Gratitude and generosity. Respecting others and respecting ourselves. Are we living by the golden rule?

Are we living by the golden rule? Gratitude and generosity. Respecting others and respecting ourselves.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others. The Dalai Lama

Are we living lives of gratitude and generosity? If when we help others we help ourselves. What does real help look like? Some people seem naturally more giving, generous, and helpful. I don’t mean the givers of advice and criticism where I may find myself. Is it easier in small communities to be helpful and generous?

How do we cultivate an attitude of generosity and gratitude? There is a form of generosity that I think if we would adopt would go a long way toward healing the hurts so many people have. We need to extend grace toward people who have wronged us, this generous act will gradually change how we see ourselves, our world, and our future. This isn’t easy when we feel people misjudge us, and ascribe motives to actions we don’t agree with.

This of course is easy for me to say because I haven’t been wronged very often in my life. I am blessed to live in peace and plenty. I haven’t traveled extensively but the few places I’ve gone have always welcomed me. If I’m not grateful for the life I’ve been blessed to live, what was I expecting would be enough to start being grateful?

We won the genetic lottery just being born. In my life, I’ve never gone a single day hungry that I didn’t choose as a fast day. I am grateful for good health and the good health of my family. I am grateful for prosperity even though I don’t consider myself rich. At this stage in my life, I still have goals and dreams and I am grateful for that.

My son tells me I am not a positive person, and I know what he is saying is true. I have second-guessed myself in ways I don’t think a truly positive person would. Perhaps if I was given a choice I would be different than I am but I’m okay with who I am, the life I’ve lived, and the choices I’ve made. They haven’t always been the best choices. Does anyone anywhere always make the best choices in every situation? Would that even be possible? What would we learn if we never made mistakes? How would we grow if we never failed?

Whenever you share the goodness in your heart. You always end up a winner because life is an echo. It gives you back what you have given. Unknown

I think of the Canadian Author who has a multi-million dollar contract for her first two novels. The first one is now published. Does early success work for us or against us? Do we always need to find a way to use our successes as stepping stones to other successes? Regardless of the heights we achieve, we can’t sit there; we need challenges and accomplishments throughout our life. We dream of overnight success, but is it what we really want? Isn’t it better to build success over time incrementally so we’ve built a strong foundation? If I was offered the multi-million dollar deal for my first novel and the sequel I am writing what effect would it have on my life? My retirement would be assured. I would feel I never have to work again, but would that be a good thing?

I am enjoying the little successes that are coming my way. A conversation with someone that tells me, “You are exactly who we are looking for to feature on our talk show, and it only costs $1250.00 American.”

“I’m looking for free publicity right now,” I tell her. We end our call and she tells me, “If you change your mind call me anytime.” It is not such a crazy price that I couldn’t pay it. I am hoping that Internet Radio Shows and regular radio shows looking for guests will contact me, or be interested when I contact them. Maybe “Pay to Play” has its advantages, maybe it doesn’t. I’m too new at this to know.

The publicity part of being an author is new to me. I am enjoying it. The one Internet Radio Show I was featured on was fun. “In the Author’s Corner with Etienne,” he’s a good host and put me at ease. We talked and laughed for an hour on air with no awkward dead spots. I am grateful he gave a newbie Indy author the opportunity to be on his show.

If we are grateful for the opportunities in our life we are told we will get more. If we want to be forgiven for our trespasses we must forgive others their trespasses against us. We may never live up to what we expect a life of gratitude and generosity should look like, but we can work toward becoming more grateful and generous. We can take a step, another, and then another. Where it will take us we do not know. We may be on a lifelong journey we can’t imagine.

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch heaven. Johannes A Gaertner

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. John Wesley

Life is an Echo. What you send out comes back. What you sow you reap. What you give you get. What you see in others exists in you. Regardless of who you are or what you do, if you are looking for the best way to reap the most reward in all areas of your life, you should look for the good in every person and in every situation and adopt the golden rule as a way of life. Zig Ziglar

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New Rules For Kind Souls: 120 Principles That Agnostics, Rebels, Buddhists & Other Spiritual Folks Can Live With (Rules For The Rebellious) by [James  Zakaria]

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Standing strong and owning our stories. Are we the hero of our own life?

Are we the hero of our own life? Standing strong and owning our stories.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness. Brene Brown

Aren’t the new days of New Year’s filled with big plans? We call them resolutions and we make them in our mind even if we aren’t willing to say them out loud. This is the year we are going to… One of the problems with resolutions is when we get right down to it they are about two things, work and change. If things are going to be different, something has to change.

One of the problems most of us have why we don’t follow through on our resolutions is we don’t break them down into “SMART” goals, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The other problem is, we overestimate what we can do in one year, and underestimate what we can do in ten years.

Some of the time it seems we treat everyone around us better than ourselves. We understand other people not meeting their goals but we berate ourselves. We tell ourselves we have no discipline, we don’t persevere, and we aren’t the achievers of the world. Is that any way to talk to someone we love?

Often there is no one we criticize more than ourselves. We tell ourselves, I won’t do that, I won’t do that, and then we find ourselves doing that thing again. What if we are telling ourselves the wrong thing? What is the thing we do want to do instead of the thing we don’t want to do?

We won’t get up late again becomes, we will get up when the alarm rings. We won’t be so hungry we eat the whole bag of chips becomes we will eat prepared meals at mealtime, and we will have healthy snacks on hand. We won’t waste our evenings watching TV, becomes we will write, paint, dance, sing, play an instrument, go for a walk or whatever activity we want to do in the evening. We need to quit telling ourselves all the negative things we don’t want to do and start telling ourselves the positive things we do want to do. We need to quit setting ourselves up for failure.

Why do we set ourselves up for failure? There must be a payoff. The payoff might be, if we never do this thing we say we must do, then we never have to face something else. One day I was listening to a very accomplished woman on YouTube. She said, “Don’t think I’m special, because when you do, it means you don’t expect as much from yourself.” When we tell ourselves that person is “Special” they are so talented, they are so lucky, smart, etc. We are giving ourselves an excuse to not step up in our own lives and make our own dreams come true. It is true there are talented people out there, but perseverance often outweighs talent.

Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do. Brene Brown

We sell ourselves short when we think other people are so much more than us, but it takes the pressure off because we tell ourselves we can’t, instead of we aren’t. What could we do, if we decided to do it? What is the, “It” in our life? The “It” that when we accomplish it we feel we have hit a milestone in our life we can be proud of.

For me, that was publishing my novel “Secrets and Silence.” Is it the best book ever written? Absolutely not, but it is published and available for purchase as a print and Ebook, or read as a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. I wanted to write my whole life, then why has it taken me this long to publish a novel? Why when I wrote my first novel starting October 9, 2000, and wrote 85,000 words did I put it away and never consider editing it to become publishable? It is a convoluted mess I am proud of, but I haven’t done anything with it. I am actually more proud of it than the one I published because it started me off as a writer. A writer that wrote almost every day, and a writer that persevered to the end of a first draft.

Editing that novel would have meant I had to put myself out there. I had to call myself a writer and have people read my work and judge it. Why have I been so hard on myself? I have twenty years of being a writer behind me even though I only published one novel that was started in 2012. It took me eight years to get it ready to put out into the world. A big part of that eight years was getting me ready, not the book.

What was I afraid of? Maybe part of what I was afraid of is that my world might change more than I wanted it to. It would take up the time I needed to give to my family. At least that sounds noble, so I’ll go with it.

I have feared putting my work out for public scrutiny. I didn’t hang any of my paintings on the walls of my own house until a few years ago.

What has changed? Becoming a Toastmaster first in 1986 and then again in 2016 has made a huge difference in my life. When we watch others struggle to find their voice it makes our own struggle to find ours, okay.

We are all struggling. We all have things about ourselves we aren’t proud of. We all make mistakes, and wish we’d made different decisions along the way. We are here, how can we make this a great year?

Where do storytellers find the wisdom to discover their own stories? From no place more mysterious than their own hearts. Marion Dane Bauer

Your life is a story, what’s done is done. Where it goes from here is totally up to you. Write your own ending. Unknown

Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart, and strong enough to live the life you’ve always imagined. Unknown

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Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by [Brené Brown]

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? by [Belynda Wilson Thomas]

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Dignity and self-respect. Are we Leading humble lives in truth and dignity?

Are we leading humble lives in truth and dignity? Dignity and self-respect.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Dignity is about showing self-respect and having quiet self-esteem. Unknown

Yesterday someone left a lovely gift on our doorstep. But, it isn’t for us, we don’t know who left it, and we don’t know Kate the intended recipient. This might be one of the problems with just leaving a gift on a doorstep as a nice surprise. Will the young woman who left it even know which house she mistakenly dropped it off at?

Last night when I put my dog, Lulu, out for the last time, a skunk was ambling toward the corner of our yard, and then it slowly meandered along the back fence and disappeared from view. He didn’t hurry, didn’t seem afraid, just doing his own thing. Not bothering anything but prepared if anything bothered him.

Is the skunk the symbol of humbleness, he minds his own business mostly. We had them get into the chicken coop at home and then they had gone too far and were no longer minding their own business.

Jordan Peterson defines a humble man as one with a sheathed sword who knows how to use it, but only uses it when he has to. Humble doesn’t mean you get walked on or can’t take care of yourself. It means you can take care of yourself but don’t inflict your power on others.

Quiet dignity, self-respect, confidence, bravery, and fearlessness are these qualities we aspire to as we make our way in the world? We might not think of the skunk as an animal to admire. We think of eagles, lions, and tigers we would like to emulate. Who thinks of the skunk and his don’t mess with me demeanor as he quietly goes about life, as an example of how to live our own?

Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying. Saint Vincent de Paul

Do skunks ever think about being better skunks? We seem to spend a lot of our time trying to be better people. Better than what? When we see a skunk we know it is a skunk, when we see a rat we know it is a rat, and when we see a wolf we know it’s a wolf. Many of us pretend we are something we are not. We hear the saying he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Shouldn’t we be okay with who we are? Can we be at peace with our talents, accomplishments, and choices as we navigate through life? We have strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and we are who we are. How can we be anyone else but who we are?

Do we need to embrace ourselves and know we will deal with whatever comes? Just like that skunk ambling in the dark prepared for whatever.  Even pussy cats, all fluffy and soft have claws and teeth and many a dog ends up the worst in a fight with a cat.

Do we need to walk in this world knowing we are not to be messed with?  Can we live in quiet dignity knowing we have power and we know how to use it? We can learn a lot from animals and of all the animals I see in my back yard the squirrel, always getting ready for winter, and the skunk with his quiet dignity might teach me the most.

Often the most powerful statement is your dignified silence. Unknown

To be able to live each day with honor, respect and dignity is the greatest achievement of all. Dr. Roopleen

Respect yourself and others will respect you. Confucius

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Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict Paperback – Jan. 29 2013

by Donna Hicks Ph.D (Author), Desmond Tutu (Foreword)4.8 out of 5 stars 139 ratings


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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

by Belynda Wilson Thomas  (Author)5.0 out of 5 stars 3 ratings


The dark night of the soul and the hero’s journey.

The hero's journey and the dark night of the soul.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Only those willing to walk through the dark night will be able to see the beauty of the moon and the brilliance of the stars. Archbishop Socrates Villegas

Many of us don’t think of ourselves as heroes and we don’t consider our journey a hero’s journey. We are all the hero of our own story. There can be no other hero for our story, how could there be? There can be other heroic people in our story but we are the hero. Our story is about us and everyone else plays a lesser role. We are the only person that is in every moment of our story from beginning to end. 

Does everyone have a dark night of the soul where we know we cannot go on as we are, things have to change, we have to change, and things will never be the same again? Hasn’t 2020 seemed like that year? For some people especially those whose businesses have been locked down, whose jobs disappeared, or those that lost loved ones, this year is the year they are looking to celebrate the end of. We now have an approved vaccine for covid and no matter how quick we might think we want to line up to get it. This is a good omen; it is helping people to get their breath and to see light at the end of the tunnel.

We don’t know if we are at the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning but we’ve been thrown a lifeline. It is a lifeline to small and large businesses that may have seen a drop in sales. A lifeline to nursing homes that have been hit the hardest. It is a lifeline to parents who worry about their children, a lifeline to children that worry about their parents. We all have someone we are worried about even if we think we would probably be okay if we got sick.

Someday we will look back on this and see a bigger picture but while we are in the midst of it everyone is trying to do the best they can. Even if we don’t think they are. Hindsight is twenty-twenty. We may think “They” should be making different decisions but “They” are the ones that get to make them. Wouldn’t that be a horrible place to be in? Your decision may save people and kill business, or save businesses and kill people, or save neither. When our leaders say they can’t sleep at night, I believe them. This is their dark night of the soul and we will judge them even after their death for decisions that have been made.

Make the most of yourself for that is all there is of you. Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Will a shot in the arm save us? Is this the Christmas present we hoped for? We are all hoping that it is and by this time next year we are looking back with grateful hearts. This I think will be a life-changing year for many of us. We were bobbing up and down in our life and bam. Our life changed in ways we hadn’t anticipated and weren’t prepared for. We weren’t like the squirrel prepared for winter. Some of us were caught with our proverbial pants down. We’ve had time to think about what we want going forward.

Many of us could only tread water while we waited for this to unfold. If the end is nigh and we get out of this unscathed we will have to look at ourselves in the mirror and decide since we have a life going forward how do we want it to unfold. What changes does our life call out for? How can we be of more service to people in our lives and outside of our life? What gifts do we have that we are not giving? Do we have something we know we should do we are not doing? When would be a good time to start?

Good things come out of bad situations. It would be terrible to let a good crisis go to waste. I’m sure we’ve all been thinking about what we’ll do when this is over? If we are lucky and it almost is over and 2021 is a fabulous year full of hope and promise what changes will we make in our life? How will our trajectory on our hero’s journey change? What have we learned from this dark night of the soul?

The dark night of the soul is a journey into light, a journey from your darkness into the strength and hidden resources of your soul. Caroline Myss

The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation. When everything is lost, and all seems darkness, then comes the new life and all that is needed. Joseph Campbell

Our greatest treasure is that which is hidden deep within our own subconscious, it is the dark unused part of our self that is in fact light that is unconscious of itself. Carl Jung

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Hard Times Create Strong Men: Why the World Craves Leadership and How You Can Step Up to Fill the Need Paperback – April 1 2019

by Stefan Aarnio  (Author)4.8

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

by Belynda Wilson Thomas  (Author)5.0 out of 5 stars 3 ratings


Trust our self and trust others. Control our self; we are the only people we can control.

Control our self; we are the only people we can control. Trust our self and trust others.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Trust yourself; you will start to trust others. Santosh Kalwar

It’s raining this morning as I put my little dog outside. She hates going out in the rain but that is part of a dog’s life. We all have things in our life that we don’t like but we still have to do.

Maybe we think we have to do things but we really don’t. We only have to be willing to live with the consequences of not doing them. When we look at hoarders on some of these shows we can see what the consequence of letting our house get out of control is.

When we don’t exercise we know it is harder to move and feel free in our bodies. Even a couple of days of not doing my sun salutations in the morning and I begin to feel it. Mom does morning exercises and goes for a walk almost every day, it is probably one of the reasons she is doing well at 95.

Haven’t we all heard count your pennies and the dollars look after themselves? There comes a time in our life when we know we may not be able to make more money through working and we will be dependent on what we have squirreled away and pensions we are part of. The earlier we started putting money away the better.

Sometimes we know we haven’t done what we should have done, and we think it’s too late. We need to be discerning in our lives about what we can do to improve it. Where would we like to put our time and energy? What results would we like to see? The biggest thing we often see is the improvements someone else could make that would make our life better and telling them to make those improvements is rarely positive or helpful.

The parents of politics are lack of control and seeking to control. The parents of leadership are influence and trust. Richie Norton

The only person we can control is our self, but often we are full of good advice and suggestions for others. It is so much easier to see the improvements that could be made in someone else’s life instead of our own. I am guilty of this and I cringe at some of the suggestions I have given out that no one wanted to hear. Most of us know how we could improve our lives even if we aren’t digging deep enough to find the courage and strength to improve them.

Criticizing and controlling others doesn’t work, but when we back off and leave others free to make their own choices they may make better choices. We may not even be aware we are controlling or trying to control other people. When we want people to be different than what they are, and if we have an image we want them to live up to we are said to be controlling.

Herein lies the rub. Don’t we all want people to live up to an image we have of them? The problem seems to be when we try to get other people to live up to our image of them, instead of working on ourselves to live up to the image we have of who we could be.  

If we work on ourselves and try to become the people we know we can be then we might be so busy we let other people work on themselves. When we know we are doing the best we can, maybe we will also trust others are doing the best they can. If we all do this and learn to have faith in others we may build better families, communities, and societies.

The more we trust ourselves to be the person we are to be, that we will act honestly and trustworthily, maybe we will then trust others to do the same. When we live in high trust societies everything is better for everyone. When we live in a high trust society we expect others to do the right thing because we do the right thing.

How do we build trust and not be taken advantage of because of that trust? We hear of scammers taking advantage of high trust people. Even in high trust societies, we have to beware of that which is “too good to be true,” because it rarely is. When something presents itself as “too good to be true” there is something we aren’t seeing. Scammers get us with the promise of something that is “too good to be true.”

Are we a low trust or a high trust person? Are we working on controlling ourselves or on controlling others?

Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first. Unknown

It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them more successful human beings. Ann Landers

Self-trust is the first secret of success. Ralph Waldo Emmerson

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The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey (2006-08-01) Paperback – Jan. 1 1702

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Secrets and Silence: What if your biggest secret became public? Paperback – Large Print, Aug. 29 2020

by Belynda Wilson Thomas  (Author)

Master the day. Enjoying our lives one day at a time, being grateful for the beautiful moments, bounty, and grace in our lives.

Enjoying our lives one day at a time, being grateful for the beautiful moments, bounty and grace in our lives. Master the day.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality in the mind next to honor. Aristotle

When we are getting close to putting our work out there we start to second guess ourselves the most. What will people think, did we say too much, or did we say too little? Is it full of mistakes we are too blind to see; are we too close to our own work to recognize them?

When an author publishes their tenth book will they still be asking themselves is it good enough? If they are picked up by a big publisher do their doubts go away or increase?

If we have something to say we need to say it as honestly as we can and then we have to let it go. Once it leaves our hands it takes on a life of its own. Most books are not widely read but every one of them is an accomplishment. They are a testament to someone’s determination, dedication, fortitude, and vision.

It is a privilege to get up in the morning come down to the den and write something that someone else takes time out of their day to read. Technology is allowing us to connect with people it would have been very hard to connect with just a few short years ago. How hard was it to connect with people 100 years ago, but it was easier than 100 years before that.

Now we press publish and the whole world can view our work. In a way, this might make some people feel worse when the whole world can view it but only ten people do. If we touch someone with our words or anything we do we should be grateful. When we impact someone, then they can impact someone, who impacts someone and a ripple can go around the world. Is it important that we get credit, or is it important that we do something?

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength. Corrie Boom

Families are where we have the most impact. Families are what deserve most of our energy; families are the building blocks of society. No matter what else we do the family is our biggest legacy. Every one of us has come from a line that has endured throughout the centuries.

It is our biggest accomplishment just to be here, the chances of being born were infinitesimal, but here we are. We won the lottery of life. If we aren’t enjoying every moment of our life why aren’t we? What would make our lives better? I can think of a few things and most of those things have to do with actions I can take, habits I can create, goals I can set, and changes I can make.

The sun rises every morning and sets every night for all of us. We have a small allotment of time to live and make happen whatever we are going to make happen in our lives. If we aren’t happy with whom we are what needs to change? We will never be anyone else in this lifetime so wishing we were taller, prettier, could jump higher, run faster, or conjugate our verbs better isn’t productive. We are who we are and we can do what we can do. If we do what we can do as good as we can do it and enjoy each day as much as we can, isn’t that a great life?

If we can turn a tap on and water comes out we are blessed. If we can read, write, talk, sing, and give thanks for all the beauty and bounty in our lives we are blessed. Even if we can’t we should look at people like Helen Keller. Some of the most inspirational people have overcome things we would not want to face. Yet they inspire us with their courage, tenacity, and honesty.

If we can’t find something to be grateful for we probably aren’t looking hard enough. Life is beautiful, glorious, and abundant. Can we do some small thing to encourage someone today, be an example to someone today, and uplift someone today?

What you are looking for is not out there. It is in you. Unknown

Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart. Roy T. Bennet

You’re not going to master the rest of your life in one day. Just relax. Master the day. Then just keep doing that every day. Unknown

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Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones Hardcover – Oct. 16 2018

by James Clear (Author)4.7 out of 5 stars 4,779 ratingsAmazon Charts #2 

Doing our best in times of trial and adversity. How can this make us better not bitter?

How can this make us better not bitter? Doing our best in times of trial and adversity.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A problem is a chance for you to do your best. Duke Ellington

Yesterday I started making face masks. I started with scraps of material I had from shortening long pants, the top of a sundress, and a skirt that was altered. I’ve always hesitated to cut into the fabric. This is why I made my first masks out of scraps and they turned out okay. Two black, 4 gray, and one coral and black print (the one I like the least).

It’s been a long time since the sewing machine has been taken out. I bought it before I got married and sewed two of my bridesmaid’s dresses on it and Mom sewed the other two. When we got together before the wedding we finished and hemmed them. It was a fun collaborative and creative process.

We often forget how much we enjoy doing something creative. Something as simple as face masks gave me a feeling of accomplishment. I’ve printed two patterns off the internet but I didn’t use either one. A woman on TV says she sews about 80 face masks per day. It might not be as much fun trying to sew that many.

Today I might make ones that can have a coffee filter insert. In my meager supplies, I have some thin elastic but hair elastics, chord, and regular elastic bands all work to hold the masks in place. Since we can’t go running out to a sewing supply store we have to make do with what we have.

Mom said to me once when I was out for a visit. “Things were so meager when we were growing up in the Thirties, Mom and Daddy had to be resourceful.” Mom and Dad were resourceful; it was a way of life. It was how they were brought up. Most of us haven’t needed to be resourceful we just jumped in our car and went out to buy whatever it is we wanted or needed.

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. Thich Nhat Hanh

Pandemics, plagues, who are immune and who are susceptible to disease has shaped our world. Mistakes were made during the bubonic plague, cats were killed which made things worse since rats carried the fleas that infected people. We don’t know what we don’t know and when we know better we do better.

From what I’ve read worker’s wages have increased after many pandemics and plagues. It is during pandemics we realize who is important to make society work.

Society hasn’t quit working because of plagues and pandemics. We have learned things and implemented things to make society better. We see the cracks in our society during tough times. We have an opportunity to rise and it seems we do. We don’t think we can do things until we have to do them, and somehow we find the resources to deal with what is. We are doing that now. We won’t do it perfectly. We will learn lessons and one of them is we are all in this together.

Wearing a mask in public may be a signal that you are looking after my health, and I am looking after yours. If we are moist speakers it very well may be true. It may be a bit like what I read about heaven and hell. In hell, there is lots of food but the spoon is too long to feed yourself. Heaven is exactly the same but in heaven, they feed each other and in hell, they refuse to, so everyone starves.

Are we doing the best we can and making the best of what is during this time of trial and adversity?

It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever be dimmed. Doe Zantamata

He knows not his strength who hath not met adversity. William Samuel Johnson

In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive. Lee Iacocca

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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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference  Audible Audiobook – Unabridged

Malcolm Gladwell (Author, Narrator), Hachette Audio (Publisher)4.5 out of 5 stars 2,146 ratings#1 Best Seller in Demography


Belonging to a group, our family, community, and society at large. We are all part of the tapestry of life.

We are all part of the tapestry of life. Belonging to a group, our family, community, and society at large.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Belonging has always been a fundamental driver of humankind. Brian Chesky

If someone invites you to attend a Toastmasters contest do yourself a favor and go. The speeches are usually about real-life situations, some are about dealing with something that brings us to our knees. Last night was a Division contest with eight speakers and next Thursday will be another Division contest. My husband is not a Toastmaster but he came with me and enjoyed it.

One of the speeches was from a young woman who at twenty-one had a stroke and became legally blind and paralyzed on her left side. She worked hard at relearning to walk and continued her studies to become a teacher. The chaplain that came to see her asked her if she had the drive to thrive. She just wanted to be normal. He assured her normal was over-rated.  She harnessed the drive to thrive, she’s lived it and she’s written a book called My Unforeseen Journey Losing Sight Gaining Vision by Melanie Taddeo-Nxumalo.

I first met her at a Writer’s Group. She’s doing what we all should do, taking lemons and making lemonade. She’s the second legally blind woman I’ve met at Toastmasters. They are both striking in their courage.

All the speeches were fantastic but her story was the one about personal courage, fortitude, and overcoming challenges that resonated with me the most.

One of the things with Toastmasters is sometimes the only commonality we have with other members is our membership in Toastmasters and the desire to be better speakers. This brings people from all walks of life, backgrounds, ages, experiences, and stories together.

We can move to a new Toastmaster club wherever our lives take us. We can take a hiatus and come back. We can reconnect with people we met in Toastmasters throughout the years.

People have to see that there is a high degree of complexity about belonging to a gang. It’s a symptom, not a problem. Greg Boyle

Being a member of a group pays dividends in our lives. There are many groups to be part of and some people are members of many groups. We are told having a strong identification with a social group can help protect against mental illness.

Professor Fabio Sani and colleagues from the University of Dundee presented the results of studies at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology in Glasgow in 2014.

The first study identifying the power of groups was conducted with 1814 adults who were assessed on their identification with family, local community, and a  social group chosen by the participant, as well as self-reported depression.

The second study involved 1111 Scottish high school students, assessed whether they identified with their family, friends, and school. Participants were asked to self-assess symptoms of psychological distress.

In the first study adults who did not identify with any group were found to be almost 20 times more likely to be depressed, and three times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants in the last six months.

In the second study, high school students who did not identify with any groups were found to be four times more likely to experience psychological distress than students who identified with their family, friends, and school.

Professor Fabio Sani says: “Group life may shield people from depression. However, this can only happen when one subjectively identifies with in-groups. In addition, the more groups we identify with, the better our mental health is likely to be.”

Being part of a group is good for our mental health. Is there a group we would like to join? Meeting new people, learning new things, growth and opportunity are waiting for us. Joining a group can open doors, and we can discover things about ourselves we don’t know. Would joining a group set us on the path of our next adventure?

I think there’s something about having a purpose in life and a sense of belonging that is more important than money for any human being. Ian Gillan

No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team. Reid Hoffman

We are a social animal, power only exists in a social sense, we have to work in groups. Robert Greene

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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My Unforeseen Journey: Losing Sight Gaining Vision Paperback – 2019

by Melanie Taddeo-Nxumalo (Author) 

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Being ourselves, being enough. Is humility nothing but truth, and pride nothing but lying?

Is humility nothing but truth, and pride nothing but lying? Being ourselves, being enough..

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength. Criss Jami

Aristotle said virtues are skills we choose to acquire rather than characteristics we innately possess. We hear about the servant leader, could that be the same as confidently humble? Is arrogance the same as narcissism? Is being humble having self-esteem?

We were born narcissists in that everything was about us, who would feed us, who would take care of us when we cried? If our needs were met we were well cared for. Some people believe when we meet adults who are still looking to be the center of attention, to have everything focus on them that they didn’t outgrow the infant, toddler, and child stages.

They are exhibiting the dynamics of a small child. The dynamics are me and not me, me and other me’s, and me and you and I win. In these stages there is no insight, there is no relating to another person as an equal because we are not capable of putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

If people are stuck in an early stage of development we should have compassion for them even as they grate on our nerves, suck all the air out of the room, and only care about what they have, they know, they want, they can do, and they will accomplish. If we can’t learn to play and work well with others, be friends, be good romantic partners, and be good parents no matter how cocky or big the smile covering the hurt, underneath will be a hurting soul.  

Can we be the same with everyone we meet? Do we feel we are okay, and they are okay? We can be happy for their successes, we can commiserate with them in times of trouble, we can help when we can help, and we can stand with someone in their pain even when we can’t help.

How would we feel if our boss said, “No raises this year it’s been a really tight year.” Then he purchases a $250,000.00 car he invites us to admire. What if instead, he said, “I will cut my pay by ten percent until we get through this rough patch?” Who would we rather work for? Which business is likely to end up being more successful?

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. Augustine of Hippo

What is the difference between confidence and arrogance? What I am gleaning is arrogance is based on fear and our ego, whereas confidence is based on knowing. So when we are told to fake it until we make it where does that fit in? Arrogance is often seen in shy people. Confidence comes from knowledge, experience, and a desire to be of service. Arrogance is often being boastful to be seen as capable, competent, and worthy.

Arrogance is a cover-up, a defense mechanism, we use it to seem knowledgeable, or in some cases superior to another person. It is based on insecurity and fear of looking stupid, ignorant, or foolish. Often people who appear arrogant have been cruelly judged and put down earlier in their life.

Can we have compassion for people who need to inflate themselves? If we give them support will they develop competence and self-esteem? One of the problems is we get more of what we fear. We have an amazing capacity for projection, to see in someone else what we are in fact exhibiting ourselves. When we respond with judgment are we actually becoming arrogant ourselves? Is this the root cause of so much misunderstanding in the world? Are we accusing someone else of things we ourselves must work to overcome?

One of the worst things we can do is accuse someone of being arrogant, stubborn, impatient, greedy, or narcissistic. All it does is make them defensive, and defensiveness is one of the biggest problems in our relationships.

When other people’s behavior bothers us, do we need to take a good hard look at our own lives and see if some of that behavior is in our own life? Is this what is meant by “judge not, lest ye be judged?”

Are we okay with being ourselves and letting others be themselves?

If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. Mother Teresa

Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. Imam Ali

We are all stumblers, and the beauty and meaning of life are in the stumbling. David Brooks

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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Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone Paperback – Aug 27 2019

by Brené Brown (Author) 4.6 out of 5 stars 1,422 ratings#1 Best Seller in Social Sciences Research


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Is criticism helpful? Can we learn to accept criticism with humility, change the things we can change, live with the things we can’t, and have the wisdom to know the difference?

Can we learn to accept criticism with humility, change the things we can change, live with the things we can't and have the wisdom to know the difference? Is criticism helpful?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Criticism is something you can easily avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. Aristotle

Should we look at what is going right or should we criticize what is going wrong? When our spouse gets critical should we welcome it as a suggestion of something we can improve?

When we accept criticism without defensiveness and look at it as constructive can we become better people? Can we see things that have flown under our radar? Maybe we have been too busy to dust the piano, and maybe by dusting it, we will think when was the last time we played it.

We can’t control what other people say to us, but we can control how we react. Being defensive is not helpful. Is there truth in what they’ve pointed out? Have we neglected our home? Are we getting too involved in outside activities and our homes, families, and spouses feel neglected?

If we are willing to see the truth in criticism will we develop humility? We can only do so much, and what doesn’t get done didn’t end up on the important end of our to-do list. We shouldn’t be defensive about this, but can we review our list? Are there things that should be making the cut that isn’t? Can we organize our life in a way that makes everyone, even ourselves happier?

How we interpret someone else’s feedback is an opportunity for rational thinking – despite the negative tone, is the criticism helpful? Are they trying to tell us something that will improve our lives and make things better for us?

Criticism may give us chances to problem solve. Isn’t it better when someone tells us about something when it is still small and correctable? What if our spouse never criticizes us, ever, but one day they say I want out? They have a whole list of things they never told us about, we could have dealt with, but they thought being critical was negative, and they didn’t want to be negative.

Take criticism gracefully, even when you disagree with it. If nothing else, you’re learning something valuable about how someone else sees you. Alison Green

Criticism is a form of communication, and if we are willing to really look at our lives critically can we make better choices? If the problem is not the actual criticism but the tone, or way it is given, can we tell people we would receive their feedback better if they didn’t raise their voice? If they parsed out their criticisms with some things we do well or they like about us.

We need to use discernment, does it really matter which way the toilet roll winds? For some people this is a big deal, if it isn’t a big deal for us can we do it the way someone else wants? We may need to agree to disagree on certain things; our level of tidiness may not meet theirs. The speed at which they get things done may not meet ours. We need to learn to compromise, we need to deal with each other’s strengths and minimize our weaknesses. We need to learn to work together to build a life that works for both of us.

If we want to accomplish anything in life we will face criticism. The more we accomplish the more criticism we will get. Criticism shines a light on our insecurities. We need to dig deep and figure out why things that are said bother us so much. Can we separate what is useful and leave the rest? We need to decide what we are willing to change, what we can change, and what is worth the effort to change.

We are not perfect, we will never be perfect but we can choose what areas of ourselves or our lives to improve. One way to improve our lives is to receive feedback well, it’s okay to have flaws, we all do, its’ part of being human. If we can admit our weaknesses and work on them without getting defensive or down on ourselves we will experience more gratitude, happiness, joy, and success.

Can we thank someone for their input without getting defensive? Are we okay with our own level of imperfection, or are some of the criticisms valid, and we would like ourselves more if we worked on improving in a few areas? Is the other person’s criticism not about what they are criticizing at all? Do they want us to spend more time with them? Do they not feel important enough in our life? Do they think everything comes before them? Are our priorities out of whack? Is that what they are really trying to tell us?

Can we accept criticism with grace and humility? If we look at what was said and figure out what was meant, can we use it to better ourselves, and our relationships?

Between what is said, and not meant, and meant and not said, most of love is lost. Khalil Gibran

Be open to criticism but don’t be affected by it. Criticism is meant to help you be a better person. Learn from it. Unknown

If you have no critics you’ll likely have no success. Malcolm X

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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Verbal Judo, Second Edition: The Gentle Art of Persuasion Paperback – Dec 17 2013

by George J. Thompson PhD (Author) 4.5 out of 5 stars 794 ratings


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