Is the truth more important than perception? Will the truth set us free? Or is the perception more important than the truth?

Is the perception more important than the truth? Is truth more important than perception? Will the truth set us free?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Truth is the state or quality of being true to someone or something. True facts are genuine depictions or statements of reality.

Perception is detected by the five senses, not necessarily understood, also that which is detected within consciousness, as a thought, intuition, deduction, etc.

Having a discussion today and one of us believes the truth is the most important thing. One of us believes that perception is more important because often we will never know the truth. Even when we can’t know the truth there still is a truth and it is important. Even if we are accused of something we didn’t do, and everyone believes we are guilty, even the courts, the truth is still more important. When we are innocent we are still innocent even if no one believes us.

One of Thomas Jefferson’s sayings was “truth is not the truth, perception is the truth.” I am reading a blog by J.T.Wynn Stand for Reason, and he says in one of his college classes an assistant professor wrote on his paper, “You seem to want everything to make logical sense.”

When we say I am telling you the truth as I see it, it means that is our perception. Truth is the truth even if we only have a perception we think is the truth. We may never know the truth of some things but that doesn’t mean there is no truth. Sometimes the closest we can come to the truth is what we believe to be true.

We think when a jury or judge finds someone guilty it means they are guilty, it only means they are convicted, it does not mean they actually committed a crime. It may not make much difference to someone’s life who is convicted but is innocent than if they are guilty as far as sentence and circumstances of their life. I’m sure it makes a difference when you know you are innocent and are wrongly accused. Your innocence is a badge of honor, and your honor cannot be taken away by perception.

Some people believe perception and reputation is everything. Some of us believe that the truth is what is important. If someone can hide their indiscretions and look like a good person, some think this is what matters. Others believe even if circumstances make you look bad, but the truth is you are innocent and blameless of what your accusers think you did, that is what matters.

Perception is not truth – and sometimes it is a lie. It is false to facts. If we are to become awake, it is incumbent upon us to seek the truth. Unkown

Sometimes our perception of the situation is the problem. The truth may still be the truth but we can react in a positive or negative way. How we react and what we are willing to learn can make a big difference in our lives.

We can look at our life problems and rather than defining it as a symptom, disorder, or illness, we can search for its purpose, how can it serve us by solving a larger life dilemma? When we place it in the correct context, we can look at things through different lenses.

An eating disorder can be reframed as a hunger strike against demanding parents. Money problems can be reframed as an act of loyalty to parents who felt anyone who had money was morally questionable; a husband’s affair can be considered a misguided attempt to reclaim parts of himself, or as an attempt to get the attention of a distracted partner.

When we reframe our situation we can also look for better solutions. The girl with an eating disorder can discover starving herself is not the best way to rebel against parental authority. A cheating husband can discover while acknowledging that he has betrayed an agreement, he can find more successful ways to rediscover lost elements of his life. When we shift the definition of the problem, regardless of how complex it is, we can look at possibilities and choices that are more positive without undesired consequences.

There is the truth and there is perception. Our perception is not always true. When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. Are we looking at things correctly? Is there a better way to look at things? Can we look with different lenses? Can we redefine our problem? Can we reframe the situation and find a solution?

Pain is inevitable; we all experience it at different times during our lives. Suffering, on the other hand, is a choice. With every negative experience, we can accept it as an opportunity to learn or we can bear it as a heavy cross. Rather than focusing on fear, jealousy, judgment or blame, we can instead reconsider our perceptions and embark on the journey to discover how a difficult experience can actually benefit us. Unknown

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Stepping up. Being the best we can be, for ourselves and the world.

Being the best we can be for ourselves and the world. Stepping up.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you. Lao Tzu

Last night at Toastmasters it was election night and the word of the day was reluctant. Aren’t we reluctant to step up sometimes? People lead busy lives and often the highest most responsible positions in clubs are the ones we could easily get voted into and the smaller positions we might have to fight for.

Could it be possible that there is less competition at the top than we think? What makes people leaders? Is it a gift for leadership, is it a willingness, is it not knowing any better? It is easy to start our own company; sometimes it is easier to start our own company than get a job at someone else’s. Building a successful company is not the easy part, registering a business and calling our self “President” is easy.

We sometimes look at the candidates we have to choose from in leadership. Where are all the good choices we ask our self? They didn’t step up, and we are left to choose between who did. When we look at some of the great candidates that have been taken down by the media we might begin to understand why more people don’t stand up for such scrutiny.

We ended up with what I believe will be a great executive team even though many of the positions were won by acclamation. As one of the ballots counters my job was easier than it should have been.

Reluctance has been a big part of my life. I was reluctant to hang up my paintings in my own home until five years ago. I reluctantly started putting them on my blog when I ran out of flowers to photograph and was using stock photos instead. When I read some of the horror stories that can happen by using other peoples photos, even when we are told they are free to use, we aren’t always told the truth. It seemed a better practice to use my own photos or ones I have permission to use from people I know.

We hide our light under a bushel when we conceal our talents and abilities. Sometimes people hide their talents as a means of modesty or false modesty. Am I the only one that wonders what is bragging, and what is false modesty?

Humble means “modest, without an excess of pride.” A person who brags about being humble may have too much pride in being humble to actually be humble. We might say, “I’m just a humble person in search of…” We can probably imagine certain people saying this.

Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues. Confucius

When we think of humility we often think it is not thinking very much of our self. What if it’s more about a proper assessment or accurate assessment of our self, who we are, our character, skills, talents, gifts, grace, weaknesses, and accomplishments? Accepting this with gratitude and grace and being the best we can be. What if knowing our own limits, our strengths and weakness, morally or in all other ways is actually humility. That knowing our self and accepting ourselves, our good parts, bad parts, warts and all is actually humility. Not pretending we aren’t good enough, or actually thinking we aren’t good enough, it isn’t good to love other people but not ourselves. Who does that serve?

Humble people are thought to have the following traits.

They focus their energy on others.

Humble people tend to reflect inwardly, but focus their energy on other people. They put other people ahead of themselves. They have a real interest in others and their contribution to the world. They are not paralyzed by failure because they don’t feel they have to be perfect, this gives them the courage to try new things, to take new risks.

They are conscientious.

Humble people help out friends, are charitable and generous toward other people.

Their moral compass guides their decision making.

Humble people think about their values when they make a choice. They accept things with grace and stand by their decisions.

They see happiness as a journey.

We tend to achieve happiness when we aren’t actually pursuing it. When we aren’t only focused on ourselves, but giving to others is when we often find our passion, purpose, and meaning.

They excel as leaders.

Humble leaders give credit where it is due.

They know good things lie ahead – and they’re okay waiting for them.

When we live on the side of modesty, we are genuinely thankful for the opportunities and accolades we receive.

They have strong relationships.

Modesty and genuine graciousness towards others significantly strengthen social bonds.

Can we live our life, accepting ourselves how we are, own our talents, strengths, failures, and share our gifts with the world?

Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else. Judy Garland

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Humility: The Secret Ingredient of Success Hardcover – Oct 1 2016

by Pat Williams (Author), Jim Denney (Author)4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews from | Be the first to review this item

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Is giving the secret to a better life? When we give more, do we get more passion, meaning, and purpose?

When we give more, do we get more passion, meaning, and purpose?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the Second Theory of Thermodynamics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. Martin Luther King

Where would we be as a society without those who serve? The people who make things happen. The ones who make dinner appear on the table. The ones who worked for the money to buy the groceries that made the meal. The ones who make events happen we can attend.

Mothers, fathers, teachers, and volunteers make a lot of good things happen in life. We enjoy being members of clubs because of volunteers. Tonight is the election for our Executive team at Toastmasters. Everyone who serves on the Executive is a volunteer.

As I write this I’m looking at Hope + Me – Mood Disorders Association of Ontario volunteer speakers Program – “Peer Talk”. Successful applicants will gain 6 months of Toastmasters sponsorship. Until today I didn’t know this program existed. One of the things I’ve learned from Toastmasters and also from attending Al-anon with a friend is talking is the best therapy. When we tell our story, our truth it helps us put our lives in perspective, and when we help others, we help our self.

This is the secret that we often don’t realize, we don’t only help others when we volunteer, when we serve, we help ourselves build meaning and purpose into our lives. Is there a more serving pursuit than being a parent? Is there anything more meaningful than being a parent.

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

We have heard all our lives, it is better to give than to receive. This has been drummed into our head but have we thought of a deeper meaning than making sure we share our toys, dessert, money and time. Sometimes manipulators use our altruism to their advantage to get money from us, time from us, or support from us we didn’t want to give but felt guilted into. Do we need to be more discerning about where we give our time, money, and attention?

Through MRI technology, we know that giving activates the same parts of our brain as food and sex. Helping others may be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also wealthier, more productive, and meaningful. It seems we can’t give without receiving more ourselves.

Psychologists distinguish between “hedonic” well-being (a sense of happiness), and “eudaimonic” well-being (a sense of meaning and purpose). Researchers found that having strong social connections was important for happiness and meaningfulness. However, helping others in need, and identifying oneself as a “giver” in relationships, was related to meaning alone.

It turns out that not all types of giving have the same effects on us. Helping others is especially effective when we see the specific impact our actions have. This may be a way to not feel guilted into giving to causes we do not embrace.

In relationships, men are seen as the givers, women as the receivers. Women aren’t only receivers, we are multipliers. We take sperm and make a baby. We take a house and make a home. We take groceries and make a meal. We take moments and build a life.

We all need to give and receive in life. There can be no givers if there are no receivers. We need to find balance in our relationships, personal life, and outer life. At times in our life just keeping our family going may be all we can manage. At other times we have the energy to give to the larger world. We need to live our life in ebb and flow, we give, we receive, and we multiply. We find meaning, passion, and purpose when we give to others, they find meaning, passion, and purpose when they give to us.

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody. Chinese proverb

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Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success Hardcover – Apr 9 2013

by Adam Grant (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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The truth will set us free. We need to be honest with ourselves. Know thyself.

Know thyself. The truth will set us free. We need to b honest with ourselves.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Everyone holds his fortune in his own hands, like a sculptor the raw material he will fashion into a figure… The skill to mold the material into what we want must be learned and attentively cultivated. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In his book, This Is How Augusten Burroughs says a woman in an elevator told him, “life couldn’t be that bad.” He didn’t appreciate her “just think better thoughts” positivity. He didn’t know why it bothered him so much, but when he got back to his hotel room he saw the following headline, “Self-help makes you feel worse.” Canadian researchers found those with low self-esteem actually felt worse repeating positive statements about themselves.

The reason for this is it seems is we are lying to our self when we try to tell our self we are what we are not. If we are not yet thin, rich, fit, happy, or accomplished we know this. Lying and telling our self we are what we know we are not is not helpful. What is probably helpful is if we ask our self how could we bring to fruition these things we want to be, have, accomplish, develop, or create? What can we do to bring our hopes, dreams, aspirations, and longings into reality?

When we ask ourselves the right questions, we get answers. We can choose to eat better, which is better than telling our self we are already healthier, thinner, or fitter. We can tell our self the truth, we are eating better, but we need to know better than what? Trying to fool our self into feeling better without changing anything does not work. Robin Sharma tells us “the smallest of applications is worth more than the grandest of intentions.”

We need to take charge of our life and live it with intention, courage, honesty, and truth. If we could just look in the mirror and say positive stuff like “I am a winner.” Wouldn’t that be great but our mind will talk back to us and say “winner at what?”

We need to create our affirmations with total honesty, “I am becoming healthier because most of the time I make better eating choices, and most of the time I exercise. Then, we also have to eat the better food choices and get the exercise most of the time.

If you knew how much work went into it, you would not call it genius. Michelangelo

If we tell our self we are a lovable person then we will have to be a loving person. What is our definition of loving, when do we show this, to whom? We are smart enough to know empty words don’t mean anything. If we tell our self we are getting healthier because we are taking long walks, but if we haven’t been doing any walking this is just a lie.

Affirmations of the truth – will resonate with our subconscious. If we have trouble believing we are something, let’s go with disciplined. There is no point telling our self we are disciplined when deep down we believe or know we are not. We need to find something we are; that we truly believe that makes us feel good. Then when we say we are focused on becoming disciplined there is the truth. We can feel good every time we say we are focused on becoming disciplined, and as we say it, and as we become more disciplined, it becomes a self-fulfilling promise to our self.

It isn’t that affirmations don’t work. It is that we are often told to put the cart before the horse. We think we should tell ourselves things we haven’t accomplished yet, instead of telling our self we are becoming who we want to be by accomplishing what we want to accomplish. We “aren’t” we are becoming, there is a world of difference between repeating things we know are not true but wish were, instead of repeating things we are in the process of making come true, by our thoughts, and actions. We need to put a how in there. Nothing happens until something happens, and we are the one who will make things happen in our own life. We can tell our self we live in a clean house, but if we don’t actually clean it, or pay someone else to do it, it is unlikely to be true.

When we can look at our lives with truth and honesty and see the things that are good, what can change, and what we just have to live with we can get on with making the changes we can make. There is no point telling our self we are young and fit if all we can be is fit. We can, however, get busy at becoming fit, and that will make us feel younger.

We may need to embrace hard truths about our self. We may never be some of the things we want to be. We may never have a full head of hair again, embrace baldness. We may never be beautiful, embrace being unique. We may never be rich, embrace simplicity, happiness, joy, and gratitude.

This is our life. What we do, and what we think builds our life. Are we building the best life we can?

Our excuses are seducers, our fears are liars and our doubts are thieves. Robin Sharma

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, accomplishments, and love.

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Dry: A Memoir by [Burroughs, Augusten]
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Dry: A Memoir Kindle Edition

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Have we ever considered traveling alone?

Have we considered traveling alone, is it out of the question?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal. Robin S. Sharma

Yesterday I came across a blog called the Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel by Barbara Weibel. She has been traveling alone and blogging about it for years.

There is a solo travel society on Facebook with 230,000 fans and 63% of them are women. A survey found 65% of US women are taking vacations without their partners.

When asked why they travel solo women answered.

46% said, freedom, independence and the chance to do what they want.

22% said they weren’t willing to wait around for others.

15% said to challenge themselves and gain confidence. Solo travel lets you travel your way.

The nature of confidence is that it only comes after you take the risk. Joanne

I wish I’d had the confidence to take the trip to Europe I wanted to take in my late teens and early twenties. I never thought of going solo, when travel plans with others fell apart I just didn’t go. There’s a commercial out that shows a mother going off on her European solo trip with her daughter seeing her off at the airport.

We need to take our life in our hands. If for whatever reason we don’t have a partner to travel with we don’t have to not travel. Many women are blazing the trail of solo travel. Men are also traveling solo, but then they always have. We don’t have to wait for someone else to tell us what we can do with the rest of our life.

If we are lucky and have a partner we can make plans. If we don’t have a partner we don’t have to find one before we can start living the life of our dreams.

The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till the other is ready. Henry David Thoreau

Solo Traveler has their top ten tips for women who travel by themselves:

Choose your destination with intent.

Understand what you want to get out of your trip. Your inspiration may come from anywhere, a book, a movie, a story, somewhere you’ve always wanted to see. If you understand what’s drawing you to your destination you can have a more enriching experience. You may want to read Best Budget Destinations for Solo Travelers: The 2019 Shortlist

Plan your first night well.

At the very minimum have somewhere to spend the first night of every destination and plan to arrive by mid-afternoon. It’s important to find your hotel or hostel by daylight and have time to change your accommodations if the place does not seem safe. Read Solo Travel: 50+ Tips For Those Who Travel Alone.

Visualize the necessities but no more.

Traveling solo requires attention to details. Be open to opportunities as they arise. Read Solo Travel. Mindful Travel.

Pack light.

You’ll save money and be more mobile if you pack light. You need a wardrobe that stretches from hiking boots to high heels. Choose a base color (black, brown, beige, navy) a contrast color (white, beige…) and a color or two to accessorize and pull it all together. Read Bare Minimum Packing: Here’s Your Packing List.

Keep your accommodations to yourself.

Your accommodation is your safe haven. Don’t tell people where you’re staying. If they ask, be vague. Read Solo Travel Safety: Safe Answers to Common Questions.

You do not have to eat alone.

From cooking classes to day-tours, to themed dinners, there are so many ways to have company over dinner if that’s what you want. Read Solo travel: You Don’t Have to Eat Alone.

Protect your documents, cards, and cash.

Keep your passport and other important documents secure. Have backup copies on you and at home with a trusted contact. Read Protect Yourself from Pickpockets: Keep Cards & Cash Safe.

Meet other women travelers.

You can build friendships with women around the world. Read Sleeping with Strangers: The Hostel Experience and Women Welcoming Women: A Gateway to International Friendships.

Take a break from technology.

To really relax you may want to back off of social media for a while. Or I think you may want to embrace technology as that is how your friends and family can stay in touch, know you are safe, and enjoy your experiences. Read Transformed on The Ghan.

Stay local, buy local, and meet locals.

Plan well and have an understanding of how to support the local economy. Buy local crafts, eat local food, and stay in locally-owned accommodation so that the profits don’t leave the country. As you do this you will connect with locals. Read Travel Deeper: How to Connect with Locals and 7 Ways to Find a Free Tour Guide When You Travel.

Why do women travel alone more than men? Part of it may be life, divorce, death of a spouse or partner and still wanting to live our life, doing, and seeing new things. Maybe a trip will heal a broken heart. Travel may open our life to new opportunities, new ways of looking at things, and seeing life through different lenses. We may end up feeling strong, adventurous, and that we are experiencing all the joy we can out of life.

It may be one way of making lemonade out of the lemons life has thrown at us. Seeing the sights with someone we love may be our first choice. If that is not possible, we don’t have to settle for not seeing them.

Travel brings power and love back into your life. Rumi

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, passion, and love.

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How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter by [Kepnes, Matt]
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How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter Kindle Edition

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Happiness is not a flower picked in someone else’s garden. Happiness is a state of being.

Happiness is a state of being. Happiness is not a flower picked in someone else's garden.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their mind up to be. Abraham Lincoln

I just want to be happy seems like an innocent statement. In Augusten Burroughs book This Is How. He says he can’t think of another phrase capable of causing more misery and permanent unhappiness. With the possible exception of “Honey, I’m in love with your younger sister, and she’s agreed to marry me so I want a divorce.”

The problem with “I just want to be happy,” is the implication that we are not happy. We want lots of things in our life we don’t have. We might want to be rich, thin, popular, and wise. We might want world peace, unpolluted lakes, rivers, and oceans, to be able to reverse species extinction, and global warming,

What we “want” is something we don’t have. We need to define what it is that we are searching for because we can spend a lifetime of getting and doing things we thought would be the “one thing” that would make us happy. We’ll be happy when we are finished school, get a fabulous job, start a business, get married, buy a house, have a baby, the kids are in college, university or out of the house, and we retire.

If we are still waiting to be happy, instead of “being happy,” maybe we don’t know what happiness is. Happiness is a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

Maybe our problem with finding happiness is we are looking for “intense joy” and not contentment. We’ve all had times in our lives when we were looking forward to something that didn’t quite hit our happiness button. It fell short of our expectations. The joy wasn’t intense enough, the sunrise wasn’t breathtaking enough, the scene that spread before us wasn’t grand enough. Somehow we didn’t get awestruck like other people, and we were left thinking “is this all there is?” This is it; this is what the big hoopla is about?

After Oscar Wilde visited Niagara Falls in 1882, he declared the waterfall must be the second greatest disappointment in American married life. The relationship between the Falls and honeymooning had been well established since the 1830s.

In This Is How Augusten Burroughs says “Happiness is a worthy goal for those who are inclined on a genetic level toward the emotional end of the spectrum. But, happiness is a treadmill of a goal for those who are not happy by nature.

He says if we are not “happy” by nature perhaps we are other things by nature, fascinated, interested, driven, goal-oriented, or something else that doesn’t quite meet our definition of being “happy.”

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Mahatma Gandhi

Happy should not be our goal. Our goals should be defined, doable, and as we attain them we at least have a sense of accomplishment. In our minds, we may have elevated “happy” to something no one experiences.

If we focus on gratitude, we can do that, we can be grateful. When we focus on happy, how do we do happy? If we think happy people laugh a lot, we can put ourselves in situations where we laugh a lot, go out with friends, read funny books, watch funny movies, sing funny songs, rhymes, poems, etc.

If we think being “happy” is helping other people, we can do that. If we think being “happy” would be traveling the world, we can do that. If we think being “happy” is raising a family, we can probably do that even if our family is not “traditional.” Do we think belonging to a group is part of being happy? There are many groups to join and belong to.

They say regardless of our circumstances we have a “set point” of happiness. When our circumstances change such as winning the lottery, or less desirable circumstances we still in about six months are at our “set point” of happiness.

What if that is true, we are as happy as we will ever be? Maybe, happiness should not be our goal. Maybe we should figure out what we want out of life, maybe we should look for meaning, purpose, find a way to make a difference, grow, develop, and challenge ourselves to be better.

What if the goal of being happy is like the goal of being thin. Being thin isn’t a worthwhile goal; dying people are often “thin.” We say we want to be thin but don’t we really want to be fit, strong, svelte, healthy, and fit into beautiful clothes that fit a certain way?

Happiness may be exactly the same; we need to define what it means to us. Then we have to go after what our definition is. So we can say, oh, this is what happiness is. When we are our healthiest, fittest self, we don’t look like anyone else in the world. Our happiest self, won’t look like anyone else’s happiest self either.

We may need to accept our set point of happiness, just like we have to accept our nose, and other features. We need to be okay with being who we are. When we compare ourselves to others we will always fall short of being them, and they will fall short of being us. If the oak tree looks at the crab apple tree it will find itself wanting. I’m okay, and you’re okay. You be you, and I’ll be me. If on some days we are the best us, that has to be good enough.

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. Tom Bodett

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, happiness, and love.

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This Is How: Surviving What You Think You Can’t Paperback – Apr 23 2013

by Augusten Burroughs (Author) 3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Small changes, big effects. Can we make changes in our life that would have a big impact?

Can we make changes in our life that would have a big impact? Small changes, big effects.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

When we hear stories from friends, acquaintances or family about what people they know have lived through, survived, endured or suffered we question if we could be as brave, enduring, long-suffering, or courageous.

When I listen to my mom and how she dealt with being widowed with three children at twenty-five it is about dealing with what is, and getting through it one day at a time.

What if all of life is the same? Instead of sighing, and wringing our hands over what we can do about the environment we need to just get in there and do it.

We had friends over last night and the topic of plastic in oceans came up. Tampon plastic waste is one of the worst contributors; some people are calling them “beach whistles.” We don’t need plastic in our tampons. Women, we can do this, we can buy the tampons without plastic. Do we really need everything individually wrapped? If they need to be wrapped can’t they be wrapped in paper?

We women do most of the household purchasing, we can effect change by how we shop. Plastic straws are now out, paper straws are now in. Plastic tampons can be out as well. We need to be careful about what we flush down the toilet. It seems the plastic tampon products are being flushed, and ending up in our oceans because of it.

Tampons have been a great invention for women. We need to be responsible that our bodily functions aren’t such a big part of the world’s pollution problem.

How much plastic can we get rid of that is not recyclable? What are the changes we can make in our purchasing that will have an impact?

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do. Rob Siltanen

I have to admit I’m not as good about taking reusable bags to the supermarket as I should be. One of the things I am proud of is I used cloth diapers. It wasn’t a big deal, and I didn’t have to cringe at the store every week buying more diapers. I’ve never figured out what the cost would have been for two children in disposable diapers but it would have been quite a lot.

We know but don’t seem to really think about the fact that everything we throw away has to go somewhere, has to be dealt with in some way.

Disposable diaper companies are setting their sights on the poorer countries I’m reading. It might not be possible to get rid of many disposable products. Can we have them manufactured so they can be disposed of with the least environmental impact? Can we make products that have less environmental impact attractive to consumers?

Have you used the new paper straws? They seem okay to me.  Could it be even better if we don’t use so many straws?

An article by David Roberts states “We could shift to sustainability and save 26 trillion. Why aren’t we doing it?” According to him, we could save $26 trillion by 2030. That’s real money. The costs of the status quo keep rising: and the cost of the sustainable alternatives keeps declining.

Maybe we have to take a look at our practices and habits, what do we purchase that could be more sustainable, and less polluting? Purchasing tampons with cardboard instead of plastic or no applicator at all isn’t a huge inconvenience. Taking my reusable bags to the grocery store instead of buying bags is doable; I just have to do it.

Planting trees, and other plants and not using pesticides and herbicides is doable in our own gardens.

If we each start looking around will we see what we can do, what we can purchase that is better than another choice? Can we recycle and reuse more? Can we waste less? If we look after the little things will some of the big things take care of themselves?

We are all in this together. Our choices collectively will leave the planet better or worse. If we each do our part, can we be part of the change that makes things better?

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed, environmentally friendly day filled with gratitude, sustainability, and love.

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Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution Paperback – Oct 10 2002

by Gerald Markowitz (Author), David Rosner (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Fun and frivolity, laughter and karaoke. Do we have enough fun?

Do we have enough fun? Fun and frivolity, laughter and karaoke.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing your life can be. Maya Angelou

Last night we went to Karaoke and potluck night at a Toastmaster buddies house. Her husband is a musician/singer and most of us are not singers, karaoke or otherwise.

“I’m not singing, are you singing,” we all asked? No one was going to sing and yet we had a great time laughing and singing. Most of us got up and did our rendition of something. The music and the words on the laptop were not always in sync. Sometimes singing was in the song we thought was instrumental. We laughed our way through songs, we were good sports, we got up as groups and sang loudly, and exuberantly.

If we were all practiced karaoke people we might have been put off by the music and words not being quite in sync, or someone singing in what we thought was an instrumental version. We might have taken our performance too seriously; we might have let trying to be perfect interfere with having fun.

The karaoke part of the evening turned out much better than I expected. We were better sports than I thought we’d be. We got out of our comfort zone, we had fun. So much of our entertainment these days is watching someone else, play a sport, sing a song, dance, act, etc. We forget how much fun it is to participate and create our own fun.

Being part of a group means we can participate in fun activities, we can be light-hearted, we can play, we can get out of our comfort zone, and we can laugh.

Laughter is the best medicine. Karaoke is available to all of us who have access to YouTube and a laptop.

Game nights are ways to get people together to have fun being participants instead of viewers. Another Toastmasters group is putting on a comedy night at a local bar. The organizer would like four members of our Toastmasters group to step up and perform.  I’ve never done comedy, this may be an opportunity. When an opportunity presents itself, do we grab it, or do we spend the rest of our life thinking we wish we’d done that?

Stop dreaming about your bucket list and start living it. Annette White

It won’t change our life. We are unlikely to be discovered as the next singer or comedian if we step up, but we can say we did it. We got out of our comfort zone; we took a walk on the wilder side.  We had fun; if no one is willing to participate it is hard to put on events. If we participate when someone else puts something on and they participate when we do, events go well, everyone has fun, and people are willing to host, plan, and put on events.

Are our lives about wringing as much fun as we can out of our life? When we show up with our party face on, ready to participate and have fun we are doing our part.

Are we having as much fun as we can? Do we laugh enough, with others, and at our selves, or do we take ourselves too seriously? Do we only want to participate when we can shine, and be the star? If we want more fun in our lives, we have to get out and participate. Sometimes we have to be the catalyst for the fun, and sometimes we have to join in.

When we sit back in the corner, sometimes the party is over before we get up the courage to take our turn. All of a sudden everyone puts their coats on and the party is over. We missed our chance to bring more fun into our life, step out of our comfort zone, grow, be silly, or do something we secretly long to do. We never know when we’ll get another opportunity. If we grab hold of every opportunity when it presents itself, don’t we live a life with fewer regrets?

The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are moments when we touch one another. Jack Kornfield

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, fun, and love.

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Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and LeadPaperback – Apr 7 2015

by Brené Brown (Author) 4.7 out of 5 stars 184 customer reviewsAmazon Charts#6 this week

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Owning the greatness within. Becoming the best we can be.

Becoming the best we can be. Owning the greatness within.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

There is vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you try and block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. Martha Graham

It isn’t becoming famous or rich that makes someone great. Becoming rich or famous doesn’t mean they are using their gifts, nor does it mean they are not. Sometimes it seems that people who don’t have much in worldly goods are the most creative. Designers watch what the poor wear to get inspiration. When we can afford to purchase a designers line and where it how they meant it to be worn, where is the creativity in that?

When people go to Value Village or thrift shops, Salvation Army, or other used clothing shops and with a little artistic flare put clothes together worthy of being on runways, now that’s artistic flare. I watched my mother sew clothes when I was growing up. She could take remnants and turn them into something nice for us kids. I remember when she was going to one of my sister’s weddings, she sewed what we now call a capsule wardrobe for herself.

Quilting has evolved, but it had its start in using up every last scrap of material, nothing was wasted. If you’ve ever watched a documentary on Victorian times one of the things we see is how everything was used, reused, and used again. Thrift was a virtue.

It bothers Mom to take whole bolts of cloth and cut it up into bits and pieces for quilting. The greatest art of quilting may be that it was making something from almost nothing. True creativity was finding a way to put scraps together in an artistic way.

Necessity is the mother of invention. We don’t have as much necessity so maybe we aren’t as inventive. We have so much entertainment we don’t have to make our own fun. It is great to get together as a group and entertain ourselves. To throw a potluck where each person’s offering makes a feast.

No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit. Ansel Adams

Creativity is all around us. We see creative gardens where someone didn’t go to the garden center and pay to have everything put in at once. Many of their plants are not only beautiful but have a story. These are Sandra’s poppies. That peony came from Uncle Fred’s. This is a shoot off of Mom’s rose. This cherry tree was given to me by a neighbor. This rose garden is all the Mother’s day roses my children have given me.

We are all creative, but unless we make creativity part of our life it is an unused and unappreciated gift. When you watch little children play you know it’s true. They exuberantly play with paint, building blocks and any medium put before them. We give up our creativity at our peril. When we let creativity move through us we give life to things we didn’t know were in us. Perhaps they aren’t in us, but only come through us, if we are not the conduit through which life expresses itself does it find a more willing conduit?

We tell our self it doesn’t matter if we broaden our self by using our gifts. We tell our self our gifts aren’t great enough. People will laugh at us if we try and present our gifts to the world. The joy that springs up within us as we express ourselves is a joy we get no other way. The joy of writing a novel is not in putting it out in the world. The joy is in the doing. Even if it never gets out into the world if you are a writer, write. If you are a painter, paint. If you are a singer, sing. If you are a quilter, quilt. Creativity is expressing life’s joy.

When we learn to express our self through our gifts we find our self. We say through our art what calls to be said. We find the truth, expressing what we cannot express any other way. It thrills us to hear a song well sung, a painting well painted, a carving well carved. Viewing art expands us, invoking feelings we too long to express.

It does matter if you use your gifts. It matters to you. We make ourselves small and insignificant when we don’t express ourselves. Self-expression is a gift, use it, develop it, and own it.

We don’t serve our self or anyone else by keeping ourselves small. We do our part when we do the thing that calls out to be done and express what calls out to be expressed.

Are we owning the greatness within us?

Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency. Aesop

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, creativity, and love.

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The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life Paperback – Jan 6 2006

by Twyla Tharp (Author)

4.4 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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As we nurture nature, nature nurtures us. We live without nature at our peril.

We live without nature at our peril. As we nurture nature, nature nurtures us.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. Cicero

As the May long weekend approaches, many of us are in full gardening mode. The garden beckoned last evening but after a hard rain the soil was wet and it would have been a messier endeavor than I wanted to deal with. Off to the gym, I went instead.

The garden centers with their array of blooms may not help us make the best choices for our gardens. Horticulture societies plant sales are also springing up, and you can be sure their offerings grow easily in your area. Sometimes they are such noxious growers they almost count as weeds.

I planted one such plant which I absolutely love. Catmint (Nepeta faassenii) is in the mint family and very easy to grow. It spreads but that is part of its charm. If you plant it where you want it to spread it can be a wonderful addition to the garden. It is planted in the front of my house and fills in my border plantings. It blooms from spring to fall with beautiful purple flowers. This weekend I will plant more of it along the side of my house. It grows low and quite dense so it is a great background plant for bulbs, roses, lilies, and shrubs. It is long blooming, heat tolerant, resistant to pests, one foot tall and beautiful.

If you are looking for a background plant about one foot high, that spreads, looks good all season and will fill in your bare spots. This may be the plant for you.

One of the plants in my garden I love is the Fern leaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia. It has large red flowers and is a long-lived perennial that is hardy to zone 2. When I first learned of this plant I wanted one. It was for sale for fifty dollars. Even though it was an addition I wanted that seemed too steep. A year later it was for sale for fifteen dollars and I snapped it up.

Another year I added a Tree Peony to my garden and although it is still alive the single pink peony it was grafted to has almost taken over. I can’t bring myself to cut off the single Tree Peony stalk that sticks out of the herbaceous peony.

When we first moved to this house I was in love with Rhododendrons and Azaleas, I bought a couple but they didn’t live long. They don’t do well in my garden and after a few years, I quit planting plants I know don’t do well.

In our garden as well as other areas of our life we can accept the limitations of our soil and climate or we can work hard to grow what needs extra care. Some people plant fig trees they bury each fall. It is worth it to them and that is what makes looking at other peoples gardens interesting. The choices they’ve made, the plants they’ve planted together, do they have an explosion of color or a muted palette? Do they stick to a garden type, English, Japanese, or vegetable? Do they have plants we’ve never seen? Are they able to grow things we cannot?

A garden is a grant teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. Gertrude Jekyll

Every garden is as individual as the person who plants it. Our garden says something about us; do we like what it says? Does it reflect our life; even reflect the lack of time we have to spend on it. What do the plants we choose say about us? Our garden may say more about us than we think, leisure time, disposable income, friendships (plants passed along) as divisions, and gifts, neat and tidy, or growth with wild abandon, a vibrant or muted palette, or a collectors garden.

Our garden like ourselves will evolve over time, some seasons of our life we hardly have time to garden. Other times we can spend most of our day out there. Our garden will reflect this. Gardening is good for our mental health, physical and emotional health. Our garden can be our sanctuary, our work of art, a healing space, or where we entertain. Whatever we get out of our garden it is likely more than we put into it.

Gardening enhances emotional, physical, and mental well-being. It is used in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitative and mental health centers. Creating more green space in our cities fights crime. When we get involved in taking responsibility for caring for something, creating an environment that produces growth such as a garden it builds self-esteem. Lack of self-esteem is one of the reasons people gravitate to crime. To build up our society, we need to build up individuals to see the worth in themselves and others.

When we look upon nature we are healed. If we bring more nature into our world we are a conduit for good. Our gardens may do more good for ourselves and others than we think. What if planting something is part of the change we need to see in the world? Is it true that the greener our world is, the better our society is? Can we all make a difference in some small way by planting something this spring?

The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway. Michael Pollan

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, nature, and love.

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Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet Paperback – Apr 28 2003

by Frances Moore Lappe (Author), Anna Lappe (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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