Being enough. We are enough, we can make a difference.

Being Enough - photo of Daniela's orchid by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. William James

Why do we fear we are “not enough?” This is a fear that affects us all, but it shows up differently for each of us. Some people become overachievers, other people constantly compare themselves to others, for some, it is procrastination and avoidance and not finishing what we start.

How would we ever begin to define what is “good enough”? We often think we’ll be good enough when…

Yet there are people who make plenty of money in prestigious occupations, are the perfect weight and fitness level, perfectly coifed and manicured that still don’t feel they are enough.

We think if we could just figure out when we first began to feel we weren’t enough we could get to the heart of the problem and solve it. This will only help if instead of getting angry we forgive those who also didn’t feel like they were enough and passed it on to us.

We love affirmations but maybe they aren’t as helpful as we think. Saying “I am enough, I am enough,” may not be as helpful as asking “why am I enough?”

When we ask questions our subconscious will find answers. If we ask positive questions we will get positive answers.

We are enough because we were born. Being the chosen sperm and egg is already a huge accomplishment.

We are enough because we are to experience what we are to experience, not to experience what someone else is to experience.  In this life, we are to use our gifts, talents, and where we are to do our part to make this life as good as it can be.

We often compare the worst of ourselves to the best of someone else. We do not know their challenges. The prettiest girl in the room doesn’t always have the most self-esteem. Successful people, we all envy have demons of their own.

We all have doubts, weaknesses, things we don’t like about how we look, the circumstances we are in, the circumstances we were brought up in. Life is about going from here to there, wherever here is and wherever there is.

When we don’t have money we think, we’d be happy and be “enough” if we had money. This is why we pay the lottery tax. When we don’t have looks we think if we had looks we’d be enough. Being pretty or handsome doesn’t make you happy or feel like enough, sometimes the pretty feel the most used, they only want me for my looks, body, sex, etc.

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. Zig Ziglar

When we live our life, really live it, give everything we are to a greater cause, like motherhood, fatherhood, or a great cause we are enough. We are everything to someone.

When the “not enough” voice rears its head we need to think what is it this voice is making me not do, procrastinate, hold back, what do we fear, and why do we fear it. How can we flip it around so instead of saying we can’t do this because we are not enough, we can say, why can we do this?

When we face our fears we become more of who we are. When we forgive those who are mean, hurtful, and demeaning, we don’t have to carry that stuff with us anymore. Forgiving is for us, not for them. We too often think when we forgive someone it is for them, we are letting them off the hook. It is us we are letting off the hook; it is our burden we are lifting.

We can do little things in our life that are “the right thing.” Keeping our kitchen sink shiny can be like giving our self a hug in the morning. Making our bed and doing morning exercises can set the tone for the day. Making our lunch is frugal and healthy. Giving our spouse a hug and a kiss can help our marriage flourish. Small habits build our life. We can celebrate our wins.

We can let out our disappointments instead of keeping them bottled up inside by talking about them, or journaling.

We can quit beating ourselves up when we miss the mark. We will fail, we need to be willing to embrace failure and fail bigger, fail better. The more responsibility we take for our lives the more we can build the life we want. If we don’t take responsibility we feel like the victim. It is victim mentality that is part of not being “good enough.”

What can we do today to make our self feel good about our self? Where can we be generous, kind, considerate, inspiring, complimentary, encouraging, and forgiving? Who can we help?

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows. Ralph Marston

Toronto Christmas Market, friends, food, frivolity and new experiences.

Toronto Christmas Market Lunch at Cluny's photo by Sandra Jensen

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Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. Muhammad Ali

Yesterday three friends and I braved the rain and headed down to the Toronto Christmas Market. We met at the Go Station but the price for Uber was very little more than four tickets on the Go Bus and Uber to the market. One of us had purchased our Go ticket already but was able to cancel it.

The market was free until five so the fugal four walked into the market a few minutes before 12:00. It is decorated with lights, the time to really enjoy it would be in the evening. A tunnel of lights with a decorated bench and a Grey Goose overhead beckoned us, a marvelous pink haired young lady obliged by taking pictures of us. She was such a good sport she’s in one. There is mistletoe for lovers wanting an excuse to kiss and we took pictures of a lovely young couple after they took pictures of us.

We walked through a store with kitchen gadgets for everything I could think of. I saw a lovely silver citrus juicer. An array of placemats and coasters made of various materials including leather was on display. We walked through an antique store, among its treasures was a large metal “B”. I have a picture holding it.

We have a photo of the two widows among us holding a sign that says, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

We lunched at Cluny’s Bistro a modern French-inspired restaurant. The décor is beautiful, the food was great, we ate Crisp Sesame- Crusted Asparagus, Melted Gruyere served as French onion soup and a basket of assorted breads. We left room for what might take our fancy as we walked through the rest of the market.

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. Khalil Gibran

We wanted to find mulled wine, but when we found it we had to sit in a small fenced area and our time was running short. We opted for spiced cider and tarts, I choose a raspberry coconut tart which was one of the best tarts I’ve ever eaten. My friend chose the same tart and said, “I’ll just take a bite and take the rest home to share.” The rest didn’t make it home.

Everything about our outing yesterday was an experience. It was a day of firsts, I’d never been to The Toronto Christmas Market, never taken an Uber, never been to Cluny’s restaurant or the Distillery District.

A fun day with friends, new experiences, lots of laughter and photos. We talked about making this an annual tradition. We’ll see, one never knows what the future holds, where the four of us will be next year. It was a wonderful day.

This is the ninth year of the Toronto Christmas Market, it is expected 650,000 people will visit it during this holiday season. It was always the idea to turn the Distillery district into a tourist destination and neighborhood with unique shops, restaurants, and culture. It was easy to get people out in the summer but the winter was another story. The idea was to take the sentiments and spirit of the traditional European Christmas Market and use them to transform the Distillery into a holiday tradition where people would connect with friends and family.

The market is so busy they charge an entrance fee of $6.00 after five pm on Friday until 9:00 pm on Sunday just to stagger the crowd. The money goes to the operational costs of the market and the surplus is donated to charity.

The Distillery Christmas Market is a success born out of a problem, how to get people out to the Distillery district during the winter. The problem solvers in life make things better, not just for themselves but for all of us.

We can be inspired by those who solve problems by becoming problem solvers our self. Is there a problem we can see that needs solving? Are there outings we could plan to bring more joy to our friends and our own lives?

Problems are nothing but wake-up calls for creativity. Gerhard Gschwantner

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Friendship Book 2019 Hardcover – Sep 1 2018

Noble Questions. How can I make it better?

Noble Questions - Photo of hibiscus flower by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clinging and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit. Jack Kornfield

Its day 14 of Soul Coaching and the last day of water week – releasing victim thinking/choosing our life.

Our affirmation for the day is: Who we are is enough, just the way we are.

We are to find another area of our house to clean. Denise Linn author of Soul Coaching gives an example if we clean the floor we should affirm, we are supported and our foundations are clear and strong. If we wash the windows we could affirm we see clearly.

In level 1 we are to ask our self “Noble Questions.” Denise Linn says we should watch the questions that pop into our mind throughout the day. Some of our questions are mundane. Today friends and I are going to the Christmas Market should we take the Go Bus or Uber? Will it rain?

Other questions are more disturbing, recurring questions. What is wrong with us? Why can’t we lose weight? Why do we have problems in our relationship? When we ask questions our subconscious mind searches and finds answers. It does not doubt the premise of our question; it finds an answer to the question. These are unworthy questions. To unworthy, negative questions we get unworthy and negative answers. Negative questions keep us in victim mode.

Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energy moving forward together towards an answer. Denis Waitley

How can we replace our negative questions with “Noble questions”? A “Noble Question” would be how can we be more fit and healthy instead of why can’t we lose weight? Why can’t we find love could be replaced with how can we experience even more joy and love in our life? How can we be more prosperous replaces why are we always broke?

Today we are to find one negative question we constantly ask our self and replace it with a “Noble Question”? I think my Noble Question for today will be: How can I make a positive difference in the lives of those I love?

If we are going through a situation she suggests instead of asking why me? We could ask: If there is something to be gained from this situation, what would it be? Why are we allowing this person or situation to victimize us? How can we change our perception of this event so we don’t feel victimized? We have choices: Do we need to stand up to someone? Do we need to walk away? Do we need to change the context in which we view the situation?

Denise Linn tells us by accepting that we own all of our life, the good, the bad, the pretty, the sad, what we fear, what we love, and what we hate we take back our power. It is what it is, and it is ours. When we accept it, we can change it. We can’t do anything about the things that happen in all cases, the only thing we may be able to choose is our reaction. There is a lot of power in that choice. What situation in our life can we not change, but change our reaction to?

The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward. Steve Maraboli

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Simplifying life is an ongoing task

Simplifying Life - Snow covered bushes photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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The aspects of things that are most important to us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

The newly fallen snow creates a winter wonderland this morning. No snow is falling now so it shouldn’t be too hazardous for driving. Another morning of blessings and gratitude.

My den is piled with the makings of the Christmas Party at Toastmasters tonight. Another night of laughter and frivolity.

I picked up shortbread cookies for my husband yesterday. We shared them and now my right eye is twitching. It hasn’t done this for a long time. Shortbread cookies and I don’t seem to get along. When my husband reads this he will laugh. He thinks my linking things to food is crazy. I think we are what we eat, food affects us, and when something in our body doesn’t feel right we should look at what we’ve eaten.

It’s those little things, that cause nagging little problems we can look after before they get to be big out of control things. If we look after the pennies the dollars look after themselves. What is true in finance is also true in our health, attitude, and every day well being.

The dishwasher broke this week and everyone has been making an effort to wash their dishes as they use them. My son said last night,  “when are you getting the dishwasher fixed?” No dishwasher seems to be working better than having a dishwasher. Do I really want to get it fixed? Let’s do a month of this and see if we develop better habits.

 25 Ways to Simplify Your Life

  1. Prioritize. Don’t treat everything as being equally important. First things first.
  2. Think ahead. Know where you’re going before you try to get there.
  3. Do it now. Do you procrastinate? Nothing happens until you start.
  4. Find a shortcut. Determine whether it’s been done or you’ll reinvent the wheel.
  5. Limit obligations. Free up your schedule. “No” should always be an option.
  6. Learn by mistakes. Lessons will be repeated until they are learned.
  7. Delegate. Get more done and buy more time for yourself as a bonus.
  8. Pick your battles. Don’t waste effort on things beyond your control.
  9. Ignore distractions. Stop letting other people hijack your day.
  10. Be your own person. Make yourself proud rather than seeking approval from others.
  11. Be a problem solver. Address small problems before they become big ones.
  12. Stop overthinking. Make a decision and don’t look back.
  13. Value relationships. Invest in relationships to avoid the time repairing them.
  14. Let it go. Leave the past behind.
  15. Plan for an emergency. Don’t wait for a fire to locate the exits.
  16. Ask for help. Know your limits. Never be too proud to learn.
  17. End the drama. Gossip is a disease spread from mouth to mouth.
  18. Add by subtracting. If something no longer serves a purpose, eliminate it.
  19. Give it up. Don’t impose your values on others. People change when change is their choice.
  20. Live within your means. Learn the meaning of “enough.”
  21. Keep everything in perspective. Moderation is the balance of life.
  22. Focus. Don’t try to be good at everything –– you’ll end up being mediocre at everything.
  23. Manage your expectations. Settle for excellence rather than perfection.
  24. Be grateful. Appreciate what you have or you’ll be forced to learn what it meant to you after you lose it.
  25. Follow your conscience. You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life.

Simple Isn’t Always Easy

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. Confucius

I got this list from Frank Sonnenberg’s blog.

I think people want very much to simplify their lives enough so that they can control the things that make it possible to sleep at night. Twyla Tharp

We can have a simple life by going in a straight line or we can have a complicated life filled with twists and turns. We don’t always think we have a choice and sometimes we don’t. Things happen we have to deal with, but sometimes we put things in place we knew we’d have to deal with. It’s a question I’m asking myself, do I make my life more complicated than it needs to be?  Many of us act before we think, overcommit ourselves, talk without thinking, fail to learn from our mistakes, procrastinate until the last second, don’t prioritize, and don’t make living within our means a priority.

What if instead of complaining about our complicated lives we did something about it? Where do we start? What does an uncomplicated life look like? Is our biggest fear an uncomplicated life would be boring?

We read books, magazine articles and blogs about people who have downsized, right-sized, gotten off the treadmill, changed their thinking and changed their life. Where are the people that have done it and regret it?

It is harder to do as a couple. There is more than one point of view to consider. It is easy to see someone else’s possessions as clutter but our own as necessary.

If our life is complicated, we can do something about it. What is a small thing we can do today?

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. Henry David Thoreau

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Rightsizing Your Life: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most Paperback – Jan 4 2007

Volunteering. Getting more by giving more.

Getting More By Giving More - Photo of clematis by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good. Aristotle

Last night was our Christmas craft night at the Horticultural Society. Bundles of greenery were presold in bundles. Making a centerpiece was demonstrated and members set to making their centerpieces. My job was helping hand out the greenery, collect money if any was owed and sell the extra bundles.

I usually make a pot for outdoors but we don’t bring soil into the Church hall. This is a messy night already and soil only adds to the mess. My bundle of greenery is in the garage. I’ll assemble my outside arrangement over the weekend. The greenery is wonderfully fresh, all the way from B.C.

A few years ago the greenery was provided by a group of women who got together on a weekend and provided the greenery for free. They then put on a demonstration making fabulous Christmas decorations. They decorated a wooden sled, wooden skis, outside urns, and created centerpieces.

They are a hard act to follow; for years they entered contests at the CNE and Canada Blooms. Things change, they are less involved in the club and so am I. When we have extraordinary members in clubs the clubs thrive, the energy is palpable. Finding new people to take their place is challenging.  At one time I thought I would get more involved with the Horticultural Society but my interests have gone in other directions.

Being involved in a group is more fun than being on the periphery of one. It takes time and we only have so much of it. We have to pick and choose where we put our time. The Horticultural Society is now least on my list of groups. It is something a friend and I do most months. We are members but we don’t contribute much. Helping out last night was the most fun I’ve had at the Hort in a long time. Helping out, we talk to other members, we feel part of it, we belong.

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. Muhammad Ali

I am so grateful to all the Churches that rent out space to organizations at reasonable rates. These groups help build our communities, give meaning to people’s lives, and help us connect with each other.

Everywhere I look people are building “online” communities. We need to not forget the physical communities we live in. If we don’t interact with each other we don’t learn to trust each other. If we don’t trust each other we don’t build good communities.

Research shows people at the lowest income levels make calculated decision for a variety of reasons. They favor immediate financial rewards over larger delayed rewards. This is not a good way to build a community where much of what is done on a community level is volunteered.

When we get involved with community groups we are introduced to likeminded individuals, keep our body and mind active, and hone and grow new skill sets. A Stats Can survey finds Canadian volunteers feel an improved sense of well-being and health, meet people through networking, and contribute to the community. When we are in the throes of raising children and working full-time jobs, volunteering may be hard to fit in, as those responsibilities lessen we have opportunities to fit volunteering into our life.

We create the communities we live in. Communities change and grow as the individuals that make them change and grow. Many of us want to live in a great community, but do we want to be the ones that make that community great?

Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless. Sherry Anderson

Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more. H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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Volunteering: Personal, Social and Community Benefits Paperback – Mar 5 2013

Experiences and adventure are more important than things.

Experiences and Adventure - Watercolor map of Canada

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Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind. Anthony Bourdain

Last night my husband was looking at old pictures on the computer from eleven years ago. We looked so young and so happy. On the weekend we visited my niece and her husband who are where we were eleven years ago. They look so young and happy.

Looking at our pictures I see it was a phase in our lives. The kids were almost grown. Everything was pregnant with possibility. We weren’t worried about retirement yet.

There are phases in our lives we look back on before all the decisions were made. It was the last trip across Canada together. The last time we would see my Dad.

It is with gratitude I look at those pictures and am so happy we took the time off work to take that trip. We learn things when we travel about ourselves and about other people.

We hear how important it is to travel abroad for young people. Traveling in Canada can be as enlightening. My kids handled a rifle and shot at clay pigeons in Alberta. They saw the badlands of Canada and the U.S. and visited the Royal Tyrell Dinosaur Museum at Drumheller.  On another trip, we took the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island and visited Butchart Gardens. They saw their first totem poles in Stanley Park and dipped their toes in the Pacific ocean.

They visited the small town where I went to school and the farm where I grew up. We had hoped to visit a rodeo but didn’t. It was a small local rodeo it is the one regret of the trip. We always regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain

We haven’t traveled enough we tell ourselves. Watching Facebook we see the trips other people are taking and it gives us inspiration. We see things in their pictures we only see in magazines or not at all.

My mom used to say, “all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.” We don’t have time for fun, travel, and experiences at our peril. Life roles along whether we keep our head stuck to the grindstone or lift it up and enjoy what is offered up to us through travel, outings, festivals, carnivals, or parks. We have a lot to experience in whatever corner of Canada or the world we live. We can bring more fun into our lives by planning small and big outings. Too often we fail to make plans and wonder why someone else is living the exciting life of our dreams. They made it happen, we do not.

A trip to Scotland may be out of the question, but we have small towns and places of interest everywhere for day or weekend trips. It isn’t more worthwhile because you flew five or eighteen hours to get somewhere. Too often I answer “what do you want to do?” with, “what do you want to do?”

Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul. Jamie Lyn Beatty

I think we can’t afford the expense, the time, or don’t want to bother. I look at the pictures of the trips we’ve taken. We managed with the time off. The business didn’t fold because we took a week or two off. A lot of the things we want to do in life are doable if we plan and make them happen. There is power in a decision. There is no power in “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Do you have an answer today if someone asks, where would you like to go? What would you like to do?

Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that mountain. Jack Keroucc

Canada Travel Guide (Travelling on a Budget Book 2) by [Elsmore, Sarah Jane]
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Sensitivity and strength. Building strength in the broken places.

Sensitivity and Strength - Bug on pale pink flower - photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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I think that I have a sensitivity toward people, and that is a strength. Joe Torre

Family get-togethers are fun. I feel blessed we don’t end up in fights, crying, and hurt feelings with no further communication. We have had these, which family hasn’t? We need to accept our families how they are, quirks, foibles, talents, and achievements. Christmas and holidays can be times of unmet expectations. This will be the year… Why do we put expectations on things? Why can’t we just enjoy a simple dinner, a glass of wine, a joke, a laugh, a funny story about their lives, our lives, and our childhood?

We aren’t perfect, we’ve never been perfect but we are still loved and accepted. We have to be able to accept ourselves with our imperfections. Sometimes accepting ourselves when we missed the mark is the hardest.

Sometimes we forgive ourselves, but others can’t forgive us. We get sensitive to everything they say. We have to be careful not to hear blame and disappointment every time they speak.

We start to second guess why they don’t think they can do something we were looking forward to. Are they trying to get back at us? Are they really too busy?

We become overly sensitive at our peril. If we can try to always find a reason why someone else is acting how they are without putting it on our self we are better off. The crazy driver is going through something we don’t understand, but that’s on them, not on us. Everyone is responsible for their own mood including us. Sometimes we can’t help it, we are overwhelmed by what we feel, and we pollute everyone’s space we come in contact with. If they can know it’s us and not them we are all better off.

Wallow too much in sensitivity and you can’t deal with life or the truth. Neal Boortz

It’s not all about you, my husband says. I’m trying to remember that as I go through life. Other people’s problems, the driver’s problems, and the cashier’s problems are not my problems.

We need to control our nagging inner critic. The critic that pops up when we hear how well others are doing and start comparing the worst of ourselves to the best of someone else. We have our gifts, but they pale in the light of someone else’s achievements. We need to treat ourselves with love and compassion, we are doing the best we can, or we are trying to figure out how to do the best we can. We are a work in progress. Sometimes that work is on the iceberg level, not the apparent level. It is still growth, it is still progress.

We need to take care of ourselves in fundamental ways so we can take care of others and be kind, caring, encouraging, loving, empathetic, compassionate.

We need to give up trying to control everything.  We need to let the process of life unfold and live in joy, creativity, finding our passion and purpose, and letting others do the same.

We can focus on the positive while being realistic about life can’t we?

Anybody who wears their feelings on their sleeve and has a harder, crusty shell – like I do – is definitely protecting an inner sensitivity. Fred Durst

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Mastering Adulthood: Go Beyond Adulting to Become an Emotional Grown-Up Paperback – Jan 2 2019

Christmas magic is hard work, organization and sacrifice.

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Christmas is forever, not for just one day, for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf. The good you do for other’s is good you do for yourself. Unknown

Our phones have not been able to connect to my blog for a little over a week. I noticed it when I went to show a friend from Toastmaster the book I was recommending a week ago.

I was worried other people were being kept out too. My friend could get on it, my kids could get on it. My husband could get on it about two days before I could. An update on our Samsung phones looks like it created the problem, and a second update fixed it but it took a couple of days after the second update before voila my blog appeared. Another thing to be grateful for.

I am thankful. Yesterday was the Christmas social at my writer’s group. I was able to click on my blog when someone wanted to see it.

Soon we’ll get the Christmas tree. We get a real one. Growing up we had Christmas trees that were destined to be sixty feet tall. The branches were far apart with short needles, Charlie Brown Christmas trees. Now we have an array of trees to choose from Balsam Fir, Scotts Pine, Fraser Fir, White Pine, Colorado Blue Spruce, Serbian Spruce, and  Douglas Fir. They are beautiful trees that have been farmed and groomed to be Christmas trees.

It isn’t your tree that makes Christmas, it is everything else. I remember fondly as a child going to Christmas Concerts, in Churches, our town put on a Christmas party for the kids where we usually saw a movie, and we also had one at our one-room schoolhouse that was converted to a Community Centre/Hall. Singing Christmas carols, eating food the ladies prepared, and the obligatory Santa. Walking outside the snow crunched as we walked, and the houses with their bright lights and chimney smoke looked like Christmas cards. When my older sisters and their families came home we had big fun family gatherings, with Aunts and Uncles.

My dad, uncles, and brother in law would play instruments and sing. All these memories of happy times I’m grateful for. Those years didn’t last long. We grow up, life changes, but the memories remain. We learned the importance of making Christmas. Christmas doesn’t just happen. Christmas is a lot of work to create the ambiance, the activities, and the food. It seems like magic but it is organization, effort, and sacrifice.

We see the joy on people’s faces as they donate toys to charity. Toys they will never see played with. A lady was beaming on TV she started buying pajamas for women and children in shelters. Each year she has more and more shelters she provides pajamas for. She remembers how every year she got a new pair of flannelette pajamas for Christmas. She wants to give that to others. This is her Christmas she says, how lovely, how meaningful, how thoughtful.

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love. Hamilton Wright Mabie

We need to make new traditions as old traditions end. Friends and I are going down to the Christmas market. I’ve never been, I’m looking forward to it. Maybe it will become a tradition.

This is the first year my daughter won’t be here for Christmas dinner. She has started her own family. We have a Christmas breakfast tradition. She and her husband will be with us for breakfast and then at his parent’s for dinner. Friends who have had Christmas with us for years will come for breakfast, but probably not stay for dinner, a movie, then pie and ice-cream.

When I spoke to our friend she thought they would come later for dinner. I told her to come for breakfast because that is when we would all be together. We may have a very small group for dinner.

Life evolves. We need to adjust and make the best of it. Our little girl isn’t a little girl anymore. We wouldn’t want her to be. We are happy to see her building her own life, her own traditions.

There is so much to be grateful for. My cup runneth over. We have a happy change in our life this year. Friends have different changes, the place at the table is empty for the first time, or it is still empty. New traditions are forced on them.

We need to enjoy the present. We don’t know what the future holds. Talk and laugh and enjoy each other. We never know when it will be the last time. If we make the best of what we have while we have them, we have fewer regrets. This makes it easier a friend tells me.

Enjoy this happy season or just get through it if that’s your situation. We can do for our families or do for people outside our families. It is doing that makes Christmas. What can we do to make this a better Christmas for someone?

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of youth, and transport the travelor back to his own fireside and quiet home! Charles Dickens

Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas

Oct 16 2018

by Ace Collins


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Random acts of kindness. Good will to all.

Random Acts Of Kindness - photo of tree by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

Last night the theme of Toastmasters was “Good Will To All.” As the Chair, I talked about how a woman went out of her way for my family.

Twenty-seven years ago in September, we were blessed with our second baby a healthy, beautiful baby girl. My husband took the obligatory photos. When we went to pick up our pictures (remember that) they gave us a package with a strip of empty film and said there were no photos on the roll.

It was disappointing, to say the least, but we had our healthy baby girl. A couple days before Christmas I got a phone call. Did we have a new baby? “Yes,” I said. “I was given your pictures,” the lady said. She had taken back the wrong photos she was given and made the attendant call the names before and after her name to find the rightful owners. If she hadn’t done that I’m sure the photos would have gone in the garbage. After all, the mistake was already dealt with. We didn’t think we had any photos.

I picked up my photos, wrapped them and put them under the tree for my husband. That lady, I never got her name made a special Christmas even more special because she went out of her way for strangers. I am forever grateful to her. She and people like her make this a better world. What special pictures was she looking for but didn’t get?

We can make life better for someone with a smile, compliment, opening the door for them, letting them go ahead of us when they only have a couple of items.

Some people are very complimentary, others find it more difficult. Compliments don’t jump out of my mouth. I appreciate them, but I am not at the ready with a compliment for everyone. I could do better and will endeavor to give at least one compliment per day. I don’t always think about what experience someone wants or expects and what I can do to help them have it.

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. Saint Basil

A good way to compliment people is with a note. Many people don’t hear how special they are often enough. Last night a thoughtful member of Toastmasters left a note and chocolates for the staff that cleans the room we were in. She is a delightful person that knows how to win friends and influence people. It was a small thing, but I bet it made a big impact on the two young men who may feel not that appreciated as they put away chairs and straighten tables in the community center. Young men always seem to be hungry so a little snack was sure to hit the spot.

As my mother says, “it’s the little things.” Small things become big things. Little hurtful acts grow and small thoughtful acts multiply. Our choice, would we like to be known as thoughtful, kind, compassionate, or callous, hurtful, mean, and thoughtless?

Beginning today, treat everyone we meet as if they are going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them the care, kindness, and understanding we can muster, and do it with no thought of reward. Our life will never be the same again. Og Mandino said this, what if we lived it?

A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money. John Ruskin

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The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart and Your World Paperback – Feb 2 2018

4.6 out of 5 stars   21 reviews from |


Mission statements. Charting our course

Mission Statement - photo of Mallard Duck by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Give me a stock clerk with a goal, and I’ll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals, and I’ll give you a stock clerk. Mr. Penny of JC Penney

Mr. Penny understood the value of having goals that reflect our mission and how they can change the course of our life. His goals for himself and his company were grounded in his mission statement of the Golden Rule.

Steven Covey author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says our mission statement is about “defining the personal, moral and ethical guidelines within which we can most happily express and fulfill our self.”

Mission statement. We can’t get somewhere if we don’t know where we are going.

Yesterday I finished day 7 of Soul Coaching. We are to write out our mission statement that reflects our purpose in life.

This is what I came up with.

To live life to the fullest with a grateful heart and a positive attitude. To thrive with love, compassion, humor, and style while giving everything I have to the people I love and the environment around me, and make it a better place for all. To write and speak the truth as I know it. To learn and grow, living my values with passion, and purpose. To make sense of the world, relationships, creative energy, what we love, and what we fear. To be a catalyst to help others go ah-ha I’ve thought that too. To set goals and make things happen.

Everything we do; our investments of time, money, relationships and energy should fit into this mission statement. A mission statement should tell us three things and be between 50 to 100 words and focus on what we want, not on what we don’t want.

Our purpose.

Our direction.

What matters to us.

There are questions we can ask our self that clarify what we want as we construct our mission statement.

What is important? What/whom do we value?

Where do we want to go?

What does “the best look like for us?

How do we want to act?

What kind of legacy do we want to leave behind? What would we like inscribed on our tombstone?

What is our definition of success?

What are our goals?

We don’t have to throw a few words together and never revise them. We can take the time to put something together and then realize oh, what about that, and add it in. This mission statement can be refined as we figure out who we are, our values, and what we want.

For many years the focus of my life was marriage, kids, and work. The kids are making their own mission statements as they take their place in the world. We have things that are important to us, what we aspire to, what we hope for, what we work for. Writing it down means we can focus on what we really want instead of a hazy morphing idea.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. Maya Angelou

One of the areas I’ve fallen down is making goals. I’ve had lazy, hazy, amorphous goals. The goal to be a better person, fitter, more prosperous, more grateful, a writer, better mother, and better wife these are not specific enough.

What is better? Better than what? With no definition, it’s just words. One of the questions I’ve least wanted to be asked in my life is. What do you want? Why don’t I have a ready answer on my tongue, a stream of things I want?

I knew if I wanted to be a writer, I had to write. The only writing I was managing was in my journal. Wishing didn’t make it so. It was when I created a writing habit by sitting down and writing every night I became a writer. Sitting down and making time to write was the answer.

The reason I don’t have a steady stream of answers is I haven’t put in place the way to make things happen. We’d like to travel is wonderful and something we’d like as a goal. To become a goal we have to be able to ask the question. How can travel become a possibility and probability in our life? Where do we want to go, when, how, with whom? What are we willing and able to do to make the amorphous, hazy, into concrete reality?

A mission statement is not something you write overnight… But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life. Stephen Covey

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A Personal Mission Statement: Your Road Map to Happiness Paperback – Sep 4 2014