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

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, permission, and love.

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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

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

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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

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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.

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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 89 customer reviews


 See all 9 formats and editions

Stepping up. Being the best we can be, for ourselves and the world.

Being the best we can be for ourselves and the world. Stepping up.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you. Lao Tzu

Last night at Toastmasters it was election night and the word of the day was reluctant. Aren’t we reluctant to step up sometimes? People lead busy lives and often the highest most responsible positions in clubs are the ones we could easily get voted into and the smaller positions we might have to fight for.

Could it be possible that there is less competition at the top than we think? What makes people leaders? Is it a gift for leadership, is it a willingness, is it not knowing any better? It is easy to start our own company; sometimes it is easier to start our own company than get a job at someone else’s. Building a successful company is not the easy part, registering a business and calling our self “President” is easy.

We sometimes look at the candidates we have to choose from in leadership. Where are all the good choices we ask our self? They didn’t step up, and we are left to choose between who did. When we look at some of the great candidates that have been taken down by the media we might begin to understand why more people don’t stand up for such scrutiny.

We ended up with what I believe will be a great executive team even though many of the positions were won by acclamation. As one of the ballots counters my job was easier than it should have been.

Reluctance has been a big part of my life. I was reluctant to hang up my paintings in my own home until five years ago. I reluctantly started putting them on my blog when I ran out of flowers to photograph and was using stock photos instead. When I read some of the horror stories that can happen by using other peoples photos, even when we are told they are free to use, we aren’t always told the truth. It seemed a better practice to use my own photos or ones I have permission to use from people I know.

We hide our light under a bushel when we conceal our talents and abilities. Sometimes people hide their talents as a means of modesty or false modesty. Am I the only one that wonders what is bragging, and what is false modesty?

Humble means “modest, without an excess of pride.” A person who brags about being humble may have too much pride in being humble to actually be humble. We might say, “I’m just a humble person in search of…” We can probably imagine certain people saying this.

Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues. Confucius

When we think of humility we often think it is not thinking very much of our self. What if it’s more about a proper assessment or accurate assessment of our self, who we are, our character, skills, talents, gifts, grace, weaknesses, and accomplishments? Accepting this with gratitude and grace and being the best we can be. What if knowing our own limits, our strengths and weakness, morally or in all other ways is actually humility. That knowing our self and accepting ourselves, our good parts, bad parts, warts and all is actually humility. Not pretending we aren’t good enough, or actually thinking we aren’t good enough, it isn’t good to love other people but not ourselves. Who does that serve?

Humble people are thought to have the following traits.

They focus their energy on others.

Humble people tend to reflect inwardly, but focus their energy on other people. They put other people ahead of themselves. They have a real interest in others and their contribution to the world. They are not paralyzed by failure because they don’t feel they have to be perfect, this gives them the courage to try new things, to take new risks.

They are conscientious.

Humble people help out friends, are charitable and generous toward other people.

Their moral compass guides their decision making.

Humble people think about their values when they make a choice. They accept things with grace and stand by their decisions.

They see happiness as a journey.

We tend to achieve happiness when we aren’t actually pursuing it. When we aren’t only focused on ourselves, but giving to others is when we often find our passion, purpose, and meaning.

They excel as leaders.

Humble leaders give credit where it is due.

They know good things lie ahead – and they’re okay waiting for them.

When we live on the side of modesty, we are genuinely thankful for the opportunities and accolades we receive.

They have strong relationships.

Modesty and genuine graciousness towards others significantly strengthen social bonds.

Can we live our life, accepting ourselves how we are, own our talents, strengths, failures, and share our gifts with the world?

Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else. Judy Garland

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, humility, and love.

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Humility: The Secret Ingredient of Success Hardcover – Oct 1 2016

by Pat Williams (Author), Jim Denney (Author)4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews from Amazon.com | Be the first to review this item


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Have we ever considered traveling alone?

Have we considered traveling alone, is it out of the question?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal. Robin S. Sharma

Yesterday I came across a blog called the Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel by Barbara Weibel. She has been traveling alone and blogging about it for years.

There is a solo travel society on Facebook with 230,000 fans and 63% of them are women. A booking.com survey found 65% of US women are taking vacations without their partners.

When asked why they travel solo women answered.

46% said, freedom, independence and the chance to do what they want.

22% said they weren’t willing to wait around for others.

15% said to challenge themselves and gain confidence. Solo travel lets you travel your way.

The nature of confidence is that it only comes after you take the risk. Joanne

I wish I’d had the confidence to take the trip to Europe I wanted to take in my late teens and early twenties. I never thought of going solo, when travel plans with others fell apart I just didn’t go. There’s a commercial out that shows a mother going off on her European solo trip with her daughter seeing her off at the airport.

We need to take our life in our hands. If for whatever reason we don’t have a partner to travel with we don’t have to not travel. Many women are blazing the trail of solo travel. Men are also traveling solo, but then they always have. We don’t have to wait for someone else to tell us what we can do with the rest of our life.

If we are lucky and have a partner we can make plans. If we don’t have a partner we don’t have to find one before we can start living the life of our dreams.

The man who goes alone can start today, but he who travels with another must wait till the other is ready. Henry David Thoreau

Solo Traveler has their top ten tips for women who travel by themselves:

Choose your destination with intent.

Understand what you want to get out of your trip. Your inspiration may come from anywhere, a book, a movie, a story, somewhere you’ve always wanted to see. If you understand what’s drawing you to your destination you can have a more enriching experience. You may want to read Best Budget Destinations for Solo Travelers: The 2019 Shortlist

Plan your first night well.

At the very minimum have somewhere to spend the first night of every destination and plan to arrive by mid-afternoon. It’s important to find your hotel or hostel by daylight and have time to change your accommodations if the place does not seem safe. Read Solo Travel: 50+ Tips For Those Who Travel Alone.

Visualize the necessities but no more.

Traveling solo requires attention to details. Be open to opportunities as they arise. Read Solo Travel. Mindful Travel.

Pack light.

You’ll save money and be more mobile if you pack light. You need a wardrobe that stretches from hiking boots to high heels. Choose a base color (black, brown, beige, navy) a contrast color (white, beige…) and a color or two to accessorize and pull it all together. Read Bare Minimum Packing: Here’s Your Packing List.

Keep your accommodations to yourself.

Your accommodation is your safe haven. Don’t tell people where you’re staying. If they ask, be vague. Read Solo Travel Safety: Safe Answers to Common Questions.

You do not have to eat alone.

From cooking classes to day-tours, to themed dinners, there are so many ways to have company over dinner if that’s what you want. Read Solo travel: You Don’t Have to Eat Alone.

Protect your documents, cards, and cash.

Keep your passport and other important documents secure. Have backup copies on you and at home with a trusted contact. Read Protect Yourself from Pickpockets: Keep Cards & Cash Safe.

Meet other women travelers.

You can build friendships with women around the world. Read Sleeping with Strangers: The Hostel Experience and Women Welcoming Women: A Gateway to International Friendships.

Take a break from technology.

To really relax you may want to back off of social media for a while. Or I think you may want to embrace technology as that is how your friends and family can stay in touch, know you are safe, and enjoy your experiences. Read Transformed on The Ghan.

Stay local, buy local, and meet locals.

Plan well and have an understanding of how to support the local economy. Buy local crafts, eat local food, and stay in locally-owned accommodation so that the profits don’t leave the country. As you do this you will connect with locals. Read Travel Deeper: How to Connect with Locals and 7 Ways to Find a Free Tour Guide When You Travel.

Why do women travel alone more than men? Part of it may be life, divorce, death of a spouse or partner and still wanting to live our life, doing, and seeing new things. Maybe a trip will heal a broken heart. Travel may open our life to new opportunities, new ways of looking at things, and seeing life through different lenses. We may end up feeling strong, adventurous, and that we are experiencing all the joy we can out of life.

It may be one way of making lemonade out of the lemons life has thrown at us. Seeing the sights with someone we love may be our first choice. If that is not possible, we don’t have to settle for not seeing them.

Travel brings power and love back into your life. Rumi

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

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How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter by [Kepnes, Matt]
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How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Third Edition: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter Kindle Edition

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Happiness is not a flower picked in someone else’s garden. Happiness is a state of being.

Happiness is a state of being. Happiness is not a flower picked in someone else's garden.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Folks are usually about as happy as they make their mind up to be. Abraham Lincoln

I just want to be happy seems like an innocent statement. In Augusten Burroughs book This Is How. He says he can’t think of another phrase capable of causing more misery and permanent unhappiness. With the possible exception of “Honey, I’m in love with your younger sister, and she’s agreed to marry me so I want a divorce.”

The problem with “I just want to be happy,” is the implication that we are not happy. We want lots of things in our life we don’t have. We might want to be rich, thin, popular, and wise. We might want world peace, unpolluted lakes, rivers, and oceans, to be able to reverse species extinction, and global warming,

What we “want” is something we don’t have. We need to define what it is that we are searching for because we can spend a lifetime of getting and doing things we thought would be the “one thing” that would make us happy. We’ll be happy when we are finished school, get a fabulous job, start a business, get married, buy a house, have a baby, the kids are in college, university or out of the house, and we retire.

If we are still waiting to be happy, instead of “being happy,” maybe we don’t know what happiness is. Happiness is a state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

Maybe our problem with finding happiness is we are looking for “intense joy” and not contentment. We’ve all had times in our lives when we were looking forward to something that didn’t quite hit our happiness button. It fell short of our expectations. The joy wasn’t intense enough, the sunrise wasn’t breathtaking enough, the scene that spread before us wasn’t grand enough. Somehow we didn’t get awestruck like other people, and we were left thinking “is this all there is?” This is it; this is what the big hoopla is about?

After Oscar Wilde visited Niagara Falls in 1882, he declared the waterfall must be the second greatest disappointment in American married life. The relationship between the Falls and honeymooning had been well established since the 1830s.

In This Is How Augusten Burroughs says “Happiness is a worthy goal for those who are inclined on a genetic level toward the emotional end of the spectrum. But, happiness is a treadmill of a goal for those who are not happy by nature.

He says if we are not “happy” by nature perhaps we are other things by nature, fascinated, interested, driven, goal-oriented, or something else that doesn’t quite meet our definition of being “happy.”

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Mahatma Gandhi

Happy should not be our goal. Our goals should be defined, doable, and as we attain them we at least have a sense of accomplishment. In our minds, we may have elevated “happy” to something no one experiences.

If we focus on gratitude, we can do that, we can be grateful. When we focus on happy, how do we do happy? If we think happy people laugh a lot, we can put ourselves in situations where we laugh a lot, go out with friends, read funny books, watch funny movies, sing funny songs, rhymes, poems, etc.

If we think being “happy” is helping other people, we can do that. If we think being “happy” would be traveling the world, we can do that. If we think being “happy” is raising a family, we can probably do that even if our family is not “traditional.” Do we think belonging to a group is part of being happy? There are many groups to join and belong to.

They say regardless of our circumstances we have a “set point” of happiness. When our circumstances change such as winning the lottery, or less desirable circumstances we still in about six months are at our “set point” of happiness.

What if that is true, we are as happy as we will ever be? Maybe, happiness should not be our goal. Maybe we should figure out what we want out of life, maybe we should look for meaning, purpose, find a way to make a difference, grow, develop, and challenge ourselves to be better.

What if the goal of being happy is like the goal of being thin. Being thin isn’t a worthwhile goal; dying people are often “thin.” We say we want to be thin but don’t we really want to be fit, strong, svelte, healthy, and fit into beautiful clothes that fit a certain way?

Happiness may be exactly the same; we need to define what it means to us. Then we have to go after what our definition is. So we can say, oh, this is what happiness is. When we are our healthiest, fittest self, we don’t look like anyone else in the world. Our happiest self, won’t look like anyone else’s happiest self either.

We may need to accept our set point of happiness, just like we have to accept our nose, and other features. We need to be okay with being who we are. When we compare ourselves to others we will always fall short of being them, and they will fall short of being us. If the oak tree looks at the crab apple tree it will find itself wanting. I’m okay, and you’re okay. You be you, and I’ll be me. If on some days we are the best us, that has to be good enough.

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. Tom Bodett

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, happiness, and love.

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This Is How: Surviving What You Think You Can’t Paperback – Apr 23 2013

by Augusten Burroughs (Author) 3.8 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews


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We all contribute to the tapestry of life. What is our contribution?

What is our contribution? We all contribute to the tapestry of life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Destiny itself is like a wonderful wide tapestry in which every thread is guided by an unspeakable tender hand, placed beside another thread and held and carried by a hundred others. Rainer Maria Rilke

We become creative, remain creative, or kick start our creativity but however, we do it we end up with something. We end up with something we don’t know what to do with. Our creativity can seem like it has taken over our life. We love being crafty and creative but what do we do with all this stuff?

At the writer’s group this weekend our speaker was a gentleman who has written four books. He has spent the last fifteen years selling those books at fairs, Christmas Markets, and events where he can buy a table and set up shop. He is a four-time Canadian Best Seller (5000 books sold). His subject is local Canadian History.

His main message was, if we want to sell what we’ve created, we can get out and sell it. It is hard work, but it is doable. One of the ladies at the Writers Group makes bookmarks of her original artwork. She’s selling them at the group, she’s creating a market. She’s booked a table at a local event.

My daughter bought a lovely Barbie-like pose-able doll, the creator’s aim was to create multi-cultural realistic dolls. That it was for sale at the Dollar Store we hope is not the end result of a dream that won’t be realized. Perhaps she hoped for a larger market for her dolls than there is. Hopefully, this was just a lucky find and not the end of someone’s dream and financial enterprise.

We think if we get our book or product on Amazon or in a store or chain of stores we’ve made it. If we can’t create a reason why people are looking for our product we need to find the people who may want our product when they realize it exists. We need to be our own marketing board, our own publicity department.

One year visiting my home town I bought a handmade leather-covered journal, the artisan’s poems are sprinkled within it. It is a work of art. It is too nice to use. A problem I have buying really nice journals.

My son’s girlfriend’s sister makes hand-made greeting cards. They are beautiful. Is there a market for creations like hers? Probably.

It is without beginning or end. It is complex to a degree that humbles the mind. It is a work of such beauty that my soul wept… China Mieville

One year one of the founders of the Book club was part of a Christmas market. I was invited; I was painting at the time, and hesitant to put my work out there. When I went to the market, just a small event in someone’s house, I was impressed by everyone who stepped up and put something out, everyone but me. Why didn’t I bother? What was I afraid of? We were all busy young mothers. It was too soon for me, I wasn’t ready.

Do we ever feel ready? Or do we get to a point, like a bud on the cusp of blooming, or a woman about to give birth; there is nothing else to do? We’ve set things in motion.

At the writer’s group, we stand up and read our work, out loud, for many, it is the first time in front of an audience. Everyone claps, we did it! It won’t be that hard again. We are afraid of judgment, and ridicule.

Sometimes putting our self out there doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes we do bomb. Even when we do, we probably are better off for having done it. The what if, is worse than the reality. What if everyone isn’t blown away by that song you wrote and sang in front of friends? As clichéd at is it is, it’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. We learn from our failures. We learn from doing.

What if we put our novel on Amazon and it sells five copies? That doesn’t tell us the novel is not good. It tells us no one knows it exists. The best selling artists aren’t necessarily the best singers. The best-written books aren’t necessarily the best sellers. We are obsessed with “Stars”, you can set your goal to be a “star” or you can set your goal to get your work out into the world. Where it goes no one knows. It takes on a life of its own. The work may resonate with many or few. It may be a flash in the pan or have longevity.

Whatever it is we feel called to do, we must do. When we find that thing, use that gift in small or big ways, we feel a sense of peace or oneness or being part of something I can’t express. We’ve found the expression of our gift, whatever that may be. We are bestowing it to the world. It isn’t necessarily better if it is to a smaller or wider world. Only that, what we do in some way benefits others.

No one creates or does anything only for themselves that makes the world better. If what we give is a smile with a cup of coffee, it’s something that made the world better. Or we plant a tree in whose shade we will never sit, we’ve made a difference. Isn’t that what we all want, to have made a difference, to have been here, and left a mark, a legacy, a contribution to the tapestry of life?

It will be very interesting one day to follow the pattern of our life as it is spread out like a beautiful tapestry. As long as we live here we see only the reverse side of the weaving, and very often the pattern, with its threads running wildly, doesn’t make sense. Someday, however, we shall understand. In looking back over the years we can discover how a red thread goes through the pattern of our life: the Will of God. Maria Von Trapp


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, contribution, and love.

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The Creativity Challenge: Design, Experiment, Test, Innovate, Build, Create, Inspire, and Unleash Your GeniusPaperback – Aug 1 2015

by Tanner Christensen (Author) 3.6 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews


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What? What if? What now? Mindfulness reflections.

Mindfulness reflections. What? What if? What now?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate on the present moment. Buddha

Being mindful is, “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state or heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences on a moment to moment basis.”

Last night at Toastmasters a powerful speech was given on mindfulness and how being mindful by asking the questions, what? what if?  what now? helped someone put their life and thoughts into perspective and develop a better view of themselves.

One of our biggest problems is we compare the worst of ourselves to the best of others. Of course, we find our self not living up to our own expectations by doing this. We are often kinder to everyone else than we are to our self. We understand they made mistakes, but we can’t forgive our self for our mistakes.

We all make mistakes, we reach for something beyond our grasp, we fail and we grow. Sometimes we only recognize the failure but do not recognize the growth. As Albert Einstein said, “We are all genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” We do this to ourselves; we berate ourselves because we don’t have talents in particular areas while we don’t recognize the talents we do have.

In Louise Hayes’s book You Can Heal Yourself she tells us to tell our self, “I approve of me.” She doesn’t mean we shouldn’t improve; learn from our mistakes, or change attitudes and behaviors that don’t serve us. We are doing the best we can, and when we know better we do better. When we acknowledge we are not perfect, we will never be perfect, but we are enough we can treat ourselves kindly. We can give ourselves the tools, resources, and environment to bloom where we are planted.

The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. Thich Nhat Hanh

Each one of us is unique, we all have things about us that are admirable, and we all have things about us not so admirable. We need to accept all of who we are, warts and all. As long as we live we can grow, develop, and learn. If we look at someone else’s life and they have or are doing something we want to have or do, we need to figure out what they’ve done to be who they are and have what they have. Are we willing to do it? Do we want our life of relaxation and time for our family but their money and position because they’ve given up relaxation and time with the family? Have we looked at the price they’ve paid, because there is always a price? If we want what they have, we have to do what they did, but we also have to pay the price they’ve paid.

This may seem daunting but it is also freeing. There is a choice, lives are built, not by happenstance, but by actions, one action built upon another action for good or ill. What we think and do today builds our tomorrow. What we think and did all our yesterdays built our today.

If there are things about our life we would like to change we can make big or large adjustments on how we deal with others, our time, our thoughts, and our actions.

Sometimes we need to take a good long, hard look at our life. We may wish we’d made different decisions but when we look at our life what would we give up for what someone else has? If we have close relationships but not enough money would we trade? If we spent our youth becoming trained in a specific area would we give that up for the person who tripped around the world, would they change places with us?

We spent our life building a family instead of a business; would we trade, would they? We see someone’s fit body but are we willing to go to the gym at six in the morning? Life is about choice. If we want something different we’ll have to do something different. Maybe we can start by asking ourselves the questions. What? What if? What now?

Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more. Mother Teresa

“What day is it?” asked Pooh. “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh.

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, mindfulness, 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.

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