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…]
No matter what your age, most people occasionally talk about retirement. A big concern is whether Social Security will be available when you finally qualify. Even more troublesome is when the conversation leans toward savings accounts, or the lack of them, among Baby Boomers. Of primary concern are the many people in middle age and beyond who are not financially prepared for getting older. Only a handful will have the luxury of never giving money a thought. What is seldom discussed is that there is something that most people can do right now to prepare for a more carefree and secure retirement. That something is the decision to rightsize their life. [Read more…]
I am very pleased to announce that my latest book is now published and available in either print or as an ebook on Amazon. Titled Rightsizing * A SMART Living Guide to Reinventing Retirement, this book is the second in what I hope will continue to be a series. What is Rightsizing? Simply put, rightsizing is the conscious choice to create a life and a lifestyle that more sustainably aligns with your unique Self in the best possible way at every stage. This small volume compiles the best of what I’ve written on the subject here on SMART Living 365 along with some bonus ideas that presents them in a way I think most readers will appreciate. The good thing about rightsizing your life is that it doesn’t matter what your age or situation. Although many reach retirement before finally making it happen, rightsizing can benefit everyone and leads to more happiness, fulfillment and peace of mind than ever before regardless of circumstances. Of course, just like most things that are desirable, it comes at a price. Here is a list of the most common obstacles that keep many of us from choosing a rightsized life. [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.
On any given day, many of us will wake up and face what we consider to be a huge problem. If you’ve been watching the news lately, then you’ll agree. Top that off with any personal or health problems you have, and sometimes those problems appear overwhelming. But gradually through the years I’m learning that where ever and whatever I put my focus on, grows. Most problems are like that. I also remember hearing the late Norman Vincent Peale give a talk one time when he said, “The number of problems you face shows the aliveness in your life. The only people who don’t have problems are six feet under.” With that in mind, could it be that the way we choose to look at the problems confronting us is the real problem? [Read more…]
Henry Ford supposedly said, “If you think you can’t—you can’t. If you think you can—you can.” While that statement usually applies to reaching our goals or persevering in spite of the odds, we seldom consider it in context with aging. Yet, growing research shows that our view of aging has a sometimes dramatic effect on the quality of our health, happiness, and wellbeing. Not only does what we each think about aging matter, how we feel about aging as a society influences the experience that each of us will have as the years add up. Fortunately, if we can learn to identify those stereotypical prejudices most of us hold about aging, we can halt and maybe even reverse many of the negatives formerly believed to be our destiny.
One of the stories I can vividly remember my father telling me years back was related to his pride at managing his money in retirement. At the time, both my father and mother lived on their social security and some modest savings held in a 401k. Dad frequently bragged that he lived better, traveled more, and seemed to have more fun than many of his friends who retired with big homes and generous pensions. From my perspective, at least at the time, their lifestyle seemed more humble and restricted than I felt necessary. Yet now, less than 20 years later, I recognize that their simple and minimal lifestyle afforded them tremendous benefits that millions of other “hope-to-be-retirees” could learn from—including myself. [Read more…]
On October 9th, my husband Thom and I celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary. When we got married so many years ago I never imagined what it would be like to approach an anniversary date that signifies so much time together. I’ve heard younger people worry about sticking it out with one person for so long, because they might grow tired or bored with one another. But as I’ve said before, I think our experience proves that love and the depth of a commitment can just continue growing and deepening as years go by. And while I’ve been privileged to know some couples married far longer than us, I thought it might SMART to share 25 things I’ve personally learned about a happy marriage after 38 years. [Read more…]
Is your happiness sustainable? I’m not talking about that rush of pleasure we get when things turn out the way we hope and expect. I’m also not taking about the giddy experience we get laughing with friends or the thrill of accomplishment that overtakes us when we get what we want. To me sustainable happiness is the sense of good and wellbeing that comes in the middle of the night when you are alone with your thoughts. It’s a deep and sustaining sense that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, where you are supposed to be doing it, at exactly the right time in your life. And the good thing about finding it is that regardless of what is happening in our lives or circumstances, we can still count on it comforting us when the going gets tough. [Read more…]
I won’t even pretend I know much about Buddhism, but I have always been drawn to the image of the Laughing Buddha. In fact, I’ve had a statue of him in my yard for over a decade. His smiling face reminds me that no matter what is happening in my life or the world, we can always choose to see the world more joyfully. So it was a no brainer for me to accept the invitation to review a book titled, Poems of the Laughing Buddha by Jane Marla Robbins. And, just as I hope with any book I read, the ideas it contained helped simulate some SMART thoughts we all might use to create a more meaningful and happy life. [Read more…]