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The Midlife Purge

Why am I holding on to all this stuff?

It’s no secret that one of the things that women begin to do in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s is clear out, clean up, downsize and do a lot of personal housekeeping. Midlife is certainly a time for assessing and making room for what’s important and that means creating enough personal space both internally and externally. This can mean letting go of unfulfilling relationships, changing careers or starting something new. For some like author Anna Quindlen it meant finally giving away the baby clothes.

I do quite a bit of internal housekeeping. I am one of those people who can’t stay too long in an emotional or physical space that doesn’t feel right and healthy. After years of rigorous practice (meditation becoming an integral part of my process), I am attuned to physical and emotional signs that let me know I’m off course and need to make some changes.

I don’t have as much skill when it comes to my “stuff”. My husband and I have a decades long habit of keeping everything. Quite honestly, I am the worst culprit. No, we don’t hoard (exactly). There are clean spaces and places to sit. Our home appears tidy and appealing but open a drawer, a closet or the door to my home studio and (if you are really brave)— the basement and you are in for a real surprise.

I love my stuff. 

There is certainly a chance I might “need” that piece of lovely wrapping paper for a project I’m working on. I might wear those shoes I saved for but killed my feet. And that drawing or the tower of boxes of drawings, I’m sure one of my sons (I can’t remember who did what) drew them. I am hopelessly sentimental and painfully disorganized. While I thrive with some amount of order, piles arrive with amazing consistency. I can’t keep up with the urges for more stuff (specifically art supplies and ironically storage containers) while holding on to the old stuff.

I know that much of this is also about letting go and facing the loss of times gone by. Some days it’s fairly easy but on others I find myself kicking and screaming, holding on as if the stuff keeps the clock from moving forward.

Stay with me as I do the midlife purge and clean up and clear out. I’m happy to share tips, tools and storage ideas (for the stuff you really do need to save). Happy tossing!

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