Another Birthday and Big Changes Ahead

Another year. Time seems to pass at a record pace. It felt like just a few months ago I was out to dinner with my family celebrating my last birthday.

Do you feel time moves faster the older you get? Here is an example of how I have lost track of time. The water heater breaks and I tell the guy it doesn’t need to be replaced because it is fairly new. “We bought it a few years ago,” I say. Then he checks the label and says, “It was purchased in 2005.”  “YIKES. REALLY????”

Hmmm, just off by about 10 years.


All those years raising my children turn into one big blur. The kids move away, you come out of the bubble like no time has passed and you realize all of a sudden you are in your 50’s, not your 30’s.

Each birthday, I step back and reflect on all I am thankful for which first on the list is always that I have been given this gift of time. I never take that gift for granted.

Then again, I will be honest. I struggle with the reality that I am not getting any younger and as the number creeps up, I feel mixed emotions. Blessed that I am doing well and have had so many good years since being sick but also feeling like I could be running out of time and I am impatient. (This impatience to do things before “the other shoe drops” is a side effect many survivors experience.)

I try desperately to find a way to ignore it. It is only a number, right?

I have to say a lot has happened this year and I am beginning to see more and more people in my age group, face challenging health problems and/or suddenly lose their lives.

Months of alone time (my husband travels a lot)  have allowed me time for reflection. What is my next step? How do I want to spend my days? What makes me happy?

So here goes. In order to make a change, I have to let go. Let go of the fear of change and the unknown. Move on from reminiscing about the days when my boys were young and the house was bustling with activity and move on from feeling sad when I pass their old school and think about all the time that has passed. Find something that energizes me and gets the adrenaline going on a regular basis. Start that next chapter like I always talk about in a focused way. Vibrancy and engagement are key to feeling youthful and distracts us from focusing on a number (how old we really are).

Let go of my stuff. Join the downsizing/anti-clutter movement. But to do that, I have to sort through years and years of memories and commit myself to leaving the possessions that represent those memories, behind.

This is not an overnight exercise. I have been thinking and slowly embracing this for years. It all started when my mother passed away just about 14 years ago (no I cannot believe it has been this long). I started to go through her things and realized she had kept everything; every apron, bathrobe, shirt, sweater, scarf, tablecloth, bowl, glass, wedding invitation, thank you note, pencil, notepad, book. The list goes on and on. It was overwhelming. Many things I didn’t want to throw away because I felt guilty, felt like I should keep them. So I did take some of her clothes and shoes back to my home thinking I would wear them. Which by the way, I never did.

I also started reflecting on the personal items she kept and realized they didn’t mean much to me and started to think about my own possessions that I have kept and realized they wouldn’t mean much to my children. And so I went back to my own home and started to be more thoughtful about what I wanted to keep. I donated more clothes than ever before and I started to develop the mentality of minimizing clutter. It was all baby steps.

Two moves later, (first my uncle (a hoarder) who I had to move to a new apartment and then my family home which we sold last summer) and I am finally ready to let go of many of the things I have been saving. I tell my husband, “Don’t throw out these stuffed animals and children’s toys because I will save them for my grandchildren (someday). Let’s save these household items and our bedroom set for the boys. Someday they will move into an apartment. I should keep my bowling and tennis trophies, college term papers and my postcard collection because the boys may want to look at them someday. Oh, and of course keep my photos, all 100,000 of them, give or take.”



Sound familiar?

The truth is the boys don’t want any of these things. Who wants brown furniture anymore? Ikea; simple, minimalist and white is the deal. Family heirlooms seem to end up at the local donation center. As much as I think my boys will be interested in the tchotchkes (knickknacks) of my life, they really aren’t. They aren’t even interested in keeping their own!

So, I spend hours weeding through years and years of memories, keeping some things to probably discard later and junking and donating 70% of what I own. As hard as it is, I have to say I feel freer, lighter and much better than I thought.


Reinvention can be overwhelming but change is what I need. Will it be in the suburbs or the big city?


This is what I do know to be true.  You are never too old to have a new adventure. You are never too old for a new start. Here is to a new year.

Stay tuned.

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About Shari

I am a two-time cancer survivor and patient advocate. Diagnosed as a young adult, at age 25 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I had to quickly face the reality of life’s curveballs. My treatment offered a potential cure while at the same time, underestimated the long term side effects including a secondary cancer (breast cancer) nine years later. Shortly after my breast cancer treatment ended, my youthful, seemingly healthy mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and passed a year later. I have lived the cancer experience as a patient and a family member/ caregiver and understand both sides. Life after treatment is often challenging emotionally and physically and there is a gap in providing needed support. I don’t consider cancer a gift as it is not something I would ever want to give to someone. Rather, I view cancer as an opportunity; one I received at an early point in my life to live intentionally, understanding how things can change at any moment. I live without regrets, fully understanding the gift and fragility of life.
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6 Responses to Another Birthday and Big Changes Ahead

  1. Colleen B. says:

    I love this post. De cluttering can be so emotionally heavy. And yes so light and freeing when accomplished. I’m blessed with a 91 year old mom who loves to help me clean closets and cabinets-at least 4 times a year-and I still have stuff I’m sure I don’t need. Nice to hear I’m not alone in possessing so much more than I need. And as someone who has reached the ripe age of 60, I too am grateful each day for my gift of time. And by giving my time of service to a non profit organization I belong to, it has helped me with my sense of purpose. Enjoy your journey. God Bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I relate to much of this. This year, I’ve become a minimalist in progress and it has changed my life in ways I never imagined. The inspiration came after watching a Netflix Documentary – “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things”. The two men who star in the movie also have a Podcast, which I like to listen to as I’m decluttering. They have episodes on getting started, sentimental items, etc. If you haven’t already, check it out. It’s added so much value to my life and inspired me to create some guidelines for analyzing whether to keep or let go of something. Best of luck on your new endeavors.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Shari says:

    Thanks, Stacie. Appreciate you reading and your comments. I did watch the netflix documentary. Very interesting and life changing for sure.


  4. Sam says:

    Another great post. do we keep things for the sake of keeping things? Do we continue with what is comfortable or continue to grow, forcing ourselves to be a little uncomfortable?

    Liked by 1 person

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