Clean it up

Cut it out


Boil down


Make clear

I looked up the word “SIMPLIFY” in a thesaurus, and the phrases above appeared. These words perfectly describe the process I am going through as a woman over fifty. All the years of collecting, gathering, storing, embellishing, and wanting more are no longer working to enhance my lifestyle. Instead, I find myself refining my clothes, possessions, circle of friends, relationships, associations, and most importantly, my work.

Does this ring true for you?

I’m at the age where I’ve collected experiences, lessons, and, as a result, wisdom. You name it, I’ve tried it, tasted it, worn it, and smelled it. I know what works in my life and what doesn’t work (but I may try it anyway, just for the experience!). In general, I’m pairing down my possessions, time-wasters, and energy drainers.

I met with my acupuncturist, Donna Light, in Santa Cruz, California, last weekend and she reminded me to honor my age and energy reserve. She told me that in Chinese medicine, it is believed we are born with a certain amount of qi (pronounced “chi”) energy. By the time we reach the age of sixty that amount is one-third what it once was. That means there is not enough energy to be wasted on such emotions as anger, fear, hatred, as well as harmful eating and drinking practices, wearing clothes that don’t feel comfortable or authentic, doing meaningless work, or being around people you don’t like. Those who understand this begin to REFINE their choices and emotional responses in order to preserve qi energy. It is quite remarkable how this Chinese belief is intuitively understood by us as we get older. I hear myself saying “no” more often when I really don’t want to do something. I have paired my closet down to essentials with only the clothes I really LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

I am a big believer in the benefits of refining and simplifying.

I call this The Age of Refinement.

Here are 7 ways to start refining your lifestyle:

  1. Simplify your wardrobe
  2. Clean out the clutter in your home (get rid of extra furniture, piles, and old keepsakes)
  3. Give your children (who are old enough) the keepsakes you want them to have — do it while you’re alive!
  4. Accept fewer invitations to events and parties with people you don’t really enjoy being around
  5. Have more parties for the people you LOVE being around (this is what potlucks are for!)
  6. Buy yourself one extravagant and luxurious item once a year (remove/sell an equal amount)
  7. Take better care of your health by refining the foods you eat and eat more “peacefully”

What do I mean by “eating peacefully?” This is the best gift you’ll ever receive. When you eat a meal, what are you doing? Watching TV? Reading email? Looking at Facebook? Most of us do. We no longer sit at the table enjoying a meal with family and friends every night. We’re distracted by a TV show, movie, or computer. If you’re eating alone, you probably welcome the distraction. What this does is distract our brain from focusing on the digestive process and the nourishment-absorbing functions of the stomach, intestines, spleen and pancreas. When we don’t eat peacefully, it inhibits absorption of nutrients.  We end up with an empty vault!

Try this: for one week, eat every meal quietly at the table (alone, or with family and friends) without a book, TV, or computer. Focus on tasting and enjoying the flavors and textures of your food, make light and interesting conversation, sit a while to allow your body to relax and digest. I’m doing this now (I’m on Day 4) and I feel so much more centered and present.

How are you moving into your Age of Refinement?

Let me know how this is working for you. Please leave a Comment below!