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  • Writer's pictureTracy Bottiglieri

Create the Life You Want

The title sounds so easy! "Create the life you want". And in many ways, it is. Absolutely we all have obstacles that get in our way of creating the life we want: work obligations; family commitments; financial limitations; only so many hours in the day; decreased energy-level; and so on. Each of these is a definite challenge, but not one that is insurmountable. You may not be able to commit hours, but you can carve out several moments of enjoyment for now. I am not talking about making time to do household projects, run errands, or other things that you need to do. I am referring to activities that you WANT to do.

It is so important to have joy in your life. The French even have a "famous" phrase relating to this feeling - joie de vivre! According to, joie de vivre is "a delight in being alive; keen, carefree enjoyment of living." Sign me up for some of that! While joie de vivre is really about the way you live your entire life, I am bending the definition a bit to talk about how we choose to live certain parts of our lives. We need to focus on creating a life we want by selecting certain activities and commitments we want, instead of simply going along and letting life just happen. Let's take a look at some ideas that can add a bit of joie de vivre to all of our lives!


Take a class in something that interests you.

"Free Through December 31, 2020: To help our community keep learning, we’ve made a selection of popular courses completely free through December 31, 2020. While many courses on Coursera are already available for free without a certificate, these promotions enable you to not only access lectures and quizzes, but also to earn a free certificate for courses that offer them."

"Learn from the best. Discover thousands of free online courses from top universities around the world like MIT, Stanford, and Harvard."

Want to explore or deepen your spiritual side?

Find a Bible Study at a local church or privately-led study in your neighborhood. I have personally been attending a Bible Study with the same leader on-and-off over the course of the past 10+ years. While I have not always been able to participate due to my work schedule, I can't imagine my life without it.

Check with your local synagogue, mosque, temple or wherever you might practice your faith to locate a religious class or study relating to your interests.

Read a book about different beliefs. Or a specific belief system of interest to you.

Do an independent study with a personal study resource, such as a guidebook, journal or podcast. Use online resources to supplement your study.

Take a course in World Religions. Or a specific religion you would like to learn about more.

Pray. It requires no equipment or preparation or training. Simply sit and talk with God.

Meditate. Try this article that lists the Top Meditation Apps currently on the market.

Check out the following online resource that discusses various religious beliefs. While I did not review all of the material, I hope that you might find something worthwhile should you choose to look: Religious Studies Guide

Are you fascinated with what came before?

Sign up for to link with your past. It does cost to join, but finding a longlost cousin or learning about a famous ancestor might just be worth the expense!

Do an Archaeology site visit. I simply Googled "archaeological sites near me" to come up with a list. Granted, now might not be the time to be visiting a dig site, nor might you be allowed to visit during Covid, but log this idea away for the future. I also found a great online resource from the Archaeological Institute of America. You can locate digs around the world, as well as look up notes, photos, and more information from archaeological experts currently working in the field.

Let's get physical.

Pickleball I feel like pickleball is a lot like kale. All of a sudden, it became "a thing"! Do you agree?!

Tennis This is my lifelong sport of choice. I started around the age of 9; played competitively on my high school team; and have been playing periodically throughout my life. Like golf, tennis is one of those sports you can play for a lifetime, assuming your knees or other body parts cooperate. It is a great "childhood-to-retirement" Soul Soother.

Golf A great excuse to ride around in a golfcart (how fun is that!) And to drink while socializing with friends, and yet still be getting some exercise and honing your skills. Golf is a great lifelong sport!

Martial Arts A discipline. A way to make yourself stronger, both mentally and physically. A means to protect yourself. Sounds like a great consideration for us all!

Bowling It seems to me like bowling has been making a comeback in recent years. In addition to the older bowling alleys, a lot of high-end bowling alleys have been popping up in my area, too. Bowling is such a throwback activity. My parents were both bowlers when I was growing up. Not only were my mom and dad each in their own leagues, they also bowled together in a couple's league. Bowling is very social and can be very competitive. You don't have to worry about weather, since it takes place indoors. Because it is generally more affordable than some other sports I listed, bowling is a good choice across socioeconomic lines.

Hiking Hiking can not only make you more fit, there are studies that show when you spend time hiking in nature, you can decrease negative, self-destructive thoughts. Heart-healthy AND brain-healthy!

Kayaking When I think of kayaking, I think of the slower-paced, sea kayaking that I enjoy. However, I know people usually think of kayaking in the exhilarating one-person kayaks that zip down rapids while the kayaker tries to stay upright. Not for me! Either version, you can benefit from developing a stronger core and upper body strength.

Running As fas as a sporting activity that requires equipment, running is one of the easiest. With running, you need a good pair of shoes, and you are all set! But do go to a shoe store that specializes in running shoes, so you can be certain the shoes fit correctly. Poorly fitting shoes lead to potential blisters, shin splints, and more. None of which you want.

Cycling How many of you immediately thought of my husband when you read "cycling"? Joe was an avid and exceptional cyclist. It is not a sport for the non-committed type. Cycling requires a good amount of equipment, which is often pricy. You also need to commit a lot of time to being on the road, which can be additionally challenging due to the dangers of drivers you are sharing the road with and weather conditions. But for people who I know that are cyclists, they simply LOVE IT and LIVE FOR IT!

Yoga I really enjoy yoga. I thought it was simply a lot of stretching and laying down, before I actually tried to learn the basics of a yoga practice. Now I realize it is much more than that. “The purpose of yoga is to build strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body,” explains Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California. There is a plethora of physical and mental health benefits tied to yoga. Basically, we should all be doing it.

Pilates My personal favorite. I have been doing Pilates (on-and-off) for over 10 years now. And I can honestly say, it is the only form of exercise that I look forward to doing. The reason I don't say the same for tennis is that I used to be so much better at tennis, and the competitive spirit in me has a hard time acknowledging that I'm not so good anymore. To borrow another French phrase - C'est la vie!

Quiet Contemplation Generating a Physical Reward.

All of these activities are ones you can do on your own, using your own creativity and resulting in a physical item.

Gardening I aspire to be a gardener. I admire people that have the commitment to simply remember to water their plants, because I apparently do not.

Fishing It takes a lot of patience and knowledge about "where the fish are biting" to become a true fisherman (fisherperson?). I have neither, but maybe I might try this one day and take a book along...hmmm...that sounds kind of nice. And I DO like to eat fish.

Crafting Crafting can be simple (think popsicle stick houses and handprint turkeys) to more complex and true "crafts," such as knitting, sewing, and candle making. Do you have a favorite craft you enjoy? If so, would you be willing to be a guest blogger one week to discuss all things relating to your craft? Please send me an email.

Art We can all use a little more art in our lives! Not all of us may be considered talented, and some of the end results of our painting or ceramics or whatever might not look like it had looked in our minds, but the act of being creative is very therapeutic. (if we can just decide that the act alone was worth it, as we toss the end result in the trashcan) Of course, for those of you that are gifted with art as a talent, we hope you enjoy the process AND the result! We will enjoy your results, too.

Writing Whether its a daily journal entry, short story or crafting your first novel, if writing is on your Soul Soother list, I am with you. I have been loving creating this blog every week. Its amazing what you can accomplish if you simply don't let your inhibitions and negative mindset get in your way. While I have been told many times how wonderful keeping a journal would be for me, it just never "took." One journal I have always considered purchasing, but haven't yet, is the One Line a Day journal. It seems like a commitment to daily journaling I might actually keep?! Each image is linked to an online resource for purchase. Note that the last journal is digital!

"Music has charms to soothe the savage breast."

Yes, me too. I always thought the phrase was "music soothes the savage beast". You learned something new today! Right?!

Singing Whether its in the shower, while driving with the windows down, or live on stage, singing is freeing. It can be an expression of any emotion: joy, sadness, grief, fear, or love. There is a reason for the saying "sing your heart out!"

Playing an instrument...pick one. Any one! Just try it...what is stopping you?

Picture Yourself Making Pictures

Photography This is another activity on my "I really want to learn more about it" list. I realize all I need to do is pick up the camera (or phone) and go take some pictures. Experiment. See what works with the light coming from different directions. But something prevents me from acting on my desire to learn. Hopefully, one day soon, I will show you some pictures I have simply gone out and taken. Please be gentle with your feedback! ❤️Film Making Do any of you have old video from when your children were little? Or better yet, from when YOU were a kid? Have you ever worked with software to create your own film? Possibly a montage of photos set to music for a special event? Or maybe a skateboarding video of yourself or your child? While photos can easily transport us back to a memory, a video can actually help you to RELIVE that memory right alongside your original self. Isn't that amazing when you think about it?

I hope I got your juices flowing. I hope you decide that you want to do MORE of something you love. Or simply to START doing something you love. Or even to FIND something you love. It will take some time, but what better way is there to spend your life than trying to make it special for yourself.

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