Ever had someone say something to you that felt like a punch in your gut? Even worse, ever have someone you care about do something that felt like a sharp knife in your heart? Fortunately, as I’ve gotten older, my extreme reactions are now further and further apart. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that every now and then I still react in ways that are viscerally painful. Then this last week I was listening to a podcast interview of author Brene Brown and she shared something I found brilliant—as well as a perfect exercise to counteract those painful moments that catch us by surprise. And that practice is to remind myself not to believe my “shitty first draft.”
Happy Birthday SMART Living 365! Yes, it was exactly eight years ago today (April 26th, 2011) that I conceived the idea of creating a blog around the letters S-M-A-R-T. In case you don’t know it, those letters are all part of an acronym that stands for Sustainable-Meaningful-Aware-Responsible & Thankful. At the time I wanted to create something that would help me focus on, and then write about, topics that are very important to me. I didn’t actually write my first post until May and it took me another month to get the site up and running. But, here I am, eight years later.
One of my favorite parables is the story of the light wolf and the dark wolf. Most of us know the light wolf as those parts in the world and in ourselves that are kind, loving, peaceful and hopeful. At the same time, the dark wolf represents all that is angry, fearful, greedy or hateful. Which one is most prominent in our lives? Simply—the one we feed. In other words, whatever wolf we focus on the most—nourishing it with our attention, time, words and Facebook posts, that’s the one that grows and multiplies. The good news is of course that even if we realize we’ve been feeding the wrong wolf for far too long, it’s never too late to make our light wolf strong, healthy and the biggest part of our lives.
This parable came to my mind after finishing a new book by Mary Pipher called, Women Rowing North—Navigating Life’s Currents & Flourishing As We Age. Some of us may remember Pipher as the author of Reviving Ophelia. That book, written back in the 1990s, shared thoughts on the [Read more…]
If you opened the SMART Living Blog post email last week you probably noticed it was different. Rather than publish a full article like usual, I decided to take a short trip down to Baja Mexico with Thom and enjoy myself. And while that might not seem radical if you haven’t followed SMART Living 365 for long. But it was actually the first time in over six years that I’ve given myself permission to not post an article. And guess what? The world did not collapse and (thankfully!) you all did not unsubscribe. What it did do was allow to me pause and consider why I have felt so driven to stick to such a strict self-imposed schedule. More importantly, it reminded me that my definition of success and happiness as I enter my third-act of life is the guidepost that I want to follow at the present time. And perhaps my thoughts on this are something all of us can use regardless of our age. [Read more…]
Do you agree? I do. This week I am taking the advice of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and mixing up my routine a bit. Because I am planning a trip out of town for the weekend, I am offering this photo blog post rather than a typical post. I hope you enjoy the idea as much as I do!
Like I explained last week, I’m recovering from a really bad cold. I truly wish I was the only one going through that experience, but I know others who’ve had their share of illness as well. That, or half of the country has been locked in frigid cold temperatures forcing them to stay inside. So as I previously confessed, I watched a LOT of television during my recuperation. And rather than fight the impulse to do absolutely nothing, I decided to make a list of some of my favorite feel-good shows to share with others. After all, if we are going to be watching TV anyway, let’s make sure it feeds our hearts, minds and souls in a positive way. So here is a list of my favorites. [Read more…]
This last week I came down with the worst cold ever. Don’t worry, this post isn’t about that or what I did to get over it. Instead, once the fog began to clear I started to beat myself up for laying around for over a week and for my lack of any productivity. Rather than practice what I now understand to be self-compassion, I jumped into criticizing myself for too many naps, too much television, and not one bit of exercise. I even berated myself for getting sick in the first place. Now maybe I’m the only one who ever does this, but ever since then I’ve been exploring how and why I tied my personal value (not to mention my health) to such an absurd goal. What I’ve since discovered is that all too often our sense of self-esteem is a big part of the problem.
As every writer knows, words matter. But what about the words that come out of our mouths or the words we hear in our heads when someone is talking? Perhaps one of the greatest things we can learn, and teach one another, is how to speak and listen with empathy, kindness and connection. Sound simple? It’s not. In fact, after reading Say What You Mean—A Mindful Approach To Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer, I am convinced that I have much to learn and years to practice. Ultimately it’s SMART to remember that communication, especially the mindful nonviolent kind, is far more than figuring out the right words to say in any given moment. Thankfully there are books like this that offer perspectives and tools to increase our awareness, fulfill our mutual needs, and build relationship.
One of my book clubs is reading Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café. I have seen the movie, several times, but never read the book before now. Not only is the author, Fannie Flagg a great story teller, the tale she tells introduces us to characters so alive I wish they lived down my street. At the same time, she addresses a number of timeless issues like equality, morality, kindness and forgiveness all wrapped around a story that feels hopeful and familiar to us all. Then this morning I listened to a podcast interview of a woman I consider to be one of the best story tellers alive—Rachel Naomi Remen. Not only is Remen convinced that stories hold the power to heal our individual lives, she believes they are also the key to healing the entire world. Could it be that authentic stories about love, loss, meaning, purpose and courage are what is missing in the world today? [Read more…]
In case you haven’t noticed from my writing, I love to travel. Fortunately, Thom does too, and we intend to do as much of it as possible while we are physically able. Of course, it hasn’t always been easy. When we were young our work and our finances often took priority. Then we rightsized our lives and most of that changed for the better. But one thing that has always been a concern is what to do with our pets. Kloe, like each of our former dogs, is a big part of our family and adds an incredible amount of good to our lives. But managing her needs with our travel needs can be tricky. Fortunately, we have discovered a great solution. After three very successful experiences, I’m finally ready to recommend this service to everyone who faces a similar challenge with wanting to travel while cherishing a pet. Not only does it cost a fraction of traditional care, I think it provides Kloe with the best attention possible. [Read more…]