Create Your Own Blue Zone by Downshifting

Czech Republic

Is it about downsizing or really downshifting that we need to focus on to improve the quality of our family life?

I have been having an inner conflict out loud about wanting to live in a walkable city since I met my husband back in 2002. Poor, wonderful, patient man – he is always willing to listen. Thanks Babe.

I find it frustrating that there is so much focus on retirement planning and living, and so little on the majority of your life as you are raising a family. You find resources, but they are disjointed. Finances, education, real estate, but none are really talking about life design until you hit mid life. Although I am in mid life, my children are young and so we are looking at our life plan as wanting the best of both worlds – the lifestyle of a working retirement while raising a family. Tim Ferris touches on this with his Four Hour Work Week, but you need to apply it to family life since his perspective is of a single man. It is a great read.

I have lived and spent time in a few US cities most often cited for walkability, but the stumbling block has always been cost of real estate. But I wonder if it is truly the walkable urban life I was longing for, but rather the simpler lifestyle that represents? Walking to parks, grocery stores, enjoying nature, and less of the chaos of time in a vehicle.

As you research the best place to live, how do you quantify the wellness factor of a life that represents you at your core, or a simpler life that allows you to find your center?

Welcome the Blue Zone Project, as featured in this month’s O Magazine. The community focused villages that support optimal health. Homes and mixed use villages that remind me of the walled villages of Eastern  Europe. Sidewalks, places for children to play, walkable for sure with one change – they are not in high cost metro areas. An idea whose time has come.

I experienced all of the cities abroad by walking, riding a bus, train, or trolley, and exploring always on foot – that has been missing in my life. I felt a level of freedom not felt when visiting most US cities. European cities were built upon generations of the village mentality, so they naturally embody this. Walking to a bakery in Paris, or a coffee shop in London passing parks, and homes on your way is a natural way of life there.

One such village, Kromerice in the Czech Republic came to mind as I was learning more about the Blue Zone Project. Its walls designed to protect its center from aggressors, but gives you such a sense of security as you walk its streets inside the walls.

The Blue Project’s free Vitality Coach asks questions about your diet, how much you move, your social time, sleep, and your spiritual piggy bank(my term not theirs). It is a great place to start clarifying your needs to add years to your life, and to enjoy your family longer. I know we have added years to our life by downsizing our space, now it is time to continue this shift in thinking to bring us full circle.

As Psychologist, Barry Schwartz, TEDX talk on the Paradox of Choice explains too many choices can lead to paralysis. I believe that to be so true in deciding how and where to live. I also think it has a lot to do with why American families are moving out of the US, if only temporarily to reset their lives to be simpler and more joyful.

To live like you are in your own Blue Zone, is about simplifying your life, moving more, and enjoying it with the people that share your view of life. I remember my mother saying something about the company you keep. Focus on mind, body, soul and your decisions will lead to more satisfaction.

Our days are fairly simple, and that is by design. A rushed, over scheduled family is not a happy family, so take some time to reflect on the fact that you may need a little less on the calendar, and more in the heart. You very own Blue Zone for a long, happy life.

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