change

present moments

Drink In The Respite and Renewal of Ordinary Present Moments

Take five for a new coffee break story!

The present moments feel satisfyingly full when I appreciate what a gift they truly are!

I’m referring to the mundane tasks, ordinary moments, and non-events that are legitimate parts of my day. Those commonplace aspects are invaluable counterparts that let the occasional extraordinary moments and thrilling activities shine. And they also give relief to my active squirrel brain, ha!

Young children and older adults seem to readily grasp the beauty of average present moments. The former are yet unburdened with the business and busyness of life. And the latter are wise to fewer days stretching ahead than behind; they no longer take any time for granted. 

Today’s 2-minute Coffee Break Story celebrates our present moments! If you’re new to these tiny tales, they’re short form reads, 5-minutes or less. You’ll find links to prior #coffeebreakstories below.

For now, refill your cup, sit back, relax, and enjoy!

present moments
Image by Artem Beliaikin

Present Moments Matter

Present Moments
Mary V's Happy Place

Coffee Story Wrap On Present Moments

We are served selected slices of other people’s stories all day long. It’s easy to get caught up in 24-7 cajoling to constantly be in motion with something exciting, admirable, or new. Sometimes, it makes our own ordinary days feel lacking. I don’t buy into that (any more), nor should you! 

Slow down. Breathe. Step mindfully into your day.

Focus on your commonplace present moments and you’ll start to treasure just how invaluable they are.

+++     +++     +++

Make room for this soulful contemplation of the ordinary by the extraordinary Eckhart Tolle. His calm delivery lowers my blood pressure!

Head here to catch up with the kickoff of Coffee Break Stories. 

And thanks for stopping by!

authenticity

Authenticity Means Making Mischief, Mayhem, and Mistakes—Wheee!

“The authentic self is soul made visible.” —Sarah Ban Breathnach

authenticity
Author feeling frisky at Praza do Obradoiro, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

S.W.S.W.S.W.N.

Which means:

Some Will, Some Won't, So What? Next!

Mischief, mayhem, and mistakes: What could go wrong? How about what could go right!

authenticity
Mary V in her beloved Sonoran Desert, Carefree, Arizona

The Wrap On Authenticity

Browsing through my photos from a visit to the culmination of the Camino pilgrimage in Spain provided the prompt for this story. The combination of both sacred and playful moments on my journey was exhilarating!

For an approach I use to unleash courage and curiosity, try this.

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
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)

coffee break stories

Two-fer You: Dishing Up 2 Shortie Coffee Break Stories

Introducing weekly coffee break stories!

I’m kicking off a new writing form which I’m calling coffee break stories. Each is less than a 3 minute read—perfect when you’re sipping a cup of coffee.

The content can be anything at all, but the length is similar to “short form”, which is typically 150 words or less. I’m a tad casual with this, so sometimes stretching to 175-ish or so. (My forum, my choice, hehe!)

In fact, today is a bonus, or “two-fer”: two short stories I recently published on a different platform called Medium. I hope you find value in these little snippets of personal observations. They’re snack-sized musings to inspire, support, amuse or connect us in spirit.

But before you dive into today’s double shot coffee break stories…

What is Medium?

This social platform is for anyone who wants to write and everyone who wants to read. Over 175,000 writers publish stories about everything under the sun. And it’s estimated there are well over 60 million readers for said stories.

You can read 3 stories for free each month or sign up at a mere $5.00/month to receive unlimited access using my link over here.

Initially, I was hesitant to jump on yet one more social platform. I abandoned Clubhouse, I’m mostly a random lurker on FB (gotta grab the latest memes there!) and I sporadically post on IG. But I couldn’t resist the opportunity to participate in a community that’s focused on writing and reading—two of my favorite activities!

Once you have achieved 100 followers, you can be paid for your writing in Medium’s Partner Program, based solely on the time people spend reading your words. So I thought, why not?!

Then I quickly realized there’s an algorithm at play (of course!) that determines who sees your stories. Which is why so many writers create “reciprocal-reading” pods to boost each others’ earnings. It’s not unlike IG’s follow-for-follows/like-for-likes groups, which I find problematic … what if you don’t like someone else’s stuff? Sigh! So I haven’t done that.

You can have hundreds or thousands of followers. But if they don’t take the time to read your articles, your work could go largely unnoticed—and unpaid. If the platform editors find you and like your writing, they can disseminate your work. And then if your article goes viral, the dollars can roll in. Lotta “ifs” there!

The top writers reportedly make $25,000/month! But we’re talking about a rarified few. The majority of paid writers realize less than $100/month and some stories make less than a dollar. Obviously, talent and writing about popular topics matter. But beyond that, it takes a lot ( and I mean a LOT) of reading and writing. Best not to quit your day job. Unless you have the time.

So why did I join?

It’s become a great place for me to experiment with different writing styles. Like short form, poetry, or essays. And I’m exposed to so many other writers! Some good, some not-so-good. It gives me a sense of what’s being shared in the writing world and where I find myself fitting in.

Also, about that monetary payout: it’s humbling to labor over an article … searching for the perfect image … pulling my thoughts out of my head … capturing them on paper … polishing my words until I tell my Inner Perfectionist to stop! And then getting only a dollar or two for those hours— double sigh!

But that’s the dirty underside of the writing world. “Best selling author” status? This refers to who gets disseminated the best—not necessarily who writes the best! Not all gifted artists are gifted with selling.

One can write soul-stifling manuals for a corporation. Or clever, SEO-loving content for publications. Or from-the-heart ideas and musings for personal pleasure. The pay range is vast and is determined by demand.

Ultimately, you simply need to work the writing venn diagram to find your own sweet spot for why you write and what you expect (or need) in return. 

Me? I’m writing because I can’t not write. When I’m in alignment with my higher self, inspiration comes. And then the words follow. Truthfully, I’m often taken aback at the direction my writing takes but I’ve learned not to question my muse.

Now on to the two coffee break stories for your weekend pleasure, while sipping on your beverage of choice. Enjoy!

Coffee Break Stories #1

coffee break stories

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman!

Coffee Break Stories #2

Don’t Forget To Applaud Every Step Of Your Journey

It’s about more than just the arrival

As much as we admire a lush bouquet, the real beauty is found in the transition from bud to bloom. Just look how far this flower has evolved!

There’s tremendous inspiration with witnessing the process, not just acknowledging the end result, no?

“Everything is hard before it’s easy” —Goethe J.W.

Not unlike the work of growing outside our comfort zone. It’s quite impressive when you reflect on your determined endeavors to flourish.

Start your own evolution with steady steps. There will be effort required to push through some dirt and rocks, no doubt about it.

But you can do it … I believe in you!

Do you?

The Wrap On Coffee Break Stories

Who doesn’t have an overflowing in-box? Lots of intel coming our way, all the time. Yet finding the time—so challenging!

None of my Medium stories (so far) have exceeded 5 minutes. If you’re curious for more, circle back to this Medium story which I reposted here.

Let me know your thoughts about receiving little weekend nuggets to accompany your coffee … and thanks for stopping by!

Pro-Ageing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pro-ageing

"Girls Just Want To Have Fun"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But wait, there’s more!

over 70 and rocking it

"Born This Way"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pro ageing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now? What’s her aim on IG?

To give courage to my age group and forgiveness. 

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

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

pro age

"Don't Fear The Reaper"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

shift your stories

The Wrap on Pro Ageing with Mimi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your turn!

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

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

“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!

new midlife friends

Midlife Adventures With Making New Friends

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

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What I learned

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

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

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

Your Turn!

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

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

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

And thanks for stopping by!

Intentional Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

……………………………………………………………

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

living with intention

What I'll Do More Of This Year

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

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

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

Such as:

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

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

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

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

The more I do them, the better I feel.

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

What I'll Do Less Of This Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

intentional living

The Wrap On Intentional Living By Way of Little Habits

Intentional Living allows us to live our best lives.

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

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

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

………………………………………………………….

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

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

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

…And thanks for stopping by!

Other Posts You May Enjoy

new year, new me

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

Happy (almost) New Year!

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

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

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

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

New Year

1. A New Path In The New Year Feels Right

My heart was yearning for me to make a shift.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It hit me this summer.

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

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

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

3. I Decluttered The 24-7 Updates

I turned the dial down—way down!

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

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

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

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

First, I paused my social media presence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second, I reduced my news sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wrap: Heading Into A New Year

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

Or at least get closer with how to get there.

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you come with me! 

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!

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