midlife

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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coffee break stories

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

Introducing weekly coffee break stories!

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

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

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

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

What is Medium?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why did I join?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coffee Break Stories #1

coffee break stories

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman!

Coffee Break Stories #2

Don’t Forget To Applaud Every Step Of Your Journey

It’s about more than just the arrival

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

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

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

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

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

But you can do it … I believe in you!

Do you?

The Wrap On Coffee Break Stories

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

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

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

Pro-Ageing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pro-ageing

"Girls Just Want To Have Fun"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But wait, there’s more!

over 70 and rocking it

"Born This Way"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pro ageing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now? What’s her aim on IG?

To give courage to my age group and forgiveness. 

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

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

pro age

"Don't Fear The Reaper"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

shift your stories

The Wrap on Pro Ageing with Mimi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your turn!

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

Interior Design: Taking Center Stage In A Fab Midlife Pivot

“The best rooms have something to say about the people who live in them” —David Hicks

Meet my friend, Linda Holt, interior design consultant and smart phone photography instructor extraordinaire! Based in Boston, Linda is the second in a new series spotlighting Women Over 50 crafting a midlife chapter that brings them joy.

When your timeline opens up for something different, what will you choose? Social media relentlessly serves up unrealistic images of the “perfect” midlife chapter. Which creates anxiety, stress, and unrealistic pressure for what we “should” do—and guilt when we don’t. Who needs that?!

So the purpose of my series is to share Midlife Stories of real women pursuing a variety of personal interests. These are unfiltered accounts of women living life on their own terms, unapologetically and contentedly.  They’re doing what they consider perfect for them…not what someone else tells them. Isn’t that what we all want to achieve?

By the way, there’s a link at the end if you missed the kickoff post with Katherine, The 5 Kilo Traveller. But for now, settle in for a delightful introduction to Linda who forged her own path with what lights her up: helping people create a fabulous home space that supports their true lifestyle and individual taste. 

about linda holt
"Design is a journey of discovery" —Billy Baldwin

From Marine Biology to Interior Design

How Her Journey Started

Yes, you read that right! Even as a child, Linda loved rearranging her bedroom furniture. Growing up, she eagerly delved into anything to do with decorating a home. Then she’d head outside and use her Kodak Instamatic camera to capture vignettes of her beloved dogs. Interior design school was an ideal choice for her continuing education.

However, her dad had very traditional thoughts. Linda was told to pick one of three “practical” fields: science, business, or education. In his exact words which she remembers to this day, “We’re not sending you to college so you can learn how to pick out pillows for other people.”

Moreover, she had multiple colleges vying for her enrollment. Yet even there, he selected the one he felt offered the best chance for her to marry a rich husband (remember, this was 40+ years ago). Linda was good in science—hence, marine biology.

But 3 years into a lab job, it wasn’t what made her heart sing. She’d need a Master’s degree to advance into a more challenging and lucrative position. And then one day on the commute home, she looked up and saw an advertisement above the bus seat across from her: “You, too, can become a photographer!” Linda believed it was a sign … and so she did!

Shifting Into Photography

The photography school tuition was $11,000 which sounds reasonable in today’s dollars. But in an era when $6/hour was the minimum wage, it took working three years in various part-time positions to pay for full-time classes. 

Fortunately, her patience and determination paid off: Linda enjoyed a 25-year career as a professional photographer. She had her own studio in Boston, specializing in headshots and portfolios for actors and models. Yet even though she found photography rewarding, interior design remained her top passion.

“I spent my weekends wandering through flea markets or antique stores, making window treatments, trying out a new wall color, or painting a dated piece of furniture. My husband and two sons never knew what room was going to get torn apart next.”

It was the real possibility of undergoing spinal surgery due to the toll of lifting and toting heavy photography equipment that signaled the end of this career chapter and the start of the next: her beloved interior design!

interior design
"The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you really are" —Carl Jung

An Award Winning Interior Designer

Linda and I connected on IG in 2019, thanks our mutual love of all things home beautiful. Her photos relay a story that consistently draws your eyes in. And her videos and captions exude calm authority about industry trends. 

So when I interviewed her last week, I was floored to learn that she did not officially open Linda Holt Creative until 2011! When I asked her how she broke into a competitive business, she replied, 

“Baby steps! I joined a business networking group. I teamed up with a realtor from that group and provided home staging for his listings. This led to another realtor asking for my help. And then one of her clients wanted my design services for a new home. From there, my business grew, thanks to word of mouth referrals.”

Moreover, Linda never said no to any invitations to speak at webinars or to consult in small gatherings. So when she was asked to speak live at a Design Influencers Conference, she knew this would be her watershed moment.

How does one prepare to address 350 strangers when you have a “crippling, life-long phobia” for public speaking?

Practice, practice, practice! Linda not only memorized her speech. She also spent countless hours reviewing self-help YT videos and analyzing her own recorded dry runs. Nine months later, she delivered her speech and received a standing ovation! 

In fact, here’s what also happened:

“I can honestly say that talk propelled me to where I am today. I was nervous walking onto stage but I took three deep breaths and delivered my speech. Afterwards, someone came up and asked me to talk at another event. And then another invitation arrived. All of these opportunities snowballed and I can trace it back to this one event. It’s probably the proudest thing I mastered in my life!”

However, Linda has many other accomplishments to be proud of: she has earned a very long list of industry awards and client accolades. Houzz, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful … she’s been recognized by the best!

Yet Linda is not one to relentlessly broadcast her talents. (I actually had to go to her website to discover her industry gold stars!). Self-promotion makes her cringe but as an essential part of a business, she continues to speak about her customer-centric approach: 

“Not only do I save my clients from making costly mistakes, but I empower them to create the homes of their dreams, not mine.”
interior design
"Creativity takes courage" —Henri Matisse

A Slight Pivot In Her Journey

The latest shift with Linda Holt Creative occurred in 2019. While Linda thoroughly enjoyed helping her clients create a home that suits their lifestyle, she became weary of things going wrong in the process that were not her fault. There are many players involved, i.e., furniture manufacturers, installers, construction crew, etc. Yet her deep commitment to her clients’ satisfaction sometimes led to Linda bearing the fallout when other project facets outside her control went South. 

Then she had the idea to refine her business model from full service into a consulting service. It really makes sense when you think about all the inspirational resources homeowners can now access, such as HGTV, Pinterest, and Houzz.

Most people already have a design vision. They are capable of hiring trades and buying products. But what they can really use is someone with the interior design expertise and sourcing connections to bring it all to life. So enter in the ability for the homeowner to obtain professional guidance and recommended resources. Then Linda exits and the homeowner carries on!

Whether virtual or in person, the consulting approach has really resonated with all her clientele. It also worked beautifully for Linda’s peace of mind, particularly when the pandemic hit: supply chain snags were not her problem!

The other shift was a dive into creating smartphone courses for fellow interior designers. After casually and regularly sharing tips for better images, she followed through on their clamor for formal instruction.

While her online courses are geared for her colleagues, you can always catch her “Two Tip Tuesday” live IG videos when you follow her. How impressive that she’s continuing to speak live, when once upon a time, she would’ve blushed if someone in the grocery store stopped her to ask a question!

Linda has clearly come into her own when she pivoted professionally into what sets her creativity on fire. And she did it with her customary hard work, laser focus, and quiet determination. 

"Don't shoot what it looks like, shoot what it feels like!" —David Allen Harvey

The Wrap on an Interior Design Journey

Linda’s own words really capture how she created her Midlife Chapter, when she was a Finalist in Design Hounds 2021 The Change Makers awards:

11 years ago I started my decorating business. For the first few years, I was still shooting headshots a couple days a week because I was too scared…to make a commitment to a totally different career. I lacked self-confidence, felt like a fraud and was embarrassed to tell my friends…I was so worried what everyone would say. It’s taken 10 years of coaching, mindset work, and many ‘life is short’ wakeup calls, but…all my internal struggles and consistent ‘stepping out of my comfort zone’ paid off. If you had told me 11 years ago this [award] would happen, I would have believed it as much as if you told me I would be living on Mars in 2021 or working as a brain surgeon! …To be in the company of the other winners is truly humbling.”

Here’s how to connect with my talented friend, Linda Holt:

I’m certain you’ll enjoy Linda’s warm, welcoming & lighthearted spirit! Be certain to stop and admire her deft interior designs displayed in her website portfolio.

Who knows, perhaps she can pull together your vision for your next renovation or home purchase. And don’t forget: she’s got the smart phone photography tips you can use when sharing your refreshed home space with family and friends!

—image montages were created on Canva, using photos from Linda Holt Creative

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Catch up on the Midlife Stories series which debuted with  Katherine, The 5 Kilo Traveller.

Do you dream of shifting into your own new adventure? Head here for 5 Ways To Harness Your Midlife Transition.

What’s happening in your Midlife Chapter? Share a little about your journey with a comment below…and thanks for stopping by!

Stay tuned for another Woman Over 50 feature next month!

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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!

Intentional Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

……………………………………………………………

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

shift with mary v

What I'll Do More Of This Year

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

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

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

Such as:

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

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

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

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

The more I do them, the better I feel.

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

What I'll Do Less Of This Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

intentional living

The Wrap On Intentional Living By Way of Little Habits

Intentional Living allows us to live our best lives.

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

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

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

………………………………………………………….

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

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

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

…And thanks for stopping by!

Other Posts You May Enjoy

But First: Plan Now For A Peaceful Holiday Season

If you’re like most, the thought of the upcoming holidays fills you with equal parts of excitement and dread!

After more than a year of lockdown, restriction and confinement, who doesn’t relish the idea of family get-togethers, friends, parties, decorations and presents?

But let’s be honest: there’s a part of you that stresses out…so much to prepare, to buy, to decorate, to bake, to wrap…you name it! Do you find the hustle and bustle exhausting?

Would you prefer a lower key yet fully meaningful celebration?

Let’s take five and think about how we can plan for a peaceful holiday season without losing our composure.  Consider incorporating the following four practices into your holiday routine. 

After all, regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, it’s a sacred time to focus on what matters most….to you and what you truly value!

peaceful holiday season
image by lucie liz | pexels

1. Say "No" to Pinterest Perfectionism

It’s so easy to want everything to be just right. 

From the tree and the home decorations to the presents and the menu. It seems there’s an expectation for each and every facet to be perfect. Or else it falls short.

But why does it have to be one or the other?

There’s nothing wrong with having a realistic vision of your gatherings.

So what if the tree is a little crooked? Who cares if your hand towels don’t sport holiday motifs? 

If family and friend time is what matters more to you, then allow yourself to keep things casual. When you plan for the comfort of your guests instead of the fancy wow of your decor, you’ll be less tense. 

In fact, as you haul out your holiday decor, consider paring down your collection.

This would be an ideal time to approach your adult children about selecting which items they would love to receive for their own home. 

Just remember: if they say no, don’t take it personally. Their taste may be different. Or they may truly want to keep their own decor on the minimalist side, as well. Part of a peaceful holiday season means accepting others’ personal preferences, too!

When you retain only your favorites, your set up and take down routine will be much easier—less time consuming. And every item will be sure to bring joy when they’re displayed.

People may compliment a well coordinated theme. But the genuine fellowship is what they will remember with a smile, long after the party has ended.

Circle back to this post for more ways to cut yourself some slack: How Perfectionism Holds Us Back From Clutter Free Living

peaceful holiday season
image by negative space | pexels

2. Prepare for Retail Hype

Oh, my: We barely said goodbye to Halloween and now the Pre-Black Friday sales are in full swing! 

Not to mention it always starts well ahead of Thanksgiving. Even the radio stations and streaming music channels have started up with the 24-7 holiday music.  Poor Thanksgiving has become the red-headed stepchild of holidays.

It’s dizzying how persuasive the ads and promotions can be. Not only should we buy the perfect gifts for family and friends. We are supposed to treat ourselves, too. Half-off, BOGO, Close-out, Clearance….the various sales go on and on…and on!

No wonder January is a sobering month when the bills come due! It’s a financial month of reckoning, to be sure. Not exactly how we’d want to start a new year, right?

How about shunning the retail siren to over-buy?

Start by carving out dedicated time to create your shopping list. Decide who’s on it and what you’d like to gift them. 

One of my favorite suggestions (and not just for the hard-to-buy) is to give experiences instead of things. Perhaps a family outing of some sort?

It can range from a simple night at the movies or an Escape The Room night, all the way to a weekend cruise…you choose! 

Talk about making memories that will last a lifetime. If you plan this correctly, you may just succeed in avoiding the mall altogether!

And with the unending supply chain snafus, how about considering gift certificates for a massage, a facial or a pedicure?

Of course, there will always be the iconic present we received as a child… a beloved doll, a shiny bike or a pretty necklace. Yet if you think back over your adult years, what stands out more: the gifts or the memories? 

What if we plan for the holidays with a focus on “presence” rather than “presents”? Wouldn’t that take a load off our shoulders?

diffuse family drama
image by cottonbro | pexels

3. Diffuse Family Drama

Gathering with the clan over the years during the holidays can be really good. Or really awful. 

If you’ve experienced both or something in between, think about what the conversation was about.

Was the focus on what you were thankful for or what you appreciated in each other? That was likely the positive memory. But if the dialogue veered towards old wounds, unmet expectations or pointed criticisms…yeah, that was a downer.

So what if you prepare for this year’s get together with an upbeat attitude?

How about staying with the present fellowship rather than detouring to past offenses? How about gently redirecting the conversation towards neutral ground when it detours negatively?

When we look for the value that each family member brings to the table, our holiday celebration can be joyful and loving. Save the points of contention for another day, when the issue can be discussed rationally and fairly.

People don’t change just because we tell them to!

Instead, plan to enjoy the finer qualities of your family. Imagine how this can be a peaceful holiday season you look back on with love.

peaceful holiday season
image from pexels

4. Pause for Reflection

End of the year holidays provide a timely segue to plan for the New Year and all the hope it can bring.

Taking time to evaluate how this year unfolded for you has value. Sometimes the regret we have for how we handled (or didn’t handle) things can weigh on us. It makes it difficult to enjoy the holidays when we have nagging guilt or disappointment. Even if we skip this step, those unresolved feelings will continue to hover below the surface until we eventually address them.

But what if we plan for dedicated reflection time about our year without judgment? In other words, what if we are willing to acknowledge our weaknesses and not just applaud our accomplishments?  

There’s no reason to beat ourselves up for our shortcomings. Instead, we can be gentle with ourselves (and others) while appreciating where we are at now.

This prior post can kickstart your 2022 New Year’s planning: Declutter and Downsize: Lay the Groundwork for Really Remarkable Results in 2021!

Remember: We are human and we make mistakes. We don’t always take the best course of action or follow through with our goals.

But consider each and every year as a building block towards the next. 

In the end, our journey is always on-going. Embrace each twist and turn along the way!

The Wrap With Mary V

The Wrap

Take time to plan for a serene and heartfelt holiday season.

  • Don’t let retailers or unrealistic standards dictate how you choose to celebrate
  • Take control by deciding where you can avoid excess materialism 
  • Cut back on the drama by focusing on your family and friends, not the decorations and presents
  • Review your year without judgment and look forward to a fresh new year
  • Breathe! Enjoy a peaceful holiday season

Your turn!

  • Ready to wean yourself from excessive “retail therapy”? How will you minimize the spending hype?
  • What is one of your most memorable peaceful holiday season practices?
  • Do you have family members or friends who won’t understand or accept your wish for simplicity? How will you handle that?

Share your thoughts below ... and thanks for stopping by!

Motivation to Declutter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

motivation to declutter
godisable jacob | pexels

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

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

Tool #1: A Charter For Your Motivation To Declutter

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

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

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

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

Complete 3 statements which form the basis of your Charter

             -> I need to declutter my home because…

             -> I want to declutter my home because….

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

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

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

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

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

Motivation to Declutter House
keira burton | pexels

Tool #2: A Tracker For Your Decluttering Mood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

motivating yourself to declutter
andrea pacquiadio | pexels

Tool #3: A Summary Of Your Decluttering Accomplishments

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

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

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

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

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

How to declutter your mind
andrea pacquiadio | pexels

Tool #4: A List of Your Decluttering revelations

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

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

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

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

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

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

how to motivate yourself to declutter
keira burton | pexels

Tool #5: A Roundup of Personal Decluttering Mantras

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

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

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

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

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

The Wrap With Mary V
Mary V | Shift Your Stories

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

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

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

Are you ready? Grab your free printables here!

clutter

Clutter: Control What Creeps Back in Your Home Using These 7 Savvy Strategies

Shut the Door on New Clutter!

As clutter gets kicked to the curb, your home will start to look and feel different. More spacious, open, and airy. But maybe it seems a bit bare, which is unfamiliar, if you’ve had a lot of stuff for a long time. Now what happens next?

Well, if you’re not careful, you may start to stock up again! Your half-full closet beckons you to add a few more tops. An end-of-season sale entices you to pick up new bedsheets. Or Amazon Prime Day ads convince you to shop for Christmas in June. Uh-oh, here comes the clutter!

How do you resist the habit of amassing clutter yet again? The key is to form new shopping habits which replace your old ones! 

clutter
image by jeremias oliveira from Pexels

Today's Post Provides 7 Smart Habits To Adopt Which Protect Your Home From Bulging with Clutter All Over Again!

clutter-free meaning
image by monstera from pexels

Habit #1: Get Comfortable Living With Less

It required effort to pare down your things. It also takes time to adjust to a more minimalist decor and wardrobe.

Seeing space in your closet, pantry, or bookcase will be a “new normal” for many. So often, when we discover something that we like, we automatically stock up on more. Find a navy sweater that fits well? Great! Why not get it in red and in beige, too?

No wonder we end up overpacking for vacations: we have too many clothing options! Decision fatigue is real!

And over-abundance applies to other rooms, too. For example, consider your living room. Perhaps you cleared out dozens of knickknacks and books which accumulated over the years. Naturally, your space will look a little empty at first.

But give yourself some time to appreciate the clarity and simplicity of displaying only your favorite things. Now they can really pop when they are on display, front and center!

Remind yourself what constitutes clutter. In fact, here’s a refresher to keep things clear: Clutter Definition: What Exactly Is It So We Can Confidently Declutter With Clarity?

Then observe a 30-day retail shopping ban on all non-essentials. During that time, appreciate the beauty of less: less running around, less dusting, less spending, and less chaos.

And then feel the value of more: more space, more clarity, and more freedom.

clutter meaning
image by cottonbro from pexels

Habit #2: Stick To Your Shopping List

Creating a plan keeps us on track. Whether on your phone or an old school piece of paper, have a plan before heading to the store. Without a strategy, it’s easy to succumb to whatever catches our eye.

Grocery shopping? Take a few minutes to create a meal plan for the week. Shop your kitchen inventory first to ensure you actually use what’s there. This avoids pantry clutter.

Clothes shopping? Review what you have now to ensure you don’t buy duplicates. Keep your current lifestyle in mind. Otherwise, it’s oh-so-easy to succumb to an on-trend outfit that will rarely make it out of your closet.

Clearly, a shopping list is like a map: it provides direction to keep you heading where you want to be!

clutter storage
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Habit #3: One In, One Out

Donating or tossing out an old item whenever a new one is purchased is fundamental to keeping your home streamlined and clutter free.

Do you find yourself hesitating to release your existing jacket/book/lamp? Maybe it means you don’t need the new one. Perhaps you’re just feeling tired of the current item. Having a new one would feel exciting. I get that, really!

Or, it could mean the old one served you well and so you’re a little sad to let it go. I get that, too. Just take time to figure out if you truly need both.

Ask yourself, “Will I continue to use both of these? Will having more than one make sense and make my life easier?” If the answer is “yes” to either question, keep ’em both. If not? Let the old one go!

Fewer choices can be liberating, but so can the convenience of having a few more things, if it saves you time or if it involves things that you use frequently. 

In other words, pause to figure out which option matters more!

making space clutter free
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Habit #4: Beware Of Shiny Object Syndrome

Window shopping is both pleasurable and dangerous! “Just looking” can quickly morph into an unplanned purchase.

Whether you’re strolling at the mall or browsing online, the temptation to buy is real. Unless you have incredible self-control, it’s difficult to distinguish between true “need” and “want”!

So consider avoiding situations that may compromise your intentions and your wallet. Only carry your debit card or cash when you’re out for lunch and shopping with friends, to avoid the unintended purchases.

Also, create Pinterest boards for things that catch your eye. Just saving those images can be a substitute for the endorphin rush of actually buying something new.

Above all, be mindful of your expenditures. Keeping track of where your money goes can be very revealing.

Because knowing what your retail weaknesses are is the first step towards stopping new clutter in its tracks!

how to reduce clutter in your home
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Habit #5: Be Mindful Of The Internet

Ads appear everywhere when we surf the ‘Net, Facebook, or Instagram. We are constantly bombarded with marketing messages to buy!

Anything you looked at on the Internet  gets tracked with cookies. Then those items “mysteriously” spring up in the sidebar as you browse. But nothing is a bargain if you really don’t need it. Saving 30%? In fact, you’d be spending 70% on something unnecessary!

We are subtly (or sometimes not-so-subtly) coaxed to buy this or that in order to look good, feel better, or be relevant.

It takes stepping back to thoughtfully determine when we truly need to make a purchase. 

This is why avoiding impulse purchases is critical. Especially around the holidays, when retailers are stellar at playing off our heightened emotions. Buying more is not the only way to show our family how much we love them! Nor do we need to reinforce our own self-worth with acquiring more clutter, do we?

Equally important, pay attention to which sites you tend to head to, when you’re online. Pare down the ones that will cost you money. Stick to the ones that enhance your quality of life without impacting your bank account.

clutter definition
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Habit #6: Revamp Your E-Mail Lists

 Even our email feeds are filled with suggestions to buy! Are we truly VIPs or are we simply being targeted to buy?

Retailers lure us with promises of special discounts when we opt in to their mailing lists. They know that sending you regular notifications of “flash sales” or “advance VIP notifications” will increase the likelihood of a purchase. Your best defense? Disregard the ads.

Shop only when you decide it’s time to replace something essential.

In fact, consider taking one of these two actions: Have a secondary email account dedicated to on-line purchases. This keeps the compelling ads out of your primary account.

Or, sign up for the mailing list in order to qualify for a discount. Then, unsubscribe once you’ve received your item. This eliminates the stream of subsequent emails with purchase CTAs (Call To Action).

Ultimately, this puts you in charge of when to buy!

how to live clutter free
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Habit #7: Be Grateful For What You Already Have

In a go-go and keep-on-going world, it’s easy to overlook the value of a pause.

But part of an empowering mindful practice is to take time and appreciate all that we have right now. Consumerism is a pervasive and powerful movement. It dictates constantly looking for the “next best thing”. It urges us to constantly upgrade. And it hardly gives us a moment to use and enjoy what we have right now.

Clutter is frightfully simple to amass but painfully difficult to release. Once you’ve made headway with decluttering, carve out a few minutes to realize how it entered your home. Then, shift your shopping habits to prevent clutter from creeping back in all over again!

If you’re just beginning your decluttering journey head here to start strong: How to Start Decluttering When Overwhelmed | A Mindful Method for the Win!

And if you’re feeling stuck in general, it might just be about being between life chapters. It’s not uncommon so take a breath and find your center here: 5 Ways to Harness Your Midlife Transition and Avert a Midlife Crisis!

Ultimately, we all experience twists and turns as one chapter ends and another begins. Small pauses along the way are the key to getting our bearings and moving ahead … one step at a time!

The Wrap with Mary V
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The Wrap: This Post Was About 7 Terrific Tactics To Stop Clutter From Accumulating Again!

When we are bombarded with shiny things to buy, it’s ever so easy to succumb! We take a break from work or whatever the task at hand to reward ourselves. Or we schedule a shopping jaunt with friends. We enjoy the preliminary thrill of buying something new. 

However, are you shopping out of “need” or “want”? It’s the “want” items that usually morph into clutter. 

Give your newly cleared space a chance to provide clarity and peace of mind.

Take time to revamp your habits so you can live large with less clutter!

Your Turn!

  • Do you think shopping is a sport?
  • How do you manage your spending so it doesn’t manage you?

Drop your thoughts below …and thanks for stopping by!

declutter

Declutter Like a Boss With The PopUpPurge™ Book Release!

This Post Introduces the PopUpPurge™, a Soulful Guide to Declutter for Clarity at the Midlife Milestone!

When you’re 50+ or better, you’ve already lived quite a full life! And when you pause to take stock and start to declutter, are you a little shocked with just how much has accumulated over the years?

Take heart, it happens to us all! Lots of activity has taken place in your home. So it makes sense that there’s going to be a lot of physical evidence as a result.

But are you making real decluttering inroads? Maybe not so much. As you look at family photos, travel mementos, or Grandma’s china, the memories start flooding in. It’s so much harder than expected!

How do you declutter without feeling like you’re throwing away your past? Or someone else’s?

And so decluttering is deferred to another day. But when will that day come?

How long will you wait for your own new chapter to unfold and flourish?

declutter

The Power to Declutter Successfully Is Now Within Reach!

If you’ve given this your best shot and sorted on the basis of what sparks joy, how’d that go? What were you able to release? How much actually went out the door? Were you able to sleep on your bed that night? Or was there an enormous pile of clothing in the way?

How do you move ahead and declutter anyway, when guilt, regret, or perfectionism stops you in your tracks? Sigh … it happens to all of us!

Well, this is exactly why I wrote this book, “PopUpPurge™: Release Midlife Clutter & Reclaim Inner Clarity”!

Because it’s never really just about the stuff. It’s about the emotions we’ve wrapped around our things that has us stuck.

When we can face the memories, limiting beliefs, and old stories that hold us hostage, we can begin to let go of what no longer (or maybe never) serves us well.

In fact, here are 5 compelling reasons for Women Over Fifty to start decluttering now, using the guidance within this book! 

how to declutter your home
image by lisa from Pexels

#1: Who's In The House Has Changed

There are all kinds of possible scenarios now. On the one hand, the kids are grown and likely on their own. You might be on your own, too, due to divorce or death. Or maybe you’re in a new relationship … which means more stuff entered the house! 

On the other hand, have people moved back in again? Was it just two of you for a while, but now the kids and/or your parents are with you? After all, we are dubbed the “sandwich generation” for a reason!

Whatever your current status is, does the stuff in your house make sense for who’s there now? Are there duplicates all over the place? Conversely, is your home frozen in time, even though what you currently need and us has changed? 

For any of these scenarios, decluttering is the perfect activity to create an environment that supports whoever is under your roof now!

For a primer on sorting out clutter, head here: Clutter Definition: What Exactly Is It So We Can Confidently Declutter With Clarity?

declutter your home
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#2: Our Full-Time Focus Begins to Shift

Careers may be winding down or have come to an abrupt end. You may be contemplating a new one. The days of working for just one employer until you retire have become a thing of the past.

And if your full-time focus was raising your family, they’re full blown adults by now. So you’ve likely been given your parenting “pink slip”, right?! To be clear, we are always parents but how we interact with our children changes when they have left the nest.

With these inevitable changes, are you ready to pursue the passions you shelved in the pursuit of being practical? Good for you! But have you cleared out the stuff from your former job first? Or is that still occupying space and collecting dust?

how to declutter
image by RF._.studio from pexels

#3: Our Health May Have Taken a Turn

We can take good health for granted. Especially when we’ve focused on taking care of our family … it’s how Moms operate! 

Yet sometimes, unexpected health issues crop up, catching us off guard. When it’s something life-changing, it definitely gets our attention. Now, the time ahead of us becomes even more precious. 

What kind of legacy do we want to leave behind? Not everyone is eager to ponder this topic. But putting it off will not change the fact that when we are gone, someone will have to declutter our stuff and decide what to do with it.

Do you want to get it in order yourself? Or do you expect your kids to do this? How did your parents handle their legacy? Was it left to you?

Lots of important questions here to answer, right? Which is why Swedish Death Cleaning is the iconic decluttering concept of an entire nation! (Here’s what that’s all about: Swedish Death Cleaning: A Savvy Celebration of Life (Really!))

declutter meaning
image by ketut subiyanto from pexels

#4: "Me Time" Is Calling Our Names

 

Finally! You don’t have to shoehorn your personal interests into a calendar chock full with other people’s agendas. You can be unapologetically front and center again!

When we’ve supported the interests and priorities of our family for a long time, it’s new territory to switch gears. Oh, certainly we’ve carved out time for ourselves, too. But to triple or quadruple that “me time”? It’s a luxury that we’ve earned!

But first: is there room in the house for what lights you up now? Or is it bulging with idle hobbies, crafts, and possessions from someone else’s past?

And if you’re uncertain of your next move, you’re not alone! This post shares about arriving at the midlife mile: 5 Ways to Harness Your Midlife Transition and Avert a Midlife Crisis! 

decluttering tips
image by holly mandarich from pexels

#5: We're Entering A Platinum Period

Living lighter is the key to feeling lighter! As Midlife Women, we are on the cusp of writing a new chapter in our lives. We turn the page when we declutter and clear space for where we want to head next.

Not quite sure where “there” is for you? You’ll uncover it as you release what you no longer need, use, or want in the house.

Remember how it felt when you graduated from high school? Whether you went on to earn an advanced degree, immediately entered the work force, or opted to exclusively raise a family, you had your whole life ahead of you.

Once again, you’re at a similar junction.  How exciting to decide your next move! And decluttering is the perfect vehicle for discovering where “there” is once again!

Ready to harness clarity? Then this is the best book for decluttering your life! Download a Free Chapter right here! And then grab the rest of the story. 

Prepare for a confident shift into a joyful future that you create!

The Wrap with Mary V
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The Wrap: This Post Announced The Release of The PopUpPurge™ Book Which is the Perfect Guide To Declutter Your Home & Your Life!

Design the next chapter of your life through letting go of what you no longer need, use, or love.

Six of the chapters are dedicated to the common emotions that have us stuck. But now you can get moving again!

Small steps executed regularly add up to big results.

Your turn!

  • What’s your personal decluttering journey been like?
  • Which things are the hardest for you to let go?

Join the convo below … And thanks for stopping by!

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