Like millions of other Americans, I first read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz nearly 20 years ago. According to Wikipedia, the book sold over 5 million copies in just the U.S., was a New York Times bestseller for over seven years, and has been translated into 38 languages. Not a bad run for such a small book. But in spite its success, now might be a good time to update those agreements from a SMART perspective. After all, if life is continually changing as Ruiz says, then, “The best path to happiness is learning to change as rapidly as life does.” [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…]
My mother Alice Pfeif was an artist. In middle age when all her daughters were grown and gone, she blossomed as a painter. A deep lover of horses and most animals, Mom painted hundreds of pictures of animals using photos and her imagination. Gradually she evolved into sculpting, working with paper, clay and bronze. Although she sometimes created art true to life, nearly half the time she made playful, funny art with animals doing unexpected things. One of her best was a huge circus elephant sitting on a couch with a trainer holding court. Unfortunately, her art teacher at the time had the gall to tell her that her elephant sculpture wasn’t art at all. He claimed, “Art is supposed to be serious!” Fortunately, she ignored him, entered the piece in a local art show, and won first place. Although I was oblivious at the time, I now know my mom created her art with tremendous courage and stubborn delight. I desperately hope to follow her example. [Read more…]
Last weekend I decided to treat myself to a bit of relaxation by reading one of my magazines. As usual, I flipped through the slick front pages of glamorous women wearing designer clothes, ads promising hot sex and love by simply using certain cosmetics, and a list of the “Best of the Best” showcasing uber-expensive items the magazine believes we “must have.” Digging deeper to find something beyond the frivolous, I spotted, “Slow Anti-Aging ~ The New Secret To Looking Your Best.” Unfortunately, instead of offering advice on how to live well and happy no matter what your age, the entire article focused on expensive treatments that slow the effects of getting older while fooling others into thinking you come by it naturally. What? Is that even possible? [Read more…]
Can you remember back to a time when you thought you knew everything there was to know about life and love? Thom and I were talking the other day about how dramatically that has changed for us. As Thom likes to say, “The older I get, the less I know, but the more I understand.” Do you feel the same? With that in mind, Thom and I came up with 60 things we think we now understand that we didn’t even know we didn’t know when we were young. If you are over 40, take this test to see if you agree. If you are younger than 40, then here are some things we think you have to look forward to understanding on a deeper level as you age.
For as long as I can remember I wanted to travel to Egypt. I’m not sure if it was a vision of the pyramids or movies about Cleopatra that created the longing or not. I just knew that given the chance, I would go. In 2015, I turned 60, and I had no interest in a big party or an expensive gift. Instead travel, as usual, was at the top of my list. Now, after just returning from nearly three weeks in this chaotic, ancient and mesmerizing country, I still don’t know for certain why I needed to go. But what’s clear is that the biggest thing to fear about traveling to Egypt is the challenge it gives to our comfort zone, our limited scope of history, and our egocentric view as citizens of planet Earth. [Read more…]
This weekend Thom and I return from our vacation. But rather than a guest post, I am offering one I wrote four years ago. After re-reading it, I realized that this idea was exactly what I wanted to share with you at the start of another new year. Please join me in 2017 as we all write a story of peace, well-being and meaning for ourselves and others in 2017.
As a writer, it’s easy for me to imagine each New Year as a blank sheet of paper awaiting my creativity. But that metaphor actually works for everyone. Every year we each have the potential to start over with a story—our personal story for sure—and any other story we want to create. Some of you may have already started by creating a year filled with all sort of drama and possibility. Others are planning to make this one just another carbon-copy of last year. Or, for those awake and aware, some of us are willing to accept the idea that this year’s story can be filled with all the peace, love, adventure and purpose that we desire. As usual, the choice is up to us. [Read more…]
During the last four and a half years I have written and published every post here on SMART Living 365. But as Thom and I prepared for a three week trip over the holidays, I decided to invite other bloggers I enjoy and admire to contribute and share their SMART advice. Today’s Guest Post comes from author and writer T.O. Weller on her blog. Never Too Late To Write. And even though T.O. lives in Canada, north of Toronto, and we’ve never met in person, from the first time I read her writing it was as though I had known her for a very long time. I hope you enjoy this post, and I strongly encourage you to check out her blog if you get a chance. Thank you, T.O., for sharing your SMART, thoughtful, and authentic writing with us all.
The holiday season is upon us. Most of us are plenty busy to begin with, but add the extra load of family gatherings, parties, gift-buying, home entertaining, vacation getaway planning, … and the list goes on, and on, and on. Bottom line: this time of year can be extremely stressful. But, does it have to be? Is there a SMART way to de-stress the holidays? [Read more…]
I spend a lot of time on SMART Living 365 researching, thinking and writing about how we all can create a happier life. I believe that the majority of us want to live in the space where we can, no matter what challenges we face, feel hopeful, at peace and grounded in wellbeing. But I’m also aware that others believe that due to the circumstances in the world, or in their personal situations, it is impossible to stay happy on an ongoing basis. If you are one of those people, this post is for you. [Read more…]
Last weekend my husband Thom and I attended the Joshua Tree Music Festival. It wasn’t our first. We’ve attended several others in the past, including two of the biggest music festivals in the country—The Coachella and Stagecoach. Why? We’re drawn to the music, the energy, the art and the people watching. While every event is unique, the Joshua Tree Music Festival promotes itself as a family friendly global music festival, so people of all ages and backgrounds attend. But just like with other music festivals, Thom and I sort of stand out—not because we have the best costumes, makeup, tattoos or hair. We stand out because we look pretty much the way we look each and every day. And sometimes accepting yourself just the way you are, takes more courage than trying to be someone else—no matter how cool that someone else might be. [Read more…]