Did you know there are several unique locations in the world where people typically live to be over 100 years old? Not only do the majority of the residents live past 100, they also remain physically active, mentally sharp, and are remarkably free from common diseases. Best of all they rate themselves happy. Called Blue Zones, these regions offer one of the most intriguing formulas for a long, healthy and vibrant life. Surely it’s SMART to explore the identifiable traits found in several Blue Zones to see how they might help us all create our own zone no matter where we live? [Read more…]
My husband Thom and I began living a more simple and sustainable life over ten years ago. In the beginning, the practice felt a bit awkward and required our conscious focus and intention to make the necessary changes. Gradually our actions became fluid and felt more natural. Most excuses and resistance simply faded away. Finally, after all these years I believe that our path to simple living is so deeply ingrained in us that it has become a habit that adds value to our lives every single day. Are we experts? Not hardly. But if we can do it, anyone can. So what if you’re just starting on the journey? My advice is to make the practice a habit as quickly as possible.
Here are three critical steps I believe are necessary: [Read more…]
Recently I watched a new documentary entitled Coming Of Age In Aging America. I expected the focus of the film to be similar to much of the other information I read almost daily on the Internet. Sure the movie covers a few of those common themes prevalent in the positive aging message. But more importantly, the major focus is a deep inquiry into the sustainability of how most of us view the overall life-progression or life-course of all Americans as we age. What do they mean by that? And why do I believe it is important for all of us to begin to rethink the current model of aging and retirement that most of us unconsciously hold as sacred? [Read more…]
Last night Thom and I attended a Jack Johnson concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl and this morning I woke up with a fun hangover. First, if you don’t know who Jack Johnson is and you love music, you need to look him up. Second, if you haven’t experienced a fun hangover in a while, maybe it’s time you indulged. After all, it’s SMART to occasionally push our boundaries and get out of our comfort zones. Doing something unexpected, out of the ordinary, and especially fun every now and then is a sure prescription for ongoing happiness and good health. [Read more…]
Thom and I are fortunate to be able to spend a month every summer in the coastal community of Ventura, California. As some of you know, where we live the majority of the year the temperature during the summer fluctuates between 110 and 120 degrees. Meanwhile, at the beach, we are able to relish the cool coastal breezes without air-conditioning. 2017 was our 7th year of escaping the heat, yet we constantly hear people say, “Oh, I sure wish we could do that.” Or, “ I’d give anything to do that.” But the truth is, most of those who could do it, won’t. That’s because in many cases they are attached to a big house and often a big lifestyle that keeps them stuck even when they say they’d prefer otherwise. With that in mind, I came up with ten reasons why we all might want to reconsider owning a too-big house, and instead embrace a more rightsized life. [Read more…]
A big topic in my age group is retirement. About half of my friends are looking forward to it while the other half are already there. As for Thom and I, we see ourselves standing with a foot on both sides. We aren’t retired, but neither are we chained to our work. What makes us different from others hoping to retire soon is that we’ve embraced what I call rightsizing. Rightsizing is a process that any of us can do to come into greater alignment with our most cherished values and goals. On a practical level, rightsizing points to actions we can make at any age that will help before, and especially after, a person retires.
In case you are wondering, I am not a financial advisor. Most retirement “planning” comes from people who would like to manage your finances. That approach tends to put the focus on how much money you make, how much money saved, and how much you need in the future to maintain your current lifestyle. Rightsizing, on the other end, downplays money and instead puts the focus on what is most rewarding in your life.
Yesterday I finished reading a new book by Jo Ann Jenkins, the CEO of AARP, called Disrupt Aging—A Bold New Path To Living Your Best Life At Any Age. Not only did it remind me that the prejudice of ageism is alive and well in our country, it suggests that the way we think about aging and retirement is due for a big shift. While I didn’t find the ideas in it as bold as advertised, it did get me thinking about aging and retirement in a few new ways. I was also reminded that the only way such a disruption can ever occur is when enough of us begin to see, think and talk about new and positive ways we can all approach aging in the days to come. [Read more…]
Several weeks ago my husband Thom began reading a blog post offered to him from LinkedIn. It started out with a catchy title but quickly slipped into a bad rerun of something from the Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous. You may remember that TV show from the 1990s when everyone was hell-bent on buying big expensive everythings no matter what the cost. Even worse than the implication that you should own extravagant and expensive cars, the author suggests that you lease rather than buy. After all, when leasing you can start driving a more expensive car than you can actually afford. Perhaps even worse, in true 1990s speak he then started selling us all on attending his seminar and paying the large entrance fee where he would share his “wealth secrets” with all of us. [Read more…]
This last week Thom and I led a discussion group about Rightsizing. It is something we’ve wanted to do ever since writing about it here on the blog during the last four or five years, and then after publishing the book, Rightsizing—A SMART Living 365 guide to Reinventing Retirement last year. Because we are so passionate about the topic, it was great to gather with others who are either curious or equally excited about the benefits. And as we suspected, the topic is so rich that no matter where any of us are on the path, each of us can learn something from every other person’s example. It boils down to the simple fact that quality always tops quantity. [Read more…]
A question that my husband Thom and I get every now and then is: “Are you guys independently wealthy or did your parents leave you a bunch of money?” The answer to both of them is “No!” As I’ve written before, both of us grew up in blue-collar households and we’ve been self-employed our entire lives. We’ve never once received financial assistance, unemployment benefits or won the lottery. Regardless of whether it sometimes look like we live the life of leisure, let me assure you, we’ve earned everything we have. It wasn’t always easy, and we made a bunch of mistakes early on, but fortunately, that’s changed. Along the way, we picked up some SMART and frugal practices that helped us hang on to much of the money we make. Now we use our money to do things we enjoy, and support people and projects we believe are worthy. I’m convinced we all have the potential to do the same. [Read more…]