What SMART Living Looks Like in Kathy Gottberg’s Life
I love the way the blogging world works. Liesbet, who writes the blog Roaming About: A Life Less Ordinary, told me some months ago about Kathy Gottberg who writes a blog called SMART Living 365 and she told Kathy about me. Liesbet thought that we would have a lot in common.
Neither Liesbet nor Kathy know this, but when I first heard the title of Kathy’s blog, I wasn’t so sure. The capitalized SMART is a very well-known acronym in education and business. I lived it for thirty years so the very last thing I wanted in my retirement was to be working in ways that were specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, or time-bound. Yuck!
But because I trust and value Liesbet’s opinion, I looked further and found that Kathy’s SMART acronym wasn’t what I expected and neither was her blog. Liesbet was right. Kathy and I have much in common. I’m grateful that she has joined our Profound Journey tribe, and that she took up my invitation to choose and answer some questions about her beliefs and her life. Here’s Kathy —
Since starting my blog SMART Living 365 nearly eight yeas ago, I’ve done my best to not make it about me. My purpose there is to share ideas with others that I find inspiring and helpful towards living a happy and fulfilled life. I do my best to point out things I’ve discovered, read, or stumbled upon rather than talk directly about myself.
But when Karen invited those of us who follow her blog to answer 25 Totally Terrifying Meaning of Life Questions Worth Asking, I was intrigued. I happen to love a challenge, especially any called ‘terrifying’ or ‘scary,’ so I decided to give it a try.
Of course, in true rightsizing fashion, I took her three lists of not-too-scary, slightly-scary and totally-terrifying questions and answered the ones I thought most appealing. I hope you find some of my answers interesting and that they inspire you to think of how you might answer them for yourself.
What is your favourite quote? Why?
My favourite quote has always been, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing,” by Helen Keller. The full quote is,
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”
For a woman who was deaf and blind to have such insight is amazing and inspiring to me.
What is something about you that people might not know?
In my heart, I am actually a very happy-go-lucky person who is almost nauseatingly optimistic. I love to laugh and have fun even though most of my writing is very serious and often heavy. Experiencing joy and wonder on a regular basis is as important to me as eating.
What are you curious about?
Everything. I am insatiably curious about all sorts of things, but mostly I love learning, and writing about, why people do what they do.
What is your most prized possession?
While I don’t consider my husband Thom or Kloe (my dog) to be possessions, they are extremely important to me. About the only ‘thing’ that I would want to save from a burning building is my computer. But I can always buy another one of those.
What are you known for or would like to be known for?
As someone who inspires others and reminds others of who they really are on a soul level.
What kinds of people energize you and what kinds of people drain you?
People who are as interesting, fun, creative and inquisitive as I am (or more!) energize me. People who are self-absorbed, pessimistic, and small-minded drain me.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Before I met my beloved Thom, I was dating a guy and we were going to be married. Right before announcing it to the family he told me he wanted to date others and I was devastated (okay, I was only 21). But a dear older friend told me that something similar had happened to him when he was young, and that he ended up finding the right (and better!) person soon after. He was right. I met Thom a month or so later and we’ve been together for 41 years. That advice reminds me constantly that things are ALWAYS working out for me, even when I can’t see it happening.
What trip have you taken that had a huge impact on you?
When I was in high school, I took drama. I have no idea why except it sounded fun. I wasn’t very good at it and only managed in four years to get a few bit parts. But during my junior year, it was announced that the drama class would be going to Europe that summer and putting on a short musical/pantomime play. Anyone in class who wanted to go, could. That is, they could go if they came up with $1,700. Back in 1972 that was a big deal.
I asked my parents, knowing they couldn’t/wouldn’t afford it. They told me I could go but I would have to get a job and earn the money myself. Dad referred me to a friend of his who owned a smorgasbord and I became a hostess. I worked there for about nine months, saving it all for the trip. That adventure was my first taste of international travel. And yes, I LOVE to travel!
Best of all, I learned that if I worked for something I could pretty much go and do whatever I dreamed of doing.
What is your body telling you?
That I need to keep moving and not sit so much!
What have you collected?
I have a cross collection. No, I’m not Catholic, but I saw so many creative and interesting crosses when traveling in Mexico that I started a collection years ago. Since then I have brought crosses home from across the U.S., Italy (the Vatican), France (Notre Dame), all over Mexico and even an Aukh from Egypt (sort of a cross.)
My crosses are a wonderful reminder of “as above–so below” and “as within–so without.”
What is most important to you at this time in your life?
A couple of weeks ago, I turned 63. I am feeling a deeper calling to be completely okay with myself exactly as I am. Like the song by Walt Whitman,
I celebrate myself, I sing myself….There was never any more inception than there is now, Nor any more youth or age than there is now. And will never be any more perfection than there is now, Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.”
Which culture, other than your own, speaks to you?
I have a special affinity for Mexico. Not sure why other than the language seems natural to me, and the people and the culture are relaxed and gracious. I love traveling all over Mexico and have never been afraid.
I was also drawn to Egypt during a recent visit.
What in your life might make other people envious?
My deep relationship with my husband.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
If you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?
Spend the day talking, laughing and cuddling with Thom.
What did you start over again?
My life has been a constant example of reinvention. Thom and I started several businesses, and then started over when those didn’t lead us where we wanted to go. We moved several times–first from North Carolina to Colorado, then Colorado to California, and then several times within California. Every move started us over again.
I’ve also started over as a blogger. I started writing about the environment and then switched to lifestyle on SMART Living 365. Who knows what I will start next?
When was the first time you were afraid?
I am not a fearful person by nature. Sure, I’ve been nervous at times like learning to speak in front of groups or speaking up in certain situations. And skydiving was a pretty amazing adrenalin rush. But if I was to claim a fear, it would be related to feeling rejected by others–others finding me strange or not liking me, or feeling I was not part of the cool group. Still, I do my best not to let that ever keep me from doing what I feel called to do.
What do you yearn to give, and to whom would you give it?
I long to give away my friendship to those who would value who I am. I’ve always believed that the more you give away, the more you have.
Under what circumstances are you willing to lie?
I recently listened to a talk from Abraham Hicks that explained that any time we hope to influence others with our words, we are effectively editing ourselves to elicit the best response. When we aren’t presenting our true self to others, that manipulation could be considered a lie. I would hope that I would only lie when I thought it most compassionate and helpful to another’s life, not my own.
What was your biggest mistake?
I don’t believe in mistakes. The only time there is a mistake is when you don’t learn from what’s happened and I always do my best to learn the lesson I have been given. Even when difficult, that always pays off.
What is your purpose in life? How is it reflected in the way you use your time?
I have felt for the longest time that my purpose was to communicate what is in my mind, heart and soul to those who would benefit. Sometimes I speak it but most of the time it is by written word, such as through my SMART Living blog and books.
Describe an experience that led to personal growth.
Where do I start? I believe that every experience leads to personal growth if we stay awake, aware and willing to follow the path. My most recent experience is showing up optimistically at jury duty and having the willingness to speak what was in my mind and heart.
What is your biggest problem or issue right now?
I don’t consider it a problem, but I do hold the desire for ongoing connection to others. As a writer I spend a lot of time by myself and I would like to be part of a larger community of friends and people who are supportive, interesting and generous.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
That I stop caring what others think of me and wanting others to like me. Most of the time I speak up and do what I want, but I still have a little voice in the back of my head that criticizes me and tries to get me to be a “good girl.”
If you could choose just one thing to change about the world, what would it be?
That people would realize that we are all interconnected, and that what we do to the least among us, we do to ourselves.
What activities make you feel really useful, alive, and strong?
Writing does this for me. And discovering new, inspiring and helpful ideas that create a better life and world for others.
What will you need to do differently if you are to live the life you truly desire?
Learn to listen to my Inner Being without distraction and to follow that guidance.
To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
LOTS….I have made many choices that have directed my life. But probably the biggest one was to pick Thom over the decision to have children. No regrets.
What will be your legacy?
I would like to hope that my writing will be my legacy…that and my quality of relationship with Thom.
What question would I add to this list? What sustains me?
I’m not a religious person, but I do consider myself to be deeply spiritual. I’ve developed my understanding based upon my own experiences, lots of reading, and years of workshops and classes.
Everything that happens in my life, the good and anything I judge as less than good, fits into my benevolent ‘story’ of the Wholeness of all Life. I know most everyone else has a different version, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is how I am sustained every day by what I believe.
Albert Einstein said, “The important thing is to never stop questioning.” But sometimes it is SMART Living to sit ourselves down and honestly state what we believe to be true today–all the while knowing that tomorrow will bring new questions and their corresponding answers. Meanwhile, let’s do our best to enjoy all of them!
What does SMART Living look like for you? How would you answer any one of the above questions? Kathy and I would love to hear from you.