7 Life Lessons From An Episode of Chopped!

Chopped--food Network My husband Thom and I have watched Chopped for several years now. Even though we are not big fans of reality TV, there is something about the mix of tasty food, cooking, creativity, and drama that caught our attention. If you haven’t seen it, Chopped is a weekly program on the Food Network that showcases four different chefs each week as they compete to create the most artistic and flavorful dishes in a set amount of time. After watching dozens of episodes, it occurred to me that many of the things we witness week after week is similar to what we all face on a regular basis. That’s when I came up with seven life lessons contained in every episode of Chopped. Continue reading


Right-Sizing — Choosing Semi-Retirement Instead of Retired

“If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.” ~Confucius


SMART Living 365.com         A good friend of mine plans to retire in the next couple of months. She’s earned it. After working at a challenging job for over 25 years, she’s more than ready to move on to something new. But underlying that excitement I detected a bit of worry about the uncertainty before her. That mixed message of elation and concern got me thinking about how Thom and I are approaching our future. What I realized was that in our quest to right-size our lives, Thom and I have gradually slipped into what we are calling semi-retirement in a natural and stress-free way. While so many people our age are asking an all-or-nothing question about retirement, rightsizing right now might be the best solution of all. Continue reading


Tai Chi – The Path To A Moving Meditation On Life

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Tai chi in the park

Thom and I toyed with meditation on and off for several decades until we finally committed to a daily practice a little over four years ago.  Then a couple of months ago Thom suggested we take a tai chi class together, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that tai chi is considered to be a “moving meditation.”   In many ways, the experience of tai chi manages to broaden, deepen and enhance what we are already doing. But even more surprising, is how the practice of tai chi can help any of us create a very SMART, happy and harmonious way of life—365. Continue reading


Is Gardening A Simple Cure For What Ails You?

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Thom with our raised bed and one of our tower gardens.

I keenly remember my mom working a garden in several of the homes she lived in later in her life.   One was little more than rock and gravel patch of dirt, yet she managed to harvest a few tomatoes and zucchini in spite of the inhospitable ground. And while I always enjoyed the taste if she had any extras, my life was far too important and fast paced to even imagine having the time or interest. Now here I am so many years later, spending time nearly every day nurturing tiny green plants in my care. Though it’s taken a while, I’ve gradually come to realize that many of the hidden benefits my mother harvested from her garden went far beyond the obvious. In fact, after reading up on the benefits of gardening I’ve come to realize that this simple action might be a cure for what ails many people, as well as the planet herself. Continue reading


7 Signs of Real Abundance

SMART Living 365.comMy husband Thom and I recently spent some time talking with a young couple we know about the direction of their life. With one small child and hope for one more, they are considering selling their home and moving to a larger one to give them all more space in a slightly more prestigious neighborhood. Of course that would mean larger mortgage payments, higher utility costs, more stuff, and a longer commute. Still, they seemed convinced it would all be worth it. After all, isn’t that the American Dream—more, bigger, better? Thom and I kept our mouths shut because they appeared to want encouragement more than advice. Yet, because I wish someone had tried to explain to a younger me that the dream they sought was not really a bigger house or more stuff, I thought I’d share what the joy of real abundance has come to mean to me after all these years. Continue reading


Using Memories to Rewrite Our Past And Create Our Future

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This is what I remember after climbing all 248 steps to the top of The Pyramid of the Sun.

I am the second daughter of a family of four girls. If you asked any of us what we remember about our childhood and our parents, you would definitely receive four different answers. One is adamant that both my parents were alcoholics. Another one is convinced they were the best parents in the world. Who’s right? Both actually. That’s because the chosen memories each of us holds in our minds determines the story of our past.   Unfortunately, even though you and I would like to believe our memories are flawless, they are seldom an accurate portrayal of what really happens at any given time. Instead, the majority of our memories are a process that we use to make meaning and sense of our experiences. But with most of that process unconscious, the quality of both our past and our future reflects the stories we habitually focus on and tell. Want a better future? Choose to remember, and then tell, a better story about your past. Continue reading


Birdman, Relevancy and A Life That Matters

SMART Living 365.comSeveral months ago Thom and I went to see the movie Birdman. The plot, the symbolism, the acting, the humor and cinematography all create a movie with enough going for it to have won the Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year. But while all the elements made for an entertaining movie experience, what attracted me most were the questions it raises about the universal quest for relevancy. After all, don’t we all want to believe our lives matter? Don’t we all want to grow older thinking we’ve achieved something of distinction? And if yes, what steps are we willing to take to insure it happens? Continue reading


The Truth Behind “You Create Your Own Reality”

SMART Living 365.comThe phrase, “you create your own reality” has been part of the Western vernacular for at least several decades now. Originally a statement promoted by those with a more progressive perspective on life, the idea behind the phrase is now commonly found everywhere from books, to television, to popular music and in movies. But while I’ll admit that it is empowering to think I influence my world, and easy to imagine that your reality can be very different from mine, obviously that doesn’t mean I can fly just because I want to “create that.” So what does the statement really mean? Is it true? And if yes, how does that lead to a SMART and happy life? Continue reading


Namaste’—The Spirit Behind Compassion

#1000 Voices For Compassion

#1000 Voices For Compassion

On Friday, February 20th, all around the world thousands of people came together to write, tweet, sing, paint and speak out in the name and practice of compassion. The idea started a couple of months ago when several bloggers were sharing ideas of gratitude and began wondering what would happen if they gathered a 1,000 (or more) voices together to write about compassion and focus on the good in the world. On that day, compassion and #1000Speak showed just what can happen when thousands of us come together for good. And at the core of that compassion, I can’t help but believe it all boils down to the spirit behind the word Namaste’. Continue reading


What Gay Couples Can Teach Straight Couples About Relationships

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Celebrating with longtime friends Larry Kelly & Jose’ Ghilarducci who’ve been a couple for 24 years and married since 2008.

Every February it’s normal to think about relationships. Regardless of how we judge it, Valentine’s Day can be a great reminder of the importance of love and connection in our lives. This year, as I began exploring ideas about quality relationships, I came across some interesting research in the area of gay/lesbian couples. Of course as should be expected, same-sex relationships often struggle with many of the same challenges we all do on the path to love and happiness. But interestingly enough, gay and lesbian couples also tend to have some qualities and strengths that could help teach straight couples about creating a good relationship. Continue reading