As most of you know Thom and I have been mainly self-employed since we got together over 37 years ago. Fortunately, we are currently more financially secure and wealthy than we’ve ever been throughout our lives. Are we rolling in money? Not hardly. But not a week goes by that we don’t hear how so many others are stressed about money, how difficult are these economic times, and how financially things seem to be getting worse everywhere in the world. So what makes me feel so good about money these days? It’s probably because Thom and I take a money SMART approach to our finances. [Read more…]
A few days ago while having dinner with friends I asked about their plans for the weekend. In an ever-perpetual dancing mood, I mentioned that I had noticed on Facebook that a new band was scheduled to play at a local hangout. But I was torn because I had also read in the local paper that a new exciting restaurant had just opened offering incredible free tapas for any who came by. Even then, I was curious if my friends had heard of something else that might be more fun or interesting. That’s when they all looked at me and simultaneously shouted, “STOP!” Then my dear friend Larry turned to me, put his hand on mine, and said with concern, “It sounds like you’ve got a bad case of FOMO—Fear of Missing Out!” Immediately, I knew that the best, and maybe the only cure, was to return to the mindful practice of simple living.
I’ve been writing about the value of sustainability, simplicity and minimalism for over six years. Because it’s a big part of living SMART, I’m always on the lookout for ways to introduce new people to the idea and explain the value and incredible advantages that such a perspective offers. Maybe that is why I synchronistically stumbled across the word “essentialism” during a recent Internet surf about how to create more meaning and purpose in a person’s life. Author Greg McKeown uses it frequently in his best selling book, Essentialism—The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. And after reading the book, it’s possible that Essentialism just might be a new and better way of describing what so many of us seek when pursuing minimalism or a simple life. [Read more…]
Several months ago a neighbor in her mid-sixties lost her husband due to a heart attack. Even worse than dealing with the unexpected loss and heartbreak of losing her life partner, is her torment with stress and anxiety because of her debt and lack of resources. Unfortunately, she’s not alone. A recent article by CNN Money confirms that most Americans as are deeply worried about their financial future. According to CNN Money, “The Great Recession may be over, but a Great Insecurity seems to have emerged in its wake.” What’s going on here and what can we do? Perhaps a focus on simple living is the way to eliminate the anxiety and stress that so many feel today. [Read more…]
Okay I’ll admit it—Thom and I enjoy tales of the supernatural. For years we watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer on television. Together we’ve seen all sorts of movies and shows about werewolves, vampires, aliens and all sorts of bizarre characters doing all sorts of strange things. Most of them are pure entertainment. However, one of the more sinister creatures is called a succubus. While never fully fleshed out in most episodes, it needs little description. Simply put, a succubus is something that sucks out the very essence and joy of a person in all sorts of horrifying and painful ways. When you think about it, oppressive debt feels exactly the same. The good news is that just like how Buffy knew ways to slay vampires, there are at least five ways any of us can rise above even the worst sort of debt succubus on the way to a happy life. [Read more…]
Last week I noticed a very suspicious looking blemish on my cheek, and I started worrying. I was especially nervous because when my mother was my age, she developed skin cancer under her right eye. Then several years ago my sister Ann had an angry looking sore on the back of her leg that wouldn’t heal for months. Even though hers turned out to benign, the experience made for some anxious times. So it didn’t require much imagination on my part to convince myself that my blemish could require a big chunk to be cut out of my cheek, scaring me for a lifetime. Or worse.
Finally, after waking up in the middle of the night with worry on my mind, I called the dermatologist. Although he couldn’t see me for a week, I realized that I could continue to allow fear and worry to control my life for the following seven days, or I could do something else. But isn’t that choice something we all face every day in this thing called life? Fear and worry? Or peace and happiness? We decide. [Read more…]
As many of you know Thom and I have been on the path of simplifying our lives for several years. Every January we like to sit down and discuss ways we can better live that example during the coming year. But in case you haven’t noticed, there are many people offering lots of advice that it’s challenging to decide which way to approach the topic. So while we don’t consider ourselves experts on the subject, we do think it’s helpful to list what we consider to be most important. From that point forward we each can then decide where and how we can put our attention during 2014.
So here are our Top 10 Commandments:
Earlier this week I had lunch with a girlfriend I hadn’t seen in a while. Barely two seconds after we sat down, and even though December is just getting started, she immediately launched into how upside down she was about the approaching holidays. I did manage to get in a question or two when she paused to take a breath, but it was clear she was looking for sympathy, not solutions. After spending over an hour being as supportive as I could, I was relieved when she said she was late for another obligation and simply had to go. Of course I can’t point fingers because I used to be a lot like her. Fortunately, I have learned that there is a better way to feel the joy and peace of the coming holiday.
It’s no secret that the Christmas season can be very stressful. I, too, used to make myself crazy trying to squeeze everything in. But there are solutions for anyone who is ready for a change. By approaching the holidays from a more minimal or simple living perspective, we can each stay focused on what the holiday really means to us, without allowing the hype to drown us in expectations.
Having a background in real estate is handy for many reasons. While I’m not actively involved in basic buying and selling these days—I still keep my hand on the pulse of what’s happening by writing about it. And one thing I’ve learned in the process is that location is more critical than is usually considered. Not only should it be near the top when evaluating any move—from a minimalist or simple living perspective I think it deserves closer consideration. That’s why I thought it might be SMART to make a list of the advantages that come from living in the right location—no matter where on earth it is.
I usually stay away from politics here on SMART Living, but for an obvious reason healthcare is on my mind this week. But let me be clear, I don’t think that healthcare is or should be a political issue. Instead, our health and its care are two issues that touch every single human on the planet—including those of us who practice simple living or minimalism. Unfortunately, with all the blogs I follow—everything from minimalism to personal growth to spirituality—no one seems to be talking about this very all-encompassing concern. So, hopefully, by bringing this important subject out into the light we can recognize how vital it is and arrive at more conscious, aware and responsible actions for our future. [Read more…]