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.
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?
As you may have noticed I spend a lot of time looking for ways to improve myself and my world. From there, one of the joys of doing this blog is to share what I’ve learned with others. So this week in a podcast by Brene Brown I was introduced to a man named Scott Sonenshein who gave me new ways to think about a couple of topics I write about quite often. His book, Stretch—Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagine describes people as either stretchers or chasers. And while the title might sound like a business or motivational book, it essentially offers several good ideas about how each of us can increase our wellbeing, peace of mind and creativity. Today I am sharing four ways each of us can stretch ourselves toward greater fulfillment. [Read more…]
Just over a month ago Thom and I bought ourselves two electric bikes. For several years we talked about doing it, but I kept saying no. I knew the minute I got on one, I would love it. Instead we regularly rode our 7-speed beach cruisers frequently until finally I asked myself, “What am I waiting for?” Thom needed no encouragement—in fact, he had been researching peddle-assist e-bikes for months. He knew what kind would best suit us, which bikes offered the best value for the money, and where to buy them. All it took was the decision to do it. As predicted, the minute I got on the bike and cruised around the parking lot at the bike store, I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. Ever since, after dozens of rides, I’m the first to admit that yes, sometimes money can buy happiness. Of course, as the saying goes, you need to know where to shop. And definitely you need to know what to buy! [Read more…]
Last week a blogger friend posted an article about how the communication in our country has become very contemptuous. I agree. Anyone who has been on social media or watched any news has seen some very angry rhetoric thrown around—especially at anyone who doesn’t agree with them. While I’ve overreacted to a few things myself, I do work hard not to slide down that rabbit hole as much as possible. It’s one thing to state the facts and another to state your fear, anger and frustration. But the more I considered the idea, the more I questioned whether it is always necessary to stay “nice” rather than get a little nasty now and then. Is there ever a time it is called for, and if yes, do we give ourselves permission to go there when necessary? [Read more…]
During the entire month of August, I took a sabbatical. I nearly just wrote that I took a much “needed” sabbatical. But that wouldn’t have been true. I didn’t need one, I wanted one. And that level of honesty became much more important to me after I read the book Untamed by Glennon Doyle. For the most part during the last month I only read light fiction as a treat to myself. However, when I was able to grab a free copy of Untamed through my library, I jumped on it. It was just what I needed to dig deep and give myself permission to take my writing to another level. What’s that you might ask? I now hope to un-tame and un-cage my inner cheetah and let her roam wherever she wants to go. And hopefully my actions and my thoughts will encourage the same in you. [Read more…]
During the last few months I think the majority of us have been focused on COVID-19 and staying healthy, safe and sane. But if you’re paying any attention you know there is a lot more change going on in the world than just the virus. Some of the events and certain people you might agree with—and others you might not. Let’s just acknowledge that neutrality is impossible. We are either part of the solution—or part of the problem. And while it wouldn’t be SMART to attempt to suggest what any of you should think, it doesn’t hurt to remind each of us that, “If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.”
Our age doesn’t matter. If we are alive we still have a part to play. If we are choosing to sit things out or not get involved when obvious and repeated injustice occurs, then we are supporting those who perpetuate it. Let’s never pretend that our silence or inaction doesn’t matter. It does. It’s time to be honest with ourselves and pick the side that best aligns with our highest values and then do whatever we can to bring about the kind of world we want to live in. It really is up to us.