Category Archives: Live Fully

Why You Should Encourage Rebelliousness in Your Child . . . and in Yourself

                   In the Old Testament story, God pointed out the one forbidden thing that man can’t have: the tree of knowledge.  God must have known very well that man was going to eat the forbidden fruit.  But it was by doing that that man became the initiator of his own life.  Life really began with that act of disobedience.

                                                                                                                     Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

When author Barbara Kingsolver’s daughter was going through a particularly unruly period, seemingly doing everything she could to disobey her mother, Kingsolver called a close friend to lament her child’s behavior and to receive a bit of commiseration.  Instead, her friend paused and then expressed a different concern regarding her own daughter.  “Amanda never went through that,” she said.  “I worry about her.  She works so hard to please everybody.  I’m afraid she’ll never know how to please herself.”  Hearing this Kingsolver said, “a landmine exploded in the back of my consciousness.  My child was becoming all I ever wanted.”*

How much independence, how much self-awareness and self-actualization do we crush in our children, in our quest to make them mind and behave like proper, obedient citizens?  I’m not encouraging permitting spoiled, bratty behavior.  But when guiding our children we need to be cognizant of where we are guiding them to, and who we want them to be when we get there.  We want our children to have proper manners and to know the rules.  And we want these children to have the ability and the discretion to break those same rules and make their own when necessary and appropriate.  It’s our job to teach them the wisdom to know when to do this, and that’s an ongoing lesson for both parent and child.  And it’s a tough one.  Why?  Because so many of us are still struggling with that fear of rebellion in our own lives.

Joseph Campbell wrote that the majority of his friends were living “waste land” lives, explaining that they had reached “the point of making the decision whether they’re going to follow the way of their own zeal—the star that’s dawned for them—or do what daddy and mother and friends want them to do . . . and they are just baffled.” He was in his seventies when he wrote this.  I don’t think his friends were confused teens.

It is worth taking the time, on a daily basis, to be cognizant of the “why” behind our actions, and to question whether or not we’ve ever questioned—no, challenged—this why.  We spend much of our time enslaved by rules and patterns that we aren’t aware we are obeying.  If you are present and aware and decide a that a recurring choice, whether small, like a daily task or habit, or big, like continuing a career, is the correct decision based on your own rules and self-belief, then continue on that path.  If you are doing it because you feel you should or that if you don’t you will disappoint those you love, then rebel.  The price you pay otherwise is too high.  And respect your children and those you love when they make same choices for themselves.


*Kingsolver, Barbara, “Civil Disobedience at Breakfast”, High Tide in Tucson. New York: HarperPerrennial (1996).

Everything You Need to Know About Being Happy in Under 800 Words.

The Big Ones: 

Do Meaningful Things.  Similarly to altruism, people who feel they are providing something meaningful to the world are happier.  If you’re work doesn’t provide this, find another way to follow your bliss and create something of value.

Experience New Things.  Repetition breeds boredom.  Growth comes when we step out of our comfort zone, and scary and exhilarating are two sides of the same coin.  If you find your self in a rut, travel somewhere new, take a salsa class, or recite at a poetry jam.  If you are interested in something AND it scares you, that’s the direction to go.

Friends and Family.  People with strong community and tribal connections are happier people.  Loneliness is sad.  Make the effort to stay in touch, and make it in person.  Schedule a coffee date with a friend, or a jog, or a volunteer project.  Texting and Facebook don’t count.

Be Grateful/Appreciate What You Have.  Those who practice (yes it takes practice) gratitude by meditation, journaling, prayer, reflection, etc. exercise more, are sick less, are more optimistic, and experience higher levels of love and joy.  If you’re reading this, your life rocks.  Take time to remember why. 

Give your time.   Doing something altruistic, however small, allows us to step away from our own problems, to empathize with others, and to contribute in ways that make us feel good.  Pick a big project and/or charity, but don’t forget the small things: a compliment, an extra tip, or holding the door for someone.

Know that Bad Times Bring Happiness, Too.  Unless you have experienced unpleasant things, you will not be able to recognize good things when you encounter them.  Happiness is itself partly unpleasant.  This is a necessary Truth about happiness. 

The Day to Day:

Rise with The Sun.  Sun exposure increases vitamin D production and fights cancer and other diseases.  Rising with the sun improves mood throughout the day and helps balance our circadian rhythms.  When we are in sync we are happier.

Get Dirty.  Soil contains special mycobacterium that release serotonin upon skin contact.  Every time you work in your garden or flower bed you are sending happy chemicals to your brain.

Find More Free Time.  In our culture we are consumed by activities and obligations.  Enjoy a cheat day: pick a day in the middle of the week when you skip out on your normal obligations and treat it like the weekend.  It’s more delicious when everyone is working and you are driving to the beach or napping in the park.

Crank Up the Music.  Music causes the brain to pump out dopamine.  There’s a reason you feel such pleasure when you put on your headphones and turn up the volume.  Take some time to listen, and to listen only.  Don’t be distracted by washing the dishes at the same time.

Stay Hydrated.  Dehydration makes us cranky.  We are often thirsty and confuse it with hunger and we then snack on the wrong foods causing insulin spikes and subsequent mood swings.  Keep a big glass of water handy and sip often. 

Play.  Get in shape doing something you enjoy.  Join a flag football or soccer team.   Play tag with your kids. There’s no camaraderie or joy on the treadmill.  The brain responds to both the physical movement and the tribal connection. 

Spend Time Around or in Water.  Oceans, lakes, rivers: anything wet and blue.  Water releases dopamine, oxycotin and endorphins, the trifecta of a naturally happy brain.

Go Screenless or Reduce Screen Brightness.  Screens screw with our moods, productivity and sleep.  Lack of sleep makes us cranky, fat and unhealthy.  Download a free program such as F.Lux which reduces screen brightness to match the sunset of your location.  This helps prevent your brain from thinking its daytime just because you are watching Netflix at 10:00 p.m.  You’ll fall asleep faster, sleep better, and be happier in the morning.  If you can shut off the screen a minimum of an hour before hitting bed, even better.

Eat Chocolate.  Chocolate contains valeric acid, a relaxant and tranquilizer that slows down brain waves and helps us feel calmer.  Chocolate: is there anything it can’t do?

Have a glass of wine (or liquor, or beer).  But no more than two a day.  Casual drinkers have less cardiovascular disease and less cancer than abstainers and are less uptight and anxious.  They decompress better.  People with addictive behaviors: skip this one. 

Want proof?  Email me and I can link you to the studies or other evidence supporting any or all of the above.  But if you’re busy you can take my word for it, I promise.

My happiness list was compiled from the following sources:

 Outside Magazine, January 2013 issue

Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude can make you Happier by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D (2007)

The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Happiness by Mark Rowlands (2010)


Happy! Directed by Roko Belic, Wadi Rum Films

Living the Japanese Art of Shibumi

After reviewing Leo Babauta’s recommended fiction reading list at, I read Travanian’s spy thriller, Shibumi.  Although a fun read, I was most struck by the novel’s treatment of the Japanese concept of shibumi and how we all, in our hectic busy lives, could benefit from practicing this art a bit more.

 Wikipedia defines shibumi as a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty.  The person of shibusa* modesty exalts excellence by taking time to learn, watch, read, understand, develop and think, merging these actions into an understatement and silence concerning oneself. 

In the novel, Trevanian describes the concept further, in more poetic detail.  He writes:

 Shibumi is a statement so correct it does not have to be bold; so poignant it doesn’t have to be pretty, so true it doesn’t have to be real.  Shibumi is understanding rather than knowledge.  Shibumi is eloquent silence.  In demeanor, it is modesty without pudency.**  In art, it is eloquent simplicity, articulate brevity.  In philosophy, it is spiritual tranquility that is not passive; it is being without the angst of becoming.  In a personality, it is authority without domination.  One does not achieve shibumi, one discovers it.  One must pass through knowledge and arrive at simplicity.

 In our age of polarization and distraction the stillness, receptiveness and tranquility that the concept of Shibumi evokes is more than attractive, it is necessary to rebalance our inner lives and to make space for growth.  Today, and every day, try to find a moment to be still and quiet in order to reflect and to listen.  The world will speak to you and whether what you hear is humble or awe-inspiring, you will be better and happier for having listened.


 * the adjective form of the word.

** pudency is defined as feeling ashamed.

Sacred for the Secular

Religion and I have had a spotty past.  I loved the bible stories my mother read to me as a child (slingshots killing giants!) much the same way I enjoyed the Greek myths.  But as I became old enough to understand the fire and brimstone rhetoric coming from the pulpit, religion became for me nothing more than a constant fear that I and everyone I loved was going to burn in Hell for eternity.  By the time I was twelve, my parents had had enough and we stopped going to church at all.

My mistake was throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.  I don’t participate in any particular religion or dogma, but I have opened myself to a respect for—and a journey to—the infinite, the unknown and the sacred.

What makes something sacred?  For me, it is something—whether a location, an experience or an event—that touches us in a deep place, that quiet, illusive place that gives us an inkling of timelessness, of connectiveness, of awe, of history running backward and forward in an endless circle and lets us know we are part of it and it part of us.  We are it.  The sacred allows us to unfold to that innate awareness of the existence of something bigger than us, something more colorful, more warm and more loving that we can describe with language.  When we experience the sacred, we feel as if prior to the experience we have been walking around with blinders on, seeing only one dimension of a multidimensional world.

I experienced this feeling in Peru standing at Machu Pichu and while looking down on the Nasca Lines.  I experience this feeling at the foot of the 400 year old oak trees in the nature reserve near my home.  I experience this watching Louis Swartzman’s brilliant slow motion film honoring flowers and pollinators (See the link below—it’s worth five minutes of your time).  The experience of the sacred is something my secular mind denied me for years.  But experiences outside of logic and reason are to be had that are as valuable, if not more so, than what science can prove to us is true.  Don’t deny yourself, as I did for so long, this connection to the awe.

Find your sacred place, find your totem, and travel inward.  Happy journeys.

Reprioritize Your Food Budget

A friend of mine and I argued recently over the costs of organic food.  “It was just too expensive for a family of four,” she said.  “Wild salmon costs twice as much as farm-raised!”  Both her points may be true, but the price was worth it, I argued, and that choosing good food should be a priority.  For this particular person it wasn’t a matter of not having the money (she and her husband drove cars retailing around $40,000.00 each), but that she valued other things more.  I think she should rethink how important eating quality food is, and perhaps you should too, for the following reasons.

 Pleasure.  Good food just taste better.  Fast food, processed food and convenience foods provide a temporary hit to our most basic cravings for salt and sugar, but this hit is a shallow and temporary pleasure and rarely is part of the slow, long joyful meals that Abundant Bohemians enjoy with good company. Yes, wild caught salmon does costs significantly more than farm-raised salmon.  But I challenge you to buy a filet of each and tell me that you don’t taste a dramatic difference.

 Health.  Back to the salmon.  Wild salmon provides the wonderful omega-3 fats that are so healthy for us because of salmon’s diet of algae.  Farm-raised salmon are fed corn products, resulting in that salmon having twenty times less omega-3 fats than wild!  And because farm-raised salmon are kept in small pens and forced to swim in their own filth, they contain enough toxins to actually cause more harm to our health than good.

 True costs.  If you buy half the portions of wild salmon as you would normally the farm-raised, you don’t have to allocate more money to your food budget.   We tend to eat portions much to large for us, and as food guru Michael Pollen argues, meat should be the garnishment to a meal, not the main course.  I think you will find that you will be just as satisfied and will be satisfied longer. In her book, Outdoor Fitness, author Tina Vindom advises that any protein serving should not be larger than the palm of your hand, a carbohydrate serving no larger than your fist, and a vegetable/fruit/grain serving no larger that what you could hold in a cupped hand.  When our body eats bad food it doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, and that means you will be hungry again quicker, meaning eating again, spending money again, and probably putting additional empty calories into our bodies that make us look and feel worse.  If you eat well, you eat less.  That’s less money spent.

Buying quality food doesn’t have to be more expensive.  I’ve found that the organic eggs I buy at the local farmers’ market from the guy who raises his own chickens are no more expensive than grocery store eggs.  The same applies to the fruit and vegetables that I purchase at the farmers’ market.  I’m uncomfortable buying meats at the grocery for multiple reasons, so a friend of mine and I did some research and we bought a quarter of a buffalo from a ranch in Wyoming.  The buffalo grazed freely on the plains for its entire life, was free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics, and was humanely slaughtered in the field and not in a slaughterhouse.  Since we bought in bulk, it was only slightly more expensive than what you would pay per pound for beef at the grocery.  But when you factor in the health benefits (grass-fed buffalo is lean and contains as much omega-3s as wild salmon!), the lessened environmental impact and the humane treatment of the animal, the small difference in costs was inconsequential.

 Political and social reasons.  Placing a value on the quality of food we buy, where we buy it and the ethical treatment of the animals we eat, sends a message.  The more of us who show we care by how we spend our food dollars will only increase the market for good foods, continue to bring prices down, will help expand the market to others who have limited or no access to good foods, and will decrease environmental degradation and animal cruelty.   The reason a cheeseburger cost 99 cents is because the U.S. government subsidizes wheat, corn, soy and dairy at taxpayer expense.  If we subsidized organic food the same way, or at least leveled the playing field by cutting subsidies for unhealthy foods, prices for good food would fall dramatically. 

 Enjoying the epicurean delights is one of the great joys of being an Abundant Bohemian.  We all will benefit by taking the time to be mindful in the purchase, the preparation, and the consuming of our meals.  Bon appétit!

Hemingway and the Importance of Now

We must make good use of this life for the time that we have left, this brief flash of light, like the sun appearing through the clouds. Kalu Rinpoche

In Hemingway’s classic For Whom the Bell Tolls, American Robert Jordan, joins the rebels to fight the fascists in the Spanish civil war.  He is given the mission to join a small band of guerrilla fighters behind enemy lines and blow up a bridge in advance of a rebel offensive.  With the guerrillas is a girl named Maria, and she and Jordan fall in love.  Jordan knows that his mission is doomed and that he will not make it out alive.  He has much reason to be angry, bitter and to view his fate as tragic.  But he does not take this view.  He is granted two beautiful days of love with Maria, and this gift is the compensation of a lifetime.  From the point of view of Jordan, Hemingway writes:

You have it now and that is all your whole life is; now.  There is nothing else than now.  There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow.  How old must you be before you know that?  There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion.  This is how you live a life in two days.  And if you stop complaining and asking for what you will never get, you will have a good life.  A good life is not measured by any biblical span.

 Robert Jordan’s life will be cut short by war, a fate shared by many humans throughout history.  Many of us will die prematurely through disease, violence, or accidents.  We don’t know when the bell will toll for us.  But Robert Jordan would tell us it doesn’t matter, and he is right.  Whether we live to age 20 or 120, our life is but a blip on the screen of time.  This is not intended to be morbid, but to remind us of the value of every moment; to remind us that all we have is the present, and we have a duty to ourselves and to the world to be fully alive.  Jordan lived a full life in two days because he understood the beauty of the moment, the immortality hidden in his mortality.  The love he expressed with Maria is forever.  The sky he gazed upon and the ground on which he slept is forever.  The water he drank from the streams and the mountain air he breathed is forever.  In war, in his anxiety, his fear, his dread, he still found that perfect joy that exists within us and without us.

We can do this also.

There is only now.

Find the joy in your sorrow.  Find the joy in your boredom and in your loneliness.

Take this beautiful, brief gift of life you’ve been given and dance with it.  Love it fully.

There is only now.


Eight Essential Truths from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior that Everyone Needs to Know.

I recently reread The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman and as with other great books, I ended up taking many notes on the truths I found within its pages.  I’ve collected them below.  They are simple, profound and can immediately improve our lives.  Here goes:

 1. Most of our entertainments are addictions, not enjoyments.  They are temporary ways to distract us from our underlying fears.

How many times have I delayed writing, working out or dealing with difficult situations because “I need to decompress” by watching TV or Youtube for large chunks of time?  More than I care to admit.  But it’s so much easier.  And so much less fulfilling.  And my fears and challenges haven’t gone anywhere.  They lie waiting for me after I turn off the TV.

 2.  When you sit, sit; when you stand, stand; whatever you do, don’t wobble.

No one enjoys—or respects—wishy-washy people.  Be reflective and thoughtful and then be decisive.   When you do something, no matter how small or insignificant, do it and only it (no multi-tasking).  Be present and aware of what you are doing.

 3.  There are no ordinary moments.

Every morning that we wake up, see, breathe, walk, talk, touch, and love is an amazing thing.  Just being here as a human on this planet at this time is having won a lottery against unfathomable odds.  The gratitude that comes from remembering this makes every moment, even the seemingly ordinary, shine with magic.

 4.  Satori occurs when attention rests in the present moment, when the body is alert, sensitive, relaxed, and the emotions are open and free.

Satori can be interpreted as “awakening” or “enlightenment,” but perhaps with less heavy connotations.   Moments of satori are what we live for, the times when we are so present with ourselves and our world that experiencing awe is inevitable.  We can’t find this state when we are fretting over the past, worrying about the future or consumed with anxiety.

5.  A fool is “happy” when his cravings are satisfied.  A warrior is happy without reason.  Beneath sorrow, joy, everything is the innate perfection of your life unfolding.  That is the secret of unreasonable happiness.

As the Buddhist saying goes, whether good or bad, “this too shall pass.”  Like everyone, I have experienced frustration, failure, grief and loss.  For much of my life this would invoke self-pity and unnecessary suffering.  Looking back now, many of the events I found terrible at the time resulted in growth and wisdom I would not have otherwise obtained.  Now when disappointment occurs, I focus on being content with my unfolding path and it has made all the difference.

6.  Deny your nature and it will erupt in other, uglier ways.

I manage to stay calm and controlled throughout much of my life, but my Sunday afternoon soccer games have been my chance to, well, “mix it up” a bit.  I decided that such feistiness was inappropriate and curbed my aggressive play.  This not only made it less fun, but my aggression built up and one day I exploded on an opposing player in a way that crossed the line of good sportsmanship.  I needed the steady release of my competitive nature that I had allowed myself previously, and holding back resulted in an ugly eruption of fury.  Find outlets to express both your light and dark sides, and you will find healthy balance.

7.  Practice abundance by giving back.

Recent happiness studies have shown that altruism plays a crucial role in personal happiness.  Find a way to do something for others everyday, no matter how small.  Drop a quarter in a busker’s guitar case.  Let someone cut in front of you in traffic.  Offer unsolicited but honest compliments.

8.  Nothing works out according to plan, but it always works out.

This concept can be the hardest to accept at times, but is no less true because of that.  Lives are messy, unpredictable and filled with joy and sorrow, peace and tragedy.  Embrace it all.  Detach yourself from the outcome and offer your gift day after day after day.

Do you have thoughts or opinions on The Way of the Peaceful Warrior or the ideas expressed above? I’d love to hear them at


The seven most consistent traits of successful and happy people living an unconventional life.

1. They have a high tolerance for insecurity.  They are willing to step into the dark and unknown rather than stay in a safe, but uninspiring cocoon.

2. They value art, love and experience more than things and status.  They don’t fear money, but they aren’t slaves to it either.  Money is just lower on their value scale than it is for many people.

3. They don’t watch much television, or in many cases, even have one.  Creative expression is more important.

 4. They are passionate about their vocation, whatever that is, and they work really, really hard at it—even if their vocation is not what pays their bills.

5. They have a heightened appreciation the sensual, whether that be food, drink, fashion, painting, dance or sex.

6. They love nature and the outdoors and have a respect for and connection to the natural world that exceeds the average, even if they are urbanites.  They feel a kinship with nature as opposed to a desire to conquer it.

7. They take time to dream and play.  Above all, they are dreamers, schemers, and, as Shel Silverstein wrote, magic bean buyers.  They dance, sing and play the fool.  They are fun people to be around.

 Does this sound like you?  Or who you want to become?  I hope so.  The world needs more abundant bohemians and this blog is about you and for you.  Let’s celebrate and learn together.


What is an Abundant Bohemian?


A bohemian is at his her or core, is simply someone living an unconventional life.  Many associate bohemianism with scarcity, living the “starving artist” lifestyle.  But many people, through many ways, have carved out a purposeful existence, a life of fullness, autonomy and compensation to meet their needs, monetary and beyond without handing over the leash to Big Company, Inc.  This site and the book tells their stories and the lessons they have for all of us.