clarity

shorties

3 Weekend Shorties: Words To Make You Pause and Smile

Today’s Shorties are not my own words but they spoke to me and so I’m sharing for your reading pleasure as well.

It’s Thanksgiving Week in the USA. We’re blanketed here with multi-layers of seasonal gratitude, family drama, and Black Friday sales notifications. 😲

So just like a couple of fish tacos washed down with a margarita would be a welcome respite after all the turkey and pumpkin pie, I thought these three Shorties would be a welcome break for your spirit! 🌟

The first one is a sweet reminder, the second is a soulful nudge, and the third? Well, it made ME laugh—so I say it’s a gentle chuckle! 😁

Refill your mug with your favorite beverage 🍺 (I won’t judge) —and enjoy!

shorties
los muertos crew | pexels

Shortie #1 | who are you really?

you are not a name

or a height, or a weight

or a gender

you are not an age

and you are not where you are from

 

you are your favorite books

and the songs stuck in your head

you are your thoughts

and what you eat for breakfast

on Saturday mornings

you are a thousand things

but everyone chooses

to see the million things 

you are not

you are not

where you are from

you are

where you are going

and I’d like

to go there

too

—mk | bella GRACE

shortie
fauxels | pexels

Shortie #2 | What Is Heaven?

Once upon a time there was a woman who longed to find out what heaven is like. She prayed constantly, “O God, grant me in this life a vision of paradise.”

She prayed in this way for years until one night she had a dream. An angel came and led her to heaven. They walked down a street in paradise until they came to an ordinary looking house. The angel said, “Go look inside.”

So the woman walked in and found a person preparing supper, another reading the newspaper, and children playing with their toys. She was disappointed and returned to the angel on the street.

“Is this all there is to heaven?”

The angel replied, “Those people you saw in that house are not in paradise, paradise is in them!”

—Edward Hayes, Feathers on the Wind

thanksgiving day funny
pixabay | pexels

Shortie #3 | A Pilgrim's Tale

He entered sheepishly and knelt at his wife’s bedside.

“Priscilla dearest, she meant nothing to me! Can you ever forgive me?”

She was flushed. “Yes, John. Love is forgiveness.”

“Angel!” He kissed her forehead, grabbed his musket, and left, slamming the front door.

Priscilla leaned over the bed’s edge to peer beneath.

“Miles!” she beckoned.

—Curt Homan, The World’s Shortest Stories

shorties

However you’re spending this weekend, take time to recalibrate.

It’s easy to get caught up in the seasonal hustle. Which is where these little Shorties, or #CoffeeBreakStories come to the rescue. Who doesn’t welcome a 1-2 minute diversion? 

Circle back here  or here to sample a few prior #CoffeeBreakStories. 

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Your turn:

  • Which was your favorite?
  • What’s going on with your weekend?

You can send your thoughts to me right here: maryv@shiftyourstories.com

…And thanks for dropping by! 🙋🏻‍♀️

third trimester

Finding My Stride In The Third Trimester Of Life

Umm…what the heck does she mean by “my third trimester“? 🤔

This: I intend to live into my 90s (or die trying 😜) so I’m simply dividing my life story into thirds. And last month, I officially stepped into my final third when I turned 60! 🎂 🔥 🚿🚒 

(Humor me ▶️ )

WooHoo….Didja dance with me?? 💃🏻

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

OK, now I have to say, this new perspective on my remaining years  feels quite ingenious. Recently, I’d been fretting about how to Have Purpose, Keep Learning, and Remain Productive. I shared those concerns here, if you missed it. And all because I was still stuck in high-gear-career mode.

30+ year habits take time to shift! 🙄

Yet ironically, once I hit publish with that post, I felt my angst begin to dissolve! To be clear, I still had no epiphany as to exactly what I would do in my last trimester.

However, once I no longer viewed “retirement” as the great divide…the beginning of the end… an inevitable descent into old age and irrelevancy…I was able to exhale. To relax. To anticipate genuine glimmers of great possibilities ahead! 🌟

In other words, it was time to treat this third life chapter as an exciting, vibrant transition rather than a sad, downhill decline! 🤯 

Got your mug refilled? ☕️ Read on for how I’m defining life’s phases as I shift into the culmination of a life well-lived (’cause it’s not over yet!) 🌱☀️

1st Trimester: Finding Our Footing

Who am I
anastasiya gepp | pexels

Our first 30 years are really about figuring out who we are and how we fit into the world.

There is no singularly perfect timeline for this. Some may readily identify where they want to go and their path appears smooth and uninterrupted. (emphasis on “appears”—no one is without doubt and angst!)

Others take the “scenic route” which has detours and delays and even occasional dead-ends. Yet who’s to say this isn’t the best path for them?

In either case, we are developing self-awareness and seeking what lights us up, as we find a place in this world. It’s a trimester of tremendous growth, hope, and discovery.

And with focused intention, we can continue to hone who we are in the next two trimesters, as well!

2nd Trimester: Manifesting Dreams 'n' Goals

busyness
sarah chai | pexels

Next, our second trimester (ages 30-60) is about creating and building the life we want. 

Like most, I juggled family and work duties. Yet homemaking was not my first goal. In fact, I recall deliberately passing on typing class in high school as I was determined to be more than a secretary (OK, a wee bit short-sighted, per my permanently wonky keyboard skills! 😜) 

I had eagerly responded to the societal call in the 80s: “Go be anything you want to be—you can!”. My career path was made possible by the many, many tenacious women before me who demanded the power and right to choose a path outside the home. I found it thrilling. 

Yet that phrase, “work-life balance”? The reality was incredibly exhausting, since something always has to give. 🙇🏻‍♀️

3rd Trimester: Releasing Our Inner Child

third trimester
image by anderson guerra from pexels

This is the final trimester which brings us full circle!

Once again we’re back to figuring out who we are and how we fit into the world.

However, all the angst we felt in our 1st trimester with worrying what others think? Who cares! Time to let that go and pursue what we want. It’s our life!

And still basing our value on what we do for a living, how high we climbed the corporate ladder, how much stuff we amassed, and how much we earned? Time to let all of this go, as well! 

We are uniquely and intrinsically worthy just as we are! 🌟

It’s not an overnight process to release longstanding beliefs or ideas about what gives us purpose and validation.

We are essentially finding our footing again. But when we are patient with ourselves and the retirement process, we can start savoring the joy to be uncovered.

Now our inner child can relish the freedom of choosing how to write the script for our third trimester. 

It’s almost dizzying to consider all the possibilities before us! So yes, it will take time as we explore and try out new routines and activities.

Which is why starting with the basic pleasure of Simply Being is ever-so important.

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

Bonus: Don’t miss the humorous yet wise retirement revelations from Dr. Riley Moynes ▶️ I tracked with everything he said (except for the cinnamon buns 🥧 ’cause I’m a keto eater!).

The Wrap

third trimester

Achieving the 60-year milestone does not have to mean the beginning of the end.

To the contrary, this can signal the start of a very fruitful, satisfying period of our lives. It’s all a matter of perspective.

When I reflect on the last year, I recognize that I grappled with tunnel vision when it came to defining myself. I was also hard on myself with needing to figure things out Right Now

This can happen to anyone, especially when performance in the corporate world is constantly measured and subjected to someone else’s deadlines.

And even though I knew I’m in charge of my pace and direction from hereon, I still had difficulty with releasing old stories and writing a new one. I didn’t want to be judged by others. Yet I was judging myself all along! Not fun.

But now? I’m ready! 🙌🏼

I’m choosing to make it a positively soul-satisfying adventure that only I design and direct as much as possible—how about you?

What do you think?

  • Are you also between life stories?
  • How is the transition with writing a new one going for you?
  • What’s your biggest challenge?
  • What are some of your own “a-ha!” realizations?

Feel free to drop me a line at: maryv@shiftyourstories.com 📬

...and thanks for stopping by! 🤗

new season

Clearing Space For A New Season

The last quarter of the year can be an ideal time to make room in your closet for something different. Unless you live where the weather rarely changes, a new season usually heralds clearing space to accommodate changing temperatures.

Yet regardless of your particular climate, periodically clearing space in your wardrobe for what truly supports your lifestyle—especially as it evolves—will serve you well.

Now I’m not suggesting a full-on, pull-everything-out-and-dump-on-your-bed activity. Even I feel exhausted with the thought of that! 😜

However, consider taking 5-10 minutes daily to pull out anything that is an obvious “let-it-go” item, i.e., stained, torn, ill-fitting, or simply never-worn clothing. You know the ones! Bag ’em up and let ’em go!

Starting with these small, steady tweaks will reap big benefits. After all, it’s too easy to stash and store far more than what is actually needed or used. And who remembers to exercise the one-in-one-out rule every time, when there’s room for one more? (not me! 😬)

In fact, as we buy new things, the stuff we rarely wear gets pushed to the back. It can be difficult to see what’s in there. Ever come across something hidden and say, “Oh, wow, I forgot I had this!” And then struggle to let it go? (also me! 🙄) 

Then, when it gets difficult and you’re slowing down with letting go decisions, pivot to choosing what you want to keep. Lastly, figure out what you will add in for your new season. 

Today I’m sharing 3 questions I ask myself as I decide what deserves space in my closet.  

Got your pumpkin spice latte in hand? ☕️  Let’s go!

clearing space
image by pavel danilyuk from pexels

#1: How Do I Spend My Time?

This is my opening question before I even set foot in my closet. Why? Because a supportive wardrobe is one reflecting how I actually spend my time. Once I exited the corporate world, I needed to flip the clothing ratio from less formal to more laidback.

And let me tell you, it’s HOT 😳 from May through September in my part of the world! Yes, I knew this when I relocated to Phoenix, but it didn’t fully register when my weekdays called for business attire inside an air conditioned office. (Still, hardly anyone wears hose here because of that relentless heat 🔥)

Travels near and far have amped up and socializing continues. So I still have clothing for different situations…dressy, casual, warm and cool temps.  However, the quantities of each category have changed because how I spend my time has shifted.

Acknowledging what clothing makes sense now is essential for knowing what to keep and what to buy—in all the right quantities!

clearing space
image by anastasia shuraeva from pexels

#2: What Styles And Colors Do I Favor?

Here’s a novel way to sort through your closet: start by segregating what you love and reach for the most.

When it comes to clearing out your closet, everyone agrees there’s stuff that oughta go. But the second thing that crosses our minds? The weight and work of executing those choices! 😣 After all, there is a reason for why each and every thing is in your wardrobe right now. Still, the reasons are not equally important or valid. So sift through mindfully.

Yet when purging stuff gets hard, stop and switch to easy! Now focus on your Keepers. A rolling rack is ideal for hanging all your faithful clothing companions. (It also comes in handy when preparing for an upcoming event or  trip ✈️ ) Now you can clearly see what you wear the most. Go with your first instincts and don’t overthink things.

Then step back and look for the common thread with your besties. My guess is that these are the items that feel the most comfortable, they’re the ones most suited to the majority of your activities, and the color or cut truly looks the best for your body type and taste.

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to a particular color palette, fabric, or style! When you’re drawn to certain items that you love and they love you back, why deviate? No one is going to think you’re wearing the same thing over and over. On the contrary, their impression will be that you always look good—really!

What you’re doing here is identifying a personal capsule wardrobe that will never let you down. 

shop smarter
image by andrea piacquadio from pexels

#3: What should I buy in a new season?

Lastly, think about what you’ve struggled to release while clearing space. I’m specifically referring to the “second stringers”, or items that are in perfectly good condition yet you’ve rarely worn them. Why is that? 🤔

These are often the items that were touted as the current It style. They  looked fab on the lanky model. They were the latest new hue. All the stores stocked a variation of them. And once we peeked at them online, ads followed us everywhere, urging us to buy them.

So why did they not get out closet much? Well for me, they didn’t end up flattering my body type, they weren’t my go-to power colors, or I just didn’t have enough occasions (or the right events) to wear them! 🤯

This is a huge revelation, for a few important reasons:

Firstly, I have since learned to pay attention to what looks good on shorter models or celebrities with a more athletic build like me. What drapes elegantly on a 6-foot willowy model does not necessarily flatter for me. 

Secondly, everything I admire is not practical for me to acquire. I adore sheath dresses, silk blouses, and high heels. But the opportunities to wear them are far and few between. I have a discreet number of these in my closet and I’ve drawn the line at buying more. Only window shopping allowed! 😍 (bonus: my bank account says thank you!)

And thirdly, I want to break the twitch with buying new things solely because I’m told what to wear each season. Who want to see themselves coming and going because we’re all wearing a variation of the same thing? Why must last season’s It items stop looking good simply because the fashion gurus say something different is better?

For me, a true sense of style develops when someone is aware of what best suits their taste and lifestyle and they happily and unashamedly stick with that.

clearing space

The Wrap On Clearing Space

Our lifestyle and taste changes over time so why not ensure our wardrobe reflects where we’re at now?

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to know that everything in your closet fits, flatters, and feels good? (the 3 “F’s” = my guiding mantra 🌟)

It would be like possessing a magic portal to a place filled with items we love and love us back, in all the right quantities. Our entire clothing collection would actually get a spin out on the town.

Well, perfection is not  possible so relax. But we can elevate what’s in there when we are willing to regularly evaluate the contents. Make the smart decisions about what makes sense to keep, to release, and–going forward–what we should buy less of (I know, that last one is critical—sigh! 👠👠)

No one has infinite storage space and even those with super-sized closets benefit from culling out what no longer matters. Why cling to non-performers, amiright? 🤗

If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll find value in this one, which goes even deeper with clearing space for a new you!

And do check out these stellar Tedx Talks:

🎧 You Can Be A Minimalist. Yes, You!

🎧  Change Your Closet, Change Your Life!

🎧 The Link Between Personal Style & Identity

—And thanks for stopping by!

ranting

Social Ranting: Which Side Of The Fence Are You On?

#CoffeeBreakStory: Is Every Thought Worth Ranting About To The World?

I drastically cut back on my social media consumption during my summer hiatus, which I explained over here.  Now I’m cautiously dipping a toe back in. With a refreshed perspective, today’s story spotlights social ranting.  

To be clear, I’m not ranting about it—really! Instead, I’m pondering the value of over-sharing hot buttons while under-offering solutions. And since I’m not a rambler (a definite hot button for me), top off your coffee and let’s get right into it, shall we? 🏃‍♀️

🎉 P.S. Don’t miss the new section at the end of this story! ⤵️ September is the debut of “3 Fun or Fascinating Things”  I recently discovered—Enjoy! 🎉

ranting
image by karolina grabowska from pexels

One of my personal issues with social media is the plethora of “I think it, I’ll say it” or “I feel this way, so I’m going to lay it on you” posts.

Admittedly, I’m also telling you what I think and how I feel, every time I write, too! 🤓

However, my style is not skipping the critical subsequent step of sharing what it can mean to you—the value proposition.

In other words, I seek to provide some sort of useful takeaway: a laugh, an epiphany, a lesson, or a new perspective. ✨ 

We all have our share of negative experiences or difficult days. The struggle is real for everyone—no exceptions. So why add to that burden without offering some sort of relief when you want to talk about yours?

ranting

Three examples of ranting that make me sigh

#1: The Stranger who did them wrong

Nothing makes me wince quicker than reading a FB post which opens with, “To the person who…” and then the author proceeds to share details of an unsatisfactory experience with an unknown or unnamed person.

The transgression? It varies. But it’s typically a minor irritant, in the scheme of things. There’s never a shortage of driving examples. Perhaps someone cut them off in traffic. Maybe someone didn’t park within the lines at the store parking lot.

Does the writer really think the stranger is going to (a) read the diatribe, and (b) immediately change their ways? Or is the author simply ranting publicly … ISO a place to dump ruffled feelings or to receive validation for perceived indignations?

What are we supposed to do with this negativity? 💣

Or how about this:

#2: Whining about societal pressure to do things one way

Who doesn’t chafe against all the “shoulds” that social lays on us? What to wear, what to eat, where to go, how to be, how to do anything and everything!

It’s difficult enough figuring ourselves out. We also deal with round-the-clock bullhorns feeding us answers we didn’t ask for, which don’t necessarily align with our preferences.

But how tiresome are the unleashed posts about how the author doesn’t want to be told what to do … they are who they are and they refuse to bend. The language gets salty with “Fuck you, algorithm!” or “The Hell with you, society…I’m not ready for kids now!”

And that’s the extent of the story: leave me alone! 😡

So maybe the author is drawing a public line in the sand. I am a fervent “line draw-er” myself with being told what to do (just ask my husband, hehe).

Nevertheless, what’s the benefit for the reader? Where are the suggestions for how to do things our own way and be good with that? Or the chuckle about how to circumnavigate pressure to conform? Crickets! 😶

And lastly:

#3: A political stance about a complicated topic

I’ve yet to see how using social for ranting personal political beliefs has ever ended well. Either the author gets a bunch of head nodders, which means they didn’t change anyone’s mind, or they attract folks from the other side of the issue and it all dissolves into chaos. What was accomplished?

Even worse, I’ve seen writers dive in with “This is how I see it and I’m not interested in debating”. They may turn off comments or delete them if they aren’t in synch. Lovely, eh? 🙄

Sure, we all have freedom of speech. Rant away! But why serve up political beliefs you want others to embrace without giving them a chance to respond with their diverse views? Why not try listening?

If one doesn’t like society saying what we should do, then why do you get to rant to the rest of us  about “how it should be”?

Bottom line, is social truly the best platform for a thoughtful, considerate political discussion? In today’s increasingly polarized society, it appears to only have us dig our heels in deeper. And it also seems to sever more personal ties which is sad. 😢

ranting

Three Alternatives To Social Ranting

Firstly, when emotions are high, consider using a personal journal to process those feelings.

Maybe you weren’t a sensitive young girl who once upon a time wrote in her little diary about how rejected she felt when Johnny didn’t ask her out. Then she locked it with that little key, hid it under the mattress, and she carried on anyway. 💃🏻

But hey, same principle! Whether old school pen and paper or online digital journaling (like 750 Words which I adore and faithfully use), spew forth those negative or squirrely thoughts in private. 📕 

It’s a relief just to say them and get them out of your head, right? This allows your irrational impulses to join the party and be acknowledged.

Then, process the situation unemotionally. Think of all the times you spoke before thinking, and in hindsight, you had second thoughts or more useful conclusions. Too late now, eh? This is the power of the pause. 😎 

Secondly, figure out why you want to share your situation or outlook.

What action or perspective do you want your readers to take? Feeling compelled to vent is normal. It relieves frustration and that’s what friends are for—sometimes.

It just goes to another level when we broadcast it into the ether, going above and beyond our closest friends. How many people need to hear you gripe and moan so you can feel whole again? 🤔

How would you feel about developing a reputation for finding fault, complaining, or mounting a soapbox? Your dearest friends may not see you this way (unless it’s true 🙄) but what about those that you rarely if never meet up with? That could happen and who needs evidence of your misery in the world?

Thirdly, what value are you imparting to those receiving your words?

A vent can be turned into a useful post (look at what I’m doing here!💡)

For example, if you want to change someone’s mind, then there’s likely a lesson learned or a new way of dealing with a problem that you can provide.

Or maybe it’s about lightening up with the issue, and so you share a few laughs and jibes. You choose what your objective will be.

Ultimately, not taking every little thing too seriously is an invaluable life skill, don’t you think? 🤗

clearing space

The Wrap on Ranting

If you want to change someone’s mind or gain their support, don’t just broadcast your opinion.Tell them why your view matters to them, as well. Consider how your words will make others feel. 

In fact, sometimes saying less like I shared over here is an even wiser choice. Just sayin’ 😉

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

What do you think:

  • Do you enjoy reading rants?
  • Do you regularly share them?

I’d genuinely like to hear your thoughts … and thanks for stopping by! 😀

New! 3 Fun or Fascinating Things

✅ If you’re a Foodie, you’ll enjoy the real back story of French Laundry. Savor this heartwarming short feature 🎬 of Sally Schmitt, one of California’s first female chefs who built and then sold this famous restaurant to Thomas Keller.

In Her Own Words 👩‍🍳❤️

✅ I’m FB following Fritz, the new baby hippo, at Cincinnati Zoo! Then I came across this throwback video of his older sister, Fiona, savoring an iconic summer treat.

Nom, nom, nom! 🍉

Calling all my long-haired friends! 💁🏻‍♀️ The inventor of the Scrunchie™ has died. Learn more about how Rommy Hunt Revson went from nightclub singer to millionaire businesswoman 💰

The Rise of a Boss Lady 😎

step

Stepping Back Can Be A Step In The Right Direction

#CoffeeBreakStory: Taking Stock When Stepping Back

Happy September! 🍁 Like our ever-so-cultured European friends, I was on hiatus most of August. Actually, I started stepping back in mid-July, when we packed the RV and headed North on a road trip to Colorado. We were seeking cooler temps and different scenery. Turns out, I was also ISO a mindset reset. 🤪

My mini retreat was overdue. Per usual, I was focused on lofty goals at full bore, until they felt elusive and too much to pursue. The thrill was gone. As my discomfort increased, I worked my way into a rut without realizing it until I got stuck.

So stepping back meant no writing and (almost) no social media. I amassed endless travel photos and videos out of habit but few made an appearance on IG. I just didn’t have the energy to post on the “TikTok Wannabe” platform. Infinite reels made my eyes cross and I resented the excess time needed to find familiar, friendly faces. I was likely hidden, as well, so why bother? 🤷🏻‍♀️ 

Time off was incredibly healing on a number of levels. Now I’m easing my way back in, even though what lies ahead remains somewhat undefined. However, just getting back into motion can be instrumental for landing on what’s next. And if nothing else, I’ve also sussed out some of what it’s not going to be, which is equally useful.

Today I’m musing about what prompted a pause. I’ll be sharing more in future stories about the revelations uncovered along the way. This story is a little longer than others but clarity of purpose is a big topic. That’s why I’m breaking it into a short series, to keep the #coffeebreakstory somewhere between a Short and a Venti ☕️. So freshen yours up and here we go!

stepping back

¿ Midlife Crisis Maybe ?

To be honest, it felt like a second “identity crisis” was unfolding this year. (Yes, overachiever that I am, one wasn’t enough 😅)

If you’re new, here’s a quick 1-2-3 recap: my first one descended at age 53 when an unexpected corporate restructuring set me loose in 2016. Ambition was engraved in my work DNA genes, so it was a rude awakening to figure out my next move.  “Lady of Leisure” was not the new role I sought.

First, I grappled with the realization that relocating for this consuming career had left me fairly friendless in my new city, as I shared over here.

Second, I eagerly accepted an invitation for a road trip (I sense a 🚘 theme here, you?) with my former interior designer. She wanted a companion for a consultation with a new client in Ojai, California.

We bonded famously with our dry wit, passion for home design, and taste for aged tequila. When we returned, we built a small business. Our downsizing service was a time and labor intensive model but it filled a serious gap in the older adult community.

Third, I ultimately shuttered those doors permanently on the heels of Covid-19. It was time to use just my words, from the comfort of my own home. Which meant I pivoted to virtual coaching. And then once more to publishing my first book! 📕

Phew–that was a busy time! 😤 

stepping back

Stepping Back Clues

While I learned a lot about myself along the way, my energy and enthusiasm started waning in 2022.

For me, the tell-tale signs for stepping back included:

  1. An infrequent sense of anxiety (Remember that feeling when you didn’t study for an exam?! 😨) 
  2. General irritability with both myself and others (Inner Perfectionist rearing her nit-picky head! 😈)
  3. Discontent with my until-now perfectly lovely routine (I need a new project! 😞)
  4. Uncertainty with what to do next (Imma stuck … 😣)

It’s so unpleasant to find myself at these crisis crossroads again. Just when I thought I had my life figured out —surprise, not yet! 🤡   

Sigh—back to the drawing board!

time to grow

Here I Grow Again !

A friend recently suggested my angst is perhaps because I’m turning 60 this month. Hmmm…🤔…don’t think so…

The decade that I dreaded most (so far) was turning 40. It just seemed to define “The Official Start of Old Age” 🤣. Little did I know at 39 that I would still feel vibrant and remain active 20 years later.

I’m actually thrilled that my younger self was wrong about 60. To be sure, I’m oldish and well past my halfway point but I don’t feel old. I mostly feel wiser. More comfortable in my own skin.

And I’m in good company, with all the “50 is the new 40” declarations which started circulating several years ago. For good reason, I might add: We have a “third act” waiting to unfold!  

A couple years ago, I envisioned my third act would be as an author. I’ve always enjoyed writing. Once I started, it felt quite natural. Even when it’s work to find the right words and the edits are endless, I love it. And out of all the people who say they want to write a book some day—I did it! 🌟 Go, me!

I’m thrilled that my book has enjoyed moderate success. 2021 was a whirlwind of sharing it on podcasts, in local newspapers, with book clubs and in little free libraries. It’s available in both E-book and paperback with major retailers. 

But for wider commercial reach, the self-promotion can’t ever stop. The show must go on. And on. Ohh, I hates that I do! 😖 So cringey for me. I got burned out. I stopped. Can’t I just write? (apparently not)

Also, maybe I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed with decluttering after all. Maybe it was all just a metaphor for clearing space in my own life. Making room for more changes. For something new. Maybe I’ll write another book about something completely different. Or not…whoa! 🤯 

And just like that, I knew it was time for a pause. Time to start pruning old branches for new growth to occur. 🌺

trimester

Prepping for What's Next

When one chapter is ending and another is waiting to begin, stepping back is how I re-discover relevancy.

Simply going about my ordinary household routine, I’m giving my overworked brain a rest. Repetitive tasks like laundry or meal prepping are mindlessly comforting. So is lightly decluttering closets and drawers (it never ends). Or puttering in my garden. Or playing my favorite daily NYT games and puzzles.

In fact, my right shoulder had been aching for some time, too. Sitting at my desk, hunched over my keyboard for hours was partly to blame. I also don’t discount the mental overload manifesting as pain in my body, as well. Which is why bingeing on streaming services felt entirely justified. Afternoon matinees 🎥 on the couch with my dogs dozing next to me? Glorious!

In other words, I leaned in and savored present day real life moments and tiny pleasures. I dialed down the incessant noise of social media. Sure, I continued to keep up with current affairs. But anything that urged me to Be Big, Be Busy or Be Known? Hard pass! 🚫 

I’m not saying I’ll never resume engagement with social media. But I’m not falling deep down that rabbit hole again. It’s too easy to succumb to its infinite demands on my time, energy, and attention. I’ve made peace with saying, “No, thank you—that’s not for me. I’ll pop on and off when it works for me!” 

Instead, I’m focused on how I want to show up in my third act. 🧐 Breaking the twitch with a corporate identity is quite an adjustment. It seems I’m a “leetle” hard-wired for productivity. 

Friends my age confide that they would love being home full-time if they didn’t rely on their current gig or paycheck. I’m blessed that I’m not tethered to that.

But I do need to be creating or building something. I’m not a “Lady Who Lunches” kinda gal. Which is why I feel restless. Redundant. I need more to justify my presence. 

And so I’m pondering how to wield my skills once again. It’s not about making money, It’s about making a difference. Being useful outside my household.  Connecting with others to encourage and lift each other up. This could translate into so many different things but you get the idea.

More to come!

clearing space

The Wrap on Stepping Back

I’m not yearning for retirement years filled only with leisure. I’m sure that’s ideal for some but I’m just not there yet.

Shifting into a new life chapter is not always an easy transition. It can take some kicking, resisting, and soul searching. Throw in some sleepless nights and general angst, too. It all makes sense, when you consider that there’s a change in one’s identity occurring, too.

But the older I get, the better I am with recognizing when it’s time for something else. And so far, it’s been my experience that a new life chapter is always worth the effort it takes to turn the page and start writing a new script!

Does any of this resonate with you? I’d love to hear…and thanks for stopping by!

Other Resources for your enjoyment

***A sublime meditative poem for your listening pleasure!

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mixing up midlife podcast

***Terri and Melissa, of Mixing Up Midlife are back from their own summer break! Head here to catch up!

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should

“Should” Activities Should Be Up To Us, Don’t You Think?

#CoffeeBreakStory: Anyone else weary of "should" and "could" demands?

I was clipping along briskly with stuff—doesn’t matter what—just things I thought I should and could do. Things leading to goals I had in mind. And I was urged to keep going after those things.

The World (and Me 😉 ): Don’t stop, keep going, do more!
Also Me: I got this! Look out, coming through, outta my way! 🏃‍♀️ 

All in and all hands on deck! And all was fine, until it wasn’t….when I started feeling the weight of some of those things. I didn’t even realize what a burden they were becoming because I had been carrying them for a while.

Now I noticed my daily demeanor was tense. An occasional cloud of anxiety hovered overhead. The days felt full of duty and bereft of play.

I had touched on some goals but others continued to elude. I knew my path would frequently feel vertical but where was the fun to balance that out?

should
image by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Cast Away Unwanted "Should" Stuff!

Letting go of a self (and society) imposed “should” and “could” litany was a step in the right direction!

I felt a sense of relief when I gave myself permission to temporarily do less. The newly cleared space eased my ability to shift towards what is better for me now. Life is all about change so I need to be ready to change, too!

It was such an obvious yet elusive decision. Obvious because I was feeling out of sorts. Elusive because we are regularly urged to accomplish stuff—to be busy. Only at the breaking point are we given permission for self-care.

Well, thank goodness I’m doing better with catching myself…with noticing an off mood and taking time to suss out the origin. Our emotions are critical barometers for life recalculation when we take the time to listen and act accordingly.

And my emotions were signaling time to go deep with what I determine matters most now. I gave it my all.

should
image by Steve Johnson from Pexels

The Wrap On Designing Your Own Masterpiece

Following my intuition with what my next steps will be is proving to be my best move yet!

Do what gives you fulfillment and joy. Release the rest.

Trust the Universe will support you with co-creating your next masterpiece!

~~~~~~

For other related topics:

Check out 📖  these useful refreshers from the blog: one on the Perils Of Perfectionism and another on Dialing Back Anxiety.

Or listen 🎧  to one of these brilliant TedTalks: Head, Heart & Gut Decision-making backed By Science or The Courage To Trust Yourself—Listen To The Nudges

next

The Next Step Is … Actually, I’m Not Quite Sure–You?

Your Next #CoffeeBreakStory!

While you might think writers are generally writing for others, I think there are many times we are actually writing for ourselves. Unless it’s an appliance manual or some other dry instructional pamphlet … though someone’s gotta write those (just not me!)

But when we write from the heart, we write what we feel compelled to share. We write what flows from our souls and top-of-mind. And while our content may resonate, reassure or uplift someone else, most times, it’s often what we ourselves need to hear! That’s what makes writing so personal.

Yet sometimes, the impetus fades. Enthusiasm wanes. Clarity blurs. A pause is needed as we wonder, Now what?
… … …

Which is the prompt for today’s #CoffeeBreakStory. I find myself at this very crossroads again. It’s a mashup of discomfort, revelation and relief! Yet with a very definite overlay of “okay, fine–but what’s next?”

Don’t get me wrong: No one is coming to tell me what to do! I firmly believe our next move is entirely up to us. I’m just not quite sure what that is for me. I feel like the last couple years have been an exercise in figuring out what it isn’t going to be! Which is extremely valuable intel, no?

But after several occasions of thinking I found it … or I was found … Nope, not quite yet!

So for now, I’m on pause with writing on Medium, the platform I talked about in the kickoff to #CoffeeBreakStories over here. 

Although I’ve been known to slip out of social events when I’m not feeling the vibe, it felt properly adult to announce to my Medium followers that I’m taking a hiatus. 

Got your beverage of choice refilled? Here’s the story I shared there:

next
image by Bogdan R. Anton from Pexels

A Personal Journey Continues...

next
image by Dmitriy Ganin from Pexels

The Wrap On The Next Chapter

When things feel like a grind, it’s a good sign that it’s time to slow down and even pause for a bit. 

Whoever gets a map with a direct route from Point A, The Dream, to Point B, The Achievement? Anybody? 👎 Didn’t think so!

What brings us joy and fulfillment can and will evolve over time. Don’t be afraid to shift when your intuition nudges you to check out a different path.

I’m feeling that way with Medium (and perhaps with social media in general!) So a couple of upcoming trips will be the perfect time to figure things out. 

Meanwhile, I’ll still be here weekly— I hope you’ll join me, too! 😊

~~~~~

Oh, and when you have six extra minutes (a two-cup coffee break) , do listen 🎧  to this Ted Talk brilliantly delivered by (gulp) a 16-year old! Hey, I’m willing to consider wisdom from some surprising resources. Halle shares some very compelling reminders about life journeys. 

Time

Time: Too Much, Too Little, Too Late?

It's Coffee Break Story Time!

I’m simply stunned with how this year is rolling by—you, too? It got me thinking about how time is the ultimate shape-shifter. It crawls when we are bored, unhappy, or impatient for the future. It clips along when we are busy or happy. And it literally flies by the older we get.

I’m at the age where I really want to make the most of what time I have ahead of me. It starts with being honest about how I spend my time. Only then, can I make clear choices with fewer regrets afterwards.

Got a little time? Grab your coffee and dig into this weekend’s one-minute #coffeebreakstory!

Time
Image by Victoria Borodinova from Pexels

Where Does The Time Go?

Nothing f*cks you harder than time. —Ser Davos, Game of Thrones

Who doesn’t bemoan the passage of time?

 Never enough! More, please!

Time is a precious commodity easily frittered away, cavalierly ignored, or taken for granted. We put things off for another day … but does that day ever arrive? Or does regret show up instead?

Yet what if it’s not time that’s the thief of our days?

Maybe it’s what we give the privilege of our attention to that determines the satisfaction with our allotted time…

Each moment of every day is an opportunity to choose how we use our time. So it follows that we should also recognize what takes us off course. 

My personal distractors are texts, my dogs, and “sometimes” a sale on shoes. (Know thyself, eh 😉 

What steals your attention? I’m listening…

The Wrap On Time

Is time on your side? Uncover more when you reassess and redirect where your energy goes.

For a deeper dive on time management, check out Laura Vanderkam’s brilliant 12-minute TED Talk. 

New to my Coffee Break Stories? Here’s another! 

time management
image by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
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.

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