Today, I’m working on a chapter of my new book about life after minimizing. Decluttering, minimizing, and organizing really does change your life. It really does do what is promised: it frees up your mind, your time and money to do the things you want to do.
The downside for people in my midlife bracket is that we do have more time. The kids are gone. Their needs are few if we’re lucky. Many of us are retiring or cutting back on our hours and we have more time to think about the negative, to worry, to wring our hands. When we’re not doing that “busy work” of keeping the house and saying we’re going to declutter, we get frustrated so we binge eat or watch Netflix. Maybe that’s just me. Or when we have no more excuses for why we can’t get out and walk or hike or do the things we always said we were going to do we just don’t know what to say.
When we come face to face with our real freed up selves right now, it can be, shall we say challenging. There’s this strange, gray-haired person in the mirror asking me, “What do I do now?” I don’t know about you but I always seemed to put others before me. So, I didn’t pay attention to the spare tire that showed up around my waist. I run and jump in my mind, but when I’m called on to do those things in real life, it feels odd and painful and parts of me jiggle that I didn’t know could. And I don’t really know how to dress this overweight older woman. I supported other’s dreams and aspirations and at this point when people ask me what my hobbies are or what my passions are, I don’t know what to say. “Uh, gardening?” I barely have a lawn.
I was always a wife, a mom and a teacher. That was overload. I didn’t have time for anything else.
So, the downside or the challenge of this time of life after decluttering is to find who I am now. And that’s a bit scary. It’s a challenge to not fall back into old patterns of behavior to avoid looking at myself and my life. It’s a challenge not to adopt new “hobbies” just to stay busy like shopping just to have something to do (and end up right back where I started in a cluttered house), or numbing my worried brain with hours of British dramas. (which I thoroughly enjoy!)
I mean, being a wife, mom and teacher was amazing. I mean, I still do those things, just in a different way. More from a distance and indirectly. But back in the day when my boots were on the ground and my hands were dirty, I had the privilege of producing, literally creating human beings. I created and managed a home and I weaved relationships that I believe will last longer than I’m alive. I poured into future executives, pastors and doctors – seriously, some of my students are those people right now. I was producing and nurturing every waking hour.
My life, right now, not so much.
But, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
I believe in seasons and growth. I have to remember that it’s just as important to BE as it is to produce or make. I know it sounds groovy, but living, breathing and being have got to be enough to be considered valuable. Just look at people who are amazing even though they are hindered in some way. I believe in my heart that just being is enough, just not every day in my brain, which brings me down. I have to not mourn what my life was and I have to be brave enough to embrace this future that is unknown. I hate the unknown. I guess that’s why they say, “growing old is not for the faint of heart.”
So, I have to find myself, reinvent myself, find a new normal and figure out how to dress this weird, old lady I see in the mirror. Or maybe I’ll just go watch “Downton Abbey” all over again. Pass the Doritos, thanks.