Retirement is a big topic for many of us in midlife. The usual approach is to figure out how much money you can possibly save up so that you can continue the lifestyle you have created for you and your family. The other approach is to downsize and sacrifice so you can live on whatever you think you’ll be forced to get by living on and with. There is another way. Several years ago Thom and I came up with what is a middle (and we think better) way that is seldom mentioned. That way is to “right-size” your life as soon as possible. Then whether you choose to finally retire, or decide you will continue creating in some capacity for as long as you live—your life will be filled with qualities and activities that bring you happiness, purpose, and peace of mind. [Read more…]
Last week was my birthday. Or I should say, one of my birthdays. That’s because we all actually have many birth-days or major turning points during our lifetimes if we choose to remember and acknowledge them. Each one of these birthdays marks a significant turning point in our experience here on planet Earth. And even though there are always a large number of major and minor days of significance for each of us, I believe my life contains four extra-ordinary days of beginning. By sharing my special days with you, perhaps it will be easier for you to pinpoint and acknowledge similar events and birth-days in your life that you might want to honor and commemorate.
Like it or not, most of us are familiar with the idea that much of life is a trade-off. Like to live in the city? Then you’ll likely have to put up with noise and people. Hate exercising? Then you may gain weight and lose muscle mass. Want to live in the country? Then you might have to drive miles to find a Starbucks for your morning latte. But even if you are aware of the trade-offs you’ve made in your life on a regular basis, you may not have considered them in terms of the “opportunity costs” involved. What I’ve recently discovered is that when faced with trade-offs, calculating what are called “opportunity costs” is a great way to stay true to your values and focused on the benefits of a simple and happy life.
“He who would travel happily must travel light.” ~Antoine de St. Exupery
After nearly a dozen overseas trips I’ve learned that you really don’t need to take as much stuff as you think you do. In so many ways, that also offers us all a lesson in rightsizing. Of course it is easier for guys because they can get away with a pair of jeans and a couple of t-shirts. But even though I’m responsible for toiletries and toothbrushes, I’ve learned that the penalty for lugging around a ton of stuff while trying to enjoy yourself is not worth the benefit of having it “just in case you need it.” And that made me think about all the other things I’ve tried to over-pack throughout the years, and a few things I’ve discovered about eliminating unnecessary clutter.
“We travel to grow up, wake up, and stay on our toes.” ~Robert Fuller
I am writing this blog post in anticipation of our coming 3+-week vacation to Europe. In fact, by the time this post goes live on the SMART Living website and you read it, I am actually on the other side of the globe from where I live. At the same time, thousands of people from around the world are descending upon my city for one of the biggest music festivals in the world—The Coachella. And even though that awesome event is in my own back yard, I’m choosing to travel to Prague and Croatia because it is something I’ve always wanted to do. So why do I and so many other people like to travel and are willing to spend the time, money and resources to do it? Here are some ideas I’ve uncovered that go into making travel an art we can all appreciate. [Read more…]
“My inner goddess is jumping up and down, clapping her hands like a five year old.”~ E. L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey
I haven’t read it—but 70 million other people have. Advertised as an erotic romance, Fifty Shades of Grey is currently the fastest selling paperback book of all time surpassing the Harry Potter series in sales. As a woman and a writer, the success and attention of this story has got my interest, even if the subject matter is beyond my usual genre. That, and a recent conversation with a girlfriend got me asking myself why so many of us crave passion and excitement in our lives—and then how we sometimes go about finding it. Believe it or not, I’m now convinced that this book’s success is another indication of why we sometimes over-consume, over-eat, and even why we over-complicate our lives in so many ways. [Read more…]
“We get too soon old and too late smart.” ~Pennsylvania Dutch proverb
I read many online blogs and a large portion of them are about minimalism and simple living. That’s wonderful because I believe there is richness to simple living that goes far beyond having less stuff. I also think that since I’ve been embracing it more and more, my life has become happier, less stressful and far more meaningful. But something I’ve noticed is that the vast majority of blogs about minimalism are written primarily by those in their twenties to thirties. And while I’m psyched to know that young adults are embracing the lifestyle, I also believe that maturity offers a perspective that should not be overlooked. In fact, it is often those who have lived through multiple choices and experiences that have the most to offer others. That’s why I thought a few perspectives from midlife should be included in any discussion about minimalism or simple living.
“…the archetypal energy of The Vampire has exploded into the consciousness of our current generation.”
I have been a fan of author Carolyn Myss since reading her first book Anatomy of the Spirit back in the mid-90s. Her clear, humorous, no nonsense style of communicating attracted me—but it is her constant reach for deeper levels of awareness and spirituality that makes me her student. This last week I listened to a recent lecture she offered on the Internet. During the talk Myss pointed out that the world we live in is both physically and spiritually “on fire,” and that one of the best ways to learn to navigate this new world was to learn how to use archetypes. Regardless of whether you’ve heard of Carolyn Myss before, or the “why” of archetypes, a couple of her ideas stuck out that I felt were worthy of discussion. The most important of those were how a couple of today’s common archetypes are a reflection of life in the 21st Century and what that means to you and me. [Read more…]
I’ve been interested in sustainability, minimalism and simple living for a long time now. But one topic I’ve seen very little written about is the impact that having children has on both the practice of minimalism and the environment. Like a big elephant in the room, this enormous, but highly emotional issue is almost completely ignored on most simple living blogs. Yet when you think about it, until we are willing to talk about it and examine it from a state of awareness and conscious choice, bringing kids into the world becomes just another cultural norm that the majority unconsciously accepts out of habit and societal pressure. For that reason alone, the big question about whether or not to have children (or add to an existing family) should be on every serious young minimalist’s list of important issues to decide.
A big part of living SMART 365 is recognizing and discovering new and beneficial ways to create a life of wellbeing and happiness. Like so many other things in life, the journey is not a destination—rather it is an ongoing process of growth, experience and expression. In some ways it is similar to something that occurs in the commercial real estate field in the U.S. What? That’s right, no matter how wonderful a property (or a life) has been in the past, there comes a time when it is necessary to “reposition” it in order to experience its highest and best use. Although human lives are far more complex, we can learn a few things about change, creativity and feasibility by taking a deeper look at the art of repositioning. [Read more…]