Managing our communication? What do we say with our non-verbal communication?

What do we say with our non-verbal communication? Managing our communication.

Painting by Belynda Wilson thomas

Every day is a chance to change your life. Unknown

Do we say what we mean and mean what we say, or do we say what we think we should say but our body language gives the real message? Haven’t we all seen a blank look, a dismissive shrug, an averted gaze, or a roll of the eyes, and felt the impact of unspoken communication.? We give them as well and we hear experts talk about body language. Our nonverbal gestures can make or break our relationships.

I take my dog out for a walk and most of the time she walks along with no fuss, meeting and greeting dogs, or we let them pass, but every now and then there is snarling and barking. I never know what brought that on. Until they get to the snarling and barking it’s all non-verbal. We are the same; we aren’t warm and fuzzy with everyone.

How we make people feel brings out the best or the worst in them. When our smile brightens when we see someone we make them feel good, we feel good seeing them, and they feel good being seen. How are we to react to the people who are just there, we aren’t particularly glad to see them, or they us, they never offer much in the way of fun or laughs, we don’t connect on any level. It can be awkward if we connect with someone and have a warm relationship with one person and a cool one with another, what if we are the boss, the in-law, parent, or someone in authority that can make things happen?

How does it affect our families, workplaces, and schools when we have in-groups and out-groups? I’m reading a book called, “Micro Messaging,” by Stephen Young Why Great Leadership is Beyond Words. We know great leadership is beyond words, we’ve all watched families and wondered how they stay close and connected, their children feel loved and encouraged, and work hard to build lives they and their parents are proud of.

We see sports teams turn around with a new coach. We know they didn’t bring new skills; they brought a new attitude to the team. We pay a lot of money to people who bring out the best in others and turn companies around. We are looking for political leaders that give confidence to the country at large. We make judgments by what they say, how they say it, and who they surround themselves with, what looks come across their face when others speak. We want people to be congruent, that what they say is what they mean.

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking. Albert Einstein

Are we congruent, do we say what we mean and mean what we say? In this book, a woman got help from someone and at the end of an email, it said. “You owe me big girl.” Being a woman larger than she liked she didn’t know how to take it. She thought they had an okay relationship but here it was in the plain text telling her she was fat or was it? She asked the woman who sent it, “If you were putting a comma in this sentence where would you put it?” The woman put the comma in, “You owe me big, girl.” When you put the comma there it says something different than how she originally took it.

Can we be misinterpreting and taking offense when none is meant? Are we offending others when we don’t mean to? I’ve been guilty of that. I am guilty of not looking at people who ask for money. I think it is a failing of mine, instead of acknowledging them and not giving them money, I don’t acknowledge them which wouldn’t cost me anything. Even if I do give money I think I often don’t look them in the eye. Am I pretending there isn’t a problem if I don’t acknowledge it?

We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge, and we only have the power to change ourselves. What if the power to drive change lies in the small things and not the big things? What if ants drive more change than elephants?

In Micro Messaging Stephen Young gives us ten tips to turn around problem relationships.

Actively solicit opinions.

Connect on a personal level.

Constantly ask questions.

Attribute/credit ideas.

Monitor your facial expressions.

Actively listen to all.

Draw in participation.

Monitor personal greetings.

Respond constructively to disagreements – one way is to ask a question.

Limit interruptions.

We can do this with any relationship without violating values or misrepresenting our opinions of others. Can we by using these tips unlock participation, creativity,  innovation, and make things better?

Be careful of your thoughts, they become words. Be careful of your words, they become actions. Be careful of your actions, they become habits. Be careful of your habits, they become character. Be careful of your character, it becomes your destiny. Unknown

One pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world. Malala Yousafzai

True life is lived when tiny changes occur. Leo Tolstoy

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.

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

Thank you to everyone that reads my books. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Goodreads, and Amazon. If you purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

It’s a wonderful life, rich with possibilities. Are we trusting in the process of life?

Are we trusting in the process of life? It's a wonderful life, rich with possibilities.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

There is no wealth but life. John Ruskin

Does it seem like we are locked in Groundhog Day? An old Johnny Mercer – Harold Arlen song tells us to ‘accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch onto the affirmative, don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.’

Doesn’t it seem like Mr. In-Between is where we spend a lot of our life? Is this really a bad thing, isn’t this where real life is lived? Some people are either super happy or super sad and they don’t have in-between.

Is one of the problems we have in life finding balance? Balance can seem boring to those who embrace extremes and we have many people embracing the extreme. In our media-driven society, it is easy to compare our lives to someone else’s and find it wanting. We watch people put on a show and think their real life is so much more exciting, important, worthwhile, and impactful than our own.

As I write this I am listening to the radio talk about the number of young people not planning to have children. They prefer the life they can have without kids. I can see the appeal in that as they look at the drudgery, expense, and challenges parenthood entails. Most of what we accomplish in life even if we make it big at anything is the flavor of the day.

Some women work so hard to make good husbands that they never manage to make good wives. Anonymous

How many Presidents and Prime Ministers, even Kings, Queens, inventors, and authors do we know. They had their time in the spotlight, and time moves on. Family is what lasts; family is the contribution that impacts generations. How many of us may be prouder of our grandchildren than we are of ourselves? It seems to me as I wait to be a grandma that this is going to be a wonderful stage in my life made much more wonderful by the presence of grandchildren, and if I am lucky great-grandchildren.

Children are our tie to coming generations. If we don’t have children perhaps we are close enough to someone in the next generation as aunts, uncles, godparents, mentors, or friends.

When we can surround ourselves with loved ones our hearts are full and our lives are filled with laughter, funny stories are told, and escapades are recounted. This year we will have a small Christmas dinner as the kids will be spending time with the spouse and soon-to-be spouse’s families. We will all be together in the morning. Once our children get coupled up, there is another side pulling on them that gets consideration. We don’t have them all to ourselves anymore.

It is a great joy watching our children take their place, celebrate their milestones, and build their lives. As the sun sets on our generation it rises on another and round and round we go. The hopes and dreams of every generation are that life is better for the next. We have lived in such bounty and excess we may wonder how life could be better. We need to remember that during the dark ages they thought everything that could be known was known.

We don’t know what we don’t know, the exciting things ahead we may not be part of, or what we may glimpse before we go. Do many of us have a trust and control problem? If we trust others and give up control by trusting in the process of life, does life work out better?

Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times. G. Michael Hopf

When no one around you seems to measure up, its time to check your yardstick. Bill Lemley

There is no security in life, there is only opportunity. Anonymous

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.

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

Thank you to everyone that reads my books. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate link.

Forgiveness and acceptance. Life is how it is, not how we want it to be. We can change the future, but not the past.

Life is how it is, not how we want it to be. We can change the future, but not the past. Forgiveness and acceptance.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

I learned that true forgiveness includes total acceptance. Catherine Marshall

On Saturday night, I was in my studio painting, frustrated, because my painting wasn’t tuning out how I wanted it to. As I got ready for bed I thought of a painter whose work evokes love, hope, home, and family, Thomas Kinkade. The art world didn’t recognize him as a great painter but the public loved his work. On Sunday morning I was searching for articles, on Thomas Kinkade’s painting techniques. I found out he died in 2012 at age 54.

In his book Lightposts for Living, it seemed he had an idyllic life, he’d found God, and said, God was his art agent. That appeared to work well for him, but there is no idyllic life, no matter how it is portrayed in a book, Tik Tok, Facebook, etc. We all have problems, challenges, lapses of faith in ourselves, others, and even God.

It is easy to think other people have things figured out we haven’t yet figured out. When we see them we think they still have magic in their relationship. We hear about their children and they always seem to be doing well. Often there is another side to the story. Even if it isn’t a bad side, reality, and perception aren’t the same thing. If someone spends all their time building an empire their family may feel like they aren’t a priority.

If someone spends all their time building a family they may feel the empire is lacking. The wild single life may seem more exciting than being married and raising a family. Raising a family may feel more joy-filled than being single. We have to watch what we think we see in other people’s lives. We have to watch our expectations.

Acceptance and tolerance and forgiveness, those are life-altering lessons. Jessica Lange

My oldest sister always said if we put our troubles on the line when we had to choose someone else’s troubles we would take our own back. It’s a good way to look at things. She’s been married fifty years. It is funny her husband and mine have the same birth date but are seventeen years apart.

One of the things that make marriages last is perseverance. If we take the attitude that there will be challenges in relationships, and it isn’t only dependant on the person, then perhaps we’ll think sticking it out with our first choice is better than picking a second and third choice. As they say, “Time” is the secret to a long marriage. Stick-to-it-ive-ness is getting through the thick and thin in life. Knowing spring follows winter but winter also follows fall. No one gets only good times and no one gets only bad.

Change is coming. No matter how much we loved periods in our life. We move on to new stages, new highs, new lows, different gains, and losses. We may have loved being an active parent but adult children need us to stay out of their lives, not insert ourselves in. If we are lucky we become grandparents and a new cycle begins.

When we are in a period where it seems there is nothing to look forward to we need to look forward with hope, a new spring is coming. Sometimes we need to grow and change our expectations because if we can only be happy if certain things happen, and they never happen, that’s a sad way to live a life. We may feel hurt by something and it colors our life, no one can change what happened, not even the person that caused the hurt. We can forgive and go forward or carry that hurt the rest of our lives. Our life might look blessed to others but we can’t see it because we can’t get over the past.

If we forgive ourselves, and others we can deal with today instead of carrying the burden of yesterday on our back. We did the best we could, or we didn’t. We have to go forward because no one gets to go back. Learning to be okay with what is, maybe what we most have to learn in life.  

Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace. Mel Robbins

The best way to escape from the past is not to avoid or forget it, but to accept and forgive it. Unknown

The act of forgiveness takes place in our own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person. Louise Hay

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.

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

Thank you to those who read my books. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon. If you click on the Amazon link and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Does creativity lead to happiness? Are we as happy as we choose to be?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Happiness is not by chance, but by choice. Unknown

Creativity feeds our souls. We have to continue to feed our souls throughout our lives. Our best garden will need to be replaced by our next one. When we look at some people’s body of work we wonder how they are so prolific, it is because they keep creating.

There is something about the process of creativity that enlivens us. We expect elation at the completion of our projects but completing that project leaves us with emptiness in our life we aren’t sure what to do with. We were consumed with the project. We let other things slide in our life while we worked on it. We had dreams and nightmares about it. My mind is percolating but not at full speed like it was the last couple of months of the project when I was busy completing it.

Is this why we sometimes don’t complete things? If it is never complete we will never feel the emptiness. We also won’t feel the sense of accomplishment, we made a bargain with ourselves and we kept it. This emptiness can only be replaced by something else.

We always need to have another mountain to climb, another painting to paint, a song to sing. If I wasn’t working on a series I think the emptiness I feel after putting out When Can We Get A Puppy would be greater. I had planned to visit Mom after the book was published but visiting her in August worked out beautifully for everyone and didn’t impact my writing as much as I thought taking a break would.

We often don’t expect the feeling we get after something is completed, or we thought it would feel differently. We thought satisfaction upon completion would be as great as the joy of doing, and it isn’t. The joy is in the creation.

It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project. Napoleon HIll

This is where we get things wrong. We think getting acclaim for our accomplishments is worth more than it is. We think famous artists get more out of their art than people who paint in their basement. We think we will be happier when we publish our work than when we are creating it. We think it matters if someone likes our work.

It matters if someone likes our work if we are reliant upon the income from that work. This is why in the book “Of Human Bondage” the character was told by his art instructor if he wasn’t of independent-means he should find another way to make a living.

That sounds like harsh advice but struggling to make a living is not something we should set ourselves up for if we have other choices. As artists, we can make a living and still do art. We may think we would enjoy life more being in a successful band, or if we were a successful author, but there are always prices to pay.

In the book “Stumbling On Happiness” we are told no matter what happens to us, good or bad, we will be about as happy in six months as we are now. Win a million dollars or get into a terrible accident the happiness level in six months is the same. How can this be? Happiness is an inside job. Situations outside of ourselves have less impact than we think. Wow, that means our attitude is all up to us. That’s a scary thought; this means if I get lots and lots of sales or few sales it won’t mean much to my state of happiness. Can this be true?

Once our needs are met for housing, food, and security extra doesn’t add that much to our life. Yet, we spend our lives waiting for the next thing we acquire or the next rung on the ladder we reach to make us happy. It is the doing that makes us happy not the end result of the doing. There is satisfaction upon completing something, acquiring something, or accomplishing something but it opens the way for our next acquisition, accomplishment, or project.

Perhaps what we need to be doing as we are nearing the completion of something is to be planning what we will do next. Instead of waiting until we are finished and left with a hole where our project or our work used to be, we have the beginnings of something else in mind. This is why we are told to prepare for retirement.

True success is not a project but a journey. Myles Munroe

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open. John Barrymore

I don’t expect to retire. Every man must work, that’s his natural destiny. Henry Ford

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.

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

Thank you to everyone that reads my books. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the Amazon link below and purchase an item I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon affiliate program.

Are we busy and effective or just busy? We shape our lives and we shape ourselves.

We shape our lives and we shape ourselves. Are we busy and effective or just busy?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

It is possible to be busy-very-busy-without being very effective. Stephen Covey

Are we busy and effective or just busy? There’s a difference between being busy and being productive. I found out this week when my son asked me for my Amazon affiliate link that I was busily doing what I thought I should without being effective. I wasn’t using the correct link on my blog to link to my account. Looking back I wonder what kind of magical thinking was I doing to think I didn’t have to use a special link.

How often in our lives do things not work out for us because we only understand part of the process?. We don’t have a plan. Our neighbor has an orderly tomato patch pruned and supported, mine is not so orderly but it is still producing more tomatoes than we can eat. Sometimes we get away without a plan but often we do not.

I found planning my writing this year has been a lot more productive than just writing aimlessly. In a year I have my second novel to give to my book club to read and give me feedback as I continue editing it. The children’s book I’m working on I’m giving to them to read as well. If I hadn’t set up a plan a year ago I wouldn’t have accomplished as much as I have.

It is easy to make ourselves busy without accomplishing much. It is also easy to start a day off with a plan and be astounded at what we get done. Is it as easy to be organized and orderly as to be disorganized and messy? Is it a choice we make which we will be?

In Larry Winget’s book “You’re Broke Because You Want To Be” he tells us yes it is a choice. He’s not talking about broke and poor. Poverty is a problem he doesn’t have answers to. We can be broke at any income level, and we can be paying our bills and prospering at any income level.

My mother tells me in the early days of her first marriage they had their budget down to the penny. Her husband quit smoking for a week to buy her a Christmas present. Before easy credit, you bought what you could pay for. Larry Winget tells us some people he deals with have no idea how much more money they are spending than they make. They don’t have a plan to prosper.

Charles Dickens quote is still true. “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expense nineteen pounds and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.

We all manage our lives but are we effective? We may think we are being effective like I did with my Amazon affiliate account, and find we are only being busy. When we realize our mistake we can correct it and go forward. My son is well versed in computers and helps me with my blog and will answer all of my questions and help me in any way. The problem is I don’t always know what to ask, I don’t know what I don’t know.

We don’t know what we don’t know until we stumble across something that tells us. This is why we need to be willing to learn throughout our lives. Other people have better ways of doing things, they have a better plan, and they’ve learned how to be more effective. In books, knowledge is generously shared and we have access to the greatest minds through their writing.

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility. Eleanor Roosevelt

Famous writers are writing blogs and books, sharing their secrets of plotting, pacing, and planning. If we need to know more about money management and investing, there’s a book. Are we interested in organization and planning, there’s a book. Do we want to start a small business on the side, there’s a book. Do we want to get fit and healthy, there’s a book. Self-improvement and motivation, there’s a book.

When I was on holiday I visited a thrift shop with my sister-in-law and niece, and there was the book “The Push” by Ashley Audrain that got the author a two million dollar advance for a two-book deal. I scooped it up and read it while on holiday and left it for my mother to read. It’s a dark psychological thriller that is a thought-provoking and engaging read.

There is more to getting a big book deal than writing a good book, but if we don’t write a good book we won’t be getting that deal and readers will not be telling someone, “You have to read this book.”

We don’t know what we will produce when we start something. If we don’t produce something nothing happens. We have to be willing to fail to succeed. We have to be willing to start to finish.

It is not enough to be busy… The question is: what are we busy about? Henry David Thoreau

We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind. Stephen R. Covey

Being busy and being productive are two different things. Unknown

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.

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

Thank you to everyone that reads my novel Secrets and Silence and a special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture below and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage through the Amazon affiliate program.

The moment of epiphany when you know things will never be the same again.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

I always liked those moments of epiphany, when you have the next destination. Brad Pitt

Do epiphanies happen in your life? Is there a moment that turned your life around? Mine happened October 9th of 2000 when my husband brought home an old laptop and I put it on the kitchen table and started to write. I’d started writing at various times before. I’d always wanted to write and felt compelled to write. But, that time I turned writing into a habit and after I put the kids to bed was my time to write. I would bring the laptop out and put it on the kitchen table. I wrote down the time I started and the time I finished and how many words I wrote, and I haven’t quit writing since.

There have been times when computers quit, my files were held for ransom (thank goodness for backups). I have had years that I look back on and wonder what did I write, but the habit and the reality of being a writer occurred on October 9th, 2000.

Our lives can change in an instant. When I finished grade 12 I was driving in my car with a girlfriend when a lightning bolt flashed in my head I was going to Toronto. I’m reading a book, “The Holy Shit Moment” by James Fell. He says he can teach us how to harness the power of epiphany – those moments of sudden insight that can happen at any time.

I am open to these moments but I wonder do we get them in negative ways as well. If we have an epiphany about a person that is not positive, even if what we think we know is not true, can we see that person in a positive light again? Would that make the relationship unredeemable?

Could it be reckless to end marriages and change jobs even when a change in our lives needs to happen – should it always be a drastic change? The secret to a long marriage is time and I wonder if some people looking back wish they’d handled their epiphanies differently, made changes to improve their lives but kept their marriage.

Believe in your epiphanies. Believe in yourself. Take action, and watch the world conspire to support you. Elise Ballard

There are four elements to epiphanies, listening, belief, action, and serendipity. To listen we have to be open to the message. We need to believe the epiphany and what it means to us. Of course, nothing happens if we don’t take action and set everything in motion. Serendipity is when the second step is revealed, then the third step, and finally the fourth step and things keep falling into place.

There are times in our lives when we may feel we are on the right track, doing the right thing. Other times we are drifting, waiting, and we might not even know what we are waiting for. Perhaps we are waiting for an epiphany, a tap on the shoulder, a lightning bolt, or a book that speaks to us, someone that says something that changes the way we look at things. Something that will happen that opens up our eyes to a new path, opportunity, or way of being.

At this stage in life, I am open to epiphanies but not ones that turn my whole world upside down. I am committed to commitments I have made and within the confines of those commitments am open to opportunity, adventure, and excitement.

The world does not have tidy endings. The world does not have neat connections. It is not filled with epiphanies that work perfectly at the moment that you need them. Dennis Lehane

Don’t ever put your happiness in someone else’s hands. They’ll drop it. They’ll drop it every time. Christopher Barzak

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. Friedrich Nietzsche

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.

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

Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.

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B

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Life is about growth, and growing demands changing, adapting, and regrouping.

Life is about growth, and changing demands growing, adapting, and regrouping.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Life is growth, and growth demands change. Virend Singh

Living in the present moment.  Enjoying everything there is to enjoy in our lives. Are we living life to the utmost or are we waiting? If we are waiting what are we waiting for? Are we waiting for a certain stage of life when we can… Are we waiting for the money to come in when we can finally… Are we waiting for someone else to tell us the direction our life will take… Are we waiting to get married, divorced, have children, or the children to grow up and have lives of their own? What are we waiting for? When are we going to feel like this is it, this is our time? Or are we thinking about our time back in the day when we were…

Have we made the most of every decade of our lives? Have we laughed enough, played enough, dreamed enough, loved enough, forgiven enough, and been grateful enough for the lives we’ve lived?

It is easy for me as a woman of a “certain age” to be jaded about where our world is heading. But, we are living life forward and it is probably true the best is yet to come. I’ve been very lucky I haven’t had a lot of misfortune or angst in my life. I didn’t live through turmoil, war, or scarcity. I was born lucky with parents who built a farm and created an idyllic life for growing kids. We had animals of all kinds and wide-open spaces to ride horses.

I loved growing up on the farm and yet I never wanted it for my future. I still think I would like to ride more horses. I have stables near enough to me that I could go riding, but I never have. Why have I deprived myself of this simple and not that expensive of a pleasure? Is it a form of penance I’ve imposed on myself? I wanted to backpack across Europe, but I didn’t want to do it alone. I had no one to go with but that is probably just an excuse. Why didn’t I make it happen?

What does it say about us, the things we make happen, and the things we don’t? Why can we pour our heart and soul into some enterprises and give up so easily on others? I don’t know the answers to the questions I ask. I know achievement feels better than failure. I know looking back over accomplishments feels better than looking at where we gave up on a dream, even small ones that no one else knows about.

Transformation is not five minutes from now; it’s a present activity. In this moment you can make a different choice, and it’s these small choices and successes that build up over time to help cultivate a healthy self-image and self-esteem. Jillian Michaels

I know sometimes we have to get through to the other side of whatever our problem, challenge, or crisis is. Life doesn’t seem fair in how it metes out trouble and misfortune to some, and luck and good fortune to others. Reading and listening to people’s stories it seems greatness doesn’t come from easy lives. Perhaps that is the reward for the hardships they’ve faced.

We need to be careful because, “Hard times create strong men, and easy times create weak men.” Even in good and easy times, we need to be challenging ourselves enough so we don’t become too soft, weak, and undisciplined that we can’t handle what could be around the corner.

I’m listening to an audiobook “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. He talks about an army instructor that taught navy seals how to open an airway in the neck if someone couldn’t breathe. The next day they had to perform that procedure on him to save his life. Listening to some of these books on military training I can see how we would all be better off if we went through some of this training.

Switzerland hasn’t taken part in armed conflict for over 500 years. To maintain a fighting force, all men are required to do military service. They also have to keep a weapon, or stock it in an armory, meaning Switzerland has some of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. They might be the epitome of, “I’d rather be a soldier in a garden than a gardener in a war.” Jordan Peterson tells us, ” Meek is not weak it is having a sheathed sword and knowing how to use it.”

It is always a good time to take stock of our lives. What we want to accomplish, how we want to improve, learn, and grow. What are the goals we are working on? Who do we need to forgive? Sometimes the person we most need to forgive is ourselves because we haven’t been or done what we’d hoped. We need to go forward better. We can only change ourselves not other people and often what we know for sure is someone else has to change. Sometimes when we change ourselves we will see other people miraculously change. This is our life what do we need to do, be, or change?

Every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision, and change. Richard Branson

One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again. Abraham Maslow

If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. Gail Sheehy

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.

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

Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.

Pruning the deadwood, change is the only constant. Are we going forward better?

Are we going forward better? Change is the only constant, pruning the deadwood.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

One reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up, instead of what they have to gain. Rick Godwin

I’m sore this morning from pruning the deadwood from my honeysuckle bush and weigela this weekend. I always get a lot of deadwood every spring from my weigela, but rarely have to trim the honeysuckle but this year all the big trunks of the honeysuckle were dead. We might not know why we get deadwood in our gardens and our lives but it has to be pruned to make way for new growth.

I’m looking at a post where Jeanne Grunert writes that she met an old farmer who told her the secret to his orchard producing such great fruit was in the pruning. “Prune hard in winter, gather the fruit in the fall.”

Our own lives need pruning as we decide what we want more of and what we want less of in our lives. Pruning TV from our lives may give us time to paint, write, exercise, read, or have long conversations with our family. Pruning bad habits like smoking will give us untold benefits to our health and finances.

Some things we may need to prune completely out of our lives and other things we may need to snip away at without removing entirely. I watched a lovely movie last night with my husband about family, fitting in, and letting a job be the only important thing in life. Changes that are forced on us sometimes make us see that life can and should be different.

The lockdown means I haven’t been to the gym since March of 2020. I have an exercise machine I use and I’m walking.  Fasting two days a week has kept the covid 19 off. Hard pruning is going on in our lives and our lives may never look the same again. That is life, we can use the lessons we learn to go forward better. What is better is up for debate as people are worried about the direction our lives and country will take.

I’m listening to people who have fears on both sides and I am trying to have faith we will go forward better. We will find the balance between socialism and capitalism, freedom, and support, being self-made men and women and building a society that can help us get back up if we stumble and fall. We will be able to continue to build and maintain a health care system that works but is not so heavy it crumbles under its own weight.

There will never be equality of outcome as some people think there should be. Look at our gardens even when we plant the same plants in the same space some thrive and others don’t. Some tomato plants bear more fruit than others. Some trees and shrubs require more pruning than others. Some like my honeysuckle die off and only young growth is left.

He who blames others has a long way to go on his journey. He who blames himself is halfway there. He who blames no one has arrived. Chinese proverb

Even equality between men and women which I believe in intrinsic equality, worth, and value does not mean we are the same. We need to embrace our differences, what makes us unique is also what makes us more impactful in life. We want to live in a society where we give equal opportunity, and as noble of an ideal as that is we know it is not possible because some people are not capable of taking advantages other people can take.

The outcomes of our lives are dependent on innate gifts, talents, and challenges at birth, the soil we grew up in, who inspired and impacted us. The opportunities that presented and we took advantage of, luck, good judgment, who we chose as friends, what habits and systems we developed, and the times we lived through.

We may have a lot of pruning needed for our lives to progress how we want or little pruning needed. We may think we are doing okay until something happens. How we live our days is how we live our lives. People who excel at things have pruned out many things in their lives to accomplish one goal.

Does luck fall in some people’s lap? I’m thinking of the pizzeria that years ago was offered bitcoin as payment for a pizza. One bitcoin equaled one dollar and they accepted the bitcoin payment. Did that pizzeria keep the bitcoin and now are bitcoin millionaires?

Why didn’t I pick up bitcoin at a dollar? I had no foresight. What if I’d been smart enough to say what if this becomes a thing and picked up a couple of hundred dollars of bitcoin when bitcoin could be bought for a couple of hundred dollars? Can I expect to be a bitcoin millionaire when I didn’t have the foresight some people had? Is the person that bought the bitcoin pizza a bitcoin millionaire because they had foresight?

A small habit of taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves would make a big difference in my life. Too often I only see the opportunities when someone else has made them into something.

Pruning the deadwood, developing systems and habits that create the best life, and recognizing opportunities that present themselves is what I want in my life going forward.

If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice it’s knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is true beauty and imperfections go together wonderfully. Matthew Fox

Trees don’t worry about their shape or size, they teach us to focus on growth. Vijaya Gowrisankar

You can only go halfway into the darkest forest. Then you are coming out the other side. Chinese proverb

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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Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.


Obstacles to growth might be trying to mind someone else’s business instead of our own.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Trees give peace to the souls of men. Nora Waln

What do we owe our neighbors? This is a question I have wondered as I’ve looked at semi-detached houses where the neighbors were not in sync with their color choices of garage doors, roofs, etc.

On our neighbor’s and our front yards, we had twin pink crabapple trees that stood side by side until she cut hers down earlier this spring. They stood together for 28 years. I started getting used to the bare spot and wondered what she had planned that was better than a big beautiful pink crabapple tree in full bloom.

Last night coming back from my walk with Lulu listening to the audiobook The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday I noticed her grand plan and it stopped me in my tracks. She planted a blue spruce where a magnificent pink crabapple once stood.

I stormed into the kitchen where my son and his fiancé were eating dinner. “Have you seen what she’s done?” I sputtered.

“You should have talked to her about her plans,” my son calmly said.

When should I have talked to her about it? When I came home from a walk and half the branches had been sawed off and were lying on the ground? She never talked to me about cutting down the tree and still hasn’t. Why would I ask about a tree that has been standing for 28 years? I expected to see it keep standing until the branches were lying on the ground. The only tree she has kept standing is a maple tree that is too close to the house.

I am not like the farmer who said once his barn was gone, “Now I can see the moon.”

Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky. Kahlil Gibran

I’ve never had a problem with neighbors but maybe it’s because my son tells me I am passive-aggressive, complaining about them behind their back instead of talking to them directly. I did talk to my neighbor’s son one day who had their dog peeing on our lawn. I think I was even effective. I haven’t seen her peeing there since. Why would I have to ask someone to not have their dog pee on my lawn? That should be self-evident, shouldn’t it?

When we live in a city we have to hope our neighbors like trees and will plant some for everyone’s enjoyment. I’ve been lucky we have a tree-lined street because the builder planted a tree on each lot and the city planted boulevard trees. Most homeowners value their trees as they add value to the property and living on a tree-lined street is a prettier street. In the backyards, we as well as neighbors have planted trees that give us all some privacy and a place for the birds, squirrels, and rabbits to live.

Neighbors, friends, and family don’t all see things the same way. We are individuals with our own values, judgments, and choices. I’m sure I make choices others don’t agree with and they make choices I don’t agree with. As my parents used to say, “It takes everyone to make a world.” We have our little piece to look after and everyone else has to look after theirs.

There is no point in getting upset about the beautiful crabapple tree that has been removed. A magnificent blue spruce will grow in its stead. It’s going to take a while as it’s only 18 inches tall.

Is there a lesson here for me? Is it ironic that I was listening to The Obstacle is the Way? We have our little yard to beautify and I have to leave everyone else’s yard up to them. We can only make things happen in our own circle of influence but it is so much easier to look at what others are doing instead of tending to our own business. Am I looking after my own business well enough? If I am, I wouldn’t have time to mind anyone else’s?

Be like a tree. The tree gives shade even to him who cuts off its boughs. Sri Chaitanya

A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit. Elton Trueblood

Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. John Muir

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.

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

Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.

To live in beauty and bounty we must be part of the providers of it.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Nature is not a place to visit. It is home. Gary Snyder

Yesterday we woke up to snow-covered daffodils, cherry blossoms, and snow-laden branches it was unexpectedly beautiful and I wish I’d taken pictures. We had twin crabapple trees that for a couple of days in spring were covered with pink blooms. Our neighbor has cut all the limbs off of her tree and only the stump is standing and I expect it will be pulled out too. It seems like sacrilege to take down an over twenty-five-year-old tree when we are trying to create tree-lined streets.

Mom tells me in her complex it was decided to remove a beautiful ten-year-old maple tree and replace it with something else and she is not impressed with their choice.

It’s not my business it’s her tree. What if everyone cut down their tree and we ended up with barren ugly neighborhoods? Whose business does it become then? When does our business become someone else’s business? When do our actions infringe on other people?

Jordan Peterson talks about how we can’t take living in safety, peace, and plenty for granted. Is there a correlation between happiness and beauty? When we live in beautiful surroundings it makes a difference in our lives. We are told to clear the clutter to clear our minds. How often when we look at pictures of stark, minimalist décor does it still have a plant or flowers somewhere in the picture. Nature feeds our soul. What is someone thinking as they pave over every blade of grass and root out the trees on their property?

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own. Charles Dickens

The World Happiness Report suggests wellbeing is positively affected by spending time in nature. The trend is to cover our property with concrete or pavers. We want a low maintenance option but what about the option of living in an urban forest where we offer habitat for birds, squirrels, and other wildlife.

I love watching the squirrels. We have grey, black and recently little red squirrels have moved into the area. I haven’t seen chipmunks in our yard but I have seen a skunk ambling through the back yard and I came home from a walk to see one on my front walk one morning. We see a pair of cardinals in our yard all the time. Occasionally we see a blue jay in our trees and goldfinches in our front yard. I would hate to live in a sterile yard with no life, no trees, and no nature.

Life changes and my crab apple tree lost a friend. I think of the two trees nodding in the breeze like two ladies talking about the goings-on of the street. Mine is now the lone pink crab apple on our side of the street.

Nature is messy, beautiful, and irreplaceable. We may think we want stark, lifeless yards because they are easy, maintenance-free spaces. It’s probably okay if a few people think like this but what if everyone on the street thought this way? Cities can be deserts or they can be beautiful urban forests with birds and other wildlife. It’s our choice and I pray most people choose the trees.

We live in beauty and bounty, but we can’t take it for granted that someone else will provide it for us. We have to be careful of the choices we make lest we someday no longer live in beauty and bounty and wonder where it went.

Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray, where nature heals and gives strength to body and soul alike. John Muir

Nature never did betray the heart that loved her. William Wordsworth

Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time. Katrina Mayer

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.

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

Thank you to everyone that reads my book. A special thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. If you click on the picture and purchase an item through the Amazon link I receive a small percentage of the sale through the affiliate program.