Birth order, is it more important than we think?

Is birth order more important than we think?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A child’s birth order is one of the many factors in the formation of a child’s behavior and identity. Unknown

I’m reading a book called The First Born Advantage by Dr. Kevin Leman. I’m a middle child, the middle child of nine in a blended family. I’m also the oldest of Mom and Dad’s five children.

The middle child has a developed or natural ability at compromise. This is I believe true of me, I am the peacemaker. My parents were middle children and pretty easy to get along with, pretty good at seeing other sides of arguments. Pretty good at realizing you need to live and let live.

Could it be that one of the problems we now have is too many only children, firstborn and youngest children and not enough middle children? It seems in politics the middle is missing. The idea of if you aren’t for us you are against us is not middle child thinking. We spent our lives making peace with older, younger and explaining what was meant instead of what was heard. We get nuance.

When I looked at who became American Presidents I was surprised to find that the majority of Presidents have been middle children, firstborns are the second group, seven of the Presidents have been youngest siblings, and there are no only children in the group.

As more of us only have one or two children middle children are missing, where will the peacemakers come from? Is there any truth to birth order differences?

From what I am reading the best marriage partners are the oldest born and youngest born. Both of my children are oldest born/youngest born couples. I suppose it makes sense, they spent their lives in that dynamic making it work for them with siblings, so they are well equipped to make it work in marriage.

Sisters and brothers just happen, we don’t get to choose them, but they become one of our most cherished relationships. Being sisters and  brothers means being there for each other. Unknown

My husband is the oldest child who didn’t have a middle sibling. No wonder I confuse him. One of the problems middle children can have when their marriage partner is the oldest child is they tend to mold themselves around their partner and might not follow their own dreams. In studies of marital satisfaction, middle children fare best. Their sensitive, compromising nature gives them an edge in keeping a relationship healthy.

The highest divorce rates occur when only children marry an only child. Dr. Leman says when marital problems occur later in the marriage it may be because each partner gets sick or weary of the roles they have assumed, many times it points to birth order.

One of the best marriage templates is when an older sister of brothers marries a younger brother of sisters. This would be the same as why the oldest/youngest coupling works.  It would also mean all the problems and frustrations you had in your birth family you will also have to deal with in your marriage.

According to research middle children have the best track record for being faithful. Although we are peacemakers in the family we may have trouble asserting ourselves. The middle children tend to be good listeners. One of the problems middle children have is we tend to be cautious about telling the truth about our feelings because we are worried we won’t be heard, but I also think we are worried about being judged.

This explains so much as I look at relationships that work and those that haven’t stayed together. There are forces at work in our lives we don’t understand, they made us who we are, they make us react to things the way we do. We don’t understand each other because we have never seen that side of life. How could a firstborn understand the dynamic a middle child or youngest child was born into?

Studies show that middle children grow up to be skillful manipulators, successful leaders, and cooperative problem-solvers because they aren’t used to getting their own way. They’re typically more patient, adventurous and open to new ideas, and they’re more likely to affect change than any other birth order. Unknown

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The Birth Order Book by [Leman, Dr. Kevin]
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In search of good enough. Accepting challenges. Being all we can be. Progress, not perfection.

Being all we can be. Progress not perfection. In search of good enough.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Theodore Roosevelt

Last night at Toastmasters we were having more experienced Toastmasters evaluate less experienced Toastmasters evaluations because we only had two speakers.

The less experienced Toastmaster’s evaluation I was to evaluate ended up to be an extremely experienced Toastmaster. I was thinking what do I say? Evaluating is harder than giving a speech. The goal of the evaluation is to be helpful in the Toastmaster journey.

What should I say, what advice could I give? We get comfortable, we have a style, we need to stretch ourselves, and we need to take on topics and types of speeches that require effort. We also need to stretch ourselves to grow as evaluators.

When it comes to giving speeches are we authoritarian types who need to lighten up, corporate types who need to get more personal, casual types who need to be more organized and formal, or funny types who need to address more serious topics? Maybe we make content instead of delivery important or delivery instead of content. We can mix it up. Do we always use PowerPoint, or never use PowerPoint.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. Maya Angelou

Whatever it is we do, we need to step out of our comfort zone. We all have a comfort zone. One of the reasons a lot of us joined Toastmasters is to become comfortable in front of an audience. The person I evaluated later told me he thinks we think he’s more comfortable than he is. That is probably true of most public speakers. We get comfortable being uncomfortable and then we have to push ourselves to be uncomfortable again, and again, and again.

The one thing we need to do is not try to be too perfect, because that is why we don’t give the impromptu speech or table topics. Our table topics master had little time to prepare but he came up with a great Table Topics segment.

Donald Winnicot developed a charming phrase in the 1950s, “The good enough parent.” We can apply that phrase and attitude to every part of our life. It doesn’t mean “The don’t give a damn parent.” It means we are doing our best, but we know our best won’t be perfect. We don’t agonize over our shortcomings, we embrace them and improve but we are also kind and compassionate with ourselves when we don’t meet our own standards. If we are kind and compassionate with ourselves we can extend this to others.

Donald Winnicot realized that the pursuit of perfection is counterproductive and it is much better to be in search of good enough. It sounds like we’ve given up, what kind of person settles for good enough? When we are willing to risk failure, we can risk success. It isn’t perfection we should be after but progress.   

If we are willing to be good enough Toastmasters, parents, employees, employers, entrepreneurs, people, we can grow and develop throughout our lives. By allowing ourselves to not be perfect we can take the chances that allow ourselves to progress. Isn’t it progress we after, the progress that will build “the great life?” Can accepting good enough and continuing to improve lead to growth we didn’t think we could attain?

If we create a culture where every teacher believes they need to improve, not because they are not good enough but because they can be even better, there is no limit to what we can achieve. Dylan Wiliam

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I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”Paperback – Dec 27 2007

by Brené Brown (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews#1 Best Sellerin Gender

Unmet expectations the root of heartache. Does lowering our expectations feel like we are giving up?

Does lowering our expectations feel like we are giving up? Unmet expectations the root of heartache.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are. Donald Miller

Managing expectations seems to be a recurring theme. Shakespeare said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” I think he is right. Why do some situations cause some people to be ecstatic and others to be unhappy? It seems it’s all because of expectations, our loved one can be in the hospital and we are happy because we thought they were killed in a car crash. In the hospital mending is a better outcome than we expected. If we thought they walked away unhurt then we are devastated because of our unmet expectation.

Some parents are happy they have B students; others are beside themselves if their children are “only” B students. The difference is of course expectations. Some people are happy in marriage and others are disappointed in marriages that seem enviable, this too is because of expectations. If we have too high of expectations of others we will often be disappointed.

Could the secret be that we should have low expectations of others, but high expectations of ourselves? Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices.” This seems like good advice to me, we can work on ourselves, we can create better habits, and we can strive to move forward. We need to accept others as they are.

We need to work to become the best we can be. We need to let other people live their lives, make their own decisions, and set their own goals.

How we see life, and our place in society is colored by the cultures we grew up in. We come from cultures where certain things were done, certain things were expected, and certain things were acceptable. Whose expectations get met when culture, religion, male and female expectations get in the mix?  

I am reading there are two notable differences in parenting: The individual versus the collective.

Individualistic cultures emphasize self-sufficiency, while collectivist ones emphasize the dependence of the individuals on the group which they are a part of. Parents generally raise their children with the goal of molding them into effective adults. But the definition of an effective, productive member of society differs from culture to culture.

If people from differing cultures get together to raise children it is easy to see how much difficulty they will likely have seeing eye to eye on parenting.

Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack. Brandon Sanderson

North American society has been heavily predicated on the individual as sovereign.

Jordan Peterson says, “You can’t keep kids safe. The best thing you can do is make them able and courageous. It’s absolutely crucial.” He also tells us, “Life is tragic, and we are all capable of turning into monsters.” By this, I think he means we should be grateful when life is not tragic, and we should also realize that when other people fail us because they don’t meet our expectations, we are capable of that kind of failure and worse.

Controlling ourselves is such a big job, we should do our best to navigate the world and be productive. We need to expect others to do their best and navigate the world, but not try to control, manipulate, or bully them.

Can we manage our expectations by improving our reality by lowering our expectations? Is it possible to accept without reservation and give without expectation? Going forward can we expect the unexpected with a positive attitude toward life?

We need to manage our expectations as we navigate through life. Do we expect less and find ourselves surprised and elated, or expect more than life or other people can possibly deliver and be disappointed?

I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine. Bruce Lee

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Expectation Hangover: Free Yourself from Your Past, Change Your Present and Get What You Really Want by [Hassler, Christine]
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We are enough; we need the confidence to believe it. This is our life can we live, laugh, love, and savor all that there is with gratitude and joy?

This is our life can we live, laugh, love, and savor all that there is with gratitude and joy? We are enough; we need the confidence to believe it.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough. Brene Brown

My son says to me yesterday, “Mom you are a problem finder and you passed that onto me.” He didn’t mean it as a compliment but I’ve rolled it over in my mind and I think he’s right, and I’m okay with that. As Dr. Phil say, “We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.

If we are lucky, sensitive, or aware enough to see problems when they are small we can fix, mitigate, or eliminate them. Thinking things will get fixed with no effort is unlikely. Sometimes we try and fix things and make them worse. Sometimes we need to leave well enough alone.

Mom has always said if we look after the little things, the big things look after themselves. In large part, I believe this to be true. This is why one of the key things we can adjust is our attitude. Can we adjust our diet, sleep, exercise? We might not be able to control our stress levels, but we might be able to mitigate them.

Sometimes we busy ourselves to the brink of exhaustion because we don’t know how to relax and spend time with our families. We can control our food intake to the point of anorexia, we can over exercise, over volunteer, and be overly enmeshed in our children’s lives. I bet we can simplify our lives too much as well. Anything can be taken to the extreme, and extremes rarely lead to well-rounded lives.

Are we encouraged to live the well-rounded life? Or are we encouraged to be stars of one sort or another? What would happen if our Olympic athletes opted for balance and well-rounded lives? Maybe this is part of our problem. We are divided and pulled in too many directions.

There are times in our lives when simple and uncluttered lives may work. That is not what is in store for the newly pregnant woman and her husband as they build a family. We have seasons in our lives, and there is a flow. There is a season for sowing and a season for reaping. Are we living in balance with the seasons of our lives? Do we want to reap when we should be sowing and sowing when we should be reaping?

In an article on simplifying our life one of the recommendations is to forget the small stuff. Life is all about small stuff but it seems true we get 80 percent of the results from 20 percent of what we do. So if we focus on tweaking the 20 percent we will be better off. We can do this with anything. Maybe this is why we aren’t exercising. We think we need to dedicate whole hours to it when 20 percent of the amount of exercise we think we should do would suffice. What if instead of rearranging our whole diet we changed 20 percent of it that would make the most difference. It was eliminating cream from my coffee that I believe made the biggest change for me. I had eliminated eating after dinner, but that has crept back into my life and needs to stop.

We may stumble and fall but shall rise again; it should be enough if we did not run away from the battle. Mahatma Gandhi

If instead of thinking we need to change everything we pick the 20 percent that will likely have the most impact we can improve our lives in big ways with small changes.

Decluttering is one of the things we can apply the 20 percent rule to. Some people think even having a junk drawer is too much clutter. Doesn’t everyone need somewhere to put the things that don’t seem to belong anywhere else? When we throw away that little miscellaneous screw we are sure to find where it is missing. Perfection is the enemy of the good. If we are after a good life other people can share with us then good enough may be great.

Of course “Good enough” is open to interpretation. Sometimes we know what good enough is because on an exam “Good enough” is often 75 percent.  We can’t do everything that is recommended but what can we do? What is the 20 percent change in every area that would make the most difference?  Does it seem like too little if we tried to save 2% instead of the 10% they tell us we must save? What if we tried to eliminate 20% of our debt instead of the 100% they say we should get rid of? We eliminated 20% of our clutter. We brought 20% of the exercise into our life they say we need? What if we tweaked our diet by 20%, not giving up all our indulgences, just the 20% that will make the most difference. What dreams can we make come true? How much communication can we have? Can we fit creativity into our lives to feed our soul and still leave room for everything else? How much tweaking can we do to our life so it still resembles our life only 20% better?

I’ve always told my kids don’t give up your good habits. I’ve started indulging in snacks while watching TV in the evening. This needs to be my 20% change. Snacks and treats in the afternoon, but get back to not eating after dinner.

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 you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect. Brene Brown

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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You ArePaperback – Aug 27 2010

by Brene Brown (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 272 customer reviews#1 Best Sellerin Personal Transformation


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Accepting ourselves, our mistakes, our lessons. Something for nothing is probably a scam. If it seems too good to be true…

Something for nothing is probably a scam. If it seems too good to be true... Accepting ourselves, our mistakes, our lessons.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for… Unknown

Last night was another interesting night at Toastmasters. After the meeting, a bunch of us went out for a drink and some had a bite to eat. Over my peppermint tea, I listened as members waxed poetically about their childhood. They believe and I wonder if it is true that we enjoyed our childhoods more than our children have enjoyed theirs?

Is this what every generation believes? We need to let children play. Isn’t that what we did as kids, and what kids will always do when given the opportunity? I wonder about people in our midst who complain when they hear the exuberant sounds of children playing. What would they rather hear?

Organized activities are great and I am grateful we have them. But, they are not the only activities our children should be involved in. Children should be able to run and play, put together pick-up games, and pound on pianos without being expected to produce glorious music. Children should be encouraged to paint with exuberance inside the lines, outside the lines, and with no lines at all.

One of the big lessons members spoke of was being cautioned about living above their means. It is something we should learn and teach even though the nuances of living that way may be fluid. We can, of course, get into lengthy discussions on good debt, bad debt, what is an asset, and what constitutes a liability.

A member talked about how cons work and the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge was brought up. Some say George C. Parker sold the Brooklyn Bridge at least twice a week, one time for as much as $50,000. How would anyone believe he owned it and had the right to sell it? A Nigerian scammer ended up on TV and he couldn’t believe that he with little education could scam educated people.

It seems we fall for scams and there is often a common theme:

Our need to feel part of a group is exploited.

Exclusivity and scarcity is used.

They exploit our knowledge gaps and pretend they can help us.

When all else fails they resort to intimidation and force.

Greed. We buy into the lure of easy money.

The people who do this get caught in the end. At least George C. Parker did and ended his life in prison.

Sometimes we may begin to get embroiled in something that doesn’t quite make sense.  We don’t listen to that still small voice that tells us “Whoa, are you sure about this, something doesn’t add up.” Instead, we forge ahead because we think we’ll look stupid if we stop now, and hope it will be okay. That is exactly what people who want to take advantage of us hope for. We lack self-preservation because looking stupid if we are wrong is more important than taking care of ourselves if we are right.

Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us. Unknown

We need to be our own control board. Most of the time, we can’t be taken advantage of without our consent. Why do we consent? Why do we go along with what someone else wants instead of what we want? Why do we make their happiness more important than our own?

We think we need to be nice. We need to think of others. Don’t we need to look after ourselves first, so we can look after the other people in our lives? We need to remember to put our air mask on first, then offer help to those who need it. We need to be able to accept we’ve made a mistake. We’ve trusted someone we shouldn’t. We’ve made a bad decision, but instead of continuing down the wrong path we need to correct it. We will make mistakes, they are usually not fatal. We can adjust, change, acknowledge, regroup, and go forward, stronger, and, smarter.

We will make mistakes; they become part of the tapestry of our lives. If we learned from them they will be something we laugh at. Listening to people who have made mistakes and acknowledge their part in them makes us realize that is where the growth is. It isn’t hoping we’ll never make a mistake or beating our self up when we do, but learning from them that builds a great life.

We need to let go of resentment and self-pity and take responsibility for our lives. When we take responsibility for everything in our life we accept accountability, and we bear the burden of obligation. We can accept we have been hurt, and we have caused hurt. If we forgive ourselves and others for not being perfect, we can go forward, acknowledging our blessings and be better, not bitter.

Anyone can give up; it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone would expect you to fall apart. That’s true strength. Chris Bradford

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Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life Paperback – Dec 23 2003

by Byron Katie (Author), Stephen Mitchell (Author) 4.4 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews


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Are we waiting for permission to live our lives? Write our own permission slip.

Are we waiting for permission to live our lives? Write our own permission slip.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Abundance arrives in the physical world when the inner world is ready to receive it. When we give ourselves permission to experience abundance, it always shows up. Pam Malow-Isham

I’m reading Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown in it she says she absolutely loved Maya Angelou’s writings, but she came across a quote by Maya Angelou that bothered her. “You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high, the rewards are great.”

Brene thought how could not belonging be the answer when she spent so much of her time longing to belong and trying to fit in.

I’ve felt that way; I was a farm kid in the town school. When everyone or so it seemed could be on teams I had to take the bus and go home. One of the best things that happened in high school was our gym teacher set up team sports during lunch hour. This was how I got to play team sports.

Brene Brown says she was going to be on Oprah’s Soul Sunday and she had dinner with a friend the night before. He said, “Brene, where are you?”

She gave a flippant answer but realized she wasn’t really present; it was like she was flying above her life, not really part of the moment.

H said, “This is a big deal, I don’t want you to miss it.”

Brene says she was in her hotel room before going to Oprah’s studio and her daughter called about a school permission slip. Brene said to herself, that’s what I need a permission slip to not feel so serious and afraid. So feeling kind of goofy, silly, and knowing no one was looking she wrote herself a permission slip on a post-it note saying, “Permission to be goofy and have fun.”

She tells us this would be the first of many permission slips she would write herself. We still need to follow through, as when we give our kids permission to go on the school trip, they still have to get on the bus.

Are there things in our life we need to give our self permission to do, enjoy, want, attempt? How are we holding ourselves back from doing, becoming, achieving, attempting? We can give ourselves permission to go after what we want in life. Do we need permission to do more or less? If we don’t feel we belong or fit in, we need to at least feel we belong to our self. Where ever we go, there we are.

We may think we are the only one who feels they don’t truly belong. Maybe we all have parts of our life where we are round pegs in round holes and other parts where we feel like square pegs in round holes. Could this be part of the growth we need to go through as we develop ourselves over our lifetime? Is it just an illusion that other people belong more than we do? Another way we compare ourselves to others and come up short. If we actually shared our feelings, experiences, and stories would we find they also felt alone, afraid, and vulnerable? Do we need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable? Is getting out of our comfort zone one of the keys to growth?

When people change they do not ask your permission. Jennifer Pierre

Could it be the more uncomfortable we are with being our unique selves, over time the more comfortable we become with ourselves and we learn to accept ourselves and others for who we are and embrace and enjoy our differences? When we get comfortable with being uncomfortable, do we also get uncomfortable with what was comfortable?

We find when we leave our homes, families, and former life to develop a different life somewhere else; we never fit back completely into where we left. We are changed, we look at things differently. Nothing stays the same; we need to enjoy the moments because we won’t come this way again.

All of our today’s, become yesterdays; we need to enjoy each and every one of them to the fullest. We need to give ourselves permission to truly live, love, enjoy, experience, take chances, succeed, and fail.

If you were to give yourself a permission slip today, what would it say?

Mine says, “I give myself permission to live, laugh, and love, truly, fully, deeply, richly, and with abandon.

When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret. Shannon L. Alder

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Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone Hardcover – Sep 12 2017

by Brené Brown (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews


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Becoming ourselves, the road less traveled. Do we have the courage to become who we really are?

Do we have the courage to become who we really are? Becoming ourselves, the road less traveled.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

If you’re searching for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror. Unknown

What a joy to wake up to another beautiful morning. I didn’t hear the rain last night but the ball diamond in the park is half covered in water so it must have been pretty hard.

Some areas are getting too much rain, some are getting too little. The garden and grass are lush and green, so are the weeds. Should I weed this evening or go to the gym? My front walk is being infringed on from both sides by lush vegetation. The grass that is growing in my little planting under our crabapple tree is tall enough to cut as hay.

Do these plants growing where we don’t want them to, feel when we pull them? They’ve exerted as much energy as the plants we want. They are growing where they were planted. That grass seeding is not exact is not their fault. If they were growing a few feet over I would leave them alone, except for being shaved by the lawn mower that is.

Do we sometimes feel like these grass stalks? We are growing, thriving but we don’t quite fit in.

Brene Brown writes, “In fact, fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging. Fitting in, I’ve discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order for them to let you hang out with them. Belonging is something else entirely – it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are – love of gourd painting, intense fear of public speaking and all.

Many of us suffer from this split between who we are and who we present to the world in order to be accepted. (Take it from me: I’m an expert fitter-inner!) But we’re not letting ourselves be known, and this kind of incongruent living is soul-sucking.”

Brene tells us we need to be okay with who we are, our gifts, our shortcomings, our weaknesses, and our strengths. We need to be willing to be the unique individual that we are. Maybe we feel we haven’t achieved enough, or maybe we’ve achieved too much to fit in. What is fitting in? Fitting in seems like pretending, becoming “Me too.” Instead of having our own interests, talents, goals, we do what we think is acceptable.

Don’t let anyone make you be who you aren’t. Stay true to yourself at all times. Even when it’s not trendy. Unknown

I remember going for a job interview and being asked what my interests were. One of my answers was writing, and I was told, “don’t mention that.” Why are we being asked what our interests are if they don’t really want to know? What was the accepted answer? I still don’t know what kind of interests I was supposed to have to be a suitable employee. I can’t remember if I got that job, only that my interests weren’t acceptable.

Maybe part of our growth and development is being okay with being different. We are all different. Maybe we need more people embracing their uniqueness instead of so many of us trying to fit in. Is fitting in a survival skill from long ago? Ostracism from the herd was death so conforming was required.

Sometimes we will need to stand alone, other times we will need to stand together. We need to be okay in both instances. Some of the worst things have been done because no one stood up to what was wrong. We can’t wait for someone else to stand up to make a good society. We make a good society when we are each willing to stand up for what is right, and good. We may be part of a chorus or a lone voice in the wilderness. Our contribution is to be our best selves, embracing who we are, not pretending to be someone we are not by fitting in.

If we are going to live lives true to ourselves we will have to stand up for what we believe in. We must do things as our heart bids us, we must walk to the beat of our own drummer. Will we be willing to stand for some things and against others? Can we be okay with people disapproving of us because the other option is turning our self into a pretzel trying to figure out whom to be for each person we meet?

We can’t please all the people, all the time. It is better to make peace with who we are, stand up for what we believe in, pursue our dreams, and live our life on our terms. It’s the only life we have, we need to make it count. The only corner of the universe we can improve is our self. Are we vulnerable and comfortable with being uncomfortable, and dealing with people without sacrificing who we are and what we value? Do we have the courage to be ourselves and make connections with others without conforming or asking them to conform?

This above all: to thine own self be true. Shakespeare

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Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone Hardcover – Sep 12 2017

by Brené Brown (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews


 See all 9 formats and editions

We all contribute to the garden of life. Bloom where we are planted. Our season is short.

Our season is short. We all contribute to the garden of life. Bloom where we are planted.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Life is a garden our thoughts are the seeds, we can plant flowers, or we can plant weeds. Unknown

Last night I tackled the weeds in my garden. They were like a green carpet in my garden patch. As I pulled them I thought how quickly weeds take over. Are our thoughts the seeds that build our life? Can we plant flowers or plant weeds? Do we consciously plant weeds, or like my garden patch do they just spring up; we don’t even know where they come from.

Do we need to consciously prune our thoughts and consciously think better thoughts? Are our thoughts like plants, if we plant a big enough thought will it outgrow the weeds? If our thoughts are too small, unformed, and our convictions not strong enough can they easily be overtaken by weeds?

Carrots are one such seed that needs to be weeded when it is small but they can hold their own against the weeds as they get bigger. If we plant trees and shrubs we don’t worry about the weeds so much. It might be some people’s dream, even their reality to have a weed free garden. It is too daunting a project to be mine.

It is not my dream or aspiration to weed my mind to such a degree that unkind thoughts don’t come to the forefront sometimes. That I don’t voice them is my aspiration. I hope I can find the words to build someone up instead of tearing them down. That I am a positive force more often than a negative one.

Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul. Luther Burbank

When we look at our garden we may think if we were to liken ourselves to a plant, what plant would we pick? I love roses but they have thorns. Sometimes I think I do too. A rose isn’t as useful as a potato or cabbage. The useful plants aren’t as ornamental as the not so useful ones, is that the same in our lives?

What if we can’t choose if we are a sunflower, magnolia, carrot, potato, rose or day lily? Should we learn to bloom where we are planted, and become the best we can be? How great would it be if all we had is roses?

Can we be happy with who we are, our gifts, talents, and aspirations? The sun shines and the rain falls on all of us, we bloom in our season, we give our gifts to the world. If we do the best we can with what we have, enjoy our life, help who we can help, encourage who we can encourage, and be an example of a life well lived isn’t that what we want?

If we have round firm leaves instead of thin ones can we accept there is beauty in all shapes? Tall thin shrubs aren’t better than round full shrubs. White flowers aren’t better than other shades of flowers. We love ornamental plants but we live because of the plain useful ones. All gardens are different, our minds are different, and every life is different. We have different gifts, different roles, and different lives but we all contribute to the garden of life. Viva la difference.

Too many people overvalue what they are not, and undervalue what they are. Malcolm Forbes

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, laughter, and love.

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The Blooming of a Lotus: Revised Edition of the Classic Guided Meditation for Achieving the Miracle of Mindfulness Paperback – Apr 1 2009

by Thich Nhat Hanh (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews


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Are we walking the talk? Are we practicing what we are preaching? Are we embracing our imperfections?

Are we embracing our imperfections. Are we waling the talk, Are we practicing what we preach?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others. Mother Teresa

Is it possible to live up to our own expectations?  Are we able to follow our own advice to the letter? I don’t think so.

We all know forgiveness is better than not forgiving but it isn’t easy. It’s hard to forgive people, and harder still sometimes to be able to forgive ourselves for not being better.

I’m looking at something on practicing what we preach and the author says if Jim gets up and says, “I used to be the town drunk, but I found Jesus, I’m still a drunk, but I’m a forgiven drunk.” The author is saying he would have no credibility, and his testimony would be of no worth.

I think we better think hard and long about that. Most of us are not drunks, drug addicts, or cheating on our mates. We are regular people with small problems like gossip, holding a grudge, judging and misjudging others, not always being considerate or kind, not always putting others first, and many other shortcomings. We are not always the best we can be, and not always consistent in everything.

If we were “the drunk” and took a drink that is held against us more than if we have a piece of cake, or we engage in gossip. I’ve always had a problem knowing the difference between gossip and conversation.

My mom fills me in on the news of the family. Is this gossip? Some say it isn’t gossip if there’s a useful purpose to talking about someone, even it is “behind their back.” Are we really digging into the details or just sharing something we heard – clearly said – to further the conversation? Obviously, this is a blurry line.

Not nearly as cut and dried as did we have that drink or eat that cake. We can say things innocently and mean no malice; they can still take on a life of their own and be very negative in people’s lives. Innocent words can come back to bite us and other people.

Where does a blog sit? As a journey of self-discovery, it is exactly that, looking at things and sharing. It is not about being perfect or pretending to know what one does not know, nor what one does not do. It is a journey of discovery if it is anything at all.

Support groups are also about self-growth and discovery. I know from my book club that sitting and talking about some of the deep things in life is a form of connection we might not get any other way. Some say when we sit in a circle, the world heals a little more. When we sit in a circle, at a table, or holding hands cross-legged on the floor, we celebrate our similarities, not our differences, and this is empowering. We have and are sharing experiences.

When we go to Church or hear speakers we are part of a group of like-minded people. One of the problems the Church has is we can’t stand up and say we are still struggling, but we are all still struggling, no one is perfect. This is why some people feel they can never find in a Church what they find in a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous where they are honest, vulnerable and accepted.

To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. John Ruskin

Don’t we all want to be able, to be honest, vulnerable, and accepted? Isn’t this where all growth takes place? When we pretend we are better than we are, stronger than we are, more perfect than we are, this is when we put on the mask; this is when we are no longer living a life accepting ourselves warts and all. Is this when we become hypocrites; when we are not authentic, honest, and open?

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing to put our best foot forward, what is bad is when we pretend that is our whole self. We need to be willing to live a good enough life, have a good enough marriage, and be good enough parents. When we are willing to be good enough, there is room to admit our shortcomings, and help others admit theirs, and feel supported in our struggles to be better. Perfection is the enemy of the good, pretending to be perfect is harmful. Why do we wonder why there are hidden secrets when we weren’t willing to let people admit to their frailties and weaknesses?

We should all be willing to stand up and say “My name is __________________ and I’m a ________________________.  That blank could be filled with anything, greedy, gossipy, cantankerous, selfish, narcissistic, envious, jealous, or judgmental person. We need to accept ourselves how we are. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge, and pretending to be perfect isn’t acknowledging our imperfections, and we are imperfect, it is what it is, and it’s okay.

Brene Brown tells us to make peace with our imperfections, we are good enough, we look as good as we look, we can dance as well as we can dance, our taste in music is ours, our challenges are ours, our story is ours, Courage requires us to be willing to let go of worrying about what other people think about us.

Courage doesn’t mean we aren’t afraid, courage means we don’t let fear stop us. I am trying to embrace myself, imperfections and all. It isn’t easy, but then the things that are worth doing are never easy, are they?

There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman unapologetically hersef; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty. Steve Maraboli

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, acceptance, and love.

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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are Paperback– Aug 27 2010

by Brene Brown (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 267 customer reviews#1 Best Sellerin Spiritual


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Is courage the most important thing? Is it because without courage, how can we do what we need to do, and stand for what we need to stand for?

Without courage, how can we do what we need to do, and stand for what we need to stand for? Is courage the most important thing?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. J.K. Rowling

We don’t know when we will see people who show us what stepping up means. Examples are all around us. When we see others step up it encourages us to do it as well.

Last night at Toastmasters our Chair was performing this duty for the first time. She did a fabulous job. She did what Chairs are supposed to do; she brought energy and order to the meeting. She handled the business session with strength, humor, and leadership.

She is an example to all of us because sometimes we think only the experienced can run the business session well. In fact, many of us are relieved when “Orders of the day” are called at the beginning of the business session. We feel like we dodged a bullet, we didn’t, instead, we lost an opportunity to stretch ourselves, and handle a business session with strength and grace.

When we take the opportunities presented to us we grow as people, speakers, and meeting chairs. Aren’t the people we most admire those who step up? We sit back and think “I wish I could do that,” while they are out there doing it. We think in the beginning they must be more skilled or talented, but if we watch long enough we realize they are just braver.

Life is not for the faint of heart. People will cajole and plead with us to join in, in the beginning, but then they will leave us alone to sit back and miss the fun and growth of putting ourselves out there. The longer we hold back, the harder it is to drum up the courage to change the way we and others see us.

It is one of the reasons when a new member joins Toastmasters our goal is to get them involved in roles and giving their icebreaker speech as soon as possible. If we want to change, we need support, but we also have to be willing to get out of our comfort zone.

There are many clubs and organizations that encourage growth. Sometimes we need to acknowledge to ourselves we need to change something, and then we can find a supportive group. If being part of a group is not our thing we may be a lone wolf. Is change harder or easier as a lone wolf? We may have some solitary pursuits and some group ones.

Isn’t life more becoming than a contest of who wins? What if what we accomplish outside of ourselves matters less than the growth and development within ourselves? All the toys, investments, homes, property, businesses, etc, we amass over a lifetime will be left behind. All we actually carry with us at any time is who we are when we are naked and afraid.

Could this be one of the attractions of being a nudist? We are stripped down to only our self, no pretense, no fancy clothes, or high heeled shoes making us look like something we are not. When Hitler came to power in 1933 he initially outlawed nudism before bringing it under state regulation. Herman Goering said, “One of the greatest dangers for German culture and morality is the so-called nudity movement. What was the danger, they weren’t in lockstep with Hitler?

Do we sometimes need to go back and understand the danger of Dissident Groups? They were dangerous to whom, those who want to bend us to their will? Is there something to nudism that would lead to true equality, and we can’t have that? Ideas about liberalism, pacifism and natural health were brought to America by thousands of German immigrants in the years before World War Two. It is Mark Twain that said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

Those who would rise through the degrees of the holy mysteries must cast aside their clothes and go forward naked. Plotinus, philosopher of the ancient world.

George Bernard Shaw said, “I am strongly in favor of getting rid of every scrap of clothing… I know the mischief done by making us ashamed of our bodies.”

Saint Francis shed his clothes in front of his father to protest being disinherited. People have followed his example and used the naked body as a form of protest and to make a point. It may be one of the most eloquent ways to protest, one I can’t see being brave enough to do. Maybe, I’ve never believed in something enough!

Do we have the courage to stand up and be counted? Can we summon the courage to do what we know we must do to become who we really are? Sometimes it may be taking the podium, and sometimes it may be taking off our clothes. Whatever we stand for, whatever we think is important and right, at some point in our life we may have to make a stand. Will we have the courage?

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill

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, courage, and love.

To subscribe, comment, see archives or categories of posts click on the picture and scroll to the end. Please subscribe, comment, and share.

If you purchase an item through the Amazon.ca link I do receive a percentage of the sale through the Amazon.ca affiliate link.

See this image

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone Hardcover – Sep 12 2017

by Brené Brown (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews


 See all 9 formats and editions