjoying the pause of the present moment or engaging with someone next to us. 

What would happen if we didn’t instantly pick up our phone every time it chirped or vibrated? I wonder how much better our necks would feel!  

how to live clutter free
anna shvets | pexels

Clutter Free Challenge: E-Mail

Thirdly checking, reading, and replying to email is a never-ending spiral. It can feel like a full time job to delete spam, let alone plow through endless news updates, sale notifications from merchants, and appointment or bill reminders.

I don’t know about you, but it feels like my snail (physical) mail has substantially decreased while my email has exponentially increased! Yet how much of our email truly needs to be addressed the minute it arrives?

I come across many valuable newsletters and online magazines that focus on current events, healthy habits, or tasty recipes. It’s hard not to sign up for them all.

But how many can I realistically read daily? If I read them all, will the remainder of my day start at noon?!

clutter free mind
snacksinthebackpack | pexels

Clutter Free Challenge: TV & Streaming

Lastly, the plethora of shows and series available on network TV, cable, or streaming services is mind boggling. Once again, we are presented with an overflowing media menu. As with the other screen challenges mentioned, it’s hard to tear ourselves away from what’s before our eyes.

And after a year of social distancing, who didn’t turn to TV for some virtual “connection” with the rest of the world? It may have been mindless pleasure or educational documentaries. But either way, it was a passive block of time on the couch. Then before you know it, it was time for bed (or way past our normal turn-in time)!

clutter free home

How To Set Screen Boundaries

Now that we realize how our screen time can truly overtake our day(and maybe even our night), here are 7 suggestions to control and unclutter the way you use your time.

1. Start with Time Blocking

Each of us has 24 hours every day, so think about what absolutely needs to occur without fail. It will be a slightly different list for each of us.

Diane may need:

  • 6 hours of sleep, 1 hour for morning prep (shower/makeup/coffee, etc.), 8 hours at work, 2 hours for meal prep/eating/cleanup, 1 hour for Pilates/ 1 hour for night prep (19 hours total, leaving 5 spare hours)

Linda may require:

  • 8 hours of sleep, 30 minutes for morning prep, 2 hours to volunteer/ 1 hour at the YMCA, 2 hours for meal prep/eating/cleanup, 30 minutes for night prep (14 hours total, leaving 10 spare hours) 

The point is, we all have non-negotiable daily activities. But we still have spare hours to fill as we see fit. There will be other activities that are also important, but they’re not everyday occurrences.  Think health care appointments, grocery runs, etc. 

So how you spend your remaining time is completely up to you. It will vary, but when you have 1 or 3 or 5 unclaimed hours in a day, how will you choose to use them?

When you time block your day or week, you can see exactly how much time you have. Now you can make informed, deliberate choices, based on the time available and on what matters most to you.

2. Track your Screen Time

Be willing to calculate how much screen time you truly employ. To be clear, if it’s one of your top priorities, then carry on. But if it’s preventing you from doing something else that matters more to you, then consider making a change.

Ironically, there are apps you can use to track your phone usage! Check out the roundup of resources here: Best Phone Usage Tracker Apps. Or simply use your phone timer/alarm to monitor usage … you choose!

Certainly, a little vegging out with Netflix now and then can be a well-deserved break! But generally aligning your actions with your values and goals gives true satisfaction in the long run, don’t you think? Fewer regrets!

3. Turn Off [Almost Every] Notification

Not to be dramatic, but is it necessary to stop what you’re doing, every time you hear a social media notification? If you turn them on at only a pre-determined time, you can catch up then. Or don’t have them on at all. Just see what the platform shows you when it’s your designated screen time.

On the other hand, keep your phone or text notifications on, if you’re concerned about missing an urgent call from a family member or dear friend. In fact, if you assign a unique ringtone to those in your “inner circle”, you can choose to ignore all the rest until you have the time to shift your attention.

4. Keep Screens out of the Bedroom

Reserving your bedroom for sleep or romance is a long-standing feng shui principle. Personally, I do like to read a bit before I turn out the light. But both my phone and the TV are not allowed over the threshold.

Interestingly, the light emanating from electronic screens is challenging for our sleep patterns, as shared in this study from Harvard: Blue Light Has A Dark Side.

5. Use Airplane Mode

I’ve also learned how useful airplane mode can be, even when I’m not flying. When I need all my concentration for a task at hand, turning this on is an ingenious way to minimize interruptions.

I could try to simply ignore the audible notifications, but just hearing them can still be a distraction for my train of thought.

6. Choose Active Over Passive

Having a healthy balance with daily activities makes sense. Lots of screen time means lots of sitting. Sure, you may be interacting in a virtual conversation. But a sedentary day does not bode well for our physical, mental, and emotional well being.

Instead, carving out time for decluttering definitely does wonders as shared in this post: Decluttering Your Life Is Essential for 3 Surprising Reasons!

To be clear, we are talking about changing habits. So it’s going to be a little unsettling to do so. But you will be amazed with how much fuller your day feels, when you are not tethered to your screen! So give yourself time to make the shift … it’s so worth it!

7. Consumer versus Creator

Lastly, I alluded to the pervasive marketing that infiltrates many of our screen activities. Particularly with social media, the longer you scroll, do you feel a disconnect between what you see and what your life is like? 

Not surprisingly, the carefully curated content on social media can often lead to feeling “less than” or “not enough”. It can even have us thinking if we just bought that outfit or beauty product, our life would be better. So much for clutter free living when we feel compelled to buy more stuff!

Now maybe you don’t always succumb to the comparison game (which no one wins) or you aren’t always swayed by the siren song to buy more things. But instead of viewing all the things you could spend money on, wouldn’t you be better off focused on what’s all around you right now?

In other words, how about performing the physical activities that strengthen your body and clear your head? Or spending time in nature? Or engaging in real life with family and friends?

So yes, when you reduce your screen time, you can uncover spare time you didn’t realize you had all along. You can make headway with your clutter free mission. And in doing so, you can go deep with what matters most— to you!

The Wrap With Mary V
Mary V

The Wrap: This Post Shared the 4 common culprits which divert time away from making a home (& our head) clutter free!

  • Take time to figure out what matters most for your daily routine
  • Be deliberate with how you spend your discretionary time
  • Restrict the constant call of consumerism
  • Set yourself free: Watch The Social Dilemma

A Clutter Free Home Starts With Reining In The Screen Time That Consumes Our Day Read More »

Downsizing Your Home|How to Manage the Transition with Confidence and Joy!

When you reach the midlife marker, you’ll likely benefit from preparing to move into a smaller space. Who’s still in the house has changed and the same goes for your needs and interests. In fact, downsizing your home can truly amplify the freedom to focus on what matters most to you now! 

But if the thought of an actual move and all the decisions associated with that makes you exhausted before you’ve even started, now what? Do you put it off, delaying until you’re forced to take action? That doesn’t sound too pleasant, either!

The truth is, it’s universal to resist change. Yet if we don’t start the downsizing process sooner than later, it will result in making endless decisions under duress, during a very short period of time.

If you’re unable to make uncluttering choices, others will have to do it for you. Either paid professionals will sort through your personal belongings or your own family will need to shoulder the task. Is that the ideal legacy you envision leaving behind?

To be clear, downsizing your home requires effort and time. However, this is exactly why starting now will position you so much better for how you want your next life chapter to unfold. You have the final word with what happens with your stuff and also where you land. And really, isn’t having control what we all want to retain? 

Today's post shares 9 vital steps that facilitate the process of downsizing your home

how to downsize your home
moose | pexels

#1: The Power of Now

While all of the steps shared here are important, they don’t need to be performed in any particular order … except for this one. Until you start, downsizing your home will be just a good idea for “some day”. And the only way to turn “some day” into “today” is by taking action now.

Why is it difficult to begin? There are any number of reasons for dragging your feet, but it’s usually our feelings that play a primary role: It feels overwhelming. It feels sad. Maybe it feels like work when you’d rather play. Everything entailed with downsizing your home can feel like all of this at once, yikes!

Nevertheless, what’s the most common reason for resistance? We feel like it’s too soon — that we have time. And while that could very well be true, exactly how much time do you have: is it 1 year, 5 years or 20 years? It’s really a guessing game, don’t you think? 

When you realize this, starting now begins to make a lot of sense. And the best way to embrace a new routine is by taking small, deliberate steps. After reading this post, why not spend 15-20 minutes on creating a basic downsizing plan for yourself? Start with a list of the benefits you will realize as a result. And keep tweaking your plan as you hone in on what makes sense for you. Doesn’t it feel good to be in charge of your next chapter?

#2: Declutter Daily

If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know this one is near and dear to my heart! Decluttering is an incredible vehicle for releasing what is no longer relevant now. It opens up space between your essentials.

And obviously, the nature of downsizing is that your new place will have less square footage. But that’s only in regards to physical stuff. Downsizing your home actually makes room for the time and energy to focus on what matters now. So yes, it’s an expansive activity, when you think about it!

Also, keep in mind that your decluttering sessions don’t have to be all day affairs. 30 minutes a day can make significant inroads with letting go of extra, expired, no-longer-needed stuff. In fact, removing clutter facilitates space planning for your new landing spot, too! 

Refer to this post for what not to haul to your new digs: Downsizing Tips: 5 Big Things to Release & 5 Awesome Alternatives for a Smaller Space.

#3: Design Your Next Chapter

After years of tending to the needs of others … our employers, our families, and our communities … now is the time to contemplate what you want to do more of! How exciting is that?

Now don’t get me wrong: the life choices made were (hopefully) quite deliberate and satisfying. And of course, you’ve carved out some “me time” along the way. But that time can likely start to double or triple once you’re over 50.

It may feel strange to contemplate spending more time in a different way, going deeper with what interests you now. But as you clear space in your home, you can begin to envision what you’d like to explore that you didn’t have the time for, until now. And if you’re married or with a life partner, there will be the opportunity to discover new mutual activities, as well!

Check out this post for more concepts about shifting into your next life chapter: 5 Ways to Harness Your Midlife Transition and Avert a Midlife Crisis! 

when is a good time to downsize your home
cottonbro | pexels

#4: Research Your Options

This is a step that calls for a way to gather ideas about where you’d like to live and how you see that space accommodating your new chapter’s activities. Nothing fancy is needed: an old school notebook, a Pinterest board, or a folder on your computer all work fine. 

Without a doubt, there are an infinite number of places where you could land. It could very well be a stepping stone for yet another downsizing move, as your needs change with age. So think about what would realistically meet your needs and desires for the next 10-20 years. And then go deeper to see where those options are, within the geographic radius you’ve set. Road trip, anyone? 

#5: Documents & Vital Records

Now you may already be super organized with your personal records. But it never hurts to revisit financial and health documents to ensure they are up-to-date and accessible when needed.

Where are you at with the following basic records:

  • A will
  • An Advanced Health Care Initiative (AHCI)
  • An appointed executor for your estate
  • Specific written bequeaths (or have you only expressed your wishes verbally? Is everyone on the same page?)
  • A list of current medications/dosages
  • A list of current physicians
  • Power of Attorney (general or specific)
  • A list of current creditors and account numbers
  • A list of current assets with account numbers

Annually reviewing your vital records will help you and your representative make smooth decisions that reflect your wishes and best interests.

Head here for more intel on the essential health and financial documents which express your wishes when you are unable to communicate them yourself: Caregiver.org resources.

#6: Communicate Your Vision

Once you’ve verified that your financial and health care documentation is in order, who needs to know? Whoever will be acting on your behalf should be kept in the loop.

Certainly, not all details need to be disclosed ahead of time, such as exact account balances. But access to the documentation when needed is crucial so that your wishes can be carried out. Leaving behind an orderly legacy means you will not be passing along an unnecessary burden to your loved ones.

If the conversation feels awkward or difficult, you could handle it as simply as a sealed envelope with the instructions to open in the event of catastrophic illness (you are not conscious or able to make decisions) or death. Or keep it in a home safe but share the combination with your appointed “go-to” person.

I know, talking about end-of-life decisions is not a cheerful or easy topic! However, if you have certain desires for medical care, estate distribution and your funeral/life celebration, you need to relay your wishes.

Sometimes, people think, “It doesn’t matter once I’m gone”, but it does to whoever needs to make those decisions on your behalf. Why not make the process clear? And in doing so, it’s also an opportunity for you to reflect on your own life and how you want to be remembered.

the unexpected benefits of downsizing your home
gary barnes | pexels

#7: Honor Your Past

To be clear, downsizing your home means releasing stuff that once mattered. So it can feel a little disrespectful of where you’ve been and who was there with you.

Indeed, it takes time to embrace the idea that a life chapter has ended. But what if you viewed the process as a time to appreciate your journey thus far? And now it’s time for a new chapter to unfold … and you get to be the author, so start drafting your vision!

As a matter of fact, this approach is known as “Döstädning”, or “Swedish Death Cleaning”. It transforms downsizing and decluttering into a positive process to chart your next move. For more, check out this post: Swedish Death Cleaning: A Savvy Celebration of Life.

Ultimately, our personal belongings are merely representations of our journey and the people who were with us along the way. Yes, some of the memories can fade over time. But the love always remains.

#8: Accept Change Gracefully

Undoubtedly, change is not always a welcome visitor at our door! When we feel content with the status quo, having it disrupted is unpleasant. But ignoring or resisting change doesn’t keep it at bay, does it?

If you think about it, lack of control and fear of the unknown seem to be the common culprits for why we oppose change. Yet we do have power: we can control our outlook, our attitude and our response to the twists and turns of our life journey. 

In other words, knowing that change is inevitable, we can proactively take steps to acknowledge it but on our own terms! That’s where downsizing comes into play. We know that an overly large home and too much unused stuff in it doesn’t support our current or future needs. When we plan for our next smaller space, we control where and what it will be. 

#9: Embrace Your Journey

Lastly, we don’t know exactly what our future holds, do we? But it certainly feels better to remain upbeat and optimistic. And this includes making realistic housing choices for where we are now and where we want to be.

Not everything has to be super-sized when it comes to our material possessions. Imagine if we focused on supersizing our next life chapter instead? What would make you eager to jump out of bed each morning? How can you share your talents, interests and abilities now? What will bring you joy? How can you make a difference today, with your wisdom and experience thus far?

When you think about life in these terms, you’ll continue to appreciate your unique path. And that sounds like a very full life to me, what do you think?

The Wrap: This post reviewed 9 tips that ensure downsizing your home gets going in a timely and effective manner

The Wrap With Mary V
Mary V | Shift Your Stories
  •  Downsizing the family home doesn’t have to be a downer when you view it as a liberating step leading to your next life chapter!
  • Decluttering paves the way to designing a new space with what matters now … here’s any easy way to do it—> A Decluttering Checklist for Better Living Today, Not “Some Day”!
  • Take control and define where you want to land next by starting now!

Downsizing Your Home|How to Manage the Transition with Confidence and Joy! Read More »

How to Start Decluttering When Overwhelmed

How to Start Decluttering When Overwhelmed | A Mindful Method for the Win!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have some amount of stuff they no longer need, use, or want. A full life contributes to excess things in the house. But when it comes time to do something about it, where to start? What to release? What to keep? Sell or donate or toss? So many questions! Indeed, how to start decluttering when overwhelmed is a universal question to answer so we can get it done!

But stick with me to get unstuck! Just like any resolution, project or goal, creating a game plan for how to get it done is essential.

Having a basic decluttering plan is like having a map to plot how you’re going to drive from Point A to Point B. When the distance between the two is far, knowing when and where you’ll stop to rest and refuel along the way is critical. It prevents running out of gas on a couple of levels! And taking your time instead of speeding allows you to admire the scenery along the way. 

Similarly, accumulating stuff in your home didn’t happen in a day or a weekend. So it’s going to take time to sort things out. While you’re decluttering, emotions will arise … some good, some not-so-good. This is why pausing to process your feelings lets you appreciate the people, places and events represented by your stuff. Then you can release the excess without regret as you clear space for a new life chapter!

Shall we get started?

How to start decluttering when overwhelmed
pixabay | pexels

Today's post provides a step-by-step plan for how to start decluttering when overwhelmed so you can clear space with confidence and joy!

how to start decluttering when overwhelmed
ivan samkov | pexels

Step 1: Begin with "Why"

Everyone who contemplates decluttering has the same primary goal: less stuff, more space. But from there, we each have a unique set of secondary reasons for what we want, need, or hope will happen. 

For example, Stephanie wants to clear space for an art room in her home. It’s been too long since she’s had time to pick up a brush or her sketchbook. She needs a dedicated space for painting. Hauling out her supplies from the basement, setting up her easel in the family room, and then taking it all down again is tiresome. She hopes to create pastel images of her worldwide travels. She envisions creating a greeting card collection to raffle off at her annual church fundraiser. This is Stephanie’s personal “why”.

What’s your “why”? Close your eyes and ask yourself, ” What could and would I do if I had less stuff to deal with and maintain?” “What interests me that I’m not doing now?” “What would make me eager to get out of bed each morning?” Honor what your heart tells you and write that down.

By defining exactly what decluttering will do for you, you create a powerful reminder to continue making room for your personal goals. Then when your resolve is faltering, your “why” will bolster your commitment to decluttering for what matters most to you now … not 5, 10 or more years ago!

Step 2: Create A Look Book

Next, gather images of how you’d love your space to appear. There’s nothing like a beautiful visual to keep you on track when you’re not quite feeling the decluttering vibe.

But do keep in mind: creating a collection of inspiration shouldn’t turn into a whole other major project. The main goal is to focus on clearing space in your actual house, not on curating an imaginary home!

   So keep it simple with the approach that suits you. For instance, creating a Pinterest board is one way. Constructing a vision board with magazine clippings is another. Or compiling a dropbox or folder on your computer works, too. In fact, even taping an image of your ideal room in each of your rooms could do the trick, too … you choose!

Step 3: Pick A Room

Now, decide where you’re going to begin decluttering. If you’re like most people, there’s likely excess stuff in every room. But my suggestion is to pick a room that you have to spend time in every day. And start in the smallest room to achieve the quickest results.

The reason is this: the sooner you declutter that room, the more noticeable the improvement will be, since you’re in there frequently. And the sooner you feel the positive impact, the more encouraged you will be to keep going!

So consider the kitchen, the bedroom or the bathroom. It’s pretty hard to avoid those areas, don’t you think? I mean, we have to eat, we have to sleep and we have to ___ … you get the idea! That’s why they will give you the quickest and biggest boost when you’re not sure how to start decluttering when overwhelmed. 

decluttering tips
karolina grabowska | pexels

Step 4: Keep It "Easy"

Once you’ve landed on your first designated room, begin with the surface areas. Then move on to drawers, cabinets and closets. As you clear cluttered counters and remove stuff stacked on the floor, use a simple 3-bin sorting system: “toss”, “donate” or “keep”.

Firstly, anything broken, expired or missing parts constitutes “trash” so pitch those items. No one needs stuff that doesn’t work any more.

Secondly, serviceable items you no longer need or use get set aside and go right in your car trunk for a donation run. If a pickup is possible, stage the items in one room or your garage and then call the charity of your choice to come get the goodies! Refer to this post for the easiest ways to donate wardrobe contents: Donating Old Clothes & Recycling Textiles | Repurposing for A Better Planet!

Thirdly, stuff you need and use either stays or gets relocated to the proper shelf/drawer/room when your decluttering session is done. Ending each decluttering session with putting things back where they belong has the added bonus of reinforcing this habit … sneaky yet effective, no?

If you feel uncertain just deciding what things belong in each category, no worries! You can adopt a universal definition of clutter for your space clearing here: Clutter Definition: What Exactly Is It So We Can Confidently Declutter With Clarity?

Step 5: Keep It Short

Also, set an alert on your phone for how long your session will last. It may be tempting to go all in on a marathon session. Certainly, that’s up to you!

However, keeping the sessions at less than an hour but increasing the frequency of those sessions tends to solidify your new habit of decluttering. 

Again, you decide what fits best with your calendar. There will be sessions that take more effort to start, depending on your mood. When you’re “not feeling it”, refer back to your “why” statement. Then stop overthinking and start doing. You’ll be glad you did it!

Step 6: Track Your Effort

Now keeping a decluttering log may seem like yet one more thing to do. But it doesn’t have to be onerous or time-consuming. The point is simply to track evidence of your results.

We can forget just how much we’ve accomplished if we don’t have a record of what we’ve done. So do this however you like: pictures of the boxes or even the actual contents cleared; a notebook with a list of decluttered items; or a tally of how many items or boxes have left the home. 

Then, when you’re feeling demotivated or discouraged with how much more there is to unclutter, take a look at what you’ve done so far. Evidence of progress is a fabulous way to keep going forward! 

making space clutter free
daniel reche | pexels

Step 7: Identify The Emotion

Without a doubt, you’re going to get sidelined with emotions as you consider letting go certain items. Sentimental or inherited things from those we love are the very hardest to release!

When guilt, worry, or regret start creeping in, it’s time to pause. Recognize the emotion and take a few breaths to center yourself. It’s universal to feel like we are dishonoring our family if we choose to not keep each and every single thing they gave us.

But if you know in your heart that you don’t need, use or truly want the stuff … if it’s sitting idle in a box or gathering dust in a closet … what’s the point of that? 

Wouldn’t you agree your loved ones did not intend to pass along guilt or worry to you? Instead, remind yourself that the item was given to make you happy. So close your eyes and feel that love.

Keep the love. Release the item.

 Let it go so that someone who will actually appreciate, use and enjoy the item can have it! Because your house is a home, not a museum.

Step 8: Reset Your Inner Voice

In order to continue uncluttering, having a few meaningful mantras can truly set us free. We’re digging into things that bring up memories or associations with times we felt “less than”. There’s a reason we’ve clung to the excess stuff we have. But now, when the reason is no longer (or maybe never) valid, it’s time for logic to prevail.

If your little voice whispers, “But I paid so much for this!” substitute, “This isn’t my style!” Or when you’re hearing, “What if I need this someday?”  then replace that with, “If I need more, I will get more!”

Sometimes, sifting through stuff will remind us of when we missed the mark, got off track, or made a decision we regret. Now what? It’s time to forgive ourselves, that’s what! It’s time to encourage ourselves: “Now I know better!” Or say,  “I did the best I could!” 

After all, we are only human. Part of our journey is learning lessons along the way. And then moving on. It’s time, don’t you think?

Step 9: Believe in Yourself

Above all, know that you can do this! You have the power within to pursue your goals and dreams, no matter how big they are. The key is to break them down into manageable chunks.

Instead of getting ahead of ourselves and comparing where we are right now to where we want to be, focus only on your next step. Then the next one after that. And so on.

Comparison is a sure-fire way to feel demotivated and overwhelmed. So the value of the decluttering plan I’ve laid out is that you work it one day at a time. Focus on your end goal as a source of inspiration, not as a lofty out-of-reach wish. 

In fact, realize that your decluttering journey is truly an opportunity to review where you’ve been. It will reveal where you want to head next. With patience for the process and love for yourself, you’ve going to arrive where you want to be! Now doesn’t that sound like something worth doing? 

The Wrap With Mary V
Mary V

The Wrap: This Post Shared a 9-Point PLan for how to start decluttering when overwhelmed so you can clear space for a new life chapter!

  • Learn how to start decluttering when overwhelmed by following this simple yet powerful process.
  • Take time to capture your “why”: understand what you personally need, want and hope to achieve by uncluttering your home.
  • Treat yourself gently and lovingly on your decluttering journey.
  • Know that you can do this … I believe in you!

How to Start Decluttering When Overwhelmed | A Mindful Method for the Win! Read More »

Motivation to Declutter

Motivation to Declutter: 5 Free Tools to Get Going & Keep Going (Even When You’re Not Always Feeling It!)

Uncluttering may be one of your 2021 resolutions, but with the year half over (gulp) have you actually felt full-on motivation to declutter?

Or is it one of those annual goals you just can’t seem to completely execute, no matter how much sense it makes?

Just like anything that’s “good” for us … drinking more water (and less wine!), dropping some pounds, walking a few more steps, or scrolling less on social media … these goals remain out of reach without consistent follow through.

But trust me: the motivation to clear space (or to do whatever is on your list) is actually within you … really!

Without a doubt, everyone falters at some point. We get distracted, bored, indecisive, or just plain tired of what we need or even want to do. But don’t beat yourself up and don’t give up. Instead, let’s do this together!

I’m here to help, so today, let’s begin with unpacking five fabulous tools which I promise will get you in motion and get your clutter out the door!

And as a bonus, I’ve got a link at the end of this post to 5 FREE tool printables and then  you can start your space clearing journey today!

motivation to declutter
godisable jacob | pexels

Today's post provides 5 terrific tools that unleash your motivation to declutter so you can get this done!

How to Get Motivated to Declutter your House
leah kelley | pexels

Tool #1: A Charter For Your Motivation To Declutter

The best place to start is by asking yourself this initial question: “What’s my motivation to declutter?”

Now I can almost see you blink and hear you say, “Wait, what? Isn’t it obvious? I’ve got too much stuff!”

Well, yes! Certainly, one of the end goals is the same for all of us: less stuff, more space. But it’s our “why” that is unique for what drives each one of us to yearn for clearer space in our homes.

Therefore, creating a “Charter”, or vision, for how you want your home to look and feel is important. And because our homes are truly a reflection of ourselves, what you really want to focus on is yourself!

Complete 3 statements which form the basis of your Charter

             -> I need to declutter my home because…

             -> I want to declutter my home because….

             -> I hope to free up time/money/space so that I can…

For example, consider Janet, who is habitually late for everything. She struggles to get out the door because she’s never quite sure where her keys, her sunglasses, or sometimes even her phone have landed. She rarely entertains because her house is perpetually messy.

Her motivation to declutter is organization. The statements she jots down may sounds something like “I need to declutter because I’m constantly trying to find things. I want to declutter because I’d like to have friends over for dinner but I’m embarrassed they’ll see how chaotic my kitchen is. I hope to free up time so I’m not feeling anxious on a daily basis because I’m always behind.”

When Janet glances at her decluttering Charter, it incentivizes her to get started. In other words, it breaks the general goal down into deeply personal, specific desires which resonate with her. It fortifies her to keep going. That’s the power of a personal decluttering Charter! 

Also, know that a personal Charter is a for-your-eyes-only statement.  It’s the ammunition for why decluttering matters to you alone. So be honest with yourself: How do you want to feel? What do you truly want to achieve and why? The answers will help set you free!

Motivation to Declutter House
keira burton | pexels

Tool #2: A Tracker For Your Decluttering Mood

Now, create short opening and closing rituals for your decluttering session by capturing your current mood.

Feelings often dictate what our next action will be. So if you’re feeling anxious, distracted, lethargic, or any other number of negative emotions, your decluttering session could be in jeopardy!

Simply jot down a couple of words, a smiley face, or a frowny image to reflect your beginning state of mind. If you’re not in an upbeat mood, add a few words to explain what’s bothering you. Then “park” your concerns here. Tell yourself that you will set aside time to address what’s gnawing at you (and be sure to follow through).

Even when you don’t have a solution to your worries, just acknowledging what’s weighing on your mind is surprisingly helpful for lightening your mood. And now your decluttering session will be much more productive, too! 

When you’re done, give yourself a star for powering on! You’ll feel accomplished after most sessions. Oh, there will occasional stints which are emotionally difficult when you are sorting through sentimental stuff. Take time to process those feelings. Guilt is one of the most common emotional demons to descend!

Just remember that your possessions are merely symbols of people, places, and events you’ve experienced. Releasing the things in no way dishonors who and what you love.

Keep the love. Release the no-longer-needed stuff.

motivating yourself to declutter
andrea pacquiadio | pexels

Tool #3: A Summary Of Your Decluttering Accomplishments

Next, document which room you worked in and what stuff you released.

As time goes by, you will be amazed with what you’ve accomplished. Even just 20-30 minutes a day will yield noticeable results. One drawer, one shelf, or one cabinet cleared at a time gets you closer to your decluttering goals. 

Seeing your efforts in black and white solidifies the progress you’re making. Which makes continuing so much easier. How can you stop now!

In fact, you may even choose to reward yourself along the way, as you achieve certain milestones. For example, every 30 days of decluttering or each time an entire room is cleared, indulge in a small pleasure like fresh flowers or a scheduled massage. You earned it!

By the way, if you’re feeling a little fuzzy about what’s true clutter in your home, this post will help you see things with new eyes: Clutter Definition: What Exactly Is It So We Can Confidently Declutter With Clarity?

How to declutter your mind
andrea pacquiadio | pexels

Tool #4: A List of Your Decluttering revelations

Meanwhile, as your list of decluttering accomplishments grows, pause to review what kind of stuff you’ve kept.

Is it a little eye opening to see what you’re releasing? Are you taken aback with what you’ve amassed? Join the club! 

Many of us are thinking, “How did I end up with so many __?” or, “I don’t wear most of what’s in my closet!” and even, “I have organizers but I’m not really organized!” Indeed, seeing exactly what we have a habit of overbuying or stashing away is the real epiphany for all of us.

Once we acknowledge our own clutter habits, it becomes so much easier to continue releasing what we truly don’t need or use any more. And this enables us to shift our behavior, as well.

Now, we can be more mindful with what comes in the door. Especially since we declared in our Charter what we hope to accomplish with our decluttering efforts!

At any point if you get stuck with the decluttering process, this post will gently but firmly get you back on track: How to Start (and Continue) Decluttering When Overwhelmed.

how to motivate yourself to declutter
keira burton | pexels

Tool #5: A Roundup of Personal Decluttering Mantras

Lastly, when the going gets hard … and it will happen from time to time … having a few key reminders will fortify when we get stalled.

When you are faltering with your “keep or release” decisions, that hesitation is usually a sign that the item does need to go. And you know it deep down, as well. However, there is an underlying emotion which is holding you back. This is the critical time to pause and identify what you’re feeling so that you can let the item go anyway!

For instance, is Guilt the culprit for too much stuff in your wardrobe? Use the mantra, “This isn’t my style any more”. If it’s Disappointment that’s holding you back from releasing things from a relationship that went south, try a mantra like, “I did the best I could at the time”. Whatever negative emotion is at play, remind yourself, “Now I know better!” Doesn’t that feel better? 

In other words, give yourself grace to start over over. Forgive yourself for past actions and decisions. Or as I like to say, “Shift your stories!” Life is like a book of chapters and you as the author can turn the page and write a new one!

With this realization, your motivation to declutter is sure to be front and center as you look forward to where you want to head next!

The Wrap With Mary V
Mary V | Shift Your Stories

Today's Post was all about uncovering the motivation to declutter by using 5 powerful tools so you can clear space like a boss!

If decluttering was easy, we’d all have perfectly uncluttered homes right now!

  • Overcoming inertia is the biggest obstacle to getting started. 
  • Creating a systemized approach which captures your needs, wants and dreams will keep you going.
  • Acknowledging your feelings and countering the negative emotions with positive affirmations will shift you to where you want to be!

Are you ready? Grab your free printables here!

Motivation to Declutter: 5 Free Tools to Get Going & Keep Going (Even When You’re Not Always Feeling It!) Read More »

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