Friends and laughter. Laughter is the best medicine.

Friends - photo of garden by Errol Thomas

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. Helen Keller

Last night we had our book club meeting. We usually meet at a coffee shop. We started doing that years ago because no one has to spend the day cleaning, no family members have to find something to do while we laugh and giggle, and it is so much easier to watch what we eat.

One of our members broke her ankle this summer, she just got the plate and screws taken out yesterday and thought it would be easier if she didn’t have to take herself to the coffee shop. We laughed over pumpkin pie, German cookies and English tea. She had wine but we all drove so we did the responsible thing and declined. We didn’t need wine, only togetherness.

We read books we would never read if we weren’t in a book club. The book pick is a birthday gift from a daughter who works in a book store and loves books as much as her Mom.

Another members is going through family stuff and said she can’t read, can’t concentrate maybe we should do a movie night. We are all up for that. When she heard the book recommendation she thought she might be able to read it. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal. We are all intrigued by the title; after all we enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey.

We are able to talk about everything in our book club. If we can’t make sense of nonsense at least we get a few perspectives on it. Life is complicated, everyone is going through something. We help each other by being the listening ear; we see things from different views. Because we aren’t knee deep in each other’s lives it is easier to talk about some stuff.

There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship. Thomas Aquinas

I was listening to a talk on YouTube and the commentator was saying we used to get from a village what we now expect from our spouse. It is too much to expect our spouse to meet all our needs. Widening our circle of friends is especially important as we age, when our circle could easily be shrinking instead of expanding.

It seems that after age sixty five friends make a bigger difference in our lives than when we were younger. Strong family ties are linked to happiness, but their importance stayed about the same over our life time.

Valuing our immediate family is good for our health and happiness at any age. The older we become the more important it is to have strong friendships. We are happier and healthier when our friends are happy, and we are more likely to be sick when we don’t value friendships or our friendships are in trouble. Friendship quality, often predicts health more than any of our other relationships.

Joining groups is a good place to meet likeminded people who become friends. Investing in friendships that inspire us to stay healthy gives us a better chance of being healthy. We often have the same habits our friends have. Healthy friends, with healthy habits mean we are more likely to be healthy with healthy habits.

I see this in my mother and her friends. She walks with a friend almost every morning. They met when they bought houses side by side. Mom at ninety three would not be as healthy without the walks or the friendship. If the last new friend we made was years ago maybe we should rethink. We can widen our circle at any age, as we get older it is more important than ever.

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. Khalil Girbran

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Dogs and love. If you want more love in your life, get a dog.

Too All the Pets I've Loved - photo of Lulu by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned From My Dog

Never pass up the opportunity to go on a joyride. When loved ones come home always greet them. Never pretend to be something you’re not. If you want something, look at it until your get it or it’s gone. If what you want lies buried, dig until you fine it. Take every opportunity to run. Take every opportunity to nap. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body. Never pass up the chance to snuggle. Always kiss the ones who are mad at you to make it better. Listen attentively and don’t offer solutions. Be brave, optimistice and completely present. Give and accept love with every breath.

I saw a miracle last night. My little dog was sitting by my son in law and he reached down and petted her. He didn’t grow up with dogs and doesn’t like them. Lulu barks every time he comes in and goes out of the house. Sometimes she makes a fuss when he goes to the bathroom. She is ever vigilant keeping us safe from our selves.

The one thing my daughter worried about was her husband’s dislike of dogs. When she was little she asked how old she had to be to get a dog. We told her six years old and so close to her sixth birthday – not a birthday present – we acquired Krypto a Scottish Terrier puppy.

He scared me when he was still little. He growled at me when he was outside and I called an Animal Behaviorist. He said, “he’s a dominant dog and you need to get him into puppy school and he will likely be a good dog.” I took his advice, the four of us and Krypto attended puppy school.

He was a great dog. He was my son’s confidant. I heard my son say to Krypto one day, “no one listens to me but you.” Too soon Krypto was fifteen years old, he could no longer walk well enough to go for walks, bathroom problems were frequent and we didn’t think he should face another harsh winter. We made the tough decision pet owners face when their loyal friend is in so much pain its heart wrenching to watch them struggle to walk.

My dog does this amazing thing where he just exists and makes my whole life better because of it. Unknown

My daughter and I were ready for a new dog before my husband was. I think my son was more ambivalent than my daughter and I. When my husband said okay we were on the hunt. We had one requirement. We didn’t want a dog with the doggy smell Krypto had. No amount of bathing got rid of that doggy smell. He was good for allergies but he was stinky.

A Cock-a-poo came up as being what ticked all our boxes that’s a Cocker Spaniel Poodle cross. We found her and once again became a household with a dog. We should have taken her to puppy school but she’s a submissive dog and in my hubris I thought we didn’t need puppy school.

Her only bad habit is she barks when people leave the house and when they return to the house. She doesn’t chew shoes, she isn’t destructive in any way. If she gets a chance to chew on a paper towel, she can make quite a mess.  She is easy to groom and very good about it. She doesn’t have a doggy smell; she can get stinky if we don’t bath her often enough but that is not the same thing. She is good when we leave the house. If no one is home when we get back she is quiet. If someone is home then she needs to protect those at home from those coming home.

She is a bundle of love. I can see she is winning over my son in law. It makes my heart sing because I know having a dog is high on my daughters list of things she wants in her life.

Dogs are work, they can be expensive, they can be messy, they can be smelly, but they bring a dimension of unconditional love we humans should emulate. Our dog is never too busy to accompany us on an adventure. She is never more interested in something else than a snuggle on the couch. She never fails to greet us at the door. Her world revolves around ours. We have our own world and don’t always make those we love a priority. She has no such problem. We are her priority, every moment, of every day.

Getting a dog is not a small decision. We need to be sure we have the patience, resources, willingness to train or live with the results of not training the puppy. Puppies deserve a forever home. When we moved into our house it was a new sub division. I noticed a lot of families got puppies and then those puppies were gone. It broke my heart.

When we were newly dealing with the loss of Krypto my daughter and I found the perfect rescue dog. My husband wasn’t ready and the dog was quickly adopted by a family. I looked at the Humane Shelter for dogs but I never found one I thought was a good fit when we were ready. I saw a cock-a-poo that I saw as a four month old puppy returned to the same Humane Society as a two year old dog. I spoke to the woman at the Humane Society I asked why he was back. “Not because of anything he did,” she said. The timing wasn’t right, he seemed like a sweet dog, but my husband wasn’t ready to look at a dog yet.

Bringing a pet into our family should never be on a whim. We need to carefully consider our life and how a pet can fit into it. A pet can live a long time, they deserve a home with a family that wants them, will care for them and love them. Pets should never be a gift unless we know for sure the person receiving the gift is ready for the commitment. Even then choosing a dog is an experience that getting one as a gift eliminates. Dogs like humans aren’t perfect. We need to make a decision and stick by it through the happy, annoying and sad times.

Poem from an untrained puppy

My family brought me home with them, snugly cradled in their arms. They cuddled me and smiled at me, and said I was full of charm.

The walks stopped one by one, they said they didn’t have time. I wish that I could change things, I wish I knew my crime.

So they brought me to a shelter, but were embarrassed to say why. They said I caused an allergy, and then kissed me good-bye.

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Finding love. Love them imperfections and all.

Choose love - Photo of five coral roses photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. Sam Keen

I’ve been watching too much YouTube and have learned about a group of men called Men Going Their Own Way. These MGTOW men dislike feminism so much they are staying away from serious relationships with women especially marriage.

I might be crazy but I think marriage benefits men even more than it benefits women. Married men are healthier, more successful, and live longer than unmarried men. I really think marriage benefits women but we can still have our children and a family without a man. Men may hate this about us; we only need them for a short time in the procreation process.

Now we can make our own money so we can financially support our family. It would be harder alone. It would be lonelier alone. How lonely are these men going to be later on? Society has always managed without some of our men. How could we have had World War 1 and World War 11 and not suffered much as far as population growth. Because the women still had children.

I grew up in an area where we had (or so it seemed to me) a lot of bachelors. They were to me sad, lonely men, who sat on a plot of land and didn’t do much with it, while beside them married men built a life with their wives, had children and prospered.

In Jamaica we were surrounded by a group of happy young people. Most of them coupled in serious relationships. You hurt yourself when you are too picky to find a real person and build a life with them.

Love is not just about finding a good partner. It is also about being a good one. Unknown

I’ve heard of women who wouldn’t go on a date with someone because she didn’t like the shoes he wore. Really, you couldn’t take him shoe shopping? I remember being picked up at the airport by my husband wearing a short sleeved brown shirt. I hated that shirt. It wasn’t a deal breaker. He had it before we got together; he never bought another one like it.

We mostly buy clothes the other likes. If I had met him with that shirt on I don’t think it would have been a big enough thing to not go out with him. We women are overlooking diamonds in the rough because someone hasn’t gotten them the perfect haircut yet, or the best cut of clothes for their frame, or into a fitness routine.

They might need to get their teeth fixed. George Clooney needed to get his teeth fixed. We need to look past the imperfections to the real person and the possibilities in a potential relationship. I think both men and women like what they see when men and women are in happy relationships. They don’t want to take the chance and build that happy relationship out of the person in front of them who isn’t in one yet.

We have to see the potential in people. Many women who are married to successful men didn’t get him when he was successful. They married or at least started dating the guy with potential.

It seems to me if by the time we are thirty we haven’t found a good potential mate then what are we looking for? From sixteen to thirty and I think twenty five more like it, we meet a lot of people. How could one of them not be a good potential partner?

I understand people who haven’t been married by a certain age have less chance of marrying than a divorced or widow/widower has of remarrying.

According to a National Health and Social Life Survey, 51 percent of married men were extremely satisfied with their sex lives, while only 39 percent of cohabitating men and 36 percent of single men could say the same. Research shows that men are more sexually satisfied when they are in lasting relationships because both spouses are making a long-term investment in intimacy.

I understand that six men to one woman want non committed sexual relationships. Six women to one man want committed relationships leading to marriage. We have a serious conflict here. Women need to make sure they are getting into relationships where both partners want the same thing.

Perhaps women have to quit having sex with uncommitted men to screen out the potential marriage partners from just sexual partners. There are numerous books advising women how to do this.

Men and women need to go after what they want. When I was young I thought men and women mostly were after the same thing. Finding a partner to build a life with. A lot of young people still feel this way at least this is what I hear from my two kids. The problem arises I think when they don’t find the partner before thirty and are now jaded, wounded, and disillusioned.

When I was growing up my mom used to say “don’t get married too young.” She doesn’t say that any more as she sees some young people not bothering to get married at all. I don’t say it anymore either. Young people don’t need to get married so young as find the partner when they are young. When they decide this is the person, plan a wedding, don’t  just move in together.

I think both men and women thought when we got the risk of pregnancy out of the equation we could play with relationships. The bitter harvest of broken, hurt, disillusioned men and women shows me we are more fragile in this department than we thought.

You don’t need someone to complete you. You only need someone to accept you completely. Unknown

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Commitment and choice. Loving what is.

Good Enough - Photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas of Two Day Lilies

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You must love in a way that makes the other person feel free. Thich Nhat Hanh

Marriage gives us the freedom to explore a deeper commitment than any other relationship. We get to know our partner warts and all. They know our weaknesses and we know theirs. In a good relationship our strengths and weaknesses build something better than either of us could apart. We are stronger together.

When he wins, she wins. Children don’t see a perfect marriage they see two people working things out. They see the peaks and valleys that come in life. Their mother is there for their dad in his grief and he is there for her in hers.

Two people navigate careers, each others families, holidays. This is going to be a challenge for my daughter and her husband this year. Christmas a time of togetherness can pull people in two directions, trying to satisfy everybody they satisfy no one. Not even themselves.

It’s too early to talk of Christmas. First they need to get the thank you cards out. My husband and I had free tickets to a youth choir Christmas Concerto. We couldn’t bring ourselves to go to a Christmas event this early. We went to a movie instead.

Personal freedom is something we foster; it is not something handed to us. It is our emotional work that heals the binds that tie us; we also have to let our partner heal the binds that tie them. This only happens from a place of emotional maturity that owns and accepts, but does not blame.

A strong relationship requires choosing to love each other even in those moments when you struggle to like each other. Unknown

We create confining feelings within relationships to give us a feeling of control. Being “right” often makes us overly controlling. We begin to create prickly borders around our hearts. We put this controlling mechanism in place to protect ourselves from being hurt. That barbed wire fence around our heart hurts ourselves as it hurts others. It’s as hard for us to get out as it is for someone else to get in.

We yearn for connection and freedom. Commitment is that freedom, if we do it right. Through connection to someone we can explore honest, genuine and authentic love.

When we are in denial of our deepest pain we lash out, build walls and blame the world. Our lives and relationships suffer. We need to shift our energy, unlock our heart, give our self the gift of compassion, grace and forgiveness and heal the wounded parts of our self.

We need to deal with our feelings of insecurity,  being unlovable, pain, and shame.  Life has let us down. We have let ourselves down. The people we love have been let down. We are human. We are not perfect.  Still, we are worthy of love from our self and others. Often before we can accept forgiveness from someone else we need to accept it from our self.

We are enough. We are not perfect; we don’t need to be perfect. We need to be accepting, warm, compassionate and vulnerable. We may get hurt if we love. We hurt our self when we don’t open up to the love being offered. If we rebuff the other person often enough they no longer offer.

They start to pull into themselves, protecting their heart. Soon you have two lonely, isolated, hardened, unfeeling people sharing a space. Some couples live their lives together two broken souls, hardened, bitter, unloving. Other couples are still two broken souls but they help each other mend the broken pieces, they are open, loving, vulnerable. They become strong in the broken places. They don’t expect each other to be perfect. They love what is. They find it’s enough.

Love is a decision.  We need to honor our commitment. When someone does something wrong we need to be careful we don’t forget about everything they’ve done right.

A true relationship is two imperfect people refusing to give up on each other. Unknown

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Laughing through tears. Talking to mom. Going forward, onward and upward. Dealing with what is in my circle of influence.

Courage to love - Purple petunias photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Almost every problem people face in their lives are all the result of not taking enough action. Unknown

Laughing with mom is one of the things that usually happens in our lengthy phone calls. We have three provinces between us. It is a lot of distance but our relationship is close. I can talk to mom about almost anything. I hope my kids will feel they can talk to me the same way.

Mom has lived a lot in her 93 years. She has seen all the progress technology has brought us and she has seen the problems as well. She lived through the Great Depression and World War 2 – two of the defining periods in Canada. She was a homesteader with her parents; she helped shape a community out of wild Saskatchewan land.

She raised eight kids and I have to go to work to figure out the grand children, great grand and great great grand children count. I think my mom has lived her live dealing with “what is”. She didn’t live a life of pretense. Living on the farm I think she thought her life didn’t compare to her sister’s city life. I think in the end her life exceeded theirs. I think she ended up better off financially. I think her relationships were better.

The bitter tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. Harriet Beecher Stowe

Mom is my role model. A model of how to live your life with truth and grace. I have tried to live up to the example she set. I try to behave in ways I think she would be proud. This is why we can talk. I don’t pretend things are better than they are with mom. Things have always been pretty good in my life, but I don’t pretend they are better than they are. I’ve always thought if you start living a life of pretense, how do you fix what’s broken if you don’t acknowledge it?

We all fall short of expectations we set for our self. As we reach a certain age we realize those expectations will never materialize. One day I realized I am never likely to be “rich”. Except when I looked at my life I was “rich” in all ways except being able to spend exorbitant amounts of money. I was rich in love, I live in a safe and happy home, I have a great husband and happy productive kids, I have enough financial resources to meet my needs but perhaps not all my wants. I have time to be creative, space to be creative and the resources to be creative. I am fit and healthy, not as fit and healthy as some but for my age I feel good about my health and fitness level.

This is the time to take stock of my life. I am pretty happy with it. I don’t have any public recognition for great deeds. I am not a philanthropist building hospitals or feeding the poor and disenfranchised. I am not a millionaire, but I believe I am a “realionaire”. I live in peace and plenty. I can deal with the realities of my life; I can look forward to the future with optimism. I can feel proud of the life I’ve built, the person I am the roles I have as wife and mother. I am proud of the business my husband built with my help.

Could we have done things differently, could they have worked out better? Who knows, we did what we knew how to do. How do we know we aren’t exactly where we should be, learning the lessons we are to learn, becoming the people we are to be. Learning lessons we can learn no other way.

Sometimes I feel I live in a self involved bubble. Everything is alright with me. Is this a problem? How should I be living my life? Taking on everyone’s problems? I try to see problems from different angles. I have felt for a long time that happiness is an inside job. We choose to be happy in whatever circumstances find us. I think this is how I live. My husband sometimes says, “as long as everything is alright with Belynda.” Shouldn’t things be alright with me? Shouldn’t I be dealing with “what is,” and be at peace?

We can make things better, or we can make things worse. We can deal within our circle of influence. This is where I think I deal. If my little world can be okay then things can radiate from there. If my little world isn’t okay because I am trying to deal with things that aren’t mine to deal with. How does that work for anyone?

The measure gave was the measure we got back. Alcoholics anonymous

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Memories. Why do we remember some things and forget others? Can we trust our memories?

Photo of Hanging Basket by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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“Is your life story the truth? Yes, the chronological events are true. Is it the whole truth? No, you see and judge it through your conditioned eyes and mind – not of all involved – nor do you see the entire overview. Is it nothing but the truth? No, you select, share, delete, distort, subtract, assume and add what you want, need and choose to.”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru

Have you ever tried to remember something and all you draw is a blank? Have you ever been called a liar because you couldn’t remember something and the other person was incredulous that you didn’t remember something that was so important to them?

Why do we remember some things and forget others?

Some things are relevant to our life. We remember the relevant things. If something is likely to help with our life goals it is more likely to be remembered.

We remember emotional pain. If something or someone causes us emotional pain the event is more likely to be remembered.

Our subconscious mind makes us remember the things that are important and useful to our life. If our subconscious mind makes the deduction that something isn’t useful or important to our life it will not remember it.

It is easy to see that two people could experience the same event and one of them would remember it and the other would not.

My husband thinks I remember everything. I do remember a lot of things he doesn’t remember because they had some relevance to me. He is remembering things I don’t remember, but he thinks I should remember them because they are so important to him. It is easy to see how when people are having disagreements what each remembers can be very problematic.

It may even explain why witnesses do not witness things exactly the same way and all are telling the truth as they see it. When we are upset we do not stop to think that there is another side to the story. Why can’t you see what I see? We don’t trust the other person who doesn’t see what was so plain. How could they not see it? Are they lying?

Remember just because you think something happened, doesn’t mean it did. This is what therapists call projecting. Unknown

It could be that no two people ever see anything the same way. It might depend on their emotional state at the moment, experiences they have had in the past, how they interpret things. Eye witnesses are notoriously unreliable, but probably through no fault of their own. I have always hoped I am never called on as an eye witness. I couldn’t tell the little girls apart on the soccer field. Little blonde girls with ponytails all looked alike to me. I can’t imagine a line-up.

Some say the brain does not store information as data but by association. What we do know about memory is it is processed by the hippocampus and stored continuously in our cerebral cortex. We will store a memory if it is important and has emotional value in our brain forever.

The rashomon effect is a phenomenon where different people have contradictory accounts of the same event. In fact research shows that implanting false memories can be as simple as asking someone to recount an event that didn’t happen. It also seems that each time we remember something we rewrite it in our brain. If that recollection contains errors, we’ll strengthen those errors until we are positive they are correct.

How can a couple tell who is remembering things correctly? Research suggests they may not be able to. Couples often remember things differently because of cognitive biases and the influence of mood. Experts suggest focusing on the emotions of an argument to move past a disagreement. Couples should accept our memories are flawed and not be so reliant on what we remember is right and what the other person remember is obviously wrong.

Faith is not about everything turning out okay. Faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out. Unknown

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Crisis and Opportunity. Finding our way through the hard times. There will always be hard times.

Choose Love by Being Loving photo of coral rose by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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Sometimes painful things can teach us lessons we didn’t think we needed to know. Unknown

Out of crisis comes opportunity. Not opportunity at first sight we want. The loss of a job may propel us in a direction we would never have taken without that push.

A health crisis may jar us from our life of complacency. We are not living our best life as we don’t notice the status quo is no longer good enough. We are slow to change when “is this all there is,” may flitter across our brain from time to time. It doesn’t have the impact of the full blown crisis to move us out of our comfort zone.

We are no longer comfortable, we can’t ignore the crisis. The elephant in the living room is charging at us. We need to figure stuff out. We can no longer just pick up the doo doo and pretend its household dust.

Something has to be done. If we lose our job in a dying industry perhaps we are the lucky one. We can be out looking for work before everyone else. A marriage crisis can blindside us, but many people who work through them say their marriage is better, stronger for going through it. Even in the cases of infidelity, many of us think – how could we get through that?

A relationship is like a house. When a lightbuld burns out you do not go and buy a new house, you fix the light bulb. Unknown

Books are written about people who have. They tell us what doesn’t kill us makes us strong. We should become strong in the broken places. These sound like platitudes but I am willing to bet that most long marriages have had to adjust at times to a crisis perhaps not as dire as infidelity.

Infidelity may not even be the toughest to overcome. With infidelity you know what the problem is. You can leave, live with it, or you can find a way to rebuild. When it isn’t anything as defined as that, what do we do? We often leave it to disintegrate. My mother says, “there’s nothing as dead as old cold love.”

Sometimes it seems old and cold but there are embers there that can be fanned back into a flame. Happily ever after is only in fairy tales. I know people who confided they had some of their best times after their marital crisis.

I believe it. We go through the five stages of love over and over again or we stop at stage three where we notice the flaws, insecurities, weaknesses, and fall victim to the unmet expectations we have of our partners and they have of us. Our partner is not responsible for not being the person we thought they were. They are who they are, flawed, imperfect, sometimes damaged (whatever that means).

A phrase I’m hearing a lot of men using on Utube – talking about damaged women.  Some of these men are advocating looking for a wife in Countries that are not in the West. They feel that is where the “real women are.” I believe they are in for some serious disillusionment. Those are real women just like the ones in the West and those marriages are as prone to the spectre of unmet expectations as the rest of us.

It is our unmet expectations we put on someone else we need to deal with. It isn’t for the person who can’t meet our expectations to meet them. We have to deal with the reality of the situation. Many of us run, we are into our third marriage wondering why there is always something wrong with the man or woman we have chosen. At some point we have to realise we married who we married, flaws and all. Their flaws aren’t probably worse than other flaws people have we are attracted to.

I’ve seen people appear to marry the same person over and over again. They look different but they are very similar in character and the relationship challenges they bring. Leaving the marriage is like leaving the lesson behind we have to learn. We can learn it with the first person, third person or maybe we choose never to learn it. That would be the waste of a life.

We all have flaws, no one is perfect. You can’t leave your partner and not have stuff to deal with. It will be different stuff. I think it is better to deal with what is, than look for the fantasy partner that doesn’t exist.

You complete me, I’ll always love you, love is never having to say you’re sorry. These are some of the lies that lead to unmet expectations. Love is under there, sometimes we have to do some excavation to find it. Love is a verb. Through are actions we can convey we do care, we do want to find a way through. Our commitment is still strong, if strained. We can learn to love ourselves and each other, warts and all.

Does it make sense to leave a good relationship for a few faults? To leave good, trying to get perfect? Perfect doesn’t exist. Perfection is enemy of the good.

If you don’t stay together through the bad then you won’t be together for the good. Unknown

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Intuition, the still small voice. Building a life you love with few regrets.

Anemones photo by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Do you listen to the voice of intuition, the still small voice within? This morning we dropped my sister and niece off at the airport. Our little visit is over. It was great, another sister and her husband came for a barbecue. Real life gets in the way of seeing family. It’ll be okay, because they are always there we tell our self. Then something happens and they aren’t.

My niece and her father went to see her Grandpa earlier this year. He had a medical situation, he seemed like he was doing well. His son was even feeling guilty for taking time off work because it didn’t seem necessary. His father was doing well, recovering. Within six weeks he took a turn for the worse and died.

A life with as few regrets as possible is a worthy goal. We always wish things can be different. We can do what we can do. We need to be okay with what is. Life happens but if we listen to that still small voice within and do what it tells us to do we often have fewer regrets. Is it the voice of God, intuition, a sixth sense? It’s something and most of us have encountered that voice and listened or not listened.

We know we should try and get to see Grandma more often. It seems it will be better next week, next month, next year. If we put it off long enough there isn’t a grandma to go see. Sounds morbid, but looking at life realistically is seeing the tough stuff as well.

We get our one life, we can do so many things. Doing those things means we can’t do other things. Our life is built by the choices we make, small and large. Every decision leads to another decision, every act has its consequence.  If we build the life we love far from where we grew up. We leave our parents, siblings and friends behind. Do we build a better life, or probably just a different life? It was our choice and there were consequences. You can regret what you do and don’t do.

You can’t stay and go. Choose one. If you decide what you really want out of life and go after it. You will likely build a life you are happy with. Staying stuck when you know you have to do something but refusing to choose will not make you happy. When that still small voice tells you this is what you must do. I think we should listen. We may never know where that thought or intuition comes from. We need to accept the blessing it is and move in the direction our life is calling.

Sensitivities: our own and other peoples – how to deal?

Painting "Embracing What Is" by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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“Some of the most beautiful things worth having in your life come wrapped in a crown of thorns.”
― Shannon L. Alder

How do we deal with sensitive people in our lives?

I always say we are like eggs in my family. We are strong, but hit the right spot and our sensitivities show up. My daughter has said to me over the years, “that woman gave you cut-eye.” I didn’t notice. My husband says to me “those women were looking at your shoes.” I didn’t notice. I do look down to see if I’m wearing a pair that has passed its best before date.

I’ve been very lucky with my husband’s family, I never encountered a situation that damaged our relationship beyond repair. I’m sure on both sides we have held our tongue and let things slide. Some of my parenting decisions were not the same as my mother in laws. She would have liked it if we sent our children to Church as teenagers. We went to a Church where the Minister was asking the young people for a vow of chastity.

The Minister’s intentions were good. What was the end result? I didn’t think it would be good. I certainly didn’t think it should be public. How long does a vow of celibacy last? Well meaning people impacting my kids like the Church impacted me wasn’t what I wanted. I went to Church as a teenager. There I found judgment that wasn’t fair or right. I asked questions that couldn’t be answered, they assumed I got them from my Dad. I was told “Dad was possessed by the devil.”

Early bad religious experiences may impact us for life. There are moments in our life when there is nothing to do put pray. Even if we aren’t particularly religious, we hope for a miracle. Like the boys stuck in the cave in Thailand. In the end it was human ingenuity that got them out. Finding them was the miracle.

It seems to me that extremely sensitive people often lead hard lives. They pick up on nuances where others see merely discussion. They observe the deeper patterns that move human society and can be easily frustrated at the injustice they perceive. The slings and arrows we all encounter in life they take personally. We the not so sensitive seem callous and uncaring. Our attitude of “it is what it is” seems offensive.

We don’t live in a perfect world or society, some have unearned success, and some have unearned hardships. It seems we need to accept that sensitive people are made that way. They are not manipulative, they are not trying to make anyone else’s life more difficult and they are not broken. It is hard not to say “this isn’t that big of deal, enough already.” Even if we aren’t one of the “sensitive people” we all have our “sensitive areas.”

We need to watch what we say to sensitive people and be gentle. This seems hard as often they aren’t that careful about what they say to us. There are times when we feel why do I have to tiptoe around someone else’s feelings. Many times sensitive people are in our lives for the long haul. They are your sister in law, your mother in law, people you didn’t choose to bring into your life. They came with your spouse, best friend, the work place, groups we join, or the neighborhood.

I’m watching someone I love in this situation now. How will it play out? Should you ignore or confront? How do you deal with the situation when someone is upset about a situation the person involved seems okay with? “Look this isn’t your business,” doesn’t seem helpful. “Can we just deal with what impacts you and me?” Not likely, often the sensitive want to stand up for others they think aren’t standing up for themselves. Sometimes that is good. They have made society better by doing so.

It takes everyone to build a world. The sensitive have their gifts and place in society. They are often the moral conscience. That doesn’t make them easier to live with.