midlife woman

new chapter

A New Life Chapter | My Personal Journey Continues

A gentle bend in my road beckons ✨

Time to veer away for a bit and go check it out!

-Sometimes, it’s just time to head somewhere else-

When your heart lets you know, you’ll know. And mine has been tugging at my sleeve lately for my full attention.

Heart:  “Pssst, hey you!”
Me:  “Yes, in a minute—I’m driving!”
Heart:  “I know, but it’s time to slow down.”
Me:  “I don’t have time for that!”
Heart:  “Ummm, you don’t have time not to!”
Me:  “I have to keep going or I won’t get There!”
Heart+Soul:  “Are you sure you know where There is? We don’t think so … stop!”
Me:  “Fine, fine!” (braking) Y’all happy now?” (secretly relieved and in agreement)

Where I Want To Be  is currently being examined.

The start of a new year is a good time to reflect and reassess. Maybe my direction will change. Maybe not.

But now that Introspection accepted my invitation recently, I’m already sensing that my route will be slightly recalculating.

And stepping back from here is also part of the deal. 

The way I’m wired, I have to dial down both other voices and my own so I can hear myself think. Otherwise, it’s an overwhelming and distracting cacophony.

next chapter
artem podrez | pexels

Each one of us has an individual journey to complete. 

Only we should set the course, or else we give away our power. It may seem logical to do what everyone else is doing or go where everyone else is going. To keep doing what we’ve been doing for a while.

But does your heart agree? Is it expanding your soul? Did you ask?

Pause and pivot as needed, on your way to being your best self!💫

A New Chapter

It’s been a month since I last posted.

It was not a planned outage. Yet in retrospect, I don’t believe it randomly happened.

It started with a pause on social media. IG has been thwarting me (and everyone else!) with hiding friend posts, suggesting other posts, and urging me to reel for money! 🫠

Ironically, I last wrote here about my friend, Jo, who took an indefinite SM break because she didn’t care for how it monopolized her life. And how it created stress to show up even more entertaining and clever than the last time. Which got me thinking how much I vibed with this…

Yet I’m also realizing that I’m ready to write a new chapter. While I have a very lovely life, I’m yearning to shake things up a bit with something new. Which means doing the same stuff isn’t bringing me as much joy any more.

I’m in a rut so I’m due for something different. I don’t exactly know what but I’m taking time to figure that out.

I’ll be circling back now and then. But for now, you know as much as I do about where I’m headed.

Are you also yearning for a new chapter?

Allow yourself to let go in order to discover a new adventure. Live a life you love!

Until we meet again— thanks for stopping by! 

Resources

Here’s a universal link to EIGHT short TED talks for how to renew your creative juices! (you’re welcome:)

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midlife

An Insider Pass: Ruminating About The Instagram Circus With Jo

Once upon a time, a good friend shrugged and said, “I just don’t get that Seinfeld show—why do you think it’s so funny?” And I was like, “How can you not get it?!” It was the mid-1990s and it was a new format for TV: a show about nothing! 

Fast-forward, and now ordinary, slice-of-life quips are everywhere. People love them! And my Insta-friend, Jo Davies, deftly dishes up the best relatable observations in her Instagram profile, @midlifehighway.

Well—that is until she took an IG hiatus this summer. Where’d she go? Why’d she leave? When’s she coming back?? 🙆🏻‍♀️

I wanted the scoop on this brilliantly clever woman. So I decided to go straight to the source: While vacationing in London, I had lunch with Jo last month! That’s right, an IRL meetup with a virtual friend across the pond, imagine that!  

Naturally, we shared many laughs as we bantered about everything and nothing. It was a lovely, light afternoon filled with little bites, a little window shopping, and even a little Prosecco (just for me)—ahhh! 

Then in a very candid followup (via Zoom) a couple weeks later, I was privy to personal thoughts absent from her IG profile. Not a shock: who doesn’t have a carefully curated public image? Yet who doesn’t wonder about the private persona of those we follow and befriend on Instagram? 

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

Today’s #CoffeeBreakStory is the 6th in my #MidlifeStories series about Women Over 50 pursuing a life with curiosity and contentment.

Social media tends to be a highly filtered version of life.  

Like many of those on IG, I adore seeing pretty things, too. But there’s nothing like a shot of authenticity to dispel FOMO on what appears to be someone else’s fairy tale story! So this series pulls back the curtain to reveal everyday women living life happily on their own real terms. Which then reassures that our own lives are just fine!

You may want to grab a double shot ☕️ midway through ’cause Jo and I really dig into some midlife truths in this behind-the-scenes story! (5 minutes in length).

Right, let’s get this show started! 🌟

Instagram

The Instagram Spotlight

If you’re like most, a brief Instagram break starts with the best of intentions. 

M: Jo, what’s up, what’s up? inquiring minds want to know!

<😂 > Mary, I can’t believe anyone’s that interested, it’s gonna fall very flat. But right. I started off as just doing—like you sometimes do—um, just going to take a month off and have a break. 

It just becomes so time-consuming! And largely, because I’m such a terrible people-pleaser, I’m worried about what people think if I wasn’t replying to their messages or going on to people’s posts and commenting on everyone else and liking everyone else.

I found my screen time going up to 6–7 hours a day!😳

I know some people do this for a living, but if it’s not, that is not a way to live. It’s one thing in lockdown, but in everyday life? And having taken a break, I found it very liberating.

I started off just trying to make people smile. You know, give them a laugh. Then of course, you have to try and be funnier and funnier and funnier—and I’m just not that funny.

M: Not true! You’re very witty!

So the pressure…the pressure with what you’re putting out there, yeah! And it was just things I was doing in my every day. I would do the same things the following week. But you can’t write about it twice. And there’s only so many stupid things you can do in a week….

M: <😜>You did set the bar high! But there’s plenty of others you encounter to provide you with that relatable fodder, no?

<😅> Well yeah, there is! But also there’s that sort of tragic thinking: you notice how many people are laughing. You’d get people saying ‘that’s the funniest one yet!’ Then other times, you’d be down by 20-30% on comments, at which point I’d be going, ‘Oh, was it not that good?And then I thought to myself, ‘I don’t know any of these people. Why do I mind so much what they think?’ I mean obviously, I had some sort of regulars. <pauses> I don’t really like that term ’cause it makes me sound like some sort of sex worker <🤣 >

M: 😳 Jo, please, we’re not your Only Fans—don’t start charging us to see your feet! 

<😝😝😝>

And then, you know, I care what they think. But most of the people…and I don’t mean this disrespectfully…you only ever engage with them over Instagram. Most of them are all over the world. So unless you started a dialogue with them, your only interaction is, ‘great posts this week’ or ‘that’s really interesting’. So to have your whole day based on whether that person found you funny? I thought to myself, there’s something very wrong with this… <🤔>>

The shiny allure of social media starts to tarnish a bit when you’re primarily hanging in the real world…

How The Show Began 🎪

instagram

To be clear, Jo is naturally drawn to the whimsical.

She considers it to be an essential part of her life. Just look at the two tiny ceramic trapeze artists suspended from her kitchen ceiling! ⬆️ 

M: So how did Midlife Highway begin?

I’m permanently taking up a new hobby! I did a nutrition course and I thought I wanted to do an Instagram thing on nutrition, very naïve, because of course I didn’t really know enough. It was supposed to lead on to potentially advising people and helping people locally. But then it just sort of morphed into something else, the Midlife Highway: ‘So this is what I’ve kind of been doing this week and this is what annoyed me’.

But that wasn’t even my intention actually. I had no plan. And suddenly I had this thing that was never gonna make me any money. Just taking up all my time and sort of rather unhealthy in my desire for people to think I’m funny. You know, that validation thing. I’m looking for validation from people I don’t even know.

M: Yet I imagine you have a wide circle of IRL friends though, right?

I do, yeah. And actually, that was the other thing that was so odd. When I started the Midlife Highway thing, I didn’t tell any of my friends. You know what it’s like, Mary—you have all your friends you have a particular relationship with. In some relationships, you’re the strong one. In some, you’re the meek one, in some you’re the funny one. So I felt like everyone saw me in a certain light.

And the Midlife Highway was very freeing ‘cuz it was like, this is me. I am clumsy, I am dozy, I’m disorganized and everything else like that. And I felt I could write much more freely without any of my friends, you know, chipping in or saying, ‘that doesn’t sound like you’, or ‘that’s not the you I know’. Then actually, when they did start to find me, they all enjoyed it, too. It was silly of me to think, ‘I don’t want anyone to know I’m doing this’.

M: So it was fun until the time commitment became intolerable. 

Yeah. But I also have a very, very short attention span. I started off doing marketing when I left university. I’ve also trained as a personal trainer. I used to make trays with wedding invitations and photos and stuff in lading glass. I’ve trained as a florist. I mean, I can’t stick with anything! <😶🙄😬>

M: Wow! Lots of very different plates spinning in the air! 

My mother has a…needless to say…like all mothers, she has a theory. And that was that I did a career that I really couldn’t go back to. I stopped working when my second child was a year old. All my salary was paying the childcare so…<🤷🏻‍♀️>

M: A lot of women can relate to that!

Actually I wrote a post about this way back, which was, ‘where has my career gone?’ You know my mother said we actually gave things up when we had our children. If you gave up work, you were giving up a career. I mean, she gave up work when she thought my father might ask her to marry him! <😅> But yeah we have careers so giving it up is really quite a big deal.

M: Would you do it differently now, if you could do it all over again? 

No. I don’t regret giving up work. Maybe with perfect hindsight, do a career you can go back to is a useful thing. But I feel I was very present in my children’s lives. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I was working full-time.

The age-old conflict of trying to do everything…sigh! Let’s shift gears and lighten up ⬇️

This or That

It's Game Time!

Here is what I heard when I asked Jo which of two things she favoredthis 👍🏼 or that 👎🏼… 

Thoughts can take me down a deep and twisty rabbit hole at times so I decided to follow my feelings instead. What’s the worst that can happen? 

I passed with popping on sensible paisley pajamas; instead, I stylishly boarded the train in my finest chiffon nightgown.

As we chugged out of the station, I proceeded to regale the passengers with a recounting of my favorite True Crime stories. Those Hallmark heartthrob movies set my teeth on edge. 

During intermission, I strolled to the lounge car and selected the finest fruits (oh, happy days: persimmons and plums!) for my midday snack. Sensible, stodgy vegetables got a hard pass on this jolly day off.

Curiously, all my fellow passengers were loudly snoring when I returned. My lecture was over—sigh! In went my ear buds and I settled down for a podcast listen. Unless it’s Mary V’s blog, my eyes are ever drawn to the scenery around me. But gradually, they closed and I dozed. 

When the train braked hard for the next stop, I awoke to something cold and moist nudging my hand. Horrors! Is it a cat?? Phew— it’s just the nose of my seat mate’s dog, gently reminding me it’s time to wake up.

As I rise and exit for my guilty pleasure day at the shops (shhh, don’t tell the Mister) I can’t help but wonder: how would Freud interpret this mishmash of a dream …would it get his goat? 🧐

I was all on board until she later recalled giving the double 👎🏼 to bacon! I mean, you think you know someone … and then …. 🙃

instagram

What Do You Do?

So how has Jo been spending her IG break? 

Before I get into that, Jo shared a final, astute observation about how people tend to engage with one another.

I began to feel on Instagram (and I think I wrote another post about this), why do we all feel like we have to have some trailblazing career? When we get into our 50s, can we, taking aside the financial aspect of it which is different for everybody…can’t you just sit down next to somebody and when they ask what you do, say ‘Nothing. I’m a housewife.’

M: <nodding vigorously> Why does it even have to be the first question though, you know? I mean, it puts us in a box that we are our career!

Yeah, exactly! And they really ask it so you’ll ask them what they do. Then they can go on about that <😜>

M: What do you say now when people ask you?

Well, I say I do a whole load of different things. Just gloss over it.

But now I ask people, my first question to somebody I haven’t met before is, ‘what are you reading?’ That’s my new one. 

M: Ah, that’s a good one. I like that!

I think I just keep trying to fill the void. And actually, funny enough, the Midlife Highway thing is as close to sticking to anything as I’ve ever become.

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

Jo is busy with a mixture of activities, both new and old:

  • handcrafting jewelry
  • creating one-of-a-kind tabletop terrariums
  • occasionally selling said stuff at local fairs

She’s still heading out on extended pilgrimages along the famed Camino de Santiago. Jo has walked a few different routes and has more on the calendar for 2023.

But above all, it’s always family first. Official empty nesters with the graduation of their youngest this year, Jo and her husband still enjoy travels with their three adult children. The annual laid-back summer vacation in Cornwall continues to be a much beloved family tradition.

And for the record, her IRL friends consider her the Funny One Bossy One! 😈

The wrap with Mary V

The Wrap On IG Musings With Jo

🥁 Lastly, the burning question: will her @midlifehighway Instagram account resume anytime soon?? 🥁

Initially, I encouraged her to come back. Found myself offering tips for how to see only what she wants, how to make peace with what she has capacity for time-wise, etc.

But then—I stopped. It’s not my place to tell someone else what to do. In fact, I strive to offer advice only when asked. And she wasn’t asking. So I listened, instead.

I think the fundamental thing is I just want to be my authentic self. And that’s what I wanted to do on Instagram. And then I came off it because I felt I was no longer being myself. I was having to say what I thought other people wanted me to say or what was going to appeal to people. And also saying things for effect as much as anything else.

That isn’t what I wanted to do. And when I find myself being pulled in a different direction, I think that’s when I just felt I needed a break.

To be clear, Jo has a private Instagram account where she sporadically drops a post about her real life activities and loves. That may very well be the only way she chooses to share going forward. 

Although I miss her pithy “getting my goat” 🐐 observations, I respect that she is getting all the validation she needs In Real Life. Yet just like anything else, that could change, too…stay tuned!

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

✨Remember who you are! Honor what satisfies your soul!✨

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

 

credit: -some images were sourced from Jo’s IG snaps and stylized by me-

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organizing

Organizing: Proven Concepts For A Little Home Sweet Home

Homemaking: enriching art,  or unending drudgery?

If you ask Rebecca Phillips of RYouReadyToOrganize, it can definitely be the former. Because like anything else, our perception informs our attitude.

So she’s all about easy, steady steps to transform your home into the haven you deserve. Which means she goes beyond organizing: she also shares her passion for indoor/outdoor gardening and simple recipes (especially baking 🍞) to nurture our bodies and our spirits. 

Today’s #CoffeeBreakStory continues my series about Everyday Women Over 50 living contently on their own terms, regardless of the latest societal trend. Because after years of fulfilling others’ expectations and needs, now is our time to go deep with stuff that personally lights us up! ✨

RYouReady to meet a new friend? Grab your coffee ☕️ —let’s go!

housewife or homemaker

What's In A Name?

Let’s just admit that the term “housewife” gets a cringe these days. While it was socially acceptable 50-some years ago, it’s been replaced with Soccer Mom ⚽️ and, later on, Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM). Anything to justify and even dignify tending to the house. Though someone’s gotta do it sometime, no?

Even “homemaker” sounds quaint or old-fashioned to some. And women of a certain age (like me) remember the “domestic goddess” moniker! It was supposed to elevate the essential yet unpaid role. Somehow, it felt a little silly…and it continued to be an unpaid job! 🤷🏻‍♀️

For Rebecca, though, it’s all semantics. Certainly, she’s sensitive to people’s preferences. But in her view, creating and maintaining a home sanctuary is a timeless, worthwhile endeavor.

And she has no issue with calling herself a professional homemaker. 

I think that what I do is quite different from most organizers. What I do is all of homemaking. It’s not just organizing. So whatever you see as a homemaker for you…whatever your vision is? That’s what you should do! Your home is your castle. What kind of homemaker do you wanna be? (chuckles) I really don’t care…you decide what you want to do!

Now before you erroneously assumes my friend is the new June Cleaver, know that she earned her master’s in social work and administration. For many years, Rebecca was knee-deep with writing grants, assembling contracts, and guiding small businesses with organizing their paperwork. All of which formed a solid foundation when she decided to exit the corporate world and work from, on, and in her home. 

When she met and married the love her life at age 39, Rebecca willingly relocated across state lines and began creating a new life chapter. Fast forward 20+ years later, she has transformed her stay-at-home hobbies into a small business that promotes the beautiful art of homemaking. It’s a part-time endeavor that brings her full-time pleasure—plus some rainy day funds! 

RYouReadyToOrganize also serves as the platform for her to continue what she does best: encouraging and helping others create a happy place in their homes. 

My favorite is one-on-one: getting them to streamline or let go of things—you know, a lot of stuff that doesn’t serve them well and is weighing them down. It’s great!

And it all revolves around a little organization.

organizing goals

The Allure of Organized Stuff

Who doesn’t gravitate towards all the pretty pictures of uniform shelves, drawers, and closets pristinely and precisely organized by color, product, season? I’m no different. 😍 Home goals, amiright?

Yet how realistic is it to expect a well-loved, lived-in home to always look this way? Who cares to constantly be picking up, wiping down, and putting things back just so? Endlessly accordian-folding our panties (!) per Marie Kondo specifications? 🙄

Granted, a certain amount of maintenance is mandatory to fend off chaos. But Rebecca deliberately chooses to focus on what makes unique sense for each of her clients. She figures out what matters most to them, with what they own already.

Which means purchasing all new organizational systems is not always the answer.

Most organizers I know create a Better Home & Gardens room, take a picture of it, and say, “Isn’t this perfect?” (laughs) I don’t want that! Who’s gonna do that? It’s really a letdown. Many people have told me, they see those pictures and they’re beautiful, but it’s not gonna happen in their homes. They just wanna take their stuff and maybe add to it, or maybe repurpose it. So I’m not about perfectionism … I’m not about magazine covers.

For picture-perfect fantasy rooms? Check in with Martha Stewart or The Home Edit ladies!

For simple yet real-world home tips? Rebecca is our gal!  

Either Or

Introducing: Either/Or

And now, time for a game of “Either/Or” —a rapid-fire fun Q&A to find out what you and Rebecca have in common!

M: All right, I want to ask you a series of “either/or” choices and this is fast. No overthinking!

R: (gasp) Oh, drink!

M: (chuckles) Yes, chug that coffee! 

R: OK, it’s actually bone broth. 😇  (sips)… Ready!

M: Cook or Clean?

R: Cook 👩‍🍳

M: Cats or Dogs?

R: Dogs 🐶

M: Decorate or Garden?

R: Garden 🌱

M: Organize or Declutter?

R: Declutter. 🗑 (pauses) Believe it or not! Organizing is harder than decluttering.

M: IG or FB?

R: IG 🌅

M: Hawaiian Pizza or Fish Tacos?

R: Fish Tacos, yum! 🌮

M: Wine or Beer?

R: Wine!! 🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷

M: OK, game over. Rebecca? Sweetheart?? Put the wine down now… 🤭

R:  Oh—Okely-dokely! (Hic!) 😵 

Note to self:  feature less spirited options in the beverage question…

The Wrap on Organizing Concepts With Rebecca

organizing with Rebecca

Rebecca and I connected on IG over our mutual love for living with only the things that we truly need, use or love.

In a frothy social media sea of selfies and style, she is a heart-warming, down-to-earth soul. What you see is what you get. And what you’ll get is kindness and a knack for making your home comfortable and cozy.

When her husband retires next Spring, a move will be in their future. After a little decluttering of her own (’cause that’s life), packing, and settling into a new home, then what?

She foresees a lot of golfing, birding, and fishing in her future small town. Sounds like a woman who knows what paradise looks like in her next chapter! ✨

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pick up those proven organizing, gardening, and cooking tips when you head over to Rebecca’s sites:

I am genuinely impressed with how she has identified her Happy Path and is living her dream, whether it’s in vogue or not. That’s my kinda style!

*Images of Rebecca were sourced from her website/IG and stylized by Mary 

Midlife Stories

Your Turn!

My hope is that sharing these Everyday Women’s stories will inspire you to shift with courage into what brings you joy!

  • How’s your #Over50 chapter going?
  • What’s new with you?

Click here ⬇️ to drop me a line…and thanks for stopping by! 🤗

maryv@shiftyourstories.com

shift with mary v

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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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Stepping Back Can Be A Step In The Right Direction Read More »

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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Midlife Stories

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?

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

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

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

Better Personal Health Journeys with Carolyn’s Community Read More »

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!

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

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!

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

Ageing

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

And Just Like That...

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

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

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

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

ageing
It was always Happy Hour somewhere, with Samantha!

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

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

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

ageing
Charlotte, the Romantic, ISO the perfect man!

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

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

Yet consider this:

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

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

ageing
Old York or New York?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carrie nailed it with this statement:

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

Who can argue with that?

The Wrap with Mary V

The Wrap on Ageing in The City

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

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

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

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

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

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Your turn!

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

Drop your thoughts below … and thanks for stopping by!

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

travel light

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

Your Packing Light Guide

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

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

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

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

the 5 kilo traveller

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

The 5 Kilo Traveller Back Story

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

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

∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ 

The First Midlife Solo Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

solo travel

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

Core Philosophy: Travel Light & Travel Solo

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

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

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

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

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

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

packing light tips

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

Katherine's Top Packing Tips

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

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

Writing A New Midlife Chapter!

The Wrap On How To Travel Light

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

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

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

Listen to your heart. Do something for you. 

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

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

Website: the5kilotraveller

Instagram: @the5kilotraveller

Facebook: the5kilotraveller

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

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

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 assure