Living and growing. Everything in our life is for our growth.

Life and Growing - photo of Daniela's orchid by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, “nothing happens to you, it happens for you.” See the positive in negative events. Joel Osteen

Today is the last day of the 28-day soul coaching program. The lesson today is to understand that everything that happens in our lives allows us to evolve and grow. Even the things we judge as bad, undesirable, boring, demeaning, or worthless can help us to grow.

We are told we should be grateful for everything in our lives. It is easy to be grateful for the lovely things, people, experiences, and exchanges that come into our life. It is not so easy to be grateful for the hurtful, mean, challenging, threatening, and demeaning experiences, that have as much or more to teach us as good and happy times.

We never know what is locked inside an experience. Can we view every experience as a gift we don’t understand yet? Can we ask who are we going to be in this story? What do we believe, what do we value, and what is worth fighting for? Can we instead of viewing ourselves as victims of what happened, turn our hard times into a story that transforms our life?

Jordan Peterson tells young men they should be the most reliable person at their father’s funeral. Can we be the person others can count on at a difficult time? Are we the person our father would be proud of? Can we look back on an event and be proud of how we acted and conducted ourself?

It is often in the hard situations in life we learn who we are, we become who we are, and we show who we are. We also have to be able to forgive ourselves if we fall short of who we thought we were, should be, could be, or wanted to be. Can we make mistakes or wallow in self-pity and still take on the mantle of courage and go forward? We may say things in anger we wish we hadn’t said. Can we apologize and try to make amends? We may have done something someone sees differently than how we see it. A crack may have developed in our relationship. Do we deal with it, pretend it isn’t there, or give up on the relationship?

God already knows what we’re made of, but perhaps he wants us to learn what we’re made of. I think we would all agree that we learn more from our tough times than from our easy times. John Bytheway

We didn’t choose what happened; we choose our reaction to it. There are two ways to look at change, we can change our behavior or we can change our dialogue. If our behavior needs to change we should change it, but if the only thing we can change is how we react to something that is already in the past, the only choice we may have is who we will be in the story going forward. Will we be the one that severs a relationship? Or the one that gives someone a second chance? Will we be the one that tries to see things from another’s point of view? Or will we forgive someone who can’t see our point of view? Will we be the one that is vulnerable, open, and seeking to repair the breach?

One of the things I have noticed is the women who stand by their men when the men fail publicly especially when it is adultery seem principled to me. When everyone thought she should run not walk out of the relationship, she stays and finds the strength to keep her family together. Men stand by their wives in times of betrayal, embarrassment, and pain as well.

If we only love someone during the good times is that love? When we are too quick to judge, is that love? If we won’t give someone the benefit of the doubt, is that love? When we have nothing else we have our principles and they may be stronger to stand on than feelings of love. Feelings are fleeting, they come and they go. I love you, I love you not. The commitment we make to one another can’t only be based on our feelings if it is to stand any tests at all.

Is it when we feel like giving up, but don’t, that we find the nuggets of gold in our life, where the real meaning happens? Who we are in the story of our life is one of the choices we get to make. We don’t choose what happens, but we can be the victim, the villain, or we can be the hero. We are responsible for our thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Heroes act with determination, focus, courage, resilience, empathy, directness, and generosity.

It is humbling to realize we are not as good as we thought we were. We aren’t as loving, kind, nice, agreeable, steadfast, upright, circumspect, respectful, blameless, honest, open and vulnerable because we aren’t perfect. Our partners, friends, bosses, coworkers, parents, siblings, acquaintances aren’t either. We are all imperfect, we all have room to grow, develop, and improve.

Our choice is how we react when we learn about our own imperfections and someone else’s. What will be our choice when we are confronted by the less lovable aspects of the people we meet or live with? Are we living and growing?

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. And I’ve been through some tough times, and I know a lot of people can recall tough times, and maybe are going through some tough times right now, but they don’t last.

Alonzo Mourning

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Feng Shui for the Soul Paperback – Jan 25 2001

Building our future. What we do today creates tomorrow.

Building Our Future painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen. Wayne Huizenga

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today is day 27 of the 28-day Soul Coaching program.  I am almost done and it hasn’t been that rigorous. Denise Linn says it is our intention that is important. The intention in our life is what drives it. Everything in life comes from intention. We reap what we sow, but first, we must sow something. How hard it must have been for the first farmers who held back food they could have eaten to throw into the earth for a future harvest.

If we have plans to go to the beach in July we don’t start getting our body ready in July. We start in January or maybe the July before. When we want things to change we must take the steps long before we get the outcome we desire.

Today we are to visualize the future we desire and act as if it has already arrived. What is it we truly desire and how can we bring it to fruition? If we want to be a successful whatever, what would that look like? How would we carry our self, what would we do, how would we act, how would we treat people, and what words would be coming out of our mouth?

Do we stand up straight and tall with our shoulders back as a successful ____________ would? Do we speak encouraging words to our self and others? Do we think the kind of thoughts a successful __________ would think? Do we handle our money like a successful ___________ would?

Start small and be kind to our self. If we want to be organized, we can start acting as if we are by taking small steps. Do we want to write, then write today, a few words, and then do it again tomorrow. If we want to paint, we need to paint today, a few strokes then do it again tomorrow. As we take small steps think how a successful writer, painter, or _________ would conduct themselves. If we want to sing, dance, start a business, become a professional _____________ then move in that direction by taking a small step toward it. By taking small steps continuously we get where we want to go. Develop what we need to do into a habit of doing what would move us in that direction continuously.

But I don’t begrudge anybody, because I know how hard it is to have that dream and to make it happen, whether or not it’s just to put a roof over your head and food on the table. Carol Burnett

Success in anything is a series of small steps. Overnight success takes about fifteen years of hard slogging most people don’t see. The habit of doing one small step toward our success builds on itself until voila; we have something we can be proud of. We can be proud of a year of going to the gym continuously a number of times per week.

Whatever it is we want to accomplish can be broken into small steps, or the preparation to do that thing can be broken into small steps. No one is going to write our novel but us, no one will sing our song but us, no one will create our business but us, no one will fix our relationships but us, and no one will make our part of the world better but us. Whatever needs to be done in our life will be done by us, or it won’t be done at all.

Too often we think we’ll believe it when we see it, the truth is we will see it when we believe it. We create our future; we do it daily with our habits, thoughts, words, and actions. What do we want to create, build, and accomplish? What is the step we can take today to make it happen? What we do today is building our future, if we do it with intention we’ll build a life we love.

Know what it is that drives you – motivates you – and pursue it. Endeavor to work to make it happen. Peggy Whitson

Private dreams are the most powerful. You have to dream of success to make it happen, and if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will. But that doesn’t mean you have to go around telling everyone about it. Tony McCoy

Look inside this book.
The Power of Intention, Gift Edition by [Dyer, Wayne W.]
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Noble Questions. How can I make it better?

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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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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









Values and life. A good life is being true to our values.

Photo of Geranium by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without it. Confucius

Yesterday was day two for me on the Soul Coaching journey. It took me two days to get through day one. Day two level two was select your core values and realize as you go through Soul Coaching you can change those values if you don’t think they reflect the true you.

The two I chose are courage and faith. I believe you can’t do much in life without courage, how do you stand up to your convictions without courage? How do you be honest without courage? How do you do the things you know you want to do, must do, to fulfill yourself as a person but feel afraid because what if I fail, what will people think, what if I look stupid?

I chose faith because unless you have faith in other people how can you love them; trust they will do what they need to do? Sometimes faith is all we have, in God, in ourselves, in our choices, in our family, in the world. It takes faith to trust the process of life. It takes faith to go into business, move away from home, drive on a highway. It takes faith to try not to control other people, letting them make their own decisions and build their own life.

There are long lists of values but here are a few:

Love, peace, loyalty, happiness, security, knowledge, joy, passion, enthusiasm, adventure, intelligence, connection to family, integrity, graciousness, creativity, commitment to career, courage, wisdom, abundance, determination

Denise Linn gives an example of someone who chose their top values like peace and relaxation, but they love day trading. She suggests changing their value to correspond with the real them, suggesting adventure as a more fitting value. There are no wrong values, only the values that are right for us. The more we embrace our core values in each moment of our life we become more of who we want to be. Choosing a value that is not congruent with whom we really are may be a way of trying to be what someone else wants us to be. We need to be who we really are, it is better to disappoint someone else than to disappoint our self.

There are some values that you should never compromise on to stay true to yourself; you should be brave to stand up for what you truly believe in even if you stand alone. Roy T. Bennett

Level one of day two is choosing one empowering action to take on a daily basis. I thought about this, should I choose something to make me more fit, should I choose something to make me eat better? I chose Laura Doyle’s recommendation of doing three things each day to make myself happy.

Her idea is we can’t expect other people to make ourselves happy. She says husbands want to make their wives happy. A wife’s attitude has a huge impact on her husband and the family. A happy wife makes a happy life. My big sacrifice for my husband and family is to make myself happy.

Level three of day two is to write down all the things we’ve been putting off, and do today some small thing we’ve been putting off. What have we been avoiding, procrastinating, and delaying? We were supposed to make a feasible plan for tackling each item on the list.

Making the list was hard enough. If I knew I had to tackle each thing on the list I wouldn’t have been so honest. The thing is if we tackle things like the Side Tracked Sisters from yesterdays post, we don’t have to do everything at once. We can schedule over a year some of those things we’ve been avoiding. After all, some of them are over a year old now.

Maybe we say to ourselves or write it down. I’ll clean the cupboards in March for spring cleaning. I’ll make phone calls to old friends and relatives before Christmas. Meal planning might not get done till next November when it comes back on the Fly Lady’s schedule, or I put it on mine.

One of the problems that make us put off things is we think we have to do everything and it is so overwhelming we do nothing. If we take our list and try to cross off one thing a month, guess what in 12 months that’s 12 things.

If we looked at every month and said, what is the one thing we can concentrate on that will make our life, relationship, home, work, finances, happiness, family, retirement, fitness, health, or self-image better. Pick just one, we can do one, we can’t do everything.

The Fly Lady has 11 commandments.

Keep your sink clean and shiny is her first commandment. One I break all the time. I go to the gym because I know the dishes will get done at some point. A missed gym visit can never be gotten back, and I find reasons to miss them on a regular basis. I do understand why she feels we should keep our sink clean and shiny because then you don’t start filling it with dirty dishes. I might have to rethink this. The kitchen is shared with the newlyweds, and meal prep is more pleasant when the kitchen is clean and neat with everything in its place. This is definitely a possibility for the January improvement project.

When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier. Roy E. Disney

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The Book of Values: An Inspirational Guide to Our Moral Dilemmas Paperback – Jun 7 2014

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Know thyself by asking questions, and finding answers.

Know Thyself - photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. Aristotle

Soul Coaching 28 Days to discover your authentic self by Denise Linn jumped out at me at Value Village yesterday. I love browsing through used books. At the back of the book, she says “If you could really hear a message from your soul, what would it be telling you?”

She is telling us this book is for us if we want to know:

Who we are

Why we are here

What our mission is

It’s also for us if we are ready to start:

Putting our needs before everyone else’s

Living life at a peaceful moderate pace

Loving our self

She says by utilizing the elements of nature – air, water, fire, and earth – this program allows us to clear away old blockages so that we can truly begin to hear the secret messages of our soul.

She promises a lot, can she deliver? I have 28 days, she says each day do as much or as little as you feel like or can fit in your day.

Day 1 (Air) Life Assessment – We need an honest self-appraisal

Our Affirmation for the day is – My evaluation of myself is not who I am.

Today we are to take deep breathes throughout the day, visualizing the life-giving energy filling our lungs and body. I take a deep breath as I write this.

She gives us three levels for today.

Level 1 Assess our life. Assess where we are in our life right now. Write down our thoughts in a journal on where we are in our health, relationships, finances, career, creativity, and spiritual fulfillment, and write out our intention for the next 28 days.

Level 2 Steps and leaps – Bridging the breach

In our journal write down the steps or leaps it would take to bridge the breach between where we are and where we would like to be in each of the areas we wrote about in level 1.

Then she asks where we are and where would we like to be in the following areas and note where the difference is the greatest.

Self-esteem, resentment/bitterness, putting the needs of others before our own, shame/guilt, anger/irritation, worry/frustration, fear of failure/success/intimacy/commitment/taking risks etc., relationship with spouse (lover), relationship with family members, being busy/overwhelmed, relationship with creator, self motivation, forgiving our self and others, creativity, sexuality, joy/enthusiasm, our past, inner peace/contentment/fulfillment, job/work/career, finances/abundance, relationships with friends, physical health.

Level 3 Assess your physical environment and life questions.

Assess your house – bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, living/family room, dining room, garage/basement/attic, general home, automobile, work.

Then she gives us a series of life questions.

Where are we now in our life mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually? What does the purpose of our life seem to be?

What would we like our purpose to be?

What are we passionate about?

What gives us immense joy?

What is our spiritual source?

Is our life consistent or in alignment with our values?

How do other people see us? How do we see our self?

What qualities would we use to describe our self now?

What qualities describe the person we would like to be?

What have we been putting off doing?

What do we need to forgive our self/others for doing?

What do we want to do with the remainder of our life?

What is really important to us?

What are our goals?

We have been blessed with skills/gifts. What are they?

Are we using those skills?

She ends day 1 by saying we fail to make changes in our life because of frustration, which is then followed by procrastination. When we feel frustrated we need to see this as an opportunity to strengthen our soul. Breathe deeply, take a risk, and vigorously plunge ahead. On the other side, we find clarity – this is the breakthrough moment.

It takes courage… to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives. Marianne Williamson

Wow, that is level one. I started doing it last night. I didn’t get through all the questions of level two so today I will continue and answer the questions through level three. She does say day one is the heaviest day. I hope so, we all have a life to live. We can’t stop what we need to do to take a 28-day hiatus.

I’m intrigued by her program. I already keep a daily journal and I have a journal of self-discovery I started when I found two books The Fire Starter Sessions and The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte. The journal isn’t dated at the start of it, but in the middle, I have a date of June 25, 2015.

I love looking through journals and seeing where I was and what I was thinking. We think we were where we are now, but when we look back in our journals we know exactly what we were thinking then. There are things we can’t work through by talking to other people, but we can work through them by asking our self questions and answering them.

My husband will ask me what I am thinking. I often answer “nothing” because even though I would write something in my journal, at that moment no big thoughts are going through my head.

I was once afraid of people saying, “Who does she think she is?” Now I have the courage to stand and say, “This is who I am.” Oprah Winfrey

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Soul Coaching: 28 Days to Discover Your Authentic Self Paperback – May 1 2011

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Soul Coaching Oracle Cards: What Your Soul Wants You to Know Cards – Jun 1 2006