Most of the time I write about ideas that arise in my mind from books, podcasts or conversations. While I cover some of my personal perceptions, I also do my best to share other views to add depth to the conversation. This time is different. This time the largest thing on my mind is the fact that my older sister Ann is dying. And while I realize that talking about death can be difficult, and in some cases even repellent, my goal is to write about it in a way that reminds us all that the experience of death is something we share. Run from it or not, eventually death will touch us all. Sometimes the SMARTest thing any of us can do is stop, look it in the eye, uncover the story we believe about it—then explore ways that may benefit us as we live out the remainder of our life. [Read more…]
One of the best things about joining a book club is the fact that you are introduced to titles that you normally wouldn’t choose for yourself. Last month my nonfiction group picked Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking—or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Let People Help. Not only is it an entertaining and easy read, it is also filled with thoughts and ideas about honesty, feelings of adequacy, being a writer and other acts of creation, trusting ourselves, accepting love, getting paid for our art, and the power of social media. Going far beyond the difference between asking and begging, Palmer’s book is a manifesto on ways to look at the world from a position of connection and wholeness. It is stuffed with plenty of meaty ideas for a two-hour book club as well as a blog post or two. [Read more…]
I’m no stranger to Mexico. My husband Thom and I have visited the country dozens of times throughout the years. But one thing we’ve never done is driven the Baja Peninsula. Every now and then I’d find an article or book describing the many interesting sights and towns we could find the further south we traveled. So, after several decades of hints, Thom happened to read something earlier this year about the Sea of Cortez and specifically about a town named Loreto. With that motivation, I finally convinced him that now was the time. Of course, as with all travel, the journey got more complicated the closer it came to our departure date. And now that we’ve gone and returned, I’m reminded that all travel, like life itself, is a series of adventures, trust, and even a few potholes. [Read more…]
This week SMART Living 365 is pleased to introduce you to Donna from Retirement Reflections as guest blogger while I am traveling. I have been reading Donna’s blog for nearly two years and believe she offers ideas that are inspiring, practical and SMART regardless of whether you are retired or not. Thank you, Donna, for filling in and sharing your thoughts with us this week.
When cleaning out a box of old letters and memorabilia recently, I came across a few of my old school report cards. I smiled at the recurring comment, “Donna spends much time chatting with others.” This behavior was definitely in the “things that could be improved” category. What my teachers failed to add was “If Donna continues this behaviour…it could lengthen her life!”
Researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill combined data from 148 studies that looked at factors that lengthen our lives. Within this research, numerous lifestyle behaviors were examined and ranked based on their impact on longevity (diet, exercise, heart health, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, doctor visits, flu vaccines, air quality, etc.). Two factors were consistently found to impact health and longevity much more significantly than previously realized. One was close, dependable relationships with friends and family. The other was social integration. [Read more…]
As a child, I was conditioned to keep my mouth shut if I wanted to be seen as a good girl. I picked up early that arguing was pointless, and that only bitchy girls insisted on being heard. I did my best to fit in and keep others around me comfortable and happy. It seemed logical to maintain the peace rather than escalate any problem. Besides, the affection and positive attention I received by being a good girl made the choice easier. From teenage on, I perfected my sunny attitude using smoking as a pacifier to entertain myself while staying silent. Unfortunately, when I stopped smoking in my early-thirties, my reliable smoke screen disappeared. Thankfully, through the many years that followed, I’ve gradually grown strong enough to speak my mind when necessary. [Read more…]
Happiness research by Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert teaches that most of us aren’t good at predicting how happy we will be in the future. Not only are our predictions based upon current feelings and events, they also flow out of our previous experiences—none of which necessarily explains what will happen, or how we will feel, far into the future. Instead, Gilbert recommends that we study and learn from those who are living the experience we say we want to mimic. Could it be that only the oldest of old living today can offer us clues about living a very long and happy life? That’s exactly what John Leland suggests in his new book, Happiness is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a year among the oldest old. For those of us who see a very long life as a gift we want to embrace, this book is a window into the wisdom of several elders with a great deal to teach.
A few weeks ago, Thom and I attended a Sunday brunch hosted by a longtime friend. Both Joanne and her husband are in their seventies. Yet, you’d never guess their age by their bright and curious minds. Nearly all their guests were as old or older, but again, everyone was curious, open-minded and talkative. At some point, the conversation touched on how, as many grow older, most seem to shrink back as the years add up. Instead of trying new things and being willing to experiment and explore, there is a strong tendency for seniors to resist the unfamiliar. Many seek safety and comfort rather than possibility and opportunity. Of course, this isn’t just limited to seniors. Lots of people seem stuck these days. So once again it was highly synchronistic when I received a review copy of a book that challenges that outlook, regardless of our age. [Read more…]
A common practice for bloggers and other lifelong learners is to pick one word to focus on as an intention for each new year. For some reason, the word “flexible” or flexibility popped into my mind within the first couple of days of 2018. Ever since then I’ve been playing with the idea. Like buying a new outfit, it’s important to see if your word fits you—to see if it has a hold of you. Now, with January quickly coming to an end, I decided it was time to reveal my word for 2018 to the world. Plus, I want to invite any of you who haven’t yet picked a word, to join me in allowing one word to mold your life in a more positive and SMART way for the remainder of the year.
I recently went to lunch with a friend I’ll call Carol. After chatting for over an hour I told her it was time for me to go because I needed to finish my weekly blog post. She immediately asked me, “So what happens if you don’t?” In other words, does it really matter that every week I spend a great deal of my time and effort writing and publishing articles here on SMART Living 365? Remember, I don’t get paid by writing this blog (other than the sale of my books). So why bother?
The simplified answer is that writing, and what I do with it for now, matters to me and I believe it is my purpose—or you could even call it my dharma. That in itself is more than reward enough. Serendipitously, a few days later I listened to a podcast that further explained how living our “dharma,” offers each of us a path to a meaningful, gratifying and on purpose life. From there I was reminded that whatever unique dharma we have, it’s best not to wait for retirement, or anything else, before finding and living it to the best of our abilities. [Read more…]
There is something about the beginning of a new year that fills me with even more optimism than usual. I won’t deny that last year was challenging on many levels for many people around the world. But that simple digit change on the end of the date invites the potential for something different—something better—something hopeful. And as a person who believes in the power of affirmations to help direct our thoughts in positive ways—I decided to go through a few of my favorite quotes to see which ones I want to focus on as 2018 gets underway. [Read more…]