Right around March 1, 2020 I colored my hair for the last time. It wasn’t planned. I have been coloring my own hair for so many years now I can’t even remember when I first started. Fortunately because my hair was light brown to begin with, when gray started showing up back in my 40s it was easy to just go with lighter hair color—out of the box. I liked the way it looked, was pretty easy to do, and didn’t cost much. Why not? Then COVID 19 hit. About six weeks later when I would normally recolor it, I paused. Was it necessary to bother at all, at least until the pandemic was over? Now, 12 months later I am completely gray. With one vaccine shot in my arm and things looking better, the question is coming up again: Do I want to stay gray or go back to blond? Perhaps more importantly are the questions behind that question: Does gray hair automatically mean I look old? If yes, then what is wrong with looking older anyway—especially when I sort of am?
Looking back I realized I haven’t written about positive aging in nearly a year. Sure I believe it is still possible and highly desirable. However, nothing new presented itself that hadn’t been said before, or was compelling enough to share. Plus if I’m honest, my brain was more interested in just getting through the day/month/year, with all the upheaval in my life and the world, than it was to expand my thinking. Then a couple of months ago I was offered a book from a renowned French philosopher about aging that had me asking myself whether he might offer something new on the subject. Not only did the book have me rethinking some of my preconceived notions about aging and happiness, but it also required that I look up more words in the dictionary than I have in years. While I’m the first to admit I’m usually more attracted to pop-psychology, I’m fairly certain that continuing to stretch our minds and perspectives is one of the healthiest things we can do if we want to age in a positive way.
In another lifetime I am certain I would have become a social scientist. I love learning about why I and other people think and do things like we do. So naturally when I stumbled upon a new interview of author and Wharton Business School Professor Adam Grant, I couldn’t wait to hear his thoughts. Just to be clear, I haven’t yet read his new book Think Again—The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. But I was so excited about his ideas from several interviews that I simply couldn’t wait to put some of them down on paper and share them with you. Call it cheating if you want, I like to tell myself I have yours and mine best interests at heart. Undoubtedly, that is just another example of how we can easily fool ourselves into believing what we believe is true for everyone. So yes, there is power in being willing to know you can’t be certain about those many things you think you know.
The short answer is YES! But I often find myself needing to explain why because so many people equate the idea of it with square footage. In reality, a rightsized life has little to do with size, and is instead about so much more. Then last week I had the opportunity to chat with Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui about rightsizing during an interview for her YouTube Channel. Krista is the author/creator of the blog named A life in Progress (links below) and while we talked about rightsizing, we also talked about self-awareness, writing and living a values-based life. Afterwards I came to the conclusion that while we didn’t speak exclusively about rightsizing, all of those topics lead to what I consider to be a rightsized life. Sure many people are introduced to rightsizing by the thoughts of sustainability, getting rid of clutter and downsizing their living space—but once those are considered, the journey of a rightsized life continues on and is open to everyone at any age.
Ever since watching Amanda Gorman recite her poem The Hill We Climb at President Biden and Vice President Harris’s inaugurations, I have had poetry on my mind. I’m reminded of the simplicity and power that the right words can invoke with such emotion and inspiration. Because I was so taken by her, I was tempted to just provide a link to the video and reprint Gorman’s poem for us all to revisit. That was until Thom came across a poem written by the late John O’Donohue that also deserves to be remembered and absorbed. To me, his poem, For A New Beginning is a perfect poem for the start of a new year and a new era in our country. Besides that, his message echoes so much of what I consistently write here on SMART Living 365. I don’t know about you, but I welcome this new beginning for myself and the world.
I’ve never read The Divine Comedy otherwise known as Dante’s Inferno. From what I’ve heard it is difficult to understand or make much sense of, so why bother? That was until I read an interpretation offered by author Martha Beck in her soon to be published book, The Way of Integrity. While I’m unlikely to drop everything and rush out to get a copy of Dante’s classic, I have come to appreciate the metaphorical ideas and mystical inspiration that it contains. But perhaps more important, Beck uses it as a road map for meeting our inner selves and following a path to inner wholeness and ultimate wellbeing. And who couldn’t use a bit (or a lot) of that these days?
Last weekend Thom and I did a podcast interview with two new friends—Mary and Kevin Roberts. Their podcast Growth Minded Marriage is one I’ve recently started listening to because I appreciate their emphasis on growth as well as their honesty and connection with each other. During the podcast (link below) we talked about each of our WOTYs. My word, as you might recall, is trust. Thom’s is perspective, while Mary’s is patience. Then Kevin announced that his word was “uncertainty.” While I think all of them are uniquely important, I cannot help but admire both Kevin’s courage and his willingness in these uncertain times to embrace such a word. I suppose that is why it has been on my mind so much during the last week. Plus I believe it holds some SMART insights for us all as well. [Read more…]
I don’t consider myself very good at grieving. For one thing I tend to live in my head far more than my heart or body. For another I am constantly future-oriented. I wake up in the morning thinking of what is to come and where I go from here. That way of being is very unlike my dog Kloe. She was a master at staying present in the moment. She never seemed to look forward or backward—just focused on what was right before her. Perhaps that is one of her final lessons for me. Just take one day at a time. Feel what you feel. Don’t push away your emotions, but don’t let anyone else tell you how to handle them either. And be happy and content when surrounded by those you love.
As I think most of us know, grief is a normal human response to loss and it will last as long (or as short) as it needs to last. As for Kloe, she never denied when irritated or upset—and was often pretty vocal about it—but she seemed to know how to immediately forgive and forget, and then be happy and content shortly thereafter. While my heart felt broken by her sudden passing less than a week ago, I want to learn these last lessons from her to the best of my ability. [Read more…]
Back in 2018, and every year since, I began choosing a guiding word-of-the-year—otherwise known as WOTY. The idea is to pick a word as your one overarching theme or intention and then integrate it into life in the coming year. I’ve put quite a bit of thought into my word this year—more than any of the others. And although it wasn’t my first choice, “Trust” is the word I want to use as my guide during the 365 days of 2021.
The following list of sites (compiled at the end of 2020) are the best on the web that share information and personal insights about positive aging and retirement. Besides offering current and interesting news on an ongoing basis, most offer glimpses into the life of those living these experiences. While these are certainly not all the sites you can find on these topics, they are personal favorites that I believe are noteworthy, informative and often fun to read. Thank you to each of the authors and creators who put in the time and effort to provide such helpful ideas and information to all of us throughout the year.