How to Live a Good Life: My Manifesto

Thundersnow shocked Wisconsin last week, bringing sleet, snow, thunder and lighting.

In the morning, snow was layered as thick as costume jewelry, 15 inches deep. Even my dog barked at first glance, warning the cold intruder.

During the blizzard, thundersnow felt magical. It was amazing to experience a hybrid force of nature, snowflakes mixed with cracks of thunder. I laid in bed thinking: “There is a lesson to be heard tonight.” Even something as common as a snowstorm can be wildly unique. The same principle can apply to our lifestyles.

It’s easy to forget that as we go through life, following the stream of society. It’s easy to become stagnant in roles that are deemed acceptable: Wife. Step mom. Suburbanite. Writer. Friend.

We’re content to stay low on the radar, not daring to talk about radical change. That, we think, would be out of character. People might label us as weird. I believe that’s part of the reason Americans are deep in debt, spending outside their means and unhappy. They’re modeling the wrong pressure system.

Maybe you’ve had enough of that climate. Maybe you’re desperate to redefine your life, but aren’t sure how. “What will rejecting the status quo to do my children?”

I’ve wondered that. I’ve felt weak when Little Girl said, “You’re so cheap.” The strange blizzard reminded me: We should be more like thundersnow.

We should boldly open to a new way of living. There is power within every tiny movement. They can pile up to change a season like snowflakes.

Here are some actions steps that will help make the world a better place. I’m offering the tips in a two-part series – be sure to read my Thursday post for the finale.

Today, you can:

Be full instead of busy.

Society tells us we have to get our kids involved, even if that means skipping a nutritious dinner. It tells us to send thank you cards, as if that’s the only acceptable thank you. Society says the solution to our problems is spending money. If you haven’t noticed, society is set on making us very busy. The truth is, you can choose your own set of priorities without shame. Start with a clean slate. Fill your to-do list with things you actually want to do, things you feel good about.

Choose to experience a life full of things that matter to you.

Read more:

Nap. Meditate. Be still.

I recommend all three. A short nap can shush a world of panic. Spending five minutes in meditation will lead to clarity. Try in breath *peace*, out breath *chaos*. When you feel yourself running in circles, stop for a moment to be still. We all have the option to slow down. Don’t set your standards too high for solitude.

Read more:


One of the ways we stick to a budget is by using cash for variable expenses like groceries, vacations, entertainment, gifts, haircuts and personal spending money. The added work of withdrawing money from the bank makes spending a little harder. If you’re struggling to stay financially fit, try the cash budget method. It really taught me the value of a dollar.

Special Note: While not a need, the envelope budget system will be much easier to follow if you use durable envelopes. I found these relatively inexpensive fabric envelopes on etsy. I love them!

A bold life doesn’t have to be noisy.

I’ve experienced the force of slow, conscious living, and so can you. Seek inner clarity, slow down and live simply. The power to shape the world is within your reach.

The stream of society can be shifted.

Coming Thursday: Part II of Thundersnow with tips to shift the way you work, eat and make the world so much better. Don’t miss it!

Please share. Thank you!

Photo by millylillyrose

Check out Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, coming January 2016 from Delacorte Press/Random House. Visit her author site here.


1 Steve Rice March 29, 2011 at 12:17 pm

“We should boldly open to a new way of living.” REALLY love this thought, Melissa.

“There is power within every tiny movement. They can pile up to change a season like snowflakes.” I loved this image and the reminder it breaks…little changes are the spark that changes everything! Sometimes we look for the great big, hairy dramatic adjustments when we should just slowly course correct and then “steady as she goes.”

Also loved the bit about making a “to do” list of things one actually wants to do. Who’d a thought a ‘to do’ list could actually be more than a task list?

Great work!

2 Living the Balanced Life March 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm

“A bold life doesn’t have to be busy.”
I love this. We can be bold and take control of our lives, do the things that are important to us, but we don’t HAVE to be busy. We can choose not to be, intentionally.
Great post on thundersnow. We don’t get anything like that in GA.
Getting more work done in less time

3 Alison Kerr | Loving Nature's Garden March 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Melissa you’ll laugh when you read what I saw above – nap, medicate, be still. Sadly, that’s a reflection of my day, with a good deal of anxiety over a child in pain, and over an hour at the doctor’s office. But everything is fine now and I can laugh at seeing what my mind expected!

Thanks for the reminder to slow down. I’m putting some of that off until tomorrow…

4 Melissa April 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Ha! Oh dear, though I bet it would work in that order. Glad everything is okay with you now.
Be well!

5 Marci | Liberating Choices March 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm

I love how you describe change as snow piling up. Small movements can grow to be something beautiful. One sparkling, flake at a time.

6 Linda Lee March 31, 2011 at 9:30 pm

My favorite line: “Reading for pleasure is sexy.” My current “crush” is Abe Lincoln in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Linclon” — HOT STUFF 😉

7 Melissa April 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Oo, I’ll have to check it out. Abe the babe?

8 Linda Lee April 2, 2011 at 9:59 pm

That’s right, Abe the babe — haha!

Also, your comment about Little Girl calling you “cheap” reminds me of my son when he was a teenager. Michael always thought we were “poor” rather than “cheap” because of the lifestyle I’d chosen to allow me to stay home with my kids and pursue my artwork. He complained and I felt guilty sometimes.

Recently Michael (24 yrs. old) told me that many, if not most, of his college friends are dealing with overweight issues, which he does not. He said, “I’m glad we were poor when I was little, Mom. I never got used to junk food.”

9 Melissa April 5, 2011 at 8:42 am

My mother in law said recently, “Now that you have teenagers, you’ve acquired a wealth of knowledge in your home.” 🙂
I will hold out for the day that I receive praise instead of criticism for my choices. I have a feeling the day will come … a long time from now. 🙂
My daughter does recognize how unhealthy her friends eat. Though I know she’d still be overjoyed if I filled our pantry with chips and cookies.
Take care, Linda!

10 Mallory April 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Meditating really is powerful. I’ve fallen off in the last few days, but am getting back on track so I can remain happy and relaxed. I also liked a tip from my acupuncturist about taking opportunities to “meditate with breath” during everyday activities. When your standing in line or driving you can breath deeply – making the breath in, hold and breath out equal in length. I’ve been loving this and don’t even need extra time in my day to fit it in:)

11 Melissa April 5, 2011 at 8:46 am

I agree with you – If I start feeling wonky, I can meditate and the transformation is amazing.

I’ve even starting meditation sessions with my son, who has ADHD. I’ve heard amazing reports on the benefits of meditation to help reverse some of the negative side effects of ADHD. His change of mood – from racing to calm – is so telling. We all need time to reflect, at every age.

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