Monday, March 14, 2022

Emotional Decluttering in my 60s

As I look back on my life, I can see all the events and circumstances that brought me to where I am now.  I am grateful for every situation and relationship that helped me to grow into the woman I am today. 

What I have realized is that some of what I have been holding onto no longer serves me and it is time to let it go.  Just like that closet packed with clothes that I no longer wear; it is time to clear some of the emotional clutter.
 
Letting go can be difficult but when I look at the benefit it brings, it becomes easier. 
 
It doesn’t happen all at once. 
 
Just like sorting through that closet, I needed to take my time and try some things on.  How does it feel?  Does it work for who I am and what my life is about today?  If so, I will happily keep it – if not, I have to release it.

I like the philosophy of Treasure or Toss in decluttering and it helped to ease some of the emotional discomfort I felt about this process.
 
One thing I seemed to have accumulated a lot of over the years are unhealthy relationships.  Those interactions that, no matter how hard I to try to fix them, they never get better. 

What I have discovered is that abuse comes in all shapes and sizes (physical, verbal, emotional, financial, spiritual).  Running the gamut from unkind and disrespectful to controlling and manipulative, it all has the same outcome – pain.

Replace what you don’t need with what you do want.

In the beginning, everything felt like a loss.  Now, I look at what I have to gain in the process.  Once I removed the anxiety and discomfort, I found peace and clarity. 

Gently, I began sorting through my feelings.  I evaluated each situation carefully and asked myself – does this bring me joy?

The answer isn’t always clear cut, relationships are complicated.  But if I am serious about improving my life then I need to prioritize what I give my time and energy to.

Aging clarified what is most important in my life.

After turning 60 I no longer felt like I had forever but, in many ways, it felt like my life was just beginning. 

What I didn’t want to do was to waste one moment being unhappy.  Life can be short or long, but it is all very precious, and we have to make the most of it.

For me, that means taking the time to appreciate all of the wonderful experiences I have had and letting the rest go.
 
Clearing what no longer fits feels like creating space for what is yet to come - more joy and satisfaction at this beautiful time in my life.

Did your outlook on life and relationships change after turning 60?  What impact has aging had on your relationships?  Share your stories and join the conversation.

Published on Sixty and Me 2/27/22

Sunday, March 13, 2022

What I Didn't Know About Ireland

                                


As an Irish American, I grew up thinking that I knew certain things about Ireland.   Of course, I had always heard how beautiful it was and how friendly the people were, but I was surprised to discover that there are so many things that as Americans we don't really know about Ireland.

Here are just some of the things that surprised and delighted me during my travels to the lovely green isle.

Top o' the Mornin 

I've never heard an Irish person say this in over 20 years of traveling there.

Corned Beef and Cabbage is not the national dish

The most common or traditional meal I found all through the country is boiled back bacon (pork), potatoes, cabbage and a lovely parsley cream sauce, it's just like the country boiled dinner my grandmother made when I was growing up.  Corned beef and cabbage developed in America due to the cost of food and immigrants living in the same communities with some who did not eat pork.  


Irish Bacon is not the same as Canadian Bacon 

It a gorgeous slice of pork loin (rashers) that I adore!

St. Patrick's Day began as a religious holiday to honor their patron Saint

Until 1970 pubs were required by law to close for the day.  Irish immigrants in America began celebrating in remembrance of their homeland and it has evolved into the green madness we know today. 

The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are separate countries

Although they share a border with the South, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.

Pubs in Ireland are truly Public Houses

They are a place to meet, gather and conduct business.  You are as likely to find a hardware store or linen shop in the same building.  I even found one that had a mortuary on the other side.  Many have become more of a drinking establishment, but you'll still find many true pubs throughout the country.

To say that the Irish are heavy drinkers, is not a fair reflection of the culture

I found drinking to be more of a social activity, and many prefer tea or soft drinks over alcohol when they are out.  My favorite was black currant juice mixed with water, very refreshing.

Having said that, there is a very healthy respect for the black stuff

During my travels I would often see Guinness mini coupes driving through the country to inspect and service the tiny pubs in the towns and villages.  As a woman you are more likely to be offered a glass instead of a pint when you order a beer, just tell them you want a pint, and you'll get a smile and a wink.

We've all heard of Irish Wakes 

I was very moved to hear the story about families having American Wakes for their loved ones who were emigrating to the US - they knew they would probably never see them again.  

Christian - Pagan - Ancient Celts

As I trekked up the Hill of Tara, I was surprised to see a very modest statue of St. Patrick and all of the surrounding monuments and symbols to honor their ancient pagan history as well.

Cherish the History

That is something very unique about Ireland - they don't remove something just because it is old or seems out of date.  A lovely caretaker I met at the Kylemore Abbey gardens explained to me that anything that thrives there stays there. 

Taxi drivers are more like professional tour operators 

They will give you great information about the local area.  It will also be the most interesting conversation you will ever have.  The Irish are very well informed about news and world events and love to chat with travelers about all of it.

How lovely and social they are is not a myth 

If they ask you about yourself, it isn't simply to be polite - they really want to know.  When I lived there, I was told early on, to allow extra time when you go out so you can chat with the people you meet along the way.  

The Irish have an incredible, irrepressible, independent spirit

That is perfectly displayed on the Painted Doors of Dublin.  At the same time, they have a deep love and loyalty to their country, like singing the national anthem at the end of the night after drinking and dancing.  That is something you would never see at an American bar.

They are the warmest, kindest most generous people I have ever met, and the countryside is absolutely stunning.  

If you've been there, then you know what I'm talking about.  If you haven't, then you must see it for yourself to understand the true beauty of this very special place.

To say I was charmed by Ireland would be a tremendous understatement.  It's not only the home of my ancestors but has become the homeplace of my heart.