“I didn’t plan it & you didn’t plan it…”

First, Ron Culberson’s Do It Well. Make If Fun.  was the capstone of my decades-long quest to gain a sense of self, of alignment & equilibrium.  Then, Mel Robbins 5-Second Rule kicked off my current quest, to DO what calls to be done.  Followed by Jim Stovall & Ray Hull’s The Art of Learning, which put structure around that intention, provided the mechanics needed to make things so.  And now, it’s Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s What Will People Say About You When You Are Gone? that’s addressing directly the myriad of questions that sprang from reading the others!

This chain of reading is too effective, too targeted to be mere coincidence.  Reminds me of what my very UNreligiousy (but deeply spiritual) John said about the two of us – “I didn’t plan this & you didn’t plan this BUT Someone planned it!”  In a similar vein, SOMEONE put together this reading list!

Yes, it is a matter of attention that our finances are on particularly low ebb.  And we appreciate that friends & pleasant acquaintances fret over our prospects.  To them, we seem unreasonable in our belief that we are on a path of purpose laid out by Powers beyond our trifling understanding.

Writing in a Facebook posting, doing my weebly best to explain, I noted  – “hearing a friend tsk tsk that better some income in a field outside my interest than no money at all, am realizing two things: 1) at 65, with a stellar but ancient resume & no updated computer skills (and a gammy leg that rules out wawa or walmart), i’m overqualified, under-credentialed & aged out for even temp positions; 2) i agree with red stevens in “the ultimate gift” – losing everything can be a great starting place. we value the work we do, even if others don’t. preventive care is rarely given the value of corrective or maintenance. the work we’re doing makes a difference. valuing it means honoring the path that’s been set before us.”

Wrote that this past Saturday.  Then last night, my jaw dropped reading Rabbi Cohen sum up my verbose point in one sentence:  Australian palliative nurse Bonnie Ware notes that the most common regret at the end of one’s life is wishing that “I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Amen & hallelujah!

A few pages further, three more gems spoke to my heart & laid out my reason for living:

  • Marc Angel, in his book Losing the Rat Race, Winning at Life, writes:  “We human beings are placed on earth to attain transcendent treasures – wisdom, love, spiritual insight, moral courage.  If we can keep our lives focused on these goals and if we can direct our lives according to these ideals – then we ‘win’ at life.  But if we come to ascribe greater value to mundane attainments – wealth, power, fame – then we may find ourselves having accumulated things that are ultimately of little worth.  Winning at life means keeping focused on what is truly important and not getting sidetracked by external glitz.  Winning is not a one-time event, but an ongoing way of life.

 

  • Abraham Lincoln said, “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true; I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light I have.”

 

  • How can you harness the gift of life for maximal impact and fulfillment?  You can begin by leading your life as a reflection of your innermost values.  The only way to accomplish this goal is not to wait for external stimuli to jolt you into action but to cultivate an ongoing mechanism to keep your ideal self front and center.

 

Again – amen & hallelujah!

Every position I’ve held – – from teaching at a small parochial school to working for US HealthCare ~ Prudential HealthCare ~ BISYS Financial Services to teaching at-risk high school students with guns in their car glove compartments & shivs concealed in the shoes – – was preparation for our NOW.  That doesn’t make sense to a lot of people.  They don’t get it.  We do.  We know that John didn’t plan this & I didn’t plan this BUT Someone planned it.  No more to say.

 

 

The Almighty invests all of us with the spirit & strength each day to harness this inner power.  The question is whether we cherish the gift of free choice to express our deepest values or live on cruise control and make decisions out of convenience and not conviction.

I’m reminded of the story in Ah, but Your Land Is Beautiful by South African writer, Alan Paton.  He tells of a man who died and came before God.  “Where are your wounds?’ asks God.  “I have none,” said the man.  “Why,” responds God, “Was there nothing worth fighting for?”  – – –  DEEV – to me, giving a fair shake to all ages, in all stages is worth the good fight!

At every moment of our lives, whether young or old, we’re called to be our own very best.  We’re charged with living life with passion and purpose.  The world is watching.  If we choose courageously and optimize our opportunities, we’ll know that we gave of our gifts, touched the world, and lived our lives in a way that we’ll be remembered in blessed memory.

In quoting his friend, Senator Joseph Lieberman – “When I decide a course of action, it is not for fear of failure.  If I lose because I stood for my beliefs, I will always be at peace.  I never want to be remembered for playing life safe.  I want to be remembered for doing what was right.”

The longest distance in life is between our heads and our hearts.  Spiritual success requires developing the training to transform our intentions into reality.  We all experience flashes of inspiration when we awake from our spiritual slumber.  In those moments, we embrace a seriousness of purpose & pledge to truly devote ourselves to our deepest values.  Yet all to often, our motivation is short-lived.  Soon enough, we’re back to old habits.

There is no shortage of people who aspire to growth & greatness.  Life is filled with unfulfilled dreams & unrealized potential.  As Henry David Thoreau reflected, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”  You’re reading this book because…  you want to ALIGN (my CAPS) your body and soul and lead life with urgency and a higher purpose.  You have a song within you to sing.

All the good intentions in the world won’t translate into action if we don’t pause to reflect on our life direction and purpose.  If we don’t, it could turn out that all of our investments of time, money, love, and talents were for naught.

 

 

 

My thanks to Jim Stovall for the ultimate gift

Not for the book he wrote nor for the movie it inspired.  It was through something eles that Jim Stovall helped drape language over this second quest on which I’m embarked.

My first quest was one to find a sense of alignment, of balance & equanimity.  A quest to find my own true self, buried under layers of distraction, misunderstood messages & misguidance.

When I started, at 24, my goal was to empower my inner swan to dive down down down through the depths of a pond to the very bottom, to connect with its riches & discover my basic self, then return safely to the surface (no small task, given a swan’t buoyancy).  When that quest came to a close in July, the image my 65-year old self held was more of a beautiful stool made of precious wood – mahogany or cherry – painted over many times, frequently with beautiful touches, that’s been stripped down & restored to its original appearance.

By the end of this past summer, it was clear the first quest was finally over -and- that I’d struck out on a new – – but what it was, where it was meant to lead, was outside my ken.

Until reading Jim Stovall’s portion of The Art of Learning.  Ray Hull co-authored & contributed wonderful chapters, but Jim’s chapters hit home.  Especially Chapter Seven – Living to Learn:

The highest utilization of learning is to apply knowledge & wisdom in our lives in productive ways.”  Amen & hallelujah!  The goal of learning is its application, not accumulation.  Revolutionary thought!

“Productivity is the pursuit of creating more efficiency & results in all that we do…”

“If we are going to understand & apply our learning in productive ways that will make a true difference, we must master motivation, communication, and implementation.”

“All learning is valid & legitimate, but some learning is more productive given that we all have individual goals, dreams, and aspirations.”

Just because I can memorize information & repeat it doesn’t really mean that I’ve really learned it.

“In order to determine what type of learning is most productive (for us), we must understand where we are trying to go & what goals we want to reach.”

“Motivation is the key to learning, and learning is the key to staying motivated.”

“Collaboration is (a) key to success.”

“Just because something motivates me, it doesn’t mean that it motivates anyone else.”

“Assuming you understand other people without taking the time and effort to learn about them is a form of prejudice.  Prejudice is a lazy exercise.”

“Be careful what we learn & who we learn it from.”  

“The Internet is an amazing learning & communication tool, but we must be able to discern the validity & accuracy of what we are learning.”

“People communicate most effectively in different ways.  The best communication is two-way communication – open, consistent, free-flowing.”

Jim tells the story about a resort hotel where he stayed frequently;  they realized that since Jim is blind, a flashing light on his phone wouldn’t alert him to messages – so they wrote the messages out on paper & slipped them under his door.  It showed while they realized  he needed a solution to a basic problem, their response wasn’t a helpful answer!

Never assume that the person you’re talking to has correctly processed your intended message.  “The most powerful message you can ask is, ‘What do you understand?”

“Unless we apply that which we learned in the real world, we can never make the impact that we are intended to make throughout our lives.”

“Implementing, sharing & teaching that which we have learned does not diminish us.”

“If you share information, knowledge, or wisdom with others, they will have more, and you will find yourself elevated in every way.”

“Constantly revisit the books and other learning resources that have impacted you the most.  No matter how many times you have reviewed a great book, you will find hidden treasures when you read it again.” 

“Memory is like a muscle.  You either use it or lose it.”

“People in their 80s, 90s, or even over 100 who continue to learn stay vital, alert, and relevant.”

“Those people who stop learning and pursuing knowledge begin to waste away both mentally and physically.”

“(Anything) can be valid learning tools at the right time and in the right proportion.”

Jim Stovall co-founded the Narrative Television Network, designed for people with vision impairments with popular with sighted people, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure sign something monumental happened

One of the many whacky things that’s held me back throughout my life happens along with any monumental shift for the better – the Basement Boys respond set about to destabilize my foundation.  Am looking back at November in horror at the flock of core things ignored, left unattended.  The Boys hate well-grounded, wise forward motion & are known to do all they can to take progress off track.

That’s ok, Boys – can see your crafty hand at work.  Yeah, there were  a lot of ways you blew November for me, but not as many as before & realized it a lot faster.  No time to dwell on it – getting in a dither over your nasty work only kept me off track.

See ya & ta ta!  Back to the rituals & techniques, schedules & daily calendaring that reset me on the current path forward!

Stepping past brazenly Tech Timid

This summer, I was determined that by 12/31/17, I’d move from technically timid to at least  technically okay, preferably technically competent.  Nailing tech basics was a large part of Rising Strong 2017.  Here it is, early December & I am still a relative tech newbie.  Yet, strangely, it doesn’t feel like a loss.

Back in the day, I knew the ins & outs of word processing.  Twenty years ago, I had Prudential’s exceptional IT guys at my beck & call.  But that’s a kazillion years ago in computer terms.

Instead of being discouraged, I feel enlightened.  First off, it’s clear I am not someone who can easily pick up skills from books or on-line tutorials ~ without a living, breathing human next to me, giving life to directions, I flounder.  And it turned out that working with brilliant young friends as tutors was a wash-out,  always a couple levels above where I needed them to be;  trying to get them to understand what I meant by BASIC core skills was like trying to describe the wetness of water to a fish.

If I lived in NYC or could afford the fairly inexpensive commute up on NJ Transit, could take weekly classes at Senior Planet.  If Philadelphia had an equivalent to Senior Planet, I could afford the $2 round-trip senior fare on SEPTA to take free classes – there isn’t.  If I could ante up for a tutor who specializes in the once-proficient, now out-of-her-depth computer user, would be on it in a heart beat.  If I could cough up the moola for someone to design a decent blog & Facebook page, I’d be all over it.  If I had the cash, I’d hire a business coach to turn ideas like Cyber Access for the Technically Timid (CATT) into profitable realities that could fund the 2018 workshops & conferences that beckon.

The past five months showed me that as much as I want to make a go of CATT & other endeavors, there is just so much I can do on my own, having the sort of brain that I have.  It is not a weakness, just a reality.  Have always been a right brainer, more creative than technological.  It wasn’t my perception of being a dunce that made me struggle with math – mathematics truly were my bete noir.  It didn’t help that in Algebra, I kept getting the right answers without working through the proper formulas.

My Algebra experience sums up a lot of the past 65 years – getting right answers but unable to explain the how, which has proven a constant source of irritation to key others.  I’m an ultimate product gal in a world focused on process.

If you had described to me in January 2017 where I am today, it would have sounded like a mega failure.  But it turns out NOT achieving core goals has been a major opportunity to face facts, without judgement.  One fact is incredibly clear.

The adage that it takes money to make money is true.

It takes money to brush up my computer skills to where they were when I first had the brainstorm that became Cyber Access for the Technically Timid – helping older friends access the internet, use word processing, write blogs, build their circle of friends through social media, all without them having to touch a keyboard.

It takes money to bring on a business coach to help me see how to take Values Vision Dreams from a rough prototype to a tool that helps oldsters elders ancients connect with their present-day values, from there to crafting a here & now vision statement, and finally to identifying/pursing dreams.

It takes money to get guidance on how to become a dream manager for olders.

It takes A LOT of money to make the above accessible in some form to mature adults, their families & care partners of all income levels, to those who are champs at being online & those who shut down just hearing the word “keyboard” (or think someone’s talking about a piano).

Money is something I do not have.  This year.  I just came across a check from last December from our sustaining client – over $2,000.  It brought home how different 2016 was from 2017.  Over two months, we went from three clients to none.  Our core client & dear friend was reunited with her O Best Beloved in January, after too many years as a widow.  We rejoiced for her, but her passing gave us pause.  While Anne’s family believed we were invaluable to her remarkable level of LIVING, despite zeroing in on 100 & having dementia, John & I understand – preventive services are always a hard sell.

Yes, it takes money to make money.  But it takes creativity & determination & focused energies to make a difference.  And those we have in plentiful supply.

So, this is me throwing down the gauntlet to my Tech Timid present moment self – how much improvement can I rack up between 12/03/17 & 12/31/17?   I’ve been a flub this year at making money & made a pretty poor showing at attracting it – let’s see how far I can go with the bounty of powerful intangibles at my fingertips!

The Art of Learning – a core life lesson delayed

Delayed, not deferred.  To defer is to consciously delay something, while delay can be done unknowingly, unintentionally by someone or  ~by~ circumstances ~by~ events ~by~ others.

Was my education in the mechanics of learning delayed due to a person(s) or circumstances? Who knows?  Who cares?  The important thing to KNOW is that I have been keenly aware for many decades of its lack in my life.

Turns out, looking back, that no one in our family knew how to learn, a realization that only just hit me.  A thunderbolt of new awareness!  I always thought that Mim aced it, but it strikes me that she was perhaps the worst learner of the lot of us Lockharts.  Because learning isn’t just accumulating & remembering knowledge, something at which she was nimble to my seriously challenged.  The heart – the whole reason for gathering knowledge in the first place – is applying what we have learned to our lives.

Without that ultimate step, we are informed but not learned.

What hilarious irony that – up to this very moment – I’ve thought of Mim as being a master learner & myself a learning flub-a-dub.  Up to two minutes ago, I would described myself as a terrible learner, unable to clearly cite what I’ve read, recall who wrote or said it, in what book dvd magazine I came across it.  What a crock!

My life reveals what my heart denies – I love to learn, go out of my way to gain new knowledge & fresh perspectives, then apply them to my every moment.

That is HUGE!  Let there be a cacophony of bells & whistles of wondrous AH HAs, because at this moment, on this day, I get that while we can be seriously held back by what we don’t know, we are just as restrained by what we perceive to be limitations that just aren’t so.  I thought myself to be inept at learning & made that falsity my truth.

Goose Bump Moment:  This aha moment was brought to me by my second viewing in 24 hours of THE ULTIMATE GIFT, researching the ELIM Media Opportunity Group, which led me to reseaching The Ultimate… series & their author, Jim Stovall, which brought me to his book, The Art of Learning, which got me thinking about a sentence that opens its blurb – “The top achievers learn the most and apply what they learn; therefore, there is no skill, information, or lesson more vital than learning how to learn.”, that got me thinking about how many young people Mim taught the basics of how to learn, about what a great learner my sister was & what a wash-out I am, which made me stop in my tracks to question that assumption since it was clear that Mim was MASSIVELY challenged to apply to every moment the very things she’d supposedly learned, while I tend to apply everything that I’ve picked up from my reading watching listening experiencing.

Big goose bumpy drum roll – – I am a far different person writing this sentence than the one who tip tapped “The Art of Learning – a core life lesson delayed.”

It was a lesson delayed in spite of always longing to master the mechanics of learning.  It’s why the Front Room & The Retreat, the living room & den, even the kitchen & basement have shelves loaded with books books books.  Books I believed – until  Jane Kerschner set me right in 2016 – that I’d read inadequately compared to how Mim would have.  Mim is also at the root of my deeply entrenched belief that I stink at conversation.  Oh, I can gab with the best of them.  But conversation is a grace I’ve felt eluded me.

Oscar Wilde said, “Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.”  Because I believed myself a wash out at learning, I had zip confidence in my ability to converse with others.  Every conversation started with a voice in back of my head saying, “You’ll never be as good as Mim or John or Mom at this.”  DUH!  Get over yourself – myself!

It’s true that I’m currently a flub-a-dub at what my sister so magnificently aced – the mechanics of learning.  But Mim seemed to fail to grasp what I’ve always held lightly in my hands – the reason for learning: to live better, fully, joyfully…  & to help others do the same.

One lesson that was never delayed, that I knew from the cradle – the Art of Living.  And for that, this newbie learner of the mechanics of learning says a resounding THANK YOU! to a great glorious generous (& infinitely patient) Universe!

 

 

 

Into the wilderness – Mindwalker1910

Neither Mom nor I gave a 2nd thought to her going down to DisneyWorld in 1997 – at 87, she was as eager to hit the road as ever.  It would be a life-changing trip, the long drive on which she first heard Stephen Covey, Marianne Williamson, John Bradshaw as I intermingled her beloved music cds with a carefully curated selection of personal development gurus.

It was also an illuminating trip for me, realizing that its success was rooted in letting Mom’s body clock set our schedule.  Putting her first worked for both of us, maximizing the pleasure we both took over our travels.  It was why, to her great surprise, she felt stronger, healthier when we returned home after almost two weeks away.

Twenty years since I fulfilled Mom’s dream of visiting EPCOT & she fulfilled one of mine by gaining the ability to detach from a consuming moment, to LIVE the truth gleaned from Viktor Frankl, learned through Stephen Covey – that between stimulus & response is the moment when we can choose our response.  And it all started with going into the wilderness.

Subj: into the Wilderness
Date: Mon Nov 6 23:12:48 EST 2000 

It is a relatively short hop from Jacksonville to Orlando, three hours at the most as I recall. As we got closer and closer to DisneyWorld, it seemed somehow more and more incredible that we were there.

I remember Elsa turning off the interstate and driving past lots of trees – as I remember it, it was sort of like the Pine Barrens. It felt like Florida because it felt like going to the shore.

The car was headed toward the sort of toll booths that welcome visitors to DisneyWorld. Except we were not visitors at DisneyWorld ~ we were going to be residents. 

Elsa took a road that pulled to the right and followed the signs. I recall the thrill I felt when we saw the sort of wooden twiggish sign that announced “Wilderness Lodge.” We drove down the road and finally there it was up ahead, a place that looked exactly like … well, exactly like a wilderness lodge.  It looked huge and like it was timbered and built with beautiful boulders and stones.

We parked the car out front, handed the keys over to a young man in a “ranger” outfit, saw our bags and our bag of stuffies whisked inside. We walked in the big doors and into the lobby and looked up and up and up. It was magnificent.

It looked just like one of those great lodges I have read about in National Geographic, except it was HUGE.   Yet,somehow, it did not seem huge.  It seemed cozy. 

We checked in and Elsa left me settled into one of the big chairs that reminded me of my big chair in our living room and went upstairs with another one of the “ranger” staff members. When she came back 15 minutes later, she practically bounced off the elevator. 

It seems that the “ranger” took her to our room – about as far from the elevator as you could get. The first thing she did was ask him what she needed to do to arrange a wheel chair for use during our stay. “Why?,” he wanted to know. 

She explained that her 87-year old mother would be too tuckered out after doing the walk to get to anything else. He was on the phone in a flash and before Elsa knew it, our things were bundled back on the cart and redeposited in a room on the same floor, but right around the corner from the elevators. 

Now, THAT is service.

The thing that amazed me with Wilderness Lodge from our very first glimpse was how it really did feel far away from everything. When we got off the elevator at our floor and looked out windows at the end of the hall and across from the elevator, all we could see were trees. All we could see from the balcony of our room was trees. It was more than I ever could have dreamed. 

Elsa got our bags unpacked, the stuffies spread out over the armoire – around the TV and on top and all over the place – and tucked me in for a nap, then headed out to check out the Magic Kingdom. 

One of the things that made the trip work so well was how many times we were together yet on our own.

Elsa glowed when she came back. I had awakened some time before and was just having a marvelous time, sitting out on our balcony, soaking in the view. She told me about taking pictures of elmo and three of the four Sissettes* – Sissy, Baby Girl (Kelly Zeigler’s) and Sissette (Brenda’s) in front of the Magic Kingdom and how a man asked if she would like to have her picture taken with them. She thought his offer was a hoot (and, no, she did not take him up on it).        *Erin’s Stephie could not make it

Back in our room, watching as Elsa put the minkies back with the rest of the stuffies, I sensed something was not right. Picking up on my sense of foreboding, she did a head count and realized that Skylar, the almost life-size skunk puppet that Kelly found for John, was nowhere to be found! She looked high and low, no sign of Sky. 

The last time she remembered seeing him was at the car, perched atop the baggage on the luggage cart. 

Our hearts sank. Not only were we concerned to have lost him, we were trying to figure out what to tell John. 

On our way to supper – we stayed close to home, choosing to eat at the Lodge that night – Elsa swung past the front desk and filled out a missing item report. I remember what she wrote – “Large skunk puppet; very friendly and always ready for a good time.” We had a sort of quiet supper, a combination of excitement and concern. 

Afterwards, we soaked in the incredible beauty of the lobby, with its massive stone fireplace and chimney that reached up and up and up. We walked past the “mountain spring-fed” pool (the “mountain spring” started in the lobby and meandered its way along until it tumbled over a waterfall into the pool), out to the dock that lead to the boat that would take us the next day to the Magic Kingdom. 

Standing there on the dock in the comfortably cool night air, with the lagoon stretched out in front of us and the magnificent lodge in back of us, we seemed a hundred miles away from civilization. It was the perfect place for us to stay and it is a perfect memory, three years later. 

I expected that our digs for our stay would look sort of like a mountain lodge and that I’d feel sort of happy to be there. There was nothing sort of about it – it was wonderful, through and through.

As we looked around at the trees and water, we talked about Skylar – our storyline (which would continue and be embellished on for the rest of our stay) was that he had been overcome with the sense of the place as soon as he had clapped eyes on the lodge. Far from being lost, we figured, his wild side had overcome him and he had made a break for it when none of us were looking. We imagined him in the woods, having a high old time. The stories of Skylar’s exploits grew taller and taller as our stay went on – the next Disney production, Skylar in the Wilderness.

It is so lovely to go off to bed with a smile on my face and lovely, lovely memories playing tag between my head and heart. Am up the wooden hill. 

Love to one and all – Skylar’s Grammie

from deev – we ultimately did reconnect with skylar, on the last day of our visit.  returning from our afternoon outing, asking us to check, one of the “rangers” informed us the concierge had something for us.  will always remember the look on the young woman’s face as she reunited us with our wandering boy.

Our Thanksgiving present – recipe for happiness

Everyone should read this month’s National Geographic cover story, The Search for Happiness.  Especially if you are a USA American.  Canadian Americans:   you can go back to whatever you were doing, having celebrated Thanksgiving last month, unjumbled with Christmas;  you’re the 6th happiest country on our planet.  If you live in the Lower 48, read on – we rank 14th.

YOUCH!  How did we tumble eleven places in one decade – in 2007, we rang in at #3.

Our Thanksgiving present to one & all – from the two of us & the Universe – are ways that we, as individuals, can infuse our lives with the qualities that support happiness:  personal & institutional caring, nurturing our freedom – and others, cultivating multi-levels of generosity, being honest & expecting honesty from others, taking care of our health & our wealth, developing strong governance within our families communities nation.

In your everyday actions, think NORWAY.  Norway leap frogged fron #4 on the 2016 World Happiness Report to #1 this year.

Most Americans – including me – are unaware that Norway is a major oil producing nation.  Probably because it doesn’t flaunt the wealth it’s earned over the past 20 years pumping oil on its North Sea rigs.  Instead, the bulk of monies earned are tucked into what has become the world’s biggest wealth fund.  Which illustrates one reason Norway is #1 to our #14 – they are excellent money managers with an eye on the distant future instead of the immediate present.  And it speaks volumes that the government is looking to – ironically – divest its fund of its oil stocks (it already shed its coal holdings) to ensure better stability.  It plays the long game, we play the short.

Start acting more like Norway.  Save more & save for the long haul.  Step as far away from immediate gratification as possible.  Model for your loved ones the power of moderation & forethought.

Two of our dearest friends are exemplars of this – after their fortunes changed in mid-life, they could have purchased a bigger home on the fashionable side of their wonderful city, but it never entered their mind.  Their house is large enough to welcome all their children & sleeping-bagged grands, is near longtime friends, is home.  They entertain there more than they go out, are right now busy planning one of the year’s highlights – their annual caroling party.  They are two of the hardest working people I know, highly ambitious & keenly competitive.  They love their work, are respected by their colleagues & associates, find ways to expand their work into other areas & are exceptional mentors.  They frequently visit far-flung children & often have the delight of welcoming them home for extended stays.  For many years, their annual trip to an exotic location has doubled as work (a professional conference) & an opportunity to bring four generations – their parents, their children, grandchildren, nieces & nephews – for two weeks of family-centered connections.  They can afford it because they’ve always carefully cultivated their money time energies, from newly weds to doting grands.  They have “good bones” to pass along – –  he has a lot of Norwegian in him, she has a lot of Swede (tied with Australia for #10) – – and have taught their children, model for all of us, how to cultivate grow build your natural assets.

My greatest take-away from 2017 is the realization that the two of us are all about cultivating happiness.  Reading the National Geographic article woke me up to the realization that an individual can take the very qualities that make the Top Ten so successful at cultivating joy in the everyday & make those qualities a more conscious part of our lives.

How can I be more Norway, less USA?

The holiday season is an excellent place to start nurturing greater caring (including self care), helping bolster the freedom of people who feel isolated & restricted, being generous with my time & energies even when money is scarce, expecting honesty from others & demanding it from myself, taking better care of my health & spending/investing wisely, discussing with John what constitutes “good governance” in our lives.

Moving toward the new year, what can we do individually & as a couple to develop new relationships & deepen ones we already have, what we can do to cultivate trust, how would we describe a life that’s right for us – together & separate?

Our Thanksgiving gift to y’all is a layup to help you score a slam dunk 2018 – focus on happiness.  Talk to your friends, family, nearest & dearest about the qualities that make a happy nation, which also make for happy individuals.  How can you ally with others in your mutual efforts to move your personal ranking closer to #1?  What can you do to make your communities happier places for everyone?

Good Dane that he is, Meik Wiking congratulated his neighboring country on nabbing the #1 ranking –  “Good for them. I don’t think Denmark has a monopoly on happiness.  What works in the Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding in the common good.

Praise from the master is praise indeed – Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen (it was not part of the Happiness Report) & author of the best seller, The Little Book of Hygge,  hits the nail on the head.  What leads to happiness, as a nation, as individuals?

A sense of community and understanding in the common good.  Nail those & the rest fall into place.