I never set out to be a minimalist per se. Yes, as a professional organizer it would seem that minimalism would be part of the gig. And while it is my go-to solution for any problem it didn’t always take center stage.
When I entered midlife – which for me I define as any time between 40 and 50 years old – my life got a bit turned up-side-down. And I found myself looking for a way to survive the perfect storm of too much that was tossed at me when my husband and I did something not many people do in midlife: adopt a 4-year-old girl out of foster care.
Don’t get me wrong, plenty of people do the courageous (if I don’t say so myself) act of adopting. But for me, while a beautiful time, it was also the most transformational time in my life that brought with it a lot of noise.
Too much noise.
The problem with noise of any kind is that it makes harder your ability to slow down, shush the heck out of things so you can think straight. And make the next, best, right move for you.
Motherhood also brought too many opinions, too much comparison which led to confusion and self-judgment. And too much negativity I held about my worth and enough-ness. In fact, all of the things I thought I knew about who I was and what I was capable of seemed to vanish.
Life felt heavy. And I was cluttered.
My clutter was mostly in my head and it transferred to how I lived my life. It led me to low self esteem, bouts of anger, extreme fatigue and eventually depression. Motherhood brought on triggers I never knew I had or at least never knew related to parts of me that needed mending and healing. I harbored a lot of limiting beliefs, and the view of my world and my place in it felt limiting as a result.
I spun my wheels trying to make sense of what was happening. And had this commotion constantly brewing in my body that would erupt, often easily, by a comment from my husband or a question from my daughter. This unappealing version of myself led to many moments of panic that landed me often on the bathroom floor at 3am, curled up tightly on the soft, brown rug, frantically crying and scared for the sense of self I felt I was losing. There I cried uncontrollably, begging God to take away all the pain and confusion I felt over this loss of self. With time, meditation, prayer, and support from healers, I eventually pulled myself up, steadfast in my conviction that I needed to change something if I was to survive.
I knew I couldn’t let my life be informed by the negative thoughts I was harboring. And I knew I didn’t want this to be how I lived my life – in fear of my triggers, of who I am or will become. What I wanted was to feel a better sense of self, more joy in how I approached motherhood, and life. I wanted to love myself for who I was. A messy and strong woman just trying to make sense of life, and meaning in it.
And because this happened for me in midlife it felt a little bit like a perfect storm.
What I didn’t realize about midlife is the possibility of this confrontation between you, and well…you. It’s a time when, if you are open to it, you start to re-asses your life and what you have in it.
Italian poet Cesar Pavese said.
From the moment you turn 40, you are responsible for your own face. Other people’s opinions and approach aren’t tantamount anymore. What matters is your opinion. You’re in charge of what kind of face you’re going to show the world…”
I read that quote some time after we adopted our daughter. It was after the time I spent on the bathroom floor, and wrestled with myself about whether what I was going through and how it manifested in how I was living would scar my daughter for life. Or whether not being able to pull myself together would forever leave me a shell of myself.
I read that quote and something clicked for me.
Something about it felt validating so much so that I realized all of the triggers that left me reacting in ways I didn’t enjoy, were lessons I needed to learn. And that what I needed to do was not only within me, but necessary in order to feel good about my life and myself in this life.
All of that heaviness and too much led me to seek ways to have less at a time in my life when having less would matter so much more. Less negatively, less housework, less stuff crowding my space, and less noise huddling in my head.
Simply put, in order for me to feel good in my life, to navigate all of these midlife changes, challenges with work and parenting, and triggers that were firing at me daily with motherhood, I had to edit out the things that were pulling me from it. And while at first I felt completely alone, feeling I was the only mother ever to feel this way, I soon realized I was not the only one. I was not the only busy woman who felt overwhelmed by her responsibilities, suffocated by thoughts and things, stressed and frustrated.
And that is when minimalism took center stage – personally, and professionally.
And where my minimalist method was born.
Today, I use my minimalist method to help you do what I did to accept what was heavy, and teach you how to discern and decide what you want for your life and what has meaning. It motivates you to let go of what doesn’t serve a purpose. And instead of spinning your wheels, navigating the obstacle course that is your messy and noisy mental and physical space, it guides you to transform.
What I realized on that bathroom mat was that who I felt I was becoming was not who I wanted to be. I wasn’t happy. And that scared me a lot. And felt massive because I knew I was the one who needed to change in order to fix it.
I needed to own my face, and do things my way with no apologies. I needed to face all the fears, the expectations, the limits I put on myself and give them all a swift kick in the buttocks.
Minimalism was the way I was going to do it.
My accidental path to minimalism paved the way for a fruitful life transformation in midlife. It occurred because the pain and confusion of too much in my head and heart became too much to handle. And as I learned about what mattered most, I was able to identify what made me feel good. And discard what didn’t.
When you realize what thoughts, things, people and their expectations or opinions don’t make up the best face for you, you have little choice in letting them go if you want to feel fulfilled in life. And if you want to own your face fully.
The truth is, the transformation that occurred in mid-life for me was a complete lesson in finding more out of less, being more deliberate in how I was living my life so I could understand more clearly its meaning.
You might not have become a mother in midlife but you might be confronted with a challenge. One that you know will change the entire periphery of your life as you know it. You might not even know fully what the challenge is but somewhere in your soul you feel this need to do something – anything – differently. Or perhaps just do things in a way that has a different or greater impact.
You might be searching for more meaning in midlife.
In fact, if midlife, or any time in your life, has left you asking “What am I doing with my life”, you are seeking meaning. And deservedly so.
I have learned that midlife is a beautiful time. A challenging, difficult, life-transforming time to own your face, and discover the life you want. And take the steps necessary to go and grab it.
It takes courage to look at your life and decide that some things, some people, many thoughts – they just don’t work. And even more courage to actually do something about it.
Embracing minimalism in midlife saved me, mostly from myself. But importantly, it put me on a life path that is filled with more meaning, truth, and authenticity. I want you to embrace minimalism and all the ways it can help you in midlife make meaning in your life.
I know you can do it. You are courageous.
You are strong.
And most of all, you are worthy of all the goodness that will come from making intentional changes.
And actively creating a life you love.
If you need help owning your face, letting go, and creating your life talk to me. Grab your free discovery call now to get started.