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Rachel Baum

A love note to old books

Published 8 months ago • 3 min read

I own a lot of books and I want to pare down. I’m starting with the easy ones – the ones with yellow pages and cracked bindings I know I’ll never read.

Even so, it’s not easy. Each one has a story – This book is from high school, that one was my mom’s. My husband and I have duplicate books from college, but each one has our own marginalia. Paring down means letting go of those moments from the past.

If you have the room, it’s easy to hold on to things. We often don’t see what we’re giving up by holding on. Lightness, space, possibilities.

We hold on to parts of our identity too. I’m a mom. I’m a Midwesterner. I’m a caretaker.

Here too, it’s easy to hold on. If you have the room, it’s easy to hold on. And then we

are downsized

retire

live alone for the first time in decades

become empty nesters

invite our 90 year old dad to move in

get married at 50

send our first child to college

lose our parents

and suddenly there isn’t room on the shelf for our old identity and our new identity.

To make room for the new identity, we have to let go of the old. Sometimes we know the previous story has yellowed pages and we’re ready to let go, and other times, we’re letting go of something we really love.

We don’t see what we’re giving up by holding on. Lightness, space, possibilities.

It helps to remember that the stories still live in me. I don’t need to save my mom’s May Sarton books to remember how much she loved Sarton’s work. I don’t need to parent adult children as if they were little kids in order to remember the fun and exhaustion of those earlier days. Letting go of being that mom lets me embrace a new relationship with my adult children.

Stories make us who we are and when we feel ready for a new story – or when life puts us headfirst into a new story – we can let go of the previous story and also, we can carry it with us always. Our past doesn’t disappear – it becomes part of us, part of our bigger story.

This week, consider some of the changes in your life and how you might invite in lightness, space, and possibility. What do you need to let go of in order to create “shelf space” for these new experiences? Rather than renouncing previous versions of you, consider inviting them to be part of a bigger story. ❤️


One thing that makes "shelf space" for new experiences is letting go of old stories that no longer serve. For me, one of those stories is that adults live in organized homes. I've judged myself for my baskets of unfolded laundry and you've probably judged yourself for something similar. Take a listen to hear how I dropped this way of thinking and what I now think instead.

Episode #68: Feeling like an adult

Do you feel like an adult? If you're like me, the answer is probably: Not always. Sometimes that's a good thing -- we may feel childlike when we play -- but sometimes we use "I'm not an adult" against ourselves. We have so many internalized rules about what it means to be an adult. Adults know how to cook. Adults keep a budget. Adults don't have debt. Adults stay married. Adults know how to drive. Adults take care of themselves. When we don't line up in these ways, we feel less adult. It feels awful.

In this episode, I show the power of expanding our thoughts about what it means to be an adult. In this episode:

🌟 The difference between biological age and the age we feel

🌟 How your thoughts about adulthood can keep you in a fixed mindset

🌟 More empowering ways to think about adult human life

Take a listen and let me know what resonates!

Love, Rachel

P.S. One ritual of the Jewish New Year is tashlich, when we toss bread or pebbles into a natural source of water to represent our misgivings from the previous year. It's a beautiful way of saying that we can start anew, without carrying old baggage into the new year. Whether this is a new year for you, or just a time when the leaves start to change, a ritual to mark a change can be very powerful. Maybe there's something you want to burn, to ritualize a new time, or maybe there's something you want to frame. Maybe you want to walk over a threshold and embrace that things are now different. Rituals are powerful magic and creating one to honor your own new, bigger story, may help you let go of stories from the past. I'll be thanking my books as I let them go. Theyve been good friends to me over these many years, and I send them off with love and gratitude.

⭐ I love being connected to you ⭐

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Rachel Baum

Certified Life Coach and host of the Making Midlife Magic podcast

I'm a life coach, college professor, and former president of the Overthinkers Club. Also, I host the Making Midlife Magic podcast. I love helping middle aged people dream again and create lives they love. Sign up to get inspiring mind shifts sent right to your email box. I don't over-send, and you can unsubscribe any time. This March & April I'm celebrating my podcast-versary with some delightful giveaways, so now is a great time to sign up!

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