Moving forward, trying new things.

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We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. Walt Disney

Last night I went down to my art studio and looked at my bookshelf. There I saw a book I bought years ago. Take The Step The Bridge Will Be There by Grace Cirocco. I was listening to the radio in the office one day quite a few years ago, and I heard a voice I recognized. We’d met when our daughters were in ballet.

She was on the radio promoting her book. The book is inspirational. I picked it up last night and started reading it again. I didn’t pick up my paintbrush. Instead, I read and started doing some of the exercises, answering some of the questions.

This morning I looked her up on the internet and she has a YouTube video. It’s a compilation of interviews. She’s talking about believing in our self, taking the step and knowing we are enough. She offers couples retreats and the reviews look good. I’ve never been to a couples retreat. I just looked her up on facebook and she does a Goddess Club workshop near here. There is one on February 13th, I’m thinking of going.

This is our life, it might be hard to fit everything in we want to do. We can fit in a lot if we put our mind to it. Is it time to pick up that guitar again? Or did you never put it down? If it feeds our soul it is worth doing. Visit an art store, a music store, a book store. Maybe it’s time to join a pickup band, an art group, a group of like-minded people. Is it time to attend seminars, take a class, buy a book and learn something on our own?

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. Steve Jobs

What is something that would bring a new dimension into your life? Is there something old that if you picked it back up would feed your soul? What did you not have time for while the kids were being raised, or you focused on other important things?

We build our lives with moments; moments spent with people, pets, artistic pursuits, traveling, enjoying the outdoors, and reflecting on life. This is our life, is our life too exciting, we don’t have time to stop and smell the roses, or not exciting enough? Is our circle enlarging, or shrinking? Are we looking forward to the next stage in life? Are we afraid the best is behind us?

We don’t know whose life we will touch, or who will touch ours? We need to be open to new experiences, widening our circle, learning new things, rekindling old interests. Are we worried we won’t look as cool with our guitar as we once did? Get over it. Enjoying life is cool, at any age.

I’m reminded of the advertisement of grandparents looking cool and enjoying life, but when the family is coming over they get into their grandpa and grandma clothes so they look like what their kids and grandkids expect of them.

What do we need to add to our lives to spice it up? Is there a dream we would go for if we knew we couldn’t fail? What chance would we take? Is there an adventure that never fit into our life, still calling to us?

We can take the step at any time, the bridge will be there. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. If something calls to us we can explore it in small or big ways? It may become a hobby, or play a larger role in our life, we won’t know if we don’t try.

Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have. Louis E. Boone

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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

Reconnecting with people. Loving what is.

Reconnecting photo of hydrangeas by Belynda Wilson Thomas

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine. Thomas Jefferson

I’ve reconnected with people from my past this year. A lot of it has been on Facebook. Everyone makes Facebook out to be this nefarious entity. They tell us how it is ruining marriages. They don’t tell us how it is reconnecting people.

It’s a loose connection, but it gives us a window into other people’s lives. We put a comment on their post. We like a picture. It is a form of connection. It shouldn’t be the only connection with people but for those of us who live far from where we grew up it widens our circle.

We lose people along the way we didn’t mean to lose contact with. It takes an effort to stay in touch. This year of big changes has made me reach out to people. If not now, when? I want to live my life with few regrets. Relationships end or fizzle because of time and circumstance but they can end on a good note.

Many times they don’t end, we just get busy. We’ll call them a little later. When we call the phone number is no longer in service, the Christmas card (who does this anymore) came back. We go on with our life. We think about them but more time goes by.

A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often – just to save it from drying out completely. Pam Brown

Mom came up with a phone number for someone I shouldn’t have lost contact with. I called last night. We had a great chat. She’s far away but if we try we may be able to be in the same place at the same time to see each other. We can stay in touch by phone and Facebook.

I have someone else I’m going to try and locate. I haven’t seen her since I was six. She’s estranged from her father. Am I meddling if I try to reconnect them?

My circle is widening. The time of my life being all about work and home is over. I’m stepping out to develop the side of me I set aside when the responsibilities of mothering took all the extra time I had. It may not be true I didn’t have time to widen my circle then. We tell our selves things that aren’t true. We don’t have time, we don’t have resources.

In my writer’s group, the majority of the members are older. We’ve built our lives doing and being what society told us we should be and do. It may be the best thing that we are coming to writing later. It is a pursuit suited to older people. We’ve seen more, we’ve lived more, and we have something to say. Fortunately, we don’t need to live off our writing. We don’t have to worry if we are a commercial success.

We don’t have to write for an audience.  Instead, we hope an audience likes what we write. There is a big difference. We can be honest, authentic, and put our words out to the world. We understand writing is the joy. Once we put it out there we need to write something else.

I saw Maya Angelou recounting what she got from every decade. We need to look at life like that. Every decade brings gifts. We need to be open to what can be, not mourn too much what is over.

I was reading what some very unwell elderly people were saying about their life. They were still thinking when it gets worse. They were still seeing the beauty in their days even though many of the things they’d enjoyed were not able to be enjoyed any longer. They were enjoying what they still had.

If we go forward with humor and optimism we have no idea the gifts ahead for us. The people we’ll meet, the friends we’ll make, and the ones we’ll reconnect with. Life is about going forward, meeting the challenges of the day and enjoying the rewards. We may think we enjoyed our twenties more than we’ll enjoy our nineties (if we are lucky enough to get there) it might not be true. The truth is probably we need to enjoy each day, living fully in the moment. I think I’ll pose this question to my mom, is she enjoying her nineties as much as she enjoyed her twenties? Happiness is a state of mind, we can choose to be happy at every age.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. Marcel Proust

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Ageless Women, Timeless Wisdom: Witty, Wicked, and Wise Reflections on Well-Lived Lives Paperback – Apr 4 2017

Remembrance and aging. Embracing what is.

Painting "Embracing What Is" by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Laurence Binyon

We went to the cenotaph yesterday for the Remembrance ceremony. One hundred years ago armistice was declared. My grandmother was eighteen. How did it impact her choice of husband when so many of the men she could have married were cut down in war? She married a man many years her senior.

She died of breast cancer at age fifty-three. I never had the privilege of knowing her. I wish I could have. She’s always sounded like such a fabulous person who had to deal with a lot with few resources. Mom and dad grew up in the depression. The lean years they called them. Dad said if you didn’t want potatoes for dinner, dinner was over.

All my life I’ve lived in peace and plenty. I think of the years growing up on the farm as happy golden years. It’s funny I loved it so much yet I didn’t want to spend my life on the farm. Mom was the same. She told her first husband she wouldn’t live on the farm. He sold the land he’d bought to her brother. Dad was farming when they got together. He’d done a stint in Vancouver but was back on the land. I think she loved her time on the farm. I remember her telling us she wanted to be buried under a specific tree.

I never thought mom and dad would leave the farm. After a farm accident where dad lost most of his right hand, they were ready to leave. They relocated in B.C. Dad didn’t like B.C. as much as mom did. He longed for the flat land of Saskatchewan, where he was strong and vital, B.C. was where he declined. Some people like the mountains. Some people feel hemmed in by them.

A lot of Saskatchewan farmers retired to B.C. they met every Friday at the Farmers Market. I was with Mom the day she told them Dad passed. I’m sure it was news they heard often.

Life goes by fast. My son turned twenty-nine – how did that happen? Where did all that time go? On Saturday I went out with friends I met through my husband. We’ve known each other for over thirty-five years, we had a lot to talk and laugh about. One of them I’m sure I met before her and her then-boyfriend broke up. She married and had children and reconnected with my husband’s friend her high school sweetheart.

I’ve heard of quite a few instances where people grow up build a life and later reconnect with their high school sweetheart and have a new romance. I have a widowed friend I’m going to ask her if she left one behind?

Life goes by, my mom tells me she doesn’t feel like she should be turning ninety-four. I don’t feel like I should be turning sixty. We need to embrace our age, what’s the alternative? It doesn’t make sense to me to pretend to be too much younger than I am. Who’s kidding who? Bette Davis said getting old is not for sissies.

We are all aware, I know I’m preaching to the choir. We all know we need to watch what we eat – wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what the best way to eat is? Try the ketogenic diet, no the starch solution is better, no I heard about food combining? Enough already, I say as I staunchly recommended no dairy and the starch solution on Saturday. None of us are getting out of this alive.

The past: our cradle, not our prison; there is danger as well as appeal in its glamour. The past is for inspiration, not imitation, for continuation, not repetition. Israel Zangwill

Enjoy the moments, days, weeks, months, years we have. Even though I’ve embraced plant-based, very little sugar and no dairy to some degree. I had a chocolate molten lava cake with ice-cream on Saturday. It was so good, I can’t do 100% deprivation. I would quit doing eighty or seventy percent watching what I eat if I had to do one hundred percent. Some people can’t loosen up a little; they have to be strict all the time. Do whatever works for you.

We think when we’ve found something that works for us everyone should do it. What happened to individualism? Do we only pretend to embrace it? As we embrace the fact many of us have less time ahead of us than behind we should simplify our lives. We couldn’t fit everything in forty years ago, we can’t fit everything in now. What is important to us? Maybe we can do a couple things well; maybe we’ve been fragmenting our focus and energy.

If we haven’t embraced our self, our imperfections, our challenges, our weaknesses, and our strengths, it’s time. If not now, when? If there is some burning desire we haven’t got to yet, it’s time.

If we have some tweaks we want to make in our life, it’s time. If there are some places we want to go, we need to start figuring out how we can get there and when.

Retirement looms ahead for my husband and I. We need to get a plan together. It will happen whether we have a plan in place or not. It will be better if we have a plan. There are people ahead of us that show us the way. They’ve written books, they give talks on Youtube and Ted talks. We have more information about making this last leg of our life better than ever before.

We can embrace the stage we are in, or we can moan, groan and deny. I’m embracing it, at least that’s what I tell myself.

All we have of freedom, all we use or know – This our fathers bought for us long and long age. Rudyard Kipling

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Mindful Aging: Embracing Your Life After 50 to Find Fulfillment, Purpose, and Joy Paperback – Sep 21 2017

4.4 out of 5 stars   14 reviews from |

Aging well. Partying till 6:00. Friends and fun.

Painting "Embracing What Is" by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas.

Live life to the fullest because it only happens once. Maddi Jenkins

We went out with friends till six o’clock on Saturday night. The liquor license of the club we went to was extended till four o’clock. We closed the eatery on the corner that was also open till four o’clock. We haven’t been out this late for a long time. It was fun talking and laughing, getting other peoples perspectives.

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving and three birthdays. Friday night was dinner with my husband celebrating his birthday. Today is lunch with a friend celebrating hers. I can’t continue all this celebrating the scale is up. It’s fun to have fun, we need to do more of it.

We run the risk of not being enough fun when we get settled into coupledom. We worry we’ll be the old farts at the club. There were a lot of us oldies at the club and some of us were having the best time. The guest DJ was our age.

If you really want to live your life to the fullest and realize your potential you must be willing to run the risk of making some people mad. People may not like what you do, people may not like how you do it, but these people are not living your life. You are! Iyanla Vanzant

On Saturday I went to my writer’s group. A retired engineer was introducing himself as a new member. After he retired he wanted to do more than sit on his veranda. He’s written and published three novels, is currently writing a romance and a kids book with his granddaughter. Wow, how’s that for inspiration. The writer’s group is an inspiring group. We are a group of people who write but not because that is our chosen field out of University. Most of us have lived our life outside of writing; one is still a high school student.

We are being encouraged to read or present our work to the group. A skill we need to develop as putting our self out there as a writer is part of the deal. The big thing I got out of the Saturday meeting is the speaker an editor and  college writing teacher told us your first book is “gold.” As the unpublished writer, your potential is endless. Everyone wants to find the next J.K Rawlins. Be careful and patient about how you put your work out there. She suggests trying the traditional publishing route first before self-publishing. Traditional publishing gives you a lot, especially in the beginning. Once you have a name, following, people know who you are and what you write self-publishing is a good option. Many writers are using a hybrid approach.

I’m doing a new edit before I pay an editor. The editor who spoke at the meeting encouraged it. She said to try and have a little distance from your writing so when you read it, you can say wow, I wrote that! We need to be able to recognize the parts we like and the parts that need work.

We are not too old to embark on new journeys of discovery. We can find our passion and explore them as shallowly or deeply as we want. Life at every age brings possibilities and opportunities if we look for them, embrace them and explore them.

If we haven’t done something yet we always wanted to do, is now the time? Or is there something we used to do that’s been put on the back burner waiting for time to pursue it? When we bring our interests, passions, and talents to the forefront of our life we get more than we think we will. It will resonate in all areas of our life.

We are the sum total of everything we embrace in life. The more we embrace our passions, interests, talents, the more we have to give to those we love. Following our passion doesn’t take away from those we love. They need to find their passion too, and then we can share more passion as we share our life as more fulfilled people.

Of course, we need to find a balance. We need to tear ourselves away from our writing, art, whatever for dinners out, long walks, drives in the country, wine tasting tours, festivals. Our new found interest can make all of those more interesting as we seek out activities that match our passions.

If we are lucky we get old, if we choose well we can do it with passion, wringing as much joy out of life as possible. A well-lived life is the goal. It doesn’t matter what makes us get up in the morning and say hallelujah it’s a new day. With gratitude, humility, and passion we go forward showing others you can age gracefully, embrace life fully, and find our passion and purpose at every age and every stage.

Living life to the fullest means continually reaching out for newer, richer, deeper, life-changing experiences. It means using those experiences as a means for personal growth and pushing the boundaries of yourself mentally, spiritually, and intellectually for the betterment of yourself and the world as large. Zero Dean

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Embracing Your Second Calling: Find Passion and Purpose for the Rest of Your Life

May 2, 2010

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