Last week I started pulling out all the tax prep paperwork to give to our CPA. Because we both still work and are self-employed, our tax returns are complicated and far above my abilities as a do-it-yourselfer. But as I began going through all the receipts I was relieved to see that in spite of all our expenses—the fun ones like travel, and the necessary ones like medical—we still managed to save a decent amount of money. In other words, thankfully we once again managed to keep our income above our outgo, or “live below our means.” While I realize that isn’t always possible for everyone depending upon circumstances, I do tend to believe that we each continually make certain choices that can help make it more of a reality than a dream. And yes, when we do that, the freedom and peace of mind it brings can far outweigh the effort.
Have you ever heard of The Enneagram before? I had, years and years ago. Yet although familiar with the term I only had a vague idea of what it was. Then this last week while listening to a podcast interview by author Brene Brown she mentioned that she had taken the test. When asked what she learned from it she said, “It pissed me off!” She went on to say that it told her some things about herself that she didn’t really want to admit. So call me crazy, but the idea that a test can help reveal parts of ourselves to ourselves, captivated me. From there you can guess what I’ve been doing ever since. And once you know my “type number” you can easily see why I found it fascinating. [Read more…]
Choice. I firmly believe that we really do get to make it up. That doesn’t mean that we are free from the consequences of our choices, or that sometimes those choices don’t come from, or lead to, difficult circumstances—yet regardless, we always get to choose our next step. As Viktor Frankl said when trapped in a Nazi Death Camp, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” And in honoring the opportunity to choose, I’m offering a free gift to all my SMART Living 365 readers for this weekend only. [Read more…]
Last weekend I drove to a small town about 50 miles from where I live to be a part of a Croning Ceremony. There, along with 28 other women, I officially became a crone. Why? As a woman who is about to turn 65 in a few months, I thought it was time for me to embrace and celebrate the woman I am, rather than the woman I used to be. Not only was the gathering of women and the ceremony itself heartfelt, uplifting and inspiring, the experience helped me to get in touch with an inner archetype that most women (and some special men) hold inside. Could it be possible that that energy is exactly what the world needs most right now? [Read more…]
I’m in love. Don’t worry, it’s likely just an infatuation with a 78-year-old man named James Hollis Ph.D. I first encountered his work a month or two ago and since then I’ve read articles and listened to every podcast and YouTube lecture from him I could find. Who is he and why am I infatuated? On the surface Hollis is a practicing Jungian analyst and depth psychologist, author of over 15 books, a public speaker, and the former executive director of the Jung Society of Washington D.C. What I find particularly attractive are the thoughts and ideas that he routinely illuminates—a big part of which is the examination of our lives as we mature and enter the second half of life. And in spite of the many distractions we all face, I can’t help but be captivated by the goldmine of introspection he offers for those of us who are drawn to greater self-discovery and awareness, along with other insights about the innermost workings of our psyche. [Read more…]
A major theme here at SMART Living 365 is to grow, evolve and try new things. With that in mind, Thom and I have been wanting to try our hand at creating a Vlog—that’s a Video Blog in case you’ve never heard of such a thing. Obviously we are new at this, so it is definitely an experiment. But isn’t all life an experiment? And if we aren’t learning and exploring new options, then what are we doing with our one wild and precious life? From that perspective we have nothing to lose. Our intention is to post one of these every month in place of a traditional blog post, and to keep the Vlog to about the same length of time it would take you to read one of my blog posts. We’re going to do our best to make it fun as well as informative! So here goes.
As some of you know, tomorrow December 21st is officially the shortest daytime of 2019 and the longest night of the year–The Winter Solstice. Then Sunday Evening marks the beginning of Hanukkah, followed by Christmas Day on the 25th and Kwanzaa on the 26th. There are a few other holidays in there as well but I think you get the idea. No matter how any of us celebrate, I tend to believe that we, like Lawrence Kushner says in this quote, are awaiting hope, possibility and whatever we call “The Light” to grow stronger. May each of us find it inside and outside of ourselves in the days to come.
And if you’d like to read more about the Winter Solstice, I wrote the following blog post a few years ago that still applies. “Two Big Reasons To Celebrate The Winter Solstice” [Read more…]
Several years ago I wrote a novel entitled Finding Grace. I’d always wanted to write a novel and am quite pleased and proud to have written the type of book I love to read. One of the major characters is an older woman who serves as a life-long mentor to a much younger Grace. I named the elder woman Mrs. Pettermint, with a few quirks to make her interesting. Throughout the book, this wise woman offers her perspective on everything from love, to life, and to healing. And while she didn’t specifically mention Christmas or any of the other holidays celebrated this season, I can easily imagine what she might suggest. Here are five pieces of advice I can almost hear her say to Grace and anyone else who wants to listen. [Read more…]
The other day my husband Thom and I were having lunch with a friend. That’s when Susie (not her real name) asked the question, “How do you cope?” Sure we were talking about a couple of troubling current events, but the question still surprised me. Why? Because I tend to think that most of the ideas I write about here on SMART Living touch on ways to cope and move forward in a positive way. That’s certainly the way I handle stress in my life. But clearly that option wasn’t helping Susie. Then later, I happened to pick up a new book I’d been offered to review and the answer became clearer. What I’ve come to realize is that there isn’t just one right way to cope with stress or trauma. Instead, like with any “rightsized topic,” we each need to find what works best for us and then work to allow it to bring us the comfort we seek.
Now that Thanksgiving Day has come and gone in the U.S. we begin the countdown to the Christmas Holiday with what is commonly called Black Friday. All the advertisers want us to believe that if we spend the next 25 days shopping our hearts out, we’ll feel fulfilled, loved and save a lot of money doing it. But we know better don’t we? Today and during the next month let’s do our best remembering that less really is more. What we really crave is connection, hope, love, freedom and meaning–oh, and good health as well. None of that can be bought. Thanks to Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist for inspiring this week’s photo blog quote.