SLIDING SLOWLY INTO SIMPLICITY

Life is a joy without the encumbrance of too many things. Sometimes, we get caught up in the chaos of life and don’t realise what we are capable of, and how little we need to be happy. It's time to simplify. #simpleliving

INTRO

Today I have the next guest in my MIDLIFE SYMPHONY series where I've asked others to share what they're doing to make the second half of life the best half of life. Jennifer (from Next Phase Fitness) has had some very interesting life changes over the last decade that have set in motion a lifestyle that is working well for her in the second half of life. Simplicity, de-cluttering, and down-sizing have all been gradual steps along the way in her Midlife pilgrimage.


MY MIDLIFE SYMPHONY

When Leanne first announced that 2020 was to be the year of creating her ‘Midlife Symphony’, I immediately thought how wonderful those two words were, and how they exactly described the way I have tried to live my life, since deciding that my current life wasn’t working for me. That was 13 years ago, and the creation of a happy and content Midlife has been an ongoing work in progress since then.

‘Midlife Symphony’ perfectly describes the changes that occur to our life and lifestyles in Midlife. Some of these changes are forced upon us, and some are of our choosing. Regardless of how we come by these changes, they can be quite challenging, particularly if we don’t change the way we think, or make changes to our usual way of operating.

A CHANGE IN LIFE

When I was in my early 50s, my marriage broke up unexpectedly. Of course, there was a period of grieving and loss. I questioned my identity and didn’t really like what I saw. Immediately, I made the decision to simplify my life. Up until then, I had lived a full-on, very hectic lifestyle, based on consumerism and ‘things’. I made a few changes and consciously began to simplify my life.

The first thing I did in the quest to live simply, was to get most of my ‘stuff’ out of the house. I had recently moved and brought the furniture from my 5 bedroom family home, to my much smaller three bedroom townhouse. As a result of having too much furniture for the house, I stored it in one of those bedrooms for a year while I decided if I liked the city where I had chosen to live. I wasn’t totally committed, and was prepared, if necessary, to go back to my hometown where my family were and where I had lived my entire life.

REMOVING THE EXCESS

The choice had been perfect, and I was starting to make friends in the cycling community, so could see myself staying here forever. I committed to the city I was beginning to call home, by purchasing a townhouse, with just two bedrooms. I didn’t have storage space, so all of that excess ‘stuff’ just had to go. Interestingly, there was nothing that I had put into storage that I needed to access in that year. With only 60 days until moving day, everything had to go quickly. For days, I worried about what would happen to my things from my previous life, until one day, I had a lightbulb moment. I needed none of it. I was looking forward to moving on with my life and starting to live a simpler life, so had no attachment at all to anything.

Because of this lack of attachment, there was no pain at all in giving my things away, only a sense of freedom. I did notice that when I had cleared the ‘stuff’ out of my house, I had the headspace to think about, and plan my future. I was ready to move on.

PARING BACK FURTHER IN A PILGRIMAGE

A few years later, I decided that for my 60th birthday, I would walk the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage route across Spain. I walked over 1200k in 36 days, alone, and carrying a 7.5 kilogram pack. All that I had with me for those 36 days was carried on my back. This was an extremely minimal existence, with no extras, and definitely no luxuries.

There were many lessons for me in that pilgrimage walk, some expected and some totally unexpected. The biggest and most unexpected of those lessons was that I really don’t need many things to survive.


Life is a joy without the encumbrance of too many things. Sometimes, we get caught up in the chaos of life and don’t realise what we are capable of, and how little we need to be happy. It's time to simplify. #simpleliving

DIVING INTO SIMPLICITY

About one year later, my new partner and I moved to a country property that was ‘off the grid’ completely. I decided that from then on, I would do all I could to simplify my life, even more. I had been dipping my toe into a life of simplicity, but now I would dive right in and see what miracles might occur.

We live in a small house, some might describe as a cottage, without many of the mod cons that most people would expect, but still my happiness and joyfulness at the life I am living is immense.


Life is a joy without the encumbrance of too many things. Sometimes, we get caught up in the chaos of life and don’t realise what we are capable of, and how little we need to be happy. It's time to simplify. #simpleliving

THE JOY OF LIVING SIMPLY

To me, a simple life is a life well lived. My quest for this simpler life is not at all complete yet. I am still working, so there is still a certain amount of rush and busy-ness to my life, but I have a vague plan for this. When I no longer enjoy going to work, I will not hesitate to retire. Here I am now, well into my 60s, and I’m quite proud to say that my life is almost unrecognisable to my previous life, that I thought at the time, was a successful life.

Life is a joy without the encumbrance of too many things. Sometimes, we get caught up in the chaos of life and don’t realise what we are capable of, and how little we need to be happy. Life for me now is very simple. I do what I love and don’t do what I don’t love. This is my Midlife Symphony.


WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Have you pared back your possessions in Midlife? Are you taking on the de-cluttering now to save your children from having to do it? Are you finding that there's joy in a simpler lifestyle? Or do you have a different perspective on this time of life?

RELATED POSTS


Meet Jennifer

It seems that now in my later years there are many things that make me the person that I am. I’m a mother to three beautiful children, a nanna to three very cute grandsons, a sister, a friend, a cyclist, a walker, a gardener, a blogger and a an instagrammer who makes fitness a focus of every day. My fitness programs are now geared towards ‘training for retirement’. When the time comes that I retire, I intend to be healthy, fit and active and able to enjoy having more time for those fitness activities that I love.
Now that I am in my mid 60s, I am committed to ageing with a positive attitude. I truly believe that getting older, does not mean that we have to give up on things, that we have enjoyed in our younger years. I am also committed to living a simple and peaceful life on our ‘off the grid’ property, where we are trying to build a sustainable lifestyle for our future retirement years.




Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nextphaseinfitness/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jennifer_Jones0
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferalisonjones/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com.au/JenniferAlJones/
Just in case you’d like to link to my other blogs:
https://bestbookishblog.com/
https://jonesfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/



Life is a joy without the encumbrance of too many things. Sometimes, we get caught up in the chaos of life and don’t realise what we are capable of, and how little we need to be happy. It's time to simplify. #simpleliving
Life is a joy without the encumbrance of too many things. Sometimes, we get caught up in the chaos of life and don’t realise what we are capable of, and how little we need to be happy. It's time to simplify. #simpleliving

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This post was shared at some of these great link parties
Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive
the secret of happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. Socrates #lifequotes

29 comments

  1. Firstly, this is a fabulous post. Thank you. I'm drawm to a simpler life and to an extent we have simplified our lives from what they were in Sydney, but yu are next level. I know that I've said it before, but I find your Camino and inspiriting one.

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    1. Hi Jo - I love Jennifer's life story and how she picked herself up, dusted herself off, and then really started living. So many people slide into self pity when life doesn't work out as expected, but Jennifer turned hers into so much more and I find that so admirable.

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  2. Thank you Jo for your lovely comments. I hope we can catch up one day soon, when I'm up your way. Happy to talk to you about the Camino.

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  3. I love the idea of living more simply. I like having my 'things' around me but I'm much better at being brutally honest about what I need vs what I want!

    And though that's usually about 'things' I'm getting better at simplifying things mentally and emotionally as well, looking at my thoughts, feelings and actions.

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    1. I'm finding that simplicity is so restful Deb - when you step away from competing or trying to keep up with the Joneses you find a peaceful existance that makes you wonder why others keep striving so hard and creating so much debt. I'll never be brave enough to live off grid (or do the Camino) but I still want to have that simple life that I admire in others - and I'm getting there!

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  4. Deb I’ve found that a simple life is definitely a more peaceful life. I have a theory that if the ‘stuff’ around us is minimised that leads to a more organised headspace

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  5. Hi Jennifer, thanks for your fabulous post and the joy of your 'new' life shines through in your words. You have been through a lot and just kept picking yourself up and moving on to a simpler life that you are in charge of. I respect you for that and think we can all learn from your words. Thanks Leanne for featuring another great blogger in your series.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Deb. Best to keep soldiering on

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    2. Hi Deb - I had no idea about Jennifer's life story when we first "met", but as I've picked up the trail (and from this post) she's such a shining example of how to turn around a horrible life blow and make a new start that just keeps getting better. I think that's something we can all learn from - life goes on and how it works out has a lot to do with our attitude and a can-do approach.

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  6. Hi, Jennifer - It's wonderful to see you here. Your story is incredibly inspiring. I agree with you that we do not need as many things as we think we do -- and releasing them can bring remarkable freedom. I also agree with you about The Camino being an extremely powerful teacher! :D

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    1. The Camino provides so many lessobs. I still find myself referring back to them.

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    2. Hi Donna - reading about your Camino journeys and Jennifer's has been really interesting for me. I'll probably never get there myself, but I love the idea of freeing yourself from all the trappings and taking time out in nature and with just the basics. You can't help but discover new things about yourself and what's important.

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  7. this certainly rings some bells for me. we've had a couple of women friends whose husbands left them without warning (to the wives at least), and were thrown into new lives not of their choosing. i retired at 55, to pursue my interests, and leave all that stress of work behind. it has been the most wonderful 7 years of my life! and yes i am trying to de-clutter!

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    1. Hi Sherry, when my life changed I thought I was the only person in that situation. I’ve since found its very common. The unexpected life change has added so much unexpected joy to my life. Thanks for your comment

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    2. Hi Sherry - it very nearly happened to me in my early 50's (and many friends have had close calls to). I think having your world turned upside down like that either makes or breaks you. Jennifer has proved that it can be the beginning of a whole new life phase - and one that's much better than expected.

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  8. Hi Jen, I think that the desire for a simpler life is starting to infiltrate society. I know even my daughter and son-in-law are not concerned with the materialistic side of life but rather giving their sons a loving environment and appreciation of nature and love of books rather than material toys and latest fads. Thanks Leanne for another Women who is creating her own Midlife Symphony and thank you Jen for providing us with you wisdom and inspiration. xx

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    1. Hi Sue - I love the idea that things are turning around from consumerism and being materialistic for a lot of people. Seeing it happen to younger people brings me even more joy because freeing yourself up from keeping pace with the Joneses is the beginning of financial freedom - and that makes for a very pleasant Midlife down the track!

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  9. Hi Sue thanks for your comments. I love it when I hear of younger people trying to simplify their lives. Your daughter and son in law are giving a great gift to their children

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  10. This is a wonderful post, Jennifer! I appreciate your candor sharing a challenging part of your life. Like you say, sometimes changes are forced upon us and some we choose. A very good reminder about the importance of ‘changing the way we think’ and the concept of ‘attachment.’ You truly did simplify your life. I wrote down your “simple” phrase “I do what I love and don’t do what I don’t love”. Thank you for sharing these gems!

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    1. Thanks for your kind comments Erica. I’m pleased you were able to take something away from my post

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    2. Hi Erica - life tends to turn out best when we make positive choices and look for the good in amongst the bad. When we throw our hands in the air and give up, we can't expect to move forward and move on can we? I love that Jennifer turned a very upsetting life event on its head and turned it into something wonderful.

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  11. I am trying hard to clear the clutter that my 6 kids have accumulated. They still use much of it but getting rid of stuff when they're not around does feel great.

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    1. I remember that feeling when my children first started leaving home. I’m sure I thought I’d have their clutter for ever. Thanks for your comment

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    2. I used to have a system that my DIL has now developed where I'd pack half their toys away into boxes and let them choose which toys they wanted for the week. Then they could swap them out the following week/month or whatever when the current ones became boring. It was like having new toys all the time and my kids really enjoyed it - plus it kept our smallish home clutter free.

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  12. My hubby and I walked the Camino last year and loved it! It does simplify your life when you don't have to make decisions about what to do each day. You woke up knowing what you were going to do - walk. Walking the beautiful Camino gives you plenty of meditation time. It seems like you certainly made the best of yours. Great story!

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    1. The Camino trail certainly seems to impact on everyone who walks it Laurie. I like your take on it and the idea that it simplifies choices (and your wardrobe when you have to carry it in a pack!) Lots of time to think and sort out thoughts without all the clutter of "busyness" intruding.

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  13. I love it when I have contact with a fellow pilgrim who can understand the experience. I’m pleased it had a positive effect on you too.

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  14. Thanks for having Jennifer share her story Leanne. I really felt relaxed reading her ways of accepting and enjoying life as it is now. Good one.

    Thank you for being part of Life This Week. Next week's optional prompt (made before COVID 19 lol) is 12/51 Out & About. 23.3.2020. Hope to see you there too. Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse - I love how Jennifer turned her life around and made it into something that was so much better than she ever would have expected when she began the journey. Life can be beautiful again if we put in the work and choose our attitude.

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