It is said if you look long enough you will find what you are looking for—or it will find you. So, after a couple of months of not feeling inspired or excited to write much, I finally stumbled upon an idea that just won’t let go. Of course, that idea will take a while to completely unfold, but ever since I first heard it I felt captured and inspired by a new way of looking at things—a new way of looking at life. That idea is an optimistic protopia. What is protopia? It is the middle way between a dystopia or a utopia. It asks, will our futures look like a dystopian disaster where the planet and humans are fighting tooth and nail to survive? (Think of the movies Terminator or Mad Max.) Or will it look like a utopian dream where everything is perfect, all people are “perfect”, and nothing ever changes? Until recently no one really talked about a third alternative. A middle way. And that future is protopian. I’m guessing most people never even heard of it just like me. [Read more…]
Did you ever play house as a kid? I did. And while once in a while my play house would contain a family with kids, most of the time my play revolved around adventure and the experience of living somewhere new. Then like most of us, I assumed I gave up playing house when I became a teenager. But this last week I realized that in many ways I still play house on a regular basis. In fact, every time Thom and I rent a vacation rental we are “playing house” in a similar way. Taking that a step further, this last week Thom and I bought a Park Model in Tucson and it hit me—this is just another way to play house! What about you? Did you play it as a kid? And are you playing a variation even today? [Read more…]
Last week a blogger friend died unexpectedly in her sleep. Rena McDaniel was 55. I didn’t know her well. But I’ve been following her online since I began blogging over 12 years ago. Her first blog posts focused on caregiving her mother with Alzheimer’s. Then when her mother passed on five or so years later, she switched to writing about blogging itself—how to do it, best programs, and even served to help others with repairs. In other words, Rena was someone who spent her life helping others. While I never had need of her services, her presence in my blogging world was always there. And now it’s not. I’m only guessing, but from my perspective I don’t think Rena ever reached her “golden years.” That got me wondering about how many of us ever really do? What does “golden years” even mean? And like so many thoughts I have these days—maybe it is time to stop waiting for some time or some “place” in the future—and instead live life right now. [Read more…]
Sorry, but now that I have your attention I must confess that there is no real secret to my happy marriage. It’d be nice though, huh? It might also be tempting to believe it is luck. A part of me admits how very fortunate I’ve been to be in a relationship that just keeps getting better as the years go by. Surely luck has something to do with it when the same has alluded so many wonderful people. It’s also inviting to think it’s because I’ve got relationships all figured out. But although I’ve made some great choices, what you haven’t seen is all the road-bumps I’ve/we’ve encountered. Even so, on the eve of my 45th anniversary, I am gratefully aware of the privilege of living and loving the same human for such a length of time and believe there are a couple of elements that helped to make it happen.
To begin with, before we even got together we both held a strong intention to create an extraordinary relationship. [Read more…]
Have you ever wondered why Scandinavian countries continue to show up at the top of all surveys and research done on happiness? Especially when you consider that for much of their winters they have very little sunlight and temperatures are freezing. Still, over and over those countries demonstrate that the people who live there rate highly in what most researchers call “subjective wellbeing.” So even though that environment is near the bottom of my personal list of where to live, and I doubt the people there walk around with giddy smiles on their faces, they clearly have something precious and desirable. Is it possible that what makes living there so unparalleled is something called “lagom?” And could it be that lagom is just the Swedish word for the practice of rightsizing?
When was the last time you hugged a tree? Believe it or not, I’ve spent the last couple of days doing just that. Remember a couple of weeks ago I recommended that we all spent at least 21 seconds a day hugging someone (or a pet) that we care about for our own physical and mental health? But what about trees? Ever since I finished a book titled Braiding Sweetgrass, the act of connecting deeply with nature has become so much more necessary than I ever realized. So, while I don’t know if any of you reading this will ever be motivated to do the same, I wanted to at least invite you to consider how important that connection could be to both your wellbeing and that of Mother Earth as well. [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.
There appears to be so much divisiveness in our world these days that I need to be constantly reminded that there is something that connects us all at a deep level. You too? I also find that a short story or parable is a great way to bring the point home. So when I found this story about frogs—yes frogs—it expressed the idea visually and emotionally for me. And naturally, I wanted to share it all with you. Here is “The Parable Of The Frogs.”
It was a pleasant morning in a small town in the heartland of the United States. Around the edge of the town was a field which had several wells and each well had hundreds of frogs. And the wonderful thing was that the walls of each well had had been painted a distinctively different color.
Like many of you Thom and I have been watching the stock market go down and then up again during this pandemic. We’ve also read about how some of our country’s leaders are using their prior knowledge to “rig the system” while the government is throwing billions at the economy to (at least temporarily) keep it all propped up. Clearly some people are making gobs of money during this situation in spite of the fact that many others are experiencing tragic financial, emotional and health circumstances. But are those the only two options? Surely it is possible to invest in the future in ways that are both more equitable and self-sustaining? Surely it is possible to cover our own needs without throwing all other people under the bus. Those thoughts led me to consider how and why most of us invest, as well as a few SMART ways we can strategize for the future. [Read more…]
March is always beautiful and considered “high season” where I live in the Desert Southwest. This last week it was strangely quiet. Schools are closed, traffic is a trickle, and most restaurants are closed. About the only businesses seeing a crowd are the grocery stores with people looking dismally at mostly empty shelves. Surely we are living in an unprecedented time? Perhaps our parents or grandparents who lived through the last world war recognize the sense of uncertainty that comes when something jolts our sense of safety and understanding about how the world is supposed to work. But most of us weren’t alive then and this is our first introduction to such uncertainty. Thankfully, most of us, like most of them, will get through this crisis with the right amount of care and responsible action. But in the meantime, it is SMART to remember that our how we respond to this experience is up to us. It’s also important to remember we are all in this together. In this, our third SMART Living 365 Vlog, Thom and I share several ideas we hope to implement in the days to come in order to sooth any anxiety or fear lurking inside. We hope you find them helpful as well. And if you have any tips for getting through these times as calmly, compassionately and peacefully as possible, please share them in the comments below.
Note: If you have trouble accessing the video on the link above, please CLICK HERE.