By Rita S. Wilkins, The Downsizing Designer

As a young girl growing up in Germany, our family of seven took frequent road trips to neighboring countries. Our mom was usually the instigator of these adventures. Dad was the consummate planner. In so many ways, they were the perfect team. She was curious, a learner, a visionary, and the creative. He was our rock with the open mind and steady temperament to engage in and follow through with her ideas and inspirations. Her passion for travel, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and seeing the beauty in all of it was what she most wanted for our family. Long before “Lifestyle Design” became part of my vocabulary, mom designed a lifestyle for our family filled with experiences and memories that have lasted my lifetime. Their gift of experiences surpass any wrapped presents I might have received for Christmas or birthdays because the memories of our times together as a family became part of the fabric of who I am and without a doubt, influenced my passion for living each day to the fullest.

One of my most cherished childhood trips was a picnic in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. What makes that trip so memorable is the stark contrast between the breathtaking beauty of the snow capped Alps and the absolute simplicity of our “gourmet” picnic lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Even as a child, I somehow realized we could have been anywhere in the world as long as we were experiencing those events together as a family. It just so happened mom chose the Alps for this particular outing. As Dad maneuvered our large black and white 1960 Oldsmobile up the narrow roads and around the crazy switchback turns, each new vista was even more spectacular that the previous one. We each vied for being the one who would discover the perfect spot for our gourmet lunch. Just as we rounded one of those bends, my entire family shouted “that’s it!” Dad pulled over to a safe spot next to an alpine trail that was covered with the most beautiful array of wild flowers that I had never seen. Just as mom laid out our big, well-used picnic blanket, a large brown cow with eyes as big as golf balls meandered towards us, seeming to enjoy the company. While frightened at first, we realized he was just being curious. After all, we were the intruders to his little piece of heaven. We sat down to savor our homemade lunch against the backdrop of a deep blue sky, the majestic mountain peaks, the clanging of the cowbell and the scent of alpine flowers. What do I remember most about that day? The smiles, the laughter, the love and how much I still love PB and J!

Each time I share this story and many others like it, I can’t help but be amazed at how our mom intentionally created moments and experiences our family will remember for our lifetimes. She was the first (and best) lifestyle designer I have ever known!

What is Lifestyle Design?

The story I just shared with you is the essence of Lifestyle Design. Lifestyle Design is living life on purpose in all areas of your life including relationships, family, work, health, finances, and spirituality. It is how you experience your own life. It is how you show up each day living in alignment with what matters most to you so you can live a higher quality of life.

It is about choosing to be present in each moment so you capture the beauty, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the laughter, and the love. It is intentionally creating and embracing experiences that change your, mold you, and influence you.

Ask yourself: Are you living your life each day as if it were your last?

Lifestyle Design involves making choices about how you use your time, money, and energy, as well as your God given gifts so you can live a life you love… by design. It is living with intention and on purpose.

Being mindful of even the smallest decisions each day can make the biggest difference, not just in your own life but in the lives of the those you love.

Joe a busy young executive committed to leaving work early so he could watch his son’s ball games through his little league years and all the way through his high school years… a very small price to pay for the loving relationship Joe has with his son many years later.

As a single mom, Mary juggled many roles but she was committed to creating a loving, stable, and nurturing home for her 3 children. She made dinner time together her highest priority. Today, her teenage kids love bringing their friends over to hang out at the kitchen table… music to every mother’s ears.

Karen, a retired grandmother made it a priority to spend at least 2 days a week babysitting her grandchildren while assisting her daughters with childcare. Two years of precious moments with her grandchildren… priceless. Not just for Karen, but for her entire family.

Priorities, choices made, lives changed. All based on personal values and what mattered most to them. They were present to what was happening in their lives at the time. They realized that the choices they made today would impact their tomorrows. They understood that they would never get those moments, days and years back. They intentionally chose how to use their time, money and energy to impact the quality of their lives and the lives of those they loved.

  “Everyone Dies, but not everyone has truly lived” – C.S. Lewis