Clearing Forty

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I’ve always been a fan of living minimally but tangle up a few major relocations with kids, bereavement and coping with a sometimes appalling memory and I struggle to let go of things that have become clutter, incase I’m jettisoning periods of my life.  Despite my love of organisation, there’s  a point in my efforts where my brain grinds to a halt, pole-axed by the difficult stuff.

Yet, what I also know is that when stuff goes to the skip (or the charity shop, or  friends) I’m made indecently happy by the space left in its wake.  I feel lighter, younger, more creative, liberated and calmer when I decrease the stuff I have to store, clean, live with and see.  My fears about forgetting things are made irrelevant when I’m living fully at the time I’m reminded of something buried.  To remember something in an already happy moment makes that moment happier.  To be reminded of things amidst a fog of being overwhelmed by possessions and scared of more loss is a trigger for panic.  Trying to hang on to everything and everyone is a burden too great and demanding for me to bear.  Essentially, I now value the space that new things might arrive in more than I value souvenirs that signpost the past.  

2016 is my year to be forty.  In short, I need to lay out right away that I give very little fucks about numbers and wrinkles and lots of extremely thumbs up fucks about still being alive.  A round number year is a celebration. Every year is a celebration.  I will place my hands over my ears and sing really rudely in the face of anyone who would quite like to hear that I too lament my youth as the time my candle shone most brightly and all the yadda yadda brainwashed bullshit we perpetuate then call normal.

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A couple of years ago an acquaintance of mine expressed her view that running ruined her perception of other people’s attractiveness.  She asked if I knew that running would make my face saggier because of all the wobbling and detaching it would do from my skull as I bobbed along in lycra – a similar concern was noted about my breasts, too.  She advised that I take a selfie that very day and then set a reminder on my phone to compare it to my future face in 12 months time.  I advised her to do the same and guaranteed that – shock horror! – we would both look older in a year, because of time, not running.

Trying to stop ageing is like trying to dry the tide with a tea-towel.  So enjoy it instead, I say.  I’m not sure that I ever held the idea that relevance and beauty come with 25-30 year leases and I’m glad for that.  I never realised that was unusual until I started getting older though, til other people started talking about my body and age as if they were public commodities that were working against me somehow.

My Mum sat in front of me one night saying thank you to her beautiful feet and rubbing balm onto them.  I think I was about thirteen.  Her beautiful feet had bunions and they took her on every walk she asked them to.  They helped drive her car to unknown places on adventures.  They gave her freedom.  This was the thing she knew was beautiful and through that lens her view of her feet was too.  Time limited notions of appeal are only reality if you permit them to be so.

I’d been thinking long and hard about what to do for this year’s blogging and waiting for an idea that chimes so much that I can commit to it for twelve months without it dragging my energy down –  52and39 was always invigorating to write and I want to keep that feeling going.  Then it hit me: why not combine the obvious – the celebrating life and the clearing out?  Why not launch the entry into this beautiful, fresh decade by gifting myself space, time and motivation for possibilities?


So Clearing Forty will be the 2016 blog thang.  My aim with this series is to get to where 2017 is a glass of Chablis away; where home is an even easier place to love and to have blogged at least twelve monthly stories about chucking, keeping and getting sorted.

First post soon.  Meantime, here’s to your face, my wrinkles and being alive, alight and supportive of women at every age.


Author: wordathlon

I'm Heather, I'm a writer and I live in Edinburgh. I like laughing, reflecting, getting lost in music, discovering great people, information and places. You can find me on Twitter @betamother or email me at

7 thoughts on “Clearing Forty”

  1. Beautifully put once again Heather – I too am cogitating on the significance of ‘stuff’ as I face an unexpected upheaval and a decision to sell our family home and downsize to a log cabin in the woods. What began as a sense of huge disruption and ending of an era, is now morphing into an exciting prospect of new beginnings and a more free and creative way to live. the end of this year will also bring my 60th, and I intend to charge at it, shouting into the wind. Bring it on.


    1. Hi Karen, I LOVE your comment and the sentiment of what you’ve said. I also LOVE the vision of your cabin and all the change. It IS a good thing – a bright and new opportunity and the chance to live lighter and more freely. Yes! Bring it! X


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