Seeking and finding, and dealing with light and dark. Where are we on the journey of life?

Where are we on the journey of life? Seeking and finding, and dealing with light and dark.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Life is less about finding and more about seeking. Seth Adam Smith

I’m reading that writer’s block happens when we are not willing to write badly. If we aren’t willing to write badly we probably won’t write at all. We will dance badly, sing badly, play an instrument badly, we will do mothering badly, and we will do relationships badly or we won’t do them at all. If we only do what we are good at how is that growth? If we have to be perfect how is that possible? If we only prepare the dinners we know everyone likes, no new dishes come to our table. If we only shop at stores or restaurants we already know we get no new experiences. There is always a chance of failure anytime we meet someone new or start something new. But, what kind of life is it if we aren’t willing to take risks?

If you never want to be hurt by a loved one, then you can’t have any loved ones. If you never want to feel the loneliness when a beloved pet dies, then you never have a beloved pet. We want success in our endeavors but it is not assured. If success was assured what would be the point? Part of life is the what-if factor? What if he or she’s the one? What if this idea takes off and… Where will life take us? How will we handle whatever is ahead for us? If things go really well we will have to deal with things, and if it doesn’t go as well we have to deal with other things. We always have to deal with life, and those that ride the roller coaster of life with a sense of humor and open to adventure seem best equipped for life.

Everything in life has the upsides and downsides to it. We have to be willing to deal with all of life. We don’t just get the harvest in life, we have to plant and we have to wait. Forever spring would not be good, everything would be possible but nothing would be happening. Our lives move forward from one cycle to the next.

We might not like the cycle we are in, but it is necessary for the next cycle to take place. I picked up a book last night called Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor. She says she was always afraid of the dark but has learned by living through all of life that the lessons learned in the dark hard times she would never have gotten in the light good times.

Finding is reserved for those who search. Jim Rohn

Haven’t most of us walked through the valley of darkness at various times? Often it is only through the valley of darkness we can get on with our lives. Some of us have suffered very little in our lives. Other people have suffered through unbelievable hard and tragic times. We don’t know what each day will bring, we have to forge ahead and deal with what is.

Darkness is shorthand for anything that scares us Barbara Brown Taylor tells us. I love people who question God and religion and seek to understand and make sense of things. Many of us were taught not to question things, especially religion.  We were told what to think about what we read.

I grew up in a household where religion was questioned, bible verses were pondered, and what my parents got out of what they read was not the same as many religious denominations. We should ask more questions, and we should ponder more thoughts. Isn’t it only through asking questions, and searching for the truth that we may find it, or at least feel we’ve done our bit to make sense of what we believe? There may be no definitive answer to what certain passages mean. They may always be open to interpretation, and that may be entirely the point. The point may be to make us think, question, ponder, and not to give us concrete answers but to give us a starting point to delve further into faith, purpose, meaning, and the riddles of life.

Could a crisis of faith be the beginning of deeper faith, not the ending of faith? Are there gifts hidden in the dark times of our life?

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and him that knocketh it shall be opened. Mathew 7:7-8

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Learning to Walk in the Dark Hardcover – Apr 8 2014

by Barbara Brown Taylor (Author) 4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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What are the tipping points in our life, society, environment, and economy? Can we tip things for the better?

Can we tip things for the better? What are the tipping points in our life, society, environment, and economy?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Malcolm Gladwell

Yesterday I was in Home Sense looking for a jar to brew my second batch of Kombucha. They didn’t have one but I browsed their book shelf and saw The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. As I was about to buy it, it hit me that I might already own it. They had three copies so I could come back. True enough there it was sitting on my book shelf.

One of the findings in his book that surprised me was a sociologist at the University of Illinois has looked at the number of role models in a community – the professionals, managers, teachers whom the Census Bureau has defined as “high status” – has on the lives of teenagers in the same neighborhood. He found little difference in pregnancy rates or school drop-out rates in neighborhoods between 40 and 5 %, the problem exploded as the high-status workers fall just 2.2 percentage points – from 5.6% to 3.4% – drop-out rates more than double. The rate of pregnancy which had hardly moved up at all – nearly doubled. We assume, intuitively that neighborhoods and social problems decline in some kind of steady progression. At the tipping point, schools can lose control of their students, and family life can disintegrate all at once.

If what he says is true then tipping points are very important but we are unlikely to know where the tipping point is. How much negativity in our life – is too much? Where is the tipping point in our health? What are the tipping points in our society that move us up which we like or down which we don’t want at all?

What are the few things we absolutely have to stay away from to have a good life, because they tip us into negativity? What are the decisions in our life that are the tipping point for what kind of life we’ll lead? What is the tipping point that makes something become the “new thing?”

My sister brought me the starter for kombucha a few days ago. Why am I brewing kombucha now? It has been brewed for thousands of years by different cultures. What is the tipping point that brought it into my kitchen, now?

The idea that epidemics can rise or fall in one dramatic moment – is the most important, because it is the principle that permits the greatest insight into why modern change happens the way it does. Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell tells us there is a law of the few he calls them connectors, mavens, and salesmen these are the people usually at the center of any kind of epidemic be it a positive or negative one.

In the late 1960’s psychologist, Stanly Milgram conducted an experiment to find an answer to what is known as the small world problem. The problem is this: how are human beings connected? Do we all belong to separate worlds, operating simultaneously but autonomously, so that the links between any two people in the world are few and distant? Or, are we all bound up together in a grand interlocking web?

Milgram’s idea was to test this question with a chain letter. He got the name of 160 people who live in Omaha, Nebraska, and mailed each of them a packet. In the packet was the name of a stockbroker who worked in Boston and lived in Sharon, Massachusetts. Each person was instructed to write his or her name on the packet and send it on to a friend or acquaintance who they thought would get the packet closer to the stockbroker. The idea was when the packet finally arrived at the stockbroker’s house Milgram could look at the list of those whose hands it had gone through to see how connected someone chose at random was to someone in another part of the country. Milgram found that most of the packets reached the stockbroker in five or six steps. This experiment is where we get the concept of six degrees of separation.

This is a book that makes you look at things differently, both the good and the bad. What will make society better? What will make society worse? What can be the tipping points in our own life? What is the small thing that will give us big results? What is the big thing that gives us small result? Are we focusing on the right things? Do we know what the right things to focus on are?

We have, in short, somehow become convinced that we need to tackle the whole problem, all at once. But the truth is that we don’t. We only need to find the stickiness Tipping Points.” Malcolm Gladwell

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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Paperback – Jan 7 2002

by Malcolm Gladwell (Author) 4.4 out of 5 stars 338 customer reviews

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Are our childhood memories more important than we think? What are our earliest childhood memories?

What are our earliest childhood memories? Are our childhood memories more important than we think?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

How one handles success or failure is determined by their early childhood. Harold Ramis

Tomorrow the kids will be streaming past my door on their way to another year of school. How exciting the first day of school used to be. After a whole summer away from school, and away from friends, I was glad to be back. It was always a big deal thinking about what to wear to the first day of school.

September more than New Years seems like a time of new beginnings. Nothing new in my life has ever happened at New Years. September is the catalyst for change.

What big changes do I have in my life? No big ones, I am implementing 24-hour fasts into my life. I’ve done two already and they weren’t that bad. Dr. Gundry of Plant Paradox recommends them for health and longevity.

My son and husband looked at me incredulously yesterday as I tried to explain why I am yet again changing my diet. I’m not as good as I should be, is my only answer. Mom, you’re not twenty-five, no matter what you do you can’t be twenty-five again,” my son says. He’s of course right, and for the most part, I feel great. But, there is that nagging thought that tells me I can do better. I tell myself I am after progress, not perfection.

My son tells me one of his friends has had a heart attack. I am shocked. I met someone years ago whose wife had a heart attack and died at twenty-eight. Friends are telling me they have diabetes.

It might be a problem that I buy books, whenever I encounter a problem. I buy a book if I am in the middle of a painting and I don’t know what to do, I look for a book that seems to have solved the problem I am facing. It might be how to paint a tree, an animal, a building, or abstraction. The answers I seek are mostly found in books.  If I have a relationship problem, I look for a book. It is years ago before I was in a long term relationship that I found a book that said. “You can be right, or you can be happy.” I don’t even know if I bought the book, but I have never forgotten what it said.

You may forget your childhood, but your childhood does not forget you. Unknown

Yesterday I found a book at Value Village Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know by Meg Meeker. Our daughter is grown of course, but I bought it for my husband because he’s been a strong father, and he’s raised a great daughter, and because we were just having the conversation about women and the problems our choices are causing. Strong fathers help daughters make good choices, and daughters look for the qualities their father had in their mate. I keep telling my daughter she married her Dad. Of course when I say it is because of some of the funny ways they are similar but they are similar in the big good ways too.

The book I didn’t buy is It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh in which he tells us if we clear the clutter we will fix our life. My pile of books was too high and since I couldn’t take them all, and still bought too many, that one didn’t make the cut. He might tell me I have to get rid of my books, and that just won’t do. I can edit them, I will edit them.

I need books to give me ideas for my blog. I need books to expand my mind. I need books because… One of the books I bought is What Your Childhood Memories Say About You by Dr. Kevin Leman. He says our past is a window to our future. Our past can never be forgotten. It has everything to do with who we are today and how we will act tomorrow. Do we know what makes us tick, what ticks us off, and why? Do we sometimes feel like a failure, or sometimes feel trapped? The answers are in the book. He says our childhood memories are the key to everything we were as a child and everything we do as an adult. What we remember, and why we remember it is crucial in determining our interests, how we perceive our self and others, and how we handle our emotions.

Books are my indulgence. Some of my early memories are walking to the library and getting books. It was such a joy to have so many books to choose from. I read everything I could get my hands on, and the one-room school I went to for the first three grades didn’t have a lot of books to choose from. Going to the Town Library was an embarrassment of riches in my young life.

What are the early childhood memories that are the key to our life? What are the things we remember; maybe they mean more than we think? Is this why even though we all grew up together what we remember is different? Is it because what is important to us is different, how we perceived things is different, and how things affected us is different?

The most treasured heirlooms are the sweet memories of family. Unknown

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What Your Childhood Memories Say About You  Audiobook – Unabridged

Kevin Leman (Author), Chris Fabry (Narrator), Oasis Audio (Publisher)4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Be careful what we wish for. Building a great society isn’t all about the individual. Can we keep what’s good while we make it better?

Can we keep what's good while we make it better? Building a great society isn't all about the individual. Be careful what we wish for.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be thankful for what you have: you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. Oprah Winfrey

It’s a year today that my daughter and son-in-law came back from Jamaica to start their married life. They are having a fun weekend of going out and celebrating their anniversary.

Our dog Lulu still barks when she hears the basement door open. She’s on high alert when anyone comes in or leaves the house. This new arrangement still seems new to her, or so that’s how it seems to me.

This year has flown by. Progress in areas I thought I would see progress in, have eluded me. The commitment to my blog has been surprisingly easy. When I miss a day, I really miss it. I’ve tried to not miss two days in a row. When I go back and read what I’ve written sometimes I wonder where that came from.

Mostly I have no idea what will end up on the page when I sit down to write. Sometimes I think it will be something but it turns into something else. Thoughts daisy chain in a way that is not predictable. We don’t know what is going on in our head until we get it onto the page it seems.

Anyone who has been reading my blog I am so grateful for your support. Getting feedback is wonderful. In March I gave my Mother a binder of my posts and she reads one a day. She needs a new binder which I will print off and send. She tells me I make her think. What a high compliment.

We need to do a lot of thinking as we continue to build our society. We need to be careful about what we try to fix, because we don’t always make things better.

Yesterday my husband, son and I were having a conversation and my son was heaping many of our ills at the feet of us women. We got out of the home to take on jobs that aren’t as important as the one we left, in his opinion. Having babies and raising them is more important than doing the work that men can do. Providing for wives and children is the job that makes men’s lives full of meaning and purpose. Children don’t do well without fathers; childcare isn’t as good as parental care. Picking up something to eat isn’t making us as healthy as home-cooked well-planned meals.

When we are told we need to be careful what we wish for, it is true. So many well-educated women are looking around for their partner in life and can’t find a suitable candidate. Are they educating themselves out of the dating pool?

We need to be comfortable being more than our job, education, and aspirations. As a singer, last night whose name I don’t know was saying on TV. “If you are an internationally renowned artist but your kids aren’t speaking to you, that’s not success.”

What makes a successful life? Is it more, more, more, of what, what, what? There is a joy, peace, and sense of accomplishment of sitting down to dinner with family that I can’t imagine anything else taking the place of. When I finally have the pleasure, joy, and gift of holding a grandchild I can’t think of anything more special in the world.

As life moves forward I find who my values and beliefs align with are not who I thought they would align with when I was in my twenties. We let go of old-fashioned values and wonder where all the morality went. We quit teaching our children a lot of it. We quit modeling it for them.

It isn’t always easy to live our values, to be the role model, to be held to standards we want our children to emulate. If we don’t live a life we want our children to emulate, who do we want them to emulate?

What do we want going forward? What will make life better for all, or at least most? Are we willing to hold ourselves to the standards we would like other people to meet?

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”

― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tail

In a Ted Talk by Andrew Yang he talks about how our Capitalistic system must change because what capitalism prioritizes the world does more of. So the question becomes: In a system where capitalism is a prime determinant of value, how can we preserve what we truly value as humans, what matters to us beyond money?

In the US, and in much of the developed world, our current form of capitalism is failing to produce an increasing standard of living for most of its citizens. It’s time for an upgrade. Adam Smith, the Scottish economist who wrote The Wealth of Nations  in 1776, is often regarded as the father of modern capitalism. His ideas — that the “invisible hand” guides the market; that a division of labor exists and should exist; and that self-interest and competition lead to wealth creation — are so deeply internalized that most of us take them for granted.

Imagine a new type of capitalist economy that’s geared toward maximizing human well-being and fulfillment. These goals and GDP would sometimes go hand-in-hand, but there would be times when they wouldn’t be aligned. For example, an airline removing passengers who’d already boarded a plane in order to maximize its profitability would be good for capital but bad for people. The same goes for a drug company charging extortionate rates for a life-saving drug. Most Americans would agree that the airline should accept the lost revenue and the drug company accept a moderate profit margin. But what if this idea was repeated over and over again throughout the economy? Let’s call it human-centered capitalism — or human capitalism for short.

Human capitalism would have a few core tenets:
1. Humanity is more important than money.
2. The unit of an economy is each person, not each dollar.
3. Markets exist to serve our common goals and values.

In business, there’s a saying that “what gets measured gets managed for,” so we need to start measuring different things. The concepts of GDP and economic progress didn’t exist until the Great Depression. However, when economist Simon Kuznets introduced it to Congress in 1934, he cautioned, “The welfare of a nation can … scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income as defined above.” It’s almost like he saw income inequality and bad jobs coming.

Our economic system must shift to focus on bettering the lot of the average person. Instead of having our humanity subverted to serve the marketplace, capitalism has to be made to serve human ends and goals.

In addition to GDP and job statistics, the government could adopt measurements like:
Average physical fitness and mental health
Quality of infrastructure
Proportion of the elderly in quality care
Marriage rates and success
Deaths of despair; substance abuse
Global temperature variance and sea levels
Re-acclimation of incarcerated individuals and rates of criminality
Artistic and cultural vibrancy
Dynamism and mobility
Social and economic equity
Civic engagement
Cyber security
Responsiveness and evolution of government

It would be straightforward to establish measurements for each of these and update them periodically. It would be similar to what Steve Ballmer talk: (Our Nation in numbers) set up at Everyone could see how we’re doing and be galvanized around improvement.

Maybe you smile in disbelief at the concept of “social credits,” but it’s based on a system currently in use in about 200 communities around the United States: Time Banking. In Time Banking, people trade time and build credits within their communities by performing various helpful tasks — transporting an item, walking a dog, cleaning up a yard, cooking a meal, providing a ride to the doctor, etc. The idea was championed in the US by Edgar Cahn, a law professor and anti-poverty activist in the mid-1990s as a way to strengthen communities.

Despite the success of Time Banks in some communities, they haven’t caught hold that widely in the US in part because they require a certain level of administration and resources to operate. But imagine a supercharged version of Time Banking backed by the federal government where in addition to providing social value, there’s real monetary value underlying it.

The most socially detached would likely ignore all of this, of course. But many people love rewards and feeling valued. I get obsessed with completing the 10-punch card for a free sandwich at my deli. We could spur unprecedented levels of social activity without spending that much. DSCs could become cooler than dollars, because you could advertise how much you have and it would be socially acceptable.

The power of this new marketplace and currency can’t be overstated. Most of the entrepreneurs, technologists and young people I know are champing at the bit to work on our problems. We can harness the country’s ingenuity and energy to improve millions of lives if we could just create a way to monetize and measure these goals.

I’m no fan of big government. The larger an organization is, the more cumbersome and ridiculous it often gets. I’ve also spent time with people at the highest levels of government, and it’s striking how stuck most of them feel. One Congressperson said to me, “I’m just trying to get one big thing done here so I can go home.” He’d been in Congress for 7 years at that point. Another joked that being in DC was like being in Rome, with the marble there to remind you that nothing will change.

But I’ve concluded there’s no other way to make these changes than to have the federal government reorganize the economy. Even the richest and most ambitious philanthropists and companies either operate at the wrong scale or have multiple stakeholders that make big, long-term commitments difficult to sustain. We’re staring at trillion-dollar problems, and we need commensurate solutions. We’re in a slow-moving crisis that is about to speed up.

Excerpted from the new book The War on Normal People: The Truth About America’s Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future

Does he have the answer or even part of the answer? We get more of what we focus on so focusing on answers to our problems is probably the way forward. Human ingenuity has brought us to where we are. Human ingenuity will solve the problems we focus on. Change is the only constant, we must grow and develop as individuals and countries where what is good for me is good for you. If not, won’t we lose what we love most, being able to live in peace and plenty?

We all have to be our own control board or we will be controlled. We women will have to act in the best interest of society as well as in our own best interests. Selfish women don’t make a great society, nor do selfish men. It takes courage to build a life, family, society, and sometimes we have to put the needs of the family, and society first. What does that look like going forward, as we build a society that is good for everyone, especially our children?

Pierre Trudeau – “We know we have a very fortunate country, fortunate almost beyond belief. We have problems, but we know that they are not great compared with the problems of other peoples. But we need to solve them before they become great, and before someone comes to solve them for us.” – speech, Renfrew, Ont., June 24, 1968

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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Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America Hardcover – Feb 4 2014

by Andrew Yang (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Is there a downside to gratitude? Or does gratitude change everything, but it isn’t as easy for everyone to be grateful as we think?

Does gratitude change everything, but it isn't as easy for everyone to be grateful as we think? Is there a downside to gratitude?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Learn to be grateful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want. Jim Rohn

I am reading that some people are questioning gratitude as a positive thing. Really, what could be the downside of being grateful? Some people make it sound if we are grateful for the circumstances in our life that aren’t so great, we won’t change them. Can’t we be grateful we have a job and a roof over our head even if we want a better job, and a better roof? Being grateful will not get us a better job, or a better roof, but nor will hating our job or our roof.

Perhaps people who don’t like the concept of gratitude are forgetting that they still have to build their lives and make the changes that need to be made. Gratitude or affirmations won’t change our lives if we don’t change them. We can chant “I am rich, healthy, and thin,” all the days of our lives, it won’t make any of them true unless they are already true, or we make them become true.

If we want things to change in our lives, we need to know the why, how, when, and what we need to do to make it happen. Can’t we feel grateful for what we have, the abundance that we do have, our health, friends, family, security, and a place to lay our head at night? When we are grateful it doesn’t mean we don’t want things to change in our life. We can be grateful when we are single, and still, want to find that special person. We can be grateful when we are childless, and still, welcome a new person into the world.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

Can we be grateful we have seeds to sow and be grateful when we have a crop to reap? Even when our relationships aren’t great can’t we be grateful because we have the opportunity to make them better? Can’t we be grateful for what we got out of a relationship even if we know we must move on? Even when we decide we no longer want to live there can’t we be grateful for where we lived?

I’m trying to see the downside of gratitude. I’m wondering if some people are pretending to be grateful, they write their gratitude list as penance not feeling grateful at all. They think they should feel grateful, but they don’t feel grateful so they feel worse because they don’t know why they aren’t grateful. Even in their unhappiness, they have more than many. That isn’t gratitude that is guilt over not being grateful.

In Noah St. John’s book Afformations he says affirmations don’t work because we are saying things we don’t believe. We tell ourselves we are rich when we aren’t rich and happy when we aren’t happy, and perhaps grateful when we aren’t grateful. What if we asked questions instead? Why aren’t we rich? Why aren’t we happy? Why aren’t we grateful? What do we have to do to be rich, are we willing to do it? What would we need to do, be, or have to be happy, are we willing to do it? What would we need to do, be, or have, to be grateful, are we willing to do it?

All of us should be able to find something to be genuinely grateful for. If we are breathing we can be grateful. If we have something to eat today, we have something to be grateful for. If we woke up this morning we can be grateful. Maybe some of the people struggling with gratitude feel they need to be grateful for what they are not grateful for. Who says we need to be grateful for everything in our life, but does that mean we should be grateful for nothing?

Gratitude is not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. David Whyte

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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Afformations®: The Miracle of Positive Self-Talk Paperback – Nov 19 2014

by Noah St. John (Author), John Assaraf (Foreword) 4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Why do we have angry young men with guns in their hands? What are the questions, what are the answers?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

In the West, we have been withdrawing from our traditions, religion and even nation-centred cultures, partly to decrease the danger of group conflict. But we are increasingly falling prey to the desperation of meaninglessness, and that is no improvement at all.
― Jordan B. Peterson

What do you write on a beautiful summer morning when the news is consumed with the mass shootings that occurred recently? We are only hearing about it because of the numbers of dead and wounded.

Are rage and anger growing in our societies? Do rage and anger feel powerful?

When we have access to a gun does it mean instead of feeling powerless we can feel really powerful, “Ignore me now!”

What are the answers? What are the questions? What are the triggers? What could get someone angry, enraged, set on killing and then decide not to do it? How many think about it, but don’t do it?

What are we not seeing, acknowledging, and addressing?

Is angry, mostly young men with a gun in their hands a recipe for disaster?

Boys love guns if they weren’t given toy guns to play with they made them out of what they were allowed to play with. Having access to a gun is part of the problem, but what is the other part?

A man devoid of hope and conscious of being so has ceased to belong to the future.” 
― Albert Camus

I don’t think that you have any insight whatsoever into your capacity for good until you have some well-developed insight into your capacity for evil.” … Jordan Peterson

Is part of the answer finding meaning and purpose? Finding something to channel all that testosterone and energy into for the good of themselves and others? Some say the way of peace is warriors learning to sheath their swords, that passivity is not the answer. The peaceful warrior is the answer. Do young men who kill feel like warriors?

According to what I am reading many men who commit mass shootings tend to be those who have failed to achieve financial and romantic success in ways our society values and accredits as “manly.”

Do we need to teach boys and young men to be peaceful warriors? Are we encouraging passivity instead of powerful self-control?

Is part of the problem the pressure to get more when many people especially young men feel they are likely to get less? Can angry young men learn to be peaceful warriors?

Sitting Bull said, “For us, warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights… The warrior is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others.”

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, hope, and love.

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12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos Hardcover – Jan 23 2018

by Jordan B. Peterson (Author, Contributor) 4.7 out of 5 stars 1,162 customer reviewsAmazon Charts #3 this week

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Hard conversations. Are we strong enough to have conversations that matter?

Are we strong enough to have conversations that matter. Hard conversations.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters. Unknown

Yesterday my husband and I went over to my mother in laws and sat in the back yard talking to his mother and his sister. His sister said she wondered why so many families don’t talk about what is important and when someone dies there is so much left unsaid, and unknown.

His mother said, “She heard of a situation where the grandmother had a life insurance policy a granddaughter saw with her name as the beneficiary and wanted to hasten her inheritance.” That is a scary thought. Is it better to do like Gloria Vanderbilt who according to interviews with Anderson Cooper was not leaving an inheritance to her children? She left most of it to Anderson Cooper upon her death.  In the interview, he said, “If he knew he would be getting an inheritance maybe he wouldn’t have built a life.” He said, “he doesn’t believe in inheritance for that reason.” The burden of inheritance is now his, but he has built a life for himself, and he will probably be able to deal with it.

Someone I know tells me she is now looking after her Grandmother-in-laws affairs and found a ninety-year-old paying for insurance that only pays out until you are eighty-five. This sounds like a fraud on the insurance company’s part. Surely they know the age of who they are insuring. Shouldn’t they have a process in place to cancel policies that no longer benefit the insured? That’s five years of wasted premiums and what did she need the insurance for anyway? She has no dependents to take care of. The money she has should be spent on making her life the best it can be.

We are all going to reach the departure lounge – one day. Will you be ready? David Brady

We can meddle and it not be necessary, and not meddle and find we should have. A little open conversation may be in order. Once someone is gone there are questions we may have asked but didn’t get an answer to, or maybe questions we couldn’t quite voice. Maybe there are conversations if we have them more questions will be brought up. But, if we don’t have them we’ll never know, and the opportunity will be lost.

It makes me think if something happened to my husband and I what have we not said to our children? What do we not have in place that should be put in place to make things easier? What if something happened to one of us?

When my Dad died my parents had everything in place for either of them to take over everything easily. No muss, no fuss, no will, no government intervention. Mom tells me of a lady she knew who didn’t get the house in her name upon her husband’s passing. A government trustee was in control of the estate. She was told she couldn’t sell the house, but she did, and then they left her alone, and everything was hers, and under her control.

Management is a big part of life, and a big part of death as well. Many families become fragmented over what is left behind upon the parent’s death. It probably doesn’t have to be this way, but what we couldn’t sort out and fix during life is unlikely to be easier after death.

Do we have to have some hard conversations? Do we have to face our own mortality and others? It isn’t better if we pretend it won’t happen. The only question is when, and will we be prepared to deal in the best way with the worst?

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity. W. Clement Stone

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Leading With Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, And Inspire Action On Your Most Important Work Hardcover – Jul 11 2018

by Peter Bregman (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Are we busy and effective, or just busy? Are we setting smart goals? Is it better to under promise and over deliver, instead of over promise and under deliver?

Is it better to under promise and over deliver, instead of over promising and under delivering? Are we busy and effective , or just busy? Are we setting smart goals?

Set a goal big enough that in the process of achieving it, you become someone worth becoming. Jim Rohn

The day looks bright and beautiful and I hope not as hot as yesterday as our air conditioning is on the fritz.

At 5:30 yesterday morning, as we were getting ready to take our daughter and her husband to the airport they noticed water in their room. Their hardwood floor squished as they walked.

Oh no, a plumbing problem. We called the insurance company and they asked if there was a smell, and was the water rising. No smell, no rising water, so an adjuster will call by Tuesday or Wednesday. My husband checked the furnace room and the water seems to be coming from the furnace and air conditioner.

The air conditioner was working beautifully, just leaking. Then the question becomes how much air conditioning can we have, how much of a leak can we mop up. It turns out we can’t have any air unless we want to stay down and mop up continuously. If we have to stay in the basement to have air conditioning we can just stay in the basement without it.

Isn’t this how our life is sometimes? How much of something we don’t want can we put up with to get something we do want? When does coping with the problems created negate the benefit? Finding balance is hard.

Saying no to things that have a small benefit but take up a lot of time may become one of our biggest goals to create balance. I’ve submitted my Toastmasters Area Director Success Plan and my District Director has congratulated me on choosing to put out an area newsletter. I can’t believe I agreed to do that, but I pull out my Area Success Plan and that is what I wrote. I think I was following someone else’s success plan and thinking, “I just need to get this done” as the first fillable PDF didn’t save and I had to spend a second evening doing it. I’m to get any changes to her by today. I’ll be sure to get on that. No one reads those newsletters anyway so I think they are a waste of time and effort. Better to shoot off an email to actually get a response.

You can’t change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight. Jim Rohn

Do I do this in my life regularly, make promises I have no intention of keeping? I don’t even remember making? Am I a flake? I think I’m someone that keeps my commitments, word, pulls my weight, makes a contribution, but maybe I’m overpromising and under delivering. I’m going to change that and start to under promise and over deliver.

Better they think this Area Director isn’t very serious, and I help a struggling club, than I promise big things but am unable to help a struggling club. A newsletter will not be what helps a struggling club. A newsletter is just busywork that doesn’t accomplish anything.

I’m not a big one for setting goals; I’m more going with the flow. Having to prepare a Success Plan before getting into the role is difficult, what do we put down? I wonder if it actually helps the Area and District. Everyone writes up something, just to put something on paper and pass it along to the next person in line, who also wrote something on paper and passed it along. Each person meets their clubs, areas, or districts and decides what is needed, what they think will be helpful and implements what they can

We can go with the flow too much, we can plan too much, we can control too much, especially when it is trying to control other people.

We are told if we want to succeed at something we need to set “Smart” goals.





Time Bound.

This surely means we don’t write something down just to write something down. This has been my first mistake, but I have a chance to correct it, and so I shall.  I have certain responsibilities as an Area Director. I have to visit each club twice, write two reports on each club, one the first half of the year and one the second half of the year, and organize an area speech contest.

The development of clubs is going to be done by the Executive of the clubs. They create the club culture, they promote their clubs, they greet the guests and turn them into members, and they need to create a dynamic enough club to encourage current members to stay.  My job is to offer support if they want it. Not to micromanage capable people.

Being effective is not the same as being busy. As I go through my Success Plan I will delete everything that is not relevant, and likely to deliver big dividends. Just doing for doings sake is not my intention. They told me you grow as an Area Director, and I believe I already am.

What other areas of our life can we apply “Smart” goals too? Where are we just being busy instead of being effective? How much of our life could we simplify if we put our mind to it and made “smart” goals? Where are we overpromising and under delivering?

Don’t look at the big picture as the only achievement. Start with set, smart goals and work up to something bigger. Jordyn Wieber

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SMART Goal Setting: A Comprehensive Guide to Taking Control of Your Personal Life & Goals Paperback – Jul 7 2014

by Lance Devoir (Author) Be the first to review this item

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Will we be right even if it kills us? Do we make our expectations come true through self-sabotage?

Do we make our expectations come true through self-sabotage? Will we be right even if it kills us?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Seeing the mud around a lotus is pessimism, see a lotus in the mud is optimism. Amit Kalantri

Yesterday Instead of writing a post I accepted a breakfast invitation. It was lovely. Then we went downtown and spent the day looking at the sights and doing a bit of shopping. I dropped my husband’s coffee and it splashed on my white top. When I went to buy another coffee the one I dropped was replaced for free. “We treat our customer’s right,” the server said.

When we got home I had three things I wanted to get done. I have an Area Success Plan for Toastmasters, and two submissions for the Writer’s group due. I pulled up a fillable success plan and diligently filled it out. Then I saved it to my desktop, emailed it to my Division Director and moved onto the Writer’s Group submissions. They were already written. I went through them a few times, saved them to my desktop and emailed them. Then I patted myself on the back for such a productive evening.

I hadn’t printed the Area Success Plan so I pulled it up and my fillable form was empty. It was saved to my desktop but it was empty. I went to the email I sent my Division Director and it was empty. I emailed her explaining I would get it to her today but the feeling of accomplishment for my very productive evening evaporated.

Is there a trick to fillable forms I don’t know about? I’m not so anxious to try this twice and end up with the same result. It’s a seven-page report! “Oh well,” might work the first time, but do I use the fillable form again, or do I write it out? Writing out is messier, but at least I’ll have it. It seems I am not the first person to have sent out their fillable form and they be blank. I’ll try again with the first page and print it and see if it works. Otherwise, my Director will get a handwritten form.

Somehow I’m not even shocked that my fantastically productive evening didn’t end up to be so. Why? Don’t we all have the feeling sometimes things are going too well? We can hardly believe we got so much done. There has to be a catch, and when there is our world feels right again. What is it about us that thinks if things are too good for too long something bad has to happen?

Is this normal, or a form of self-sabotage? In many books, I’ve read the authors have said we create chaos in our life because we aren’t comfortable without whatever degree of chaos, difficulties, rejection, that we feel is our due.

There is a story behind every person. There is a reason why they are the way they are. Think about that, and respect them for who they are. Unknown

Excerpt from Never Get Angry Again by David J. Lieberman. Renowned psychologist Dr. Nathaniel Branden wrote about a woman he once treated who grew up thinking she was “bad” and undeserving of kindness, respect, or happiness. Predictably, she married a man who “knew” he was unlovable and felt consumed by self-hatred. He protected himself by acting cruelly toward others before they could be cruel to him. She didn’t complain about his abuse because she “knew” that abuse was her destiny. He wasn’t surprised by her increasing withdrawal and remoteness from him, because he “knew” no one could ever love him. They endured twenty years of torture together, proving how right they were about themselves and about life.

When we suffer from low self-esteem, we’re often afraid that something bad will happen to us after something good occurs in our lives. When fortune unexpectedly smiles on us, we feel anxious because of our sense of unworthiness. To alleviate our emotional tension, we might even sabotage our success so that we can fulfill our personal prophecy. The world is as we predicted. We feel secure because our beliefs – no matter how damaging and distorted – have been reaffirmed. We will be right, even if it kills us.

I remember buying a book years ago that said: “Would you rather be right or happy?” Distorted thinking was what it was talking about.  When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. This quote seems to be popping up all the time. The unexamined life is not worth living. As I am examining things on this journey of self-discovery it is a longer journey than I anticipated. Looking at one thing leads to looking at another thing which leads to still another thing.

Is this why writing is so powerful? When we write things down we can go deeper, deeper, and deeper still? After writing this blog for almost a year I thought there wouldn’t be much left to say. It seems there is more and more and more to say, to look at, and to learn. Excavating our authentic self is not for the faint of heart, nor is it quick or easy. We may not like everything we learn about ourselves, but we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. We may not believe “we are our own worst enemy,” but it seems like the truth to me. Then when we begin to believe it, we don’t know what to do about it, and the journey continues.

It is so much easier to see what other people should change in their lives, than what we should change in our own. The only power we have is within ourselves. If we can learn to accept and love ourselves warts and all, and as we know better, do better, are we mastering the school of life? Are we kind to ourselves and others when we and they falter and fail?

This is the precept by which I have lived: Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes. Hannah Arendt

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Never Get Angry Again: The Foolproof Way to Stay Calm and in Control in Any Conversation or SituationHardcover – Jan 9 2018

by Dr. David J. Lieberman Ph.D. (Author) 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Sometimes you think you’ve already heard the craziest things. Then you hear something so crazy you can’t believe it. It’s the law. How can we have respect for laws that don’t make sense?

How can we have respect for laws that don't make sense?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny. Edmund Burke

Last night was a wonderful celebration for two people at Toastmasters that have achieved the pinnacle of Toastmaster achievement, becoming Distinguished Toastmasters. Indeed one of them has walked this long demanding path twice. When we listen to the stories of the journey to Distinguished Toastmaster and the conduct of those who have achieved this distinction the characteristic that comes to mind is being of service. They are ready, able to assist, encourage, and mentor.

I have a position with Toastmasters only because of encouragement from one of our newest DTM’s. It never crossed my mind to apply to be Area Director, she said, “Keep it in your pocket until you need it for your DTM.”

“Are you achieving your DTM this year?” Is the question I get asked most often as people realize I’m an Area Director.  No, I’m just taking the next step presented to me.  When I listen to the stories of the DTM’s often it wasn’t planned. You do this and you do that, and then someone comes along and says, “You know you are really close to achieving this, if you did, this, and this, and this, you will be a DTM.

Isn’t this how it is in life we don’t have a plan, goal, etc? We start on a path that didn’t even look like a path but if we take on every opportunity that presents itself we grow and develop until one day we can’t believe how far along the path we are. We may even be an example to other people. We can’t even believe that we are an example of accomplishment. “We were just walking the path,” and that is all it takes.

On a crazy note, my husband tells me a pregnant woman shot in Alabama is being charged with the death of her fetus. “You mean the women who shot her?” I say.

No, the pregnant woman is charged with causing the death of her own fetus and the woman who shot her has not been charged at all. Because the pregnant woman started the fight that ended in the death of her fetus she is being charged. If someone can explain this logic I’m open to listening.

My husband and I have long argued over my belief that life begins at conception. To pretend otherwise is not to face the true facts of biology. That does not color my ideas about abortion. To me, abortion is an unfortunate choice some people may feel they have to make. It isn’t my right to force my ideas on them.

Every embryo will not be a live birth. It is foolish to expect that even if we never willingly terminate another viable pregnancy.  Women are subject to our biology. Some people want women to be of less importance than the child they carry. How does that seem like a win for anyone?

The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. Aristotle

Women generally happily take on the challenge and joy of motherhood. Criminalizing the unfortunate things that can happen between conception and birth serves no one. We cannot be careful enough to ensure we couldn’t be charged with wrongful death if this becomes the general view.

My husband has been telling me for years, you don’t know what you are saying if life begins at conception. That it is an inconvenient truth does not deter me. Some things are absolutely true and some things are not. There is a point where a seed goes from a seed that has not sprouted to one that has. There is a point where an egg goes from one that is not fertilized to one that is.

Women have the children; we have been elevated and controlled because of it. Women should not be in a cage of our own or someone else’s making because we bring forth the next generation. Unnecessary and unwanted death is a fact of life, criminalizing people and especially women for it does not make sense or move our civilization forward.

If every life is so sacred why isn’t it sacred after birth? The crime is not that every fetus doesn’t become a full term live birth. It is that some of those live births become unwanted, abused, and taken advantage of. That‘s the real crime.

Life is a journey. One of the most courageous things we do is bringing forward the next generation. Making pregnancy harder than it already is will not make more people want to do it. If this becomes generally accepted practice then women will no longer be able to work once they are pregnant. What will we be able to eat, where will we be able to go? It is unfortunate all pregnancies are not wanted.

We cannot control everything in life, let women look after their pregnancies, and don’t make them criminals when a pregnancy ends in heartbreak. Surely when this happens a woman and family have suffered enough.

Apathy is why we end up with ridiculous laws. People say, “That is crazy and will never pass,” but then it does. Michael Maddox

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