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Meryl Hartstein Headshot

Debunking Middle Age

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When I hear the word "downsizing", I get chills down my spine. To some it's a positive expression, to me it's a curse word. It can only mean one of two things, lack of funds or old age is on the horizon. In business it refers to layoffs and cuts in salary. In personal life it means selling one's home to buy a smaller one or worse, rent.

We start out as young adults with the glorified perception of owning a home. Not just a little bungalow, we want a perfect house with a white picket fence, a wraparound porch and when we really make it big, a built-in swimming pool. Ah, the American dream. Well, that was many years ago. Presently, that just wouldn't do. Now, the young couples strive for a 5,000-square-foot house on a few acres of land with not only a pool but a tennis court, a guest house and every amenity known to man.

So now what happens as we get into our middle years? Our children have graduated college, have moved out on their own and started their own nest eggs. We are now left with our glorious homes that we've worked so hard for. Put all of our sweat and tears into only to hear, "maybe it's time to downsize".

There isn't a worse time to downsize. Finally the kids are gone. Things are more organized and clean. Now is the time to bask in the beauty of our efforts. It becomes a more social time for many. Entertaining and having guests stay over is one of the pleasures of having a home with extra rooms. As your children's families grow and grandchildren come, how wonderful it is to have the space for them all. One of the greatest pleasures of home owners is having the ability to rearrange, reconstruct and decorate. It's also a wonderful passion to share with your partner. Many people have collections over the years that they aren't necessary ready to part with due to having to downsizing.

Unfortunately, in this economy, the luxury of choice isn't always present. Downsizing can change someone's life style from struggling to making ends meet just to keep their home to giving them financial flexibility that they have been longing for. One of the negative sides to doing this, is of course the memories of raising a family in a home. It's hard to part with the door frame markers of your kid's progressing growth and the memories of parties, graduations, proms etc.

It's important to debunk the middle age myths of should and should not's. We can keep our homes, we can wear our hair long, we can dress trendy and we can also stay vital. We are a majority now and it's time for us to make the rules, to change the stereo types and to bring a positive image to aging. We don't have to follow the same patterns of our parents. We are living longer and living happier and healthier too. We have more options than ever before. Let's pave the paths for our children and let them know that life can begin at any age.

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