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Don't Downsize. Upgrade!


I'm sitting here in my office watching the ice melt off the roof. The sun is shining and its bitterly cold. I'm comforted by the fact that spring will eventually come. After 65 years of living, I've never seen it fail, though at times, the wait was excruciatingly long. I was always impatient for better days, so much so that I failed to stay and enjoy the present moment.

But there is a phenonmen that seems to go along with aging that I've recently begun experiencing first hand. Time does seem truncated, so fast in passing sometimes it is unerving. With this comes an urgency I feel to live fully in the moment--to stay healthy, active, and engaged with new projects as long as I possibly can. But not just any activity to while away my time, only those which are top priority. And because of this newly found sense of priorities, I'm pretty sure I'm going to give up making jewelry, get rid of other art supplies I no longer use, and hone in on what's important. The same is true of fabrics, furniture projects, and things in my house I don't need anymore.

Out with old shoes and clothing that don't fit or I don't wear! Out with friends that don't bother to stay in touch anymore, who make me do all of the relationship work! Out with bad habits that steal days off my life, like eating too many carbs, indulging in sweets, and pretending that the treadmill is nothing more than a giant clothes respository!

In other words, with time passing so quickly, I don't have the time for things in my life that aren't life affirming, beautiful, loved, precious, and fun anymore.

But I don't see this process as downsizing, as it is often called. Instead, I'm upgrading! You see, aging takes a lot away from you. Old friends die, children move away, parents go into the nursing home, beauty fades, health becomes compromised, the ability to make an income diminishes. With all of our resources diminishing, taking care of what we do have left is important, but even more important is to upgrade to activities that are truly valuable and add new things that you've never done. Sometimes that means we have to change, get out of our rut, or do things that are scary. If we try to hang onto what we used to have we can end up feeling disenfranchised, on the periphery of society, feeling powerless and neglected because we won't let go of our past abilities and coping skills and embrace a new reality. Then bitterness can set in. Dying becomes frightening. We feel left behind and alone.

Instead of spending the winter of our lives longing for spring, we have to learn to embrace the season as an opportunity to slow down, build the relationships we do have left, and be a source of wisdom and comfort to others. We have to stop grasping for that perfect man, that perfect job, and trying to look like we are so much younger than we are. Those things are part of our past identity.

I know, those dreams were dear to our hearts. But as we shed our outer skin, we must also shed our illusions, and like the trees of winter, allow ourselves to be stripped bare by our Creator, so we can bloom stronger and more beautifully when we step into eternity. We have to upgrade our souls, and to do that we have to downsize our flesh. We have to accept our losses and move on.

These days I'm focusing on projects near and dear to my heart--marketing for The Quaker Homestead in Hertford, writing my second historical novel, painting art that I can support myself with once counseling days are over, and finishing the remodeling of my house. I'm a busy woman!

Get out from in front of the television or the computer playing trivial games. Declutter. Make a list of all the things that are important in your life. Get creative doing something, even if you don't know yet what that is. Creative lifestyle is the key to healthy living no matter what your age. It keeps the juices flowing!

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