I’ve heard it said that most people spend more time planning a vacation than they do designing their lives. I’m guessing that is particularly relevant as we get older. Sure we might plan for retirement, but once we get there, then what? And I don’t know about you, but have you noticed that if you just let one day follow the other without any particular intention, the next thing you notice is that a week, month or year has gone by and not much has changed? Of course we all have a good excuse with the pandemic. And while things are looking more optimistic on that front, we aren’t completely out of the woods yet either. So while I’m all for going with the flow and not fighting what we can’t change, this morning during a podcast interview I heard something that struck me as very important—and that was the habit of reviewing and reflecting on our lives on a regular basis. After all, if we saying personal growth, life-long learning and other core values are important to us, don’t we owe it to ourselves to at least reflect and review on where we are—especially if there is a simple way to do that? [Read more…]
Sports have never been my thing. Sure I like to play at a few sports—like pickleball, golf and swimming but usually only with likeminded friends that are there like me, to have fun and socialize—not sweat. So when I heard a recent podcast by Brene Brown interviewing a woman named Abby Wambach, I only vaguely knew who she was. For those of you who are even less familiar than I was, Wambach is a two-time Olympic gold medalist with a ton of other accolades and awards including the highest all time national soccer goal scorer for women and 2nd for international soccer goals for both women AND men. That’s a big deal! At 40 she is retired and has gone on to write a couple of books. Regardless of whether you are a sports fan or not, this impressive woman is able to offer a unique perspective for women of all ages in our times. I found her New Rules to be excellent reminders as we collectively co-create a better world for us all.
I think most all of us believe we are very truthful people and believe we only want the truth from others. But is that always true? I think we also believe that our “beliefs” are valid or we would never consider believing them. Really? One of the books in my bookcase that I like to pick up now and then is one by Anthony De Mello. Filled with short stories and parables, I find them very thought provoking. In his book titled, The Song Of The Bird, the story “ The Truth Shop” is one of my favorites. It reminds me that as much as I love the truth and are not afraid to question my beliefs, there are still plenty of times I’m not quite ready for it all—100%.
I’m guessing that most of us are familiar with the saying, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice…practice…practice.” But what about the equally familiar saying that goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?” While doing something over and over again might look the same as practicing, I think we all know they are pointing out two different actions and mindsets. And from my way of thinking they explain the difference between a practice and a habit. Knowing the difference and consciously choosing one over the other is a SMART and mindful approach to living our intentions.
Last week a fellow blogger and friend wrote a blog post about parental financial planning in retirement. Much of the post seemed focused on what he himself had inherited and what he and his wife planned to leave their children upon passing. It’s probably no surprise that most of the people who left comments offered their version of same thing. The article got me thinking about my own life and how I see the issue differently. That could be because I have no children. But perhaps more importantly, it raised questions in my mind about the expectation of inheritance, as well as the need to address and consider how well any of us are prepared for those end-of-life experiences that none of us will avoid. Like so many other topics, I don’t have any answers but I think it is SMART for us to be thinking about and be willing to consider our own personal exit strategy for when the time comes. [Read more…]
This morning I listened to a podcast interview of author and speaker Adam Grant. I wrote a blog post about his latest book several weeks ago and he is still on my mind. What I appreciate most from that book is his challenge to “think again” about so many of my deeply held thoughts and beliefs—and to do it from an open, curious and humble position. What if instead of approaching the day like we normally do, we did it as though it really was the first day of the rest of our life? What if we threw out all our preconceived ideas about right or wrong and started fresh? What if we gave people the benefit of the doubt, trusting that most people are basically good? What if we were willing to admit that a lot of the time we don’t have the answers and are just trying to do our best? What if we gave other people the same consideration? Instead of ever thinking that I wish other people knew more, did better or acted more like I think they should act—I decided instead to be the best kind of person I could be? What if we all did? Imagining what the world would be like from that space would be a very SMART thing to do.
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.