Judging others, judging our self. Judge not lest yee be judged.

Judge not lest yee be judged. Judging others, judging our self.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. Will Rogers

Last night we watched Sully a movie about “The miracle on the Hudson” where a plane was landed on the Hudson River and all 155 people on board were saved.

He was a hero but still faced questions and maybe the loss of his job, pension, and livelihood if he was found to have put the plane down in the Hudson when simulations showed he could have made it to an airport.

As he listened to what they said he didn’t remember things the way he was being told they happened. He was starting to second guess himself, had he made a huge mistake in judgment as an experienced pilot of 42 years.

He was not allowed to see the simulations that the investigators had requested, but he knew someone within the industry and he requested they have simulations done. At the hearing, the simulations he requested were played. The simulations showed he could have landed at either of two airports with the plane intact.

He asked how many practice runs did the pilots get, he was told seventeen. He said those simulation pilots knew the situation they would be facing but he did not. He had 208 seconds and part of that time was spent on evaluating what had happened and what to do about it, not just implementing what to do. He was given 35 seconds of evaluation time. Now when the simulators had to take 35 seconds off their flight time they could no longer make it to either airport.

We can second guess ourselves, or be second-guessed by others. It is easy to look at things in hindsight differently than when we lived it. If we put enough effort in we can see how we could have, and even should have done things differently. We didn’t have the luxury of time when we made our decision. We didn’t know how other people would view things. The miracle on the Hudson is that the pilot only took 35 seconds to figure out what to do and then did it. He was only 7 miles from an airport. Missing that airport by feet or by miles was still a miss.

Doubt yourself and you doubt everything you see. Judge yourself and you see judges everywhere. But if you listen to the sound of your own voice, you can rise above doubt and judgment. And you can see forever. Nancy Lopez

We have to be okay with the decisions we make in our life. All of our decisions may not lead to the finest moments of our life. We are human; we need to cut our self some slack. It may look the same regardless of what our intent is. We may believe things happened differently than someone else believes.

It is in these moments that growth happens. We are responsible for what we do, say, and think. How others interpret what we did, said and thought we may not be responsible for. We may not be able to change their mind, we may have to go forward confident in ourselves we did the best we could at the time.

We see it all the time, embarrassing moments in people’s lives are exposed. Something they thought innocent or at least private comes back to haunt them. Maybe they are threatened with blackmail and must come forward and expose themselves to scrutiny. It is a testament to their character that they expose themselves to scrutiny instead of being blackmailed.

We live in a time now where mistakes are not tolerated. If we are not comfortable being awkward around others, we will keep more to ourselves. We will hesitate to initiate conversations out of fear of being thought a pervert, insensitive, or uninformed. We will not reach out to other people for fear they will misunderstand our motives. We fear we will not address them the way they wish to be addressed. We will be insensitive to the challenges they have faced in their life.

People make mistakes, we don’t understand each other. We make mistakes with those we know and love, we will make mistakes with those we don’t yet know. When we protect ourselves from making mistakes, we close ourselves off from engaging with others, opportunities, and life.

When offending someone is an offense, we will not engage with them. That is worse than offending them because it will limit all of our opportunities. There are unintended consequences in everything. If we are no longer able to overlook people’s mistakes where do we go in our families, businesses, society, politics and the greater world?

We’re all caught up in circumstances, and we’re all good and evil. When you’re really hungry, for instance, you’ll do anything to survive. I think the most evil thing – well, maybe that’s too strong – but certainly, a very evil thing is judgment, the sin of ignorance. Anthony Hopkins

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

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STOP BEING A JUDGMENTAL FAULT FINDER: 30 Days: Strengthen Your Faith by [Ashton, Nora]
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STOP BEING A JUDGMENTAL FAULT FINDER: 30 Days: Strengthen Your FaithKindle Edition

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Focusing on things we can’t control is no way to live a happy life.

Living a happy life is focusing on the things we can control.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. Leo Tolstoy

We can’t control everything, we can’t even control most things. If we control the few things that are ours to control we live a happy, productive, contented life filled with joy and gratitude.

Our children, their choices, lifestyle, careers, habits, and outlook on life are not ours to control. Most of us have a full plate if we control those things in our own lives, let alone someone else’s.

We cannot make our spouse lose weight, drink less, eat more vegetables, be positive, or even be faithful. We can live with them and love them and the situation, we can live with them and hate them and the situation, we can live with them and love them but hate the situation, or we can leave. The one thing we want, for them to change is beyond our power. Sometimes when we accept people for who they are they will choose to make changes in their life. This is their choice; we get to choose the changes we make in ours.

Trying to maintain strict control over everything in our lives leads to anxiety. The more unsuccessful we become at trying to control everything in our environment the more anxious we become.

We waste our energy trying to control things that are not ours to control.  A simple thing like picking the plants in our garden that like our soil is better than planting the plants that don’t thrive there. Rhododendrons don’t do well in my soil, but roses do. Sometimes we can manipulate plants to grow in regions they didn’t grow well in. The Canadian wheat varieties Red Fife and Marquis are such a success story.

History… celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the plowed fields whereby we thrive, it knows the names of the king’s bastards, but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. That is the way of human folly. Jean-Henri Fabre

Knowing what we can change, improve, manipulate and control is ours to determine. Where we make the big mistake is when we want to control what is someone else’s to control, improve, and change.

If we waste our time trying to prevent anything bad from happening we will be exhausted. Often the bad thing that does happen isn’t even the one we worried about. We were so consumed with what we worried about we didn’t see what was coming. We need to be able to face life head on and deal with what is, we spend so much time worrying about what might be, we forget to enjoy what we have.

When we spend our lives trying to control other people we damage our relationships. We may be so judgmental of something about someone we think they can and should control that they don’t want to be around us. How many celebrations are ruined by judgmental people who make the people celebrating think they aren’t enough, thin enough, pretty enough, accomplished enough, educated enough, old enough, young enough, etc?

Often we judge others harshly because we are trying to boost our self-esteem, our judgment is a clear reflection of our own unhappiness. The second most common reason we judge others is fear. When others intimidate us we try to put them down by pointing out a flaw or two. Our judgments are our soft spots. We judge others because we are not happy and secure. When we catch our self judging someone we should ask our self, “what is it about them that we are so unhappy with? What change do we need to make in our own lives to feel more secure and happy?”

We need to develop a balanced sense of control. Taking charge of the things we can control, knowing which things are out of our control, and being wise enough to know the difference is our challenge.

We can host the best party, but we can’t make people have fun. We can be the best employee, but we can’t make someone else appreciate us. We can take care of our health but we can’t guarantee we’ll live to one-hundred. We can nag, beg, and make threats, but we can’t make our spouse or anyone else change. We can control circumstances within our own life but we can’t control the environment, economy, or outside influences. We may have the best ideas, but we can’t control if people will take our advice.

If we listen more we will have more influence than if we give advice. We can share our opinions and concerns but if we do it more than once we risk losing our effectiveness and it can even backfire as people dig in their heals to make sure they don’t do what we want, to prove they won’t be controlled by us.

Even if we don’t like the situation we are in, we must decide if what we don’t like is ours to change or someone else’s. If it is ours we should get busy. If it is someone else’s we should find something else to concentrate our energies on. No one in our life is our project to fix. Often the things we don’t like in someone else’s life is a reflection of something we don’t like in our own life but don’t want to acknowledge. It’s time to take a good hard look at ourselves, what makes us feel small, inadequate, inferior, and less than we long to be. This is what we can work on; this is what we can change.

Is there something about someone else we think they should change? Could it be a reflection of something in our own lives?

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. Rumi

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

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13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success Hardcover – Dec 23 2014


Will the truth set us free? Can we live with radical truth and radical honesty?

Can we live with radical truth and radical honesty? Will the truth set us free?

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Richard Feynman

People have committed suicide because they didn’t know how to deal with reality. How do we come to grips with who we really are, what the circumstances of our life really are? How do we figure out what we can change and what we need to accept with grace, wisdom, and gratitude?

Being our self, accepting our imperfections, is part of living the “good life.” Accepting other peoples faults, foibles and imperfections is also part of life.

We can live with reality. We have no choice because what is, “is”. The only choice is how do we live with it, can we change it, can we mitigate it, or do we just accept it with gratitude and grace?

When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits anything that kept me small. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving. Kim McMillen    

We need to ask our self some hard questions. What is this reaction of ours trying to tell us? What do we need to deal with head on? What do we know but not acknowledge? What are we seeing in other people’s lives that bother us because those same things are part of our life or part of us?

We need to become radical acceptors of reality. It is when we do this we become powerful. We cannot change what we don’t or won’t acknowledge. With knowledge comes power. We may think deceiving others is bad but it is the lies we tell our self that do the most damage.

I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. Brene Brown

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Words matter, be kind. Can we be kind, respectful, honest, grateful and forgiving?

Can we be kind, respectful, honest, grateful and forgiving? Words matter, be kind.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Unknown

Last night was another Toastmaster’s night that didn’t disappoint. Everyone has their own speaking style, joke style, toasting style, and their way of doing thought of the day.

Some people are good at putting together the thought of the day encompassing the theme, speeches and everything else into a well thought out, off the cuff thought that resonates with everyone. Most of us envy the people who can do that.

We think we can’t come up with something at the last minute but usually, we can. Last night I was asked at the last minute to give a joke. Not my strong suit but a joke from My Big Fat Greek Wedding popped in my mind.

The mother of the bride said her husband was the head of the family but she was the neck, and the neck can make the head do whatever it wants.

The speeches were about impromptu speaking, depression, distracted driving, mentoring, and the importance of our words and being kind. It was a tutorial on living a good life, given by different speakers with humor and insight.

Our words matter and being kind is the speech that spoke to me the most. The speaker reflected on the lessons her mother imparted to her. Her mother told her to be careful of the last words said to someone as they leave her home; you never know if those are the last words you will speak to them.

Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind. Eric Hoffer

We hear about it every day how the last words were in anger, hurtful, hurled in the heat of the moment, never to be taken back. It is good advice but hard to live all the time. I’ve left the house angry and slammed the door to make the point.

Is there a kind way to say some of the things that need to be said? Or is there only a kinder way? It is inevitable that if we talk about the things that need to be talked about and deal with the things we need to deal with it will not be all sunshine and light. We should be able to talk without getting angry. We should be able to hear complaints and criticisms without getting defensive.

Unfortunately, we are only human; our reaction to something can be so immediate, so volcanic we are taken by surprise ourselves. We can’t take back our words, once they are said they may reverberate in someone’s mind the rest of their life. They may color everything they do.

We may not even agree we said what they think we said. We may wonder how they could interpret what they have from what we think we said, or what we think we might have said. Often we can’t remember exactly what we said. Being slow to speak is a good characteristic to have. Thinking long and hard on how to answer, maybe deferring our response until we can mull it over and come up with something coherent and less hurtful.

Too often we wish we’d reacted better, instead of actually reacting better. We can learn to be honest, warm, forgiving, mindful, humble, patient, generous, respectful, flexible and kind. We can be grateful even for the off the cuff remarks we didn’t want to hear, that may have a kernel of truth. Most of all we can be grateful we have someone in our life. As long as they are still in our life we can change, improve, and heal our relationship.

We may have to forgive our self for words we’ve said in anger; we may have to forgive someone for words they’ve said in anger to us. If we can forgive, we can let go of the hold those words have over us. If we can move forward in kindness, gratitude and honesty maybe we can heal the breach.

Even if we cannot heal the breach, forgiveness and gratitude will free us to go forward instead of being mired in the past. Is the gift of forgiveness the gift we give ourselves? Words matter, be kind.

Being kind, considerate, generous, warm, enthusiastic, encouraging, positive, and polite is always a choice. Unknown

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The Power of Kindness: Why Empathy Is Essential in Everyday Life Hardcover – Apr 24 2018


Book clubs and belonging, friendship and laughter.

Stock photo of butterfly on orange flower.

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There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books. Irving Stone

Last night my book club finally had our Christmas dinner. We couldn’t make December work and when our January plans fizzled down to just two of us we rescheduled for February. We still ended up with only four out of six of us.

It is hard to schedule, everyone is busy, and life gets in the way. We had a lovely time, one of our members googled to see if there was a coupon for the restaurant we went to. There was a two for one coupon but our Masala Tea didn’t count as the beverage, we had to have a cocktail or mocktail as well. I chose the mango mint mocktail.  It was so good.

We laughed and our youngest member said when she first came out to the book club her husband asked her how was it? I got the impression he thought this would be a one-time thing. That she would not be impressed by boring old biddies drinking tea. To his surprise, she was impressed and loves it.

I’m looking at a post about book clubs, she says everyone has a vague idea what a book club is.  A bunch of suburban moms wearing white jeans, drinking white wine spritzers, and discussing The Help by Kathryn Stockett. She must have been stocking us, we read The Help, we sometimes wear white jeans, and we’ve been known to have a cocktail or two.

If you’ve ever read a book where you thought I wish I could discuss this with someone. You are a candidate for a book club. If you like to laugh with people and talk about life, you are a candidate for a book club. If you feel you don’t get together with people enough because nobody organizes anything, then you are a candidate for a book club.

If you’ve ever wondered what you should read next, you are a candidate for a book club. If you’ve ever wanted to sit and talk to an author about a book, you are a candidate for a book club. If you’ve ever wanted to talk to people about issues, small and big, personal and what affects the world, you are a candidate for a book club.

Some books you read some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul. Joanne Harris

If you’ve ever felt you start books but don’t finish them because you’d do better with a deadline, then you are a candidate for a book club. If you’ve ever felt you would like a more diverse group of friends, you are a candidate for a book club.

If you’ve ever thought you wish you could talk to someone who would understand, then you are a candidate for a book club. There are books on every topic; we get to know characters better than our own family. We see issues and situations at deeper levels than real life. Books are lies that tell the truth. They tell the truth about family secrets, dysfunctional marriages, raising children, cultures and belief systems, human frailties, accomplishments, bravery, overcoming great odds, becoming who we want to be with courage.

Anything we’ve felt, done, wanted to do, want to know more about, it’s in a book. Sharing that with a group of people who share a love of reading, a love of talking, thinking, questioning, laughing, will add a lot more to our lives than we would think possible.

We now have a membership of six if we all show up it is a small enough group to congregate in a coffee shop, restaurant, or each other’s home. We can all fit in someone’s family room if we want to watch the movie. If a few people can’t come to the meeting we still have enough to meet most of the time.

Our book club started in 2000, I joined in 2001. We have had a lot of members come and go; we have one original member left. No two book clubs will be the same; each member will change it in some way. Not every member who joins will find it fits with what they are looking for. This is okay, the book club will grow and morph over the years. We grow and morph over the years, what worked for us once may not work for us now.

We may have been able to attend every meeting but now can only come sporadically, that’s okay. Book clubs should fit into our lives, if they become a burden we might be taking them too seriously. Or maybe everything else in our life is crazy, but our book club is what is staying the same and becomes our anchor. We get a lot more out of being a member of a book club than just reading books.

If this is a year you wanted to bring something more into your life and you aren’t sure what that is. Have you thought about joining a book club? It might be the answer you are looking for.

Some members want a formal, academic book club, they are out there. Libraries have book clubs and if you want to join a book club that might be the easiest way to become part of one.

Keep reading it’s one of the most marvelous adventures anyone can have. Lloyd Alexander

 

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Girls’ Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World Paperback – Feb 5 2019


Friends, laughter, games and food.

Potluck dinner Toastmasters Games Night

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Everyone desires relationship and community. Most people want to belong to a cohesive, like-minded group. It staves off loneliness. It promotes identity. These are natural and very human instincts. Joshua Ferris

Last night was games night with Toastmasters, our spouses, and children. Everyone brought a dish and many brought games. The hostess has a beautiful basement perfect for entertaining and a pool table as the main attraction.

Everyone came with their dish and a smile. My daughter recommended we take Taboo as an ice breaker game. It was the perfect game to start the night off, other games were going on as well. As people came in or finished a game we just added them to the sides in Taboo, more people, more laughter.

We ate the fabulous potluck dinner everyone brought. Then we finished off the night with a game of Pictionary. When my team won you’d think we won something big. A lot of us were on the same team that lost when we played Taboo. We left a few hardier souls who were going to play one more game, Cranium.

It doesn’t matter why we get together, it matters that we do. In times of hardship and want, people know this. They get together, laugh, dance, sing, and play games. If food is scarce they know putting together what they have can make a banquet.

Being part of a group of like-minded individuals opens up new dimensions in our life. When we see other people taking chances in their life we feel freer to take chances in ours.

Man is a competitive creature, and the seeds of conflict are built deep into our genes. We fought each other on the savannah and only survived against great odds by organizing ourselves into groups which would have had a common purpose, giving morale and fortitude. Robert Winston

Part of me wishes I’d joined Toastmasters ten years ago instead of two. The other part realizes that everything is working out how it should. Life is a process and accomplishing our goals takes longer than we think. Often overnight success is fifteen years of hard slogging. Ideas take time to germinate, become fledgling seedlings, and finally grow into what they are to become.

We often want to rush the process; we sometimes forget the joy is in the journey. Who we’ve met, who we’ve touched, who we’ve encouraged, and who encouraged us along the way is what’s important.

Getting together is part of being encouraged and encouraging others. We can be part of many different and diverse groups; each of them may serve a different purpose, and benefit us in different ways. We talk about different things with different people. Other people’s ideas and life experience help us expand our view of what we want our life to be. We may find answers to questions we didn’t even know we were asking.

Being part of groups adds so much to my life. Every group I’m a member of adds to my life in immeasurable ways. I enjoy including my husband in some of the Toastmasters events and I think he enjoys it too. We don’t participate in all of the events because we need time to do things together. When we are part of groups our partner is not part of, we have to be careful not to give too much to the groups and not enough to our partner.

A good life is walking fine lines, finding the balance so we give our energy to our spouse, family and outside interests. It is easy to go overboard and if we let anything in our life become more important than our spouse, or our spouse feels is more important, even if it’s not. We have a problem that will grow. We need our fifteen hours of uninterrupted time with our spouse per week, and if something has to give it should never be time with our spouse if we still want a spouse when we’ve met those fantastic goals.

When we look at our life, do we need to belong to more groups, spend more time with our spouse, develop new interests, or find someone to share our lives with? What do we need to add to our life to make it more fulfilling, and happier?

Most great learning happens in groups. Collaboration is the stuff of growth. Ken Robinson

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Friendship Matters: memoir, life lessons, laughter Paperback – Jan 27 2017

5 out of 5 stars   18 reviews from Amazon.com |

 

 

 

 

Belonging and self-acceptance. We are enough.

Photo of red roses by Belynda Wilson Thomas Sept 3 2018

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The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect. Brene Brown

Last night was a fun night at Toastmasters. It was sixties theme night. We dressed in the style of the day. I chose the “mod” style and wore a black and white mini dress with tights. One of the speakers had the best outfit. She has long dark hair and wore a tie-dyed dress with a flowered shirt over it and flowers in her hair. One of our members made a huge effort to get the perfect outfit, it was perfect – for the fifties.

The Chair had a montage of songs he played, and a list of the changes the sixties brought to our society. Our Table Topics Master (one to two-minute speeches on the topic she gives you) chose songs from “the British invasion” and brought a British flag with British treats on it. One of the treats was an individually wrapped cookie with a cookie on the bottom, jam in the middle, and marshmallow on top covered in chocolate. I had to have one, it was delicious. It brought back memories. Dad always bought those kinds of cookies.

A night full of laughs, what more can you want on a cold January night? Our Hippie speaker spoke about the city she loves, the Russian City of St. Petersburg. Our Mod speaker spoke about “The Winter Blues” and what to do to mitigate the problem caused by a lack of sun. I bet they know a lot about that in St. Petersburg.

I envy people who have that kind of passion for a city. I think this is the kind of envy we who live in the “new” world have for those who live or lived in the “old” world.

One of the great things about listening to other peoples stories is we see a broader slice of life. We hear first-hand stories people are living that would bring us to our knees. We hear stories of overcoming adversity and hardship. Our General Evaluator said if she was born in the late fifties or early sixties in China she probably wouldn’t be here, because that was the time of the great famine. After the famine from 1962 to 1972 three hundred million babies were born in China, and she was one of them.

You’re imperfect, and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. Brene Brown

Is it hardship that creates some of these great personalities? Is it knowing where you are from over the generations that breeds pride in your country and city of origin?

Are we prouder of things and places we’ve moved away from than where we are? Do we look at where we were with rose tinted glasses? Do we feel if we love where we moved to more than where we were brought up we’ve betrayed our roots?

Did our expectations of where we moved to go unmet, because no place could meet them? Do we live with one foot in the past? Do we feel we don’t quite fit in where we are and we wouldn’t likely fit in where we were born anymore either?

Is it true you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl?

Next week it’s my turn to give a speech. I haven’t written it yet. Writing my speech is one of my projects for this weekend. I hope I can give them something to think about.

When we find a group of like-minded people to share a little time with, it is one of the greatest discoveries of our life. Have you found your group?

Stories in families are colossally important. Every family has stories: some embarrassing, some shameful. Knowing them is proof of belonging to the family. Salman Rushdie

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Choices. Beginning is half done. Make a decision.

Decision - Choose a Path - Photo of stream by Errol Thomas

It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. Tony Robbins

Making the decision to go forward is hard. Should we, is it a mistake, will we be happier, will we be successful, will we lose money? Will it just be a waste of time, money etc. We sit with whatever the decision is we have to make, unable to choose.

Sometimes we want to jump into a business, buy a house, start a family. We worry is this the right time? Should we ask the person we love to marry us, ask the person out we like, or ask someone to take a chance on us again?

We worry and think, think and worry, our indecision drives us crazy. Sometimes we stay undecided until the opportunity we were considering is gone. She couldn’t wait. He now has a girlfriend or she now has a boyfriend. The second chance opportunity is gone, everyone is now to bitter to consider it. We are down a road we don’t want to be on because we couldn’t decide to go forward.

It is usually worth going forward. We need to be willing to take the step and know we are strong enough to deal with what lies ahead. We want our life to progress, we don’t want regrets.

What lies ahead is not happily ever after, nor only good stuff regardless of our choice. When we make a choice we can unfreeze our self we can commit to a goal, a path, a life, a partner, a business, a career, a house, a family. Without the commitment we have none of it. We stay in the job we do not like. We stay living alone, we don’t build the family, business, life, we don’t start the painting, novel, song, exercise program, or join the group.

We have a decision to make because something needs to change. We are stuck, our life calls out for action. That action can’t happen until a decision is made. We know what we want, but we are afraid. If we listen to the fear we get what we have or sometimes we lose what we have. Life can’t stand still, we need to move forward.

Some of our important choices have a time line. If we delay a decision, the opportunity is gone forever. Sometimes our doubts keep us from making a choice that involves change. Thus an opportunity may be missed. James E. Faust

We all have decisions to make every day. What to eat, what to wear, who to spend time with, how to earn our daily bread. Most of these decisions we make almost automatically. We have hamburger in the fridge so that’s dinner. When there’s nothing in the fridge we might pop out for a hamburger or order in. Most of us have figured it out by nine o’clock.

How do we know what the right decision is? What if there isn’t a right decision? When my husband wanted to start his own business. He was offered a good job with the City. He went with the business. There are perks to having your own business there are perks to working where you have a pension and peers. What wasn’t okay was if he’d stayed where he was. Had he been unable to make a decision that would be the outcome.

Some of us have been stuck for years. Things we want to do are still waiting. Talents are unused, friends are unmet, families are not created, and businesses are not started. How many of us have seen something come to life, fruition, reality that we thought of? We didn’t do anything with it, someone else did and they reap the reward.

We can’t do something with everything that crosses our mind. We need to do something with enough of the opportunities that present themselves to build a good life. Life is one decision after another. When we can’t make a decision, we’ve still made a decision. If it isn’t yes, it’s no, there is no maybe in life.

There are no guarantees. We live it one step at a time. We don’t know going forward that this decision will never be regretted. We do know we regret more of what we don’t do than what we do.

It takes courage to give someone another chance you feel has hurt you in a way you never expected, and it hurts more than you can comprehend. It takes courage to buy a house and put every cent you have and will have for the foreseeable future into it and put down roots. It takes courage to say this is the man or woman for me. It takes courage to say goodbye to a secure pay cheque and go it on your own. It takes courage to start a family.

One decision starts us down a path, gets us off a path, detours from a path, creates a new path, or continues on a path. That decision determines our life going forward. We need to make the decision that gives us the best chance of living our best life. If we take the chance we will likely look back at this cross roads with a thankful heart, a fuller life, a grateful spirit.

We need to feel the fear, look at the consequences and be willing to face whatever must be faced to build the life we want. If we want a happy, fulfilling life we’ll have to take a few chances along the way. We need to trust it will be worth it in the end.

Take a chance on life. Make a decision. Go forward in hope and promise, trust we can deal with whatever is out there. Choose!

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right things, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst you can do is nothing. Theodore Roosevelt

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The Best Yes Study Guide: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by [TerKeurst, Lysa]

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Dancing with Dementia. Making the best of what is.

Photo of sweet pea by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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One person caring about another represents lifes greatest value. Jim Rohn

This morning I stop and watch a clip on TV before I come to write my blog. The topic is dancing with dementia. The muscle memory remains and the music enables people to regain closeness when dementia is closing doors. The goal is to have fun, physical movement, closeness. It looks like it’s working on TV.

We need to build closeness into our relationships at every stage. Sharing activities, accomplishments, friends, relatives these are all strings that bind us close. Music connects us in a way that few things do. Old age homes should be filled with the music the residents grew up with and danced to in their active years. Are there any fun old age homes?

I haven’t been in many. The one I was in, visiting someone with my mother was hospital quiet. When my late aunt was in a home she said she had to get out or she would become just like the other residents.

I hear we have romances and dare I say it, “sex” going on in some of these places. Why wouldn’t we? People are still people at the end of their lives does it matter so much if people have a little fun and excitement in their life? No one is getting pregnant, there are no social issues coming out of having fun in a retirement home.

The belief that all we need to do for the elderly is keep them clean, fed and safely tucked away is destroying lives. I’m reading there is a better way and it is being implemented in Ontario, it is called the Butterfly program. The man responsible for this program is Dr. Sheard from Britain.

They start in one long term care home. The walls go from beige to bright retro colors chosen by Sonja Hidas curator and educator with the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives. The bright blocks of color help the residents with spatial problems navigate hallways that in beige look like endless confusing tunnels.

Sonia Hidas learns about the residents, where they come from, and interior designs that were popular in the decades when they were raising families or working. Brilliant colors are key because they are bright and happy. As children we enjoy bright and happy colors. When we become seniors colours come back to us. It’s part of being in the present moment and just enjoying what is.

What happens to a person is less significant than what happens within him. Louis l. Mann

People who are lonely and bored become frustrated and sometimes angry. The industry calls this “responsive behaviors,” saying it’s an outcome of dementia and other neurological problems. Sheard disagrees. He says it’s the result of frustration, loneliness and boredom, created by cold, clinical care.

A keyboard is brought in and one of the residents flips through song sheets, taking requests. The response to the music is that manic walkers no longer pace endlessly, everyone is calmer as the music taps into deep emotions. In the dining room cd’s are played.

A mini fridge is brought into the dining room. Residents are allowed to serve themselves any time of the day. Small pleasures bring back the humanity. There are other changes they want to make. They want to split the dementia unit into two. One side for residents still mobile. The Butterfly project realizes small homes are key. Most nursing homes are built to house 32 people per unit, an arbitrary number chosen years ago in the belief that bigger is better, particularly for operational efficiencies.

The staff has dropped the scrubs, street clothes are a requirement in the unit now.

Butterfly’s David Sheard says people with dementia can’t explain their emotions. Their emotions are best understood through metaphor. If the elderly woman is calling for her mother, what is she really seeking? It’s probably comfort, love or reassurance, so the Butterfly program says give that to her instead of the truth, “your mother’s dead.”

The staff has been trained in the old ways that dominate long-term care, focusing on systems and processes, not people. Butterfly relies on emotional intelligence, the ability to understand someone else’s feelings and respond with compassion.

The Butterfly project believes if you live in a sterile environment, it will kill your soul.

At the end of a year this care home passes the test and is recognized as a Butterfly home. It still has more changes to make but it has progressed a lot in treating the residents as people. It is now called by the person assessing it, a place of engagement and love.

The Peel council votes unanimously to keep funding the Butterfly project in this nursing home and to add it to a second facility. This Butterfly project has a financial cost but we have Politicians who would like to see the program adopted by the provincial government and expanded throughout all Ontario nursing homes.

This would be progress. Maybe we wouldn’t be so scared of ending up in one of these facilities if it seemed more like a home and less like an institution. We can’t stop the progress of age, disability and death. We can make it a little easier for those going through it. We can act like the people are still people. It is better for the people being cared for and the people doing the caring. Violence is a huge problem in people with dementia, caring for them like they are people seems to help.

We are moving in the right direction. We can put people ahead of profit. One small change at a time. We are learning to do better. We need to look at the positive changes being made. It is the goal of many people to bring positive change into the world. We need to acknowledge it when we see it. We need to be willing to embrace change. Things don’t have to be done the way they’ve always been done. We can make it better. We can fix the problems. We can start small.

There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver. Rosalyn Carter

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Songs You Know By Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Music in Dementia Care

Songs You Know By Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Music in Dementia Care

Feb 25, 2016

by Mary Sue Wilkinson and Teepa Snow
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