A popular practice around the first of every new year is to pick a word for that year. Much easier, not to mention more intuitive, than making New Year’s Resolutions, picking a word to serve as a North Star can be very beneficial. During 2018 my word was flexible. I wanted to be more flexible in my body, my mind and my emotions all year long. Not only did it get me into a “mostly” two-day-a-week yoga practice, it also helped my thinking relax and flow as the year progressed. It was such a success for me that I decided to come up with a new word for 2019. I’m hoping this word will guide and direct my intentions as much as the last. And yes, I strongly encourage every reader to take the time to figure out what one word might inspire and pilot them in the next 365 days. [Read more…]
(originally titled: The Only Thing We Know For Sure Is That We Don’t Know Anything For Sure) Most of you who read my blog know that I am an optimist. I also believe in the power of positive thought. The way I see it, positive thought is different from positive thinking because just thinking of things doesn’t always affect them. But when you change your thoughts (or mindset) about things, it usually spurs the actions that lead to change. So imagine my delight when I came across the work of Ellen J. Langer who not only reinforces that idea about “thoughts,” but also offers research to support them. Calling on what she labels the “psychology of possibility,” Langer says that it “first requires that we begin with the assumption that we do not know what we can do or become.” In other words, the only thing we know for sure is that we can’t know anything for absolute certain. [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.
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…]
One of my daily practices is to remember to look for the good no matter what is going on in my life. It helps a great deal that I’m married to someone who does his best to remind me of this on a regular basis. It also helps that I am a naturally optimistic person, in good health, with many other lifestyle advantages. But even then, I still need to be reminded on a regular basis to stay focused on what’s good, rather than its opposite. That’s why nearly all my writing here on SMART Living 365 serves to re-enforce the positive over and over. Still, what I seldom acknowledge is the huge helping of grace that makes it all possible.
I don’t use the word grace much in my writing. I’m aware that it is a trigger for some people like my husband Thom, to a former religious perspective that created pain and skepticism rather than comfort. I certainly never intended to use the word in the title of my first work of fiction, Finding Grace. But after the main character ended up naming herself, and as her journey unfolded, no other title came even close to fitting as well. That’s how grace often works. When we follow the trail of what seems to be good, we end up with the grace of unexpected gifts. [Read more…]
Like most baby boomers or people who grew up in California, I am very familiar with the statement, “Accepting what is.” A product of dozens of spiritual, philosophical, and psychological perspectives, this phrase is offered as a solution to overcome the trials and tribulations in both our individual lives and the world around us. The problem is, when things in the world seem rather painful, upsetting, and sad, or when our personal lives are in the tank, accepting what is feels not only unhelpful, but flat-out sucks. How can any of us “accept what is,” when the world around us is crumbling? Could it be that the problem is more personal than it appears? [Read more…]
I do my best here on SMART Living to stay away from politics. That’s not because I don’t have an opinion, but my intention here is to instead inspire and encourage us all to think and form our own opinions from a space of awareness, compassion and personal responsibility. With that said, it occurred to me that much of the divisiveness we see and hear these days originates in some fundamental lies that we may be telling ourselves. Those lies or untruths are quite common and perhaps by taking the time to shine some light on them, we just might find that we have taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line. Here then, are ten falsehoods some people tell themselves that keep them from being happy and SMART. [Read more…]
Cohousing isn’t a new concept. In fact, humans have been coming together in community for thousands of years to survive and thrive. What is new is that these days many of us have grown so independent and disconnected that we’ve forgotten why community is important in the first place. Maybe when we are young, busy, and focused on the needs of one’s immediate family, that isn’t so important. But eventually, if people begin to value experiences, relationships, and good health more than the stuff they accumulate and the accolades they obtain as they age, things start changing. That’s when being a part of a strong and vibrant community starts sounding more and more appealing. It’s also when the idea of cohousing may pop up as a solution. Is it a key to helping people age better? Those who have embraced it say, “Yes!” [Read more…]
Last weekend my husband Thom and I drove to Tucson, AZ to visit three thriving cohousing communities. As I wrote about in January, even though the concept of cohousing is still relatively young, it’s appeal is growing as others discover the benefits. Ever since I first heard about them, I recognized how many ways they mimic the advantages I find from rightsizing. After touring all three facilities, it is also evident that they embrace the core values of SMART*. Is cohousing a wave of the future? It likely depends on whether you value community, and if you see them as a path to living your values. [Read more…]
Since turning 60, I’ve been increasingly interested in what it means to grow older in a vibrant and purposeful way. Much like my work with rightsizing, I see aging not as an inevitable loss or sacrifice, but instead as an opportunity to get to the heart of what really matters to each of us as living, breathing beings on this planet—and then sharing that with our community and the world. Plus, with so many of us nearing retirement age, and yet living many years after, isn’t is SMART to recognize that making the most of those years seldom happens by chance? So instead of merely growing old and waiting for the unavoidable, learning what makes us whole and happy is worthy of our attention. [Read more…]