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!

 

 

 

Flipping pm to PL

My #1 December intention – – to flip from looking backward from a whackadoodle personal mythology (pm) to the present moment celebration of ground-breaking on my Personal Legend (PL).

You’d think it would have dawned on me pre-2017 that stories tagged to each member of & our family in general would naturally transcribe from clan lore to personal myth.  Nope – took me unawares, realizing I no longer had to hear a family member fling a comment to go to pieces.  The messages were recorded in my brain, often playing on a continual loop.

Mom & I first read about the power of the family myth back in the early 1990s.  Was it Nathaniel Branden or John Bradshaw or someone else?  Whichever author, he grabbed our attention – we read & discussed it together, seeing in our own experiences the impact of stories with the weight of truth, so potent that even people outside the family interpreted us in the light of the myths.

All families have some form of fables explaining foibles & quirks, but mine seems especially strong.  The tales are too numerous, too whackadoodle, too damaging to all to recount.  Best leave their roots lost in the far off mists of my family’s past.

As for me – let the trumpets sound that I could, finally, step away from the power of the family myth, seeing that the tales told laid things out in ways that transformed the unbearable into the acceptable.  Still, it was only this past summer that it hit me how tightly I still clung to my own personal myth, to hurtful fragments of stories told about me through the ages.  A shocker to realize that – at 65+ – in many ways,I still see myself as I’ve been portrayed for eons by a few.  Less, UN, Xed.  

My goal for the coming weeks is to close this Year of Rising Strong with a ROAR of accomplishment, directed at giving those debilitating stories the boot by living loud my Personal Legend, embracing & ensconcing it in the pride of place where once the personal myth held court.

Stepping past personal myth isn’t as easy as saying, “Now, my eyes are open.”  It would be easy if such tales are typically based largely on reason, on actual events.  They are not.  I have to make sense of the irrational & senseless, THEN leap past what I can understand & send the others packing.

Sure feels wonderful, having enough years under my belt that I can look back & see patterns that had been hidden from view because my heart hadn’t been tenderized enough to look with compassion rather than judgement, my brain was still counting up wrongs instead of seeing how others could think themselves in the right, my fingers were still too ready to point blame or curl up into a fist.

My personal myth spins a story of debility, but the record shows the opposite.  Portrays someone who doesn’t have a clue how to forge deep connections, but the record shows the opposite.  Tells the tale of a woman who is, above all, UNunlovable, untrustworthy, undistinguished –  but the record shows the opposite.

Fragments of each of each of those false fables – and others – remain embedded in my psyche, jagged pieces of emotional shrapnel.  At lease now I have the tools & understanding & will to dig each out.

Finally sidelined the family myth;  now it’s time to flip the still pesky personal myth into a great & glorious Personal Legend!

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.

COMPLETED – Word of the Week

My truth is that I was raised in a family where the word potential was honored.  Not completed.  I don’t know why.  Here is what I do know:

At one time, I would have said that the two smartest siblings in our family never fulfilled their potential.  But five years after Mom’s death, I came across information that dealt that long-held assumption a serious blow.  Oh, it does still look like neither Peter nor Mim fulfilled their potential to the degree others had hoped.  But maybe they weren’t the two smartest Lockhart kids.  Hmmm….

The first thing I came across was a copy of a letter Mom wrote to my middle brother’s high school principal explaining that while Peter – my oldest – worked hard for his good grades, easy-going Mike had a natural intelligence she couldn’t get him to recognize because he’d gotten the message that hard work = intelligent.  She talked about her frustration that Mike did himself in because he believed things picked up easily had zip value.

My 55-year old jaw dropped, reading that letter.  I’d been sold the same bill of damaged goods, only with me it was my older sister who worked hard for good grades, who gave the impression that knowledge acquired easily was piffle.

The folder that held the illuminating letter also included my sibs’ high school report cards.  Both did very well, mostly upper 80s, some low 90s.  But exceptional? No. It was a shock to my belief system to learn that neither had graduated with honors.

I bring up this ancient history as background on the word for the coming week – COMPLETED – and it’s funky place, or lack of place, in our family.

Having potential was honored in my family, NOT actually completing things.  So it seemed unusual to me that the two people I’ve admired since my college days (individually & as a couple, personally & professionally) above all others exemplify COMPLETED.

They have the discernment to know the difference between the many  things that catch their eye, the few that capture their interest, the one or two worth engaging their energies.  They’re energized when a worthy challenge presents itself (I am enervated).  They passed on to their children the value of picking goals carefully & following them through to completion.  In countless ways, they demonstrate that they value family faith friends over position prestige power.  They weigh carefully what they set out to do & complete what they start.

Completing what I start goes against my nurture, which makes life very difficult.  I was a lot like Mike – even when I achieved a big goal, my accomplishment didn’t seem like a big deal because it came so easily to me.  It’s HARD to shake off that self-denigrating response, even now.  But – finally – am DONE with it!  Was going to write that if a fairy appeared in front of me at this very second with the promise of granting one wish, it would be a two-parter:  to know what I truly want to do ~and~ to apply myself to complete it effectively & efficiently in a reasonable amount of time.  Forget the fairy – JUST MAKE IT SO!

As challenging as it is to be 65 & still fighting against bad info & wretched habits instilled from my youngest days & etched deeper over the years, am luckier than most people ~ ~ for some reason, through three mega moves (from Alden Road to Cherry Lane, from Cherry Lane to Woodland, from Woodland to Pheasant Run), Mom kept report cards that told an aha story, kept a letter that spoke revealing volumes.  Most people don’t get to revisit their origin story, let alone see how reality clashes with family myth.

The myth has been around far too long – time it’s banished for good!  Let COMPLETED be the magic word that gives it the boot, replacing it with a life that embraces what’s waited impatiently hopefully eagerly to BE.

 

11/27/17 ~ That was where I left this yesterday.  More needs to be shared.

It feels like we are plagued by a general acceptance that we gain core knowledges in our youth & early adulthood, the next bit of our life is about gaining competencies, followed by a period of mastering what we know, with the final portion of our earthly visit being a harvesting of what’s been learned & mastered, capped with a “life review” & appreciation of where we’ve been & are.

Not so fast.  Or so straightforward.

According to Wikipedia, lifelong learning is the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.”  The only part of that definition that I totally agree with is “ongoing.”  The rest may be true about accumulating KNOWLEDGE – facts & figures – but gaining deeper UNDERSTANDING is, in my experience, neither voluntary nor self-motivated.  A lot of my lifelong learning has come from lines in books, movies (“Instead, we should tell our children, ‘Be prepared to be surprised.‘ “), TV; from casual conversations with friends acquaintances strangers, an inadvertently overheard snatch of conversation at a local cafe; from something on  Radio Times or You Bet Your Garden or Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me.  Serendipitous more than strategic.

Learning from cassettes & cds was intentional on my part, but not on my mother’s, so hearing a life-shifting bit of wisdom from Stephen Covey as we drove down to DisneyWorld in November 1997 was neither voluntary nor self-motivated on her part.  She was stuck with me in a car driving down I-95, I believe through the Carolinas.  But one sentence from a cd rocked her world.

She was 87 years old.  Once heard processed embraced, Mom never turned back.

I am sure there were countless nuggets of fresh perspective & bright aha moments long before then in her life, but – per Mom – that one sentence heard on a long drive to a dream holiday brought them all together.

My version of  her “Come to Covey” moment was reading her letter to Dick Gladish about Mike.  Ten years after she described how she felt hearing those relatively few words from Stephen Covey, six after her death, I fully grasped how it felt to have all the little bits & pieces picked up before swiftly coalesce into a cohesive whole.

We don’t know where we’ll pick up the vital information that illuminates our understanding, stirs our compassion, fires up our resolve.  Mom was 87, I was 55.  For both of us, it wasn’t a single piece of aha info that brought understanding, but a crucial piece that ultimately sparked it.

Life is a puzzle, every moment a crucial piece; sometimes what’s first experienced as inconsequential can turn out to be the missing bit of sky that’s kept us from seeing the whole picture.

No one bit of our life is more important than any other – we learn more info over our youth & early adulthood, but we only begin to more fully understand as we trip ever upward in years.

 

 

The muck stops here!

If you live in or near or less than insanely far away from Pittsburgh & have family issues you’re grappling with, hie you up, down or over to the University of Pittsburgh on Friday, December 8 for Mark Wolynn’s workshop, It Didn’t Start With You – how inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle.

Mark Wolynn is a thought leader on inherited family trauma.  Just realized that his book was published the month before John Bradshaw died.  His books, especially On Family (1986),  had a profound impact on both myself & Mom.  From the time I read Mark Wolynn’s book, I knew it built on what I’d gleaned from Bradshaw – didn’t realize that Mark was picking up as Bradshaw left!

Both men worked with people struggling with people struggling with a wide range of psychological disorders.  John Bradshaw’s books provided clarity, providing the language to drape around experiences that had never made sense.  Mark Wolynn’s book was freeing – it liberated me &, in my eyes, everyone else!

Mark makes it clear that many of our most daunting issues are biologically based.  His book – and his workshop – provide the understanding insights tools to help folks like me face down & put to flight daunting demons that derailed our family.  Do what you can to make sure the muck stops HERE!

 December 9, 2017    University of Pittsburgh   9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.   $125 (a steal!)    CE: 6 hours (LSW/CLSW. LPC, LMFT, Psych)

 

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.