Turning 50 is considered by many a milestone. I think the completion of any decade is a time for extra celebration. Until now the focus for me of each decade of my adulthood has been something specific and somewhat stressful.
Transition issues included establishing myself professionally, day-to-day survival as a parent of young children, and the fall-out of divorce.
Fifty gave me an opportunity to pause and think because my life is less hectic and my daily schedule is more open. I have eliminated a lot of physical and emotional clutter from my life through minimalism.
I found my fiftieth birthday to be a pleasurable and purposeful day. I realized that more of my life has passed than is likely to lie ahead. Memories of my childhood and my children’s childhoods are prominent as ever.
A Life of Gratitude
I counted my blessings. I am thankful for parents who raised me to work hard and be responsible. I am comforted by warm memories of four loving grandparents and family celebrations with them and my other relatives.
I am grateful for two healthy children who are now young men. My sons are forging their own way in life, overcoming challenges, and enjoying their college years; they need me less. I am blessed with a loving relationship with my soulmate, who I found later in life. I work at a job I treasure where I have the privilege of helping students on a daily basis.
Sharing love with others has been the most central part of my life. While love involves risk and can result in pain and loss, it is absolutely the joy and essence of life. I realized my highs and lows have occurred in relationship with others.
This focus on connections with others is why I make choices based on relationships and experiences over things. Minimalism is a key to this decision-making process and provides guiding principles.
I devote my time to planning and creating life experiences with my partner, such as trips to new locations or running races, rather than organizing my belongings and buying clothing that I don’t need.
I strive to focus on the promise of each day and plan with hope for a beautiful future. I do not take my life and health for granted. I do expect to face pain, difficult times, and loss. The future is not certain, and good times with great people are a gift.
Minimalism at Fifty
Minimalism has helped me find peace, be comfortable with who I am, and challenges me to grow. Here are some thoughts on what it means to me:
1. Minimalism is about removing clutter and searching for meaning.
Our desires and purpose become clear when we are able to release things and emotions that are no longer useful to us. Not only our homes and offices but also our hearts and minds become uncluttered. Clear unnecessary items from your living and working spaces and prioritize the time to think, dream and plan.
2. Minimalism is about the purposeful use of money.
Make more purposeful use of your funds. Don’t let advertising or the media determine how you spend the money you earn. Eliminate debt and save for major purchases. Enjoy the challenge of frugality. Learn to differentiate needs from fleeting desires and social expectations. When you do make a purchase, focus on quality and finding precisely what you are seeking. Make your purchases personal and meaningful when possible.
3. Minimalism is about style.
By decluttering your wardrobe, your personal style will gradually shine through in what remains. You will discover the colors, fabrics and cuts that you prefer. I removed fashion magazines from my life several years ago. What a relief!
Beauty to me is about health and authenticity, not makeup, hair products, jewelry and fashion trends. Poise and posture impress more than a carefully painted face. Define your own style and flaunt it! Reject the message that you need to somehow enhance or improve yourself with products or expensive clothing in order to be attractive.
4. Minimalism is about bare bones.
Strip away the layers and find your authentic self; flaws and imperfections are what make us who we are and remind us of our travels and trials. What is your foundation? Who are you? What have you learned? What are your unique gifts and how can you share them?
When you have less clutter in your daily schedule you will have more time to think and make well-informed choices. Slow down, communicate genuinely with others and walk your path.
As I turned 50, I felt free. Free from expectations, guilt, drama and the dead weight those things bring. I set personal goals so that I can continue to grow and challenge myself.
For example, I have specific fitness goals for the coming year, including my first sprint triathlon, and avocational dreams that are slowing becoming more concrete plans. Being unburdened and less busy does not mean that one is stagnant or lazy. In fact, I believe that the opposite is true.
Minimalism has helped me to deeply think about what and who matters and where I can make a difference. I greet this next decade and new chapter of life with excitement and hope!